Author's Note: Hi, thanks for reading! This is based on a drabble of the same name that I wrote for L/J fest, which was basically the same scene as the second scene in this one-shot. Also thinking of doing a few more one-shots like this based off of Lily's relationship with each of the Marauders. Let me know if anyone would be interested in that kind of thing. Hope you enjoy, please let me know what you think :)
Lily was going to murder Davey Gudgeon. That is, if the Whomping Willow hadn't already sufficiently done the git in–and she was rather hoping it had. Better the blood not be on her hands. What kind of an unfathomable idiot did one have to be to accept a dare to climb up a notoriously temperamental magical tree?
She let out an audible huff.
"Evans, for the last time–it wasn't me. Think I have nothing better to do with my time than play Dare and Ditch with Gudgeon? You can untwist your knickers any time now. Preferably sooner rather than later. I hear all sorts of nasty infections can result."
Her eyes narrowed further, mere slits by this point.
"Dunno how you plan to pass if we aren't even speaking. This clearly isn't my ideal working environment either, but might as well make the best of it, yeah?"
"Fuck off, Black."
He grinned, which only served to infuriate her further.
"That twit Gudgeon was supposed to be in charge of all the chopping for the second phase, so if you could just do that and not speak, this would be…well, not quite tolerable but enough to be getting on with."
She shoved the cutting board at him, not taking her eyes away from the directions in her textbook.
"James was set to do that for our pairing. I'm a shite cutter. Not much for precision. Loads better at the adding and stirring."
"Is Potter as incapable of moving his arm counterclockwise as he is avoiding bludgers to the head, then?"
Inwardly, she kicked herself. This was the fifth time today she had brought up Potter's Quidditch accident. What was wrong with her? Honestly, it wasn't the first time in history that anyone had ever fallen off a broom. He'd be absolutely fine. He already was fine, was probably in fact lounging pleasantly in a bed next to her imbecile of a former partner. He'd probably have transfigured Gudgeon into a monkey–or something else fitting of one who had shown an affinity for tree climbing–by now.
But most importantly, what did it matter whether he was fine or had lapsed into an indefinite coma? He was Potter. He was the most irritating human (besides the boy beside her that was currently feigning confusion over which side of the knife was the sharp point) that she had ever encountered. And he was not actually in an indefinite coma. He was most certainly awake by now; she was pretty certain she'd heard Mary Macdonald say so earlier. Right? Right.
Better to double check with Mary again later. As a House prefect, Lily couldn't have fellow Gryffindors lying about in indefinite comas without a firm prior knowledge of such a condition. Especially if she was looking to be Head Girl next year.
She just had a lot on her plate right now. It was obviously starting to wear on her nerves. Which, in this current situation, was terribly ironic.
Brewing a Calming Draught with Sirius Black. How hilariously counterproductive. Really, what a laugh. Ha bloody ha.
Speaking of Black, he had now resorted to merely tapping the head of the knife onto their ingredients, so it was time for her to intervene.
She sighed. "Listen, just give it to me. You can stir."
He looked delighted. "Are you actually…letting me have my way?"
A roll of her eyes later: "Yes, and dying a little inside because of it. Just –" She forcibly grabbed back the cutting board. "–give me this."
For a few moments, she was rewarded with a lovely silence, broken only slightly by the peaceful sound of her knife splicing through their supply of hellebore.
Then, "Something on your mind, Evans?"
"Plenty of things." She paused in her cutting and wielded the knife at him. "Not the least of which is castration."
Surprisingly, there was no retort. Happy in her victory, she didn't dare glance up and provoke him, but instead continued her work. The unmistakable feeling of movement disturbed her, though, and when she lifted her eyes she discovered that he had inched closer–so much so that their elbows were practically touching.
"I'm not the sort to tiptoe, Evans, so I'll just come out with it. Spotted you in the Common Room Sunday night. Reckon you were crying a bit."
Dropping the knife, she turned abruptly, angry splotches of red rushing to color her face.
"That–" she jabbed him in the chest with her finger, forcing him to back up a bit "–is none," another jab, "of your bloody business. Just–er–keep stirring."
She tried to calm herself by returning to her cutting, but her mind couldn't settle. It was but a moment before she whipped her head around again.
"And what's more, you don't just go about telling girls you've seen them cry! Honestly. Didn't your mother teach you manners?"
He pulled his arm out of their cauldron and laid his wand down on the desk.
