James could understand Lily’s fears. In fact, they shared in them, they had before the war ended and they did even now, but James couldn’t allow the couple to stall on these fears. He loved Lily, he loved his son, he loved his family, and what was more important now that they were safe, was that they learned to live again. You see, James had fallen in love with Lily Evans, the girl that stood up to Slytherins that had been practicing dark magic since they were in diapers, the girl that had busted him a thousand and one times (if not more), and he wanted that back. Sure, they were more mature now, their lives had changed because of the war, everyone’s had, but now was the time to rebuild.
He squeezed her hands softly, attempting to push his fingers through hers and returned the smile. “I know, Lily. I do, believe me, but they’re only nightmares now. The war is over, we’ve got each other and Harry, it’s alright to be on guard but… we can’t be afraid anymore.” That was some of the only good that James felt that hiding had ever done them. They were safer, sure, but they’d also learned fear. They’d learned what it was like to be cornered in their home, hoping above all hope that no one would stumble across the quaint little house in Godric’s Hollow. Luckily for them no Death Eater had ever stumbled upon them by chance. “We’re going to be alright, we’ve made it through the worst. If the Dark Lord himself couldn’t kill us, I’ll be damned if I let one of his henchmen do it.”
It was evident though that Lily simply needed a moment to process her dream, it was in her stance, in the way that she’d looked away. Nothing that he said could make her entirely comfortable again, and it made James wonder whether either of them would be able to sleep for the rest of the night. He watched the handsome woman with a soft look, his hazel eyes looked darker than they truly were in the dim lighting in the room. Once he’d thought himself fortunate to have her, and perhaps it was his old arrogance now, but he thought now that she was lucky to have him too. James Potter wasn’t going to let his wife drown in their shared experience, he was going to help her with it one way or another.
That was, if she needed him at all, of course. By the time the green eyed woman had turned her attention back to her husband, it seemed as though she had sorted some of her troubles out by herself. It was comforting to James in a way, though he liked the idea that he would help her heal, he knew that Lily was independent and that this was simply a show that she wasn’t so far away from where they’d once stood. “Time is all we need. Hell, maybe Dumbledore will tell us the remainder of the Death Eaters followed their leader to the grave. Nothing more to worry about at all,” he teased. Knowing that this was far from the case, but maybe with Lily’s improved mood, a bit of a joke would help her relax and get back to sleep. “You’re right though. We’ll handle it in our way, whether it’s a party or not. But I can still sense a party, thank you very much,” a smirk tugged at the corners of his lips, “and I know it’s going to be a party, Lily. Mark my words.” With that he tried to wriggle his hands free from her grasp and enveloped her in a sleepy hug.
Lily nodded. He was right when he said they could not live in fear. By letting fear control them, it didn’t matter that Voldemort had died, because his goal was still accomplished. She certainly did not want to be scared of shadows and dreams the rest of her life, and she couldn’t allow Harry to grow up in an environment focused on pampering those emotions. Strength was something that Lily herself strived to embody, but it seemed lately she had been coming up short.
She was lucky. She knew she was. There were so many that they knew who had lost so much more in this war. Family, friends….. entire families had been wiped from existence by the Death Eaters. Still so many others had no one to turn to in their healing now that the worst was over. They had either lost everyone or had lost their faith in those who had survived. She and James had each other and they had most of their friends. Sure there had been loses, the worst of which took the form of Peter Pettigrew’s betrayal. Perhaps that was what she feared more than the Death Eaters…. those whom they trusted as friends who meant them ill-will, or would trade a child for their own life.
This betrayal was worse for James than for herself. She had known Peter, and considered him a friend, but it was James who had him as a best mate so many years before it all happened. The incident had thrown her husband into the situation she herself had lived in their 5th year, only his betrayal cut so much deeper than just the lost friendship that had resulted in the actions commited. She didn’t bring this up however, the focus on the more surface fear of the Dark Lord’s still present and still brooding servants. Although, the thought of Peter now made her wonder if perhaps their meeting tomorrow would be of him. He had betrayed not just the Potters, but the entire Order, and there were many out for his blood.
“Hell, maybe Dumbledore will tell us the remainder of the Death Eaters followed their leader to the grave.”
