Chapter 1 : James and Lily
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The leaves crunched beneath his feet with an audible crack as he walked closer to her door and he relished the sound that brought him back to happier days. Trying to go back to those days was the reason he had come to Lily’s house in the first place, though she had only gone home to Spinners End for a few days to say goodbye to her family. They were planning to move closer to the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, so they could be on the scene if anything were to happen concerning the dark wizards that were plotting their next attack. Sometimes James found his courage and bravery that had placed him in Gryffindor waver slightly when he thought of the impending war, but fortunately Lily was the cure for those doubts. She made him want to fight for a future where they could live free from the persecution of those that hated people like Lily simply because of her magical origins.
He had come today to surprise her and take her out for the afternoon on the surprisingly warm autumn day so they could enjoy it without thoughts of what was waiting for them after their leave was over. James had wanted a happy memory they could look back on where Lily had grown up and become the beautiful, selfless, and courageous woman she was today. He was determined to do that no matter what he had to do.
When he arrived at her front step, he walked to the door and lifted the brass knocker and let it fall heavily three times to announce his presence. He had met the entire Evans family shortly after Lily had agreed to give him a chance and though he hadn’t seen the family since then, he knew they would be pleased to see him. He had connected with the Evans family upon meeting them and saw where Lily got every admirable quality she possessed. The only one who had treated him as anything different had been Petunia, Lily’s older sister, but he had been expecting that. What he hadn’t expected, as the door was opened from the inside and creaked as someone swung it open was to see that particular sister standing behind it.
Immediately, it felt like the sun dipped behind the clouds, Petunia’s sour and disgusted facial expression scaring it away. James felt the corner of his mouth lift up, but he smothered the thought. Petunia wouldn’t be happy to know he thought she drove the sun away.
“Afternoon, Petunia,” James said, as pleasantly as he could manage, but the girl who looked nothing like his lovely Lily didn’t say anything except a muttered, “She’s in there,” accompanied with a sarcastic eye roll. He breathed a sigh out, trying not to let it affect him and stepped inside. He walked to the room Petunia had ungraciously pointed at, and when he moved around the corner, he saw Lily look up, her emerald eyes lighting up at seeing him. She put her book down, carefully marking the page, and got up, flinging her arms around him. He encircled his hands around her waist and spun her around, folding her body into his.
“James,” she breathed, and he felt his heart skip a beat. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to Lily actually using his first name, not when it had been ‘Potter’ for so many years, and every time she did, his heart didn’t quite know what to do about it.
“Not that I’m not happy to see you,” she said, looking up at him and reaching her arm up to push his glasses back into their rightful place, having noticed they’d slipped during the welcome embrace, “but what are you doing here?”
“Well,” James started, clearing his throat nervously, “I thought we could go out and enjoy what will probably be one of the last beautiful days of the year.”
“You came all the way from London just to take me out on a date?” Lily laughed, and James felt it infect him as well, pulling his already smiling mouth into a grin. He never had been able to help it when he was around her.
“Sort of,” he smiled impishly. “I just wanted a good memory here, you know, before we moved.”
Lily looked up at him, trying to gauge his emotions, but she must not have seen anything worth mentioning because she instead said, “Well, lucky for you, I’m completely date-free this afternoon.”
They both laughed, and James could feel Lily’s laugh resonate as she buried herself in his chest. He wished he could make her laugh every second of every day as impossible as that was, just to feel the warm vibrations in his chest. There was nothing he wanted more than to see Lily’s smiling face.
He realized that seeing Lily had chased away all the cloudy thoughts he’d just been thinking not many moments ago and he knew that although he wanted today to be special for her, coming to see her had been exactly what James had needed.
“So what is this big date you have planned?” she asked, looking up to meet his bright, hazel eyes.
“Well, actually, I was thinking we ought to do something to celebrate where we are,” James suggested. He had been thinking about it and it had finally set in his mind that this was Lily’s last time for who knew how long at being a Muggle, and though he knew she loved being a witch, she also loved this side of her life.
Lily’s sparkling emerald eyes lit up at the idea and he could already see her mind whirling, making James pleased that he’d decided to do this for her.
“I know I came here to take you out, but I think you might have to take the lead this time… growing up in a Wizarding family doesn’t really teach you much about how to blend in with Muggle society, after all,” he admitted, and she grinned at him.
“It’s enough that you came all the way out here to spend the day with me,” she said. “I would love to show you around my hometown.”
“I can’t wait to see it,” James answered honestly, and without thinking he grabbed Lily’s hand and tugged her out the door. She squeaked and let herself be pulled towards the front door and breathlessly called out to her parents where she was going while hurriedly putting her black coat and matching hat on her head. She didn’t wait for an answer as the pair ran outside, the red and gold leaves swirling in their wake.
Lily didn’t know how any day could be more perfect than the one she’d spent with James. They had visited the meadow where she’d spent time with Severus when she had first learned she was a witch. The place had both happy and awful memories, but thankfully most of the bad ones hadn’t happened here. She hadn’t seen Severus here since the summer before the horrid day they had stopped being friends in fifth year, but that summer when their friendship had dissolved, she’d spent more days here crying for the loss than anywhere else. This was the first time she’d brought James to this spot, but he knew how special that place was to her and it had meant everything to her to be able to share that with him. She had been able to finally sever the depressing memories here and embrace her new, hopeful life with James. Had she been told this was her future the summer she’d spent being miserable here, she probably would have hexed someone into the next year, but now she couldn’t imagine her life any other way.
After they’d spent over an hour there, talking about their future and what it would mean to officially join the Order, they’d transitioned to walking around the small town center and sharing memories from when they hadn’t known each other – traditions their families had, vacations they’d been on, and Lily had found herself falling more in love with a boy she’d used to hate with every breath and now loved so much she could barely breathe around him.
They’d foolishly stopped finally at the small ice cream parlor she’d gone to almost every day in the summer growing up that had magically still been open even though the trees had turned vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red and leaves consistently rained down from above on them. She could feel the gooseflesh rising on her arms and hugged herself tightly.
“Maybe the ice cream wasn’t the smartest plan,” he joked and she smiled despite the shivers.
“It was totally worth it,” she said. He looked down at her intensely and she couldn’t look away from his eyes. It was like he was pulling her into him with the force of his gaze and she momentarily forgot the chills that had been previously running down the length of her arms.
“Dance with me,” he stated and she blinked, completely taken off guard.
“Here in the middle of the center? But there’s no music to dance to!” she protested and he simply grinned at her.
“Lily, you are the music that lights up my life. I don’t need any music to dance with you,” he replied and took her hand, spinning her into a waltz. “Besides, it will warm you up.”
She laughed and it filled the air as she let James twirl her around. She knew people were watching them, for the spot around the fountain was always a popular place, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. This was the most perfect moment and she was sharing it with the most perfect man she had ever known. He leaned towards her and kissed her and feeling as light as the leaves around her, she focused on them and swirled them around her and James as they spun. If it was up to her, she would never stop dancing for all her life and she knew James felt the same way. It was their perfect love story and she couldn’t have been happier with the way it had all turned out. This moment was bliss and she savored that feeling, letting her heart swell up with love and adoration, allowing it to travel along with the golden leaves that encompassed them and made her forget there was anything but her and the man she loved in this moment forever.
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