I'm not going to post a summary of the last chapter, because quite frankly if you're reading the Epilogue and you can't remember enough about the story to understand what's going on here…you probably shouldn't be reading the Epilogue.
For those of you who thought the last chapter was the last thing I was going to post…bwahaha. You were wrong.
That said…this chapter is every bit as ridiculous and terrible as the rest of the story.
"All right, everyone, hold still!"
The twenty people posing for the camera beamed, and with a great flash and a puff of smoke, the Order of the Phoenix was captured for the first time on film. No one stood behind the camera; with the flick of a wand, it had taken the picture on its own.
"Excellent, excellent," said Albus Dumbledore, stepping forward from among the group of people being photographed. "Once again, I cannot tell you enough how valuable your efforts are." He pulled a large silver watch from the pocket of his robes and glanced at it briefly. "Until we meet again—keep your spirits up." He smiled kindly at them all with a familiar twinkle in his piercing blue eyes, and then turned to Alastor Moody. "Alastor, will you kindly see that everyone gets a photo?"
"Of course," said Moody gruffly, and he limped over to the camera, his wooden leg clunking oddly on the floor. The wooden leg was a recent addition, and seemed to other the members of the Order of the Phoenix a grim sign that things were starting to get much worse.
It had been over a year since Lily and James's engagement, and about ten months since they had first heard of the secret organization called the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore expressed his regrets, many times, that he had approached Lily and James about joining so soon after they finished at Hogwarts, but neither second-guessed their decision.
Lily wasn't quite sure now what she would do if she didn't have the Order to depend on. Events grew ever grimmer, but Order meetings somehow lifted their spirits. Dumbledore knew a great deal of things that weren't printed in the Daily Prophet, and it seemed to Lily that as time went on, Dumbledore was perhaps the only person able to devise the truth behind a great number of mishaps and unfortunate events that the Ministry was trying ever harder to hush up.
Beyond that, the people at the Order meetings made it easier to cope with the devastation beginning to permeate every aspect of wizarding life. James and Sirius, remarkably, seemed to have developed an excellent feel for when it was appropriate to make jokes during meetings and when to hush up. Their humor helped remind everyone just what they were fighting to save. Furthermore, simply being around one another seemed to give the Order members an extra, silent strength to keep carrying on—to fight however they knew how—to stand up against Voldemort knowing, as so many wizards did not seem to know these days, that their efforts would not go unnoticed—that, most importantly, they were not alone.
Order members were milling around now, chatting with one another and wandering off one by one to Disapparate and return to their normal lives. Dumbledore approached James and Lily before he left. "My sincerest congratulations to you both," he beamed, placing one hand on Lily's shoulder and one on James's. "Your ceremony is Saturday, unless my memory fails me."
Lily nodded, grinning like a fool. "Please come if you get the chance—to the reception, at any rate."
"But of course! How could I pass up the chance to enjoy a perfectly good wedding cake?"
Hagrid came up behind Dumbledore, beaming. "This is gonna be great, you two, jes' great. Blimey, I love weddings."
With a glance at his watch, Dumbledore said, "I really must be going. I am, once again, deeply sorry I cannot make it to your ceremony. I am sure it will far eclipse whatever nonsense I have planned instead." With a final smile, Dumbledore left.
"Well, at least you two are givin' people somethin' to be happy abou', eh?" Hagrid smiled and thumped James on the back, which sent him flying into Lily. "Yeh'll have ter excuse me, though—I've got somewhere ter be as well. See you lot on Saturday, then!" he called to the rest of the Marauders, waving as he departed.
Many of the other Order members had left by this time, but a few stuck around to offer their congratulations in advance to Lily and James as well. Most of the Order were invited to the wedding, but a few simply couldn't make it, and others couldn't attend because they were supposed to pretend they didn't know Lily and James in public.
"The very best wishes to you both!" squeaked Dedalus Diggle, coming over to shake Lily and James's hands.
"Save me a piece of cake, will you?" joked Benjy Fenwick, with a wink.
"I bet it'll be such a lovely wedding," sighed Marlene McKinnon, coming up behind Benjy. "Lily, have you finally got a dress?"
Lily beamed. "Yes—found the perfect one just last week."
"Oh, good. You'll bring in pictures, won't you? Wish I could be there…but of course I'm not really supposed to know you…."
Lily nodded. "I'm sure there will be more than enough pictures to go around."
"There will indeed, if I have anything to say about it," Sirius said, coming up and clapping James on the back. "As Best Man, I feel it's my sworn and honorable duty to catch every moment of the ceremony on camera…James stuffing his face with cake, James drinking too much of the bubbly, James making an idiot of himself on the dance floor…"
"Yes, that sounds lovely," Lily said dryly, turning back to Marlene. "We'll have a professional photographer, of course, and I'm sure my mum will have a bunch of nice"—she shot a look at Sirius, who looked innocently away—"photos everyone will enjoy."
"Good, good…well I must be off then…but congratulations!"
Lily and James milled around until most of the Order members presented their congratulations, and then gratefully fastened up their cloaks and Apparated back to Potter's Cottage—which was, for the time being, home.
"Mimi!" Lily shrieked, and streaked down the front walk of Potter's Cottage to throw her arms around her friend.
"Hi Lily," Mimi said, laughing, and she awkwardly returned the hug. She was impaired by the great crutch that sat under her right arm.
"I feel like I haven't seen you in ages," Lily gushed, taking one of Mimi's bags for her and leading her toward the house. "How's your leg been?"
"Oh, you know," Mimi shrugged, "hasn't gotten any better, hasn't gotten any worse."
It had, however, become permanently ruined by the Potion she'd used on it last June, and now it seemed her right leg would be forever gimpy.
"You haven't been…making any more Potions, have you?" Lily asked, her voice slightly hushed as they reached the front door.
"No," Mimi said, shaking her head. "I've done with that. I was never very good at it anyway, and…well, there are other ways to help," she added, sounding rather grim.
Lily looked at her, puzzled, as the front door closed behind them and a house-elf ran up to assist with Mimi's bags, but Mimi waved her hand dismissively at Lily's concern. "Nothing to worry about; I just have some ideas is all."
Lily thanked the house-elf, who hurried upstairs with Mimi's bags trailing behind her.
"Have you been speaking with Remus?"
Mimi gazed shiftily to one side. "Not…exactly."
Lily frowned. "He said he saw you the other day."
"Did he?" Mimi said vaguely.
"Yes, he did," Lily said flatly. "Where did he see you?"
"Could've been anywhere," Mimi offered, and then decided to change the subject. "So, how's your house hunt going?"
Lily gave a little squeal of excitement. "Didn't I tell you? James and I found the perfect little cottage, right in Godric's Hollow—"
And she continued to chatter about her and James's cottage as she led Mimi into the kitchen, where Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Potter, Lily's Aunt Emma, and Lily's cousin Molly were seated at the table. Molly and Aunt Emma had recently been floored to learn that Lily was a witch, and had spent the past two hours or so wandering around Potter's Cottage in complete awe. They would, unfortunately, have to have their memories modified after the ceremony (according to the guidelines of the International Statute of Secrecy), but for right now it made things easier for them to know. Molly beamed as Mimi took a seat from her across the table.
"So Mimi," Lily began, before Molly could badger Mimi with any probing questions like she'd been doing with Lily all morning, "how's life at the Daily Prophet? It's a newspaper," she added to her cousin, before she could ask.
"Oh, all right I suppose," Mimi sighed. "Mostly they've got me doing the horoscopes—the horoscope lady got sacked a couple weeks ago, so now I've got the lovely task of making predictions up for people. Horoscopes are about all the writing they let me do, anyway," Mimi sighed. "Ever since I tried to slip in that pro-werewolf article I think the editors have decided I'm a bit dodgy. Plus I got into it with Rita Skeeter a couple weeks ago, I'm sure that didn't help…."
Mrs. Potter's face darkened. She was clearly remembering some of the articles the Prophet had published recently regarding her husband's policies at the Ministry. "Yes, how is Rita Skeeter doing? Is she as odious in real life as she seems on the page?"
Mimi made a disgusted face. "She's as much of a nosy, no-good wart as she ever was…same as at Hogwarts, always snooping around looking for a story…."
"You knew her at Hogwarts?" Mrs. Potter pressed.
"Yeah, she was a few years older than us. Really annoying. I think James and Sirius turned her into a donkey once."
Lily snorted in laughter, remembering. "I thought it was Melody who turned her into a donkey."
Mimi shrugged, grinning at the memory. "Maybe so."
"Where is Melody, by the way?" Mrs. Evans asked, taking another sip of tea.
Lily glanced at the clock on the wall. "She should be here within the hour. Apparently she's right in the middle of a tournament in Bulgaria, and she's had a tricky time working all this around her schedule."
"But she will be able to stay through the weekend?" Mrs. Potter pressed, looking anxious. Both she and Lily's mum were a bit frazzled with details, and a bit more on edge than usual.
"Well, apparently when we're done with dress fittings today she has to go back. She has a match on Wednesday, and if she wins that she's got another on Sunday—she'll be here for the rehearsal and the ceremony, though."
"Match?" Molly echoed. "Does she play…tennis or something?"
Lily and Mimi traded and awkward glance. "Um…no," Lily replied. "She, um…she duels."
"Duels? Like…like with a sword?"
"No…with her wand."
Molly gaped at her for a moment, but before she could speak the door to the kitchen swung open, and in rushed Melody in all her glory.
"Sorry I'm late!" she panted, smiling winningly at them all. She was wearing an exquisite golden traveling cloak, which complemented her blonde hair and her golden-brown eyes, and underneath she donned a smart blue dueling suit, with a padded vest to help ward off weaker spells. Her hair was partially pulled back, the top half of it pulled away from her face and fastened with a thick golden ribbon tied in a bow; the rest tumbled past her shoulders in elegant curls. "The match went overlong," she explained, pulling off her dueling gloves, "but I made it."
Lily got up and rushed over to give her a hug. It was amazing how much older they all seemed these days, a little more than a year out of Hogwarts, and—was it possible, or did Melody look disturbingly prettier than usual?
"How did you do?" Mimi asked, limping over to give Melody a hug as well.
