ENDS AT LAST.
Author's Note: Nearly seven years in the making, I give you the end of Flirting With the Enemy. I was looking at my stats on ff-net today, reliving the glory days when I could write and write nonsense without a care in the world and I thought: I should finish it. There are still people freaking READING it. Plus, it was my most successful story. I owe it to my fourteen-year-old self who began writing this story on a plot bunny whim. I imagined my fourteen-year-old self and I having an amusing conversation of how insane this story got. She told me to write this chapter and never give up until it was over.
I wonder if any other people who were fourteen back then, now twenty-one, are going to find this story and also wonder why the heck it was so popular. I still don't get it.
The story was so complicated I had to reread back several chapters to make sure I had a good grip on what I remembered of my own plot. Sad, huh?
TO MY LOVELY AND FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS – to save time, and what I did to figure out this mess, was: read chapter 1, then skipped to chapter 20 and read until the end. Chapter 20 is where most of the important parts of the plot began. I think the first 20 chapters were just my young self having fun.
NOW…the moment you've all been waiting for…*drum roll*
Chapter 34 – The End
"Alright, so we need to somehow…bring the three pieces of her soul together," Sirius Black repeated for confirmation. He had barely arrived back to Hogwarts with cargo of the utmost importance under his care.
A group was gathered in Dumbledore's office. A very tired gathering indeed. A healing James Potter was slumped over in a chair in the corner of the room, asleep and still recovering for the many injuries he had sustained at being Voldemort's prisoner for what felt like the hundredth time, he was doped up on more potions than were usually legal.
In front of Dumbledore's desk was a winded Remus Lupin, anxious to be rid of the soul he was carrying on top of his own; carrying, in the sense that the piece of soul was using his body as a host.
A waif-like creature lay in a wooden box on Dumbledore's desk. The professor eyed the box with apprehension at what they were about to attempt. It was the remains of the Dementor that had given Lily Evans the Kiss. Even more eerily was the sealed coffin in the center of the office, it was covered in earth from being raised from the ground. In that coffin, lay the corpse of Lily Evans. A young woman whose life could still yet be saved.
Sirius stared at the coffin warily. Between the coffin and the remains of the Dementor, the office was coated in death. It gave Sirius urges to transform into Padfoot and escape. The only thing keeping him from doing it, was to support his two best friends in what they were about to endure.
"That is exactly correct, Sirius," Dumbledore answered him. "When Voldemort tried to take her soul as his own power, there were too many variables he was unaware of. First, that James and Lily's binding spell had lasted longer than three hours. They were forever connected. Their souls melded together in an easy, non-dangerous cohabitation. James's co-ownership of Lily's soul kept Voldemort from gaining immortality. Her soul is not bound to his body anymore." He paused, scratching his nose. "Those same connections are what kept Lily's soul tethered to this world when the Dementor Kissed her."
Remus sighed heavily. "And we can only hope that putting the part of her soul I am carrying back into her body, will cause the Dementor to regurgitate the part of her soul it sucked out. The fact that the Dementor was actually killed…It says a lot about the state of her soul. It was not whole. A Dementor needs the entire soul when it performs the Kiss, to be stopped in mid-Kiss actually caused its destruction."
Sirius still looked uncertain. "How are we going to…do that?"
"The same way Lily and I came back to life when we were back in the desert, partially."
Remus wearily looked into his friend's eyes. "We reawakened our bodies. Why do you think Wizards and Witches live longer than Muggles? It's because we can use our magic to maintain our bodies…If the body is whole, the soul can reenter it and reawaken it. It's….rather painful, to say the least. But it can be done."
Sirius was nodding, his intellectual side working over time. "I see."
"However, that theory only works when the body has been dead for less than 24 hours," Dumbledore added, further confusing Sirius.
"Then how are we going to bring her back to life?" Sirius asked incredulously.
"We…aren't. We never said that was in the plan, Sirius. You just assumed that when we said we were going to put Lily back together…that it meant back to life as well. We just want her soul to be able to move on out of the limbo. It's trapped, currently, without its whole self." Remus's voice was tainted with utter sadness as he spoke.
