Title: Three Memories Lily Potter Has of Her Parents, and One She Doesn't
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: Future!fic, EWE, angst, fluff, slash
Summary: Lily has always assumed her parents had the perfect marriage, but on her own wedding day, she finds out that's not exactly true. ~17K words in four parts
A/N: For Noted, who was kind enough to bid on me to write her a fic as part of the LiveJournal help_japan auction. Thanks, darlin'! She wanted established-relationship Drarry where we got to see glimpses of their married life and a bit of conflict over one of them wanting children and the other not. Many, many thanks to Faeryqueen07 and Awrence for going over this with a fine-toothed comb and fixing my timeline inconsistencies and grammar fails. Any remaining errors are mine.
(And yes, I know I'm playing a bit fast-and-loose with the birth order of Harry's kids. But since this is EWE, let's just go with it, OK?)
MALFOY MANOR, Aug. 23, 2036
"It's your wedding day, love. You're allowed to be nervous," Hermione said, expression both concerned and indulgent as she stared at the picture she and her niece made in the floor-length mirror.
Lily was a beautiful bride, her gown billowing around her and framing her petite figure perfectly. Great-aunt Muriel's Goblin-made tiara, a Weasley family heirloom that had seen more than a dozen weddings since Muriel's, was nestled in her auburn hair, twinkling in late afternoon sun.
Lily gave her aunt a watery smile, drawing in a deep breath. She knew she was being ridiculous, but she couldn't seem to quiet the butterflies in her stomach. She and Andrew were due to walk down the aisle in less than an hour, and suddenly, after months of planning and years of dating, she wasn't sure she could do it.
"How do I know we'll be happy?" she murmured, watching Hermione in the mirror.
Hermione smiled, wrapping an arm around Lily's waist and squeezing her affectionately.
"You don't. That's why marriage is such a leap of faith," she said softly.
Lily's breath stuttered as her chest tightened with anxiety. It wasn't that she didn't know marriage could work, she did. She had examples of that all around her. Grandma Molly and Grandpa Arthur had been married for more than 60 years, and she'd never heard a sharp word between them. Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron had been married longer than her own parents, who were still deliriously happy and coming up on nearly thirty-five years of wedded bliss themselves.
It all added up to an incredible amount of pressure, in Lily's opinion. She couldn't think of anyone in her family who had been divorced, even though it was quite common in the wizarding world. Half of her dorm at Hogwarts had parents who had divorced, and several of her Auror colleagues had already been married and divorced, some more than once. It was part of the reason she'd made Andrew wait so long. He'd wanted to get married more than three years ago, but she'd refused. She wanted to be sure. She wanted to have what her parents had.
And Lily was fairly certain she would have it with Andrew. He'd stuck by while she'd made him wait, giving her the time and space she'd needed and even living with her despite his family's protests. Wizarding society was ages behind Muggles in terms of social customs, despite the fact that it had embraced the Muggle custom of divorce quite enthusiastically, and it was still uncommon for a couple to live together before marriage. But she'd wanted to be sure, and how could she be sure that she and Andrew were truly compatible if they didn't have a trial run first?
She'd grown up with parents who were so in love with each other that the world outside their family simply faded away, and she wanted that for herself. She had so many memories of them, and the one constant was how much they adored each other.
"Aunt Hermione? Would you mind terribly if I just sat on my own for a bit?"
Hermione smiled, pressing a kiss against Lily's cheek. She remembered her own wedding day and how plagued with indecision she'd been. Lily was a lot like her, always practical and logical. She wasn't surprised that her niece would rather spend the hour before her wedding alone.
"I'll see to the flowers, shall I?" Hermione said, glancing in the mirror to coax a stray wisp of hair back into submission before setting off for the door. "I'll send your Dad by when it's time, sweetie."
Lily nodded, taking a deep breath when the door shut behind her aunt. The silence rang in her ears, and she wondered if she'd made a mistake in sending her away. She smoothed the front of her dress, a small smile playing on her lips as she remembered the first time she'd been old enough to attend a fancy dress event. She'd been so excited to stay up late and spend time her parents, assuming that they'd spend the night dancing and laughing, just like they did at home on the nights Uncle Charlie came over and played his violin. She'd been wrong, though, and the memory made Lily's heart clench.
