All credit for Harry Potter, the world the story takes place in, and the characters belong to JK Rowling.
She hovered outside the pub, it the alley that housed the entrance to the famous Wizarding shopping distract. She just couldn't bring herself to twist the hand she had already placed on the knob and open the door.
Step through the doorway and see him.
She wasn't ready for this, not right now anyway. Not after she had just broken Sev's heart.
Why was this turning out to be so hard?
Love was suppose to be easy. With James, it had been so natural, once she had realized her feelings for him at least. She'd known what she felt for Sirius for several years now, and it was still as hard as ever. There seemed to be so much baggage with their relationship, so many unsorted feelings and so much pain. Heartbreak, on both of their parts.
Was it truly worth it?
Once upon a time, she would have said yes in a heartbeat. Now? Now she wasn't so sure. There were other things to consider now, other people. Harry for instant, in so fragile a state because of her anger at the dog Animagus being mistakenly taken out on him. The child she carried within her, who shared half his blood, was another. He or she, when born, would need a stable home to be nurtured in, and loving parents.
With everything that went on between them, she didn't know if she could live peacefully with him anymore. Not with the whole ordeal with her insecurities and relationship with Snape connected to them, she didn't know anymore, even if she was no longer engaged.
"Excuse me, but are you planning on just standing there for the rest of the afternoon? Some of us have things to do and grandchildren to put to bed," a stern voice snapped behind her, something familiar that reached all the way back to final year.
She turned, her dark red hair flying in an arc behind her and she moved quickly, her eyes locking on to the somewhat short woman, her vulture stuffed hat adding to her height and her somewhat threatening appearance.
Lady Augusta Marianna Longbottom, mother-in-law to her onetime best friend, Alice Prewitt-Longbottom. Holding onto her hand and hid slightly behind his grandmother, little Neville clung to the old woman, the perfect blending of Frank's hair and Ally's face. The boy was the same age as Harry, born only a day earlier… yet he seemed so much younger.
"Well, well, well," the widow Longbottom muttered to herself upon seeing the other woman's face. "Lillian Evans-Potter. How nice to see you again…"
They'd only met the one time, at her son's wedding, when she had been Alice's Maid of Honor. Even though it had been explained to her three or four times that her name was not a shortening of Lillian, she still persisted in calling her that. Bit annoying really…
"Miss Augusta, Ma'am…" she answered, nodding her head in a shallow bow. James had known the woman far longer than she and, having growing up in the pureblood noblesse, he knew how to act around her. He had taught her that it was most polite to bow when meeting another noble of the same rank or lower.
"As before, may I ask why you're standing in the middle of the alleyway?" she demanded, her eyebrows arching in question.
"Er…you, know…um…I," she began to stutter in answer, grabbing a few locks of her hair and beginning to fiddle with it.
"Straight response please," the older woman said patiently, jerking her grandchild away from clutching her immense crumpling skirts.
"Oh…yes, well. I'm considering about whether I should walk into this barroom and then break my own heart yet again."
Whatever the old pureblood had expected, it surely hadn't been that. The truth of it showed on her face.
Snapping open her handbag, she reached into it and brought out a few coins. She bent down to her grandson and instructed him to go back to Diagon Alley, and from there to the ice cream parlor.
When the last brick was back in place, closing it off, she turned back to the younger widow, and instructed her, "Explain now, please."
Knowing she wouldn't have much time, she told the watered down version. She loved Sirius, he loved her. She felt she wasn't good enough, so dated someone else to prove a lie. She got pregnant with his child while still dating her childhood friend. Now she was no longer seeing her fiancé, and didn't know what to do about the dog Animagus.
It further left the old woman stunned.
After being silent for a few moments, all she was able so say was, "Well… That is quite the problem, isn't it?"
Nodding, she choked back a sob.
"I don't know what to do," she admitted. "If he knows the truth he won't want to be with me. If I don't tell him the truth, I can't be with him. I feel like such a fool for getting myself into this mess and I've got no clue how to get myself out!"
They fell silent for a few moments, sobs continuing to break through her usually stony facade.
Silencing to her anguished cries, the grandmother of her best friends son finally seemed to loose her unyielding presence. A sympathetic look crossed her face, and she began rubbing the twenty-seven year olds back as if she might to comfort her grandson. They sat on a nearby bench, the younger of the two women hugged into the chest of the older as she cried.
Finally, she spoke.
"Dear, if you want my honest opinion," before she could say more, she was interrupted by the redhead's frantic nodding. "Alright. I think you are a fool if you don't do everything in your power to get what you want. That makes you happy. Especially for your children's sake," she said maternally, sounding much like the expecting woman's deceased mother. She rubbed her growing belly, knowing the words spoken were the truth.