"I won!" Melody burst, grinning wildly. Her face was flushed with pride, her eyes shining with excitement—she launched into a rapid run-down of the match, blow-by-blow, with a detailed description of the final maneuvers used to knock her opponent out of contention.
It struck Lily during this enthusiastic retelling that perhaps Melody looked prettier because she looked so much like—her. She wasn't fussing with the fake, caked-on beauty that had won her acceptance in her uncle's social circles; she didn't, in fact, seem to be wearing make-up at all. Instead, she was looking rather more tan than usual, her skin a lovely shade of light brown and her hair bleached a good shade lighter than it had been over Easter holidays, when Lily had last seen her in person. The sun had even brought out a few light freckles on her skin, which, rather than taking away from her already considerable beauty, complimented it. Everything about her looked a bit wilder, a bit more untamed than it had at school, and she glowed in it. No—she basked in it. The expression she held as she talked about dueling was unequal to any other Lily had seen on her face—except, perhaps, the way she looked just after a victorious Quidditch match.
Even if she was cavorting around with Lucifer Malfoy these days, it appeared Melody had found something that struck home.
Lily's cousin looked positively enraptured with Melody's description of the duel, although as far as Lily knew, she didn't understand half the things that were coming out of Melody's mouth.
"Wow," Molly breathed once Melody had finished. "You must be amazing."
Melody beamed, looking thrilled with the praise, but she tried to temper it with modesty. "Well, I'm still just starting out, you see…I've had a lot of luck so far though…and I've just found out—oh, Lily—Mimi—I'm ranked!" she squealed, clapping her hands together excitedly and bouncing up and down on the spot.
The girls shrieked in surprise and another round of hugs and exclamations went round the room, and then Melody plunged hastily into the pockets of her dueling suit and pulled out a crumpled program. "See—there—" she said, pointing out her name.
It wasn't an official list of rankings; it was just the program for the dueling tournament she was currently in. Melody Cauldwell vs. Scotto Pelrump, the program read, and next to Scotto's name were tiny numbers—98—and next to Melody's—119.
"You're…you're ranked a hundred and nineteen?" Mimi asked, her voice rather mysteriously void of emotion.
"Yes!" Melody shrieked again. "Isn't it marvelous?"
Lily and Mimi exchanged a furtive, doubtful look, but Madam Flannery got up from her chair and patted Melody on the back. "That's simply wonderful, dear," she beamed. "My son used to duel. Never cracked the top hundred and fifty." The dressmaker didn't allow Melody to carry on any longer before taking command of the situation. "Shall we?" she said pointedly, gesturing toward the door.
"Oh—of course!" Melody cried, whirling around. "Sorry—I'm very sorry about being late, too—it was a bit chaotic after the match." She turned to Lily as they walked out of the kitchens, looking prematurely apologetic. "And I'm really sorry, Lil, but I'll have to duck out quickly, too, Lucifer's got a party all planned for me—see, they only bumped me up to one-nineteen after I beat Scotto, and this is the first time I've been in the top one twenty-five ever, and—what?"
The disapproving expression on both Lily's and Mimi's faces was unmistakable, and Melody turned away looking embarrassed. "I'm really sorry," she repeated, mumbling, as they began climbing a staircase.
"How is dear old Luci these days?" Lily asked, trying to sound casual, but there were a lot of unspoken questions underneath her words.
"Please don't call him that," Melody pleaded. "I—I misjudged him, he's really great—he's helped me so much, I—"
"Lucifer Malfoy? Lucifer Malfoy? Lucifer Malfoy's been really great?" Mimi repeated, looking floored, and Melody stared pointedly away.
"You're starting to sound like Sirius," Melody muttered, still avoiding looking at them. "It's—it's fine, everything's fine, I'm having a great time. All right?"
Melody was saved from further interrogation by Madam Flannery and her assistants, who shoved the girls behind several dressing curtains to change into their bridesmaid dresses for the fitting.
"So Lil, have you finally decided what colors you're using for the wedding?" Melody asked, examining her pale, somewhat colorless gown with distaste. "Last I heard James was fighting for red and gold."
"Yes," Lily agreed, "but I convinced him that the scarlet would clash horribly with my hair, so he fought to keep gold, and I decided the other color ought to be blue. The trick is to charm the dresses a shade that will work for all of you. Melody—I want you to have a gold one, since you're my Maid of Honor and I know you look good in it, and…Molly and Mimi, I think I'll have you in blue."
Melody emerged from behind her dressing screen first. "It's a little loose," she complained, but Madam Flannery simply gestured her onto a stool and began flicking her wand about, tightening various parts of the dress while loosening others, lengthening the skirt slightly, and briefly adjusting the cut of the top before giving her wand one last flick and charming the dress a pale, but still pure-looking, shade of gold.
"Ooh, Melody, that looks smashing," Mimi gushed, emerging from behind her curtain, and for a brief moment Lily considered kicking Melody out of her wedding party.
Melody was gorgeous—what was Lily thinking, allowing her to stand next to her on her wedding day? Lily would look like a complete hag next to Melody, even in her extraordinary wedding gown…nobody would be looking at her, they'd just be gawking at how gorgeous Melody was….
"What do you think, Lil?" Melody asked, turning to her, unnecessarily smoothing out the soft material, appearing to enjoy the feel of it underneath her hands. Madam Flannery beamed at the bride-to-be, apparently quite pleased with herself.
Lily glared at her best friend and stuck a childish tongue out. "You look disgustingly beautiful. I'm going to look like an old hag next to you."
Melody rolled her eyes. "Oh, Lily…don't be ridiculous…you're very pretty anyway, but I'm sure when you're standing up there next to James you're going to look so obscenely fantastic that no one's even going to notice I'm there…let alone what dress I'm wearing."
"Her wedding dress is killer—you guys have to see it!" Molly said as she emerged from behind her own dressing curtain. "Trust me, Lil, absolutely no one is going to care what we look like as soon as they see you in that dress."
"Yes, yes, yes, it's marvelous. Now you go change before you rip something," Lily said, poking Melody in the shoulder. Melody hopped off her stool so Mimi could take her place, and Molly stepped onto the other stool. Madame Flannery and her assistants flitted around, making the necessary adjustments to the fabric, and then Madam Flannery stepped back and considered for a long moment before charming the dresses a shade of deep, oceanic blue.
"Ooh," Mimi breathed, turning slightly to examine herself. "Looks pretty good, Lil, doesn't it?"
"Mm," Lily agreed, circling them carefully. "But you know what would look really nifty…."
She pulled out her wand and started flicking at the material, lightening the top of the dress to a more cerulean shade of blue, and darkening the bottom of the skirt to a deeper sort of navy blue. With another flick, Lily added a stream of golden sparkles that stretched from the uppermost left-hand part of the dress down to the right-hand side of the skirt, exploding all over the darkest material like a thousand shimmering stars.
"What do you think?" she asked, backing away, and glancing back and forth between the somewhat astounded-looking seamstresses happily.
"Well, it certainly is…unique…for a bridesmaid dress," one of the assistants managed.
"You know what it makes me think of, Lil?" Mimi said, looking down at hers. "Twilight."
Lily beamed. "That's the general idea. That's when James proposed, you see…and we're having our ceremony so late in the afternoon, I thought…." She trailed off and shrugged, looking happy.
Melody emerged from behind her dressing screen. "Ooh, nice, Lily. Although, you know…." She tilted her head, examining the dresses. "If it's meant to be twilight, it's backwards. Twilight makes the sky darker on top, not the bottom."
"Yes, I know, but I sort of think it looks better this way, don't you?"
"I like it," Molly announced, spinning herself around.
"Perfect," Lily beamed. "Let's just do the final measurements then, and we'll be all set to go."
The Marauders came roaring into Potter's cottage Wednesday evening, and by Thursday afternoon the whole event felt sort of like a Hogwarts reunion. Melody arrived a bit later on Thursday than she'd predicted, full of apologies and news, bubbling with excitement that she'd won yet another match and been bumped up to a ranking of 108. After a round of drinks and congratulations and a general celebration of the fact that they were all together again, they moved from the living room to the indoor gardens to swap stories and catch up. Molly—though Lily loved her dearly—was thankfully being distracted by her mother and her aunt. They'd decided it was best if she didn't hear too much about what was going on in the wizarding world, because that would make her memory much harder to modify later.
As it was, however, Lily soon found that there was a good deal she couldn't reveal to her own friends about current events in the wizarding world. As members of the Order of the Phoenix, Lily, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter were obliged not to reveal anything they knew through Dumbledore—or, indeed, to reveal the fact that an organization like the Order of the Phoenix existed at all. They had to pretend to be just as clueless about recent goings-on as Mimi and Melody, and they further had to pretend that they didn't see each other rather more often than they'd been seeing Mimi and Melody.
Luckily, however, in the year and several months that they'd been apart, there were rather a lot of other things to catch up on that had nothing to do with Voldemort.
"So, Lil, how's Potions school going?" Mimi asked, tossing Peter the bag of sugar quills Sirius had found in the kitchen.
Lily groaned. "It's dreadful. The potions are so hard, I—"
"Nonsense, Lil, you're doing fantastic," James objected, biting the end off his own sugar quill.
"Don't listen to him, it's very difficult. I'm doing all right in classes," she clarified, before James could contradict her again, "but overall it's far harder than I imagined. There are a lot of students there much older than me, and a lot of them have worked very intensely with Potions before, as apothecaries and such—"
"Well, then what are they doing in Potions school?" Melody wanted to know.
Lily shrugged. "Oh, different reasons. Some of them want to fine-tune their skills; others want to go into teaching, like me, and others—"
"Have the hots for the professors?" Sirius suggested, wiggling his eyebrows up and down.
Lily couldn't help laughing. She'd invited her favorite professor, Amorelia Wittle (Lia for short), to Potter's Cottage for Christmas dinner last year, and Sirius had taken an extreme shine to the single, thirty-something witch, who looked quite a bit younger than she actually was. "The potions professors don't all look like Lia Wittle, Sirius," Lily pointed out.
"Shame, that," Sirius commented. "You'd have a lot more blokes interested in Potions if they did."
"Are you suggesting that Lily won't make an extremely attractive Potions professor?" James demanded, gesturing over at his fiancée.
