Chapter 1 : Lily the Unexpected Bride
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She couldn't believe she was doing this. Sitting here, watching this stupid ceremony. She watched, her arms tightly crossed, as two clumsy toddlers threw flowers in her face. She tried to adjust her dress, but it was just too uncomfortable. She observed the teary-eyed crowd around her. If there is anything Lily Luna Potter hated more than family gatherings, it was weddings.
There was a big "oooh" from the crowd and everyone shifted to look at the entrance of the church. Stepping to the beat of the organ music, Molly Weasley (II) slowly made her way to the alter where her husband to be, Adam Boot, was waiting, his cheeks flushed and his face wide with a smile. She was wearing a long flowing lace dress, and her long red hair was tied in a tight bun with a goblin-made placed gently tiara atop her head.
When Molly passed Lily, she turned and gave a slight wink. Lily groaned and covered her face with her hand. When would this be over?
The music stopped and the preacher started to speak.
But Lily wasn't paying attention. She saw this as her chance. She reached over her father and tapped her mother on the shoulder.
Her mother looked over shrewdly and put her finger to her lips.
"I really have to pee," Lily said.
Now her father turned to face her. He looked utterly disgusted.
"Quickly," he said. Her mother punched him in the arm.
Lily shot from her seat and ran down the isle. There was much whispering and snickering from the crowd, but soon enough they forgot about her disappearance and continued watching Molly and Adam exchange their wedding vows.
Lily sat herself in a chair of the atrium. She pulled out her wand and started turning various objects into pocket watches.
The front doors of the church boomed open. A disheveled looking woman stood before Molly, holding an infant in her hands. A man was rushing after her.
"Oh, are we late?" She panted.
Lily merely nodded, now levitating a balloon through the air and playing with her short, red hair.
"I think we should wait out here then," the man said, his hair changing to the color blue.
The woman glared at him.
"Ted, we're at a wedding. Please be appropriate." The man turned his hair back to a normal brown, smirking at his wife all the while. The infant in her arms started to cry.
"I'll take her, you stay here," Ted said, taking the baby.
The woman sat next to Lily.
"So, how are you, Lily?" She asked. Lily did not take her eyes off her floating balloon.
"I'm great," she said sarcastically, "how are, Vick?"
Victoire smiled. "Busy with the baby. But getting by."
The two women sat there, outside the chapel doors, in silence. Victoire noticeably felt that the situation was awkward. Lily, however, just continued to ignore her presence.
"So, how does it feel to be done with school?" Victoire asked.
"You know, you've been there," Lily said. Victoire was slightly taken aback.
"Do you know what you're going to do next year?" Victoire asked.
"I'm moving to Batswana," Lily answered sarcastically, letting the balloon hit the ground. She pocketed her wand and stood up from the chair. She quietly opened the doors the chapel and went back into the ceremony. At least no one would talk to her inside.
She sat back down next to her father. The ceremony was basically over. Her mother leaned over and tapped her own the shoulder.
"Where were you?" She whispered angrily. Lily turned away from her mother to face the couple at the alter.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife," the preacher said as he flicked his wand, producing gold bonds between the couple. Everyone clapped as Adam planted a slimy, wet kiss on Molly's lips. Lily closed her eyes and thought of one thing and only one thing--she thought of Pradnya.
Pradnya Apte was Lily Potter's best friend. They both disappointed their families in rooming together in Slytherin at Hogwarts. They both disappointed their parents in not making the Quidditch team or high marks in classes. But most importantly, they both disappointed their families by falling in love with one another.
At first, Lily's parents were thrilled with Pradnya's acquaintance with Lily. Pradnya's mother was Pavarti Patil Apte, apparently an old friend of theirs. This fact would have driven LIly away from Pradnya (and Pradnya away from Lily) if they had not been so perfectly fit for each other.
Lily could remember the day her parents preferred her to spend more time with other classmates. It was about a year and a half ago. Pradnya came to spend the holidays with the Potters.
Lily and Pradnya were in Lily's room on Christmas eve.
