Oh my god oh my god I get to click the 'complete' box. Is this real life?
Disclaimer: I would have to be seriously deluded to take credit for J.K.R.'s amazing creations. All characters, situations and…well, pretty much anything you recognize, belong to J. K. Rowling.
Hogwarts Graduation Ceremony, June 1977
Under hangings of red, blue, yellow, and green, the Great Hall was packed to the brim. Students in gowns and pointy hats bunched together in the aisles between seating blocks, family and friends buzzing around in a spectrum that ranged from pleasant nostalgia to sheer awe. Several professors had already taken their seats atop the dais, and they looked down upon the activity with a reserved measure of gratification. Congratulations, Class of 1977, the banner overhead grandly announced.
The nails scratching against Lily's scalp were painfully familiar in the most literal sense of the word. She cringed and grimaced as her mother dragged her fingers through her hair.
"Ouch, mum, please," Lily said, leaning her head to the side to put a stop to it. Even with two grown daughters, Rose Evans still had yet to let this agonizing habit die.
"Sorry, sorry..." Her mother fell back and let her eyes rove mistily over Lily's figure. "You just look so grown up, love. Doesn't she?" She turned to her husband, who, to Lily's surprise, looked similarly emotional.
Thomas Evans gave a stoic nod. "A beautiful young lady indeed."
"Enough sappiness," Lily said as a flush settled on her cheeks. She began herding them along to the block of chairs that had been sectioned off for the guests. "Head over to your seats while I find James, would you?"
"Good luck, my dear. You'll be fantastic." Rose trapped into one final peck before following her husband to get settled in.
Lily tried to ignore the bubbling in her stomach as she swept her gaze around the hall. Students were milling about everywhere, and once again she was reminded of how strange it felt to have her parents here in this little bubble of magic and otherness. The two sides of her life were so difficult to reconcile that their sudden marriage felt like a pair of tsunamis raging against one another. It was very, very strange.
Really though, where was James?
"Lily!" Evangeline was shouldering her way through the crowd, hat askew as she shoved the sleeves of her robes up her arms. "There you are! Been looking everywhere for you."
"Hi," Lily said, distractedly returning her hug. "Have you seen James?"
"Nope, don't reckon he and Sirius are here yet. Slackers."
"Oh for god's sake," Lily despaired. "We haven't rehearsed our speech at all and he promised he'd be here early. If he shows up late and wings it again..."
"It's okay." Eva put a soothing hand on her arm. "You'll be great. He'll be here."
"Oh, he will be," Lily emphasized, "or he'll be a dead man."
"Want to go interrogate Remus? He may know what's up."
"Good idea," Lily said, and followed her to the back of the hall.
Remus was sat with Isabelle on a bench, fixing her collar.
"Hiya," Evangeline said cheerfully, plonking down beside them. "Lily has a question."
Remus glanced over, hands still poised against the lapel of Isabelle's shirt.
"Yes, I do," Lily said. "Have you seen James?"
"Sorry." Remus shook his head in sympathy. "Don't think he's here yet."
"Bloody hell. I am going to kill that boy—"
"Hope you're not talking about me," James said, swooping in from behind. He cut an impressive figure against the muted light of the hall, long robes sweeping the floor as his badge glinted against his chest.
Lily felt a small passing urge to tear it off with her fingernails.
"Where have you been?" she demanded, flicking his arm. "We need to practice like yesterday."
"Practice what, exactly?" Sirius questioned, popping his head over James' shoulder and chewing on a chocolate biscuit.
Lily ignored his inquiry. "Sirius, so help me, if you tell me you're late because you stopped at the refreshment table..."
"Please," Sirius snorted. "You underestimate how quickly I'm able to locate and steal food."
"Couldn't find my badge, actually," James explained. "Someone thought it'd be funny to feed it to the gnomes as we were about to leave."
"It was pretty funny," Sirius said, shrugging through his mouthful of biscuit. "Should've seen them, squabbling over like a bunch of magpies. James nearly got his finger bitten off trying to get it back."
"Hilarious," James groused. "So, sofunny."
"I'm sure," Lily said impatiently, grabbing James' hand. "We need to go."
"Good luck!" Eva called to their backs.
Lily dragged James down the corridor, past the mobs of visitors and all the way up to the painting of Evic the Swift on the Fourth Floor. With shaky fingers, she fished around in her collar to locate the key that now resided on a chain round her neck.
"You're not really nervous, are you?" James asked as Lily let them into the Heads Room, the creaky door giving way to a familiar setup of couches and crooked furnishings.
"Of course I am," Lily said incredulously. "You're not?"