"Nothing of the sort, mate," Sirius replied calmly. "It's just that Lily's not exactly single. Not so easy to fancy her with a big, jealous bloke like you hanging around all the time, now is it?"
"How exactly did you meet Lia Wittle?" Melody said curiously, staring at Sirius, who was sitting next to her.
Sirius suddenly became extremely interested in his sugar quill, and shoved half of it in his mouth at once. "Ifff a ffuggy ffowy, affuwy," he managed, bits of melted quill dribbling unattractively down his chin.
Melody gave him a look of disgust and directed her gaze at Lily, who rolled her eyes and explained about Christmas.
"She has no family, you see, so I thought it might be nice to invite her over here for part of the holidays."
"I see. Over Christmas, was it? How very interesting, Sirius, that you two met over Christmas," Melody said pointedly, and Lily and the rest of her friends traded bemused glances.
"Nuffing 'appened," Sirius said thickly, swallowing most of the sugar quill.
Melody looked over at Sirius for one tense moment and then, seeming to remember herself, dropped her gaze to the carpet of soft, thick grass on which they were all currently lounging. "Right. Of course," she said quickly. "None of my business anyway, right?"
Sirius stared at her as though she'd just sprouted another ear in the middle of her forehead (something Lily had actually seen somebody do as the result of a failed Ear Healing Potion). "Right," he agreed, looking bewildered.
There was a moment of awkward silence in which Sirius stared at Melody, Melody lunged over and grabbed the bag of sugar quills from Peter, and the rest of the group stared at the both of them, hoping for an explanation. Neither of them said anything; Melody began sucking quite intently on the end of a sugar quill, fiddling with the collar of her shirt and staring pointedly at the ground as her cheeks turned red. Sirius took another bite out of his own quill and chewed on it thoughtfully, looking as though he were trying to pretend this was all perfectly normal.
Finally, Remus cleared his throat. "So, Lily…you were saying…."
"I was?" Lily said faintly.
"About potions school…the other students…" Remus continued desperately, even as all the others continued to glance over at Sirius and Melody awkwardly.
"Oh, right…right!" Lily agreed, jumping on it. "The, ah…other students…brilliant, they are…and, ah…some of them…some of them are doing very important ongoing research! Yes! Extremely important, really exciting…completely, um, fascinating…." She trailed off, still unable to remember where she was going with this.
"Have you run into Damocles Belby at all?" Mimi asked, continuing the attempt to change the subject. "He used to be a student there. I think he teaches occasionally."
"Damocles Belby…Belby…" Lily muttered, rolling the name around in her head. "No, but the name sounds so familiar…"
"Well, he ought to," Mimi added, "he won the Flamel prize when he was there."
"Oh—oh!" Lily exclaimed, smacking herself on the forehead. "Right! Damocles Belby! We learned about him in History of Potions, he—"
"History of Potions?" Peter interjected. "History of Magic was bad enough, but potions?"
"Yeah, well, in case you hadn't noticed by now—Lily's a bit of a nerd, really," James commented.
"Oh, shut up, James," Lily huffed, and poked him with her sugar quill.
"Oh, don't be such a baby…."
"If she's this abusive before you get married, mate…imagine what she'll be like after," Sirius noted, shaking his head solemnly. Both he and Melody seemed to have recovered from…whatever it was.
"Ha ha ha, Sirius, you're so clever," Lily said flatly.
"Yes, well…I'm glad someone noticed." He grinned cheekily.
Melody poked him with her sugar quill.
"Ow!" Sirius glared at her, rubbing his arm. "Now I know how James feels all the time."
"Excuse me? All the time?" Lily fumed.
"So, Mimi," Remus said loudly, raising his voice over the pointless bickering, "how do you know Damocles Belby?"
Mimi looked suddenly as though she wished she hadn't brought it up. "Oh, we've…we've met. I've run into him a few times since…since Hogwarts."
Remus's eyes narrowed slightly. "You mean since you started living in…." He trailed off and glanced at Lily, James, Sirius, and Melody, but they didn't seem to be paying too much attention.
"Yes," Mimi said quietly, and Remus looked suddenly furious. Peter glanced between them curiously, but neither offered an explanation.
"Mimi, I thought we talked about this. I thought you agreed you weren't going to be doing any more research—"
"I'm not doing anything dangerous, Remus—at least, not more dangerous than I have been—"
"Look, I just don't think you should be associating with people like him, he's—"
"He's brilliant," Mimi said harshly. "He could help, you know he could—"
"I don't know anything, Mimi, not really—no one does—and I'm sure his work is important, but I've told you a thousand times, I don't want you getting mixed up in all of this—"
"And I've told you a thousand times, it's too late for that, I'm already deep in it, and—"
The others had stopped fighting about the relative abusiveness of Lily and James's relationship and were now staring at Mimi and Remus.
"Can we talk about this later?" Mimi hissed. She and Remus had a furious, silent staring contest, which Mimi seemed to win, and then she directed her gaze at Lily and said in an unnaturally loud voice, "So you were saying about Potions school?"
"Oh, for heaven's sake," Lily said, throwing up her hands. "I'm done pretending any of you care what I have to say about Potions school. If we're not going to talk about what's really going on, can we at least talk about something we're all interested in?"
"Right," Sirius said quickly. "So about the Wimbourne Wasps this season—Ludo Bagman's been playing spectacularly, hasn't he?"
"Haven't seen a Beater like him in years," James agreed, his eyes already beginning to glaze over with the joy of Quidditch talk.
"What was it like trying out against him?" Melody wondered, looking nearly as dreamy as James.
"Sirius couldn't have tried out against Ludo, could he?" Lily frowned, confused. "Ludo's been playing for a while, hasn't he?"
"Well, all the blokes trying out have to play against the starting team. Ludo was already one of the Wasps' star Beaters when I went out for the team, so I got to scrimmage against him. Smacked me good in the head, he did. It was an honor," Sirius recalled, his own eyes looking a little misty.
"This is your brain," Mimi said, pointing at herself. "This is your brain on Quidditch," she continued, pointing at Sirius.
"Hush now, Mimi; you can't appreciate the moment because you weren't there," Sirius replied, his gaze growing ever mistier.
"Yes, and I'm terribly devastated about it," she replied dryly. "Who wouldn't want to sit around for hours waiting for someone to get knocked upside the head? Sounds thrilling."
"It's a wonder you didn't make the team, Sirius," Remus said solemnly. "Staying on your broom after a hit like that must've been fairly impressive…though I expect you were weaving all over the place and running into people, knocking teammates off brooms, that sort of thing."
"Nah, I fell straight off. Landed face first on the ground. I expect that's why they didn't ask me back for the second day."
"That couldn't've been it, mate," James said dismissively. "I'll bet it was a conspiracy."
"Oh, like what?" Melody asked, rolling her eyes. "Like Ludo Bagman felt threatened by his stunning good looks and purposely sabotaged him during try-outs?"
James considered this for a moment. "Yeah. Yeah, that could've been it…."
"Oh, honestly," Melody said, and fell forward onto the grass to stretch out.
"Are you suggesting that Sirius is not possessed of stunningly good looks?" Mimi teased.
"Not that Sirius needs me to butter up his ego or anything, but no, that's not what I was suggesting. Sirius is perfectly good-looking and he knows it."
Sirius puffed out his chest pretentiously. "Why thank you," he said imperiously. "I am rather striking, aren't I?"
Lily leaned over and poked him in the chest with the end of her quill. Sirius made a sound like a deflating balloon and looked at her dejectedly. The rest of the group laughed, and Sirius hung his head, pretending to be even more put out.
"So sensitive, Sirius," Lily teased. "Is this how you act when the goblins poke fun at you?"
"Well, they don't literally poke me, for one thing," Sirius said, rubbing his chest. He'd taken a job at Gringott's and had been working as a curse breaker in various parts of the world for the last year.
"They're not a very…pleasant bunch, are they?" Peter asked, sounding as though he'd had some experience with them.
"It depends who you're talking with. Most of them are a bit fed up right now; goblins don't seem to fit into Voldemort's or the Ministry's plans for a brighter tomorrow."
"Yes, well, goblins don't exactly function by the same set of rules as wizards, now do they?" James reasoned.
"But by whose account?" Mimi asked softly. "Wizards haven't exactly given them an equal share in the lawmaking, now have they?"
"Goblins, I assure you, are more than capable of taking care of themselves," Remus replied, looking a little edgy.
"Don't waste too much sleep worrying about the goblins, Mimi," Sirius advised. "Remus is right, they can take care of themselves…and anyway, I very much doubt you'd agree with many of their laws if they did have an equal hand in magical lawmaking."
"Well, I don't agree with all the laws wizards have come up with, either, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have a hand in it at all!" Mimi cried.
"I suppose it's not a bad thing that you're so concerned over the plight of your fellow creatures, Mimi," James said thoughtfully, "but keep in mind that it's highly unlikely any goblin would be equally concerned over you."
"Well maybe that's because wizards haven't given them the time of day! You know, some of our laws are really unfair—and it's times like now, when we really need all the support we can get, that we tend to neglect some of the fellow-creatures who could help us—we—"
"I didn't realize you were such a goblin fanatic," Peter cut in, looking a bit alarmed at Mimi's zealousness.
"I'm not just talking about goblins," Mimi said fiercely, and her gaze dropped to the grass by her feet, which she started picking at angrily.
The group's eyes, as a whole, seemed to shift awkwardly to Remus, then just as awkwardly away.
"So Melody," Lily said lamely after a moment, "tell us another dueling story."
This proved to be an excellent distraction from all the tension at hand; Melody had competed in over twenty tournaments in the last year in fifteen different countries and had a solid arsenal of stories to choose from. They listened to Melody's lively narration and relaxed, enjoying the night and each other and the dazzling shower of stars above them, talking until they were too hoarse to speak, too tired to see, too content to move. They fell asleep on the plush blanket of grass, and when they awoke in the morning to find they all had pillows under their heads and blankets wrapped around their waists, they didn't question it; they simply yawned and stretched and smiled at one another before trudging sleepily downstairs for breakfast.