There was a beautiful fire roaring in the fireplace of Lily's room. It was a perfectly romantic evening for the two. The room was toasty and the door was locked. There was no better scenario. The two chatted about school, hoping that the other would bring up the other. Finally, it was Lily who mustered the courage. She stretched her hand over into Pradnya's space, as if infiltrating enemy territory. But Pradnya did not pull her hand away. Instead, Pradnya displayed more courage in placing her hand on top of Lily's. Lily recalled Pradnya's hand feeliing magical that night -- her skin was as soft as a rose pedal, she could feel the heat coming off it like steam on a summer's morning.
They looked into each others eyes. It is at that moment that the two displayed such courage that could have landed them in the house of Gryffindor, they both leaned in toward one another and both, simultaneously, met the other's lips in the center. Lily moved her hand up to Pradnya's beautiful brown face. She felt its curves and explored its sensitiveness. Pradnya wrapped her hand around LIly's waist, feeling her hips and caressing her pale, freckled skin. They were so caught up in this magical moment that they didn't hear.
Suddenly, the door unlocked itself and both Lily's mother and father burst in upon them.
"Is everything OK? We've been call--oh," Lily's mother said, once she noticed what was happening.
Pradnya and Lily broke apart immediately.
Lily's father's face merely turned bright red. He didn't say a word. He merely sulked back down the stairs to the living room.
"Harry, wait," Lily's mother called after him.
Lily looked at Pradnya.
"I'm so sorry," she said with tears in her eyes. Her face fell into Pradnya's lap.
Pradnya combed through Lily's blazing red hair with her fingers.
In a sing-songy voice, she responded, "It's alright, don't fret. We have each other and we'll be ok."
Lily's mother came back to her room promptly.
"Lily, can we have a word?"
Lily sat back up and glared at her mother. Pradnya took her hand and squeezed it secretly.
LIly left the room and followed her mother to her bedroom. There, her father was waiting.
Lily sat on the bed, far from her father who was sitting in a chair across the room. He was staring at her, expressionless. She avoided his eyes. Her mother carefully closed the door.
"Lily, we had no idea," her mother said.
"No idea of what?" Lily said sharply.
"Of you and Pradnya," Lily's father said glumly.
"Oh, so, first I'm not in the right house. Then I'm not the right student. Now, I'm not the right lover," Lily said.
"No, dear, its nothing like that--" her mother said.
"Sometimes I don't know what you do that is real from what you do that seeks attention," her father said.
"Harry!" Her mother said, glaring at Lily's father.
"No, dad's right," Lily said, "How are you supposed to know if I'm making shit up to be different or to be myself. That is after all, all that I do." She stormed out of the room. Pradnya was waiting in the hallway.
"Is everything all--"
"No,' Lily said. She grabbed her hand and practically dragged her out of the house. Her mother was running after her.
"Lily!" She called, but it was too late. Lily and Pradnya had disapparated.
Her mother went back inside the house. Albus and James were snacking on Christmas cookies in the kitchen.
"You really didn't know?" James asked.
Lily's mom looked at her son with a confused expression.
"You did?" She asked, panting.
Lily and Pradnya had gone to her Uncle George's house. She was always welcome there. He and her Aunt Angelina had a son and daughter that were only a couple years younger than Lily. She had gone to George's house before when she disputed with her parents.
"I hate them. I never was good enough to be a Potter," Lily said that night. The two were out in the cold sitting on a snowy bench. Pradnya had her arm around Lily.
"If you truly meant that, you would not be so upset," Pradnya whispered into Lily's ear. It made a shiver run down Lily's spine. Lily sat up and wiped her tears on her arms.
"I love you, you know," said Lily, looking straight into Pradnya deep black eyes.
"I love you too," Pradnya said, letting off a modest smile. The two put their heads together and swung all night in the cold on the snowy bench.