GRIMMAULD PLACE, May 2, 2018
"It's itchy," Lily complained from the doorway of her parents' room, tugging at the full crinoline skirt of the ball gown her older cousin Victoire had picked out for her. It had seemed like a great idea when Aunt Fleur had held it up, and Victoire and her other cousin, Rose, had said they loved it, but now Lily wasn't so sure. She felt silly in so much fabric. And what would happen if she spilled something on it?
"Isn't there some sort of underskirt that goes with it?"
Lily wrinkled her nose at her father. "That was too hot."
"It would seem that your choices are being too hot or being too itchy," Draco said with a shrug, half an eye on his daughter as he fixed Harry's bow tie.
"You don't have any idea how uncomfortable this dress is," Lily complained, stomping a low-heeled foot on the hardwood. "Women literallychafe under our patriarchal society and its expectations of female beauty–"
"You're not allowed to talk to Aunt Hermione anymore," Draco interrupted with a mutter, finishing with Harry's tie and stepping up to the mirror to check his own.
"Dad," Lily whined, turning to Harry for support.
He held his hands up in mock surrender. "Far be it from me to cause you to chafe under expectations, Lils. If you don't want to wear the dress, you don't have to."
Lily stuck her tongue out at her father, who rolled his eyes and grabbed his cuff links from the bureau, donning them in swift, economical motions born of years of practice.
Draco was nonchalant as he delivered the death-blow to the argument, tone even and matter-of-fact. "That said, it's a fancy dress ball, Lily. If you don't wear the dress, you can't attend."
Draco rolled his eyes at their daughter's squeal. Harry had always been the weaker link, so it was no surprise the enterprising ten year old was appealing to him instead of Draco. She was shaping up to be quite the Slytherin, and Draco couldn't have been prouder.
"Your father's right. You chose that dress, and it looks lovely. But if you'd rather, you can stay home with your brothers tonight. I'm sure Grandma Molly wouldn't mind if we dropped you by the Burrow on the way to the Ministry."
Lily's shoulders slumped, defeated. She'd been looking forward to the ball for months. It was the first time her parents had deemed her old enough to join them for the Ministry gala they went to every year, and there was no way she'd miss it. She had a feeling her dad knew that. He was much more reasonable than her father, but he still didn't play fair.
"I'll get the underskirt,' she said petulantly, bottom lip pressed out in a pout.
"Be ready in ten minutes, Lily," Draco said, catching her eye as he helped Harry into his cuff links. "And wash your face. Did you think I wouldn't notice the lipstick?"
Lily huffed out a breath, hiding a smile as she flounced out of the room, the slight train of the dress flowing around her legs. It was a nice dress, she admitted grudgingly as she stomped off toward her room.
The ball was nothing like she'd expected. She'd had to sit still for the first hour during speech after speech about the war and how much good had been done in the Wizarding world since. She'd been a bit startled when her dad had been called up on stage, but from his grim expression he'd expected it. She wondered if it happened every year. He'd never said anything about it, but then again, he never did. Her father said it was because her dad had an overactive sense of modesty.
She'd been relieved when dinner had been served, even though she hadn't liked the salmon or the over-cooked rice. It had been a break from all the boring speeches, though, and the chocolate cake they'd served for dessert had more than made up for the fish and soggy vegetables.
When the dancing had started she'd been suddenly struck shy, worried about making a misstep or tripping over the train of her dress. But her father had solved that, casting a spell that had bustled the train and brought the hem of the dress just up off the floor, showing off the pretty shoes she'd borrowed from Rose that had a real, though modest, high heel. It had been a challenge to learn to walk in them, but it was worth it now, as she glided around the room with her father, feeling like the height of sophistication in her ball gown and heels.
She'd danced several rounds with both her father and her dad before her feet had started to hurt and she'd started to feel sleepy. The ball hadn't even started until after her bedtime, which made it all the more special. She sat at the table, clustered together with Rose as they watched Victoire dance with at least a dozen other boys, keeping one eye on her cousin and another on her parents.
