Chapter 45 : FINALITIES
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Lily gazed in awe at the magnificent city below. Venice was alight and full of activity. People bustled in an out of shops and gondolas filled the numerous canals. She and James had just arrived at the hotel and she was out on the balcony, admiring the view. It was so thoughtful of James to have brought her here. On the train ride, she had skimmed the brochure and learned that Venice held some of the most beautiful museums and churches in the world. James promised to take her to each one.
A cool breeze was blowing from the east and Lily tightened her sweater a bit around herself. There was a noise from behind her and she whipped around. James stood at the doorway, smiling at her. Lily smiled back as he walked over to her. He fastened his arms around her waist.
“Do you like it here?” he asked softly.
“Yeah, I love it,” Lily said, squeezing his hand. “Thanks for bringing me here.”
“My pleasure,” James said. “Do you want to go out for a walk tonight or do you just wanna get some rest for now and take on Venice tomorrow?”
“I’d like a walk,” Lily said, rubbing her nose against his. “And you promised me a new book on the way here.” James pulled away from her and looked at her as if she mortally offended him.
“I did not!” he cried, faking mortification.
“Oh yes you did,” Lily said, grabbing both his hands. “You’re not weaseling out of that! You promised, James Potter!”
“Me?” James said, pointing to himself with utmost dignity. “No one in their right minds would do that!”
“James!” Lily tickled him and he jerked out of her grasp.
“Alright, alright,” James grinned. He did promise her a new book on the way to Venice. Lily had been complaining that she had nothing good to read anymore.
He was so excited about this trip. He kept running his plans over and over in his head and he didn’t want anything to foul them up. Seeing the happiness and eagerness in Lily’s eyes made him really happy and he didn’t want anything to spoil that.
“C’mon then, what are we waiting for?” Lily said, heading inside their room. James shook his head and followed.
“If I’m correct…”
“Which you’re not.”
“What? I’m just pointing out the obvious for crying out loud.”
“I said, shut up.”
Joey scratched his noise furtively as he looked at the chessboard in front of him. Sirius was leaning against the backrest of his chair with an extremely bored look on his face. They were all hanging out at the Wagners’ for the weekend. Marian and Remus were playing a board game with Mark nearby and Christine was writing a report.
“No fair!” Mark yelled, squeezing a laughing Remus’ face. “You can’t put that there! You cheat!”
“Mark Wagner,” Marian said sternly. “Behave yourself.”
“But mama, Remus cheated!” Mark protested. “Look! He put his piece on the blue square. It should be on the green one!” Remus chuckled.
“Alright, alright, I ‘fess up,” he said, moving his piece to the green square. “Your turn, buddy.” He turned to Marian. “Smart little tyke.”
“He takes after his mom,” Marian smiled knowingly.
“I heard that!” Joey called from the table.
“Good to know!” Remus called back at him.
“Wonder how James and Lily are doing,” Marian said, moving her piece down to the orange triangle. Remus felt a pang, like a jolt. He tried his best not to think about it but everyone kept bringing the subject up.
“They’re doing fine, don’t worry about them,” Sirius said, moving his castle. He cast a fleeting sidelong glance at Remus, which fortunately went unnoticed.
“Remus!” a little hand was tugging on his sleeve. Remus jerked out of his thoughts and turned to the toddler beside him.
“Remus, it’s your move!” Mark said. “You’re not paying attention!”
“Sorry little buddy,” Remus said, ruffling his hair fondly. “My bad.”
“Roll the dice already!” Mark said, sounding annoyed. Remus tried to hold back a laugh.
“Mark, don’t talk to your uncle that way,” Marian said sharply.
“Alright,” Mark said. “Sorry, Remus.”
“That’s ok, sport,” Remus said, tossing the dice onto the board. It spun around and around for a few seconds and then slowed down, revealing the orange ball.
“Mama, he won!” Mark cried in surprise. “Mama, look! He got the orange ball!”
“Yes, he did, honey,” Marian nodded, looking meaningfully at Remus and smiling. Remus winked at her.
“And because you played so well today, I’m getting you some Florean Fortescue,” Remus said, tickling Mark’s sides. Mark hooted with laughter.
“Hey, you gotta get us some too!” Sirius protested from the coffee table.
“Yeah, be fair to the kids, Remus,” Christine added, grinning at him from the dining room.
“Ok, ok!” Remus laughed as Mark finally broke free from his grasp and wrestled him to the ground. “Tackle Remus!”
“Hey, watch the contacts, Mark! Man, you’re strong!” Remus soon found himself rolling on the floor with the three-year-old.
