Changing Perceptions

A James and Lily Fan-Fiction

Part Eight--Eternity

August 1978


"Yeah. But it's a good nervous, y'know?"

"No, I don't know," Sirius joked as he slapped James on the back.

"Funny, Padfoot," James answered as he rolled his eyes.

On most occasions, he would welcome, if not revel in, his best mate's sense of humour. But not today. Not on his wedding day. He took a long look at himself in the mirror and sighed heavily. He looked older than eighteen. Perhaps it was losing his father last October. Maybe it had something to do with his mother's senility and hospitalization. It could be because their wedding was several months earlier than planned because Lily's mother only had a short time to live. Or the reason could be that there was a war going on in the wizarding world and everyone was aging faster than normal. Whatever it was, he was bound and determined not to let it dampen what would no doubt be the happiest day of his life.

Smiling briefly, he turned back to Sirius and looked thoughtfully at his friend.

"Thanks, Sirius. For everything."

Simultaneously, the friends embraced each other warmly before the knock came on the door, signalling it was time for James to get married.

- - - - - - - - - -

A bead of sweat fell from his forehead onto the valley between her breasts. She hadn't stopped looking at him since he slid up her body from in between her thighs and entered her. Lily didn't know how long they lay like that, not moving, just looking into each other's eyes and breathing hard, but it was the most romantic and erotic moment of her life. They were making love as a married couple, not fumbling in his dormitory bed, trying not to wake his roommates, but legally married. It gave her a thrill that nothing else had.

"I love you," James whispered, his breath caressing her face, causing her to shiver.

"Forever, James."

Slowly, he moved his hips, sliding out of her a few inches before easing back inside her warmth. She gasped at the sensations he caused within her, meeting his next thrust with her own hips. The slow, languorous rhythm continued until she could hold back no longer and held his buttocks tightly to her, screaming his name as waves of pleasure overtook her. As the pulsations lengthened her pleasure, he joined her release, spilling himself inside her.

Without letting him move off her, she held him fast, not wanting their intimate connection broken so soon. The feel of his naked body on hers felt better than anything she could imagine. James lifted his head and smiled sheepishly at her.

"You are the best, Mrs Potter," he murmured before kissing the tip of her nose and rolling to his side, taking her along with him. He reached for her left hand and lifted it to his lips. "I'm yours." He placed a kiss on the diamond ring and gold band, which she received earlier that day.

"You've been mine for years. I just didn't—"

"Shhhh. None of that," he whispered as she reached up and caressed his cheek. "We're here now and we have the rest of our lives together. And if I have anything to say about it, it'll be a long time."

November 1978

James awoke to a bright light shining down on his face. He tried to move but he was bound or was a victim of petrifaction. His eyes darted around the room, hoping to find out where he was and who was holding him. Memories of the fight came back to him; if he could have bolted upright, he would have.

"LILY!" he screamed.

A laugh came from the surrounding area.

"Ah yes, the little Mudblood."

He knew that voice and it made him sick.

"Where is she, Snivelly? Let her go!" James thrashed from side to side, but the bindings, which he now saw, did nothing against his struggles.

"She ran, Potter. Ran away with all your little Phoenix friends," Snape mocked as he turned to leave the room. "They all…flew away."

"You lying bastard!"

Snape stopped and turned his head. "No. You're the blood traitor bastard. Soiling the bloodline to be with her? Not too smart, Potter."

"Like you wouldn't have done the same thing. I know how you feel about her. She told me." James' tone was soft, hoping that the change in his demeanour would buy him some extra time. "But she's happy, Severus." Saying his name made James cringe inside. "She still thinks of you as one of her greatest friends. How do you think she'd feel if you…if I—if you killed me? Do you honestly think she'd go back to you, knowing that you killed me? Come on, Sev. She's not stupid."

Snape was visibly shaken by what James had just said. His face, usually so stoic, had softened and there were creases in his brow, as if he was thinking over what James had just said.

"Finite Incantatem," Snape whispered before Apparating away.

December 1978

"Merry Christmas, love," he whispered into her ear. "Got something for you."

Lily turned around his arms and saw herself reflected in his glasses. She never looked happier, more in love than she did then. Their first months of marriage were wonderful; so was waking up with him every morning.

It was a year ago that he said the same thing to her in this same room. The two of them moved into his childhood home once they were married and decided that the 'girl room' would be a more suitable place for them. The colour was changed from lavender to a combination of blues, golds, and reds. The bed was a new one as well: a large oak sleigh bed that they found in the attic. Lily wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of living in the home, but they didn't have much to choose from. Besides, she realised, it was a large home with comfortable furnishings, and slowly, they were changing it into something that reflected them as a couple.

