Disclaimer : Not J.K Rowling. Bet thats a surprise. The universe and characters belong to her.
Before Hogwarts and Snape and magic, Tuney had given her a teddy bear she had stitched herself. It was an ugly thing and Lily loved it. It was green in color with blue buttons of their mother's coat sewn in as the eyes, black cross stitches as its mouth. Frankly, it might as well been a lump with the number of times Lily sat on it. Lily loved the teddy bear more when Tuney gave her the cold shoulder for Snape, for Hogwarts, for her magic. So Lily clutched it to her chest whenever she fell asleep because one day the sister who gave her a green teddy bear with blue button eyes would come back to her.
She knew everything had changed when she came back from Hogwarts for Christmas to find her teddy bear's head torn off, with sweater wool that was stuffed inside, visible. Lily Evans banged her fists on her sister's room's door, begging her to open, sobbing, "How could you? How could you,Tuney?"
"Divination? I didn't think putting your life on prophecies and dream theories were your thing, Evans. But then again, I have been wrong before" ~ Sirius Black
Full moon was out.
Remus Lupin's kind face was contorting in a grotesque manner. His pupil dilated, the blood vessels in his eyes about to pop. Hair breaking out from his skin, palms curled into claws. His claw inched towards her- (to maim or to reach out?)- and she finally let herself feel what she had refused to feel.
Pure, unadulterated, overwhelming.
She woke up with a start, heart pounding. She calmed herself down with a few unsteady breaths, and felt ashamed for feeling scared. Remus had finally worked up the courage to tell her when his sickness, his mother's sickness, his aunt's sickness became too flimsy an excuse to avoid Prefect duties, even though she already suspected (thanks to Sev's theories but she wasn't going to admit that to him). Even then, Remus is her friend. How could she feel scared of something he cannot help? Feeling disloyal and cowardly, she felt ashamed of herself. If she had seen him, like that, would she have run away, screaming for the hills? Was she such a bad friend, that she wouldn't take pity, or feel inclined to help?
It was only a dream, she told herself. It was only a dream, and you are making too much out of it. You are stronger than this. It is fine.
She fell back to sleep, her heart still pounding, as if with a new awareness that she is alive.
She saw a black haired girl standing at the staircase for Astonomy Tower, her fingers trembling but her face smooth. "Black is up there?" she heard herself ask the girl, and the girl, there was a flash of resentment in her eyes which she instantly quelled as she responded. "Yes, he is upstairs"
"Do you know what happened between him..and the rest?"
"I tried talking to James" the girl informed her, softly. "He wouldn't tell. The git upstairs isn't going to tell, and Remus actually looks too scary to approach these days..so I don't know."
The girl watched Lily in a shrewd, calculating way, as Lily climbed upstairs to get to Black. She doesn't know why she bothered, but it was like a head torn away from her teddy bear again, and she couldn't stand looking at it. The Marauders were Marauders, she doesn't know why it irritated her why James Potter looked unusually grave and angry all the time, why Remus Lupin looked like he was on the peak of fury and hurt and Peter look miserable and helpless.
They weren't supposed to be like this, the four of them were supposed to walk in together corridors, their laughter echoing off the castle walls, and she was supposed to roll her eyes or give an irritated huff and dodge out of James Potter's way.
She looks at Black, sitting on the edge and staring, his face utterly blank and pale. His expression scared her. She didn't understand whether she was scared of him or scared for him, but Black was searching in his cloak for something until he said, irritably "The bint took my cigarettes."
"Just as well" Lily told him,severely. "Smoking won't be tolerated on top of an Astronomy Tower"
"Why are you here?" he asks her bluntly.
"I don't...know" she told him. That was the truth, she thinks, but there was a curious wiggling at the pit of her stomach, that told her she did know why.
His eyes narrowed and said, "Did she send you up here? "
"No" Lily said, a tad sharply, feeling sorry for the girl who obviously cared about him. "But you have got to learn to tell the difference between concern and pity"
He shrugged. "It doesn't matter"
"Any of it. It doesn't matter. In the end, bloody genetics won out. As James would say. I am just as fucked up as the rest of them. He is wrong, though. He is trying to find an excuse for what I did. Or he said that to hurt me, which is more likely. Either way, it doesn't matter" Black said bitterly.
