Chapter 1 : Lily
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-Frank Herbert, Litany against Fear
Flattening her white dress, Lily sat in front of her mirror feeling anxious and joyous. She could hear the noises of last minute preparations and people getting ready in the rooms adjoining her’s. She was alone in the bridal suite at a nice manor the Potters rented out for the occasion. Out the window she could see rolling green hills with little trees and a creek. Lily loved the picturesque backdrop to her special day.
Lily’s attention turned to a note that had been left on her vanity. Her hands shook as she read the message from her sister. Only Petunia could make her cry on her wedding day. The phrases “will not be attending” and “freak husband” stung the young bride. She held in a quiet whimper as she set the letter down. Lily was afraid that her relationship with Petunia was past the point of repair.
Of course, Lily knew why her sister would not come. It wasn’t just the number of witches and wizards that kept her older sister away. At their mum’s insistence, James and Lily attended Petunia and Vernon’s wedding the previous summer. To say it did not go well would be an understatement. James got in an argument with Vernon and pulled out his wand in anger. It had been after several drinks and many harsh words about the nonconventional lifestyle Lily led. That had been his code for using magic. In his temper, James’ wand emitted sparks that had quite frightened Vernon. Lily had not seen her sister since.
Today was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. She was happy, ecstatic even, but her day was tainted by the war’s ominous gloom that had infiltrated every other aspect of Lily’s life. It hadn’t been more than a week since the latest murder of an Order member. It was hard to be merry while the world was suffering and people around them were being killed at an alarming rate. James and Lily had narrowly escaped from a close call with Voldemort not too long before they were engaged.
Lily’s mind drifted to the Voldemort’s attempt to recruit them to his side. The memory caused a smirk to grace her face. It had been a terrifying experience that they survived with a combination of skill and luck. The humor came when they had told Sirius, Remus, and Peter about the botched recruitment. Sirius asked if his next target had been Dumbledore as there were few wizards less likely to join his cause than those in the Order. That was how they got past all the close calls and almost fatal encounters – they laughed about it over a flagon of mulled mead.
A barking laugh from the hallway brought Lily back to the moment. How could she worry about Voldemort on her wedding day? Closing her eyes for a moment, Lily attempted to clear her mind. She wasn’t going to let Petunia’s rejection or the worries of the war they were entrenched in to overshadow her happy day. Once the darkness was gone from her mind’s eye, she began to focus on her wedding, her marriage, and her soon-to-be husband. That is where Lily knew she’d find solace.
Except, she didn’t.
As Lily began to think about what the day represented she was overwhelmed with a sense of fear that was quite disconnected from the worries she had just vanquished. What was it that was causing Lily’s stomach to tighten uncomfortably? She loved James and was excited to be married to him. They had high hopes for their life that included children and large family parties. Her future with James was everything she had dreamt of since her thoughts first wandered to marriage. Why was her wedding making Lily’s heart so heavy? She thought back to the night James proposed to Lily some months before, when she felt the first stirrings of this fear.
“I don’t want to live under a cauldron because of the war or because we’re in danger, Lily,” James said pacing the living room of his flat.
Lily was seated on the couch watching his face with an intensity she showed when trying to solve a complex problem. “We’re not living under a cauldron, James, we’re being careful. The other night, when he tried to recruit us –“
“Exactly. We don’t know what will happen from day to day but I do know I will love you until my last day.” James’ voice trembled slightly as he continued, “If that’s tomorrow or 60 years from now, I’ll love you, Lily.” James stopped in front of Lily and bent a knee to the floor. “I want to spend the rest of my life as your husband, if you’ll consent to be my wife.” James reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a small box. Lily’s heart began to race. “Lily Evans, will you marry me?”
For the first time in their relationship, Lily did not have a snappy response or a quick reproach for James. Instead she answered him with a quiet, “Yes, James, I will marry you,” and slipped the small ring on her finger before kissing her dark-haired fiancé.
That was when it started. It wasn’t uncertainty of James being the right man, a doubt of his love, or her love for that matter. This was a promise that could not be unmade. She did not see her love wavering in the foreseeable future, but what about the unforeseeable future? Would their love stand the test of time or would it wither in 15 years? Had their love grown organically or because of extraneous stress that pushed them together? Lily had said yes and meant it with all her heart but that did not eradicate her anxiety.
A small knock at the door interrupted Lily’s thoughts. “Dear,” her mum’s voice came, “They’re just about ready for you.” Mrs. Evans walked into the bridal suite her daughter had been using to prepare. When she saw Lily’s unusually pale face, Mrs. Evans shut the door behind her. “Are you feeling well, darling?”
Mrs. Evans walked toward Lily and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Yes, Mum. I’m just…“
“Nervous?” Mrs. Evans offered. “I was terrified the day I married your dad. We were just around your age too. I didn’t know what I was getting into really,” she said with a kind smile to her daughter.
“Oh, Mum, how did you know that you would love Dad for the next 30 or even 5 years?” Lily asked looking up into her mum’s kind eyes.
Mrs. Evans pulled a chair over sat down next to her youngest child. “I couldn’t have known,” she said frankly. “Love isn’t meant to stay the same throughout a marriage. It changes day to day and year to year. Can you imagine if James loved you the same way he did when you were in school? He’d still be putting frog guts in your pumpkin juice.” Lily laughed feeling a bit of weight lift off her shoulders.
Smiling and feeling more at ease, Lily kissed her mum on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said softly.
“Nothing comes freer than a mother’s advice,” Mrs. Evans said standing up. “I would have been worried if you weren’t at least a little scared before your wedding.”
The door opened and Mr. Evans stepped into the room with his hands over his eyes. “Are you decent, Lily?”
“Of course she is, Harold,” Mrs. Evans said with a hint of exasperation. With a smile at her daughter, Mrs. Evans moved towards the door. “I had better go line up for the processional. Your friend Remus is escorting me.”
Lily checked her reflection once more before getting up and moving towards her father. Taking his steadying arm she smiled her bravest smile and let love and joy wash over her. She must not fear on her wedding day.
A/N: Hi!! This series focuses on moments of fear for people in the first wizarding war. In this chapter I tried to dig into fear associated with marriage. I definitely didn’t want to make it sound like Lily wasn’t sure about James but that her fear about the larger idea of marriage. Next chapter will be James.