"I've got something for you, too," she purred in answer, opening her dressing gown to reveal her freshly showered body.

James growled and pounced on her, pressing his body into hers and kissing her hard, taking her breath away.

"Merry Christmas to me."

Presents were opened much later in the day

February 1979

It was, perhaps, the worst day of her life. Lily was burying her mother. She'd fought valiantly against the disease that slowly left her a shell and nothing more. The last few months were difficult, a paradox of emotions for Lily. She and James had been married for only six months and the newlywed glow was still showing brightly. However, there was the constant worry over her mother and the way her father was dealing with it.

James was wonderful. He'd been through this before when his father died and it was comforting to have him there, reassuring her that things would be all right. Eventually. He helped her father with the arrangements and let the always strong George Evans cry on his shoulder. It was amazing to the see the two of them together. They'd become very close since the wedding and it was almost as if James had his father back and her dad had a son.

James squeezed her hand and brought her out of her thoughts. She turned her head and met his loving eyes, making her smile through her tears.

"Dad looks better," he said softly.

Her father was a mess the first day or two after her mother died; he wouldn't sleep or eat and he was very despondent.

"Pepper-Up Potion. Pomfrey let me have some," Lily admitted.

"Sneaky witch," he teased. Even at a funeral, he could make her smile and forget the bleakness of the world.

She hated giving her father the potion, but seeing him so sad and lonely made her heart break, and she couldn't help but give it to him. It had helped him tremendously.

As if he knew what she was thinking, James wrapped an arm around her and held her close as they listened to the words of the eulogy.

April 1979

James' stomach hurt from laughing so much and he couldn't remember the last time he actually laughed before tonight. He was lounged with Lily on Frank and Alice Longbottom's comfortable, soft sofa, a glass of cold ale in his hand.

"My mum wasn't too excited to find me covered in feathers at the time," Frank said flatly yet with a smile. "She thought a vampire'd attacked me."

"She would," James said lightly. "I hate to say it, Frank, but your mum's a bit crazy."

"James!" Lily reprimanded him. "That's not nice."

"It's okay, Lily. She is. Allie and I tease her behind her back a lot," Frank said with a smirk, pulling Alice closer to him.

"Don't drag me into that one, Longbottom. You're the one who insists that she's been sneaking Firewhisky into her tea." Alice smiled. "But she can be very sweet." The smile faded from Alice's face and she bit her lower lip.

"Something wrong, Alice?" Lily broke free of James' grasp and leaned forward to take Alice's free hand.

Alice turned to her husband, who nodded. Whatever it was, James reckoned it wouldn't be good.

"I…I had a miscarriage a couple weeks ago," she replied with a shaky voice. "But I'm fine." She brightened up and looked at Frank lovingly, almost the way James imagined he looked at Lily. "We're gonna keep trying, though. You know, for a baby."

"You think that's wise?" James blurted out. "I mean, we're at war. It could be dangerous for you. Not to mention our mission." Silence answered James and he wondered why he even said that.

Lily nudged him with her elbow and shot him a scathing look. Frank shifted uncomfortably next to Alice. However, it was Alice who smiled at him.

"James, when is the right time to have a baby? When we can afford one? Some people never get to that point. When the war's over? It might be years and years. When Augusta's dead? The old bird would probably outlive me." She paused and took a breath. "We're having a baby so that we can have a little piece of eternity out there. Even if we die, our child will still have us inside him or her. We would still love our baby whether we are alive or not. And that, James, is the greatest weapon of all."

There it was again—love. Dumbledore had spoken about it when he recruited James and Lily and now Alice was bringing it up again in reference to a child yet to be conceived. Now that he was married, James thought he understood love better. But to add a child to the mix—wouldn't that just complicate things more? Wouldn't that add too much danger to an already volatile situation?

Lily's next comment surprised him.

"I think it's brilliant. I'd love to have a baby. Just don't know when."

He turned to his wife and looked at her. An image of her round with his child made his heart clench and yet, lighten. Would things work out? One never really knew, he realised. Besides, making people put their lives on hold would be another small victory for the Dark Lord. Life, even in the small package of a baby, had to go on.

"How 'bout we try tonight," he whispered into Lily's ear when he brought her back to his chest. She blushed all the way to her hair line.

Merlin, I love her.

September 1979

"I can't let you do that, James." Remus stood from the chair he was sitting in and practically ran for the fireplace. James stopped him, grabbing his arm.

"And why not?" he countered. "It's not like I don't have extra cash lying around. Besides, you're worth it."

