Chapter Thirteen: The Blessing
D: I'm not dead. For Western Readers, google Gretna Green. I throw it in here somewhere.
Lily had only hidden the ring in the sock drawer when the rat-a-tat-tat of Mrs. Potter's knock rattled the door. "Lily, are you awake dear?"
She looked at the bed in front of her, sheets still crisply kept from her unintentional stay across the hall with James. Sirius' warning of explaining herself and James to his mother still rang in her ears. Pushing away the pile of pillows that decorated the headboard, she slipped into the linen sheets and pulled up the comforter to cover her head in the hopes it'd dishevel her hair even more. She felt something cold and sticky smear in her hand and she realized the pillow she had just slammed her hand on had resting on it a chocolate caramel. An actual chocolate on your pillow? She didn't have time to process. She'd just keep her hand tucked in her hair. She'd think of a lie if Mrs. Potter said something...
Rat-a-tat-tat, came again in the same rhythm, and this time the door jiggled open and the floor boards squeaked as Mrs. Potter entered the room, a chuckle in her voice,"Lily are you breathing under all those blankets?"
In the frenzy of last night, Lily hadn't looked closely at Mrs. Potter. Although they had talked about having dinner together when James was away, the two had only exchanged the occasional warm letter, normally Lily excusing herself from such a dinner occurring, but always thanking her for the left over Sirius and Remus brought over for her and Vera. Sirius had no problem coming home to Salisbury but Lily had wanted to wait for James to get home before she ventured to the uncharted waters of a Potter family dinner. She had only seen the Mrs. and Mr. Potter occasionally with James before he'd left for the Academy. She faked a stretch, her sticky chocolate hand clenched in a fist, and mumble out a slumber fast "Good Morning" as a sudden thud landed on her bed.
"Hope I didn't wake you," Mrs. Potter beamed, tapping the silver platter that had landed on Lily's bed. "Wanted to make sure you got your tea before it got cold or the boys messed with it," the little woman smiled, a mischievous twinkle that James had inherited shining in her eyes. She wasn't very tall. Lily imagined she'd be eye to eye with the Potter Matriarch if age hadn't shrunk her to Lily's shoulders. Her hair was ornately braided like a German Grandmother, and the color of faded fire red like Lily's own grandmother. Beneath her crisp white apron trimmed with snow flake style lace, she wore deep emerald robes with scarlet trim, Lily assumed for the holiday season, and for all extensive circumstances, thought that Mrs. Potter best resembled what most children imagined Mrs. Claus to look like.
Only way a young James could get on the good list, she thought to herself, if his mother doubled for Mrs. Claus and could fudge the list for him.
Pouring the steaming cup, Mrs. Potter beamed like the Mother Christmas Lily believed her to be. "How do you take it? Milk, sugar, cream? I know muggles tend to favor Earl Grey, so I had Sirius pick up a box this morning before he went to check on James. If you'd rather I also have my holly sprig cider downstairs, or the Yuletide Cocoa—"
"Oh, I've got it—Earl Grey's is fine" Lily replied, taking the porcelain teapot before another beverage could be offered. "Thank you Mrs. Potter— You didn't have to do all of this."
"Oh dear it's no trouble," Mrs. Potter answered, again as though she made such arrangements for everyone who rested their head in her house. "Mr. Potter and I have always believed a cuppa in the morning starts the day just right. And after last night," her cheerfulness paused as she clucked her tongue and shook her head, "—you need a good way to start the day."
Mrs. Potter instantly put a hand on her forehead and then her cheeks as though taking her temperature. "I've gone ahead and put some of the medicine the healers left for you on the tray. Franklin Longbottom told them you had experienced some trauma as well and they suggested a few potions, just in case you had night mares or stress this morning. Sudden flash backs, the sort. If the potions don't work, just let me know and my Grandmother had a calming drought that could set any mind at ease. I've already had the House Elves start it—"
She looked at Lily with a mother's gaze, pausing from her detailed chatter. Her eyes were just like her sons. Hazel pools that right now shone with protective care. "What they want with you and Jamie I'll never know. You're just children," she sighed, patting down the fringe of Lily's tangled hair trying to smooth it out, "What quarrel can that man have with children?"