Sirius reflected on the past week. They had all merged together at Hogwarts, the only safe place left in the world for those that stood up against Voldemort. Getting permission to excavate Lily's body had been difficult. Getting permission for the remains of the Dementor, even more difficult. As an Unspeakable, Sirius had connections, and thus that was why he was still clueless as to what the remains were for. He'd been off the past week, trying to get the necessary tools, instead of being filled in on why they were necessary.
"What's her body for, then?" Sirius inquired. It made little sense to him that her body would be needed at all.
Dumbledore took over the explaining. "It was her soul's original host. It will be the natural place they can rejoin together…At peace at last, we hope."
For all that she had been through, Sirius prayed that this would work, for Lily's sake.
"Lily! Lily!" James muttered.
"He dozed off," Remus noted, wishing for the same sleep himself. "He always calls for her in his sleep."
"We need to wake him, he needs to be conscious while this is done," Dumbledore instructed. As if knowing they were talking about him, James jerked awake.
He rubbed his tired eyes. "Is it time?"
"Yes. Sirius arrived while you were napping…he brought the remains," Remus said, filling James in on what he had missed. "I'm surprised you didn't wake up when he set that down on the ground." Remus nodded at the coffin as he said this.
James's eyes widened as he took in the coffin. "Lily," he breathed.
"James, we are about to begin. I don't believe you will notice anything happen to you, but you never know. The part of her soul that lives in you will move on into the next life, just as it would have if she had died naturally," Dumbledore said gently.
James shrugged. He was numb to any talk of Lily's death now. She'd been gone for two months. The pain was still there, deep down, he simply repressed it into the numbness that was taking over his life.
"Remus," Dumbledore gestured for Remus to do his part.
Remus was hesitant as he stood up. "Does the…coffin need to be opened?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "The wood won't be a hindrance to her soul."
Remus walked slowly, until he was in front of the coffin. He was aware of the eyes staring at him as he carefully reached within himself to let go of the soul he was carrying. It was like a switch was clicked off. The soul released. A greenish smoky light, the partial bit of Lily's soul, crept out of his chest. It hovered over the coffin for a few moments before disappearing into its confines.
"Lily," James gasped, wanting to reach out for her. Could a man still love a dead woman? James did, more surely than he knew his own name. He loved her. He would do many a dark thing to bring her back if he could. Watching her soul make its escape, taking his beloved to a place he could not see her until his own death, was a nearly unbearable event.
With baited breath, the four men watched the remains of the Dementor. Hoping for another green light to burst forth from it and enter the coffin. Instead, a jolt of emerald shot in from the window. It was strong, healthy, and buried itself within the coffin.
"That must be the part from Voldemort," Sirius whispered in awe. "It must be working."
Next, a soft, slow, green smoke lifted up from the remains of the Dementor. Its substance was weak, barely held together. It snaked its way sloth-like into the coffin, before it joined the other parts of her soul.
"Technically, wasn't that four parts?" Sirius asked dumbly, unable to help himself.
"In truth, there is still only one soul. Her soul is not broken, merely stretched to fill many places," Dumbledore answered wisely. "To break a soul…the Lily Evans we had known those last few days of her life, would have been nothing like the woman we knew. No, these parts of the soul were meant to have been taken away by the Ceremony held back in the desert. Voldemort successfully stole some from her, trapping her in limbo. When the Dementor Kissed her, it managed to obtain only a small part, before her soul's incompleteness destroyed the creature. The rest of her soul went off into the next world, confused on whether it was dead or alive. Therefore, Motavius had to return that part to us back in the forest."
It was at that moment, James felt a sudden pull towards the coffin. It was unexplainable except that it was magic. He stumbled toward the dirty coffin, his heart pounding in his chest. He was compelled to open the lid. Logically, he knew inside her body had already started to decay. Her soul had probably already moved on by now, but he couldn't stop himself.
James pulled out his wand and muttered the spell that opened the coffin. Everyone in the room protested, decidedly alarmed by his actions. James could only stared at the love of his life in wonder.