"My mother taught me house elves should be hung on the mantel when they're too old to work and that sons who land themselves in Gryffindor should mind that they're scarce when the family's over. Best if such 11-year-olds can dodge stinging curses, as well. Oh, and here's a nifty one–I shouldn't work with–not even stand near, really–people with blood as 'dirty' as yours. But I've never been one to keep m'hands clean."
As if this was proof, he brandished his hands, which were dotted with drips of their draught.
Lily hadn't been expecting this answer, and was therefore genuinely taken off guard. She tried to keep the edge in her eyes, but it was of no use. "I–I shouldn't have…I'm sorry. Don't know you well enough to be making assumptions. And, I guess…thank you."
An unidentifiable look crossed his face–possibly some form of shock?–but was soon replaced by the trademark smirk.
"Don't thank me, Evans. It's not morals, really, just a strong urge to be contradictory."
She resumed her cutting, but Merlin, her brain would not turn off today and Sirius Black was certainly not the person to whom she should be telling this, but hell–did such a person even exist in her life now? In a universe that made sense, Sirius Black wouldn't have ever been her partner that day, nor would she have ever felt inclined to level with his outburst of depth, but he was and she did.
"My sister is getting married. And she–er–she hates me. Has hated me since she found out I was a witch." She paused. "Suffice it to say, I'm not invited."
He snorted, but it was not quite mean. "Aren't sisters rather important at weddings? To…dunno, hold things? "
A rueful smile tugged at her lips. "I suppose I'm the unimportant sort."
She chanced another look at Sirius Black, whose dark eyes were once again unreadable. A flame lit her cheeks, perhaps because she was working on some kind of delay and her body was just catching up with her mouth–and oh, Merlin, did she really just say that to Sirius Black?
She opened her mouth to speak, maybe even take it all back, but he cut her off.
"You're important to some people. Maybe your daft sister doesn't get that you're brilliant, but others do."
She shook her head, happy when her hair fell into her face and shielded her expression. "Let's just…let's get back to work."
"You know I'm not talking about myself, right? I'm not other people. Other people are other people."
She sighed, but a weight had suddenly lifted and her eye roll was not entirely genuine. "I'm fairly certain I know who you mean."
"It's not Remus."
"It's not Peter, either."
She put down the knife. "I know who –."
"It's Gudgeon. My mate Davey is bonkers for you. Completely besotted. A lovesick fool. Driven mad by it, you see."
And she wasn't sure why, but suddenly she couldn't help herself. She grinned. "Some are driven up a wall, others up a tree. A pity."
He grinned back at her. A long pause, then, "Say Evans, let me cut a bit more. My stirring is rubbish."
Mary had made an offhand remark to her recently that dating James would be akin to dating Sirius Black, as well. Lily had promptly blessed herself and quipped, "Lord and Merlin help me."
It was all fun and games, of course, before one actually found themselves sitting at a table for two at Puddifoot's with their boyfriend's incorrigible best mate, picking confetti out of one's hair every other minute or so.
"Evans, do y' reckon you might start to at least pretend you're having a brill time? Would it help if I showed you what these trousers do for my bum?"
The boy began to stand, but Lily effectively halted his movements with a quick draw of her wand.
"Bloody hell, woman—it was a suggestion."
"May I make a suggestion?" She tried to contain her smirk.
"Might you stop ogling Penelope Sloper's breasts? I can assure that if you take a break to look me in the eyes now and again, they'll still be there when you go back."
"Gudgeon keeps obstructing my view! Don't know what she sees in the ponce—the git got his head panned in by a tree last year! Not to mention he's spilled hot chocolate on his shirt twice and nearly wet himself when she reached round for the sugar."
"Sirius, you nearly wet yourself when she reached for the sugar."
"Well, the bird sure can lean." A sudden thought struck him just then and he grinned. "Jealousy is a terribly flattering color on you, Red. 'Tis like Christmas."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Yes, jealous of the dirty cauldrons getting to spend their day with my boyfriend's hands all over them."
"Speaking of Prongs and his hands," Sirius mused, picking a roll of parchment out of his robes, "he scrawled this out right before he left for detention."
She snatched it. "And you were waiting 'til now to fork it over, why?"
He scooted his chair to the far left of their table, stretching out his neck to see past her. "S'pose I was waiting for the breast moment."
