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Chapter 1 : Seasons in the Sun
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Strands of silken red hair danced around her face, whipping anyone else within a foot of her though they didn’t seem to care. Her laughter carries in the wind, bringing smiles to their faces. Her joy, it seemed, was contagious.
Her husband’s adroit fingers tapping upon the flesh of her shoulder, as if in some silent communication, as if letting go of her for one second would be too much.
The best man acts like it’s all some kind of illusion, seeing the groom like this, so obviously and unashamedly happy; his normally mischievous mirth replaced by a palpable desperation and overwhelmed passion and awe at his wife, his beautiful, clever wife.
He is pretentious and casual, as usual, his swagger is never out of step, but he can’t remember when he’s ever been so happy, when he’s ever seen them so happy. He doesn’t even consider that they might never be this happy again. He is laughing, his finest clothes on, his best friend at his side, drinking champagne (apparently a tradition among the bride’s culture.)
“Sirius,” James is saying, and for a rare moment they are alone, Lily has gone to dance with Dumbledore, the well-wishers and friends having a respite from all the merriment.
The best man looks at his friend, his very best friend, his brother, a stupid, impish (he would call it roguish) grin on his face that may have been caused by the champagne, but he very much doubts it.
James takes a few steps in the direction of the woods, he turns and indicates that Sirius should follow, and he does.
They stop at quiet place behind Hagrid’s hut, the place is shielded from the view of the wedding party, a perfect spot really, they had used it as a place for midnight revelries and for when they wanted to indulge in some underage drinking.
The best man thinks that it was only last summer, that they left here,a little less than a year since stopped calling this place home, but even now it is still the only place in the world where they feel safe.
James sits down on the convenient rock and loosens the collar on his dress robes, Sirius follows his lead and finds a place on the ground to sit, leaning his back against the rock.
For a few minutes neither of them speak, both of them feeling as though this should be a reverend moment, though they can’t think of why and they don’t quite know how to make it one, silence seems an amiable option.
James removes his glasses and cleans them unnecessarily on the hem of his robes, when he replaces them on his nose he says a little bewilderedly: “I’m somebody’s husband,” as if it were just occurring to him.
The best man shakes his head bemusedly, “Stunning observation, Prongs.”
James gives him a sideways glance and a sly grin, but chooses not to reply.
It’s getting dark now, and he can see the lights shining from the windows of the castle, burning candles glowing as if they were some kind of life force, like in those Muggle movies. Everything glows, everything burns from within; fire and light. He can see birds skimming just over the tops of the trees, he can hear the party, people laughing, music playing…the sounds of life raging on, despite circumstances, defiant of them, even.
He turns around to tell James something, some remembrance of things past, some story reliving their glory years as Hogwart’s most infamous characters.
There is something in James expression that tells him that there is more to his apparent non-sequitor, but he doesn’t ask, he waits.
James rifles through his hair, fingers sliding through the strands he had so desperately tried to control this morning. This simple little doing used to be an act of ego, but now he recognises as an outward sign of stress or tension.
The best man notices that his friend looks tired, he still emanates a delirious sort of glee, but he knows that his wedding is one good day in a tundra of bad days and even worse days. He knows because he sees that same sort deadened, muted expression on his face whenever he passes his own reflection.
James looks so frail and old, yet impossibly young, he’s only 18 and he features haven’t quite been moulded in those of a mature adult, his owlish glasses never seem to help his image either.
“Sirius,” James starts, his voice laden with a heavy sigh, the best man repositions himself so he’s sitting on the rock , James hardly takes up any space and so they sit quite comfortably together, side by side.
When James speaks, he speaks in a low defeated voice, a childish whine that he hasn’t heard escape from James since their first rescue mission for the Order.
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
He might’ve laughed if it had been a more appropriate moment, if James didn’t look so confused and helpless and honest.
James continues, his hands gesticulating wildly, ignorant of the fact that he was in danger of taking the best man’s nose off his face. “What am I thinking? We’re 18 years old and I don’t know how to brush my own hair properly, how am I supposed to take care of someone else? Why did she marry me?” he moans, “Why didn’t you stop me?”
He does laugh this time, out of relief, out of sheer, unadulterated elation: he laughs and James rewards him by thwacking him across the back of the head.
The laughter dies down to the occasional hiccough and he offers the advice that a best man is supposed to give, “James, when have you ever failed at anything?”