“He’s my son, Remus,” Joey said, smiling at him. He then looked at the board and then moved his rook, checking Sirius’ king. “Ha! Top that, Sirius!”
Remus shook his head and sat up, his sandy brown hair rumpled. Mark sat next to him, panting from their wrestling match.
“You’re the best uncle, Remus!” he said, hugging Remus around the waist tightly.
“Hey, what about me?” Sirius called to him.
“You hid my candy yesterday,” Mark narrowed his eyes at him. Sirius chuckled.
“Ok, point taken,” he grinned. “But if I buy you some more candy, will I be your best uncle?”
“Stop trying to bribe the kid, Sirius,” Remus implored, smiling.
“Honeydukes candy is the best, Mark,” Sirius said, ignoring Remus’ comment.
“Oh, Honeydukes!” Mark beamed.
Sirius flashed Remus a wink. Remus grinned and shook his head. It was fun being an uncle.
James and Lily had walked around the shops in Venice; and rode quite a number of gondolas to get around. James had gotten that book he promised Lily five minutes before the shops closed. She had spotted it at once. It was a book about famous alchemists and their contributions to the wizarding world. Just Lily’s style.
It was almost midnight and they were back at the hotel. Lily was completely engrossed in her new book and James was lounging in an armchair by the fire, watching her. It was tedious but entertaining watching her read. She didn’t even notice his stare. He always noted her every movement.
Surprising enough, though, Lily raised her head and looked at him. She probably became aware of his gaze. James smiled at her and she smiled back, quite mischievously so.
“Have you nothing else to do but stare at me?” she asked.
“How do you know I’ve been staring at you?” James said, innocently raising his eyebrows.
“You honestly think I can’t see you?” Lily smirked. “What’s so interesting about me anyway that takes up most of your time, Mr. Potter?”
“Why, Miss Evans, everything about you is interesting,” James said, standing up and sitting down on her armrest. “Why do you think I fell in love with you?”
“You were daft, that’s why,” Lily smiled slyly, poking his sides. He jerked away momentarily. Lily smirked. She knew James had a ticklish side. He was just too proud to admit it. He pulled her closer and leaned in for a kiss. The world dissolved momentarily.
“Ok James, enough flirting,” Lily said, pushing him away playfully.
“Aw, but I want to,” James slipped his arm around her shoulders. “Why do you think I booked this trip?”
“We aren’t gonna flirt all day long, James Potter,” Lily rolled her eyes at him.
“We aren’t?” James looked at her in fake incredulity. Lily rolled her eyes again.
“Ok, that’s it; I’m going to bed,” she announced, breaking free from his grasp and standing up, nearly causing him to topple over into her armchair.
“Bed?” James said, fixing his glasses and straightening up. “It’s still early!”
“James, it’s 12:15 in the morning,” Lily said pointedly, pulling the covers off her side of the bed.
“My point exactly!" James said, waving his arms up for emphasis.
Lily shook her head and sat down on the edge of the bed, brushing her long, red hair.
"James, we're going to the museums tomorrow, ok? And I heard St. Mark's Square is a beautiful place," she said.
"Hey, anything you want," James said, finally giving up his pleas and heading into the bathroom. "But if I say 'we need to rest', I mean it. I may be a drop dead gorgeous athlete but I can't stand walking around too much."
"Don't flatter yourself too much, Potter," Lily said, slipping under the covers and lying down. She closed her eyes and immediately felt herself drifting off to sleep. It had been a long day. There was a weight on the other side of the bed. She heard a click and the lights went off.
"Good night, Lily," James whispered, slipping his arm across her waist.
"Night James," Lily said softly. With that, both of them fell asleep.
"James, stop it!" Lily snapped, putting her hands on her waist. It was Sunday afternoon and they were at the Grand Canal, admiring the view. Lily was trying to take a picture of the magnificent water structure but James kept messing her up.
"Please, I just need to get this done," Lily said.
"But I'm hungry," James pouted. "We arranged for dinner at 7:30."
"James, it's 5:15," Lily said, exasperated.
"Yeah, but it's a half-an-hour taxi drive to the hotel from here," James protested.
"We have plenty of time," Lily said, finally taking her snapshot. "And besides, there are no taxis around here."
"Well, gondola taxis then," James said stubbornly.
"Please don't get started on me again," Lily groaned, putting her camera back into her shoulder bag and shifting it slightly. She sighed heavily. It was like taking care of a five-year-old. They both went to all the museums and churches during the past two days and they both enjoyed them. But when James' stomach rang the bell, he had to answer it.