If only it were so simple. She smiled, knowing he was saying it in jest and was attempting to cheer her up. It was his way. Even back in school when she couldn’t stand the sight of him, she had noticed his protective behavior of his friends. His need to keep them happy and smiling, despite whatever issues they were having. He had brought together so many broken people, herself included in the end, and made them a family. It was that quality that had always appealed to her, even when she didn’t know there was anything she liked of the prankster she now shared her life with.
She laughed finally as he pulled her into a hug, they both falling back onto the pillows,” Everything’s a party for you James. If there is anything wrong in this world you are sure to find something to celebrate.” She kissed him then, grateful to have him in her life, grateful of his calming her fears in a way that so many others could not do. Settling back to snuggling in his arms once more, comfortable and warm, she sighed,” Thank you….” She felt she had to say it even if he knew how much she appreciated his comforts. The public acknowledgement of how he helped her and how much she relied on him wasn’t nearly enough to show how much he helped her, but it was what she could offer in this moment.
It could have been argued that one of James Potter’s very favorite past times was sneaking about the castle after curfew. And could he be blamed? He was alone. Finally alone, and it came as something of a relief. The daytime hours were filled with hustle and bustle of students, classes, and Quidditch, but not now. No, this was the time of night there was no one around to pester him, or for him to pester for that matter. James wouldn’t have to dodge crowds, or girls asking for Sirius, or Slytherins shooting him nasty looks for his most recent stunt. He was alone, and it was so very peaceful.
As all good pranksters do, James Potter had something up his sleeve and quite literally at that. It was a new product from Zonko’s Joke Shop, and if he had his way, he’d make sure that it was totally and completely banned at school. For, you see, James Potter was going to release what had been described as “Rats! Rats! RATS! (Just add water.)” out into every hallway and room and nook and cranny in the school. Oh yes, for a full twenty-four hours there would be so many of the little things that the school wouldn’t know what to do with them. Hell, maybe Peter would even manage to find a nice girl to settle down with.
The very thought of Peter finding a girlfriend, even a temporary one, nearly had James laughing out loud. Of course, that wouldn’t be very good for his prank, if he were heard by the caretaker, or even a nosey prefect, his arse was as good as kicked. He’d decided to forgo the invisibility cloak on this trip, it was foolish perhaps, but James was in need of a challenge. Yes he was the Head Boy, but any of the prefects would know that he wasn’t supposed to be on patrol tonight. A challenge, he thought again. If he were to be perfectly frank there was no denying that the distraction was a blessing. James’s father had passed over the summer and he hadn’t been able to get himself to focus on what had been so important to him last year. Until tonight, that was. James would be back to his usual ways tonight, he needed to be, or else the school might think that he’d gone soft.
But there was something that James hadn’t anticipated awaiting him down the hall. Something that had him frozen in his tracks. A flash of red hair in the candlelight down the corridor. Lily. Lily? What was she doing out? Hadn’t she been on prefect duty the other day? Shit. If he did this on her watch it would most certainly make her furious with him, not that it was so terribly unusual, and she might even get into trouble for not seeing him. The Head Boy getting his partner into trouble? Frankly, it seemed a bit cruel. James fiddled with the pellet in his hand, wishing that it had been someone else, anyone else down the hallway.
Perhaps James had gone a bit soft, he thought to himself as he slipped the prank into his pocket. (It was the very pellet that an unfortunate house elf would wash with his trousers the following morning, earning James the praise he had wanted in the first place.) “Tsk, tsk, Evans,” his usual smug grin stretched across his lips, “out patrolling all by your lonesome? Hasn’t anyone told you that’s dangerous?” He asked, trying to catch up to the handsome redhead with his longest stride. “You’re lucky I’ve found you!” He said with a grin when he finally made it to her side.
The glow of her wand cast long shadows along the walls as she passed portrait after sleeping portrait. Bringing her free hand to her mouth to stifle a yawn, she walked at a leisurely pace down the corridor. Late night patrols were probably the easiest job for a prefect (or a Head Girl) to do, which is why she had no problem covering that evening for Dirk Cresswell. The poor boy looked like he had been hit by a carriage earlier and obviously needed the night sleep. Of course, having his partner also take off duty was unexpected, but nothing she couldn’t handle on her own.