Huffing, she read:
Sorry I've bollocksed up our anniversary. Sorry about forcing you to celebrate dating me for a month in the first place. Even sorrier that Remus traded out so that you and Padfoot could "bond" (conveniently enough, you can find him snogging Sally Jones in The Three Broomsticks–and he's the most respectable of us, eh?). Probably sorriest about Pete daring Sirius to wear those trousers.
If it's any consolation, Sluggy's hung around, spouting fairly constant reminders that he made his next party a Sunday brunch since I've always told him I prefer to spend my evenings in quiet meditation.
P.S. Also sorry that Sirius has a better bum than I do.
As her first genuine smile of the evening lit up her features, Lily recalled a recent conversation with her favorite professor concerning his affinity for oat bars. Honestly, these boys truly underestimated her.
She raised an arm and Madam Puddifoot sashayed over.
"More biscuits, dears?" She simpered at Sirius.
Lily cleared her throat. "I'll have the True Love Cream Tea and an order of flapjacks to go, please."
Sirius's mouth closed into a scowl. "I haven't finished my coffee yet, date."
She ignored him and smiled sweetly up at Puddifoot. "He'll be needing a takeaway cup, too."
The older woman tutted softly about "young ladies these days" as she walked off. Sirius had quickly abandoned his pout, now favoring a suggestive grin.
"Is this the part where we ditch the bill while she's off and go ravish each other in the alley behind Zonko's?"
"You–" Not bothering to acknowledge his statement, Lily pointed a finger out at him– "didn't tell me that James was in detention with Slughorn. If you'll excuse me, I have a bit of bribery and a proper date to attend to."
"Proper?" He gasped. "I've been sipping with my pinky up and the like!"
She stood to collect her order at the counter, but Sirius re-gained her attention with a whistle.
"Tell Puddifoot to send a First Date Set over here. And more biscuits!" He winked, then swiveled his head. "Oy, Penelope!"
Lily's father had died just after she'd started at Hogwarts, so it had been years now since she had come to terms with the idea that he would never walk her down the aisle.
It was upsetting to be standing at the back of this church without him, but it was something she could not change and she had been becoming more and more adjusted over the years to distinguishing the difference between what could and couldn't be fixed in her life.
And the fact that her fiance's best man–and her late father's stand-in for this day–had shown up smelling like alcohol and with a busty blonde on his arm? Well, you can guess which category that fell into.
"Who is this bird you've brought to my wedding?"
Sirius shrugged, tugging irritably at the tie around his neck and casting a disdainful glare down at the offending accessory.
"Oh, Bex. Wonderful. Who the bloody hell is Bex?"
"Dunno. Met her at the pub last night." He leaned in closer, eyebrows lifting as his lips quirked up into a lecherous smirk. "Likes abysinthe, that one. A lady after my own heart. Very friendly. Very flexible."
"What? I asked her short notice to a wedding and she accepted. Flexibility. Schedule wise. Obviously."
Lily bit her lip to suppress her own amusement. "Obviously. But I'm not entirely sure this is the proper event to be bringing along perfect strangers to. Circumstances being what they are."
Sirius eyed her up and down. "I'm not entirely sure this is the proper event to be wearing a white dress to." His grin widened. "Circumstances being what they are."
She promptly stomped one heeled foot onto his toes, causing him to yelp and swear loudly.
"James's mum is here, you berk."
"Don't want her to know you're having your way with her son every night?"
"Her only son. Only child. Mind that part. She's mentioned it a hundred times over in the past fortnight."
Sirius elbowed her softly in the ribs, a conspiratorial spark in his eyes. "So it is every night? James, m'boy, I've taught you well. You're like a venus fly trap, eh, Evans? Luring in the prey and then snuffin' the life right out of it?"
"Could you please not use the phrase 'snuffin the life right out of it' on my wedding day?"
"Done and done. Just provide with me a synonym equally as suitable."
"Don't force me to have Kingsley escort you out. I can and I will." She paused. "And for Merlin's sake, I know you're ace at all the best sobering charms. Get on with it."
"You're the one who spouted off about doing it 'the Muggle way'. I'm wearing a tie, my lady friend is a Muggle, I've asked Prongs twelve or so times whether or not he wants to back out…don't make me piss away my all-Muggle streak with a cheap charm. S'like pulling your Seeker when the Snitch has been spotted. A waste of a fine effort."
"I'm not short–."
"You're shorter than I am."
"And I'm drunker than you are. All works out."