Melody was furious with herself. She'd actually flirted with Sirius last night—what was she thinking? Sure, he was still handsome and funny and—and still Sirius, but that didn't give her the right to—
"Just forget it," she advised herself, slamming her jewelry box closed. She was standing in her guest room at Potter's Cottage, gazing at her reflection in the small mirror that stood above her dresser. "It's over," she reminded herself. "It's over, it's over, it's over," she mumbled, in a sort of chant, which she continued under her breath as she finished dressing.
There was no reason for her to lead Sirius on. But last night…with everybody together again, it had felt like being back at Hogwarts, like being her old self with Sirius again….
But she wasn't her old self, and that was the problem. Over the last few months, everything had changed. Melody's goals, her future, her reality…. Of course she still had the ultimate goal of being a dueling champion and challenging Lord Voldemort to avenge her father, but other goals—smaller goals—had suddenly come into sharper relief. And Sirius…Sirius had no business sticking his nose in the way of those things. Not anymore. Not as anything but a friend, anyway.
This was partly Melody's fault, she supposed. If she hadn't seen him in December…if they hadn't….
It hadn't been planned. Hadn't even been anticipated, really. Melody had been on her way home to see her family, but she'd stopped in London to go Christmas shopping before she headed back to her mother's house for the holidays. A full day of shopping had left her a little weary, so she popped into a local pub (not the Leaky Cauldron, even; her family was all Muggles, so she was shopping in an extremely Muggle part of town) for a quick drink, and the next thing she knew she was buying a round with none other than Sirius Black.
She and Sirius had been in fairly constant contact since leaving Hogwarts; she'd owled him, certainly, more frequently than she'd owled anyone else (assuming, of course, that some of her news would then make it back to James and Lily without her having to pay for another international owl), and it wasn't uneasy, sitting with him at the pub, catching up on things. In fact, it had been brilliant and unexpectedly wonderful, seeing Sirius, and she'd lingered at the pub with him too long.
She was there long enough for Sirius to mention that he'd just found a proper flat, having just returned from Turkey on business for Gringott's. His flat was just round the corner, it turned out, and he hadn't been able to show it to anybody yet. He wanted Melody to pop in for a moment, so at the very least she would know where it was—and if she was ever in London for any reason, he wanted her to know where he lived so she could pop in at any time, for any reason at all.
It was an innocent enough proposition, and it would have remained so if Sirius and Melody weren't Sirius and Melody.
Sirius's apartment had been small, but cute. There wasn't much space for furniture, but perhaps that was all the best, because the little furniture Sirius did have filled up the space nicely. The walk to the flat had been cold and snowy—unusually so, they'd noted, even with their insides still a little warm from their round of drinks. Sirius had offered to make her a cup of tea or hot cocoa to warm her up again before she went, and Melody had made some stupid joke about Sirius becoming very domesticated.
It was strange how easily she'd forgotten how handsome he really was, how much she really liked him, how easy it was to laugh with him. That night in December all her frustrations with him, his immaturity, and their relationship seemed to fade away, and Melody let herself be herself around him in a way she hadn't been for a very long time.
But then Melody quickly became an idiot. She'd stayed for a mug of hot cocoa, curled up on the couch next to Sirius and stared into the fire, and could only fool herself for a minute into thinking that there was nothing romantic about it—that she didn't want anything more from Sirius—that the cute little marshmallows in her cup of cocoa were the reason she'd stayed behind—before things got out of hand. For a brief minute, Melody fooled herself into thinking that she and Sirius were going to make it through the night without doing anything stupid.
In the next minute, though, Melody's denial didn't matter, because she and Sirius were kissing—Sirius's lips guiding hers, his arms wrapped around her, warm and cozy and wonderful—the fire crackling in the background, the two mugs of hot chocolate forgotten on the table—
God, she'd forgotten how much she liked him.
—heat flushing through Melody's face, her stomach, her chest—heat from Sirius's mouth, his lips, his hands—Melody's sweater discarded on the floor, next to Sirius's shirt—
"No," she said loudly, and her voice echoed oddly around the small guest room. "Forget it. It's over," she reminded herself furiously, searching madly through her suitcase for nothing.
She hadn't meant to sleep with Sirius, but she couldn't help herself. They'd made love several times, well into the night, and when Melody awoke the next morning it was to find herself still curled up against him, warm and peaceful and—late, late to see her family, so late—
She'd shrieked when she realized the time and nearly tumbled them both out of bed. But even frantic, that morning was fun—running around the apartment collecting various discarded bits of clothing, Sirius feeding her toast as she scurried around gathering up her things—a big swig of orange juice, a quick kiss good-bye, and then—
"Nothing," Melody reminded herself harshly.
It had gotten awkward after that, impossible to see him. Melody remembered all of Christmas holidays wishing for a chance to get back down to London, but it never came. She would have been free for New Year's—would have gone to Potter's Cottage to see Lily and James and Sirius—but that was impossible, too; Lucifer had her booked in a tournament on New Year's Eve, and she had to leave again.
For maybe a month or so Melody had entertained notions of getting back together with Sirius, but then she remembered herself. She remembered his lack of commitment, remembered all her frustrations with their relationship. His letters never revealed anything new about his intentions, and he never, even in the palest of hints, insinuated that he wanted anything more from her than he'd gotten in the past—that he had any desire beyond the urge simply to see her—maybe spend the night with her—
And for Melody, that was not enough.
Maybe it would have been different, if she had seen him soon again after that night. Maybe if she'd stayed in England; maybe if they hadn't both gone off chasing different adventures. Maybe, maybe…
"Well, it doesn't matter," she reminded herself, turning back to the mirror and giving herself a once-over. "It's finished now, and you can't go back."
This was truer than Melody cared to think about. She absently fingered something around her neck, though her reflection in the mirror showed nothing in the place her fingers grasped. She dropped her hand and reminded herself to quit fiddling. There would be a time and a place for that, but not now. Not while she was still thinking so strongly of Sirius.
"It isn't fair," she told her reflection bitterly. "Why do I still…"
But she trailed off, leaving the question unfinished.
That was just as well, she thought, turning away from the mirror. She wasn't sure she wanted to hear the answer anyway.
The morning was full of awkward glances and unspoken conversations and a mound of secrets Lily wasn't sure she wanted to dig through the day before her wedding. Potter's Cottage turned inside out as Lily and James's mothers went frantic with last-minute preparations, directing house elves and hired workers around the backyard and outdoor gardens as they erected several tents, prepared a pedestal, archway, and trellis for the ceremony, and spruced up the foliage and shrubbery for guest enjoyment. The bridesmaids and groomsmen busied themselves with plans for the bachelor and bachelorette parties, which Lily thought was just as well, because when the bridesmaids and groomsmen were together there was almost too much tension to think about.
Lily and James managed to slip away from the chaos in mid-afternoon and steal down to Godric's Hollow, where they visited their soon-to-be house. It wasn't very well furnished so far—a single couch sat in the middle of the sitting room—but that would be fixed in a matter of days when Lily and James returned from their honeymoon trip to Italy. They curled up on the lone couch, and James produced two glasses and a bottle of champagne he'd smuggled out of the house.
"Is it bad luck to drink wedding champagne before the ceremony?" Lily wondered as James poured her a glass.
James shrugged. "If it is, we're doomed," he said solemnly, filling the second glass and setting the bottle on the floor. He looked into Lily's eyes and they both grinned. "To us," he said, holding up his glass.
"For good luck," Lily agreed, clinking her glass to his. She closed her eyes as she drank, and as the bubbly liquid created a warm burn in her chest she wished for far more than just luck. She wished for…what did she wish for?
Lily sighed and leaned against James, enjoying the feel of his arm wrapped around her, her head close to his, their legs tangled up together.
"When do you think this war will end?" she asked, watching the bubbles rise in the amber-colored liquid.
James was silent for a long moment. "I don't know," he said softly, running a thumb up and down Lily's arm. "I suppose…whenever we find the means to end it."
Lily sighed. This wasn't exactly what she'd been hoping for. "But you do think it will end?" she asked quietly, nudging herself against him further.
"One way or another," James conceded, not altogether reassuringly, but he kissed her forehead and gave her shoulder an affectionate squeeze. Lily sighed and took another sip of champagne before setting the glass on the carpet.
"I just wish…" she voiced, before the thought was half-finished.
"Hm?" James asked.
She wished for a lot of things. For certainty, for peace, for the chance to stay curled up here with James for ages and ages and never let the world seep in. She wished for things she could barely articulate, things she could only just comprehend…for the war to end, certainly, but on a higher level, for it to resolve. All the problems and prejudices and resentments that caused it were more painful to think about than the stark details of the war itself, and each time Lily tried to wrap her head around them, things grew more confusing, less manageable, muddled and unclear and unsolvable.
She tried to think of a way to explain all this to James, to tell him how she hoped for a world in which they could raise children without having to worry over the shadowy suggestion of murder and betrayal and pain in the inconsistent future. She tried to think of a way to express the pounding of her heart and the weakness of her limbs, the shallowness of her breath and the longing ache in her stomach when she touched him. She tried and failed to think how to tell him all the things he meant to her, all the plans that whirled and coalesced and then dissipated inside her head regarding their future, their lives, their marriage. She briefly imagined trying to explain to him the blank void that came when she tried to imagine her life without him, but found it impossible.
Instead, she removed the flute of champagne from his hand and touched her palm to his, examining the way their hands lined up before twining her fingers around his.
Words still refused to come, and Lily looked desperately up at James and hoped he would understand. He raised an eyebrow at her but didn't say anything.
"I…" she began again, feeling stupid. "I wish it were tomorrow," she managed finally.
James gave her a bemused grin and kissed her on the forehead, pulling her to his chest and enveloping her in his arms. Lily sighed and let her eyes flutter closed, feeling the gentle pulse of his heartbeat beneath her ear.
He didn't always understand every little inarticulate thing she tried to say, but he loved her, and that was enough.
Lily's bachelorette party was going swimmingly, if Melody did say so herself. At least—Lily seemed to be enjoying herself. At first she'd resisted the idea of a bachelorette party, and when they'd gotten there she'd tucked herself away at the smallest, most remote table possible, insisting that she didn't need one more night of fun, she had plenty of fun with James, thank you very much, and she just wanted to get married on time tomorrow.