Lily sighed as she watched Molly and Adam process down the aisle. She hated weddings, she hated family events, but she didn't hate love. She was envious of the type of commitment Molly and Adam showed for one another. For the love they shared. And most of all, she missed Pradnya, who was not necessarily banned from family events, but was pointedly not invited. Lily's mother tried to understand, but Lily's father wouldn't even try. He thought it was another one of Lily's rebellious stunts.
"You're playing with a girl's heart, Lily, and it's not alright," he would say.
But fortunately for Lily, Adam's father, Terry Boot, happened to be close friends with Pradnya's father, Fahad Apte. They were both ardent fans of the same Quidditch team.
Lily waited behind before heading to the outdoor reception. She stayed in her pew, looking up at the cross of Jesus Christ. She was never raised in a religion -- most wizarding families didn't acknowledge them -- but there was something oddly calming about it. She looked up at the wooden cross, which hung from domed ceiling. Should she abandon her family to be who she wanted? Surely, should would miss her brothers, the only people she really liked who shared the same blood.
Eventually, when the entire church had cleared and all of the noise and smells of the crowd had dissipated, she made her way toward the outdoor reception.
Even Lily had to admit that the sight was beautiful. As she walked through the church's doors, she was struck with the scene of celebration. The air seemed lighter, the smells of delicious food wafted over into her nose, the chatter and laughter of happy guests floated to her ears. There was a large, white tent with floating japanese lanterns of all shapes and sizes surrounding it. Most people were already under the tent, enjoying food and wine. This was truly a celebration of unity and family. She watched her family having fun and stuffing their faces under the tent. She stood on the stoop of the church looking over them. Would they ever celebrate for me? She wondered.
Lily found her feet inexplicably heading toward the tent. Soon enough, she was welcomed into the warm environment with wine and music.
And then she saw. She looked across the vast tent, past her relatives and family friends right into the eyes of the one person she truly longed to see. Pradyna, likewise, stood across the tent gazing over at the strawberry-blonde beauty, who was staring back at her. Pradnya gently lifted her hand and waved. Lily blushed. Pradnya then made her way over to Lily, her long black hair billowing behind her as she held her sari up so as not to trip.
Not sure of who was watching, they were careful not to touch.
"Funny seeing you here," Pradnya said, smiling.
Lily let out a girlish giggle.
"Wanna get some air?" Pradnya suggested.
Lily merely nodded. Pradnya brushed Lily on the shoulder as she led the way out of the tent. Lily caught the strong scent of Pradnya's oiled hair -- it smelled like honey. Lily longed to run her hands through it.
"You look beautiful," Lily said as they crossed the threshold into the outside of the tent.
Pradnya turned to look at Lily.
"Why thank you. It's not often that I get to see you in a dress, and I have to say, you have a nice pair of legs," Pradnya answered. Lily's ears turned bright red. "Come, I see the shade of willow tree is unoccupied," she said, pointing toward a nearby weeping willow tree. The tree was on a hill that overlooked the tent and the church. Alone, Lily was sure she would feel like an outcast -- an exile -- looking down from the willow tree at the tent full of her family. But with Pradnya, everything felt alright. The distance seemed almost natural. Pradnya took Lily by the hand and led her to the trunk of the willow.
"Let's get married," Pradnya said.
Lily looked at her blankly.
"I don't mean with a wedding. Let's just go to a Muggle court house and get married!"
Lily looked at Pradnya. Her brown eyes were filled with love. How could she forsake those eyes? She loved those eyes. She could swim in them for years. And she planned to.
"Only if none of our parents come," Lily said with a smirk.
Pradnya smiled the biggest smile Lily had ever seen. She lept on Lily and started kissing her rosy lips.
"Oh my god, we're going to get married! You're mine forever!" Pradnya shouted. Lily laughed.
"You knew that anyway."
Lily and Pradnya disapparated under the willow tree. They didn't care that their parents wouldn't know where they went -- as soon as they realized that both of them were missing, they would know what was up. Lily and Pradnya went to a place where they knew they were always welcome -- their old roommate, Lillianna Zabini. If Lily had another best friend, aside from Pradnya, it would be Lillianna. Lilliana was the one that both Pradnya and Lily went to when they had problems, she was the one that stood up for them and watched their backs. They knew they could count on her now.
