James Potter was on his third scotch. The first one he downed in a rush, as if by hurrying he could block what he wanted to forget. The second had been slower. He came close to enjoying the way it burned his throat, making him dread each sip. But this third one was just there. Another drink to prolong the time he could stay in this refuge.
James looked around the place. Just another Muggle pub: smoky, dark, and smelling slightly of grease from frying too many batches of fish and chips. While he was here he need not deal with the news… the news Lily told him just a short hour ago.
The door opened, blowing cold, bitter air in. It closed, ringing the little bell attached to it. James didn't even have to turn around. He knew who it was. Sirius Black took the stool next to him at the bar. James continued to look straight ahead.
"How did you find me?" Flat tone. No emotions. Keep things under control.
"I went around your place after super. Found Lily- she seemed pretty rattled. She told me where you were. Said I should talk to you."
"Did she tell you anything- else?" He looked down at his drink.
"No. James, what the bloody hell is going on?"
"Well, you know, old friend, don't beat about the bush or anything. Tell me what you really want to know."
"James," Sirius said darkly. James sighed. He would have to tell him sooner or later.
"Lily's-" his voice chocked. He cleared it sharply. "Lily's pregnant."
A moment passed. Sirius let out his breath noisily. "Shit."
"Yea." James continued to stare at the golden brown liquid. In a swift motion, he raised the glass to his lips and drank the remainder.
James waited for Sirius to say something else. When he didn't, James spoke.
"Lily told me over dinner. It was like an emotion bomb went off inside my chest. I felt a thousand things at once." He took another sip of the scotch, forgetting there was none left. It didn't seem to matter. "Anyway, we had this big fight over who forgot the charm, and what to do now, who to tell, and stuff that didn't even make sense."
"James, I-" Sirius said.
"Just let me finish." Sirius fell dutifully silent. James continued: "Suddenly, the weight of the world came down upon me. I just couldn't take it. I couldn't take it. So I came here." His throat tightened, and water sprang to his eyes. Desperately, he blinked the tears back. Maybe it was some childish, masculine instinct, but he did not want to cry in front of Sirius.
"I should've stayed, right?" Now James's voice was shaking. "That's what a father, no, that's what anyone decent would have done. Stayed and talked it out with Lily." He stopped, closed his eyes, and took a few shaky breaths.
"Come on," Sirius said suddenly, and a bit too loudly, pulling James to his feet. "You need to get out of here."
"No," James protested weakly, clutching the scotch glass. "Just let me have another one of these."
"You've had quite enough. Let's go."
Outside, the freezing air was like a slap in the face. But a well-needed slap. The snow, unusual for England in November, was at least three feet deep. It would have been very difficult to trudge through if not for the thick, icy crust that had formed on top. The pair walked delicately up a hill in order to get to a deserted place so they could apparate.
"It's not that I don't want to be a father. I do. I really do. I hope this kid has ten more brothers and sisters. It's just-"
"James," Sirius cut in. "It's me. You don't have to explain."
"Yes. Yes I do." He paused, and then went on, "Honestly, I'm just scared. I'm terrified really. Do you have any idea how much danger the kid will be in? How on earth am I suppose to raise it to be normal?" His voice was little more than a whisper now. "I don't want my child to see the things I've seen."
Again, things fell silent as the men apparated away.
Where they appeared, a few miles east, about five hundred feet in front of Lily and James's house, the moon was out. It cast a peaceful blue shine on the snow in front of them.
But James was anything from peaceful. Sirius could see it in his face. His cheeks were red, and his eyes glanced around wildly. His footsteps were forced and harsh. A little too harsh, it turned out.
Suddenly, the crust broke beneath James's feet and his left leg fell knee-deep in snow. He swore and tried to pull it out. But his right leg fell in as well. Then, as if he broke the icy crust of his own self-pity as well as the snow, he started to kick at it. Then he tore at it with his hands. The violent physical outburst jump-started his voice as well.
"And I HATE this damn situation! This isn't the way I wanted it!" he shouted. "I should be so damn happy, so overjoyed right now; not scared shitless." His panting breath fogged the air. The snow whirled around as he dug at it fighting nature, fighting the situation, fighting himself. "How can we do this? What kind of father can I possibly be if I run out and get drunk at the first news?
"Why can't-" finally he lay down in the snow, exhausted. "Why can't this be normal? No Voldemort. No terror. Just a dad, a mum, and a baby." He sighted, and looked at the stars. So far away, making everything- parenting, wars, magic, even time itself- seem so insignificant. "A baby," he said softly.
Through all of this, Sirius had remained in the background. James hardly ever let anything out, and weather because of alcohol or circumstance, it was probably good for him.
Sirius walked up to his friend, grasped his hand, and pulled him out of the snow-hole.
"James," he said, brushing snow off the other's cloak, "That's all great, but you're telling the wrong person. You need to tell Lily. And I'll bet you one hundred gallons she feels the same way."
For a moment, they just looked at each other. Then, slowly, James nodded. "You're right," he said.
"Always am." James managed a small smile.
The moon lit the rest of the way to the house. Only one light was on: the living room light.
James and Sirius didn't say anything else. When they got to the front door steps, Sirius gave James's shoulder a small squeeze, and watched him go up the steps and in the door.
In the living room window, Sirius could make out two silhouettes behind the curtains: a man and a woman. Like a movie, Sirius watched as the man started speaking, almost pleading. He didn't even finish the sentence before the woman went to to him and embraced him. The man wrapped his arms around her tightly.
They stood there hugging, clasping each other. The two shadows became one mountain attempting to stand against the chaos and fear that was their life.
Sirius turned away from the window and walked back through the snow. He smiled, and though, I hope they live happily ever after.
And yet, even as he smiled, something in his gut told him there would be no happily-ever-after for James and Lily Potter.
A/N This started out as an argument thing between Lily and James, but I found that I can't write Lily very well. Maybe it's because we don't know much about her, but I found that she was either syrupy-sweet or a flat character.
Anyway, it eventually evolved into it's present state. It's interesting to think that the Potter's didn't plan on having Harry. I mean, what a complication to have a baby so young (I think they were right out of Hogwarts) and in the middle of fighting the worst dark lord the world has ever known.
Lastly, please review. I write these stories to be shared, and I like to know that they are being read and thought about.
Thanks and love to all,