Remus' face fell and Lily couldn't help but notice the way sadness washed across his features. She and James had invited their friend over for dinner, finding out that Remus was evicted from his flat just two days ago. They offered up Sirius' old room as well as financial help. Remus, however, was having none of it.

"No, I'm not."

At that, Lily'd had enough and shot out of her place on the sofa and stomped over toward Remus.

"That's a bunch of bullocks and you know it, Lupin!" She stabbed his chest with her index finger. "You're the smartest, most dedicated man I've ever known, save for Dumbledore, and the information you uncovered saved twenty-five lives last week. Don't you dare say you're not worth it!" Her eyes began to fill with hot, angry tears. Remus had been one of her dearest friends over the years and even more so in the past two years.

Remus stared at her, his chin trembling and his eyes pleading with her to let him deny their offer. She, however, stood firm in her resolve, challenging him with her eyes. She never faltered in her gaze and knew that James was taking it all in silently.

"I…I've never been…You two…" he stammered before collapsing on the floor in a heap.

James bent down next to him, grasping Lily's hand and pulling her down next to them. She gathered Remus in her arms, wishing he would cry the tears she knew has to be building up inside him.

"Remus," James said softly, "I've always thought you were worth something from the moment I met you on the boats. I didn't back away when I discovered your secret and I'm not about to let you be homeless. Sirius wouldn't want his bikini ladies to be lonely, anyhow."

Remus snorted and Lily laughed.

"But you two…and at night…" Remus pulled away from Lily and looked away from them, clearly embarrassed at the topic.

"You don't want us to hear you shag Maeve? Is that it?" James answered with a smirk. "I thought you knew how to cast an Imperturbable, my friend."

Lily rolled her eyes. "Shut it, love. It's not like he never heard us when we were at school, you know."

James feigned shock. "You heard us…have sex?" He clasped his hand to his heart. "I think I may just faint from embarrassment."

"That's not what I meant," Remus answered, a smile teasing the edges of his mouth. "Lily's rather exuberant, isn't she?"

It was her turn to be embarrassed and she turned away as laughter erupted from the two men.

"So come on, Moony. Lily needs some practise mothering someone, and I don't really fit the bill." He winked at her.

"You're—Lily's…are you pregnant?" Remus blurted out.

"No!" she nearly shouted. "We're…thinking about it." She couldn't help the heated look that she gave James.

"Practise makes perfect, right?" His look was equally warm.

"I think I'll just leave you two alone for a little while so that you can practise a bit, if that's okay?" Remus stood up and walked over to the metal box that contained the Floo powder.

James snapped back to reality and looked at Remus. "Only if you come back. We want you here. Honest. My mum would want me to help you. And Thora Potter is a force to be reckoned with, right?"

Remus smiled, a real smile, at the mention of James' mother. She'd always had a soft spot for him. He was one of the few people she recognised when they went to visit her in Bristol.

"Fine. But only until I—"

"No conditions," Lily interrupted. She looked from James to Remus and placed her arms around their shoulder. "As long as you need it, we'll be here to help. We're Marauders. We stick together."

Late October 1979

"And you're sure you're alright?" James patted her down, making note of the scratches on her arms and the bruise on her cheek. They, along with Frank and Alice had just returned to Order headquarters after trapping Voldemort and six of his cronies before they Apparated away. It was the third time the foursome had nearly brought the bastard in.

"Yes, love, I'm fine," she panted, still trying to control her breathing. "You were brilliant." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him lightly on the lips.

He felt her withdraw and yanked her to him, desire mingled with adrenalin and mental exhaustion. James wanted her and he wanted her now. With a quick movement, he Apparated them into the living room of their house and quickly lowered her onto the floor. Without pretence, they tore each other's clothes off and soon were naked, lying on the floor in front of the fireplace on the white fur rug he kept from their first time.

He reached a hand down between her legs and found her wet for him. A finger slid inside her, rubbing her clit and making her squirm. He smiled as he continued to kiss her.

Their joining wasn't gentle in the least. At times like this, it was rough, fast, and hard. Their moans grew loader as the thrusts came harder and faster until she wailed out in release with him following her moments later.

James lay to her side afterwards, his hands roaming over her scratched arms, wanting to magic them away if he could; he hated seeing her hurt in any way, but with their jobs, it was a necessity.

The fire warmed them as they fell asleep in each others' arms while Nature created a miracle inside her.

