Chapter XXXIX - Loss
Her parents were dead?
That couldn't be true. What she was seeing had to be a terrible, terrible lie. She collapsed to the ground in front of them, tears rolling down her cheeks but no sound came out of her. There was no sound around her. As if the world itself had died.
She touched them. A hand to her father's hair, a finger across her mother's cheek.
They weren't even cold yet.
Then all of the sound around her seemed to rush back in like a giant roar and she gasped for breath.
Amelia knelt down next to her, tears in her own eyes as she took Lily's hand. "Honey, come on. There's nothing you can do here." She nodded at James, who simply lifted Lily to her feet.
She turned into his arms, her head against his heart and sobbed in silence.
The police came. They answered questions. The Aurors came. They answered more questions. But it wasn't until the van of the medical examiner's office pulled up that Lily panicked..
"James! No! Don't let them take them away! They … No!"
James held on tighter, kissing her hair. "Shh, let them do their job, Lily. It will all be okay. It will all be okay. I promise." He kept his arms wrapped around her as he murmured pointless words of comfort in her ear until she calmed down a bit.
When the van drove away, police officers began to tell people to leave the scene. James took Amelia's hand in his and once they were an appropriate distance away from the crime scene, he disapparated the three of them into the Evans' common room.
Amelia took Lily to the chesterfield, wrapping a blanket around her and then her arms, cradling her like a child to her breast, hoping they could offer comfort to each other. James went into the kitchen to make tea.
"They can't be gone, Nana," she whispered. "I was just talking to them. Dad was saying how Mum was drinking too much tequila and how it makes her crazy. They were just here."
"Shh, honey, I know. I only just came back into your lives and the thought of burying my son … it's not right. A parent should never have to say goodbye to their child," she blinked back her own tears as she gently brushed her fingers through her granddaughter's hair. "It's a terrible tragedy."
"I feel numb," she whispered, using the back of her hand to wipe at the never ending rain of tears.
Amelia nodded. She understood exactly and she wanted to comfort this young woman, but her own grief was making it difficult. She didn't know what to say or how to say it. She had lost her son, her baby boy and her daughter-in-law after she had finally come to know them after all these years. It wasn't fair. Her own choices had taken them from her and now to lose them so tragically when she had only just gotten them back was unbearable. She kissed the top of Lily's head as she rocked back and forth. She was so grateful that she had two wonderful granddaughters in her life and she knew that Deacon would be happy to know that she was here with them during such a terrible time.
"I know, sweetie. I know," she murmured, kissing Lily's head again.
James came back into the common room with two steaming cups of tea. He stood in the doorway for a moment to watch them. Amelia was rocking back and forth with Lily in her arms and he hesitated. He felt numb himself. He didn't know what to do to help Lily out. He blew gently on Lily's tea and hoped that the cup of hot brandy with a dash of tea would be enough to calm her nerves and knock her out. Especially since he had added a dollop of sleeping draught. She needed to sleep and rest because daylight was going to bring even more heartache.
He handed one cup to Amelia and the other one he carefully held in his hand as he took a seat next to Lily. "Have a sip, baby. It will make you feel better." His eyes met Amelia's and he mouthed 'brandy' making the woman smile.
Lily turned to James like a child and allowed him to carefully place the cup to her lips and help her drink. "That's not tea," she said, choking.
"It's good for you, drink up." She did as she was told and within five minutes was passed out in his arms. "I'm going to bring her to bed. I'll be right back."
James carried her up the stairs and undressed her. He carefully put her pajamas on and wrapped her up, kissing her forehead. He left the door open before he made his way back downstairs to Amelia who was still sipping on her tea.
Amelia nodded as James took a seat next to her. "You gave her a lot of brandy."
"She needed it. I also added a sleeping potion. Today is going to be hard and the more rest she has the better she'll be at coping."
"I agree." She put her cup down on the table and reached for his hand. "The next few weeks are going to be rough on her. She might try to push you away."
"Doesn't mean I'll leave," James said stubbornly. "I love her, Amelia. I've been in love with her for what seems like most of my life. I'll take care of her, I promise."
