Chapter 1 : Easter Lily
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I would like to shout a big THANK YOU to whomever nominated this story for HP Fanfic Poll Awards for Best Romance, Marauder's Era. It was a wonderful surprise. Thanks to you and all who voted!
She spun around in her bright yellow, flowing dress. The spin was rather stiff and tired, almost as if it were a requirement as part of her dressing routine. She stopped and stared at herself in the mirror as the A-line dress continued its whirl around her legs and swished gracefully around her calves. She tried to make her face match the brightness of the crisp, cotton dress, but while the corners of her mouth tipped up, the smile could not reach her eyes.
The winter had been long and cold. She had cabin fever from being confined to the small cottage day in and day out. The days were so wearisome and the stress of worrying had worn her nerves down to the fray.
Today, she told herself, she would be bright and sunny – like her dress. She attempted another smile in the mirror; this one wasn't any more believable.
“Hello, my Easter Lily,” James’s head appeared over her shoulder and his long, lean arms wrapped around her waist. "You look beautiful today," he whispered in her ear.
She turned in his arms and rested her hands at the back of his neck, allowing herself a tired sigh. He pulled her closer, knowing that his words and his touch were all he could give her right now.
He always called her by different lily flowers. This morning, like every morning, when she awoke, James was looking lovingly at her and caressing her face, “Good morning, my Calla Lily,” he always said.
Two years ago, when he proposed under the stars he asked her to be his “Stargazer Lily” forever and ever . And, in the heat of the night, when they shared the most intimate love, he would profess his heart forever to his “Tiger Lily.”
She twisted his raven hair in her fingertips, more out of nervous habit than anything else. “Harry’s first Easter,” she said to him, meeting his hazel eyes and determined to make this day different than the hundreds that had preceded it.
He nodded, catching her green eyes with his hazel ones. “Harry’s first Easter,” he repeated. “Shall we make it a memorable one?” a familiar glint blazed in his eye and he couldn’t suppress a wink.
Lily caught on rather quickly. “What do you mean, memorable?” she asked warily.
“I mean nothing other than it is our son’s very first Easter holiday and since, we haven’t had loads of things to celebrate of late, we can have some fun with him today,” he waved his arms and pronounced as if preaching the good word, the ever present smirk playing at his lips.
A small squawk from the next bedroom pulled Lily’s mind away from trying to figure out what her mischievous husband was up to. Harry was up from his morning nap and needed her. The beautiful boy always had a smile on his face and it was Lily’s greatest joy to see him discover the world each and every day. Well, for now, the ‘world’ consisted of the confines of their small cottage. They weren’t even venturing outside these days.
Lily unwrapped herself from James and bounded into her little boy’s bedroom with a genuine smile on her face.
“Mumma,” baby Harry reached for her. Her heart immediately swelled to twice its size as she twirled freely on her way to his cot.
“Good morning, love!” Lily sang to Harry. Hearing his mother’s voice, the eight month old’s face brightened and he giggled.
“It’s Easter Sunday Harry!” Lily picked up her son and lifted him high in the air, spinning him around with her. His giggles became louder until he started to squeal with laughter. She felt lighter as the yellow dress twirled out from her waist.
“It’s your very first Easter! You’ve been a sleepyhead today!” She pulled him down to her chest and peppered his face with light kisses. Her mood was lightening with every moment she spent with her son. She allowed herself a moment to just stare at her beautiful boy. She loved that Harry looked just like James. The messy black hair that she had fallen in love with in her seventh year stuck out at odd angles for Harry just as it did for James. His oval shaped face matched his fathers as did the light spray of freckles across his nose - the ones you could only see if you were close enough to kiss them.
But his eyes were hers. They had been blue when he was born, and over the course of his first month, had turned a bright vivid green. Her Gryffindor pride would burst from her heart every time Harry looked at her with those green eyes.
She quickly changed his nappy and dressed him in a brand new Easter outfit. “There you go, love,” Lily proclaimed. “Shall we go see Daddy, Harry?” Lily snuggled him close and breathed in the smell of her infant son.
“Hop, hop, hop,” she sang as she bounced him in her arms and stepped out of his bedroom. As she passed down the hall, her foot brushed against something soft on the floor. Lily looked down to see which toy of Harry’s had gotten out of its place and nearly jumped out of her skin. Two small, live rabbits were huddled up against the wall. They looked more surprised than Lily felt as they cowered against the wall.
