The war was brewing out there and the Order of the Phoenix had lost a fair share of their members as they faced their end from a death eater's wand. The Order of the phoenix headquarters was crowded that particular day as they gathered around again to mourn the death of another member. Marlene McKinnon was heartlessly raped and killed by none another than the Dark Lord himself. The one thing he hated more than muggleborns were purebloods who didn't support his cause. He had abducted Marlene when she was returning from the departmental store and had asked her to join his group of death eaters but she had harshly refused. He rolled his eyes as she got a good view of his red pupils and he muttered the curse he loved using more than anything else. Avada Kedavara.
Her body was found in Hogsmeade on the road to Hogshead. She was later draped in a black cloth and was brought to the Godric's Hollow graveyard and was buried there. Lily and James had gone to the funeral and had returned to the head quarters with doleful eyes and a heavy heart, pretty much how they felt most of the time. After the gathering and a deep discussion about their next mission, which James had volunteered to lead, Lily and James headed back to their apartment.
Lily sighed as she removed her coat and placed it on the chair and dropped on it tired.
James went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face and wiped his eyes as his looked at himself at the mirror.
"James," Lily called out softly "What do you want for dinner, honey?"
"Nothing" he muttered darkly as he wanted to be left alone.
"But you haven't had anything since lunch." She said carefully hoping he wouldn't react in a bad way.
For the past few weeks he has been acting really weird and he couldn't bear to see so many people who he knew, who he grew up with, who he went to school with, dying. Marlene McKinnon was his neighbor and he knew her since he was a child. She was his best friend till she went off to Hogwarts two years before him. They weren't as close as they were when they were kids but he still cared about his childhood friend. Looking at her face lifeless was a wakeup call, as his brain flashed images of Lily or Sirius or Remus in that coffin. He wouldn't be able to live if he ever lost one of those people and he would carry a void in his heart forever if he did. He made these images go away as he concentrated on their next mission for Peter Pettigrew to go as their spy to the death eaters.
"James," she said in a patronizing tone "Come on I'll set up something for us."
"No, Lily," he said as anger threading in his words. "I do not want to eat anything now."
"James," she said again not knowing how to continue. "Come out and have something. You look very tired and weak, honey. Eat something and you'll feel better."
"I said I don't want anything Lily," he said sharply
She sighed and reached his shoulder as he faced the mirror. He could see the fear in her eyes and it broke his heart that she was feeling that because of him. He immediately turned around and looked into her beautiful orbs of emerald green as she bore into his hazel.
"Please?" she said her voice breaking as tears swelled up in her eyes.
James sighed and said "Fine" he said softly as she blinked her tears away.
They went to their kitchen counter and Lily looked into her almost empty racks. She picked out few boxes and was reading the labels as she went to the stove to cook their dinner. James sat on the counter with the hands on his head his eyes closed and his glasses hanging off on his hand.
After twenty minutes or so, a heavy cheese scent filled their nostrils as she brought it from the stove to James' plate.
"James," she said softly again "Do you want some pasta?"
He lifted his head with a sleepy eye and he rubbed it with his thumbs. He pulled the plate towards himself and started to pick the food on the plate.
Lily set up a plate for herself as she sat across him. She has been pregnant for three months and she has known it for a month. Every time she tried to bring it up, something or the other comes up or James is simply in a bad mood. She didn't know how to approach him or tell him about it. She noted to herself that she should ask about this to Molly Weasley who has already had five children and pregnant with the sixth one. The only thing that was worth listening to nowadays was her countless stories about her five boys who always manage to bring the roof down.
Lily cleared her throat as she observed James looking lost and staring at the food.
"James?" she called and he didn't respond. "James," she said once more loudly and broke out of his reverie and looked at her.
"Do you like it?" she asked tentatively
He grunted and nodded as he continued picking on his food.
"Have you thought about the future James?" she asked thoughtfully.
"What is there to think about?" he asked grumpily
"The good stuff, when the war is over and when he is dead." She said carefully observing his reaction.
"No," he said hopelessly "Every time I think about the war I can only picture myself getting killed." He said removing his glasses and resting his head on his hand again.
"Don't say that!" she wallowed as tears stung her eyes "I can't imagine a life without you." She said quietly. "It breaks me on the inside, James, every time you talk like there is no hope, every time you think of the bad things happening to other people, every time you are angry and you break stuff around the house and every time you-"she hiccoughed as she bit back her tears "every time you don't even look at me properly." She said boring her eyes into his.
James sighed exasperatedly as he once again recalled the events of today. "What so you expect me to do?"
"Act normally," she said in a high pitch and cleared her voice "Act normally, smile once in a while, be thankful that the rest of us alive. Don't brood all the time James."
"Do you think I want to act like this?" he asked her as his temper got to the best of him. "Do you think I don't want to think of my future, our future?" he corrected "I can't do anything but brood as I see the people I love die, day after day. You may not know many of them so it doesn't affect you as it affects me but I couldn't stand myself as I saw Marlene's face disappear into the coffin! It was like hell, Lily, hell! My hell is the place where I am lonely without anyone."