Amelia smiled. "I know. We're going to have to tell Petunia and Vernon."
James closed his eyes. He imagined Petunia was going to be just as devastated as Lily. He didn't want to go through that. "We'll give them tonight. They deserve at least one night of a honeymoon before we break the news. I should get a hold of my own parents though."
The knock on the front door had both of them jumping. He hoped it was the police or the Aurors again. He really wasn't in the mood to answer any more questions that he didn't know the answers too. James stood up to answer it and was surprised to find Sirius standing there.
"Sirius! Mate, it's good to see you." He tugged him close, surprised at how much he himself needed a friend. But when he pulled back, the tears in Sirius' eyes worried him. "You heard the news?"
Sirius closed the door behind him and followed James into the common room. He merely nodded at Amelia. "The attacks in London? I barely escaped myself. Remus and Violet are okay and Remus says he saw Peter and Erica so … well, most of us got out alive."
James closed his eyes and loosened his tie. "Do they have a body count yet? Lily's a mess and rightly so. We haven't even told Petunia yet."
"Petunia? What? Why would Petunia care about Tia?"
James' eyebrow rose. "Tia? I think we lost something in translation here. Isn't that why you're here, about Lily's parents? Her parents were murdered by Death Eaters tonight."
Sirius sat down slowly, his eyes widening in surprise. "Oh Merlin." He buried his face in his hands before he spoke. "I hate to bring about more bad news."
Amelia spoke now, touching Sirius' arm. "More bad news? Come on, son, you can tell us."
He smiled at her. The maternal gesture comforted him. "You must be Lily's Nana. She's told me wonderful things about you. I'm Sirius Black."
Amelia smiled. "Amelia Evans. Now, sweetheart, what about more bad news?"
"What happened to Tia, Sirius?" James asked, his hands trembling. He had a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach that he already knew the answer.
Sirius' eyes met James'. He swallowed slowly, keeping eye contact as he said the words. He was still in complete shock himself. "Hestia and Ben were both killed in the attack tonight."
James slowly sat down. "They what?"
"I don't think it was outright murder, it looked like they got caught in the attack and part of a building collapsed on them. I … I tripped over their bodies." Sirius dragged his fingers through his hair. "Tia's one of Lily's best friends. How are we going to …"
James only nodded when his friend trailed off. "I know."
The three of them sat in silence for a few moments before Amelia spoke.
"I'm going to go lie down. I'm hoping sleep will come. I might help myself to some of that sleeping potion in the kitchen. James, Lily's going to need you."
James nodded as he watched Amelia head upstairs. "Padfoot, can you go home and tell my parents the news? Tell Mum we're fine and that I'm taking care of Lily. I'll need to tell her sister the news later today."
Sirius nodded, standing up. "Tia didn't deserve to go like that, Prongs."
"I know. Neither did Deacon and Cecilia Evans."
He hugged his friend goodbye and locked the front door behind him. He stepped into Lily's bedroom, undressing down to his boxers and then climbed into bed next to her, pulling her into his arms. She snuggled in and he saw that she was crying silently in her sleep. He kissed her forehead and muttered pointless words of reassurance and prayed for daylight.
When Lily awoke the next morning, James' arms were still around her. She carefully made to move but he tugged her towards him, hazel eyes boring into her own. "Morning, baby."
Tears welled up in her eyes again. "It wasn't a dream?"
He shook his head, sitting up now. "Lily, something else …"
"What? What's wrong?"
James sighed. "I'm just going to blurt it out. Sirius came by last night. There were a couple attacks in downtown London last night. Three separate locations. And … Hestia and Ben were killed last night."
Her hands flew over her mouth. "What?"
"Sirius found them. They … I'm sorry, baby. I'm so sorry."
She began to cry all over again and all he could do was hold her.
Two hours later, Lily was in the kitchen scrambling eggs and making bacon. She insisted on it. The task was helping to keep her focused and helped her stop the tears from pouring down her cheeks. James stood in the doorway and watched her.
