Author's Notes: Written in honor of James and Lily, on the day they need it most. Enjoy.
When James had first suggested the house in Godric's Hollow, Lily couldn't help but to protest. Was it too obvious? Did it matter that the property was so lost amidst the legion of others that belonged to the Potters, even James himself couldn't track down the original deed? They'd been there only once, last September just after James's mother had died. It had been a poor coping mechanism on James's part to try to organize the contents of the Potter vault at Gringotts, but it'd been how he'd chosen to deal with his grief and Lily had readily gone along with it. They'd come across the address to the cottage in an old document buried among a million others just like it, and Lily remembered it solely because it was the first time in days she'd heard James laugh.
"Never can escape Gryffindor, us Potters," he'd joked, then filed the document away with the rest.
Something about the address must have stuck out for him, however, because when they'd started off on their trip touring some of the properties, the house in Godric's Hollow had made the list.
"Why this one?" Lily'd asked.
James shrugged. "Why not?"
Walking into the house now, it seems as if the only thing that had changed since that first visit is the people walking inside. The floor still lets off dust as their feet skim over the wooden surface, the smell of age and must hanging heavy in the air. The dark curtains lay drawn over the small living room windows, giving the whole room an eerie feel. The single shaft of light darting in from the open front door catches the covers draped over the old furniture and the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling rafters.
Lily slowly follows James inside, hit with a sudden sense of déjà vu.
"Lovely," he mutters, and Lily isn't certain she wants to know what it is exactly that he's swatting at in front of his face. His dark scowl seems answer enough.
"I suddenly find myself grateful for marrying such a detention rat," Lily comments, eyeing the floor, the furniture, the ceiling. She tries to smile. "I hope you remember your cleaning spells."
"Not strong enough for this." James suddenly holds out a staying hand, prompting her not to move any further. Lily glances at the hand, then her husband in question. "Spiders might not be the only thing living in here," he tells her grimly, scanning the dark doorways into the next rooms. "Stay in here. Let me make sure nothing's going to charge you before we start shovelling through this rubbish."
"I've a wand, too," Lily says, scowling. "I can stun a charging pixie as easily as you."
"Lil. Please." He throws her a look, then lets his eyes flash downward. Almost instinctively, Lily's hands fall atop the shallow curve of her stomach.
Merlin, how could she have forgotten?
Feeling mildly chastised, she waves him on. "Sorry. Yes, you're right. I'll stay here. Go ahead. Yell if you need anything."
"You too," James says. He lights his wand with a quick Lumos before disappearing into the next room.
Sighing lightly, Lily steps tentatively out of the doorway, closing the front door behind her. The room goes instantly dark, forcing Lily to light her own wand to see. A staircase just to her right leads up to the second floor, and she vaguely remembers the kitchen being just through the doorway James had disappeared into. Her slow steps carry her into the main room, the living room, and Lily views it with a certain detachment. Part of her is still reluctant to acknowledge that this is where she'll be spending the next five months of her life, maybe more.
It's just until August, she chides herself, an automatic response. Just until August when the baby's finally here and Dumbledore's prophecy's proven wrong.
Because Dumbledore would be wrong. The prophecy wasn't about them. Their son was due in August. He would come in August. It wasn't about them.
Not their family. Not their son.
"I think these furniture coverings might be enchanted, at least," Lily calls loudly, hoping James can hear her in the other room. She pulls at one of them, trying to access the damage beneath, but everything seems so dank and musty in the wandlight. "I can't really tell. I hope whoever lived here before was bright enough to use them. That would make things easier. Maybe if I draw back these curtains, we can some light in—ahh!"
Lily isn't certain which sound is louder—her scream, or the instant screeching of the bats whose home she'd clearly just invaded by opening the curtains and unleashing a sudden burst of light upon the dreary room. It isn't a swarm, but the group of bats that do angrily shout out their protests and shoot instantly for the cover of the dark chimney and—hopefully—out of the house, are enough to startle Lily's heart into pounding furiously. She's vaguely aware of James's shouting and the sound of his pounding footsteps amidst all the madness, but it isn't until he's standing right in front of her, cupping her cheeks and talking at her face, that reality sets back in and she brings her startled gaze to meet his.
"Are you all right? Did they get you? Lily? Lily!" He's shouting at her—why is he shouting at her?—and it's only then that she notices the look on his face, the worry and the panic.
"I'm fine—fine!" she assures him breathlessly, instantly covering his hands with hers. His palms are clammy against her cheeks. "I just—the bats—they came out of—startled me—"
She sees him sag, can feel the relief that courses through him as he pulls her against him in an almost biting grip.