" You want him to think that you are fucked up because of you and not because of anyone else?" she offered.
He smiled, a touch sadly." Yes"
There was a silence. She was curious, of course, about this incident. She couldn't help think of how bad it must have been, but it wasn't her place to ask. Everything had to work, didn't it? Everything else was going wrong. Outside the protection of Hogwarts, Death Eaters were on the rise led by a madman called Voldemort, Muggles and Muggleborns were dying, and she had tried not to think about it, to think school was normal and she would worry about it after she passed out. But school wasn't normal because when Marauders weren't loud or boisterous, she noticed which muggleborn hadn't come back this year, the animosity between Gryffindors and Slytherins grow (pureblood supremacist arsehole and mudbloods and blood traitors exchanges was the surface of it), and Sev-
"They'll forgive you" she said, abruptly.
He gave a harsh bark of laughter. "No, they won't. If they do, I would be an idiot think that things can be the same again, Evans. There are certain lines you can't cross when it comes to your friends...and I have crossed a line I can't come back from."
She understood then, what she was so afraid of. Sev's fascination with Dark Arts, his absolute reluctance to let go of evil like Mulciber...of him crossing a line both of them wouldn't recover from. There was always hope! she thought fiercely. For the Marauders. For them. For everyone. There has to be a meaning to this madness.
She looked at Sirius, even though his expression was unemotional, there was something broken about it. Her heart clutched in sadness, but she stood there, no longer attempting to fill silences, staring at nothing, seeing everything, as he was.
"I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!"
There it was. How long, how long was she standing there like a fool who didn't see this coming?
"Fine" she could hear herself say, as if from far, far away. "Fine" she said again, as if she wanted hear herself say it. "I won't bother in the future. And I'd wash your pants if I were you ,Snivellus"
She walked away, because this awareness had been ripping at her world's seams, and try as she might to push it away and not see it, she could do that no more. She let her world fall apart.
"Apologise to Evans!" she could hear Potter say, and she, -(because to hell with everything!)-turned around and shouted herself hoarse.
"I don't want you to make him apologise! You are as bad as he is!" Looking at Potter helped, because she didn't have to look at Sev, looking at Sev hurt because something had cracked in between like a fault-line. The image of the small boy who told her she had magic had been broken, and there is this Sev, this Sev who would want to be a Death Eater-
"What? I would never call you a you know what!"
She can't believe how long she fooled herself to believing she could save her first friendship. She lost her sister (no! she hadn't!), and now she has lost Sev. "Messing up your hair because you think its cool to look like you have just got off a broomstick, showing off with that stupid snitch! I can't believe you can get off a broomstick with that fat head on it, you make me SICK!"
She stomped off, her world had cracked, the edges were still brittle, but she will pick herself up.
You are stronger than this, she tells herself.
"Dumbledore is out to ruin our reputation, Prongs. You reckon that if we hand in your Invisibility Cloak,he would take the Head Boy badge back?"
"Yeah, sure Padfoot. Why don't we hand in the Marauder's map while we are it? You do remember how Filch got it, don't you?"
"Our legacy has to pass on. Worthy people of our ranks will find it.. and for us, Padfoot, we just have to accept it is an end of an era" ~ Remus Lupin.
She understood when her stomach did more than back flips at the sight of him, James Potter, throwing an am around Sirius's shoulders, talking about something animatedly, his Head Boy badge shining over his robes. There was an inexplicable tenderness, affection-she felt bubble within the walls of her stomach, threatening to overwhelm her. No. she told herself. Not now. I can't.
She felt cowardly, and a little disloyal, but to what?
She felt it again, when she visited Sirius's apartment, and there he was, lounging on one of the sofa's. He grinned at her, "The Head Boy is slacking off again, eh?"