Several White Russians later, however, Lily was cutting a rug on the dance floor like no other, and Mimi and Melody were lounging by the bar, taking covert blackmail pictures of the bride-to-be and laughing over old times.
The old times, unfortunately, were quickly overshadowed by the new times, and talk unpleasantly shifted to the darker matters at hand.
"I'm glad they're having a nice big wedding," Mimi said, contemplating her half-empty gin and tonic. "Too many people running off and eloping these days, afraid to gather together for a big celebration. It's nice."
"I pity the poor Death Eater who tries to cross Lily and James on their wedding day," Melody joked.
Mimi grinned, and then the grin slowly faded as she thought about the upcoming ceremony. "So," she said softly, "how do you feel about walking down the aisle with your ex?"
Melody and Sirius, as Maid of Honor and Best Man, would be heading down the aisle together tomorrow, arm-in-arm. Melody fiddled around with something near the neckline of her dress and contemplated her drink before responding. "Oh—should be all right, I s'pose. It's not like we're expected to talk or anything."
"Yeah…that's true," Mimi replied, and her gaze dropped sadly to the floor.
"Hey—I've been meaning to ask you. What's going on with you and Remus these days? I thought—I thought you were getting on all right anymore."
Mimi sighed. "We were. He's very angry with me right now."
Melody raised her eyebrows expectantly. "Yes. And…why?"
Mimi glanced around. "Come on."
She grabbed her drink and Melody's wrist and led Melody around to the other side of the bar to a deserted cluster of tables. "Muffliato," she muttered, casting a spell so no one would accidentally overhear their conversation.
"Remus hardly talks to me anymore," she confessed. "And when he does, it's just to yell at me."
Melody frowned. "But…it seems like you guys are still close. Just…in a fight."
"Well…I suppose we are, but…we're growing more distant. He's furious—he—" she stopped herself, putting fingers to her temple. "I might as well just spit it out." She looked Melody dead in the eyes, which was a bit disconcerting, especially considering it was Mimi, who was rarely so frank.
"For the last three months, I've been living in a werewolf community."
Melody blinked at her stupidly. "Wait—what?"
Mimi sighed. "I've been trying to learn about them, for—for research purposes. My job at the Daily Prophet is—well, it's just a source of income. What I really care about is—helping. Trying to help werewolves—any of them—all of them—especially Remus, but he…doesn't agree, he thinks I'm being stupid."
Melody stared at her. "And…in what way would you consider this not stupid? I mean—have you been turned into a werewolf yourself?"
"No! I mean…not yet, anyway."
"Not yet? Are you insane? Do you know how dangerous it is to live in a werewolf community when you're not a werewolf yourself?"
"They're not dangerous!" Mimi cried, slamming her glass onto the table. "They're just—horribly misunderstood."
"Mimi, they turn into bloodthirsty monsters once a month. I'd say they're a little dangerous."
"Not when they're humans they're not! And—and anyway, that's the whole point of all of this. I'm trying to do research to see if there's anything I can do to help them! To—to make them be not bloodthirsty monsters once a month!"
Mimi looked desperate, frenzied, and Melody saw quite clearly what pressure Mimi had put herself under these past few months.
"But…Mimi…how are you going to…what do you think you're…there's no cure for lycanthropy, Mimi."
"I know that," she snapped, draining the rest of her glass. "But just think—if I could come up with something to make the transformations less painful—less violent—think what that could do! I mean, do you know how many wizards even care about werewolf rights?" Mimi gave Melody no time to respond. "Nobody does, Melody—just the werewolves themselves. And—God, if you could see the way they live, it's terrible—they're forced into their own secluded communities, they hunt in packs—they have hierarchies, for goodness sake, that carry over into their human lives. The longer they live together the more intense their animalistic tendencies become—and no one wants to help them—most wizards hate and fear them—"
"And you think you're going to be able to fix all this? Mimi, this goes way deeper than a simple potion or spell or—"
"I KNOW THAT! But someone has to take the first step—someone has to try, before they're all driven completely out of the wizards' radar and they all take sides with You-Know-Who!"
Melody fell silent. Mimi looked crazed, her eyes a little bloodshot, her hands shaking slightly. Melody knew Mimi cared about Remus, but she'd never—never realized the extent of her friend's obsession before—hadn't been around to see the changes taking place. "Mimi, I…"
"I'm sorry," Mimi said quickly. "I shouldn't get so angry with people. It's just—no one seems to understand, not even Remus, he—"
"Mimi," Melody interrupted. "I think that, at least, should be obvious. Remus is worried about you. He doesn't want you putting yourself in unnecessary danger."
"Well, it's for his benefit, damn it! He should be grateful!"
Melody gazed at her for a moment, thinking. "He didn't ask you to do this, you know."
"I know," Mimi said, and dropped her head into her hands. "That's why it's so frustrating. If I want to be with him, I have to give all this up. If I give all this up, I—" She looked up at Melody, her eyes sad now instead of infuriated. "I love doing this, Melody. I love the research. I love the feeling that I—that I might be doing something important with my life, that I have a purpose, I—" She cut herself off and shook her head, tears swimming suddenly into her eyes. "I can't just let him go on in agony. I can't just sit here and let them suffer."
Melody sighed and let her gaze fall to her hands. She thought of her wand, of her dueling. Of her father, of Voldemort. Of Lin and Paolo and Lily's family all those who'd fallen, lost, at the hands of the Dark Lord. She wasn't about to sit idly by, either, and let things go on—why should she insist Mimi do the same?
"I know how you feel," Melody said softly. "Believe me, I…"
"I know," Mimi said fiercely, leaning over and squeezing Melody's hand. "That's why I told you."
Melody looked up and grinned. "Some wedding this is going to be, huh?"
Mimi laughed. "Let's try to keep as much of the angst away from Lily and James as possible. They're pretty much the perfect couple—they don't need any kinks messing up their wedding day."
"Melody, I don't know if I can do this."
"What? Lily, have you lost your mind?"
"I—I—I don't know, I just—I woke up this morning, and I thought—hey, maybe this is a bad idea. Maybe this is a terrible idea. Maybe—maybe you're not ready for this kind of commitment after all. Maybe James isn't either. Maybe—maybe we shouldn't be doing this."
"Okay, Lily, calm down. Please. Just—breathe slowly for a second, all right?"
Melody put her hands on the bride's shoulders and stared at her until Lily appeared to be breathing normally again.
She was completely dolled up, laced into her corset, practically sewn into her unbelievably gorgeous sleeveless wedding gown, veil draped artistically over her head, bouquet in hand, waiting in the wedding tent for the ceremony to start—and she chose now to get cold feet.
"Lily. You're going to marry James."
"I know, but—but—but should I?"
Melody stared at her. "Um…yes."
"Oh. Oh, right. You—you're sure?"
Lily turned back to the mirror and examined herself. She fidgeted, messing with her veil and the neckline of her dress.
"But—but what if I'm not ready?" she demanded, whirling around to face her best friend.
"Oh, for heaven's sake…Lily, come here." Melody grabbed Lily's hands and dragged her to the small couch on the other side of the tent. "Just listen for a sec. I…you love James, right?"
"You said yes when he proposed to you?"
She nodded again.
"And you didn't have second thoughts about it then?"
"Well—no, not at the time—"
"Just hush. Yes or no, please."
"Well—no, not really."
"Right. Perfect. Okay, so—you've been engaged for over a year, and you've made it this far, and—any second thoughts before now?"
Lily thought for a moment, her face screwed up in concentration. She shook her head slowly.
"Good. All right. So…just…answer me this, Lily. When you think about your future…can you imagine James not being in it?"
Lily looked at her steadily, thoughts churning around inside her head.
"I mean…when you think about it, can't you…can't you picture yourselves together for a long time? Can't you imagine yourselves growing old together, raising a family together, living together until you're a little old lady and he's a little old man, and you—you're puttering around the house together, you know?" Melody's eyes, at this point, started to go a little misty. "And—and you're still arguing about Qudditch, you know? About—about whose team is better, and—and about the old days, about who should have won the Quidditch Cup at Hogwarts way back when, and—and who pulled the better pranks, and—" She cut herself off, thinking, eyes shimmering with thought.
"Well—you're nosing around for an old spellbook in the kitchen, and he's still racing around the backyard on a broomstick, whacking things around, and you're always arguing about the dumbest things, and—neither of you can remember the names of all your grandkids, but that's okay because you give them all the same thing for Christmas every year anyway—a bag of Dungbombs, of course—and—you have your old Hogwarts friends over all the time, because—well, you just can't get enough of each other, and—and the war's long over, and you made it through all right, and it's just—you're just—"
"Happy," Lily finished, and Melody blinked, surprised to see that her best friend was still there.
"Right," Melody agreed, and both girls were looking a little more than misty-eyed.
"Melody, why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell—tell you what?"
"You're still in love with Sirius."
Melody's cheeks flushed violently. "I am not. I—we—we're not even together anymore, I've—"
"Then why were you thinking about you and him growing old together?"
Lily snorted. "Well, James doesn't go around whacking things when he's on a broomstick. He's a Seeker, not a Beater, and anyway—what makes you think James and I would give our grandkids Dungbombs for Christmas? That sounds much more like you and Sirius than it does me and James."
"Ah, but—see—you haven't got cold feet anymore, have you?"
"Well, no, but—"
"Oh, there you two are! Come on, come on—we're starting!" Mimi said, bursting into the tent and grinning wildly. "You look fantastic, Lily. Come on, Melody—let's get a move on!"
She grabbed Melody by the arm and yanked her out of the tent, leaving Lily alone for another few minutes to compose herself.
The evening was perfect. Not too hot, not too cool…slightly cloudy, but light fluffy clouds only, being tinged all shades of orange and pink and purple as the sun blazed downward over the horizon. All the frantic work and preparation paid off—the guests made it to their seats with ease, the ceremony started on time, and when Lily appeared at the end of the aisle, everyone had an excellent view of the bride, who by the time she caught sight of James was grinning so widely her face practically beamed with light.
Lily forgot about the wedding. Lily forgot about her dress, about the dozens of people sitting around watching her walk up the aisle, about the large and unusually heavy bouquet she was holding, and just stared at James Potter's face as she walked toward him, taking the most significant few steps of her life as she joined him on the altar.