She looked…healthy. He would say he looked unchanged, except the last time he had seen her, rotting away in Azkaban, healthy would have been the last word he would have used to describe her. The scars she had earned those last days of her life were gone. He suspected that if he looked for the poisoned knife wound from Mulciber, that its scar would be gone as well. Even the smell of decay was absent.
Her cheeks looked warm and rosy.
James's hand moved on its own accord to brush her cheek. It was warm.
"Lily?" he found himself asking. "Lily, please come back to me," he whispered, leaned down in her ear. "I love you, I love you, please come back." Unthinkingly, he kissed her.
A strained breath inflated her chest.
"Oh my god, she's breathing!" Remus cried out in disbelief. He knew his sharp ears hadn't mistaken the sound.
"She's breathing?" Sirius sputtered.
"She's breathing," Dumbledore affirmed.
The unconscious woman took several more strained breaths before her eyes fluttered open. Her green eyes were more vibrant than ever as she looked up at James.
"Is this heaven?" she asked, her hand reaching to touch his cheek.
"It very well could be," James laughed. Suddenly, he was unable to control himself. He was kissing her everywhere and chanting, "I love you, thank you, I love you, thank you, thank you, thank, I love you."
Lily beamed up at him. "I love you, too, James."
James had yet to gain control of his exuberance. "Marry me, Lily Evans! I can't live without you another day. If I'm dreaming, I don't want to wake up. I want to marry you and love you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?"
"Yes, I'll marry you. If I'm dreaming, please don't pinch me."
Sirius couldn't stop himself. "Do you usually dream of being proposed to in a coffin?"
"Shut up, Sirius. I didn't come back from the dead to hear your terrible jokes," Lily laughed. Who knew coming back to life would make you so happy? It was like every worry she'd ever had was erased. Lily was only a little unsure of how she came to be in Dumbledore's office in a coffin, being kissed awake by James Potter, but she didn't care about that. She was blissfully happy.
James pulled her out of the coffin, gathering her in his arms. "I don't think I can let go of you. You might disappear if I do."
"I could say the same about you," she replied, breathing in his scent.
He kissed the top of her head. "I'm sure you want to know how you ended up in here."
"Nope?" James asked, surprised. "You don't want to know?"
"I already know," she said.
"I saw everything through your eyes. That binding spell…it kept me tied to you, even after the Dementor Kissed me. I never truly died, because you bound me here so strongly I couldn't break away. Your love for me…it kept me here," Lily explained, pressing her lips to his once more.
James held her tighter in his arms. "Why did you give up on me then? Why didn't you beg for the trial to say you were innocent? Why did you jump in front of the Dementor when it went after me?"
"I didn't know you loved me then. I only knew that I loved you. I thought there was no chance we could be together after all the horrible things I had done." Lily leaned back to look into his eyes. "Being dead put a lot of things in perspective for me. I forgave myself for what Voldemort made me do. I now have hope that…with help from our friends, you and I can be together."
Dumbledore, Sirius, and Remus, each stepped forward. "Of course, we can help," Remus offered. "Isabella, Patrick, even Severus - they will all come forward to help you two. They will want you to be happy, Lily."
"You deserve it," Sirius said sincerely.
"We really do," Lily agreed, turning her head to face her friends, but without removing her head from James's chest.
Dumbledore stepped forward. "I think, lying low might be a good idea for now until you two have settled yourselves. I think everyone deserves a nice, long rest. That should be just the thing to rejuvenate us to continue the battle against Voldemort."
"I'll do whatever I can to help. If you need an expert in Death Eaters, I am there," Lily said with a determined expression in her eyes. "To say I'm qualified for the position would be an understatement."
Author's Note: I know I clarify the whole soul situation like twice, but I wanted to be as clear as possible. It was difficult for me to explain with my four year hiatus from the story. I also know you'll complain that the ending was rushed or whatever, but you know what? It's done!! I FEEL FREE!!
Yeah, I started writing this before the fifth book came out. JK Rowling rights a hell of a lot faster than I do. That's all I can say. I mean, she's a professional! I'm just a kid playing house.
If you want an epilogue, put in some suggestions in a review. It might take another four years, but I think I could shake an epilogue out of me.
Thanks for reading,