March 1980

Lily's eyes brimmed with tears as she watched James kneel at his mother's bedside. He held Thora's hand and stroked her wrinkled flesh with his thumb. She looked desperately thin and pale; her breathing was so slow that it was difficult to notice underneath the blankets that covered her. Monitoring spells beeped with her heartbeats, becoming slower and slower as the hours passed. They'd been in her room for nearly three hours and James hadn't once left his mother's side.

Sirius, Remus, and Peter had come and gone, none of them very good at dealing with emotions at a time such as this. They each said their goodbyes to Thora, hugged James, and kissed Lily on the cheeks. No one had dry eyes or cheeks when they had left. Right now, it was just a matter of time.

"Mummy," James whispered lightly, "go to Dad. He misses you. I'll be all right." Tears dripped onto his mother's hand and he sniffed. "I'm gonna be a daddy, remember? I have Lily and pretty soon there'll be a little piece of you and Dad for me to keep track of. You can go now. You need the rest."

Lily had to look away. The scene before her reminded her too much of when her mother died. She had been there when her own mother had passed, as had her father and Petunia. Lily knew that James would need her to be strong, as he had been for her.

A sharp, steady beep interrupted her thoughts, bringing her attention to the bed. James began sobbing and his body shook mercilessly. Orderlies rushed into the room, surrounding the bed, ready to try to resuscitate her, but James waved them off.

"No," was all he said before rising to his feet and kissing his mother on her lips for the final time.

The hospital staff silently left the room and the Healer on duty turned off the monitoring spell before leaving.

She stood from her chair and walked to him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"James," she said through her tears.

He turned and looked up at her. When he stood, she wrapped her arms around him, soothing him the best he could. The hurt would never really go away, but she would help him, no matter how long it took.

April 1980

James carefully steadied Lily as they arrived at Professor Dumbledore's office via the Floo. Her advancing pregnancy made it dangerous for her to Apparate, and the weather was such that flying would only make her sick.

"All right there, Lily?" came a voice from the office.

Both James and Lily looked up to see Frank and Alice sitting in chairs waiting, it appeared, for the headmaster as well.

"What are you two doing here?" Lily asked as she took a seat next to Alice, eyeing her friend's expanding middle.

"Albus owled us this morning," Alice answered, "and told us to come for a meeting. I imagine it has something to do with the Order." She absently stroked her belly. "How've you been?" She nodded at Lily's own pregnant belly.

"Good, good. Can't Apparate. Healer says my blood pressure's been up and it would only go up more if I continued."

Alice nodded.

James took a place next to Lily and waited silently, twiddling his thumbs. When Dumbledore owled them earlier that morning, James had a feeling it wouldn't be good. Usually, things were discussed at meetings of the entire Order, not individual members personally.

"So, James, what do you think is going on?" Frank asked, mirroring James' thoughts.

"Dunno. But whatever it is, I don't think it's gonna be good."

"Me neither."

Lily was about to say something when the door to the office opened and Dumbledore appeared, wearing a genial smile and yet, a worried look on his face. The men began to stand, but with a raised hand, their movements were stopped. He walked over to Lily and Alice, giving each of them a peck on the cheek. James was concerned over that particular action; Dumbledore never greeted any female in that way, further worrying James. He caught Frank's eye and saw, once again, the same expression.

"Thank you for coming at such short notice," the old man said. He took a seat behind his desk and took a deep breath. "I have received some rather interesting information regarding all of you."

"What sort of information?" Frank asked, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.

"I interviewed a candidate for the Divination position last night and unexpectedly heard a prophetic statement."

"About us?" Lily asked, looking at the other three. "They aren't completely reliable. You should know that, Professor."

He nodded and smiled crookedly. "But I believe that due to the current state of things, we cannot be too careful."

"So what did this person say?" James was sceptical as well, but if Dumbledore took the time to call them here, it must be significant.

"May I use a Pensieve? Is that permitted by your Healers?" He nodded at the women.

Lily and Alice looked at each other and nodded, standing at the same time with James and Frank following them over to the large stone basin in the corner of the room. They all watched as Dumbledore placed the tip of his wand to his temple, withdrew the silvery thread, and placed it in the basin.

"Gentlemen, please go first and assist the ladies as they emerge on the other side."

James and Frank leaned in and disappeared into the memory. James opened his eyes to see what looked like a dirty room in an inn. Before he could look around too much, Lily appeared and he placed an arm around her. Alice materialised soon after, as well as Dumbledore.

"Where are we, sir?" asked Alice, clinging to her husband's arm.

"The Hog's Head."

They watched as the Dumbledore in the memory began speaking to the witch with large glasses and wiry hair. In the middle of the interview, her eyes glazed over and her voice became raspy as she spoke.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... And the Dark Lord will mark him as equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives." She coughed and returned to her normal self.