"Lily-bean, you look…wow," James whispered, taking her hand.
"Not so bad yourself, Jamesie-poo," she whispered back, grinning.
Lily wasn't quite there for the rest of the ceremony. She just stared at James, grinning, as they tried to make faces at each other in a subtle manner.
When they got to the "I do"s, Lily's throat tightened involuntarily. She was afraid the words weren't going to come out, that her voice would squeak, that she wouldn't be able to—
"I do," she said, warmly and evenly, surprising herself. She grinned, feeling ridiculous—she couldn't stop grinning—but found that she didn't care so much about feeling ridiculous just now. Her I do had somehow come out perfectly; it—it somehow sounded just like her, just how she felt, just at this very moment. How could two small words do such a thing?
And then it was James's turn.
"I do," he said, his eyes dancing merrily, and in those small words, he, too managed to capture the essence of his mischievous, trouble-making, deceivingly sweet little self.
And then their wedding bands were on, and then marriage rushed at Lily in the form of a kiss—long and sweet and innocent—and then the ceremony was finished, and Mr. and Mrs. Potter turned to beam out at their friends, and Lily caught sight of her mother sobbing and smiling in the front row, and Lily laughed out loud, tears sparkling happily in her eyes, greeting the world as Lily Evans no more.
"How're you holding up?" Sirius asked, depositing himself in the seat next to Melody.
She grinned. "Oh, you know…comfortable shoes, a few glasses of champagne…not too shabby, really."
Sirius nodded, grinning himself. "Hard to believe, isn't it?" he said, gesturing toward Lily and James on the dance floor. "Those two finally tying the knot."
"Yeah," Melody agreed, shaking her head. "And to think she used to slap him every time he tried to kiss her."
Sirius laughed. "Look at them now, eh? All grown up and off to fight the Dark Lord…."
Melody twirled her glass of champagne around between her fingers before taking a drink. She tried, with some difficulty, to ignore the fact that Sirius was now staring at her. "It's all happening so fast these days, isn't it?" she managed, with a glance across the table. He was now looking at her as though he hadn't properly seen her for ages.
"Yeah," Sirius agreed. "It's getting a little hard to keep up with, I think." He paused for a moment, and Melody continued to contemplate her champagne.
"Melody…" Sirius began, and seemed unable to finish.
"Hm?" Melody glanced up and her heart gave a little jolt. Damn it. Not fair.
"How've you been?" he asked softly, and Melody shifted uncomfortably as jolts of memory burst through her head. That night in December…Sirius's apartment….
She'd convinced herself that she would forget about it, that Sirius wasn't right for her, and over the past few months, Lucifer…Lucifer helped her forget; he promised her things Sirius couldn't; he….
"I've been good. Dueling's going well and everything. It's been…busy," she said, glancing into Sirius's eyes for a moment, wondering if he would pick up the hint of apology on her face.
He nodded. "Congratulations to you, by the way, on being ranked," he said, and lifted his glass of champagne for a toast. He grinned. "Though I'm not sure I should be saluting the fact that you're now more lethal with a wand than you were at Hogwarts."
She grinned. She didn't deserve for him to have glossed over that moment, for him to be at all forgiving for the way she'd let things fall apart. But it seemed like he truly wanted things to be easier between them, and Melody wasn't about to mess that up by being anything other than lighthearted. "Scared, Black?" she teased.
"Nah," he shrugged, leaning back in his chair lazily, "I think I could still take you."
Melody let out a bark of laughter. "Oh really? Care to find out?"
Sirius grinned at the familiar look of challenge on Melody's face and took a sip of champagne. "I'm not sure we ought to risk it at Lily and James's wedding. Lily might kill us both."
"Good point." Melody grinned back at Sirius for a long moment before realizing she was flirting with him.
She dropped her gaze and stared back into her glass, which was now nearly empty. How many had she had? Her heart was pounding oddly, and she felt a ridiculous flush creeping up her neck.
If she hadn't slept with Sirius in December, this wouldn't be an issue. She would have been able to convince herself that she had to get over him, that he wasn't ready, he would never be, and she couldn't torture herself anymore being in love with someone who didn't want the same things she did. It was over now. She had someone else, she…
"Hey," Sirius said, frowning at the look on Melody's face, "you all right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," Melody lied, and drained the rest of her champagne. She hoped that Sirius would regard the sudden flush on her face as the result of alcohol and not of him.
"You seem a little…edgy."
"Hm? No, I just think…maybe a little too much champagne, a little too much dancing…I need to clear my head."
"Ah, I see. Well…in that case, do you want to go for a walk? Get away from all this? I hear the gardens look marvelous."
If Melody had continued staring at the ground and put her head in her hands and claimed she was suddenly too dizzy to go for a walk, she would have been able to avoid it. As it was, however, she made the monumental mistake of glancing up at him for a moment—one small fraction of a moment—and the look on Sirius's face—
"Yeah, all right," Melody agreed, somewhat stupidly, and Sirius set down his glass of champagne and stood, holding his hand out for her in a surprisingly gentlemanlike fashion. Melody took it, and after she stood, Sirius didn't let go, lacing his fingers through hers and leading her in the direction of the outdoor gardens.
They wound through tables of wedding guests, and by the time they got to the first enormous hedge Melody was ready to turn back. Her mind screamed that this was a terrible idea, that she shouldn't go anywhere alone with Sirius, that she would lose her head if she did…. It wasn't right—it wasn't fair—it wasn't smart, and Melody was on the verge of twisting her hand from Sirius's grasp and walking away when he turned his head to grin at her.
Melody met his eyes again, and in that moment she was lost. Stupidity overcame her, and she followed him blindly into the maze, ignoring her conscience and listening only to the happy little tingles that bounced around her and Sirius's interlocked hands, running up and down her arms and bubbling inside her brain at such an alarming rate that they consumed all common sense.
The first section of the indoor gardens was full of other wedding guests. Sirius and Melody stopped every so often to admire a particularly nice topiary depicting a unicorn or hippogriff before moving on. They wound their way through the hedges into sections of the indoor gardens that contained fountains, shape-shifting bushes, and ever-blooming flowerbeds, until they reached a small deserted area with a fountain carved in the shape of house elves that no one else seemed to have stumbled across.
They halted and stared at the fountain for a few long moments. Sirius, seeming to decide that no one else was going to interrupt them, shifted ever slightly closer and looked down at her.
"How have you been, really? I mean, besides dueling and all that. Have you been all right?"
Melody wasn't quite sure where he was going with this, but the part of her brain that hadn't gone momentarily ga-ga felt uneasy about it. "I've been fine, Sirius. Really."
"I haven't heard from you much the last few months."
Even the ga-ga part of Melody couldn't quite stand looking into his eyes and having this conversation, so she let her gaze drop downward, which unfortunately brought it to rest on their interlocked hands. She liked the feel of it, warmth flowing from one hand to another, and the look of her long elegant fingers tangled up in Sirius's larger, rougher ones. "I know. I'm sorry. I've been…busy."
"I missed hearing from you."
Melody closed her eyes as the non ga-ga part of her overwhelmed her with guilt. "I'm sorry," she repeated, softer this time, and began to wish that she hadn't had quite so much champagne. If she hadn't, perhaps she wouldn't be swaying on the spot, leaning in toward Sirius, misleading…
"Melody, I…I miss you. You in general, not just…hearing from you. I miss talking to you, I miss seeing you…." Sirius brought his other hand to Melody's chin and tipped her head upward. Melody almost didn't want to know what would happen if she looked directly into Sirius's eyes again, but she couldn't help herself.
Melody's stomach fell out of her. In all the time she and Sirius had known each other, not once had he looked at her like—like—that.
And for one long, unfortunate moment, Melody forgot that this was not okay. It was no longer appropriate for Sirius to look at her like that, like he wanted her and only her, and forget everything else.
But Melody didn't move, just stared back at him dumbly. He seemed to take this the wrong way, because before she had a chance to move or even really blinked, he leaned down and started kissing her.
Melody must have had a few more glasses of champagne than she thought, because when she closed her eyes her head started spinning, and she realized she was drunk, drunk and kissing Sirius, and for a long moment of delirium couldn't remember why this was a bad thing. Heat flushed through her as she leaned into him, and the world refused to right itself—she couldn't tell if she stood there kissing him for a minute or much longer, but it didn't matter, really—she was pleasantly oblivious, whether because of Sirius or the drink she couldn't say—but that didn't matter, either. It wasn't until Sirius pulled her closer against him and something round and hard dug into her chest that she remembered she wasn't supposed to be doing this, that this wasn't good—this wasn't good at all.
She pulled away slowly, meeting with some reluctance on Sirius's end. The world was still spinning slightly, so she kept her arms around his neck and tried not to appear as drunk as she was.
"Oops," Melody giggled, feeling even more heat rush to her face.
"Oops?" Sirius echoed. "How much champagne have you had?"
"Oh, you know…three or four or…five…or so."
"Five? Melody, the reception didn't even start an hour ago."
"No," she protested, speaking perhaps a little too loudly. She shook her head and spots danced in front of her eyes. Damn. She hated it when it hit her all at once like this. "It was like…hour and a half ago."
"Oh yes, that's much better," Sirius said dryly, gripping her waist as she swayed backwards slightly.
"Don't get all sarcastic on me, Sirius Black," Melody frowned, holding up a finger to wag at him. "I'm practically sober. I could walk home."
"Home where? Home to London, a hundred miles away?"
"Oh. Right. Well I bet I could Floo there."
"Yeah, I can really see you spinning around in a fireplace right now. That sounds like a smashing idea."
"Oooh, there you go again," she pouted, and put her finger on his nose. She wasn't really sure why. She'd meant to poke him in the chest.
Sirius raised his eyebrows at her. If Melody wasn't very much mistaken, he looked a bit…amused. "You're drunk," he noted, grinning.
"So? I'm an adult! I've been pissed before, you know."
Sirius laughed. "Yes, I know. I've just never seen you."
"Not true. That night-at-the-pub. Totally drunk then."
"Not like this. We were there for a while. We ate dinner." He frowned suddenly. "Have you eaten today?"
Melody threw up her arms and almost fell backwards. "They haven't cut the cake yet!"
