Chapter 1 : A reason to fight
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“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
- G.K. Chesterston
Lily sat in the kitchen of her London flat, taking notes out of the various charms texts spread across the table. She was doing whatever she could to distract herself of late. Things were getting worse with each passing day, and she definitely needed to forget the new developments of the past few weeks.
Not only had two members of the Order been killed, but James had also gone missing. Lily felt her eyes burn as she thought of James. He had never returned from his last mission for the Order. Lily, Sirius and Remus had spent the first week searching frantically for him, but to no avail.
They had given up the search at Dumbledore’s pleading request. He had reminded them how thinly the Order was spread these days. It was getting more and more difficult to find people willing to fight against Voldemort that were trustworthy, and they were desperately needed.
He had also tried to make them face the reality of James’ situation. It was a fact that during this war, no one that had been missing for more than a few days had ever been found alive. Neither Remus, Sirius, nor Lily had accepted that reality yet, but whereever James was now, they couldn’t do anything for him.
So Lily focused on her work. She had just qualified as a healer the previous year and was working on developing portable healing charms for the Order. They stood a better chance at surviving if they could heal quickly, and there weren’t many healers available these days. Lily herself was the only healer left alive in the Order, and she couldn’t always be there for everyone.
Lily was shaken from her thoughts when the fireplace in the far room suddenly erupted. She held out her wand and hurriedly went to investigate. Relief spread through her as she saw Sirius Black, still in his auror robes, quickly step out of the fireplace looking anxious.
“Have you heard from Dorcas?” He immediately demanded, looking at her nervously. Dorcas Meadows worked for the Department of Mysteries and was also a member of the Order. She and Sirius had been shagmates since Hogwarts, and she was a good friend of Lily’s.
“No,” Lily responded quickly “Why? Has something happened?”
Sirius was now pacing the living room anxiously, his cloudy grey eyes clearly revealing his concern. He explained “She was supposed to come over a few hours ago. She was also supposed to contact Dumbledore earlier, but hasn’t yet. I have a really bad feeling, I think something happened.”
Lily put her hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him. He shook her off gently and continued. “ I need to go check up on her, but if she’s hurt” his voice cracked “if she’s hurt she’ll need a healer. Lily, I hate to ask this of you, but you know how shite I am at healing.” He stared at her anxiously, his eyes begging.
A cold sick feeling rose up in Lily’s stomach. There was no worse feeling than having to go and check on a friend to see if they were still alive. Then again, now that she knew Dorcas may be in trouble, there was no way on earth she could just sit here anymore. She quickly ran to her room, tied back her long red hair, and gathered some healing supplies. She returned a moment later and they left without another word.
Dorcas Meadows lived in a small apartment in the outskirts of London. There was a side alley adjacent to the building that was particularly convenient for apparition, particularly at night, as there was no street lamp. The moment Lily and Sirius appeared, they quickly looked up into Dorcas’ second floor apartment. The light was on, but Lily and Sirius were more concerned with the sinister green glow that lit up the entire street. The Dark Mark.
The sickness in Lily’s belly worsened and her heartbeat began to race. She knew what they were going to find tonight: another one of her friends, dead.
Sirius squeezed her hand gently, and led her up the stairs to the second floor. She vaguely heard Sirius say “Alohamora” when they reached the apartment.
They saw Dorcas the moment they opened the door. The light flickered, eerily displaying a dead woman, spread eagled in the middle of the room, cold and lifeless.
Lily immediately knelt beside her, still clinging to an impossible hope. It vanished instantly when she felt no pulse. Her blood froze as she knelt there, tears already streaming down her face.
Dorcas had been one of the few friends from Hogwarts that Lily was still in contact with. Her rather unusual (but pretty constant) relationship to Sirius, as well as her work with the Order had allowed the girls to remain close. Oh god....Lily thought to herself...Sirius...
She quickly turned around to look at him. He was standing just behind her, staring at Dorcas, his grey eyes shimmering with anger. “I’m going to find out who did this” he declared determinately. His hands shook with the rage that was building up inside him and he turned to punch the wall behind him, so hard that his fist broke through the dry wall. Ignoring the pain in his hand, he bowed his head and started to cry. Lily got up in an instant and went to hug him, gently patting his soft black hair with her hand.
After a few moments, Sirius gently pulled out of Lily’s embrace and fought to compose himself, as if suddenly ashamed for crying. He took out his wand and sent his patronus to Dumbledore, explaining what had happened. He then used Dorcas’ owl to send a message to the Auror Division at the Ministry, reporting the incident.
Lily watched him carefully. She knew Sirius very well, a consequence of being with James for so long. She knew that Sirius was very unstable, particularly now, no matter how much he fought to stay in control.