"Not to worry, I hear the Head Girl is woman enough for both of them" she told him, she knew she was smiling. Smiling with the tenderness, like it was written on her face that butterfly wings were whispering in her insides.
Sirius, who was putting on gloves to go outside, rolled his eyes. "Get a room."
And they both blushed and said nothing, and looked away, hastily told Sirius that Butterbeers would do, and Sirius was smirking, but decided,unusually, not to comment as he went out.
So she sat beside him, a little stiffly in the sofa, and he put his arm behind her, and she looked at him, and the question came tumbling out of her mouth before she could stop it, "You used to ask me out as a joke right?"
She doesn't know why she wants to know the answer, but it seemed important.
He blinked owlishly at her, and she resisted the urge to giggle (what has gotten into her lately?) and said, "No, I really was asking you out"
"I thought you were doing it to annoy Sev" and she cringed a little, saying his name, because Sev's name still hurt, especially because Petunia didn't want her as a bridesmaid in her wedding where she would be marrying an oaf called Vernon Dursley.
"That was what I thought it was in the beginning too" he admitted honestly. He looked embarrassed when he continued, "But it was the other way round, I,er, picked on him because I was jealous of him. Him being your mate..."
She felt herself stiffen at the memories, yet they were so far away, but she listened when he said, "I'm not proud of it..of how I was.." but he looked too embarrassed to continue.
"You are not the same" she told him, suddenly. He turned to look at her,startled by her defense. "You are not the same.." she said softly.
She stared at him, his hazel eyes were tender when they looked at her, and she thought for a moment that he might kiss her, but he didn't.
She felt afraid, and content and she decided let her feelings solve itself on its own as she put her head on the crook of his neck, and closed her eyes, she could feel his arm come around her shoulders..and there was nothing to be said, because for the first time she let go of threads holding her life together, only a little, enough to understand that she had to let her happiness come in.
The door flew open and she heard footsteps.
"Well this is an interesting development" Sirius Black's voice drawled from somewhere far away, and she smirked a little as James took a cushion and threw it at his head. "Would have turned more interesting if you hadn't turned up,Padfoot" he responded, and she opened her eyes and started laughing.
Really, how long had it been since she laughed like this?
"Patronuses, come on!" Padfoot's voice yelled in desperation as Dementors glided towards them.
Patronuses? Blind panic surged through, how can she muster a happy memory when she had been numb, trying to keep the violent anger and frustration at her helplessness in this war at bay, the unfairness of it ( she was 17 and a head girl, she was supposed to dock off points, not run around in london fending off attacks) she had been trying to hold it in so much that she had become numb, and with Dementors gliding, she could feel the cold seep into her skin and she welcomed a more permanent numbness, a promise of no feeling so she wouldn't have to hurt-
"Expecto Patronum!" James roared, and a blinding stag charged at the oncoming dementors.
-so that she wouldn't have to love James Potter so desperately that every happy moment they both stole from the world, she didn't want to feel the fear that retribution awaited them for being so happy, "Expecto Patronum!"
And out burst a beautiful doe, who did not bother to charge upto the Dementors, but cantered quietly next to the stag, and inclined its head towards it.
The light of both Patronuses blinded the alleyway, and she could feel the numbness leaving, she heard Padfoot's shout of laughter (relief? amusement?), and the light faded away, and their Patronuses turned to wisp, Dementors had gone.
James looked at her, he had a hard, blazing look on his face as he crossed over to her in few strides and she threw her arms around him, they kissed as if they would never let go.
"Oh give me a basin" Padfoot's voice groaned, but even then Lily detected a smile in his voice. Her world had fallen apart long back, she no longer tried to hold it together in seams. She was going to be alright, she was stronger than this. She was no longer the Lily that presented a blooming flower to her sister, because she had changed as well.
She wondered why she took so long to realise this. Her edges were brittle, but the powdered dust of child she was remained, like a memento, a person she had unknowingly lost.