The night was peaceful and rather quiet. Not the quiet that would cause someone unease, but rather a more pleasant silence that allowed your nerves rest. There weren’t too many students who felt the need to sneak from bed at night, and the few twho did were usually looking for a late night snack from the kitchens four levels below. This meant the likelihood of any interruptions was minimal and it gave her time to lose herself in thought. Inevitably, this meant she was thinking of James Potter. She’d been doing a lot of thinking on him lately, and how she hoped to handle the situation she found herself in. The situation, of course, being her realization that, in the end, she fancied the idiot.
The more she thought about it the more Lily felt it was a bit unfair. Years of aggression and hurt feelings, argument after countless argument, and repeated denial had all landed her around Potter’s little finger. The unfair part was not that she had finally realized her interest, but rather it came after it seemed James had lost his. It was no secret he had changed. He was calmer, more mature, and held himself differently. This of course made him all the more appealing to Lily, and all the more frustrating how to let him know this.
She paused to allow a ghost an unhindered path across the hall and yawned again. Only a few more house and she’d be in her bed again. A welcoming thought.
“Tsk, tsk, Evans. Out patrolling all by your lonesome? Hasn’t anyone told you that’s dangerous?”
Lily swung around, lifting her wand toward the voice. Potter. Where did he come from? Merlin, it was like the mere thought of him had summoned him. He was moving quickly toward her, that grin of his on his face,” You’re lucky I’ve found you!”
“Am I now?” she asked, suspicious. What was he doing out of the common room so late? Given his past she could only assume he was up to no good. She raised an eyebrow and sized him up a moment. It wasn’t like he wasn’t allowed to be out and about now that he was Head Boy,” Tell me Potter. What occasion graces me with your presence?”
The redhead lowered her wand so that the glow wasn’t glaring into his eyes, but rather lit around them. She wasn’t sure how he could have snuck up on her like that, but took the hint that she needed to pay more attention.
James admittedly felt a bit bad about how truthful he’d been with Lily. In fact, the frown that spread across her lips caused him to wonder if he’d done right by her. Even if it were only for a second, James wondered if maybe a better husband, would have told her it would be alright. After a few long moments though he stopped himself from wondering and ran his long fingers through her hair ever so gently. It would have been a lie if he’d said that everything would be back to normal soon, and she would know it too. What was worse was that if he lied, there was the chance that she might wonder where else he lied to her. James was sure of it, he’d done right by both of them.
Lily’s words caused his mind to shift topics. James had wondered the same when they’d received the owl from Hogwart’s Head Master, but he’d tried not to think on it too much. Dumbledore’s news wasn’t always good or pleasant, which was why he was the one to give it. The elderly wizard always had a way of setting one’s mind at ease with his wit and planning. The greatest wizard of their time indeed.
The very thought that Voldemort’s army might be back with a vengeance absolutely terrified James Potter. He had once been the boy without fear, and now he was afraid of every little creak and groan that the house in Godric’s Hollow made. He’d done his very best not to think the same, he didn’t want to be afraid anymore, but she had a point. His hazel eyes searched his wife’s expression in the darkness, the fear on she wore on her pretty face made his heart clutch.
No, he couldn’t let himself think like this, James would be the voice of reason, dammit.
“Listen to me, Lily.” James spoke in the most soothing tone he could manage, though he wondered if she was able to hear that he too was afraid. “If we were in danger, if Harry was in danger, Dumbledore wouldn’t make us wait until tomorrow to share the news. Our safety as a family is a concern of his, he wouldn’t leave us defenseless.” The man pushed himself into a sitting position, the fear that Lily had put in him made it so that he was no longer tired. James’s words didn’t stick in his mouth now, and though he was still a bit clumsy, he reached for his beautiful wife. “Don’t be such a worry wart, Potter.” He teased softly, trying to draw her mind away from her fears, which he was still doing his best to convince himself were baseless, and back to him.
“Listen to me Lily.”