“What in the world?” she wondered, as she backed away from them and pattered down the hall to the living room. She was not a fan of small mammals - other than Harry, of course. When she turned to enter, she shrieked out loud at the sight before her. There were dozens of rabbits everywhere - brown, grey, white, black, spotted – all with fluffy tails and long floppy ears. They were on the furniture, hopping across the floor and nibbling at her feet.
“James Potter! Get in here this instant!” The rabbits were creeping closer and several of them were now crowding around her open toed shoes. Lily was a true Gryffindor, although she didn’t feel much like one these days, and was rarely afraid of silly pointless things. However, the entire living room looked like the rug was alive, with all colors of fur bubbling and churning as the rabbits were moving around.
“Eeep!” she screeched as a bunny nuzzled against her bare ankle. Two more hopped towards her and Harry.
“Yes, Lily?” James poked his head into the living room from his small study.
“Don’t you ‘yes Lily’ me,” her fiery temper brewing hot. “What is the meaning of all these rabbits? This is unsanitary in a house with an infant!” She could feel the scratch of their tongues on her legs and was trying not to wobble around whilst she was holding baby Harry.
“Are you saying you don’t like my Easter present for my godson?” a deeper, yet amused voice called out from somewhere behind James.
“Sirius.” Lily growled, her temper just about reaching its breaking point. “I should’ve known.”
“Come on, Lily,” James was pleading now, sensing the dangerous tone in his wife’s voice. “They’re so adorable and fluffy. Look! Harry loves them!” The small boy was indeed watching with interest as the bunnies were hopping and crawling around the living room. He reached from his mother’s arms toward the fascinating new toys that were literally everywhere in his normal play space.
“I bet you won’t think they are so adorable when they start pooping everywhere,” Lily said, handing Harry to James. “Here, you play with him for a bit while I start dinner. Sirius!” she bellowed into the office, her hands on her hips “Get rid of these rabbits by the time I’m done, yeah?”
"Yes, Lily," both men responded in unison.
Lily tip toed around the rodents gingerly to make her way into the kitchen and set to work on Easter dinner. It was past noon and she wanted this holiday to go as best it could, considering the circumstances. Cooking with magic was so much easier than the muggle way, but Lily was still learning. This would take up most of her afternoon, but she didn’t mind. At least it was a project that would take her attention away from all the worrying. The lamb went in the oven with the hot cross buns. She next set her wand to fixing the green beans and potatoes.
Lily sighed and tried to cheer herself up. Living in fear day in and day out was trying enough, but she just felt so completely helpless being stuck in this house. And being a mother added another layer of pressure. She knew about the prophecy and the danger that they were all in. Her heart pulsed furiously every time James left the house. She lived in fear for herself, her husband, their friends, but most of all, for Harry.
After an hour or so, things seemed under control in the kitchen and Lily left to go and check on her children - all three of them.
She found them sat on the living room sofa. They were too quiet.
"What have you done?" Lily demanded to the two who could speak. At least the rabbits were gone. She would have to scrub the entire living room and hallway later.
Sirius replied. "We made an egg hunt for Harry!"
"An egg hunt? He can't even walk, you idiots. How's he going to hunt for eggs?"
"That's why we put them all on the floor!" He added quickly, “Don’t worry - we scourgified the room from the rabbits.” His excitement was growing as he explained, "He can crawl to all the eggs." James was so thrilled that you would've thought it was his first Easter.
Lily just shook her head. "Do what you must," she conceded, plopping her tired body in the overstuffed armchair. She could rest for a few minutes before she had to check on dinner.
James sat baby Harry down on the rug that covered the hard stone floor of the cottage. Harry, excited at the prospect of freedom, pushed himself to his hands and knees and began crawling toward the wooden coffee table. Lily could see a bright blue egg resting near the leg of the table. Harry saw it too and the baby boy headed determinedly toward it. When he was just close enough, his pudgy baby hand reached out to grasp his new-found toy. The instant his fingers touched the egg, it disappeared with a 'pop' and immediately transfigured into a stream of bright blue and purple bubbles.
The baby's eyes widened as he sat back on his bum and watched the bubbles float up through the air. He reached upwards for the last few that remained, but they too quickly popped.
"Not bad," Lily commented as Harry was making his way to the next egg that lie right in the middle of the rug. This one was green with bright yellow stripes. Harry reached to grab it and again, the egg ‘popped.’ This time, it let off bright green and gold sparks that whizzed upwards towards the ceiling. Harry began to giggle, enjoying this new game. He found another egg that was covered in rainbow zig zags under the chair his mother was sitting in. This one set off streamers, all in rainbow colors and had sound effects. It played a little musical tune as the rainbow streaked in an arc across the room. The streamers disappeared just before they landed on the floor.
