Although it was only 10 at night, Lily was desperately struggling to keep her eyelids open. Her chin which rested in her palm continually threatened to slip out of it, and she believed that if it wasn’t for the bright fluorescent lights in the Staff Room that she would’ve been fast asleep at least an hour ago.
Letting out a huge yawn, she glanced at the clock above the door and grumbled lazily to herself, wishing that the night would end. She still had three hours left on her shift and had to check on her patients every hour.
Standing up slowly, she stretched and yawned again, before she strolled out of the room and down the hall, towards her only patient for the night, an elderly woman who was suffering from a bad case of Dragon Pox.
“Buona sera” Lily smiled, but didn’t expect anything back for she’d been working with this woman for the last week and not a word had been spoken from her mouth. Wordlessly Lily handed the woman her potion and watched her a little interestedly as she sipped it tentatively. She began to wonder if the woman even knew what Lily was saying, did she even know Italian.
“How are you feeling?” she tried, taking the empty glass and placing it on the bedside table. The elderly woman looked at Lily with a little surprise and Lily raised her eyebrows slightly, waiting for an answer.
“Better, thankyou” the woman croaked, her voice sounding worn.
Lily smiled, and nodded once,
“Good” for a few moments she sat there quietly, before she asked, “Did you not understand my Italian?”
“Some parts,” the woman nodded, “I only moved here a month ago, to be with my son, his wife passed away”
“Oh… I’m so sorry”
The woman smiled a little, and nodded once.
“I must say you don’t look too well yourself, dear” the woman observed, and Lily raised an eyebrow.
“This isn’t your home, you’re not comfortable here”
“Well… it certainly isn’t my real home. But it’s a beautiful city and its home for now” Lily shifted a little uncomfortably in her seat, aware that this woman could sense Lily’s feelings from a mile away. She found that a lot of older people could do this, and it unnerved her. They exposed the truth that she was far too stubborn to admit to herself.
“You miss someone terribly” the woman reached across and patted Lily’s hand gently, “There’s no need to hide that”
Lily sighed, and murmured,
“It doesn’t matter anymore, anyway”
A sad looked crossed over the woman’s face, but she nodded once. Lily stood, and took the empty glass with her out of the room. At the door, she turned and went to close it,
“Goodnight, dear” the woman replied, looking peaceful in her bed. Lily stood there, for a few moments, going over the odd conversation in her head, before she hurried back down the hallway to the Staff Room. She put the glass down onto the bench top with a little too much strength, but couldn’t help it for her whole body shook. She looked up and into the mirrors above the bench and swallowed deeply, wishing that she could just forget, but she couldn’t and she knew that she was going mad with regret.
Sirius tapped his foot a few times on the floor, before he received a stern look from Remus and immediately stopped. Following, they both turned their attention to James whose head hung miserably, his fingers wrapped around the neck of an empty bottle of Firewhiskey. He’d been that way for what they knew had been at least the last two hours, and however long before they’d arrived to find him that way. A few times, Sirius had even dropped his head to the table height to check whether James was still awake.
“Is there anything you want us to do, Prongs?” Remus asked tentatively, and Sirius nodded eagerly.
“There’s nothing you can do…” James muttered darkly, raising his head for a few moments, Remus swallowed loudly and Sirius winced. James wore bloodshot eyes and dark bags under them, his face was blotchy and red, obvious signs of crying, and the stubble that Sirius and Remus had noticed when they’d first come to see him two weeks ago was growing even more.
“C’mon, how about you get yourself cleaned up and us three will go to Hogsmeade, I’m sure Rosemerta will be happy to give you something decent to eat and drink?”
James just sighed and dropped his head again.
Remus looked hopelessly across the table to Sirius, who had his chin in his palm, looking a little bored and tired. Remus didn’t really blame him either; the amount of times their ideas had been rejected by James was beginning to drive both of them to headaches.
“Why don’t you just go to Italy and find her, and tell her how you feel?” Sirius suggested through a yawn. Remus threw him an agitated look, knowing that it wasn’t the right thing to say and that there was a strong chance James would explode at the idea.
“What?” James muttered, looking up again, and this time Sirius didn’t recoil at the sight in front of him.
“Go to Italy, if she doesn’t love you, you’ll really know… because obviously you’re in denial about something right now and if you don’t go now on your own accord, I will drag your sorry ass there with my own hands”
Remus stared at Sirius, a little dumbfounded, and James frowned at him.
“I don’t know where she lives” he said, and Sirius shrugged,
“You know where she works”
James looked to Remus, who shrugged simply. He had no idea what was right for James right now but he knew that either way, James was going to go to Italy because Sirius sounded very serious when he told him he’d be dragged there.