Sirius laughed again, straightening her up. "Jesus. You're smashed."
"You don't have to keep saying it." Melody put her arms back around his neck.
He looked down at her, frowning again. "Is that why you kissed me? Because you're drunk?"
Melody swayed again, this time leaning in toward Sirius. "I don't…think so." She blinked and squinted until he came into focus. "I think you kissed me."
"Well, you didn't seem to mind."
"I didn't mind."
Melody only briefly had time to register that this may have been the wrong thing to say before Sirius kissed her again.
She couldn't help herself. She kissed him back some more, wrapping her arms around his neck, pressing herself against him and forgetting—forgetting—
"Wait," she said, remembering suddenly. "This is bad."
"Bad?" Sirius looked a bit dazed. He looked down at her but didn't move, didn't try to detangle his hand from her hair, didn't quite move his face far enough from hers for her to finish that thought.
"Mm-hmm," she agreed, kissing him again. "Bollocks. Also not good."
"And this?" Sirius wondered, leaning in and offering her yet another thing to regret.
"Mm," Melody agreed, unable to resist. "Terrible."
Sirius grinned, perhaps thinking it a game. "Why so terrible?"
"Because, I'm…" She got distracted as he kissed her. "I…" And again. "I shouldn't, I'm…."
Melody was still quite drunk, but she was coming to her senses. It was too bad the drunken part of her enjoyed being with Sirius so much, but perhaps…perhaps it was a good thing she was drunk enough to want to tell him now, now…now at least he'd gotten a chance to say good-bye properly, even if he didn't know just now that that was what he'd been doing.
"Please…stop. For—for a minute," Melody managed, frowning and feeling suddenly ill at ease.
Sirius frowned down at her. "You're not going to be sick? You haven't had that much to drink, have you?"
"No…no, it's not that, it's…I'm sorry," she said finally, looking up into his dark brown eyes once more. She placed a hand on one side of his face. She probably shouldn't have—she probably shouldn't have been touching him at all anymore, in fact—but everything still felt so blurry, her head was still spinning around in a dizzying rush, and—
"We can't do this anymore," she blurted. "We can't keeping messing each other around."
Sirius looked oddly brightened by this statement, but Melody was yet too drunk to process exactly what that might mean. "Melody—Melody, I don't want to keep messing you around. I don't. I want us to be something better than that."
"Good. No, wait—better than that? How—how better?"
"Merlin's pants, Melody, come on, even—even smashed, you ought to know how I feel."
"I…." It took a moment for the words to come. "That's not what I meant. Not—not—not what I meant," she clarified.
Sirius stared at her, the furrow between his brows creasing darkly, faint realization sweeping over his face as Melody refused to meet his gaze. "What did you mean then, Melody?"
"I…I meant…we can't. Because I…I've…."
Sirius closed his eyes. "Shit," he whispered. "You've—you've gone and gotten someone else, have you?"
Their hands were still tangled up in each other. They blurred under Melody's gaze—her world started spinning again—she didn't quite register until the first tear landed on her wrist that she was now crying. She pulled away, wiping hastily at her eyes.
"Sirius, I thought—I mean, I never thought we'd—we—we were over, Sirius. I had to move on."
"Over? Melody, we were never over. We…" Sirius grabbed her by the arms. "How can you say that? How can you stand here right now and say that, when we've…"
"I was wrong." Melody stared at the ground, tears dribbling down her cheeks. "I'm—I'm sorry, Sirius, but I—"
"Look, can't you just dump the guy? Can't you just..."
But Melody shook her head violently, and then grabbed Sirius as the world lurched toward her. "Too late, too late, too late," she whispered, miserable.
"Melody, it's not—it's never—"
"No! It is—it is—it is, it is—it IS! Too late!" Hands shaking, she pushed away from Sirius and grappled for the invisible chain around her neck. "I meant to tell you, I—I couldn't think how—how to tell anybody, but now…" She tugged until the chain came out from under her dress, then ran it through her fingers until it shimmered into being. The world fractured again as tears swam into her eyes, and she sobbed as she held up the two rings dangling on the end of the chain. Her diamond engagement ring sparkled. Her golden wedding band shone.
Her Sirius went paler than moonlight and backed away from her, stunned.
Melody put a hand over her mouth and cried. "I'm—I'm sorry," she managed to choke out. "I never meant to—"
"Who?" Sirius demanded, hoarsely.
"Sirius, if you only knew—"
"Who?" he demanded again.
"Sirius, I—he—he's been—"
"WHO?" Sirius bellowed, and Melody tried to wipe away the stream of tears cascading down her cheeks.
"L—Lucifer. Lucifer M—Malfoy," she managed, and managed to clear her vision enough to see the look of absolute disgust and horror on Sirius's face just before he turned and walked away.
"S—Sirius, wait! Please—I—"
She tried to run after him, but he didn't slow down, didn't acknowledge her, didn't even glance over his shoulder when she stumbled, cried out, and sent her drunken, miserable self flying to the ground.
Lily sat alone at a table with the final glass of champagne, contemplating the night sky. The guests were gone, the dance floor deserted, but Lily remained, alone with her thoughts, content with her life, bursting towards happiness in a way she never had before.
James, his jacket unbuttoned and bowtie undone, came up behind her and kissed her on the neck as he lowered himself into the seat next to her.
"Well, Mrs. Potter," he said, grinning. "How did you find the evening?"
Lily turned her head and smiled, her face shining in the starlight. "Practically perfect, Mr. Potter," she replied, "in every way."
James leaned over and tucked a stray bit of hair behind her ear. She grabbed his hand and kissed the back of it.
"I was just thinking we—oh, James—look!"
She pointed, gasping, over his shoulder, and James turned around, eyebrows raised, and laughed. "Fancy that."
At the edge of the forest lining the property, several unicorns appeared, their silver and gold coats shining in the moonlight.
Lily laughed as well. "God, that's perfect. This whole day has just been so…"
"Perfect?" James suggested, turning back to her and grinning again.
"Oh, shut it. You know there's no other word for it."
"Well, maybe there is. How do you know there isn't?"
"Well, can you think of one?"
"I ought to be able to. I am the brains of this operation, you know," James said stretching his arms over his head cockily.
"Oh, are you really?" Lily demanded, poking him in the stomach. "Since when, I'd like to know?"
"Since I became Mr. Potter, naturally. The Mister always takes precedence over the Missus."
"Well, we'll just have to see about that, won't we, Mr. Potter?" Lily said, glaring, her brilliant green eyes giving off a fresh pickled toad-like aura of challenge. (And fresh pickled toads, mind you, have been known to be extremely challenging.)
"Oh, I don't think that'll be necessary. You see, I just happen to know these things."
Lily let out a bark of laughter. "Oh, that's rich. God, what ever made me think it was a good idea to marry such a prat, anyway?" she demanded, leaning closer to him, her eyes still sparking dangerously.
"Well, I'm extremely athletic and attractive, you see. This was all part of my master plan," James replied easily, wiggling his eyebrows at her.
"Oh, stuff it, you great overgrown antler-head," she said as their noses touched.
"Whatever you say, my dearest fuzzy-wuzzy Lily-bean plant," James said, grinning as their lips brushed.
"I thought we talked about you never calling me that."
"Right," James said, putting his hands to her face. "Sorry, Mrs. Potter. I'll have to work on that."
"Yes. See that you do."
And for just one moment, the world seemed to make sense, as the stars shimmered brightly overhead and James and Lily Potter kissed in the moonlight.
A/N: The end.
One last green-eyed, slap-happy, potion-brewing, spell-casting, necklace-wearing, James Potter-kissing, hormonal teenage THANK YOU (no, not a Lily Evans, but a THANK YOU) goes out to everyone who has ever read this story, particularly those of you who have made it to the end. Specific thanks extended to Holly, Emily, and Lia for all their help and support over the grueling years. (You know who you are.)
So now it is the time for grand decisions. Will you scroll down to the bottom and leave me a lovely and generous review…or will you read everything that is to follow and THEN leave me a lovely and generous review? (If I were you, I would just go straight to the reviewing. Not that I'm, you know, biased or anything. And I'm definitely not hinting anything. Definitely not.)
In the following paragraphs, I am going to attempt to write out a summary of everything that is supposed to happen after the end of "Eyes." I may not remember everything correctly and some of it might not make any sense, but I feel like I have to do it, because I'm never going to write any of it, and I feel like you guys ought to know.
In case you weren't aware, "Eyes as Green as a Fresh Pickled Toad" was intended to be a prequel to the fic "A Lily Story," which mysteriously stopped long ago at the end of Chapter Seven because I wrote a cliffhanger to which I had no predetermined conclusion, and then I couldn't think of a good conclusion for it so I stopped writing A Lily Story and started working on Eyes instead. (Because that's how cool I am.) So if you've already read A Lily Story, you'll know that it is an Alternate Universe fic in which Lily and James do not die. This has basically been my excuse, over the years, for all the discrepancies between "Eyes…" and Harry Potter canon. (Lily being in Ravenclaw, Frank Longbottom being in Hufflepuff, everyone in the world getting to be a Prefect, etc.) Also I started writing this story pre-OotP, so frankly there were just a bunch of things I didn't know.
Anyway, so after the end of Eyes, this is basically what happens to the characters:
Mimi dies before Harry is born. You could call her either a casualty of the war or of her own stupidity, but either way her attempt to help the werewolves leads to her downfall. She campaigns for werewolf rights even after Voldemort has recruited many of them to his side, and as a result faces persecution from the Ministry. She ends up dying in a werewolf attack led by Fenrir Greyback. One of her former research companions, Damocles Belby, who she mentions in this Epilogue, goes on to invent the Wolfsbane Potion.
She never resolves her relationship with Remus.
Melody and Lucifer have a child named Alex. A long time ago, Alex and Melody were both part of another story I wrote called Ginny's Hogwarts, which has since been deleted from cyberspace and which I no longer have a complete copy of. For some reason (and perhaps because it was pre-GoF??), I thought it would be a great idea if Lucifer Malfoy were somehow related to Voldemort and for his son, Alex, to be the next heir of Slytherin. As a result, Alex can speak Parseltongue and is semi-badass (but, because of his mum, not evil). Melody eventually discovers Lucifer's strong ties to the Dark Lord and ends up poisoning Lucifer to escape his home. She flees to Godric's Hollow and lives with Lily and James for a while before finding a place of her own.