Lily had showered after her little crying jag that morning and then had gone on a cleaning binge. She had scrubbed every inch of the kitchen before insisting on making breakfast for him and Amelia. Amelia told him it was a good thing. She was doing tasks and keeping focused because she knew that when she saw Petunia, they would both need to grieve together.
James shoved his hands into his pockets as he spoke. Telling Petunia was next on the list and that job had unfortunately fallen to him. "I'm going to go to Majorca now."
She only nodded.
"I'll bring Petunia and Vernon right here, okay?"
She nodded again.
"I'm okay, James, I swear. Just … just get Tuney here."
Amelia squeezed James' hand lightly from behind him. "I'll keep an eye on her. Go. Be quick."
He nodded and disapparated on the spot. He arrived behind a clove of trees near the hotel and hurried inside. The front desk woman smiled at him.
"Good morning, Sir, and how can I be of assistance?"
"I need to speak with Vernon and Petunia Dursley immediately, there's been a family emergency. What room are they in?"
The woman looked flustered. "Sir, I cannot simply give out room numbers."
"Call. Tell them James Potter is here and demanding to speak with them immediately. Now!"
The woman stumbled as she picked up the phone and did as he asked. When she hung up, she looked up at him. "They're on floor three, room three oh seven. They said to go straight up."
He took the stairs because he didn't understand how the elevator worked and he didn't have the patience to wait. He had barely knocked on their door when Vernon pulled it open in a sinfully ugly pink flowered print shirt and kakis.
"What the hell are you doing here, Potter?" He spat, clearly more than annoyed at the interruption.
James pushed his way into the hotel room. "I'm sorry for barging in here like his, but there's … something's happened."
"Lily?" Petunia asked, coming out of the powder room and putting on her earrings. They both looked like they were ready to go play tourist.
"She needs you right now, Petunia. Last night, after you two left for your honeymoon, downtown London was attacked."
"Attacked?" Vernon demanded. "By what Terrorists?"
James hesitated. He wasn't sure how to explain this when Vernon didn't understand the magical world. "Do you know what Lily and I are, Vernon?"
"Freaks of nature?"
He decided it was best not to comment on that statement. "There's a war happening in our world and that war is stumbling into your world."
"What's going on, James?"
James sighed, turning to look at Petunia as she walked into the bedroom. "I'm sorry, Petunia, but your parents were killed last night in the attack." Her eyes rolled back in her head and he caught her before she hit the ground as Vernon was simply staring at him dumbfounded. He carefully placed her on the bed.
"Both killed?" Vernon asked, looking somewhat surprised that his new wife had simply fainted at the news.
James nodded, sitting on the bed next to Petunia and gently tapping her cheeks to get her to wake up. "Yes. Lily's a wreck and Merlin knows we should have told you last night, but we thought you deserved at least one night as a happy couple."
Vernon nodded. He looked rather confused but he spoke calmly. "I'll tell the hotel clerk to get our bags and book a flight home."
"Vernon, I can take both of you home right now. How do you think I arrived here so quickly?" James asked, as he felt Petunia waking up slowly. Petunia's eyes fluttered and James took her hand. "Are you alright?"
"Take me home, James." Petunia said simply. "Use whatever kind of magic you deem necessary, just take me home. I need … I need to see my parents."
James nodded and stood up, holding Petunia's hand tightly in his own. "Lily needs you too, Petunia. You two need to … well, she could use her big sister right now."
Vernon shook his head. "I'm not going to travel by some magical freak show! I'll take a flight!"
Petunia nodded, ignoring her new husband. "Okay. Meet me at home."
Vernon simply nodded and waved at them to have at it as he picked up the phone on the nightstand. James apparated he and Petunia back to the Evans' house.
Petunia held onto the wall for support and shook her head when they landed. "Not the most fun way to travel. But thank you."
She stepped into the kitchen and James heard Lily let out a sob as the two sisters clung to each other.
"Tuney, I'm so sorry! They're gone!" Lily sobbed as she cried on her sister's shoulder.
Petunia furiously wiped at her own tears as she held onto her sister for support. "They were attacked?"