Until then, she hadn't noticed that her parents hadn't danced together. They were still out on the floor now, dancing with her aunts and various friends, but she found it odd that they hadn't made time for a dance themselves, yet. At home, her parents loved to dance, using any excuse they could get to wrap their arms around each other. The best times were when her Uncle Charlie came to visit from Romania and brought his violin with him. He'd learned to play because dragons were soothed by music, and the violin had seemed like a good, portable choice. They'd clear away all the furniture in the living room and Uncle Charlie would play waltzes for her father and dad mixed in with faster, more modern music for her and her brothers, and everyone always had a great time. She knew it wasn't something they reserved for home, like the fact that her dad hadn't needed his clunky glasses for years now, but wore them when he went out so no one else knew that. Her grandmother loved to tease her father about the way he and her dad never let anyone cut in when they went to the balls at Malfoy Manor.
Lily kept a careful eye on her parents as the night wore on, her concern growing. Her dad and father never went very long without touching, even if it was just a casual brush of their arms as one of them squeezed past the other in the kitchen. Her aunts and uncles had always teased them about it, which had been the only reason Lily realized that was out of the ordinary at all. But tonight, they seemed to be keeping their hands to themselves. She'd catch them looking at each other across the room or even chatting by the refreshment table, but they were stiff and kept an almost formal distance. Usually if they were standing around, her father would have a hand on her dad's back or her dad would have his arm around her father's waist – something, at any rate, even if it was just their shoulders brushing together or their hands clasped.
Her aunt had joined the table a few minutes earlier to warn the girls that it was just about time to go. Lily was going home with Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron, as were her cousins Victoire and Dominique, to have a sleep over with Rose. Lily had figured at the time that her parents just wanted the house to themselves, but after seeing them be so standoffish with each other tonight, she wasn't sure.
"What's wrong?" Hermione asked, her own brow furrowing as she saw the look of concern on her niece's face. She'd been the one to push to allow Lily to attend – she was only a year younger than Rose, and this was already Rose's third ball – but she wondered if it had been too much for her. Hermione hadn't thought about how hard it would be to hear about the war knowing the dangers her dad had put himself in to win it. Harry and Draco worked hard to shield their children from the curse of having such famous parents, which probably meant that it had been all the more shocking for Lily to see that evening.
Lily frowned, scanning the crowded dance floor until she found her father. He was dancing with her Aunt Andromeda, looking perfectly at ease. Her dad was across the room, talking with her Uncle Neville near the punch.
"Are my parents fighting?"
Hermione blinked in surprise, not expecting that to be Lily's concern. She gave a startled laugh, following Lily's gaze toward Harry.
"No, of course not, sweetheart. Why would you think that?"
Lily shrugged. "I just figured they'd spend the whole night dancing together."
Understanding the problem, Hermione mentally berated Wizarding society even as she took a breath and grinned, forcing levity into her voice.
"Oh, honey. When your parents fight, it's never silent. Remember last year, when Albus broke his arm and your dad was so flustered he Floo'd with him to St. Mundus instead of St. Mungo's?"
Lily grinned. Al had fallen out of a tree during a party at the Burrow, and her dad had been the first to reach him. He'd been so worried that he'd stammered as he'd called out their destination, which meant that when the rest of the family had arrived at St. Mungo's a minute later, her dad and brother had been nowhere in sight. They'd ended up at St. Mundus Abbey in Scotland, instead, and it had taken some fast talking on her dad's part to convince the nun they'd startled by tumbling out of the fireplace that everything was alright. The Abbess was a witch, which was why the fireplace had been on the Floo network in the first place. Her father had not been pleased, and Lily wouldn't have been surprised if all of St. Mungo's had heard him shouting when her dad and Al arrived a few minutes later.
"That was just because he was scared," Lily said, feeling the need to defend her father. He was all bark and no bite most of the time, given to flashes of temper that he later felt horrible about. She was rather like that herself.
"I know," Hermione said, winking. "But it just goes to show that if your parents were fighting, you'd know."
Lily grinned wanly, knowing that her aunt wouldn't give up until she was convinced. "You're right, Aunt Hermione. Thanks."