"What happened to the mother of your fawns, Prongs?"~ Sirius Black
She felt a hand steer her upper arm, and she turned back and raised her wand at the hooded figure. Although he was taking her away quite forcefully, the fingers on her arm were barely touching her skin, as though afraid. She turned back to see James battling with three Death Eaters at once, Padfoot taunting a Death Eater few feet away, Marlene lurch past duelling fiercely. No one noticed her. She let herself led away, because the pit of her stomach told her who it might be but nothing prepared her the moment when they reached an alleyway, and he removed his mask.
"Lily, leave" Severus Snape said,briskly. "You have no idea of whats in store for all of you."
There was a difference in knowing something and the horror of seeing it for yourself. He was a Death Eater. And seeing this made the fault-line crack wide open, and a visceral fury and disgust filled her so much that she wanted to vomit.
"I am not going anywhere without my husband!" she hurled the words at him, and was surprised by a momentary flicker of emotion on his face, and then came a savage pleasure in knowing that what she said had hurt him. He was the one who told her being Muggle-born doesn't matter, and right now, he is there, in black robes and Death Eater's mask in his hand, committing atrocities-
"Congratulations on the wedding" there was unmistakable malice in his voice. "I know your position now. But know this, you are marked by the Dark Lord himself. You and"- a sneer-"your husband have refused to join his ranks and continue to fight against him. We all know the Dark Lord is not forgiving. Keep this up, Lily Potter, and you might as well start praying for your husband while you are it."
She gave a thin smile, and didn't care if it was a low blow or not. "My husband is a much greater man than you'll ever be. Maybe you should start thinking about what that says about you. Shouldn't you, Snivellus?", she turns a heel, while she knows he wouldn't attack her especially with her back turned, she keeps the grip on her wand tight, her muscles alert- and that, she reflects sadly, is how far gone everything was.
She knew James was watching her. She knew he wanted to to talk to her, but she knew he understood that she will come to him in her own time. However, that explanation doesn't work well for others as she discovered, when Padfoot dropped into the seat beside her. She drank her butterbeer in silence after she shook her head to his offer of Firewhiskey.
"I was looking for him" he said, finally. "Regulus."
She watches him from the corner of her eye. His expression was coldly amused.
"I don't know what I would have done if I have actually found him though" he told her.
She nods, understanding.
"There wasn't anything more, Lily, that you could have done. You don't have to feel guilty or terrible that maybe you could have done something differently. Those are his choices, and his alone" he said.
"I know this" she muttered, resentfully.
"Then know this" he paused. "You were a much better friend to Snivellus than a brother I was to Reg."
"Padfoot" she began, softly.
He held up his hand to silence her. She watched him as he raised a goblet to James sitting at far end of the table, who had been watching them both. James smiled, and she, gave a tired smile back.
"Lily! Take Harry and go! Its him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
And this world of hers had been bursting at the seams, but the moment a green light flashed as she ran upstairs, she knew it was over. Her world had crumbled, while she remembered the pieces, the pieces of life she and James shared when she looked at Harry. Harry will survive! she thought. I'll do anything! and she pleaded with the monster who destroyed everyone's life in this war for mercy- because that is what she will do for Harry.
Her eyes begged the monster's red eyes to understand, to spare the child, didn't he understand, that she would die for James ? That she would kill for Harry ?
"Stand aside you silly girl! Stand aside now! This is my last warning-"
Harry is the proof that James had lived, that she had lived, that they both loved, loved and fought and hoped, and Harry was both James and Lily but much much more, because Harry was stronger than this. Than all of this, because Harry was not just James and Lily, Harry was-
Author's note : "The black haired girl" in the second one is Romina, an OC I am pairing with Sirius in another story of mine as a gift to one of my best friends. I wonder when am actually going to be done writing that though because I am lazy. I didn't have much opportunity to flesh out James and Remus as I would have liked (Remus is barely there here, even though I think he has an equally strong relationship with Lily). As for Peter, I don't ignore him but I could not think of anything write with regard to Lily. Besides, he got his free verse. (check Black Death #self promotion)
Reviews will be much appreciated. :D It is edited at 2 am, with eyes drooping and head falling onto the laptop, if it shows, let me know. :)