He tapped his pointer finger to her lips. "Shh. You're ruining my surprise."
She didn't get to finish her sentence, for he had–and this was definitely a violation of his "all-Muggle streak" if you asked her–pulled out a stunningly perfect bouquet from the depths of his suit jacket.
"I talked a bit to your Mum. Fit bird, that one is. 'Specially for her age."
Despite the fact that her eyes were suddenly moist, Lily promptly reminded herself that she would not cry. But, well…this was really something. On the day of any special celebration in her childhood–birthdays, good term grades, her first dance recital–her father had presented her with a bouquet much like the one that Sirius was now holding. And he would always say–.
"Lillies for my Lily. Bells of Ireland for my green-eyed girl." Sirius proffered the flowers, a smile that for once couldn't quite be termed a smirk on his lips.
Running a hand through James's hair, Lily marveled at the relaxing effect this action had on her. The repeated action of sifting her fingers through his messy locks was lulling her mind into a lovely silence. A bit of quiet, a smidge of normalcy–it was really all she could ask for these days.
A splintering crash sounded from the kitchen.
Ah, short lived as always.
A grinning Sirius Black appeared in the doorway, a black-haired baby in his arms.
"Harry did it."
"Surely, his hand-eye coordination being what it is."
Sirius didn't enter the room, but his eyes roved the scene in front of him. He inclined his head toward the sleeping man on her lap. "Knackered, isn't he?"
She looked down at James, her eyebrows knitting together as her forehead crinkled. "He's been staying up nights. Ever since…well, since we met with Dumbledore. Just sits in the rocking chair in Harry's room. He doesn't think I've realized."
The room drowned for a long moment in heavy silence. Then:
"Lils, it's going to be okay. It has to be." He paused, and when he began speaking again a desperate sort of chipper had entered his tone. "The plan–really, it's brill–been thought up by the finest delinquents Hogwarts has ever seen. And who d'ya know that could pull off a bluff better than this bloke?"
She tried to smile back, nodding her head down towards James. "This bloke."
"Ah, well, biased as you are, I still hold the title."
She looked down at her husband once more, then back up at his best friend. "He's going to miss you, Padfoot. All of us will. It won't be the same around the house without you."
He bounced Harry on his hip, tucking the boy up into the crook of his elbow, then looking down upon him. "There's no one I'd less like to leave. I'm not too bollocks as far as godfather's go, eh, Harry?"
She looked away, hoping he wouldn't notice that her eyes were filled to the brim.
Lily didn't want anyone risking their life for her. She'd lost too many people so very dear to her in this past year, so no, she really didn't wish for any of her friends to be placed in direct danger for her sake.
But…but it wasn't just her anymore. It was her and James…and Harry. It was Harry.
And she would never say this aloud–she felt bad enough even thinking it–but she didn't want it to be Peter.
It wasn't that Peter was a bad friend. He wasn't the brightest of their group, or the cleverest, but he was kind, and unassuming and always so easy to talk to. It was just that…well, she had just recently come to realize that, over the years, it had always been Sirius. Whenever there had been an open role in her life, he had grudgingly and gladly filled it, sneaking into her heart through these holes that others had poked. And now there was this role…this most-important-of-all-roles role. She was expected to place her entire life, James's life, Harry's life–into another's hands.
But those hands wouldn't be Sirius's.
And she might have not been able to say exactly what she wanted to, but sitting there watching her son gaze so adoringly up at his godfather, she could say this.
"Sirius, you were never the substitute." She looked straight into his eyes now and hoped like hell he couldn't see her tears. "You were always just waiting for the proper position."
For a few seconds, she regretted the words–fraught at the idea of having to explain herself. But then he looked down at Harry again, and back up at her, that very un-Sirius-like smile she'd once seen at her wedding on his face.
"Noticed that we haven't bickered once today, Mrs. Potter?"
"Indeed, I have, Mr. Black. Guess we've grown used to one another over the years."
He grinned then, giving Harry a slight toss that made his sweet baby's laugh fill the room. "And many more to come."
Lily looked down once more at her sleeping husband, suddenly unable to keep her eyes on the scene in front of her.
It seemed that so many moments in her life, both insignificant and crucial, had somehow involved the man standing in front of her. This moment, though, this time in particular –for whatever reason –would not be including him. This role would not be filled by Sirius.
And she would never say it aloud–she felt bad enough even thinking it–but there was something not quite right about that.