"I'll hand it to the two of you," Lily conceded as her baby boy clapped in joy at his new game. "That is a fair bit of decent magic. I've got to go check on our dinner now, it should be ready in just a few." She raised herself out of the armchair and back into the kitchen to see how the food preparation was proceeding.
“See there, Lily,” Sirius called after her. “You don’t give the two of us enough credit.”
Lily ignored him as her focus was now on getting the dinner ready. The buns were done, but needed to cool, so she took them out of the oven and then basted the lamb. Lily then set her wand to mash up the potatoes with some milk and butter. She had just set the green beans to steam when she heard a desperate wail from the living room. The cry pulled Lily’s heart out of her chest and moved her body of its own accord. Harry was hurt.
Lily ran to her baby. James and Sirius were surrounding him on the floor, trying to console him. “What happened,” she demanded.
“It was supposed to disappear, just like the streamers,” Sirius explained in a panic. He was frantically fiddling with his wand in his shaking hand, but didn’t dare try any spell aimed the poor baby. Lily shoved Sirius aside and reached down to scoop up her little Harry. His head was covered in a thick paste of pastel colors. The latest egg must’ve turned to the goo. The sticky mess clung to his hair and dribbled down his brand new Easter outfit. Harry must’ve rubbed his gooey hands on his face and gotten some of the glop in his eyes. The baby shrieked and sobbed, his eyes shut and watering. He was crying tears of pink, lavender and seafoam green from the goo that stung his eyes.
“Well, it’s not disappearing, Sirius!” James growled, almost as upset as Harry was. He reached around to pick up the remnants of the eggshell and stared at them, as if some explanation would be found on them.
“You too are absolute morons,” Lily cradled her son to her chest and kissed his head, gloopy mess and all. “Shhh, Harry, Mummy’s here. It’s all right.” She conjured a damp cloth and gently rubbed the muck from his eyes with her thumb.
She lifted Harry as she stood up and quickly moved down the hall to start a bath and get the paste off the rest of the little one.“Do you think you can manage to get the dinner on the table while I take care of him?” She called over her shoulder to them in disgust.
James and Sirius looked at each other. They had wanted to wait for Remus to eat Easter dinner and he wouldn’t be along for another hour or so. However, neither of them would dare mention anything of the sort to Lily in her current state. James shrugged his shoulders and followed Sirius into the kitchen.
After both Harry and Lily had a changed clothes (her yellow dress was ruined, so she transfigured it into a more comfortable outfit), she returned to the kitchen, sat Harry in his baby seat and then sat herself down. The food was on the table, and James and Sirius waited in silence for her. Neither one dared to look her in the eye and Lily was still too fussed to give them any sort of reprieve.
After the blessing, Lily set to getting Harry some food. Over the past month, he had begun to eat some grown-up food so she mashed him some green beans and potatoes together. He made a funny face when she first fed it to him, but he seemed to really like it after the first bite and ate everything up eagerly.
Lily’s mood eased slightly as she fed Harry. He was so interested in this new food, she smiled fondly at him as he tried to take the spoon from her and feed himself.
“Well done, Harry my boy!” James proudly proclaimed from across the table. “You love your first Easter dinner, don’t you?” He said it more to distract Lily away from being angry with him, and the contented sigh that escaped her lips as her shoulders relaxed and head tipped slightly told him that he was at least somewhat successful.
The food smelled just as Easter should with roasted lamb and fresh, hot cross buns. As Lily fed Harry, she glanced over at James, who was chewing his food with a rather odd look on his face. He swallowed hard and his eyes were watering.
“Are you alright, James?” she asked.
“Oh fine! Fine,” he replied as he shoved another forkful of lamb and potatoes into his mouth and gagged.
“The dinner is lovely, Lily,” Sirius said loudly as he took a tiny, tiny bite of the green beans and shuddered. He tried to cover it up with a smile that looked more like a grimace.
Lily cocked her head. “What’s wrong?” She turned to the food on her own plate and wafted it to her nose. It smelled all right. In fact, it smelled fantastic. She took a bit of lamb on her fork and raised it to her mouth.
The instant the meat hit her tongue, the texture changed from a dense, salty meat to soft, melted chocolate. She was eating chocolate, but it still smelled like lamb. The two combinations were overwhelming and she almost retched all over the table. She spit the lamb-chocolate into her napkin.