The memory faded and they all reappeared in the office.

James felt his stomach clench and looked at Lily; she was white as a ghost. Alice and Frank looked much the same.

"Are you saying…that our babies…?" Alice choked out, her hand in a protective gesture around her belly. She looked at Frank and began to tear up.

"Yes, Alice. One of you will bear a child who will fight and, hopefully, defeat Voldemort."

July 1980

It was as if she was taking a trip down a river in Egypt.

Lily Potter was deep in denial.

She'd been avoiding it all day, explaining away the pains that shot across her back and deep down into her abdomen. She chalked the indigestion she'd been feeling to something she ate at her last meal, which was, unfortunately, yesterday. Her mantra was 'One more day. One more bloody day,' which she kept muttering to herself as she paced back and forth across the sitting room floor.

But as the pain became regular, occurring every eight minutes or so, she could no longer enjoy that trip on the river, especially when she was forced to sit in the bathtub with her bottom naked and tears running down her face.

"Lil? Lil, where are you?" It was James.

She wiped her eyes with the palms of her hands and struggled to take deep breaths that didn't sound like sobs. One escaped and she heard his quickening steps across the floor. His body slid into the doorframe and when he saw her, his eyes roved over her, taking in her clenched teeth, the sweat on her brow, and the pale, yellow fluid at the bottom of the bathtub, realisation swept over his features and he grinned.

"He's coming?" James said excitedly as he kneeled next to the tub, massaging her constricting belly and marvelling at the way it shifted from side to side.

"N-no! No, she's not! She'll be born tomorrow! Not today!" she screeched back.

He continued massaging her and shook his head, clucking in amusement.

"I don't think we can make it stop, love," he reminded her.

She was about to remind him about what was exactly on her mind when another contraction hit her, making her grind her teeth and tense. If she could just be patient and strong enough, maybe she could delay things.

"Relax, Lily. You need to relax." His hands began massaging her differently now and becoming very annoying.

"If…If I relax, the baby'll come," she spat out.

"That's the point, love. I put it there and you have to get it out," he said with a smirk. It wasn't funny.

"Shut. Up! I can't let the baby come today!" she screamed through the last of the pain. The sound of her voice was foreign, sounding too much like a Banshee.

He fell silent, obviously remembering what they learned in April. Shaking his head, James merely looked up at her and took her face in his hands.

"Lily, it doesn't matter if he's born tonight, tomorrow, or next week. We're having a baby, and all he wants to do is meet his beautiful mummy. Please, relax and let him come," he pleaded. "Let me help you to the bed and then I'll call the midwife. Molly can't come since Ron is sick, remember?"

Lily nodded. It would have been nice to have Molly there, but the person she really wanted was her own mother. She began crying again as she moved to stand up in the tub.


- - - - - -

James hated seeing her like that, missing her mother as she laboured as well as being in pain. The only thing he could do was hold her hand or leave the room; she yelled at him three minutes ago, demanding that he leave the room. He paced by the door, hoping that there would be a time when she'd let him back to witness the birth.

James paused and smiled at the imminent arrival of his child. That's an amazing thought, he told himself, feeling warm and pleased. He still had trouble grasping the fact that he was going to be a father.

He glanced at his wrist watch again and shook his head. It was 11:25 pm on 31st July, and it really did look like she'd get her wish. He knew Lily desperately wanted the baby born in August simply because she loved that baby inside her. She never voiced those desires out right, but he knew. If she could do one thing to save their child from a destiny like the one in the prophecy, she would do it. In normal situations, one might think she was selfish. James knew better; she merely wanted a normal life for the child. Wouldn't any mother do the same?

He was startled by the bedroom door creaking open and he saw the face of Twyla Lowenstein, the apprentice midwife, standing before him.

"Mr Potter, she wants you back in here," she announced with a bit of a smile. Twyla looked almost as tired as he felt.

Without a word in answer, James entered the room, his eyes immediately drawn to Lily. She sat on the bed, supported by every pillow they could find in the house, wearing an old, white t-shirt and nothing else. Her hair, plastered with sweat, was pulled back into a ponytail and she gripped the sheets with her hands, her knuckles white.

Aurora Bettington, their midwife, sat on the end of the bed between his wife's bent legs. She, too, was sweaty as evidenced by the large, wet circles under her arms. Lily turned to him and smiled weakly.

"James," she hissed through her contraction.

He couldn't move fast enough across the floor and joined his wife on the bed, taking her hands in his.

"How's it going?" That was a stupid question.

"Brilliant," she groaned.