Lillianna welcomed them with open arms.
"We're getting married!" Pradnya said, holding Lily's hand once they had been welcomed into Lillianna's flat in Bath.
"Wow, are you sure?" She asked. Pradnya's smile dropped.
"Of course we're sure. Why can't we?" Pradnya said, starting a fight.
"No, I mean, you're so young. This seems like a pretty recent decision. Are you sure you don't want to take some time and think about it?"
Pradnya looked at Lily. Lily looked deep into Pradnya's eyes.
"I've always been someone who hated the prospect of marriage," Lily said, "because it represents the union between a lovesick man and woman. But, since you've been a part of my life, and since I've started loving you, I think we could redefine marriage. Our marriage would be one of mutual respect, love and companionship," Lily said to Pradnya. She turned to Lillianna. "We're not some lovesick couple, Lillianna, we were meant for each other."
Before Lillianna could say anything, Pradnya took Lily's head into her hands and kissed her. Tears were streaming down her eyes.
"Alright, when do you want to do this?" Lillianna asked. Pradnya and Lily broke away.
"Today," Lily said, smiling.
"--no," Pradnya said, "let's take a day to prepare. I don't want this to be an event, but I still want it to be special."
Lily wasn't sure what Pradnya meant by taking a day to prepare, but she didn't see her the entire next day. Pradnya left early in the morning and did not return until very late. When Lily questioned her, Pradnya smiled and playfully changed the subject.
Lily could barely sleep that night. She was all too excited about the beginning of her new life with Pradnya.
Lillianna woke Lily the next day.
"Wha?" Lily said, covering herself with blankets.
Lillianna shook her.
"It's your special day, Lils!" she said. Lily remembered and practically shot out of bed.
"Am I late?" She said frantically.
"No, I just wanted to make sure you had plenty of time," Lillianna said with a smile.
"Oh, you'll see her soon enough."
Lily hopped into the shower and tried to make her short red hair somewhat presentable.
"Do you need any help?" Lillianna asked, observing Lily trying to run a comb through her hair.
Lily looked up at her friend with puppy-dog eyes. Lillianna laughed.
"Alright, let me get some things," she said. Lillianna promptly came back with a straightening iron, her wand and some mouse.
With some heat, magic and mouse, Lily's hair was looking shiny and beautiful.
Lillianna flicked her wand and a beautiful sunflower appeared behind Lily's ear. Lily was grateful for the sunflower--she hated lilies.
"Alright, pick out an outfit and we'll be heading off," Lillianna said, opening her closet to Lily.
"Shouldn't I dress nice or something?"
"Pradnya insisted on something that you wanted to wear. Something you like. I suggest this," Lillianna held out a pair of white, cut off shorts and a flowing, fairy-like purple blouse.
"Wow, you definitely know my taste," Lily said, taking the outfit from Lillianna.
She went into the bathroom to put it on. That is when it hit her. Today was her wedding day -- a day she swore she would never have. But, it felt different than those other weddings. She didn't feel like a bride. This was her day, not a day for her family. She was committing herself to the love of her life. She couldn't have asked for a better wedding.
Lily looked out the bathroom window. It was a typical overcast day in England. She wondered where Pradnya was. There was an owl scratching at the window. Lily recognized it as her family owl. She let it in and retrieved the small piece of parchment it was carrying.
"Lily Luna, where are you? This is unacceptable!" Read a letter from her mother. Lily sighed. She quickly scribbled, "I'm fine, don't worry," on the back of the same piece of parchment and sent the owl back.
"Ok, now you're going to be late," Lillianna called to Lily. Lily didn't realize how much time she had spent day dreaming. She threw on the clothes and rushed out of the bathroom.
"Should I put on make up?" Lily said hurriedly. Lillianna was wearing a beautiful pink linen dress. Her hair was done up in a loose ponytail.
