Life, Sirius Black thinks with more bitterness than he has ever felt before, is just not fair – because what in Merlin's name has James and Lily done to deserve this and why did they ever trust Peter and how is it that not even Dumbledore could save them and oh poor, poor Remus, whatever would old Moony think and Harry James Potter.
Oh, god, Harry. Sirius' heart breaks.
The Potters' little whitewashed cottage at Godric's Hollow has been burnt to the ground – by Death Eaters, most likely, or maybe even Voldemort – and when Sirius stumbles across the piles of smoking debris that is left behind, he cannot even cry. He wishes that he would, but the tears just won't come no matter how much he wills them to, not even when his knees buckle dangerously at the sight of his best friend's lifeless body slumped against a blackened chest of drawers that has miraculously remained intact and shattered glasses.
Sirius wants to approach nearer – hold James' body and make sure that he is really dead and really gone, but he finds himself recoiling in horror, because James is still and silent and James never used to be still. James always had to be moving around, twirling Lily or throwing Harry up in the air or tossing Quaffles as he laughed his head off about little jokes that no one but the Marauders and Lily could understand.
The past tense makes Sirius sick; Lily and James are past and gone and the only present left for them is: "Lily and James are dead."
So Sirius leaves James' body, because so long as he does not touch the corpse he can somehow delude himself into thinking that this is all just an extra-cruel prank that James has devised in retaliation for kidnapping Harry to fly on his motorbike last week without permission. He chokes back a sob but he has just finished swallowing the lump in his throat when he turns around and sees Lily as well, her flaming red hair a beacon amidst the wood and char, and Sirius is horrified to notice that, oh Merlin, Lily's eyes are open and as green as they ever were in life.
If it is anyone other than Lily, Sirius might find it in him to joke that people's eyes are supposed to look, well, dead when they are dead, but those bright Evans eyes – inherited from Lily's dad's side, she told him so once after he remarked that Harry has the same eyes – are as vivid as ever even in death. Just like the light of the curse that killed her. How many times have those eyes looked at him with scorn, humour, honesty, and affection, and how many times will he be able to think of her without seeing them?
In some ways, it is worse to find Lily dead than Prongs, because he has taken it for granted that Lily would stay alive through the war, alive to shout at him when he breaks the horrible vases that Petunia sends for Christmases, alive to tell him that he is no longer allowed to take Harry with him in his endeavours to chat up Marlene McKinnon, alive to cook them all gratin or spaghetti or some other Muggle meal and alive to smile at him and tell him that James is in his nursery with Harry and would he like some tea? It is worse to find Lily dead than Prongs because Prongs was only Prongs because of Lily, and hell, the only reason the "Marauders" came into being in the first place was because an eleven-year-old James Potter once upon a time decided that they needed to form a group to prank the horrid Snivellus who was far too close to the cute Muggleborn Evans for his liking.
Sirius wildly hopes that Lily is in on this prank too, and that she is just feigning dead. She has always been extraordinarily good at acting, which was probably the only reason that she got through the first quarter of seventh year still pretending to dislike James. Sirius remembers that she once joked that if the war ever got too much, then she could just take James and Harry off to the Muggle world and make a living as an actress.
'Lily?' whispers Sirius, and those green eyes don't even blink. Now Sirius really wishes that he can cry, reaching out to shut those eyes with trembling fingers.
With painfully dry eyes, he tramples across the scorched remains of the floor and heads towards the nursery; or what is left of it. It is so terribly quiet, and Sirius cannot stand it. The nursery has never been quiet as far as he can recall, because there was always Harry there laughing or James making strange noises not very different from the sounds that a constipated hippogriff makes (the kind that James used to claim came with being a dad) or Lily singing or Remus patiently attempting to read Tales of Beedle the Bard to the clueless Harry –
Sirius whirls around, and Hagrid is there, staring down at him in puzzlement. The giant man holds a bundle of something wrapped in a raggedy tartan blanket – red and gold, Gryffindor colours, a small gift from Minnie McGonagall at Harry's birth, much to everyone's amusement – and Sirius' heart leaps when he spies a familiar tuft of jet-black hair sticking up from it, allowing himself to really hope for the first time since staggering through where the Potters' front door might have been.
'Hagrid,' Sirius breathes, and runs towards him eagerly with energy that he didn't know he still had. 'Harry – oh, Merlin, Harry – he's alive.'
