A/N: Because JKR wins about a TRILLION points for that prologue.

"Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a slow torch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning"

- Soul Asylum, "Runaway Train"

"…so Padfoot said – haha, Lil, you should've been there – he said, 'What about Elvendork?' And the man said – "


"Lovely Lily of the Lake?"

"We should leave."

With the receiver pressed against her ear, Lily waited in the quiet of the night, twisting the telephone cord in a white-fisted hand. She should've known he wouldn't like the idea – she didn't like it herself – but she had woken up from terrifying nightmares several times that night and she didn't want to see his eyes so cold and lifeless anymore. It was a glimpse of a horrible future that she never wanted to live through.

"We should go somewhere," she said against his silence, pushing forward, wanting to explain. Her words came out in a rush. "Like – like America. Or Australia! You've always wanted to go, and you know how Sirius likes Transfiguring Peter into a kangaroo. And Remus, he could – "

"We can't run, Lily," he whispered.

Lily didn't have to be there to know that he'd just sat down somewhere, perhaps put his forehead in his hand. Had she been there, she would've taken his hands away, pressed his face into her neck, smoothed his hair… as it was, she could cradle the telephone and pretend that he was not however many miles away but there with her, lying next to her in bed, his skin warm with the summer, their bedroom window open to the soothing night air. She missed him. They were on opposite schedules and not being near him for hours a day like they were used to was giving her a complex, not to mention dreadful dreams of his death several times over every night.

She shuddered and held back a sob. "It wouldn't be running," she whispered back, wrapping an arm around herself. "We'd just be…"

His sigh was almost inaudible. "Running."

"We could go together, James! Sirius, Remus, Peter, Dorcas – we could all go. It would be safe, like starting over – "

"Do you really want that? For yourself? For us? You'd trust someone else to fight Voldemort?"

"You don't understand."

"I don't understand what? That I'm out here risking my bloody life when you know I'd rather be with you right now? When I'd rather be on a beach in Australia, living it up with some kangaroos and a pint and my beautiful wife?"

Lily sat up, clutching her – his? their? did it even matter anymore? – sheets around her chest, her eyes glassy. "Wife?"

It was quiet again. She could hear him breathing on the other end of the line. What sounded like a lorry rumbled by and he cursed softly before saying, "Sorry. I… sorry."

"James," she murmured, swiping at her eyes. "Your wife?"

"I've been thinking about it," he confessed. "This isn't exactly the way I wanted to ask you – there was supposed to be extravagance and fanfare and an elephant with a monkey on its back – but… I love you, and when I think of what future I want to have, I want you in it. As my wife."

Orion winked at her from outside the window. An apple blossom broke from the tree just beside their newly painted fence and floated along until it landed near her garden, her watermelons and strawberries already sprouting. James' spare broom was propped up next to the shed. This was their life. This was their view outside of their bedroom, the place she fell asleep every night and awoke every morning, the place where they loved and fought and dreamt. The place where, soon, she might hang a wedding dress in the closet or fold tiny baby clothes from the laundry. Her vision blurred. The curtains danced with a slight breeze, gauzy and moonlit, the perfect frame for the perfect night, and Lily covered her mouth with a shaking hand, overcome.

"We can go to Australia," he was saying as she sat and went over every wonderful, amazing thing about him, replaying old memories and envisioning new ones of their life together. Husband and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Potter. His voice was like a tenor backdrop to her now cleansed nightmares. "We can go to Asia and America and Africa and anywhere else you've ever wanted to go, I promise. I want to take you everywhere, to be with you everywhere. But you know we can't run from this, Lily. It's something we have to do."

"Ask me."


She sniffled, wiping at her wet face and trying to form coherent words. "Ask me, James. It's not proper if you assume."

"Lily Alexandra Evans," he said, and Lily could hear his smile. "Will you… wait a few minutes while I find someone to cover the rest of my shift?"

"God! I hate you!"

"You didn't think I'd propose to you over the telly, did you? How romantic is that?"

"I hate you," she grumbled. Letting herself fall back against her pillow, she shut her eyes and forced her pout through the telephone. "You're a gigantic, smelly old toerag, Potter, and I hate you."

"Wow. You know how long it's been since I've heard that? Years. And that's not what you said when I ravaged you last night."

There was a shuffling sound on his end, a muffled hey!, and then not much after; he must've covered the receiver with his hand. She blushed into her pillow. That was most definitely not what she'd been saying last night, the first time they had shared a bed in a week and a half. She'd gotten a little carried away, perhaps, but she'd wanted him with her as soon as he'd stepped into the house.

And the next time she would see him, he would be her fiancé.

He was back before she could lose herself to her thoughts again. "Luckily Frank and Caradoc have come in early, else I would've had to pull some strings, Evans; strings best not pulled. Wait 'til the Dodger hears about – "

"James?" she cut him off, her voice a mere whisper on the breeze. It was easier to say it when she didn't have to admit how much she needed him. "I don't care what it takes for you to get here, just hurry, please."

"Three minutes. I'll be there."

"I love you. Be safe."

She hung the phone up and untwisted her hand from the cord. Briefly she thought about calling Dorcas to tell her the imminent news or, really, to just pass the time until James got home. She was awake with restless energy, filled to the brim with nerves. Whether it was excitement or nervousness or raw longing she couldn't quite tell, but sitting in bed and staring at the window wasn't going to help anything, not without him with her.

They would get married soon, she decided as she paced the floor from the door to the window and back again. They could have the service outside, with a minister and hundreds of flowers and close family and friends. She could wear a white cotton dress with no shoes. He could wear a crisp white shirt and she would fold the collar down just so, would fix his hair the way only she could, would smile as she walked down an aisle of dewy grass to his side. The sun would shine. She didn't need extravagance or fanfare or an elephant with a monkey on its back.

"Mr. and Mrs. Potter," she whispered, staring at herself in the mirror above their dresser. "Mrs. Potter. Mrs. Lily Alexandra Potter. Lily Evans Potter. Lily Potter."

"I used to write that on my Potions book, you know. Showed it to Snape once. He just about hexed my face off."

His sudden appearance in the doorway loosened her lungs. She felt his arms wrap around her waist and watched him move behind her in the mirror. He smiled at her, smelling a little sweaty, his red phoenix t-shirt a little damp, his hair a little messier than usual, but she turned in his embrace and kissed him anyway.

"Ask me," she murmured against his lips. "Ask me the question."

He pulled her back. His hands were large on her waist, his eyes dark in the night but bright with emotion, and Lily felt herself getting teary again. Love swelled within her heart. James pressed his lips against hers and said the words against her skin, breathed it right into her body.

"Marry me."

She tilted her head a little and squinted despite the fact that she wanted to jump his bones, push him backwards into the bed, and never let him come up for air again. If she didn't make fun, she'd lose herself in the way he was looking at her, the way his thumbs had snuck under the hem of her nightshirt and were rubbing circles on the smooth skin of her hips. So she controlled the wobble in her voice as she said, "That doesn't sound like a question."

"I'm certain of your answer."

"Getting a bit cocky, are we?"

He smirked. "Would you like to?"

"You're a git."

"Yeah, well. You're not going to have a shirt in about five seconds, so…"


"I'll give it back if we can name our first kid Wilberforce."