James sighed, and pushed his seat back.
“Fine, I’ll go…”
Sirius beamed triumphantly to Remus, who rolled his eyes, but couldn’t hide the smile of relief on his face.
Charles Faulkner was happily sorting through files at his desk when he received a fright and an equal shock from that fact that Lily Evans was walking through his office door.
“Miss Evans!” he exclaimed, beginning to stand. “Aren’t you supposed to be in Italy?”
Lily sat down at the seat in front of his desk and Faulkner sat down slowly, eyeing her in curiosity and shock still.
“I am supposed to be working now, actually,” Lily nodded, “but I’ve come here to resign”
Her former mentor stared at her dumbfounded, and opened and closed his mouth a few times in shock before spluttering,
“Yes” Lily nodded matter-of-factly, but Faulkner shook his head, still in disbelief,
“No, you can’t”
Lily raised both her eyebrows, and crossed her arms,
“Yes, I can”
“But Lily,” Faulkner stressed, “You can’t possibly want to resign from being a Healer… you scored to best marks in… God, it would have to have been more than a decade!”
“I think you misunderstand me, sir,” Lily said, “I have no intention of resigning from being a Healer and having that qualification… I just can’t work in Italy anymore. I don’t belong there”
“You signed a contract that insists that you work there or nowhere else for at least a year. If you resign from this job your chances of getting a job ever again will be severely disadvantaged…”
Lily sat up straighter,
“I was never told that”
“You obviously didn’t completely read the contract”
Lily swallowed, knowing that she didn’t read it all properly for she’d taken the opportunity without thinking twice about any downsides.
“What about at St. Mungo’s, do you really think I’ll have no chance here?”
“I’m not the person you should see about that, but from past mistakes people have made there have been a few rare occurrences that have allowed people back into the job… a lot of people have been let down by making a decision like this…” he sighed, “I don’t understand what’s been wrong with your job in Italy, the reviews I’ve been getting back from your supervisors have been brilliant, you seemed to have fitted right in there”
“I can’t live there anymore, I need to be in England” Lily murmured, folding her hands over her lap and crossing her legs.
“Well…” Faulkner sighed again, “I suppose it’s your decision Lily, but I strongly urge you to rethink this idea. You can return to England straight after your year is up in Italy if you really need to be back here… it’s only a year, after all”
Lily didn’t respond for a long time, before she replied,
“A year is too long, I’m afraid. She leant down to her handbag which was on the floor beside her and pulled a sheet of parchment from it. Passing it to Faulkner across his desk, she said, “I need you to sign on that line on the bottom… I can’t be a Healer anymore”
Sadly, Faulkner pulled his quill from its pot of ink, and his hand lingered above the line for a few moments.
“Is this your final decision?”
Lily nodded defiantly,
Sighing, he placed the quill to the parchment, and almost as if in slow motion, Lily watched her whole life being signed away. Her source of income, the thing that allowed her to live her life, yet stopped it from being fulfilled was being signed away in a few quick moments.
Faulkner handed it back, and Lily took it, with a slight smile for a thankyou.
“I have to say I’m very disappointed Lily, but I respect your decision. I hope you do at least try to come back to St. Mungo’s one day, you may be one of the lucky ones who they allow back in…”
Lily stood, and said,
“Thankyou Mr. Faulkner… I would love to stay and talk but I have to be somewhere”
“Whoever it is that you’re going to, they must be very special… and very lucky”
Lily stopped and stared at Faulkner for a few moments, in disbelief. Slowly, she said,
Faulkner smiled and nodded at her, watching her walk from the room, knowing she was completely stunned by his last words to her.
Lily walked quickly out of the Hospital, and once outside, she shut her eyes tightly and Disapparated to Godric’s Hollow. Appearing not far from James’ house, she rushed up the road and through his front gate to his front door. A little breathless, she pounded her fist against the door and waited impatiently. It had only been a few moments but she knocked again, sick of waiting already. Sighing with frustration, she tried the doorhandle and was a little shocked to find it open. Cautiously she opened the door and peered inside, tentatively walking inside; she quietly closed to door behind her.
“James?” she called, looking down the hall towards his bedroom and into the lounge. No-one was there, and all the lights were off. She tired again, but there was no answer. Frustrated, she flopped down onto a couch and crossed her arms, wondering how long he hadn’t been at home, and if he’d been gone ever since she’d left.
Quickly she turned and looked over her shoulder, finding Sirius walking into the lounge from the Kitchen.
“Sirius!” she said, a little surprised, but quickly she asked, “Where’s James?” she stood and went towards him, and Sirius chuckled a little at how ironic the situation was,
“He’s gone to look for you”
“What do you mean?” she asked quickly, “he doesn’t know where I live”
“But he does know where you work” Sirius pointed out, just like he had to James earlier.
