All morning I have waited for this moment, for you to arrive at this Muggle church and walk up the aisle where I stand at the front. I force myself to face forwards; to try and focus on examining thoroughly the stained glass windows behind the Muggle vicar which are letting in a kaleidoscope of glistening multi-coloured light that fills the church.
The whispers of the wedding guests fill the air as the clock ticks, every second heavily laden with the dread that you will not turn up. I can hear what they are saying, although they do not realize their voices have reached my ears: Lily Evans has finally come to her senses; Lily Evans is going to abandon James Potter at the altar; Lily Evans has changed her mind; Lily Evans will never become Lily Potter. But no. No. You are worth more than that; if you had wanted to cancel the wedding, you would have said so before now. You are Lily Evans: beautiful, benevolent, brilliant – and worth so much more than those petty rumours.
“Psst!” Sirius hisses, digging his elbow into my ribs. “Did Lily say anything to you this morning?”
For a moment I am tempted to confess; to tell him that the letter that diverted my attention this morning – a letter he had complained about, citing that a best friend who paid more attention to parchment than three panicking Marauders was useless – was from none other than you, expressing your dizzying, love-filled nerves onto parchment to try and settle them.
It's always so therapeutic, putting words onto parchment and then re-reading them. Somehow, it puts things into perspective; stops me from making stupid decisions, so that I can be absolutely sure that I'm making the right choice.
And I am, James. We've had our moments, but I'm certain. Don't be late, my darling; don't let Sirius persuade you to have “just a little firewhiskey” before the ceremony – I'll hex him into oblivion if he does – because I'll be there. I'm coming to the church, and I'm going to become Mrs Lily Potter because I love you.
I love you, James.
I turn to survey Sirius, his raven hair settling upon his shoulders. For a moment, for one tiny, crazy moment, I am tempted to tell him the truth. But instead I shake my head and I mutter a “no” in answer, one that he accepts without question, despite my internal plea for him to press further – surely my own best friend of almost nine years should know when I am lying? But Sirius nods and turns back to face the vicar, taking a deep breath as he does so. He's worried – that's evident from his body language and I wish I could tell him the truth, but I can't.
How did it get to this point, Lily? Since when did my love for you start to affect my friendships with people that I've known for near a decade?
An unfamiliar sound fills the air, and it takes me a few moments to realize that it is the sound of the organ music. In my world, Lily, in my pure-blood world we've never had organ music playing the wedding march. Cherubs might fill the air, playing on harps – much like Muggles' images of Cupid – or a choir might sing that tune, but the organ music is unfamiliar. I still remember the moment when you decided that you wanted to get married in the church your parents had gotten married in. I remember how I had been rendered speechless by the mere thought of the endless planning it would require to have wizarding guests present, and how you looked up into my eyes and whispered a simple “please”. One tiny, insignificant word, and yet it was enough to send every worry of mine out of my mind, leaving only the thought that it could be possible. And, if I'm truly honest with myself, Lily, I agreed in the hope that I could elevate myself in your eyes.
I sneak a quick glance at your parents, even I know that I shouldn't – that their smiling faces are enough to remind me of the consequences of what I am planning – but I do so anyway. And I see your mother's smiling face, tears in her eyes as she watches the front doors, waiting for your appearance. Her hair is the same shade of fire as yours; her eyes the exact sparkling emerald that you possess; and I ponder the likeliness of you looking the very image of her thirty-odd years on. Your father is standing next to her, his expression bursting with pride and happiness.
I hear the other guests' gasp, and my head automatically turns to the entrance, but it is only your bridesmaids. Four of your friends, all dressed in a shade of beautiful pale pink – but it is you I love, you who I want to see. And while your bridesmaids walk down the aisle, and file away into the pew, I keep my eyes firmly fixed to the entrance, waiting for you.
In seconds, you appear – and you blind me with your beauty. Your flame-coloured hair cascades upon your shoulders, and even your brilliant white veil cannot conceal how impeccable you are. Oh, Lily. Why do you have to look so beautiful? Why do your eyes have to sparkle with such an intoxicating shade of green? Why must you captivate me every time you even glance in my direction?
And then you take a step forward, and another, and one more – you're walking towards me, and I can't quite believe it. My Lily, my beautiful perfect Lily, is walking up the aisle. Your footsteps are barely audible and you smile as your eyes meet mine, coming nearer and nearer, until we are side by side – and then two more footsteps take you to the man you are due to marry today.
James Potter – former Head Boy, Quidditch Chaser, Marauder and my best friend. I should not be jealous of him, Lily, I should not covet the very woman of his dreams – but I do. I know that it's wrong; I know that James has been more of a best friend than I deserve, that he became an Animagus just for me and has supported me through my lycanthropy ever since he found out, while others would have shunned me. And yet I can't deny my feelings, Lily. I love you, even though I know that I shouldn't – that it contravenes every one of those absurd Marauder rules that Sirius came up with one rainy day.
I watch you and James gaze into each other's eyes, and I slide my hand into my pocket, clutching my fingers around the stolen parchment inside. I shouldn't have taken it, I know that, but I needed to be sure. I needed to know that you were absolutely certain about marrying James, because if there was even the slightest doubt in your mind, even the tiniest piece of hope for me, I needed to know.
“If anyone knows of why this couple cannot be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.” the vicar says, his voice piercing my thoughts. This is the sentence that I have waited for.
I open my mouth then, to do what I have planned and say that yes, there is a reason that you and James cannot marry, and it is because I love you and always will. But then I see your love-filled eyes staring up at him, and I realize that I can't. Right now, you think that you love James, and if I spoke up now I'd just hurt you. But I know my best friend – I've known him for longer than you, and I know what he's really like. I know that this façade of maturity won't last forever. One day, he'll let you down. Eventually, he'll break your heart and destroy all the hopes that you have now.
But when that day comes, Lily, I promise that I'll be there, waiting for you.