" Sorry, I'm such a worrier," the matriarch excused herself, busying her hands with the silver tray. " I suppose I could've had Sherry come in and give it to you but I wanted to check on my Jamie. I hope he didn't keep you up all night, poor lamb," she smiled, her impish eyes dancing as though she was onto the secret.
"No no, we went to bed not too long after—" she started, not knowing where to pick up or expand. As though on a heavenly cue, Sirius again stood at the doorway. "Sirius came in and checked on us after a while and insisted I go to bed. Right Sirius?"
He shot her a quick look that warned her any patronizing lie would be held against her in future blackmail, "Couldn't have her keeping him up all night. He'd been through torture enough—wouldn't have been right to subject him to Evan's snores."
"Sirius," Mrs. Potter chided, berating his shoulder with a tea towl, "You mustn't say such things about a lady, she'll get the best of you."
"Nah, she'll just get even," he shrugged, leaning against the doorway. "James is up and asking for tea, what ever potion the healers left, and his darling mother all at once."
"Right! Alastor sent a flask of something James needs to take this morning," she answered, pulling out a silver battered flask from her apron pocket. She was half way across the hall when she turned back to Lily and the smirking Sirius.
"You two, get dressed and we'll be having breakfast in an hour in the east dining room. We took the liberty of getting some of your things brought to the house last night Lily, you're going to want to wear something you can work in today. Augusta Longbottom has recruited all us to get ready for the wedding. Isn't that marvelous?" the little woman beamed before turning and continuing to nurse her son, shutting the door behind her.
Lily poured a second cup before she turned her attention to Sirius. "You aren't going to spike my tea again, are you?" she asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
"Trust me, after a half hour with Augusta and Dorea, you're going to be begging for some of my Fire Tea." He remained standing at the doorframe, arms crossed, and brow furrowed as though he was trying to read the small print of a professors black board, or hex her into oblivion
"You keep your face like that for long it'll get stuck that way," Lily joked as she scooped in another cube of sugar. "What is it Sirius? Had a busy morning getting me Earl Grey and packing my weekend bag?"
His eyes flickered the door and she saw his arm wave as he whispered silencio. " I had Vera get that out of your cabinet at home," he replied, still a bitter edge to his voice, "Nearly had to sedate her after another episode of 'You-Know-Who nearly killed our mates' but folding clothes and planning your outfits always helps soothes her, bloody mess. Why she's in the medical field I'll never know."
In all the excitement of the dinner, last night, and early this morning Lily felt ashamed she hadn't thought much of Vera. How awful was it that she hadn't sent a note to Vera after the attack letting her know that she was all right and James was now out of danger's way? They had both been hand selected as recruits to You-Know-Who and all Lily had thought to do was spend the night at the Potter's house without a second thought. Wasn't a girl supposed to think of her best mate when she got nearly killed for the second time in a month? And then there was the engagement . . . What was she going to think when she found out she had agreed to elope?
"I suppose I should have let her know I was alright." Lily sighed, lowering her tea and looking at Sirius. "Did Remus stay over with her last night?"
"Nah, Remus and I were both down the hall a bit. Apparated last night after he finished something for the Ministry. He's asked Dorcas go check on Vera. I suggested she go to Ambleside for a few days till, said you'd be in touch."
"Good," she tried not to dwell to much on her failure in friendship but the tea sat like hot guilt in her empty stomach. She glanced over at Sirius who was now cross armed and staring at her. "Are you going to tell me what's bothering you or should I assume you're just being a prat on Vera's behalf?"
Sirius gave an over dramatic sigh, as though he was both grateful for Lily acknowledging his annoyance and relieved that the attention was finally being turned on the more pressing matter in his opinion. Him.
" I just got done talking to James," he said, crossing the room to the foot of the bed. "He who seems to be under the impression he's getting married." He paused as though waiting for shock, or protest at such an allegation. When she didn't interrupt, he rolled his eyes and continued, sitting at the foot of the bed and lowering his voice.