Lily frowned, and sighed,
“So he’s in Italy?”
“I’d say he’s been there for around half an hour now… why are you back here?”
“I resigned from working in Italy… and it turns out I’ve lost my whole job now”
“I know,” Lily muttered, “God, whose stupid idea was it to send James across to Italy?”
“Uhh… James thought of it, all by himself, of course” Sirius nodded defiantly.
“Should I just stay here and wait for him?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Sirius quickly shook his head, grabbing Lily’s wrist he pulled her behind him to the fireplace, “We need to get you to the Ministry and organise a way to get you to Italy. I have no idea what he’d do if he got there and you weren’t there”
“Why?” Lily asked suspiciously, “What’s he been doing?”
“He hasn’t been well” Sirius replied simply, avoiding her eyes and grabbing some floo powder, he placed some into her own hand too.
“Is he alright?” Lily asked, a bit alarmed.
“He will be,” Sirius smiled, stepping into the fireplace, “Ministry of Magic!” he said loudly, and in a fiery burst of green flames, he was gone.
“Bloody Ministry…” Lily muttered, jogging up the hallways of Italy’s St. Mungo’s, towards the Staff Room, where she knew her co-workers would tell her if a strange English man had been wandering the halls. Sirius and she had spent over an hour waiting to be transported to Italy’s Ministry, and then from there Lily had to spend around the same time waiting to be let out.
She reached the double doors into the Staff Room and peered through the windows into it. A little frustrated, she found there to be no-one in the room, but she opened the doors all the same and went to the table to seat herself. As soon as she pulled out a chair, she began to realise how exhausted she really was. She’d stayed up the whole night before packing her stuff and deliberating over her decision of whether or not to leave Italy, and then today she’d run around two Hospitals, gone to Godric’s Hollow and sat in two Ministries for at least 2 hours.
Her head snapped around and her eyes widened at the same time, she really wanted to smile but was far too shocked to do so. She simply stared back at James, who had just walked into the Staff Room, his chest heaving as if he’d just run a mile. Lily hadn’t yet seated herself so she ran to him and embraced him tightly, almost immediately noticing his lethargy in the way his body almost fell against her’s for support.
“Come here…” she murmured, grabbing his arm and pulling him into a chair. She pulled one around and sat in front of him, and studied his face. It looked as if it had aged ten years more in the short span of a fortnight. Tentatively she reached out and grazed her fingers over his stubble, “what’ve you done to yourself?” she asked quietly, turning her eyes upwards to his own and finding his already there, waiting for her to look at him.
“I should’ve made you stay…” he muttered, his voice monotonous. Lily smiled with tight lips and nodded once,
“You should’ve” she agreed.
“Can I come here?” he asked, and Lily frowned,
“Can I come here to stay with you… here, in Italy?”
She breathed a short laugh, and shook her head,
“Please, Lily” he begged, grabbing both her hands and squeezing them tightly. “I love you, ok? I made a mistake and all I want is to come here and be happy with you”
“James, you can’t-” she tried to explain the situation, but he cut over her again,
“Lily, you don’t understand” he said, and finally Lily said,
“I’m coming back to England James; I quit working here in Italy…”
He stared at her for a long time, his tired eyes not understanding why she’d made that decision.
“Why?” he asked quietly, his voice a little croaky.
“Because I don’t belong here,” she murmured, “I want to be back in England”
“But…” he started slowly, “you can’t just pack up and leave. You can’t just quit your job…”
“I just did it… I resigned earlier today”
James stood up –though slowly- and grabbed Lily’s hand to pull her up too. She gave him a questioning look but he wordlessly embraced her, holding her tightly, and this time she didn’t feel like she had to hold him up.
“I love you” he murmured into her hair, and Lily breathed out deeply,
“I love you too…” she replied. He pulled back slightly and kissed her, then against her lips he murmured,
“Will you marry me?”
Lily chuckled a little, and James frowned,
“How about you ask me another time?” she suggested, “you’re half drunk and I don’t trust your judgement right now… especially with those types of things…”
He grumbled a little but hugged her anyway, and she hugged him just as tightly back.
Although the road to where they stood a year later had been a long one, neither James nor Lily regretted a minute, for the moment they’d been announced husband and wife in front of a small gathering of family and friends had been an unforgettable moment etched into their minds forever. A moment everyone thought would never happen had been witnessed before their very eyes, something almost unbelievable only a year ago. For once in their lives, Lily and James felt safe and secure with each other; there were no jobs, relationships or other plans in their way. They didn’t have to keep their love a secret anymore, and had no plans on doing so.
Just at that moment, Lily and James Potter were finally content.