Characters/Pairings: Lily/James (like, duh), Tonks/Lupin. None of these matter much, really, because it's really all about James.
Notes: I've always been a fan of the dead-watch-the-living-and-provide-hilarious-commentary trope, though this isn't very funny. Or, at least, it's not supposed to be. James, on life, death, family, and the breakage of heavenly noses. Sort of. Reviews are muchly appreciated.
When James died, one could never make the mistake of thinking he was happy to do it. Honored, yes. Determined, definitely. Happy? No.
Happy was not throwing yourself in the path of certain death, hoping to god that the two most precious things on your life flee to safety. Happy was not clutching to straws, double-fisted, drawing courage you never knew you had, watching the life that you and your wife have painstakingly built, woven out of laughter, happiness and truth, held together by the bonds of touch and comfort and love—shatter and flutter, bloodstained, to the floor. Happy was not giving your son to your best friend for safe-keeping, for rearing, for kissing good-bye on the first of September, for teasing about first crushes and first kisses, for teaching the lessons of manhood and honor and standing with your head held high.
Happy was watching your son—your son, who is all smiles, sweet softness, greedy hands that yank at hair and find themselves inside your mouth and downy cheeks that you can't kiss enough, even though you tell yourself that he's going to be a hell-raiser, this one, and you're going to have to stop kissing him and toughen him up, but one more can't hurt, just one, but he is inexplicably, incontrovertibly your son, and even after all this time, you're having difficulty grasping it—grow up and toddle around and fall on his rump, and wiz around on his broom and terrify the cats and old ladies and go to Hogwarts (and turn the place on its ear because that's what Potters do, simple as that, really) and play Quidditch with you and come to you for advice about girls and be a twice the man you are, unfettered by the chains of war, and you want so badly to see him shine and glow and bask in your love that it's an ache now, bone-deep and distressingly familiar, so much so that you'd almost gotten used to it, but right now, it cuts so, so deep.
Happy is having your wife by your side (because she is an inescapable truth, a necessity, because without her, you can't breathe, simply by virtue of the fact that she is the essence that keeps your heart beating), is endless sunlit afternoons while she leans against you and you slip an arm around her waist and you both watch the miracle that is your son grow. Happy is roaring fires and roaring laughter of friends as they sit and bask in the light shining off one another's faces.
But now you are dead, and with your dead wife, you watch the lives of the living unfold with unwavering attention. You greet newcomers—Cedric Diggory, for example, who you and your wife shamelessly pump for details about your son. You want so badly to hold him, to look him in the eye and say, man to man, that you are more proud of him than he could have ever imagined.
Years pass, and you watch—you and your wife, and then Sirius (who you promptly tackle and wrestle to the ground with many exclamations of "You prat! You're the goddamned god-father! You're supposed to stay goddamned alive!" to which he yelps "Shut your flapping crag hole, Prongs, he's fine, look!") and finally Remus (who smiles at you bleakly, wistfully, ruefully, and your wife hugs him—and then embraces the young filly who married good old Moony—and you and him share a look that tells you that he understands exactly how you worry and fret and cheer at each turn for your son, because Moony's left one behind as well and damn if your heart isn't cracking all over again).
Wormtail doesn't appear, and you aren't sure you want him to, and you ponder this truth in between debating how much damage you can do to another soul in this strange dimension you've all been herded to. Death hasn't brought you the zen-like peace of mind that claims other souls and you've had sixteen years to contemplate and come to terms with his betrayal, and this has you contemplating, in turn, if murdering a dead man is feasible. Sirius says that he'd be glad to test the theory, Remus chuckles, and you wonder if you'll ever get the chance. (Dumbledore's eyes twinkle as you mention this, and the man smiles—a rare, true smile—and like always, glides away. You take this to mean "Break his nose for me, will you, dear boy?") You even catch a glimpse of Snape, still bat-like and pasty, even after all these years. Lily has already found him, spoken to him, thanked him; and because all that has passed between you and him make words unwanted and ungainly, you just nod your thanks. You owe him much more than that, but for now, until Harry comes and pays his dues to the old potions master, it will have to do.
As years pass and you suddenly have grandchildren (one of whom is named after you and you are unabashedly delighted that the one named James is the hell-raiser he is supposed to be), you decide that being dead isn't too bad after all. Your son will come, as will the rest of the family, though you hope that that day is far, far off. That, you decide, is what brought you here in the first place. You smile. Your son is unchained, and he laughs the laugh of the free, with his head thrown back and the light of bliss dancing in his eyes, and you see it all. He will come, as will they all, and then, there will be eternity.