"Now, I think that the curse last night addled his brains. I can double check with Frank, I know there are sometimes odd side effects— I think before he sneaks off and get's his grandmother's ring, you need to go in there and tell him 'Maybe, when you're older or Sirius is dead—' you know, let him off easy. Or even 'We said a lot of things last night, I said things to keep you a live, let's wait till we're sixty.' He's brains are only addled because he was saving you."
"You're impossible," Lily chuckled, shaking her head as she drank her tea, the warm liquid settling her mind on her decision, settling in the reality of it. She was going to marry James Potter and they'd be laughing about all this when they were sixty. Maybe then Sirius would too.
But as the calm settled in her, she felt it flee from Sirius, the color quickly draining from his face.
"He's serious?" he muttered, "Don't you kid on me Evans. I know we've talked about this and I've even begun accepting that this is going to happen someday but…"
She turned her eyes to the closed door and got up from the bed to remove the hidden treasure in the sock drawer, slipping it on her finger where it already felt at home. "Although he didn't get me his gram's ring. He fashioned one himself." She held out her had to him, the band shining in the faint morning light. "What you think?"
He looked at it as though it was something profane. "You're getting married?" the ring as though it was a ticking time bomb waiting to erupt and crash his world.
"That's what we agreed," she answered nestling the ring back into a sock for safekeeping. " It was a bit on the spot, and trust me, I didn't say yes right away—it's good to know he's still agreeing to the concept," Lily winked, " Even if his brains are addled."
"I think both of you're brains are addled," he swore, shaking his head as he poured a cup of tea "What's more disturbing is he's telling me you two are also planning on an elopement—"
"Am I really getting this talk from you Sirius?" Lily asked hesitantly. "I was expecting some complaints from my parents and James' parents, I didn't know I needed your permission as well."
"By hell you do!" he early shouted, taking out a flask from his back pocket and pouring a generous amount into the tea. "It's one thing you're breaking up the band Yoko, but do you have any idea how hard it is to put together a stag night with a week's notice?" He looked down at the teacup and added more from the flask, " You two better get you're damn act together and either have a normal engagement or realize you're being complete idiots and stop this nonsense right now."
She would have been outraged if she wasn't as amused by his frustration over the mater of the looming matrimony. "Well when you think about it, he's a stag every time you boys go and play cavemen on your Welsh camping trips so a Stag Night shouldn't be something new to you four."
"Oh that's rich because the next full moon if Romeo over there is telling me your plans right, is going to be in the middle of your bleeding honeymoon!" He slammed down his tea to rub his temples as he paced the floor. "I know you and James are on Voldemort's most wanted, but it isn't going to kill you to have a long engagement is it? Huh? Doesn't need to have all the traditional pureblood stuff that makes it so bloody long—just six months. Give me six months with my best mate."
She looked at him, and Lily realized she'd never heard Sirius seriously barter for something before, at least, never bartered for something he knew he was probably not going to get. There was the slightest hint of desperation.
"Sirius," she said as calmly and evenly, "We've had them on our tails for the past two months. You-Know-Who's been on the prowl for a good ten yeas. Six months we could be dead. Any of us could."
"Don't say that-"
"He's an Auror and I'm a muggleborn. Maybe he doesn't like gingers-what ever the case, we want to enjoy what time we have. "
"And matrimony is the invisibility cloak that will hide you all?" he mocked, "I'll have to let the Prophet in on your secret. Every chapel will become a Gretna Green—only those true bachelors will be left for dead as true love goes and conquers all. They'll have to add a fifth house to Hogwarts to make do with the Baby Boom. Maybe they'll name it after you two. The House of Potter—Home of Love struck fools. "
"Remember my boggart after NEWTs?" she asked, looking at him with what she hoped was her kind eyes, even though she wished nothing more to smack him for that last comment. "Remember what you said to me on our way back from the kitchens, about me not being an Evans forever?" she moved her hand over his. "I know this doesn't make much sense, and I can pretty much guarantee in less than a month wondering what the hell I was thinking, but Sirius, I love him," she smiled, a laugh buffering the crack in her voice as her emotion caught up with her. "And while I can't guarantee beating You-Know-Who, I can guarantee that I will never forgive myself If I don't get to spend whatever time I have left as James' wife."