Lily nodded, pulling back to look into her sister's eyes. "Death Eaters."
"What are Death Eaters?" Petunia asked, looking from Lily to James for answers. "You said something at the hotel about your war stumbling into my world, what does that even mean?"
"War has officially broken out in the magical world. Death Eaters are followers of a dark and evil wizard on the rise in our world calling himself Lord Voldemort. These Death Eaters attacked three separate locations in downtown London last night and caused mayhem and ruckus. Over thirty people were killed including ten witches and wizards." James explained, taking a seat at the kitchen table. "The police are calling it terrorist attacks but it was an attack on non magical people, whom we call muggles, those who are of magical blood who were hurt were simply caught in crossfire. The goal was to hurt muggles. It didn't matter who and it didn't matter why, it was just to prove a point. The war is escalating in our world."
Petunia's breath caught now as she spoke. "Your world?"
Tears rolled down Lily's cheeks as she reached for her sister's hand. "They hate all people who aren't one hundred percent magical! They say I'm a fraud and not a true witch. It's one of the reasons why I was raped, Tuney. I'm not … pure to them. James is a pureblood but he's considered a traitor because of his association with me. They're terrible people, Petunia, and what they did …"
Petunia spoke slowly, carefully annunciating every word as she did so. "They murdered Mum and Dad because of you and what you are?"
"No," James said, seeing where Petunia was going with this. He wasn't going to stand there and let her blame Lily for this. "They just got caught in the crossfire. They were not killed because of Lily. Don't you dare blame this on her."
"But Malfoy was there, James," Lily said carefully, her eyes welling up with tears again. "He said that he was going to hurt me; that he was going to come after me because I'm a mudblood."
"Malfoy is a fucking dickwad, Lily and he raped you! But he did not know that you were going to be downtown London last night with your parents. It was an accident." James insisted, but he could already see the hurt in Lily's eyes as she began to wonder if it was indeed her fault. "This had nothing to do with you. Absolutely nothing. They would have attacked that location whether Petunia was getting married there or not. It was an accident that they were there not by design."
"No," Petunia said, standing up now. "It wasn't an accident. They killed Mum and Dad because of YOU. Because of BOTH of YOU. You're both FREAKS of nature and they killed Mum and Dad. It's YOUR fault their dead!" She shrieked, her hand slapping Lily across the face so hard that she stumbled back.
The red hand print on Lily's face seemed to glow as her eyes widened in hurt surprise. "Tuney?"
James moved quickly and cupped Lily's cheek, his eyes glaring daggers at Petunia. "What the fuck, Petunia? This isn't Lily's fault! She's grieving too! You both lost your parents. The least you can do is be reasonable enough to comfort each other instead of casting a blame game."
Petunia ignored him. Her eyes flashing in anger as she taunted her sister. "This is all your fault. All of it. I want you out."
"What?" Lily asked, still dazed from the slap her sister had just given her. She took a step back and James' arm came around her waist.
"OUT!" Petunia screamed. "This is my house now! I have the deed in my name and I don't want you here anymore. Take everything that belongs to you and get out. Now! GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!"
"But … but Petunia … we …"
"GET OUT!" She shrieked. "You're no longer welcome here!" Then she ran upstairs, slamming her bedroom door behind her.
Lily looked up at James. Her green eyes so filled with sadness that James' heart simply broke. "She … she wants me out?"
James tugged her up into his arms. "She's upset, Lily. She doesn't understand or live in the magical world like we do and this is rather a lot of information to throw at her on top of your parents' death. She'll be alright."
"My things?" She asked helplessly as tears poured down her cheeks.
"We'll come back for them. Right now, let's just grab a few things and we'll go to my house, alright?"
Lily simply nodded and let James lead her away. But as James held on tightly all he thought about was how broken she looked.
The next couple of days seemed to never end but were a complete blur at the same time. Gwen helped Lily with all of the funeral arrangements and when the afternoon came and she watched them lower her parents into the ground, tears streamed down her cheeks, her hand clinging tightly to James. But when she reached for sister's hand for support, Petunia merely stepped further away from her. And her heart broke even more.