She did listen. She needed the comfort she knew James could give her. The idea of their home once again being invaded and their family almost torn apart filled her with dread. If dwelled upon she knew she’d start to shake and hyperventilate and be unable to calm herself from the thoughts. She knew her husband was worried himself, and despite his skill in hiding it she could sense his own doubts. Despite this, what he said made sense, the logic lost on her in her short burst of panic. Dumbledore would have sent warning if there was danger so they both could be prepared.
Lily took his hand in both of hers as he reached for her and gave him a small smile at his tease,” I’m sorry, the nightmare just has me on edge. Halloween was months ago but it still feels like yesterday. I can still see his face, hear Harry’s cries…”
She looked away as the scene played through her mind again. The dark robed figure entering the nursery. Even in that moment she had noticed this fearsome wizard did not walk, he seemed to glide as if on ice. He had demanded she move. This had not been the first time she had seen the face of Lord Voldemort. Thrice, she and James had defied him. Yet each encounter he was changed - his own dark magic disfiguring his flesh.
Closing her eyes tight a moment to dispel the image, she looked back to her husband and met his tired, worried eyes,” Time. We just need time and we will bounce back. We’re together, and Harry is here. That’s all that matters. Whatever it is that Dumbledore has for us tomorrow… Well, we’ll handle that too.” Her smile a bit more confident now, she squeezed his hand in reassurance. She believed what she had said. If there was anyone she could see herself making it through anything with, it was James.
James knew all to well what Lily’s silence meant, in fact, he could quite possibly fill a novel with meaning if he were asked. Then again, he couldn’t say that he was alright either, not if he were being honest with himself. The war was over but the scars that it had left on him, on his wife, on his little family had gone deep. He was fortunate though, the war hadn’t touched his son, nor had the aftermath, and James would make absolutely sure that none of it would ever plague Harry. His precious little boy, no, he would never be harmed.
“I’m glad that you did, Lily.” His words were slow and seemed a bit caught between his teeth, exhaustion had taken that from him, but he was still clinging to the world of the conscious. James was needed here. “I had a bad dream, one of the ones that I can’t seem to escape?” He’d mentioned this sort of dream to his wife before, and he knew that she’d remember. “You got me out of it.” A heavy sigh of relief slipped through his lips. The worst was over, there was nothing to be afraid of, nothing that they couldn’t handle anyway.
A few long breaths later, James squeezed Lily’s hand back firmly. “I will always be. Can’t get rid of me now, I fought far too hard to have you like this.” Again, his speech was muddled, but his tone was a bit playful now. Throughout their hiding, throughout the war, a joke could help the pair of them relax if only for a split second.
Ah, did James ever remember. The memory of the battle haunted him to this day. He saw allies and enemies alike laying dead before his eyes, and in the heat of the moment he’d barely stopped for a moment to take in their faces. Just looking for long enough to be certain that none of them were his Lily or one of the marauders. Fortunately he never found any of them on the ground, they’d been mostly unscathed aside from the emotional scarring. “I remember,” he whispered, but his speaking of it stopped there. That was not a memory he wished to relive.
“I…” James hesitated. His groggy brain tried it’s best to come up with some solution for their shared trouble, but none came. “I think they’ll become more and more infrequent and then maybe, in a few years, they’ll be almost nonexistent… I don’t know that they ever really go away though.” It wasn’t an answer that he wanted to hear himself, but he figured that honesty was best, still the feeling that seemed to cloud the air after made him feel uncomfortable. “I’ve been wrong before though…”
Snuggling closer to James as he mentioned the dreams may never leave, she couldn’t help but frown. She knew he was right, and deep down she felt like it was more likely something that would simply be part of her life now, but hearing it said made it startlingly real. Lily respected the fact that James said what he was thinking even if it was unpleasant. It was one of the few things that had helped them get through all of this together. They had no secrets, only honesty and love.
“What do you think Dumbledore wants?” she asked realizing that the Order’s meeting was the next eve. It had been an unexpected owl from their former Headmaster that indicated the Order would be coming together once more. With Voldemort dead what reason could there be for them to have a formal meeting now?
She sat up quickly and suddenly to look her husband in the eye,” You don’t think the Death Eaters have regrouped do you? If they have that means there may be hundreds of targets on our home. On Harry. We may have to go into hiding again.”
