Side-by-Side

"Are you happy, Lily?" James asked, petting the cat as the two Potters sat on the hearthrug, side-by-side.

"Why wouldn't I be happy, James?" Lily asked, rubbing her stomach.

"Because.." James sighed, paused, and ran a hand through his hair. "Because.. you never really wanted this. Any of it."

"Any of what?" Lily looked genuinely perplexed.

James sighed. "Any of..this." He waved his hand around the room. "You didn't want a nice cozy house for two, or to be married at twenty one. You had so many dreams, Lily..you were going to become the best Potions brewer in the world, you were going to be someone, and you were going to – and I quote you yourself, Lily, back in seventh year – you were going to be a proper Evans before you became a Potter."

Lily watched the flames flicker, reaching over and pulling Stardust into her arms. She purred delightedly and rubbed against Lily's tummy, seeming to smile slyly.

"I did want that," said Lily. "And I still do, James. But there are more important things now."

James let out a frustrated breath. "Lily, nothing's more important than pursuing your dreams. You are the one who said that to me."

"My dreams changed," said Lily simply.

James didn't say anything.

"James – look at me."

James raised his eyes and stared mournfully at Lily. "I kept you from your dreams.. all of them."

"Not a one," said Lily firmly. "I am someone. I'm Lily Evans Potter. I'm a Phoenix. I'm a Hogwarts graduate. I'm fighting in this war – I just happen to be on maternity leave. And I'm about to be a mother. And – " she glared at James particularly hard – "I am the best Potion maker in the world. Understand, Potter?"

James opened his mouth, then closed it. "Phoenix..yes..definitely..Potions maker.. uh huh.. wait..wait a second. Maternity..mother..you're..WHAT?"

Lily held her angry face, counting silently. One..two..three..four..five..

James's mouth dropped open. "You're PREGNANT!"

Lily collapsed in laughter. "Took you long enough!" she teased, hugging her shell-shocked husband tightly. "Yes, yes, I'm pregnant, we're having a baby, we're having a baby!"

James didn't say anything for a moment.

Then he leaped in the air with a whoop and began dancing like the crazy Marauder he was.

Lily laughed, conjured music, and watched James whip around in mad circles. She clapped her hands, and with Stardust the cat on her lap, her husband dancing for her, her baby in her stomach, and she decided that as long as she was side-by-side with James, all her dreams had already come true.

End