The lawyers came. Her parents had left a will, recently updated that summer. Deacon had left his cars to Lily and Cecilia specific pieces of jewellery, but the house deed now bore the name of Petunia Dursley. There was some money from her parents' estate that would be transferred to Lily's own bank account, but that was it.
So young, they hadn't expected to be killed so soon. And their lives all summed up into a few items and a house. It wasn't fair.
When the service was over, she asked James to give her some time alone. She promised to meet him at Potter Manor later on that day. She had decided to walk home from the cemetery. The cold air brushing her face as she tried to remember happier times. It was almost an hour before she arrived up to her house.
She stepped into the common room of her childhood home, wiping tears from her eyes and looked up at Vernon. He had said some beautiful words at the service.
"Thank you for your kind words, Vernon. Mum and Dad would have liked to know that you thought so highly of them." She told him, sincerely grateful for the wonderful things he had said.
Vernon nodded. He looked rather uncomfortable as he spoke. "Lily … Petunia wants you out of this house. She's giving you twelve hours to get your stuff out or she says she's putting it out at the road. You don't live here anymore."
"She's angry, I understand that," Lily began. But her sister couldn't honestly be serious about kicking her out. Where was she going to live? This was her house until she and James got married. "But … I'm her sister. We're the only family that we have left."
Petunia stood in the doorway of the kitchen wearing an apron. Her blonde hair pinned up out of her face. "This is your fault, Lily. Because of you and because of that school of freaks that you go to, this happened. I don't want to associate with the person responsible for killing my parents. They left me this house. Get your stuff and get out. Or I will call the police."
Lily watched her sister turn back into the kitchen and she looked up at Vernon. "She's upset. But she doesn't mean … we're sisters."
Vernon shook his head. "Not anymore. Come on, I'll help you pack."
Lily shook her head, shocked at what was happening. "No, I can do it."
She slowly made her way upstairs and into her parents' room. She felt like she was in a daze. How many days had passed since she had sobbed over her parents' bodies? Since Petunia had gotten married? Had Christmas celebrations only been a little over a week ago?
She closed her eyes and focused on the task at hand. She was homeless. She needed to gather her things. She took the jewellery her mother had left her: a ring, three sets of earrings, five necklaces, and a bracelet as well as a stunning ornate rose brooch. She sat on their bed, wiping tears from her eyes as she looked around the room. How was she supposed to just leave and forget that her parents had lived here?
"You're not going very fast for someone on a time limit," Petunia said from the doorway, her arms crossed in front of her.
Lily stood up, her green eyes flashing in anger now. How dare Petunia stand there and rush her out of her childhood home? "I'm sorry that I'm grieving. I'll go as fast as I can."
"What are you doing in here anyway?" Petunia demanded, leaning against the doorjamb as she watched her sister move around the room.
Lily held up the jewellery box in her hands. "Taking what Mum left to me. Can I … can I take something of Dad's?"
Petunia shrugged, her own eyes wet with tears. "Take whatever you want. I don't … I don't want to look at it." She turned and walked away and Lily was left feeling even more hollow than she had.
She did take more.
She filled a box with photo albums, wiping away tears at her mother's wedding photos. Then the tears fell harder when she found the dress in the back of the closet.
"Tuney!" She cried out as she carefully unzipped the protective cover and tugged out the dress.
It was ivory silk. Long sleeves, pointed at the wrist and high neck all in floral lace. The back of the dress was completely translucent lace to the lower back with pearled buttons all the way to the neck. The waist of the dress had a v-shaped belt in braided pearls and the bottom was pure ivory silk, straight to the floor. The trim of the dress in the same floral lace pattern as that that covered the neck and shoulders with a long lace train.
Petunia stepped into the room and watched as Lily pulled the dress out. Her eyes filled up with tears as she watched her sister hold it up to herself. "It looks like it was made for you."
Lily bit her lip. "Does that mean you'll let me take it?"
"Try it on."
Lily undressed right there and carefully slipped the dress on, smiling when Petunia carefully did up the buttons on the back. When she turned, her sister covered her mouth with her hands.