Her heart quickened as horrible scenarios started to fill her mind. Would they have to find a new secret keeper? She didn’t know that she could stand being locked in her own house again, but the idea of her child being in danger made that seem the only option. The fact that Voldemort was killed last Halloween at the inexperienced hand of her son would make him the first and most important kill for many of the Dark Lord’s still loyal servants.
James Potter had always been aware of Lily Evans, everyone that knew anything in Hogwarts knew that much. He had worked so hard to win her over when they were kids, but his attention had become much sharper now that the war had started. Between protecting his wife, and protecting his son, James found that he started awake at even the smallest sounds. He hadn’t always been a light sleeper, but war did funny things to people.
Almost as soon as Lily had shifted, the young man woke uneasily. He had been trapped in another miserable dream, and for once her shifting in bed felt like a saving grace. His dreams were always the same, they always featured people in all shapes and sizes with faces hidden by Death Eater masks. James was afraid for the future of his family, not that he would ever say it aloud, the only one worth telling could read it in his every action.
He wasn’t certain whether or not he ought to say something to his wife. Was she really awake, or had a dream caused her to stir? But when she turned toward him the answer was clear. “Bad dream, Lily?” James whispered sleepily, his hazel eyes barely opening as he spoke. Exhaustion still had a nasty hold on him, but if Lily needed him there was no way in hell he would drift back to sleep.
Slowly, he moved his hand over hers. His long fingers intertwining with her warm, soft ones. He loved her, it was a truth he wore on his sleeve and it carried through to every one of his actions. “Are you alright?” Again his tone was soft, James wanted nothing more than to ease her troubled mind so that she might be able to sleep for a while longer. They were both low on sleep, but he felt guilty when she was robbed of it. “I’m here.”
“Are you alright?” James whispered as he took her hand, and she simply cuddled closer to him. Of course they were alright, the war had ended that Halloween night when the Dark Lord was defeated. She knew what he meant by his question, however, the meaning deeper than any outside dangers they use to worry about.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” she replied lightly. Despite it not being her intent she couldn’t help but be somewhat relieved at the same time. She hated feeling alone and lost, as her nightmares often left her, but his calm voice and his touch helped her to relax.
“I’m here,” he said, as if reading her thoughts.
“I know,” she responded as she squeezed his hand. If there was one thing she knew, it was that James was here and always would be. They were each others’ rock, the foundation to stand on, and there was no doubt in her mind that they would remain that way.
“It was the battle in Ottery St. Catchpole…. by the home on the river,” she said after their falling into silence. She knew he would remember it, as it was a particularly gruesome loss for the Order. Too many enemies and not enough of them. It had been a failure that hung heavy, not just within their group, but on the little town. Their protectors had failed to protect.
She squeezed his hand even tighter as she thought of it, closing her eyes,” Do you think they’ll ever stop? These nightmares?”
Lily frowned and scrunched up her pillow where it had rested on her hand. She couldn’t sleep again, her mind racing with thoughts of the war, particularly a battle she and James had been in before they had gone into hiding. The Death Eaters had multiplied larger than they thought, and the Order was slowly being backed into a corner. There were shouts and screams as people fell, friend and foe. Her hands closed tighter and she shut her eyes tight, trying to will the images away.
James moved next to her and she froze. Her back was too him so she couldn’t see if she had woken him, and so she waited for his breathing to go back to slow and steady before she tried to make herself comfortable again. Her husband had had his fair share of sleepless nights, and she wanted to let him get his rest without interruption. She let the breath she was holding go slowly and tried to relax.
She hated these nights and wished they would stop. She had chosen her path when she joined the Order and if she were needed even now she would return. Yet, after so long off the battlefield she had also hoped that her memories wouldn’t still haunt her like this.
She turned over and moved in closer to James and cuddled up to him. She put her hand on his chest and her head to his shoulder so he could lay comfortably with his arm around her. It was the way they slept most nights and one she could slip into without waking him. Breathing in his scent, hoping it would help her get to sleep as it had so many nights before.
I hope so, my love.
I mean you, Harry, and I are still safe, we have our health and each other. You must be right, we can do anything, the three of us can.
Of course we can. We’re the Potters.
I just wish it was truly over, all of it. I keep watching the shadows as if it all will come crashing back.