She pretended to be caught up in conversation with her cousins when her aunt slipped away with the warning that they had five minutes before they needed to be ready to leave. The four of them fell silent as they watched their aunt pull Harry aside and whisper worriedly, drawing the attention of Draco, who even from across the room could easily tell something was wrong. When the trio furtively moved out to the sparsely populated balcony, still arguing, Lily didn't feel the slightest bit bad when Dominique suggested they follow to find out what they were talking about. They were her parents, after all. Lily had a right to know what was wrong.
She and Rose were the ones to slip behind the heavy damask curtains, hiding themselves from view both inside and outside the ballroom, while Dominique and Victoire sought out their Uncle Ron to delay him so he didn't come looking for them. The open doors made it easy to listen in to the conversation, and Lily pressed herself against the cool stone, her cheeks hot from worry and the breathless excitement of eavesdropping on adults.
"–not something she needs to be exposed to."
Lily frowned at her father's words. He was always big on honesty, preferring that she and her brothers know exactly which rumors from the war about both him and her dad were true and which weren't. The truth was painful to hear, but Lily knew it meant she could always trust him to tell her everything.
"How can you say that, Draco?" Lily felt like nodding at her aunt's words, but didn't move for fear of giving herself away.
"How can I say that? You're the one who's always saying we're too honest with the children. This isn't something we can fix for them, Hermione. This isn't telling them about my past but assuring them I'm a better person for it now. This isn't raising Lily and Al to know they were adopted, even though we love them like they were our own."
Lily blanched. What secret could be so big, so destructive, that her father felt so strongly it be kept? And why wasn't her dad chiming in?
"I don't want the children growing up with the burden of society's prejudices either, Draco, but Lily's going to find out when she goes away to Hogwarts next year. Do you really think none of her classmates will make crass remarks?"
Lily looked up, catching Rose's eye. To her surprise, her cousin didn't look as perplexed as Lily felt; Rose looked away and then motioned for Lily to follow her, backing out of the curtains and disappearing from Lily's line of sight.
Lily crept forward, the heavy fabric of the curtains brushing against her face as she carefully peered outside. Her father had his arm around her dad, who had his face tucked into her father's neck. At least her aunt had been right about them not being angry with each other.
She must have made some sort of sound, something to give herself away, because the next moment, her dad turned his head and met her gaze straight-on. Lily's cheeks flushed with embarrassment at being caught eavesdropping, and her heart raced with fear that her parents would be angry with her. Instead, her dad whispered something to her father and the two of them stepped forward, motioning her out onto the balcony. Her aunt didn't wait around, giving her a quick hug before heading back inside, leaving Lily outside alone with her parents.
She shuffled forward when her dad held his hands out, nestling into the familiar comfort of his arms. The night air had chilled the fabric of his robes, and Lily pressed her hot cheek against it, enjoying the coolness.
"There are a few things we should talk about, Lils," her dad said, and then proceeded to tell her about the Wizarding world's views on homosexuality. It was a total shock to her that most witches and wizards thought her parents' relationship was an abomination – everyone in their family acted like her parents were no different than her aunts and uncles. It suddenly made more sense to her why she and her brothers so rarely went out with their parents; she'd figured it was because it was hard for Harry Potter to go out without being mobbed with fans, but apparently it was equal parts that and the fact that her father often got harassed for corrupting the Boy Who Lived.
"It's not right," she said, lip quivering, when her parents had finished telling her about the Wizarding world's views on their relationship. The Ministry didn't even consider them married; they'd been forced to settle for a civil ceremony in the Muggle world.
"It's not," her father said gently, running a finger down her wet cheek and chucking her under the chin the way he used to when she'd been little. It drew a watery smile from her.
Her parents loved each other. They were affectionate with each other and with their family, and it didn't seem fair that they were expected to appear in public for Ministry functions but weren't allowed to actually be themselves. Her dad had explained that the Ministry liked to parade him out for functions because despite the fact that most people didn't approve of his sexuality, he was still the Boy Who Lived. Nothing would change that.
"Bringing Draco with me is non-negotiable, and the Ministry has grudgingly accepted that. But your father and I choose not to give people more reason to gossip by fawning over each other in public," he told her.