"She's doing well, James. Not much more to go," Aurora reassured him. She bent further down and lifted her head, smiling at them. "The baby's crowning."

What does that mean? Why didn't I read the effing book?

"On the next one, push and hold it," Twyla said as she took her place on the opposite side of the bed. "She'll help it out."

Her belly clenched again and Lily sat up, grunting as she bore down.

"Wait, wait…James, you want to see this?"

Thousands of images flashed through his mind, images of blood, fluids, his wife's body parts stretched beyond imagination…

"I…I…oh fuck."

The room went black and he fell to the floor.

September 1980

James sat on the edge of the bed, marvelling at the tiny smile given to him by his son. Harry was, undoubtedly, the world's most amazing baby. Every spit bubble was perfect, every burp, every snore…there was nothing that didn't amaze James. Shitty nappies. That was about the only thing, but really, no one ever thought they were good, now did they?

Harry was born at 11:38 pm on 31st July and after that, Lily didn't care what the date was once she held his squirming, red body in her arms. Her eyes melted and her face relaxed as she fell in love with their son. James was out for all of forty-five seconds and came to in order to see Harry enter the world in a bellow of screams, ready to take it on.

James jumped as he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned his head to find Lily smiling down at him.

"You're gonna scare him if you stare at him so much," she teased. "Everyone's here."

Today was Harry's christening day.

"And you're sure that all this is okay?"

"Love, of course it is. Sirius is a brother to you and there's no one else I can imagine loving him as much as we do." She reached out and stroked Harry's head full of hair. "Didn't you see him with Harry last night?"

It was a heart-warming scene the previous night when Sirius held the boy for the first time, since he'd been out of the country on Order business in July and most of August. Of course, there were protests that he'd drop the baby, but once Sirius got comfortable, there was no mistaking the instant bond between them. The godfather promised Harry that there would be plenty of time for them to get into trouble together and that he would be the one to buy the first broom for Harry's first birthday.

Lily was right, James mused. Sirius would do anything for the little tyke.

They'd be counting on it.

December 1980

"And here's another one for Harry," James repeated for the eighth time, placing the box dramatically on the floor in front of the five-month-old.

"James, he doesn't understand what Christmas is," Lily reminded him. "Who's this one from?" She giggled as James tore into the gift to reveal a little purple and white bear, which took her by surprise. "Babeetabee!" she squealed, rushing to Harry's side, startling him, but not enough to make him cry. She took the bear from the floor and gave it a good squeeze, causing it squeak.

"I take it you're familiar with the bear?" James teased, a sparkle in his eye.

"Did you have something to do with this?" Her heart sped up as she scooted closer to him, bringing her body up against hers.

Lily looked again at the bear in her hand. It was one of her favourite toys when she was young and kept it on her dresser up until the time she left for Hogwarts. She had packed all her things away, convincing herself that witches didn't like having their baby toys around. Lily hadn't had time to dig through her things before the wedding and had regretted it once Harry came along.

"Your dad wrote to me, asking if he could give it to Harry," James answered warmly. "He remembered how much you liked it."

"Look, Harry. This is Babeetabee. He likes to sing," she said, introducing her son to the toy.

As she gave it another squeeze, Harry blew a raspberry followed by a spit bubble, signalling his enjoyment. Lily looked at James as he took a picture of their son. This was going to be the first of many joyous Christmases.

February 1981

James looked around the living room of the cottage, feeling depressed and alone. He'd never lived in such a small space before. This place, this so-called haven, consisted of merely three bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and one bathroom. Hell, their old summer place was bigger than this. He felt like he was in prison. He growled as he sat on the lumpy sofa, settling his head on the back cushions, going over the circumstances that brought him here.

There was a spy in the Order. That was all the note from Dumbledore had said, and the next thing James knew, he, Lily, and Harry were shuffled to this crummy place in Godric's Hollow while Frank and Alice and their son were sent somewhere along the coast in Dover. Deep down, he hoped that Frank was in a little hovel with a leaky roof. It was absurd but it was the only hopeful thought he could have.

"James," came Lily's whisper.

He hadn't heard her enter the room, something he needed to improve on; he couldn't be surprised like that anymore. He turned toward her voice and smiled weakly.

"Hey," he answered. "He asleep?" Harry was fussy from the sudden move and very cranky.

She plopped herself down on the sofa next to him, snuggling up next to him.

"Finally. He's just scared," she said into his shoulder as he put his arm around her. "It all happened so fast."

"I'm gonna go crazy here, Lil." He turned and met her eyes, which were sparkly from tears he knew she must have shed. Looking at her like that, he wished he could take back those words. "I'm sorry."