"Thank you…" she whispered into Mrs. Longbottom's embrace, desperately trying to swallow her tears.
The two women sat side by side for awhile, until the pregnant one of the two could get her somewhat fragile emotions in order. In the time it took to do that, Neville returned, chocolate covering the area around his mouth.
Her expression morphing from gentle understanding to fierce displeasure, the formally sympathetic Augusta descended on her unsuspecting grandson.
"Neville Collin Longbottom, what have you been doing?" she demanded sternly. "You should know the proper manners by now to wipe your mouth off in a public ice cream parlor!"
Scowling , the aging pureblooded witch wished her still weeping companion good luck and departed with her scared young grandchild in tow. Only when the other woman was out of sight did the younger of the two manage to get her haywire emotions in check. She felt she could face Sirius now, and the confrontation that was sure to happen.
Entering into the mostly abandoned pub, she easily found the man she sought in the dark barroom. He sat in a corner, hair and clothing immaculate, and appeared to be talking to himself.
When she got close enough to make out what he was saying, she found out he seemed to be berating himself.
"Stupid, Stupid, Stupid! How could I have been so bloody stupid? Of course she's not going to come! She's been avoiding me for the last few months, so why would she show up today? Why did I have to tell her I'd be waiting for her?"
He probably would have gone on if she hadn't cleared her throat. He quickly swung around to face her, shock on his face as he began rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment.
"How long have you been standing there?" he asked, his voice coming out as a squeak.
"Not long," she assured him, taking the seat across from him.
"So… would you like a drink?" he finally asked, gesturing to Tom the Barkeep, "Tea, Pumpkin Juice, Butterbeer… something a little stronger?"
"Just tea, thank you… anything stronger is bad for the baby," she answered him, nodding to the bartender who'd come up beside them as the expecting father fell silent. Sirius began silently beating his head on the table, having not remembered she was carrying a child.
"Of course ma'am…" the old wizard answered, waving his wand at the bar and summoning a steaming pot and tea cup. "Cream or sugar?"
"No, thank you."
"So, how's Harry doing… with the pregnancy and your engagement? Last I heard, Snape and he still hated each other," Sirius asked at last, trying to make small talk before they came to the big problem between them.
"He's looking forward to being a big brother, can't wait in fact. He's already got her doing pranks with him, and she's not even born yet!" she answered, inwardly wincing at the obviously fake enthusiasm in her voice. "And it doesn't really matter what he thinks of the engagement, because Severus and I are no longer together."
Upon hearing the words leave her throat, Sirius's head shot up from glaring down at his drink. He looked at her with a mix of shock and hope, praying that he had heard what he was sure he had. He knew there was still a hell of a lot they had to talk about before they could even think about a relationship, but for now he held hope for the first time in awhile.
"Oh?" he found himself asking, his voice the only indication about what he was privately rejoicing.
"Yes… but before you start planning anything, we still have some things to discuss Sirius Black. Some of which, you probably won't like. But you still need to know them…"
So she finally admitted it. Her fears, that she wasn't good enough for him. That everyone knew that, and would judge them for it. That he needed to be with a Pureblooded woman, one who could give him the Pureblooded heir that was expected to come. She was already under enough scrutiny after all, for being the mother of the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Of all the asinine things…" he muttered, gaping at her in disbelief. "That's why we aren't together? Because you're scared of what my family and some newspaper reporters think of you?" he demanded.
"Yes!" she exclaimed, stating the word as if it was obvious.
The moment the words passed through her lips though, she regretted it. It looked like he had just been slapped in the face. A look that suddenly turned angry and fierce.
Sirius glared at the love of his life through gritted teeth and with fire burning in his eyes.
"Don't you dare say that to me, Lily," he snapped.
"Don't you dare lecture me about your insecurities and then make this about me. My parents have nothing to do with this. Nothing, do you hear? They never have, and they never will. Don't use them to justify your actions, don't you dare," he snarled.
Didn't he see what she was trying to do? Didn't he get it? She needed to protect him from themselves. Eventually, their love would be our undoing. He was too good to crumble at her feet. He deserved more. He deserved someone who could tell him she loved him. He deserved better… and that's exactly the kind of thinking that got er into this mess in the first place.
With a sigh, she let her hand fall to her protruding stomach, a gesture that rarely failed to calm her down. This was one of the few times it didn't…
He followed her hand moments, letting his gaze rest for a few moments on the bump that was his baby. Half of him and half of her… a thought that brought a slight smile to his face.