James splutters his reply, “This isn’t like anything I’ve ever tried before, Padfoot.”
“Since when has that stopped you?”
James shakes his head and a smile itches at the corners of his lips, but he stares straight ahead, “This is a little different from harassing the Slytherins.”
“I don’t see how, Evans has always been…” he smiles wistfully, “Not Evans anymore, is it?”
“Merlin,” James groans. “Mr and Mrs Potter. I’ve become my parents.”
“You’re a grown up now, Prongs, got to be responsible. Mister Potter.” He says bracingly before his serious and important tone dissolves into laughter. His laughter is like the sound of those metal wands firing, he saw them once at the Muggle cinny-ma.
James has had about enough of responsibility, he is tired and much too old around the eyes to be a newlywed groom. But he wants to take care of her, needs to. She’s the one certainty in his life and he doesn’t want to risk that.
“James, lad, you’re far too serious. This is your wedding day!”
James offers a half-hearted smile. “Do you think Moony might have been right? Maybe I’m not ready, I could have waited for the right time…but there might never have been one…”he isn’t addressing his best friend, just thinking out loud, an unfortunate side effect to liking the sound of his own voice. He shrugs it off and smiles. “Oh to be carefree, wily and gay.”
“Watch who you’re calling ‘gay’, mate.”
This time he laughs, a genuine laugh. Not the dry, bitter sound he has been passing off as laughter these few months.
The best man joins in, because he doesn’t want him to stop laughing, he doesn’t want to see the smile slide from his face. But in the end he does, they both do, but it is almost enough to know they laughed, to remember that today they were happy.
“No use thinking on it now, James. When all is said and done, you know you’ve done the right thing.”
There’s no need to thank him, really. For two men who were often accused of using Occlumency on the Quidditch pitch and in classes in their not too distant youth, there is really no use for words.
Behind them, the band begins to play another song. A Muggle song that they both recognise as Mr Evans and his daughter’s favourite song. James hums idly to the first few bars and lets the tune drop.
“She played that to me the first time I went to her house,” he says softly. “She’s played it everyday since.”
“I think she’s trying to drive you mad. That song’s not good for much else.”
James clouts him.
“Hey! Don’t shoot the messenger!” He scrambles along the ground, trying to get away from James’s fists and to find his footing. James rushes at him, tussling with him as they used to do as children. They still are. A generation of old children. Foot soldiers and cannon fodder. But they are boys, and in their time they were the stupidest and most reckless boys. It’s a badge of honour, a conceit that they are both proud of, even now.
When all the world is crumbling around them, they cling to whatever moments of normalcy they can recall. ‘Those days’ have become sacrosanct.
“What on earth are you doing?”
Lily is standing there, her hands on her hips, a mystified but amused expression on her face. Remus and Peter are beside her, and a few other notable guests have followed. Including his parents and his in-laws.
James is currently captured in a headlock; their robes are dishevelled, a mess of dirt and leaf litter. His glasses are dangling from his ear, but he can surmise that the white and red blur before him is his new wife.
“Lily,” James says gruffly, his voice as calm and casual as it can be considering he has an arm around his throat.
The best man lets him up and grins at her. “Don’t worry, Lily, he’ll be in top shape for tonight,” he says luridly.
Lily glares at him and shakes her head. James just rolls his eyes and walks over to meet his bride, pressing a kiss onto her forehead.
“Come on Sirius, we’ve denied them our presence too long.” James nods and smiles, a silent thank you. He leaves with his arm around Lily’s waist.
He lingers on, alone in the darkness. He hears the party, people’s voices, the band starting up again.
But he can’t see their faces, and the music is fading, the sound of James laughing is leaving his mind, replaced by a cacophony of screaming, crying, yelling. He isn’t sure who’s voice it is now, it might even be his own.
Sitting on the floor of his cell, he listlessly bangs his head against the wall, to see if he can still feel.
His mind is a gaping wound, filled with broken thoughts. They stab and sear through his mind. In the jagged and fractured pieces of his memory, he knows that he loved James. He had to have loved him. He was not just a reason to mourn.
I wear this crown of thorns
upon my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
beneath the stains of time
the feelings disappear
you are someone else
I am still right here
A/N: A big thank you to timeturner who encouraged me and helped me write this piece. And specil thanks to melihobbit for this gorgeous banner.
Lyrics: 'Hurt' by Trent Reznor.
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