"How about this?" James said, leaning against the railing beside her. "We take one more cruise around Venice then we go back to the hotel, get ready for dinner, and then head on back to St. Mark's Square for the festival. Then we can go home."
"You finally have one good idea," Lily smiled at him, pushing back from the railing.
"Let's go then," James smiled.
They went around Venice one more time and then finally went back to the hotel. Lily rubbed her calves in the hot shower. Walking was tedious work. After drying herself up she got dressed into a short white sleeveless dress and started to fix her hair. Since Venice was mostly Muggle and had only a small magical side, they had to dress appropriately. Not that they weren't used to Muggles clothes anyway.
While she fixed herself up, she was reminded of the Yule Ball and the graduation ceremonies. She had to smile. Those experiences were very memorable to her. She decided to twist her hair into an elegant bun with the ever-present tendrils framing her face. Then she applied just a little bit of make-up and slipped her shoes on. James had gotten ready beforehand and was waiting in the room. She walked out.
James heard a noise from behind him and he whirled around. He felt both his stomach and his jaw drop as he stared at the gorgeous figure before him. What a way to set the mood of the evening. Lily smiled at him.
"Yes, you look very handsome yourself, Mr. Potter," she said, surveying him with a smile. James wasn't as concerned with his looks as Sirius was although he knew how to dress up. Long-sleeved black dress shirt, black slacks...nice.
"Thanks, um—you look beautiful, Lily," James managed to get out. His heart was pounding madly. It was like the first time he saw her at the Yule Ball.
"Thank you," Lily reddened slightly. She was used to James' compliments but whenever he looked at her like that, it always made her feel a bit self-conscious.
"Well, er, we better get going then," James said, consciously fingering something in his pocket, which Lily didn't notice.
"Ok then," Lily nodded, reaching for her purse. James joined her at the door.
Dinner was a wonderful event. After dessert, James took Lily out to the restaurant's garden where it was rather dim-lit and a bit cold. There was no one around. James draped his coat over Lily's shoulder as he let her out to the railing. The restaurant was located atop a hill overlooking the magnificent city. It was a beautiful sight.
"How'd you like the lemon meringue?" James smiled.
"Tasted just like ours during the Yule Ball," Lily said.
"Exactly what I was thinking," James said. Lily let out a small laugh. James stared at her for a moment.
"I want to show you something," he said.
"What?" Lily looked at him.
"Over here," James led her further into the garden away from the railing. It was darker and quieter without the noise from inside the restaurant.
"Watch," James said, taking out a small box from his pocket and held it up in front of him. When he let go, the box stayed in mid-air. It opened by itself. There was nothing inside but once it opened, a cloud of sparkles issued from it. Lily was watching it intently. James took a deep breath.
"Centuries ago, the man from whom I descend created a jewel..." While he spoke, figures appeared within the sparkling cloud, envisioning his words. A beautiful diamond, no bigger than a pebble, was rotating inside the cloud. Lily glanced up at him and then back at the cloud-like hologram.
"...A jewel which was the symbol of his love and devotion to one woman," James went on. "He forged it into a ring which represented his unending love for her." Now the jewel vanished and in its place, a beautiful diamond-encrusted ring with the main piece in the center of an intricate design appeared.
"To her, he gave it and when she accepted it, their powers combined and they created a legacy. A strong, powerful one. The legacy from which I came from," James said. He waved his hand before the cloud and the image of the ring grew clearer and clearer. It was a while before Lily realized that the ring was actually solidifying. After a few moments, the cloud disappeared and only the ring was present, rotating slowly before her, sparkling and twinkling at her in a friendly way. She drew her gaze from it and looked at James. He had gotten on his knees and held both her hands in his. Her heart was doing a drum roll in her chest.
"I want to continue that legacy, Lily," he said, his voice soft and husky. "I want to continue it through us. Lily Evans, I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?"
Lily stared at him for a moment, his bright hazel eyes boring into hers. He loved her and she loved him. And she knew this was where it was all going to fall into place. She smiled.
“Yes, James Potter,” she said. “I will marry you.”
James grinned and stood up. He waved his hand and the ring floated slowly towards Lily. He lifted her left hand up and the ring inserted itself into her ring finger. It was a perfect fit. James looked up at her and she looked back. He kissed her softly on the lips, knowing that the prophecy will now be fulfilled…knowing that he would spend the rest of his life with the one woman he truly loved…like his ancestor.
James kissed her once more and then planted his lips on her forehead.
“Let’s go home,” he whispered.
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