"Don't put me through this Lily. It's not right and it can't be what you really want. I know you love me just as much as I love you… that child you're carrying is proof of it Flower. When I vanished that Potion Prongslet made, I saved a vile of it and had it tested at St. Mungo's for possible side effects. It was poisonous if you drank it, but if you only smelled enough of the fumes it made you act on your most desired feelings. Do you not see?"
Yes, she saw… but before she could say anything about it, he was leaning across the table to capture her lips in his.
"Kiss me back, Lily," he pleaded against her still mouth, for she stood in refuse of his advances. He went to work again, doing his best to tear her bottom lip away from her top one and bringing it into his mouth. He was slightly more forceful than before as he tried to solicit a reaction from the one who carried his child. When he realized that she was not going to give in, his lips slowed on her's.
"Lily, please," he begged. "Please kiss me. I love you baby. That night, we both acted on what we wanted most…"
Gently, she placed her hands on his chest and pushed him back. "Sirius, stop. You can't just kiss something and make it better. You seem to forget something important. When I woke up that morning, I was alone! I was ready to admit to you everything, and move on with you… but you had left me."
"I wanted to stay," he admitted hesitantly, still close enough for her to smell his breath, "But I was scared. Scared that that night was just a fluke to you, and you had used me again."
She gaped at him.
"You mean you haven't realized I lied then? Sirius, when we were together that first time, it was the happiest I'd been since James was alive! The man I'd fallen in love with knew my feelings and reciprocated them! The reason I told you I had only used you was because I was frightened, and for the first time in my life had no one to kick me in the ass and tell me to shut up about them!"
"What's it going to take, Lily?" Padfoot asked with a sigh, speaking after several minutes silence.
"What?" she asked in answer, not understanding him.
"What is it going to take for me to be good enough for you? Merlin knows I've tried to reach out to you, make you realize it's you I love and I don't care what my family thinks. But it's just not enough for you…
"The whole bloody world knows that I've jumped through every little hoop you've tossed my way. I've put up with every insecurity you've let me be privy to, which is next to none until now. You would think I've done enough now, but like with all things involving you, Lily, it's not the case. What more do you want from me? Because I have got next to nothing left to give! This is it! I've given you absolutely everything there is to give. There's nothing left. Is that good enough for you?" he demanded, making her heart bleed at his tone.
"Sirius," she whispered softly in an effort to get him to quiet his voice.
"Stop it," he snarled. "Stop evading everything and tell me the truth. Just answer the question. Do you want to be with me or not?"
"Yes, Sirius, I do, but…"
"But what, Lily?" he asked, his fierce eyes still staring into her's. "But you let your anxieties get in the way of your happiness again? Just like you did with Prongs?"
"I truly regret that Padfoot," she admitted, "When James and I started dating, Marley, Emma, and Hest talked some sense into me… This time around there was no one to nip my uncertainty in the butt, which would have saved all of us a lot of painful and lonely times. You both deserved so much better than that, than me..."
The remorseful expression written on her face tore at Sirius' heart. Her arms were crossed, resting on her stomach as she hugged herself in an attempt to keep it together. She couldn't bear to look at him, to see the betrayal in his eyes. She felt him gently caress her cheek as his anger seem to dissipate.
She didn't feel that she deserved any comfort, but turned into it all the same. He ran his finger down her jaw line until it was under her chin. Slowly he tilted it up until her eyes locked with his. There was no anger or malice in them, only forgiveness and understanding.
It was then, and then only that she kissed him again.
A few more months passed, and the day they had both been waiting for for so long had arrived.
The day Sirius Black and Lily Evans were to be joined in holy matrimony.
December 24 dawned bright and cloudy, small drifts of snow already forming over the Burrow's gardens, creating an amazingly picturesque backdrop for a wedding ceremony. An arbor of twinkling fairy lights had been erected over the place where they were to stand, a silk tent over the assembled over the few chairs.
Afterwards, this was to be remade into a pavilion for the reception. Molly had put it all together within a few weeks, everything from the food, which she cooked herself, to the band, a string quartet that played popular classical Muggle and Wizarding hits. She had even gone so far as to arrange for the wedding robes. Rather than go out and buy a dress that would have had to have been altered several times before the wedding itself, Lily had asked the Weasley matriarch to go out and get some fabric so that they could make their own dress…
And what a dress it was.
The gown was Muggle influenced, to show off the bride's heritage, but clearly a Wizarding gown. Sheer blue fabric, so lightly colored it was almost white, draped Lily's heavily pregnant body, with skirts flaring out from her waist to pool around her feet. Full bell shape sleeves fell away from her arms, a darker shade of embroidery covering the soft cloth. The young woman's thick red hair had been braided and coiled around her head in an intricate knot. She wore a pair of flat slippers, as it was difficult to walk in heels when pregnant.