LILY AND JAMES
Meanwhile, Harry is born, the Dark Lord is on a rampage, and Lily and James choose Sirius as their Secret Keeper instead of Wormtail. Not long after, Wormtail is found out as a spy and Remus (whom they had been suspecting because of all the werewolf nonsense) is acquitted of all suspicions. Lily and James soon have another child, only a year younger than Harry, whom they name Melody. (This younger Melody is the same age as Melody Cauldwell's son Alex.)
THE PLOT OF A LILY STORY
James works as an Auror and Lily is the Potions master at Hogwarts. After running away from Lucifer, Melody gets a job as Dueling Mistress at Hogwarts. Remus may or may not be the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Sirius is probably an Auror as well, but I sort of don't remember.
Anyway, from what I recall, A Lily Story was about both Lily's and Harry's generations as Harry moved through his first four years at Hogwarts. There were a lot of significant details that I changed from canon because of Lily and James living. For one thing, Harry had a different wand and he couldn't speak Parseltongue; Voldemort never attacked him, so there was no reason for there to be a connection. Neville Longbottom I depicted as a perfectly normal boy, both his parents still sane (because according to canon, they weren't tortured to the point of insanity until after Voldemort's downfall), and Neville also had a little sister, the same age as Harry's little sister. (This detail about Neville, of course, was written pre-OotP, so I had no way of knowing about the prophecy.)
I also intended for each year to mimic, in some ways, the plots of the original books. During Harry's first week at school, for example, Melody schemes to get Harry on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, because of course being raised by wizard parents, Harry already knows he's quite good at Quidditch. There also may have been some namby-pamby planned involving the Sorcerer's Stone, but I don't entirely remember. (I know…great summary, right?)
Meanwhile, Lily and James and Melody have left their youngest children (Alex and Melody) in Sirius's charge. They live in Lily and James's house in Godric's Hollow during the school year, with Lily and James dropping in to visit as frequently as possible.
James gets sent off on Auror spy missions frequently, and at the point where I stopped writing, he's in the middle of a mission that requires camping in Siberia, and in the middle of the night all the Aurors wake up to see the Dark Mark painted across the sky.
Yeah, I'm not really sure what happens here, but James gets out of it just fine. Let's move forward.
Lily occasionally has terrible dreams and premonitions (some of them necklace-related, some not; for example, when James is in trouble in Siberia, she knows about it through the necklace), some of them resulting in her waking up with her lifeline bleeding. She often dreams about the HP canon world, the world we read about in J.K. Rowling's wonderful (and far better-planned) books that have inspired all this nonsense I'm currently writing about. She sees Harry growing up with the Dursleys, sees him being neglected, and has snatches of dreams about his accomplishments at Hogwarts as he ages and tackles greater and greater feats throughout the years.
But of course in the world I'm writing about none of this actually happens, so let's move on.
Yeah. Can't think of any more really crucial plot points in First Year, mostly because there weren't any and even if there were I don't remember them.
So, Second Year Alex and Melody (and Ginny Weasley!) come to Hogwarts, get Sorted into Gryffindor (yep, that's right—the heir of Slytherin gets put in Gryffindor), and at some point during the year Alex discovers the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and opens it, which causes major problems, which are probably resolved by the combined efforts of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and maybe some twiddly insignificant professors like…Harry's mom, perhaps, or Dumbledore or someone.
Meanwhile, Lily continues to grow sick with worry over James and his Auror business, the war gets worse, Sirius and Melody are patching up their relationship and flirting again, and because I can't remember what happens, Remus is basically not a huge part of the plot. He probably would be if I actually sat down and wrote it, but whatever.
In Third Year, Harry may or may not uncover the secret of the Shrieking Shack, but all the Third Years do get to go down to Hogsmeade (yay!), and this leads to some intense spying on the part of the younger Melody and Alex (who, even though they are only in Second Year, steal Harry's invisibility cloak and follow all the Third Years to Hogsmeade anyway), whose parents have started dating again. (You all knew Melody and Sirius were going to get back together. Come on.) This culminates in Sirius proposing to Melody (finally), and everyone is happy as a clam.
At least until Fourth Year, when the school is attacked by Voldemort and Melody dies. (It's such a shame.) Well, I think this is what happens anyway. At any rate, the school is attacked by someone, and Melody appears to be a casualty, and everyone has lots of issues, and clearly I never plotted this whole thing out very well because I cannot for the life of me remember what happens. (But, fortunately, I don't have to know what's going to happen in a story for me to be able to write a thousand pages of it. This is precisely how I wrote Eyes, at least for the first couple years. I didn't really have anything planned out for it, I just sat down every once in a while and made shit up as I went. Then later I plotted it out and the chapters started getting really long, because I realized I was better at writing nothing than writing plot, so it became very difficult and quite lengthy to fit the bits of plot I needed to fit in each chapter with all the nothing. 'S a very tricky business, writing. If you're going to do it, you should probably be more organized than me.)
Anyway, right, okay, Melody's dead, at least for a while until they discover she's actually been Transfigured into something else and buried in the ground outside Hogwarts. There used to be a really baller reason for this. Like…someone specific attacked Melody to get revenge on her for poisoning Lucifer (possibly, I don't know, Lucius Malfoy was ticked off by this or something), and they wanted her gone but they didn't want her dead, or…or they were trying to kill her but Melody Transfigured herself at the last minute to save herself, and the enemy never figured it out. Of course, unfortunately, her friends had no idea what the hell was going on either, so it took them a long time to figure out what the hell had happened to her…possibly until they captured Lucius Malfoy and extracted his memory and put it in a Pensieve and saw what Melody did to herself. (Ooh. That sounds good. Let's go with that.)
Then everyone is really glad Melody is back, especially Alex and Sirius, and things appear to be getting better. At least for a little while. This is where A Lily Story ends.
I know it seems kind of inappropriately named at this point, because I've told you pretty much nothing about what happens to Lily, but that's only because, as I have mentioned before, I don't really remember. But rest assured lots of stuff happens with Lily. She is around for all of this nonsense. And she maintains a solid relationship with her kids and spends a lot of time worrying about James.
And then there's another story that follows this one, called:
BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
This fic opens with Melody and Sirius getting hitched. It's a really fun celebration, and compared to Lily and James's wedding there's no drama at all.
Except, I guess, with the younger generation. This is about the time all the kids realize they have hormones and start hooking up with each other. I'm pretty sure I remember the pairings for this story, but I could be wrong. Oh well. At any rate, at some point in either 5th or 6th year, the following people become couples: Melody/Alex, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione. This sounds right to me now because it's pretty much just canon pairings, so I might be remembering incorrectly. But who cares.
Anyway…the big plot points in fifth year were all probably teenage relationship-related, because when I actually plotted out this story (apparently without writing any of it down, because I rarely have the patience for that kind of thing), HP5 hadn't come out yet, so I didn't have anything to base the 5th year on.
So yeah. I'm sure something happens. And then in 6th year, I toyed with having the major plot point be Lily leaving James for a while, because she just couldn't stand worrying about him anymore. Mostly I knew this would throw my readers into absolute conniptions, so I kind of wanted to do it because I'm evil like that, and also for some reason I had plans to bring Ethan back into the story, to hit on Lily and make her realize she could never ever really leave James. They get back together. Don't worry.
Yeah, okay, and at SOME point here, Lily, James, Sirius, and Melody were going to use Lily's necklace to travel to the past to talk to Godric Gryffindor about Lily's necklace, and Gryffindor's Castle, and other stuff. And it was going to be a really big, multi-chapter adventure through the past (particularly since Harry, Melody, Alex, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione also get themselves dragged along to the past, in a really irresponsible but kind of spiffy manner). And…then I decided to move most of the time traveling to "Eyes" so Lily could find out stuff about her necklace sooner…and then I was feeling lazy when I wrote that chapter so the time traveling wasn't nearly as awesome as it could have been. (Kind of like this summary. Sorry.)
And then in 7th year, when Voldemort has pretty much managed to take control of…oh, I don't know, everything…the really cool part happens. Two fic worlds collide.
My original idea was for the worlds of "A Lily Story" and "Ginny's Hogwarts" to slam together, as the result of a ridiculously powerful spell that Lily's necklace casts. So then there would be two of Harry running around, two of Ginny, two of Melody (the elder) and two of Alex (since Melody and Alex were both characters in Ginny's Hogwarts, originally), and so on. And only with the two worlds colliding, with all the characters together, and Lily and James able to talk to the more canon-like Harry who never knew his parents, and two Dumbledores and everything, could they defeat Voldemort.
Plus all the pairings in Ginny's Hogwarts were different…it was Ginny/Alex, Harry/Hermione, Ron/someone, so there was going to be a lot of fun romantic confusion as well.
I'm not really sure how it all worked out, but in my head it was going to be awesome.
And then I deleted Ginny's Hogwarts and got distracted writing Eyes, and now six years later I'm not ever going to write any of it, but that's cool.
They defeat Voldemort and everyone's happy in the end, and I don't think I planned on having any more major characters die because in case you hadn't noticed, I'm really bad at killing people and having them stay dead.
So…yeah. That's that. That's what happens. (Or at least…it was all supposed to happen, because I was going to write these stories, but…oh well.)
I bet you're feeling really annoyed right now at how completely uninformative and unfulfilling that summary was, but that's okay. Just think about Eyes and how it's finished and how you sort-of know what happens to the characters and it will all be okay.
I really think you guys should all leave reviews for this chapter, because let's face it, you're never going to have a chance to review for a new chapter of "Eyes as Green as a Fresh Pickled Toad" again. Everrrrrrrrrrrrrr. And if you haven't done so previously, why not start now? It's never too late. (Trust me.)
I would honestly love to hear any and all thoughts, opinions, flames, questions, comments, WHATEVER, that you have, because, first of all, I honestly do read them all, and secondly, I'm never posting anything ever again, so I'd really like to hear from as many of you as possible before I go off and tackle the real world and write something original for a change. (Hahahahaha…fun.)
Happy 2008, kids. It's been fun.