For a moment time paused. As it was just the two of them staring at each other. In a year or so they would both look at each other and laugh it off but internally recognize that as the moment when Sirius Black realized he couldn't do anything to stop this wedding. Nor could Lily deny that it was in that moment her fears from the night before about rushing into matrimony seemed to disappear completely.
Sirius looked down at her fierce green eyes and, with a sigh, moving her hand from his face as he took her gently by the shoulders. "Alright," he said, "Vera, Remus, Peter and I—we'll take care of the wedding plans. You and James—work on the Longbottom wedding plans. You can't let Dorea find out what you're doing or she'll have you both locked up somewhere. And Trust me, this Manor has plenty of rooms to get locked up in."
"You mean you're ok with this now?"
"About as ok with it as I can be at the moment," he sighed rolling his eyes. "You guys are going to have to name you're first born son after me. Sirius Elvendork Potter," a genuine smile rolled with the name. "You'll also have to swear I'll be Godfather and can kidnap little Sirius whenever I so desire so I can train him to be a rebel with no patience for matrimony."
Lily shook her head, "Elvendork. Really?"
"Those are my terms and I reserve the right to come up with more throughout the engagement and marriage," he winked, releasing his hold on her arms and downing the tea cup he had placed on the dresser. Looking at the sock drawer, he snagged the ring.
"Bit of advice, Dorea can sniff out secrets like Filtch can find dirt. Best man here will take care of the ring and getting the marriage license," he placed it in his breast coat pocket. 'If anyone asks, I'll say it's for Vera- she'll take that lie really well. Now if I were you, I'd get dressed. You have two weddings to plan."
The East Dining Room, like everything else in the Potter Manor, was hundreds of years old and decorated from chandelier to the fireplace for Christmas time. The walls, paneled in dark mahogany, were decorated with large wreaths and holly while the breakfast table was spread with enough food Lily was convinced they'd be having more quests than just her, and the Marauders.
When Lily reached the dinning room, she was greeted by Sirius, Remus and Peter. "Lily!" Peter smiled, pausing from the pastry and sweet breads in front of himself, "I came over as soon as I heard—did you really get trapped by You-Know-Who in Notting Hill?"
"No Peter, she and James thought that would be a good laugh on all of us," Sirius mocked rolling his eyes, "How silly of us to not have seen earlier, well played Evans."
Peter gave a weak "Right," and went on picking at is food. Lily put an arm on his shoulder, " We're alright, that's all that matters. We'll be better off next time."
"Next time?" Remus asked raising an eyebrow, "How about we make last night the last time? Especially with you and James w—new plan of defense."
"So you filled them in on everything?" Lily sighed, shooting a look at a too innocent Sirius. "Don't worry Lily, I don't think you're Yoyo—er, whoever she is, that lady who breaks up bands." Peter grinned widley.
"It's Yoko Peter," Sirius moaned, rubbing his temples, "I'm going to need more fire whiskey to get through today."
"She's not driving you to drinking Sirius," Remus quipped, before giving a warm, "Congratulations—we'll help however we can."
" You've already done plenty Remus," Lily smiled as she loaded her plate with Dorea's breakfast spread. "Thanks for sending Dora over to check on Vera Remus, I appreciate it."
"She went by this morning and helped her bags together. Vera wanted to let you know she's going to be with Marlene and the family for the next week or so, Remus explained, "You need to fill her in on things—er, especially now. Between the stress of becoming a healer and he stress that apparently comes with being You-Know-Who's latest target, Vera's one step away from a mental break down."
"She's been there for a couple weeks now," Sirius interrupted as he filled his plate with sausages and a Danish pastry. "Anything in the papers?"