James shrugged, heading over to the sofas and sprawling himself out to rest his feet on the coffee table. "Not really. We know all these people, don't we? And if we stuff it up, we'll never have to see any of them again."
"I'm just going to ignore the complete lack of logic there and pretend to be reassured," Lily said, taking a seat across from him. She rummaged in her bag and extracted a fat sheath of parchment.
James gaped at it. "Merlin's ballsack," he said, blinking. "That's not all for your speech, is it?"
Lily glanced up from the manuscript. "Er, yes? Where's yours?"
"Got it all up here," James said, pointing to the side of his head.
"Of course you do."
James stared at her for a moment in complete silence, gazing contemplatively across the coffee table between them. Then, he stood and vaulted over it to lean in and press a kiss to her lips.
"What are you doing?" Lily asked in surprise, barely an inch between their noses as she looked at him in alarm.
"I dunno," James said softly. "I don't like seeing you stressed like this."
Lily's eyes fell shut slightly, her lips curving at the sides just a little as she returned the gesture, capturing his lips in a kiss that was short—just dry mouths pressing together—but which came with a sense of comfort that softened the nerves in her veins.
"You're going to do great, Lily," James said. "I love you and you're very smart and I love you."
"Very sensical, that." Lily did a minute eye roll. "But I love you, too. Git."
"You know what I think we should do?" James asked, pulling away with inspiration glinting behind his glasses.
He offered his hands, and Lily grabbed hold of them to lever herself up. "I think we ought to leave something for Hogwarts to remember us by," he said, inclining his head towards the corner of the room with the crumbling, heavily-graffiti-ed plaster and stone.
Lily quirked a brow, eyeing the wall of words that had become so familiar over the course of the year. Names, quotes and nonsense phrases clashed and flowed across the grey surface, some carved in, some written in ink. Normally she'd be hesitant about defacing school property, but in this case, it seemed a crime to not leave something behind. "I agree," she said without hesitation.
"Excellent." James grinned.
They headed over and appraised the spread of canvas, seeking out the perfect space to make their mark.
"That bit up top there," Lily suggested.
"Nah, it's a bit too in your face. How about... there?" James motioned to the right.
"Right over top of that shining display of eloquence?"
"Blimey," James said, some weird combination of shocked and impressed as he read what Lily was referring to. "I don't think I've actually seen that many curse words all in one place before."
"Yeah. How about here." Lily pointed to an opening in the centre. It was small and curved and surrounded by constellations of text.
James appraised it for a moment. "Passable," he said. "I think it'll do." He used his wand to scratch some words into the plaster, mouth pressed into a line of concentration as he scribed them out with care. When he finally stood back, he turned towards Lily. "What do you think?"
"Nice," she said, cocking her head. "But they don't really stand out, do they?" She reached her own wand to tap against the craggy indents he'd left, closing her eyes as she spoke a soft charm. A faint golden light snaked out of the end of her wand, and it fed into the swoops of James' handwriting, filling them with light. When she let her arm fall, the words pulsed with a celestial glow against the plaster.
A supernova amidst a field of dead stars.
"Perfect," James said, watching her closely as she pocketed her wand. His eyes softened. "You're perfect, you know."
Lily's heart trilled despite her cynical laugh. "Alright, sap-head," she said. "Enough stalling. Rehearsal time."
The words burned behind them, quietly shining as they practiced their farewell addresses, as they finally rose from the couches and locked the door, and as they took the stage and wished the graduating class all the best in a world heading towards war.
To this day, if you were to venture into the farthest corner of the Heads Room, you would see them there: Two names, twined together, still faintly glowing in the soft light of the castle.
Lily and James.
More than seven years later. Whatwhatwhat? Still mind boggling. I would be sappy and say I'm sad about reaching the end, but to be perfectly honest I'm mostly relieved. There is so much satisfaction in closing this ever-present chapter of my life.
Having said that, though, WITS has always been there as something that I can jump into when I'm feeling tired of the real world and its frankly stupid (at times) demands. After seven years, the characters are so immediate and real to me that it's going to be weird not getting inside their heads anymore. But c'est la vie. It's time to move on.
Thank you to anyone who has come on this journey, who has left reviews, who has bothered to read even an iota of the chicken scratch that comes out of my mind. I'm extending my arms to spaghetti-like lengths to wrap around the entire globe and hug all of you.
Huh, thought I'd have more to say here, but apparently hitting the finish line of this story has sucked me dry of words. I'll be happy to answer any lingering questions you may have about anything.
Thanks, one more time, for reading. It's been grand.