She had only seen him cry once before, after a fight with James in sixth year, and she had seen him lash out for much less. He was most likely thinking of doing something very stupid and Lily was going to do anything she could to prevent it. She couldn’t bear the thought of losing another person she cared about, and Sirius’ chances of survival if went off chasing death eaters in a rage were less than likely.
“Sirius,” Lily’s voice was gentle as she spoke “maybe you shouldn’t be alone tonight.” It was a request, and Lily silently hoped he would agree. She didn’t want to be alone right now either. Relief spread through her as he nodded slightly, “Perhaps you’re right”, he said solemnly.
After the Ministry members started to arrive, they both apparated back to Sirius’ flat. Lily quickly began to make tea. She knew sleep was a long way off and needed to keep herself busy. It was her way of dealing. Sirius sat across from her, idly stirring his tea with his spoon.
A few hours later, after many long, solemn silences between them, Lily went to bed. She went into Sirius’ room, despite her protests, and Sirius took the couch.
She lay awake for awhile afterwards, her head swimming with the disturbing images of the evening...Dorcas’ dead body...Sirius crying...James dead...
She knew that last image wasn’t real, but she could not stop herself from picturing it. It was her deepest fear, and in all likelihood, it had already come to pass. She put her hand on her belly, idly rubbing it back and forth as she thought about what James had left behind. Despite her anxiety about it, it was the only thought that finally allowed her to fall asleep.
She woke up sometime in mid-morning the next day, a heavy queasy feeling in her stomach. After putting on the kettle for tea, she stood in the living room doorway for a moment and stared at Sirius, asleep on the couch. His dark hair was sweaty, sticking to his skin, and his brow was slightly furrowed.
She guessed he had slept just as badly as her these past few weeks. He loved James too and was just as close to the Order members they had lost as she was.
Her stomach gave an uncomfortable jolt and Lily found herself running down the hall to the loo. She retched and leaned her head against her arm, still facing the toilet so she could breathe in the coolness of the water. She then retched again and her eyes watered as she replaced her head on her arms. It had been like this for the past couple of weeks, and there was nothing she could do to prevent it.
She shifted slightly when she felt a presence in the doorway. Sirius stood there, shirtless and half asleep, with concern etched on his face. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his hair still clung to his skin. He looked at her intently for a few moments before asking “How long?”
The question hung in dead air as Lily broke his gaze and stared into the water. “What do you mean?” she whispered quietly.
Sirius walked into the room and sat on the edge of the tub beside her. He answered her, the tiredness still evident in his voice “Lily, I know. I’ve been in enough...adult situations...to know what a pregnancy testing potion smells like. I noticed it the other day at your apartment.”
She went to look up at him, but another pang in her stomach made her retch again. Sirius rubbed her back gently for a few moments, and then went to get a face cloth from the cupboard under the sink. He drenched it in cool water, rung it, and placed it on the back of her neck beneath her ponytail.
Lily found it instantly soothing, and murmured her thanks. She confessed “I think I’m about two months along, although I just found out last week. James doesn’t...” her voice broke off. Her fears seemed reignited by this confession and she continued, unable to stop herself from opening up.
“Sirius, I don’t know what to do. James is missing, I’m alone, the Order can’t afford to have it’s only healer out of action, and then there’s the fact that the child will most likely not get a fair chance at life...with the Order being targeted as it is now, he’ll probably never even be born and...”
Sirius cut her off by shushing her gently, as he would a child. “Lils...it’s o.k. Everything will be o.k. No matter what happens, we’ll figure something out. You’re not alone.” He reapplied the cool cloth on her neck.
His last words resonated in Lily’s mind and caused her to look up at him. He smiled meekly and continued. “Lily, this is good news. I know it’s not the best time, and with James gone...” his voice broke off at the thought of James, but he determinately continued “But you’re going to be such a good mother. I know you will. And think about it: You and James have created a life...in the midst of war when everyone is dying and everything seems hopeless, you and James are creating new life. I think it will remind everyone what it is we’re fighting for: a better world, a chance at a good future for our children to grow up in...it’s the reason Lily. And no matter what has happened to James, you’re not going to go through this alone. You know Remus and I will do everything we can to make sure the kid’s safe. What, did you think you’d suddenly be rid of us or something?”
Lily smiled despite herself. It was true, this WAS what they were fighting for, and she knew that no matter what happened, she could never get rid of Sirius. Although she could remember certain times when she would have been terrified at that very thought, right now it seemed the most comforting thing in the world.
She leaned into him against the tub beside her and let him wrap his arms around her. They stayed that way for a long time. She knew he needed the comfort as much as she...he had also lost a lot in this war.
And no matter how hard he worked at hiding it, she knew he was terrified of being alone too.