"Fucking hell," he breathes. His chapped lips brush roughly against her hairline, a scattering of kisses. "You scared the bloody shit out of me, Lily. I thought—Merlin—"
"I'm sorry," she gets out against his neck, but as she tries to explain, a feeling wells up inside of her that she's not quite sure expresses her apology the best way. "The curtains—I just wanted the light—and then the bats...the bats...they went...went whoosh r-right past my nose, a-and—"
She has to cut herself off, the giggles suddenly overwhelming her. She claps a hand over her mouth to stop them, but the giddy sounds still escape. James pulls back and stares at her as if she's gone mad, but his incredulous look only provokes her laughter further.
"Oh, I'm sorry—I'm so sorry!" She tries to clamp her mouth shut, but there are more words to say and the laughter continues to filter out among them. "This is not funny—I-I do not think this is funny! I-It's the hormones or s-something. It's just the bats—they came and t-they went...they w-went-"
"Whoosh. Yeah, I know." James shakes his head, but a wisp of a smile is starting to tug at his lips and Lily stops regretting her untimely giggles so much. She threads her arms around his waist and tries to bury the rest of them against his chest, but for the first time in days—weeks, maybe—there's a lightness in her that she's not quite ready to let go of. Turning her head to get another look at the dilapidated living room might not have seemed like the proper way of preserving these good spirits, but her eyes lift to take in the newly lit room again nonetheless.
"Hey, look at that," she says, looking more closely. "The walls are green."
James turns his head to look as well, keeping one arm around her back as he eyes the newly revealed walls with more trepidation than she. But the walls are a pretty, pale sage, if a bit washed out from old age. In the new light, they present coolly against the hard wooden floors and the mantelpiece. The contrast is soothing, stately.
Homey, Lily thinks.
"Always have liked green," James says.
"'Course you have." Lily presses another quick kiss against his chin. "Come on, then. Help me take this cover off the sofa. Hopefully whatever Potter lived here before us was early enough in the line that the intelligence hadn't burned out yet."
"Intelligent enough to marry you, wasn't I?"
"Don't kid yourself. That was dumb luck."
James shoots her a look as Lily reaches one side of the sofa and he the other, each grabbing an end of the large white covering before tugging it loose from the furniture. Beneath, a sturdy scarlet couch sits unblemished and undisturbed, its prime condition almost bizarre amidst the general shabbiness of everything around it. James sticks her with a particularly smug look, but Lily primly takes a seat, ignoring it.
"It's comfortable." She wiggles around, situating herself on the plush cushions. "Try it."
She catches his hand in hers and tugs, unsurprised when James easily follows her down. He throws his arm about her shoulders and Lily almost instinctively drops her head to his. Together, they view the newly brightened room in silence.
Our room, Lily thinks, with equal parts eagerness and dread. Our couch. Our room. Our home.
"Do you think we're doing the right thing?"
Lily turns her head to look at James, unsurprised to find him sporting that same troubled frown she's become all too familiar with.
"With the house?" she asks.
"With the house...with all of it. I don't like hiding."
"I don't like it, either. But if it's what we have to do..."
"It's not us, Lil. It's not."
"But what if it is?" The words feel heavy and ugly on her tongue, but she forces them out, a masochistic move. She could continue, but she doesn't. They've had this conversation before, after all. They both know what it would mean. Even this dilapidated house doesn't deserve the words, the terrifying burden, on its very first day. Lily refuses to go there now. "Besides, it doesn't matter right now whether it's actually us or not. So long as Voldemort thinks it could be, we've got targets on our backs. Our son has a target on his back. We don't have a choice, James."
"I know." The words come out on a tired sigh. "I know."
"We're going to make this work." There's a confidence in her voice that she doesn't entirely feel, but she's still grateful for it. "This is our home now. Our son's first home. It's a fresh start. And whether we're here for a few months or for the next hundred years, all that matters is that we're all here together now. You, me, the baby, the bats and the spiders. A happy family."
"Probably could do without the bats and the spiders," James puts in. "Not to evict anyone on the first day, but one of us has to go. I'd prefer it not be me."
Lily laughs, snuggling closer against him. "I don't know. I'm growing a bit fond of the spiders."
"I'd like you hear you say that when you find one crawling on you."
"Oh, that's vile!" Lily cries, slapping a protesting hand against his chest, but James only chuckles at her squeamishness. The sound echoes in the drafty room, and Lily certainly prefers it to the bat screeching.
"Our home," James repeats contemplatively, seeming to mull it over once his chuckles have faded. His arm tightens around her, his eyes scanning the room. "Not much of one now, is it?"
"Nonsense. A little spit and a nice scrub and it'll be good as new."
"Maybe a tad more than a little spit."
"Not to worry. I have every faith in your spitting ability."
James laughs loudly. "I do love you, Lily Potter."
"And I love you." James leans down to kiss her, but Lily swats away his face, quickly scurrying to her feet. "Ah-ah! Don't you dare! I need that spit. Now come along, my love. We've quite a bit of work to do. I don't know about you, but your son and I would prefer not to live in a hovel."