" Nothing about last night, but it looks like someone's connecting the Beal murder to the Bon Fire Night Disaster," Remus said melancholy, the memories not yet aged, "Took them long enough. This Rita Skeeter—she's slow but at least she's putting on something more useful than how to tell an inferni from a ghoul."
"There's nothing in the paper about the restaurant last night?" Lily asked grasping for the paper, "Escaping You-Know-Who isn't newsworthy?"
Sirius began before Remus could explain, "Frank and the Prewett's thought it best to keep a tight lid on last night. Other than the Order, James' parents, and Vera, no one knows what really happened. As far as the Academy and St. Mungos know, James was out with them on a training exercise that went horribly wrong. Frank's even told his mum it was an accident."
"So officially I wasn't at the restaurant?" she asked, "I just happened to be at my boyfriend's house on a Wednesday night?"
"Officially, you had already made arrangements to spend the Holidays with Mr. and Mrs. Potter, and was planning on surprising James when he was released from the academy. When you heard James had been injured from Frank—who naturally as Mr. and Mrs. Potter's godson—came to explain the situation to his parents, you, er, fainted and sustained a slight head injury."
"That's a bunch of bullocks," she countered, "I don't faint. Besides Damo knew I was meeting someone for dinner— You-Know-Who tricked me with flowers I thought were sent by Sirius."
A clash of silverware and jam hit the white tablecloth, knocking over Sirius' tea. "He did what?"
"I'll tell the Prewetts to have someone from the order keep an eye on Damocles," Remus promised, ignoring the irate marauder. "Dora can pull some favors and have Benjy or Marty Bones look after him. I doubt he'll say anything he's so secretive on what goes on in that lab."
"Let's return to the pressing matter," Sirius interjected, knife in hand, pointing it at the group like it was a baton."You-know-bloody-who lured you and James in a trap pretending to be me? He was going to kill you after luring you there as me?! When I get my hands on that bugg—"
The door suddenly creaked open as Mr. Potter entered the room. He still walked with his cane and an older muggle suit Lily recognized from pictures of her grandfather. There was a way he was looking over his shoulder as though he was trying to elude an inescapable foe.
"Morning kids," he whispered, "James is taking breakfast in his bedroom. If anyone wants to escape now, I'd do so. Augusta's here and she's looking for hands."
Peter apparated midbite—crumbs from his English muffin falling to his empty seat. Sirius mumbled about seeing Vera about an upcoming meeting before he too disappeared in a sudden crack. Lily looked desperately over to Remus. "Augusta Longbottom, is she really that bad?"
Before he could answer, Mrs. Potter entered the room arm and arm with the short woman with a ridiculously large bird hat perched atop her small head. She did not look like a frightening woman, but she didn't resemble a woman to be trifled with. "Mrs. Longbottom, Mrs. Potter," Remus smiled weakly as he stood up. "Pleasure to see you but I'm needed at work. Urgent business, the delegation to the giants—just got an owl calling me in, you understand" he pulled into his pocket and held up a folded bit of parchment before he too disappeared out the room.
Lily turned and looked at Mr. Potter who gave her merry look, "Mrs. Longbottom, let me introduce you to the brave, Lily Evans."
So it has been over three year since I last updated.
I honestly didn't mean to make it that long. In fact, this has been on by desktop for a good two years half written, but life is funny.
I graduated uni and I've had my first real job with benefits two years now. I've moved cross country back home, I've done a bit of traveling, and I've also seen the guy who I thought was my James get married to someone else.
Again, Life is Funny.
But I'm still here. I want to start working on another fanfic project, but only think it right I finish this one first. The next update will be sooner than three years. I still have my timeline for this story in place. And hopefully James, Lily and the gang will stop giving me the silent treatment and the muses will return again.
Updated Sans Beta (sorry sar, three years, you probably need a break from me). Hopefully I got it all and it makes sense. As always, feedback is loved and appreciated. It's also whats getting you this update right now. Thank you to everyone who continues in reading, following, and giving support. Again, you are the reason you're getting this update.
Cheers and Love,