Lily's lips set angrily, her eyes flashing.
"Who cares? Why would you let a bunch of old biddies decide how you and father can act in public? They're wrong, and you shouldn't let them make you feel bad for who you are."
It was a speech similar to the one her father had given her months earlier when Teddy and some of the other boys hadn't wanted to let her join in their Quidditch game at the Burrow, telling her to go play with dolls and make-up with the rest of the girls. He'd dried her tears and marched her back out to the pitch, all the while giving her tips on how to feint and dive and generally fly circles around her cousins – which she had.
"You know what, Lils?" Lily recognized the defiant tilt of her dad's jaw – it was the same one she often saw in the mirror. "You're right."
Lily watched wide-eyed as her dad grabbed her father's hand, pulling him into the ballroom without another word. No one seemed to notice their entrance, but when the two of them marched out onto the dance floor and stopped in the middle, arms around each other as a new waltz started, the room started buzzing with conversation.
Practically everyone in the ballroom stared at them, but it didn't seem to bother her parents. They were wrapped up in their own little cocoon, talking and laughing and stealing the occasional kiss that made Lily's cheeks burn with the embarrassment she always felt when her parents acted like lovestruck teenagers. Though as embarrassed as she was, Lily was proud, knowing what a risk her parents were taking. Gone was the polite distance they'd kept between them all night, replaced with the warmth and love she was used to seeing between them. No one could keep their eyes off her parents, everyone whispering furiously and pointing. Both her dad and her father seemed ignore them completely, almost glowing with happiness, and Lily straightened her spine, glaring at anyone who dared look her way in a less-than-complimentary way. And when Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron broke through the crowd to join her parents on the now-empty dance floor, Lily couldn't help but grin. Even more so when her Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill made their way out, too, followed by the rest of her parents' friends.
"I think this means we're staying later," Rose said from beside her, slipping her hand into Lily's.
They stood there watching until the worst of the whispering had subsided. The dance floor was once again full of couples, and though there were still people staring at her parents with undisguised anger, most people had moved on. From the looks of things, her parents were just getting started – she'd never seen them so happy to be dancing together.
Long after she and her cousins had retired to their table, heads propped up on their hands as they watched the crowd with drooping eyelids, her dad appeared at her shoulder, cupping her elbow and helping her up. Her feet were throbbing, so she didn't complain when he effortlessly picked her up, letting her rest her head against his shoulder. Normally she'd pitch a fit at such a display, but she was tired and she'd spent the evening worrying about her parents and watching other people gossip about them. She curled her arms around his neck possessively, and Harry laughed, pressing a kiss against her hair.
"She must really be out of it if she's allowing that," she heard her father murmur. He wrapped her cloak around her, tucking it in around her sides so it didn't slip off as her dad carried her.
"You can stay with Rosie another night, Lils. Let's get you home," her dad said, tightening his arms around her as he carried her out.
Lily muttered a response that was lost in the fabric of her dad's robes, and both her parents laughed. The whoosh of the Floo was the last thing she remembered before her cheek hitting the pillow awakened her, her dad laying her gently in her bed as her father helped him pull her dress over her head and leaving her in the underskirt and chemise. She heard the borrowed shoes hit the floor a second later, right before her father pulled the blankets up and kissed her forehead.
"I can't believe how grown up she's getting," Harry said, turning out the light and hovering in the doorway, reluctant to shut out the view of his sleeping daughter.
"She taught us a thing or two tonight, didn't she?"
She heard her dad chuckle.
"My little girl. She'll be at Hogwarts next year, Draco. Hogwarts."
"You're not pining for another, I hope, Potter," Draco growled, arching an eyebrow at him.
"God, no. Albus is finally potty trained, and if I never see another diaper again in my life I'll die happy," Harry answered, drawing a laugh from Draco.
"Good. I'm rather getting used to sleeping through the night again."
"I hope that's not what's on the agenda tonight."
Lily turned over restlessly, her parents' banter growing softer as they moved away from her door. She nestled deeper into her pillow, dreaming of how perfect they'd looked gliding around the dance floor.