Lillianna took a moment to survey Lily.
"No. Pradnya would want you this way -- natural."
"Your chariot awaits," Lillianna said, gesturing toward a bent spoon.
"Portkey?" Lily asked skeptically. Lillianna merely nodded.
"Yup. Leaves in ten minutes. You ready?"
"I think so," Lily said with a smile.
The two sat on a couch, sipping tea, waiting for the portkey. It seemed like every minute was like watching a water droplet fall. But soon enough, it was time. Lillianna and Lily grabbed a hold of the spoon. They were flying through space, whipping around like ragdolls. And then, they hit the ground.
Lily looked around excitedly, but she didn't find Pradnya. They were on the coast, by some high cliffs. She looked to Lillianna, who was looking at a piece of paper -- probably instructions. She tucked it away and got up. She held a hand out to Lily.
"Where are we going?" Lily asked as Lillianna helped her up.
Lily got up, still slightly dizzy from the portkey, and followed Lillianna to a path on the cliffs. They seemed to be descending toward the shore. Sure enough, they reached some very steep steps that were carved into the cliffside. Lily followed Lillianna down, careful to not be pushed over by the strong wind. Finally, they reached the beach. It was a rocky beach with several row boats tied to wooden poles. Lillianna proceeded to start untying one.
"Oh no. I'm not going in that," Lily said, crossing her arms.
Lillianna looked at the piece of paper.
"Pradnya thought you would say that. But, if you don't come with me into the row boat then you will never see her again," Lillianna said with a smile. Lily sighed and reluctantly got in the row boat.
Lily watched as the shore became tinier and tinier. She didn't even notice the ship-like boat that was becoming bigger and bigger. Thus, she jumped in the air and practically fell out of the boat when they hit the ship with the tip of their row boat. She looked up at it. Her jaw dropped. A ladder was thrown down to them. With great anticipation, Lily climbed aboard the ship. Lillianna came up after her.
The boat was adorned with floating candles, just like in Hogwarts. There were beautiful ivy vines climbing the masts of the ship. A piano played itself in the corner. But Lily still could not find Pradnya.
A scruffy looking man came up to her.
"Lily?" He asked. Lily nodded.
"Up here, please," he said. He lead her to the front of the boat, where the steering wheel was. There, she saw her. A woman stood, leaning on the railing of the boat facing Lily. Her thick, black hair billowed in the wind. She wore a sandy-tan dress that floated behind her. She positively glowed. Lily was led up to her by the man.
"Pradnya, you look beautiful," Lily said, still stunned.
"You don't look bad yourself," she said, taking Lily's hand. Lillianna followed Lily and the man up. She was holding a basket filled with sunflowers matching the one in Lily's hair.
"You put this together all by yourself?" Lily asked, stunned.
Pradnya nodded. "For you, I'd do anything."
Lily leaned in to kiss her.
"No! Not yet," Lillianna said, nodded to the man.
He had changed into a military uniform with a very silly looking hat.
"As passengers aboard my ship, I hold you to maritime law. Pradnya Apte has requested your hand in marriage," he said to Lily, "do you accept, Lily Luna Potter?"
Lily nodded, not being able to remove the smile form her face long enough to speak.
"All right," he said, "Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to witness the union between Pradnya Apte and Lily Luna Potter. Pradnya, do you promise to uphold the union that you are committing to from this day until your death."
"I do," Pradnya said, not taking her eyes away from Lily.
"Lily, do you promise to uphold the union that you are committing to from this day until your death?"
"I do," Lily could feel tears begin to well up in her eyes.
"As a symbol of their commitment to each other, they will exchange rings."
Lillianna took two golden rings out of the basket of sunflowers and handed one to Pradnya and one to Lily. Pradnya put one on Lily's ring finger and Lily did the same to Pradnya.
"With the power invested in me, as Lillianna Heather Zabinni as your witness, I pronounce you married," the captain said.
Lily practically jumped on Pradnya. She held her head in her hands and kissed her like she wouldn't let go.