"Now, Harry, I know it's been a very exciting day for you but are you sure you don't want to go to sleep?" Lily smiled as she listened to her husband's vain attempts to get Harry to sleep. The toddler was protesting loudly in his nonsensical way and James had tried absolutely everything, even bribery, but Harry was far too hyped up on the small bit of birthday cake they'd given him with dinner. That had been a mistake…
"Come on, son. Won't you sleep for your father?" Harry shook his head stubbornly. James put his hands up, a show of resounding defeat, and slowly backed towards the desk in the corner where Lily was sitting staring at a piece of parchment which was blank, except for the date and the first line. She sighed in light annoyance when James appeared beside her, staring down at her with begging eyes and a pout he had been working on since the day he was born.
"You know, it's really not that hard to get him to sleep," Lily chastised, standing up as she did so. He grinned, his face a complete contrast to how it had been a second ago, and flopped down into the chair she had occupied just before. She huffed and gave him a warning look that said: I'm having that chair when I get back, and then sauntered over to Harry's cradle.
"Now, Harry," she cooed, echoing her husband's earlier attempt. "Are you going to be a good boy and sleep for your mother?" Upon seeing that her hyper child was about to shake his head, she tutted lightly and went on. "Did you know, if you go to sleep right now you may get more cake tomorrow?" She saw his eyes light up and knew she had something in that small bribe right there. James, who had been watching, groaned.
"No! That child will never eat cake again!" Lily hushed him quickly as she saw Harry's eyelids beginning to droop, though he fought against the sleep that was rushing upon him rapidly. She smiled and started to sing softly under her breath.
"Lullaby and good night
With soft sparks bedight
With the stars o'erspread
Is my Harry's sweet head
Lay you down now and rest
Dream of unicorns in the Forest
Lay you down now and rest
May thy slumber be blessed…" She let the last note trail off, and then kissed the sleeping Harry's forehead and gently tucked his blanket around him. She turned around and went back to the desk where she cast a Silencing charm so anything she or James did or said would not disturb their son.
"So, what're you writing to Padfoot for? Should I be jealous?" James waved the piece of parchment around in the air and she grabbed for it, trying to simultaneously kick him out of her seat as she did so. Eventually, after a small scuffle, she ended up on James's lap holding the letter triumphantly.
"I married you, didn't I? I'm writing to thank him for Harry's birthday present, you dolt. Besides, we barely every get to see him anymore so I reckon he'd like a nice letter to cheer him up. He must be feeling dreadfully lonely, all by himself in that gusty little cottage." Lily leant forward and loaded up her quill, then poised it above the smooth parchment as she nibbled the end thoughtfully.
"At least he's happier there than he would be if he were still living in his family home," James muttered bitterly, thinking of Regulus who had joined the Death Eaters as soon as he had left school and been killed less than half a year later.
"James…" Lily said softly but he shook his head.
"Just thinking about his stupid git of a brother," he muttered and Lily sighed. She vaguely remembered him from their Hogwarts days, and remembered how angry Sirius had been when he'd joined the Death Eaters right after graduation – though Sirius's anger was resigned as he had known it would happen. The two were silent for a while, each lost in their own thoughts before James nudged Lily gently so she could save her quill from dripping on the paper.
"What are you going to write?" He asked, wrapping his arms around her waist and dropping his chin onto her shoulder.
"Well, obviously I'm going to thank him for Harry's birthday present," Lily replied, writing out a few neat sentences beneath their friend's nickname. James was chuckling beneath her, remembering how Harry had crawled straight towards the wrapped, hovering broomstick and not bothered to unwrap it before he climbed on and zoomed off. Once they had calmed him down enough to have some breakfast he'd unwrapped his other presents but didn't seem interested and immediately demanded to be allowed back on the broom again. When they consented he disappeared round the corner before they could follow and both parents winced as there was a resounding crash. Harry reappeared back around the corner a moment later, still on the broom, looking rather pleased with himself.
"Cat," he announced, pointing in the direction he had just come from. James had roared with laughter when Lily came back holding the remains of a hideous vase from Petunia which Harry had quite purposefully crashed into, which had then landed on top of their rather shocked cat. Lily had chucked the shards of china into the bin, not even bothering to repair it, and sent James to pack away their other ornaments.
"He's going to be such a brilliant Quidditch player," James said proudly as he read what she'd written. She chuckled softly and added that in, the words jumping aside to make room in the sentence she'd already written.
"Do you think we should tell him about Harry's birthday tea? Or would that just upset him because he wasn't able to come?" Lily pondered, chewing on the end of the quill again.