The big man's chest puffs up proudly, although his eyes are shining with tears – no doubt for Lily and James. 'Course he is. Harry's a survivor. A ruddy miracle, if you ask me, Dumbledore's said that he –'
But Sirius is not interested in what Dumbledore has said, not when Prongs and Lily are dead and Harry is the only thing he has left worth living for; his eyes are fixed on Harry's sleeping face, and Sirius is itching to have his godson in his arms, not Hagrid's. There is some red mark on his forehead, and oh, what if it's infected, he'll need to take Harry to Madam Pomfrey and have her run some diagnostic scans…
'Hagrid – let me – let me take him. I'm his godfather, I have a right, I love Harry and I have no one else left…'
Hagrid shifts and looks guiltily down at the eldest Black son, and mumbles out something about Dumbledore and orders and safety. Sirius takes it in with growing despair, momentarily growing angry at the mention of Dumbledore. What can Dumbledore do for Harry, after all, when he couldn't keep Lily and James alive? But the anger melts away immediately, replaced with pure rage for Peter instead. It is all Peter's fault, Sirius thinks – not Dumbledore's. Dumbledore loves Harry, he knows; he has seen it in the venerable old wizard's tired eyes. Dumbledore loves Harry like his own grandson, and Harry would never come to harm under Dumbledore's crooked nose.
Sirius makes a quick decision, and he lets go of the edge of Hagrid's sleeve that he didn't know that he'd been holding, and gestures towards his flying motorbike that he came upon.
'Take my motorbike, Hagrid,' Sirius rasps out, his mind swirling with a million ways to kill Wormtail. 'Take Harry to Dumbledore, then, and I'll get him soon – I just have something to take care of beforehand.'
Hagrid agrees easily enough, and Sirius turns away, his mind ablaze with plans for revenge as he turns swiftly into Padfoot and starts running as soon as Hagrid and Harry are gone.
Oh, Lily. Oh, James. I'll avenge you.
Three weeks later, Sirius is sitting slumped in Azkaban, wheezing and moaning because the Dementors are too near, and the newly-instated Minister Fudge is telling him something smugly. Sirius wishes that he can muster up the energy to scream at the annoying man to go away, but the memories of finding James' corpse, Lily's corpse, is just too much.
'I suppose, you awful man, that you might be interested to hear that the Potters' funeral is being held right now as we speak,' Fudge is saying pompously. 'Yes, that's right, Black, the same Potters whose deaths that you brought about. Praise Merlin that Harry Potter didn't die with them – quite a wrench in your plans, I imagine, you foul thing. Yes, Lily and James' deaths will be honoured; a public ceremony. The funeral was a bit delayed, no thanks to you, but I've personally arranged to have several bouquets of white lilies delivered to the funeral. For Mrs Potter, of course, her namesake…'
Something in Sirius stirs up, and he remembers, against the thick haze of bad memories, how Lily Evans once ranted to him about how much she hated lilies at the end of their sixth year, when she was just beginning to see James in a new light.
Just because they're my namesake, she had fumed, her green eyes blazing, doesn't mean I like them. I am so sick of James Potter sending me white lilies for every possible occasion, Black, so you go and tell your best mate that I don't ever again want to receive another bouquet of lilies with his awful pink cards with poetry that I know he makes poor Remus come up with scrawled inside in his chicken scratch. I'll throw myself off the Astronomy Tower, do you hear me?
Yes, Lily, Sirius remembers that he replied, because no one ever said otherwise to the almighty Lily Evans with her deadly Avada Kedavra eyes. Ha, does this mean that you don't want any lilies at your funeral either?
Damn right, Sirius Black, she had said smugly. No lilies for Lily Evans.
The memory brings a sharp pang, and he desperately gulps down the sob that threatens to rise up in his throat, because he is not sure if he can afford the energy to cry when he needs to give all that he has to fight the damning effects of Azkaban that is slowly frying his mind.
'Lily –' Sirius manages to choke out, flinging himself desperately to the cold bars that imprison him, causing Fudge to jump back in undisguised horror. 'Lily – she doesn't want lilies. She hates lilies. Not at her funeral. No lilies – please.'
Fudge screws up his face and takes another nervous step back, shrieking some inane comment about how mad Sirius is. Too bad he already knows all about his own insanity, Sirius thinks bitterly, as the overpowering fog of bad memories engulf his consciousness again, ripping away all the warmth from him, and he slumps back to the nearby wall as Fudge scurries away as fast as his fat legs can carry him and the black hoods of the Dementors close in.
Not lilies. No more lilies. No lilies for Lily Evans.
Then Lily's bright green eyes fade from his mind, replaced instead with his mother's angry face, Peter's terrified sob, Bellatrix' insane cackles, Crouch's unforgiving stare condemning him guilty without a trial and James' broken glasses.
Sirius does not think of Lily's eyes again until twelve years later, when he suddenly remembers a little boy with the Evans eyes and Potter hair for whom he must live.