"It was made for you. Mum would want you to have that. To wear it on your own wedding day."
"Thank you, Tuney." Lily said sincerely, feeling rather foolish to be so emotional over a wedding dress after what had just happened.
Petunia silently helped her pack the dress back up before she spoke. "I know I seem like I'm being cruel but … I can't do it, Lily. I can't be part of your world after something like this happened. Do you understand that? Do you understand that I'm afraid?"
"Strangely enough I do. Nana made the same choice, Petunia. It's why she never told anyone that she was a witch, not even her husband. But please don't shut me out completely. You're the only family that I have left." Lily said quietly.
"I'll always be your sister, Lily. And I promise to be there for you when you get married as your Maid of Honour but … that's it. I want you out of this house and out of my life before you get Vernon or I killed too." She stopped in the doorway of the bedroom but she didn't turn around when she spoke. "Mum would want you to have the hutch in the dining room too as well as her hope chest. Take whatever else you want. I already have what I need."
Lily simply nodded and watched her go. The fact that she understood her sister's reasoning completely somehow made it even harder.
It took her only an hour to pack up the rest of her stuff. She used magic to do her room and simply apparated everything to the house in Godric's Hollow. It was a lot of trips but she took the hutch and the hope chest and also her father's basketball. When she was done, she stood in her childhood bedroom which was now completely empty except for the bed frame and mattress and she said goodbye.
She made her way downstairs slowly. The television was blaring from the common room and she could see Vernon sitting on the chesterfield watching it. Petunia was in the kitchen chopping vegetables.
"I'm finished here. I took Dad's basketball and some photo albums as well. A few other small things of Dad's too. So, I guess I'm going to go."
Petunia merely nodded. "Good."
"I'll miss you."
Petunia closed her eyes. "Take the candlesticks too, the silver ones." She placed them into Lily's hand and her bottom lip trembled. "Get out, Lily."
Lily nodded, wiping at her sore eyes to stop the tears. "Goodbye, Tuney."
Then she disapparated. She barely made it through the gate of Potter Manor before she found herself gasping for breath in between her sobs. She collapsed to the ground and arms grabbed her, tugging her up.
She clung to Sirius, crying on his shoulder. But she didn't speak as he held her and led her to another funeral, Hestia Jones.
She cried silently as she moved from James to Sirius to Alice in her grief, each trying to comfort each other at the loss of their friend. When she returned to Potter Manor that night, she took a seat in the big armchair by the fire, curled up and let the tears fall.
James sat next to her, wrapping his arms around her to hold her close.
"I'm so tired of crying. My eyes hurt. My face hurts from wiping the tears away. But I can't seem to stop and when I do its like I can't breathe, like I'm gasping for oxygen and then the tears come all over again."
"I know," he whispered, kissing her cheek. "You haven't really said much. Did you talk to Petunia?"
Lily nodded. "She blames me. If I hadn't come to Hogwarts, if I hadn't accepted the fact that I was a witch then those Death Eaters wouldn't have killed Mum and Dad."
"That's not true, Lily and despite your fears, you know I'm right. Don't let her get to you. She needs someone to blame and you're it, but this is not on you. It was a complete coincidence that you were there with your parents. They hit three separate locations and two of them had witches and wizards, the rest were all muggles. They didn't have targets in mind, just collateral damage and chaos. They succeeded in that."
"I know that, but she won't listen. She wanted me out, Jamie and I did as she asked. I packed up all of my things and anything I wanted that belonged to my Mum and Dad and I brought it all to our house in Godric's Hollow and then I said goodbye to my sister." She said, looking up into his eyes. "She told me she would still be my Maid of Honour but that she doesn't want me going around to see her. She doesn't want to risk getting her or Vernon killed because of what I am. So I left."
"Baby, why didn't you call me? You shouldn't have had to pack all of that up yourself." James insisted, kissing her cheek.
Lily shrugged, snuggling into his arms. "It's done. I'm just glad you're here now."
He kissed the top of her head and just held her. "Always."