"You might as well tell him, he knows why he can't come and see us too often," James replied, feeling a small twinge of sadness and guilt as he said it. He tried to hide it from Lily but she knew he missed his best friend and was getting annoyed by the amount of time he was having to spend in the house because Dumbledore had, for some reason unknown to them, borrowed his Invisibility Cloak. When she wrote about that he bristled slightly.
"I am not-" She cut him off by turning and raising a disbelieving eyebrow at him.
"Don't insult my intelligence, James Potter," she berated and he pouted at her. "You may be my husband and I may love you but that doesn't mean you can pull the wool over my eyes about something which is clearly irritating you." He was about to protest again but stopped, a sullen look on his face, when she raised the other eyebrow.
"Fine, it's annoying. But do you have to tell Sirius that?" He whined and she rolled her eyes and turned back to the parchment, quill hovering above the surface.
"It's my letter; I'll say what I want. If you want to tell him it's not true then go and write your own letter – but would you really lie to Sirius? I'm sure he's just as miserable as you are. Look, I'll suggest that he's come to visit, alright?" James visibly brightened and Lily smiled, a warm feeling flooding through her as he pulled her closer and kissed her head.
"I knew that would cheer you up, though I was surprised that Wormy's visit last weekend didn't help much. Of course, it wasn't exactly like he was bearing good news," Lily trailed off, her expression grim as she remembered.
There was a light knock on the door and Lily, who had been playing with Harry on the living room floor, shot to her feet.
"James?" She called, the tremble in her voice giving away how nervous she was even though she knew who it probably was. "Either Wormtail's here or we're about to be killed." It was quite the regular joke between them, despite the slightly masochistic nature of it. There was a small stampede above as James hurried through the bedrooms and down the stairs, wand out as he eyed the door warily.
"You know, I'm not sure why we really bother with that joke," he commented lightly as he stepped carefully towards the door. "It's not like You Know Who would exactly knock." He reached the door and gripped the handle, wand at the ready as he spoke through the door. "Who is it?" There was a moment of silence and Lily edged uneasily towards the living room, fearing that there would be some sort of explosion at any moment.
"It is I, Peter Pettigrew." She sighed with slight relief as she recognised the shaking voice of their school companion. "I am one of the four Marauders, known as Wormtail to my friends." Lily allowed herself to relax, sinking into the sofa and busying herself with attempting to smooth Harry's hair. James still had not opened the door but she knew why.
"If you are really who you say you are," James said relatively loudly, "then you will be able to tell me the form of your Animagus." There was another moment of silence and the tension grew.
"It is a rat," Wormtail's voice came through the door quite clearly and Lily slumped back against the sofa in relief. "I was the one who immobilised the Whomping Willow to allow us into the Shrieking Shack." James let out a grunt of assent and pulled the door open, clapping his friend on the back as he showed him through to the living room where Lily had now pulled Harry into her lap. Upon seeing them Wormtail let out a small squeak and his hand went compulsively to his left forearm which he scratched in an attempt to hide the movement.
"Wormy, it's good to see you," Lily said with a smile, and then frowned. "Whatever is wrong?" Wormtail sat heavily on the chair opposite from hers and took a deep breath frowning at the floor.
"The McKinnon's are dead," he blurted suddenly and James froze, halfway into the room with a tray of tea and biscuits. Lily clapped a hand to her mouth and suppressed a sob.
"All of them?" She whispered, clutching Harry tightly to her. "Even little Gideon?" Marlene's sister had given birth to a boy a few weeks ago and, at Marlene's request, named him after the fallen Prewett brother who had once been Marlene's closest friend. Wormtail nodded and watched as James went to wrap his arm around his crying wife. When he attempted to remove Harry from her grasp she shook her head and bent her neck so she crying silently into the dark tuft of hair on top of his head.
Lily wiped delicately at the tears that had managed to escape and wrote a little bit more, her quill scratching softly as James read over her shoulder. At the end of the letter she changed the subject to Bathilda, one of the only people living in Godric's Hollow who they knew to be a witch. She wrote a quick anecdote of some of Bathilda's more batty stories and then signed the letter, rolling it up and sealing it with her wand when she was finished. No one but Sirius would be able to read that letter, no matter who intercepted it. She stood and was about to go and find their owl, Athena, but James stopped her.
"You can send it in the morning," he said gently, taking the letter from her hand and placing it on the desk. "Come on, it's been a long day. Time for bed."
Lily sighed but removed the silencing charm and allowed James to push her gently towards the bed they shared as he went to check on Harry and use the bathroom. Lily sighed softly and fell into the bed with a grateful sigh.