“Ugh. How awful! What did you do?” she cried, trying to get the chocolate taste out of her mouth by eating a forkful of potatoes.
“No! Don’t!” James shouted a bit too late. Instead of creamy potatoes in her mouth, she tasted gooey marshmallow sweetness. It was so thick that it stuck to her teeth and made them hurt.
“Eww! What on earth is this, James?!” She spoke thickly, trying to swallow the gob of potato that had lodged in her throat.
He looked sheepishly at her. “We charmed the food to taste like Easter candy,” he admitted. “We thought it would be funny, but it’s awful. I’m sorry, Lily. Don’t eat the green beans - they’re Bertie Bott’s”
“What is the matter with the two of you!” Lily was at her wit’s end. “First, you infest the house with vermin, then you try to blind the baby and to top it all off, you’ve completely ruined the dinner!” she sniffed. Oh Merlin, she was going to cry. Lily did the only thing she could do, she got up from the table and ran down the hall to her room.
James followed immediately after her and caught her arm just as she was about to open the door. “Lily!” he shouted, “stop,” he said much quieter as he saw her face trailing with fresh tears. Oh, he hadn’t wanted this. This was not his intent.
“Erm,” he began, knowing he sounded completely foolish. “w-we did it all for you,” he stammered.
“James, what are you talking about? Are you saying you intentionally sabotaged this entire day… for me? How is wrecking everything ‘for me’?”
“You’ve just… been so sad lately that Remus and Sirius and I wanted to cheer you up. We thought, if you could laugh a bit, or maybe, possibly just smile for a day that... ” Lily’s green eyes narrowed at her husband. He was on thin ice. He needed to do something - fast.
“Lily-” he tried to explain again, but gave up. “Just… come with me,” he gently took her hand and opened the door to their room.
Sirius sat on the floor, playing peek-a-boo with his godson as Remus walked in the door to the cottage an hour later.
“What’s happened to Lily and James?” Remus asked, looking around. “Is Harry all right?” he was slightly panicked.
“Harry is fine,” Sirius answered. “Lily and James are… having a little alone time, I guess. She wasn’t too pleased with the way Harry’s first Easter turned out.”
Remus stopped. “Don’t tell me you went through with that blasted rabbit idea?” he said incredulously.
“Yup,” Sirius lazily waved his wand and set bubbles in the air for Harry to play with.
“What about the egg hunt?” Remus inquired.
“Don’t even tell me you tried to charm the food - that was the worst idea of them all!”
“Erm…” Sirius dropped his wand. It had all seemed like a great plan to cheer Lily up, but now he realized just how inane all of his and James’s suggestions had been, “hindsight is twenty-twenty, I guess.”
“What about my idea - you know, the one that didn’t involve messing with Lily’s house or child or food?”
“Well, they’ve been in there for going on an hour now, so I think you’ve come out the big winner!” Sirius grinned and lifted a tired Harry off the floor. He settled the baby into his arm and leaned back onto the couch, to make both of them comfortable. Remus’s belly grumbled from hunger, but he knew there was nothing worth eating - thanks to James and Sirius, so he just plopped himself unceremoniously into the armchair.
“Remus came up with the idea of the rabbits?” Lily asked James in disbelief.
“Erm… no. That was pretty much Sirius.”
“And the food?”
“What about the magic egg hunt mess?”
“Well, Sirius and I sort of worked on that one together,” James admitted.
“So… what role did Remus play in this game of yours?” Lily asked.
James waved his arm around the meadow that he had transfigured their bedroom into. The bright sunlight and blue sky overhead with puffy white clouds had an almost immediate effect of calming Lily down. The meadow was filled with lilies of all kinds - white, orange, pink, yellow. There were tiny lilies-of-the-valley that lined a path to a clearing. Lily leaned back against James, closed her eyes and felt the warmth of the sun wash her pale face.
“This was Remus’s idea?” she asked softly.
“Well, he said that I should conjure a place that would make you happy, rather than play jokes. But the meadow and flowers were all me,” James grinned, knowing he was at least somewhat vindicated.
“It’s beautiful James,” Lily said and James folded his arms around her.
“I love you, Easter Lily,” he said.
“What about Harry?” Lily moved to stand up, realizing she had lost track of time. “We left him with Sirius!”
“Oh, I think he’s due for some one-on-one time with his godfather,” James pulled Lily back down into his lap. “Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?”
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