She turned away from him, clenching her jaw. "I'm going to bed."

He watched her rise from the sofa, head up the stairs, and disappear from his sight.

"I'm a fucking bastard," he hissed.

- - - - - - - -

Lily threw herself onto the bed, her eyes stinging with tears over James' selfish attitude. Didn't he think she'd go insane as well? He could transform into another creature, and all she could do was be his son's diary cow. Yeah, that was fair.

Couldn't he think about what she was feeling? Her father had no idea where she was or if she was ever coming back. She would never know her nephew, although she wasn't sure she wanted to, nor would she find out if her father was taking his heart medication or not. James' parents were gone and he had no siblings, but things were different for her. She still had people out there whom she cared about but whom she could never see while she was here.

She rolled over onto her back and looked at the ceiling, following the cracks in the plaster, hoping that the material wouldn't fall on them one night as the slept. She heard his footfalls before he said anything.

"I'm sorry, Lils." He crossed to the bed and she felt his weight settle onto the mattress as he sat, idly stroking her leg. "I forgot that this had to be harder on you."

She shot up into a sitting position and glared at him. "You forgot? How the bloody hell can you forget that I still have family that I care about? Stop being so fucking selfish, James!"

She turned to roll off the bed, but he grabbed her forearm and pulled her to him, crushing her breasts against his chest. On instinct, she locked her eyes with his, like she had so many other times when actions like this were merely considered foreplay.

"I hate that I'm such a selfish blighter. I hate that we're stuck here for Merlin knows how long and I hate that we can't see our friends or family. But I also hate that I made you cry." He took a deep breath. "Seeing you cry makes me weak in the knees and I can't stand the way that makes me feel."

She continued to stare at him, watching his eyes dart back and forth as he looked at her. They had turned a light brown, which they often did when he was emotional; however, she couldn't tell what exactly he was feeling at the moment, which was rather disconcerting.

"It's all right, really," she tried to reassure him. "I just would have liked a little bit more sympathy from you." She ran a hand through his uncooperative hair. "I'm worried, too. But we can't let Harry cotton on. He picks up on everything."

He nodded. "I really am sorry. Is there any way to make it up to you?" His eyes began to twinkle and turned a golden brown. He was feeling amorous.

"James…come on. We just had a fight."

"Exactly." He leaned in and kissed her, easing the pain in her heart, if only for a few, glorious moments.

May 1981

Lily crossed the room to answer the door, peeking out the window to the left, smiling upon seeing Dumbledore and Bathilda.

"It's good to see you!" she said cheerily, embracing first the old woman and then her former professor. They'd had so few visitors lately that the appearance of anyone was cause for celebration. "Come in! I've just started a pot of tea."

She led them into the living room, seating Dumbledore in the armchair and Bathilda on the sofa. Since moving in, James managed to gather more furniture and scrounged up some drapes, rugs and a few mismatched end tables. Nothing in the place matched, but somehow, it made things much more comfortable here.

"Lily, where is that beautiful boy?" Bathilda asked anxiously. "He's almost walking, isn't he?" Her ancient eyes lit up whenever she saw or spoke of Harry.

"He's trying but not quite managed more than two wobbly steps," Lily chuckled in answer, flicking her wand at a stack of new pictures and floating them over to her guests. "James wants to get him a broom, but I'm putting my foot down about that."

"He's always been a bit reckless, hasn't he, Lily?" Dumbledore said. "Although I fear that recklessness has been showing up lately?"

Trust Dumbledore to jump right into the real reason behind the visit, Lily mused.

Nodding, she explained, "He's feeling like a caged animal, Albus. He goes out with his Invisibility Cloak—"

"Pardon me?" Dumbledore interrupted uncharacteristically. "An—an Invisibility Cloak?" A strange gleam in the man's blue eyes reminded her of a conversation at Slughorn's Christmas party. For all of Dumbledore's knowledge and insight, he was still one strange, strange man.

"Yes. He's had it for ages. It's been in his family for generations," she informed him.

"Oh, look at the hair!" Bathilda squealed, oblivious to the conversation going on around her.

"And he's been using it to go out?" asked the professor.

"Well, only occasionally. He transfor—er, he finds other ways to sneak out, too." She could have kicked herself for almost revealing her husband's secret.

"I see," Dumbledore stated flatly in the tone of voice that chilled her to the bone. "Is James here? I'd like to speak with him." He rose before she could answer.

"He's upstairs writing a letter to Sirius." She rose and began to show him the way.

"No need to show me the way, Lily. This used to be my home."

Lily's mouth dropped as she watched him climb the stairs, almost floating.