"But, don't you think you could relish the time when you are actually with them and not brood just because they are gone." She said in a heated whisper
"And feel bloody hopeless that they are not here to create more memories." He raised his voice
"Just because one person is dead, doesn't mean that everyone around you is dead James" her temper too getting to the best of her.
"WILL YOU STOP THAT!" he bellowed "I have enough images in my head of you or Sirius or anybody else dropping dead! She was my friend Lily! I have known her forever!"
"I know James," she said "But what can we do now? She is gone. She won't be coming back, deal with it. You have been acting like this ever since we join the order and it has been two bloody years since you acted normally. You always ready to jump into someone's skin, always barking at your friends and you don't even kiss me properly unless you are drunk to forget your sorrows" she said her voice sounding deeply hurt and the tears she had been blinking flowed down her cheeks.
"Ow, now you open your water works because I don't kiss you?" he said angrily "People are dying Lily! I don't want them to but they are. I am trying to deal with it. Can't you even give me time to get over my friend's death?"
"That is the only thing you do James" she said "Sometimes you are too busy playing the hero that you forget about the one person who is waiting for you at home. I used to come home from the Ministry and find flowers but when I come back now you are always busy writing someone a letter or brooding over someone's death or sometimes you are just not there. You don't turn up the whole night sometimes and I worry the hell out debating whether you are alive or not!"
"I can't help it Lily, I have to be there." He screamed
"Yah," she agreed hurt "Just can't be there for me." More tears caressed her face.
"That's not how it works, Lily" he said in a cautious tone
An owl flew in to their living room. Both gazed at the beautiful white owl but refused to move. They looked at each other again. Lily broke her gaze with James and went to the bird and plucked the letter off its beak. She slowly opened the letter giving James and uncertain look.
She slowly opened the letter fearing what news it was holding. Her worried, worn out eyes grew into a huge frown as creases appeared on her forehead. She read the whole thing as she gasped and bit back a sob, but she wasn't able to contain it in herself and started to shake as tears cascaded her face.
James frowned as he took the letter from her. Her best friend Holly had died in a death eater attack. He felt something swelling inside of him. She shook standing next to him and poured out her tears.
'Hypocrite' he thought angrily. She caught James' hand and broke down as she sat on the sofa with a soft thud.
James stood there motionlessly and let go of her hand. He sat down next to her, not offering a word of comfort or a hug of reassurance.
"It's okay when you do it, is it?" he muttered
She was still crying into her hands and was too broken to fight with him anymore.
"It's okay when you do it is it?" he said again loudly.
She looked up from her hand and looked at him with a confused look on her face. "What?"
"Its okay when you do it, is it?" he repeated
"What did I do?" she demanded in a nasal voice.
"Break down and cry!" he said in one blow "It's okay for you to cry for your friend but I can't?"
"James," she said angrily "You know that's not what I meant"
"What did you mean Lily?" he said accusingly "When you said 'don't brood over dead people', oh please! Do enlighten me Lily!"
"I didn't mean that-"she broke off as fresh tears descended down her face
"What else?" he demanded
"I don't want to talk about it," she refused to meet his eye
"Oh, when things get tough, you don't want to talk about it!" he screamed and got off the couch and started walking up and down the length of the couch.
"You're scaring me, James" as she looked at him with her eyes wide open with fear.
"Oh, you think this is scary," he turned around and looked at her "Try living in fear every day. Every day I wake up in doubt whether I would come back alive or not or whether we are going to lose more members or whether someone is going to get hurt. And you!" he pointed at her. "Where do I even get started?" Lily looked at him, hurt "You go off gallivanting with that friend of yours for her wedding! Is she crazy getting married in the middle of the war? You went to shops in the Knockturn Alley. You know what death eaters do when they get their hands on a girl. They rip you and shred you to pieces. I followed you to many places or either Sirius or Remus was in patrol duty. Do you have any idea how stressful it is to keep an eye on you always just so that you don't get into trouble?"
James was breathing hard and he turned away from her and looked at the window just realizing what he had blurted out without his knowledge.
These words were like a thunderclap to her. She never knew that James had an eye on her always. Now it struck her why she was always bumping into one of the marauders at all times, because if she had known she wouldn't have agreed to it at all.
She didn't know what to think, what to say or just keep quite. Instead she took a rash decision.
"Okay James" she said finally as he still faced the window with a broken voice "I won't be a much of a burden anymore." She said rashly as she dashed to their room.
"Lily," he called out weakly and followed her "you are not a burden Lily" he said placing a hand on his head "Why do you have to be so god damn difficult?" he muttered
She threw her clothes and few of her possessions inside her duffel bag and packed her things. "I think we need a break James. We need to think about the war, think about the future and mainly think about" she choked "us"
She walked out of their bedroom door and James followed her outside to their apartment door.
"Lily, please listen," he said hastily but she apparated with a sad smile. "Lily," he said weakly as tears poured out of his eyes "I love you."