Escorting her down the aisle was her son. The seven year old was to give her away and play the part of the second best man. Remus was first, and Arthur a groomsman. On the bride's side of the tent, Molly stood as Maid of Honor with Emmeline and Hestia as bridesmaids. She'd tracked down the two women she'd lost track of after going into hiding so many years ago and rekindled their friendship. They'd been overjoyed to see her, but more than a little surprised that she was pregnant again and about to marry her departed husband's old best friend. While they hadn't been his best admires during school though, they excepted that Lily knew him and her own heart better than they did.
Performing the ceremony was their old Headmaster and acting as the signer for their marriage certificate as proof that they were legally wed was the Minister of Magic himself. They hadn't partially wanted Cornelius there, but he took it on himself to do it. They suspected it wasn't because Sirius was head of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black as he claimed, but rather to get close to Harry. Another unexpected guest, one blonde reporter that went by the name of Rita Skeeter, had also shown up. Her presence had slowed the ceremony somewhat by "borrowing" the second young groomsman and trying to get an exclusive interview. The small boy hadn't proved to be very sympathetic to this goal.
For the third time that night, their ceremony was interrupted.
But it wasn't by reporters, or unexpected guests… or even a small child telling their mothers in their carrying whisper that they needed to use the restroom. No, it was something more.
As Albus asked the bride if she took the groom to be her lawfully wedded husband, if she consented to him being her son's new father by law. She was just nodding her head when she doubled over in pain, taking her eyes from the groom's for the first time during the whole ceremony.
"Lily, are you alright?" the worried man asked his future wife, bending down to look into her face. "Are you in pain, is it the baby? Talk to me honey, what's going on?"
"Er, judging from the puddle of amniotic fluid on the ground, I'm going to play it safe and say the bride is in labor…" Molly pointed out, clutching the two large bouquets she held to her chest. "I do believe you two need to get to St. Mungo's…"
"NO!" Lily answered her, shaking her head franticly.
"But honey, if the baby is coming now, than-" Sirius began, before he was interrupted by the gasping redhead.
"No Sirius! It will take some time. We've waited long enough for this day as it is… I don't want to wait anymore before I can be your wife…"
"No Sirius!" she said again, cutting him off midstream. "Albus, continue the ceremony please… but hurry!"
"Yes Dear, now as I asked earlier…"
Christmas morning dawned clear and bright for the newly made family.
Presents rested around the tall bright evergreen that stood in the foyer, decorated with fairy lights, colored balls, and glittery pieces of paper Harry had made at the Weasleys' home. Garlands of holly and fresh smelling wreaths hung around the room, giving it the festive feeling that had been lacking the last two years. A cheerful fire roared away in the hearth and stockings hung from the mantle, waiting for greedy hands to take hold of them and partake of the delights within them…
But something was missing from this picturesque yuletide scene. The Potter-Black family was missing from their own home. They were, instead, resting in a private room in the Wizarding world's equivalent of a Muggle Hospital.
While Harry lay curled up asleep at the foot of the bed, tuckered out from staying up all night, Lily and Sirius sat at the head of it looking down at the small miracle in the redhead's arms.
"She's beautiful," the dog Animagus whispered emotionally, overcome by the sight of his pup. He'd gotten just as choked up when he'd first saw his godson as a newborn.
"Yeah…" Lily agreed, "She's gorgeous. You and Prongslet are going to have to beat the guys off her with a stick when she gets older… that is if she doesn't beat you black and blue for interfering in her life. Redheads have a tendency to do that you know!"
"So, what will her name be?" Molly asked curiously, watching the new parents.
"Rebecca," Lily answered, "After my grandmother on my dad's side."
"No!" Sirius said quickly, shaking his head.
"No?" his wife repeated, glaring at him over the head of their daughter.
"No," he agreed, " not Rebecca. Maybe for a middle name, but not for the first… she doesn't look like a Rebecca to me…"
"She doesn't look like a Rebecca? Alright then, what does she look like to you?" she demanded, flashing red with anger. She was exhausted after having a fifteen hour labor. No sleep, coupled with hormones, and the daunting task of pushing an eight pound baby out of her vagina did not mix well to make her a happy camper right now. It was not a good move to deny her the name she'd chosen for her daughter.
"How about, seeing as she was born on Christmas… I was thinking, how about Noelle?"
"Yeah… Noelle. Noelle Rebecca Black. What do you think?" he asked apprehensively.
The woman silently studied the small child it her grasp, the light blue eyes that hid behind closed lids and the short covering of flame colored fuzz. The little girl was a beautiful thing, a wonderfully softened mix of her parents features on a heart shaped face.
"I like it. Noelle Rebecca Black…"