"His family moved here shortly before Albus started Hogwarts. My word, that was over a hundred years ago," Bathilda mused. "I tried to get to know his mother, but Kendra, that was her name, was rather standoffish. And well, Aberforth, you know him…he was a bit odd, even before he was ten. And then there was Ariana."


"His sister. Didn't he ever tell you about his sister? Well, not that I'm surprised, but I would have thought—she just wasn't well. Her magic was out of control and it ended up killing her in the end. Gellert left the next day, and I don't think that Albus ever got over losing both of them at the same time." Bathilda returned to looking at the photographs.

Again, Lily's mouth dropped.

"Gellert? What—who?" she stammered, causing the woman to look at her again.

"My nephew, Gellert Grindelwald. Oh, don't worry, dear," Bathilda chided, "he wasn't always as bad as people made him out to be."

"Not as bad? And Albus was his friend?" This had to be a lie. There was no way that Dumbledore would have associated with the man.

"More than his friend, Lily." Bathilda raised a gray eyebrow. "They were…close."

Lily was just about to say something when footsteps on the stairs drew her attention away from the conversation. James and Dumbledore descended the stairs, the Invisibility Cloak in the old man's hands.

"You—why does he have your cloak?" Lily asked bluntly. When James looked up, he shook his head slightly.

"Research. I've heard so much about these," explained Dumbledore. "It is so very rare to see one in such fine condition. They usually wear out after a time."

Silence followed the words and Lily made a mental note to add that to the list of things about Dumbledore that needed a lot more explaining.

Mid July 1981

James sat nervously, his leg bouncing up and down, almost as if he had to pee badly. He glanced around the room again, his eyes finally falling on Harry who was seated on Dumbledore's lap and playing with the old man's beard. If Dumbledore was to be believed, which he usually was, Voldemort was ready to strike and soon. But uncertainty was not something James enjoyed experiencing and it made his stomach churn.

He was drawn out of his thoughts by the Floo springing to life, revealing Sirius with Peter in tow. James smiled at his friends' appearance.

"Would you stop fidgeting, Wormtail!" Sirius bellowed with a smile. "You're not the one who's gonna be locked up in your own house!"

"Shut up, Sirius," James said with irritation. He'd been feeling extremely on edge ever since Dumbledore suggested the Fidelius Charm. His fear hadn't been expressed to anyone other than Lily, and Sirius' cavalier attitude was something that didn't make things any easier. Half the time, he felt like exploding whenever someone looked at him the wrong way and he hated feeling like this: weak and vulnerable.

Sirius' face sobered and his expression changed. "Sorry, mate."

"Is Lily ready, James?" asked Dumbledore as he set Harry down, watching with amusement as the little boy teetered for a moment on his feet before swaying and tumbling to the floor.

"Yeah. She just wants to finish up the letter to her dad."

When he, Lily, Sirius, and Dumbledore had finally agreed that Peter would be Secret-Keeper, she immediately went to their room and began writing a letter to her father. She knew she wasn't able to tell him everything that was going on but she wanted to prepare him for what could happen. As she did that, Sirius went off to get Peter while James and Dumbledore went about rewriting wills and drawing up guardianship papers. It was a sobering task but a necessary one.

"I understand," the old man said quietly, watching Harry pull himself up on his knees and stand again.

Peter and Sirius sat down in chairs, both of them silent and nervous-looking. James stood to go and get Lily when she walked into the room, her face tear-stained.

"Mumma," Harry said brightly, oblivious to the tension and anxiety in the room. He took three tentative steps toward his mother before toppling down again. Harry looked at the adults to gauge their expression. Upon finding no one coming to his aid, he must have thought he was fine and proceeded to crawl over to his mother. "Mumma."

Lily sniffed and knelt down beside him, lifting him into her arms and kissing his unruly hair. James chuckled as he thought about all the trouble that the boy was going to have with his hair in the future. He had enough experience trying to control it, vowing to teach Harry how to love his hair if only to appreciate the way it could drive the females crazy with lust.

"Ready?" Lily asked him when she stopped at his side.

James put an arm around her waist and kissed her hair. "Yeah." He turned to Dumbledore and the others, who now stood in front of them. Sirius looked tense and Peter looked as if he were ready to piss his pants. Dumbledore, of course, was calm, in an unnerving sort of way.

Lily turned to him and whispered, "I'm scared, James."

He squeezed her tightly, hoping to reassure her. He placed a finger under her chin and raised it before kissing her softly.

"It's alright. I trust Peter."

Together, they turned toward the others, ready to perform the charm that would protect them from Voldemort.