Chapter 21 : Epilogue
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The black-haired, green-eyed toddler zipped around the house like the aspiring miniature Quidditch player that he was. There were many obstacles in the house, but they were no match for him. He skirted around the red arm chair, then daftly maneuvered his way around a table, narrowly avoiding knocking over a vase of flowers.
“Hold on, what kind of flowers?”
“What?” James looked down at his girlfriend, who was lying flat across the sofa, head nestled in his lap. Her green eyes were alight as they trained on him, and not for the first time, he felt a small swoop in the left wing of his chest just at the sight of them.
“What kind of flowers?” she repeated.
“Sunflowers,” he said immediately. “Tulips. Anything but lilies.” He reached down to ruffle her hair so that it fell messily into her eyes. “Godric, Lily, I have learned something this past year.”
“Okay, you pass,” she teased. “Continue with your weird fantasy.”
“It’s not weird. I’m telling you, we’re going to get married and have a kid and name him--Harry.” He only grinned wider when she snorted. “Seriously. I know this stuff. I aced Divination.”
“I thought you said Divination was stupid,” she pointed out.
“Just because it’s stupid doesn’t mean it can’t get things right sometimes,” he retorted. “Look at Sirius. He’s living proof.”
“Bad form, insulting him when he can’t defend himself!” But she was laughing, the sound reverberating throughout the flat they shared. He loved that laugh--loved to be the source of it.
“It’s all right; Sirius will be here any moment and you’re free to tattle on me then.”
“I suppose I won’t for now. It was a nice thing you did, trying to distract me with plans of a faux future when I was feeling insecure about my older sister getting married so young.”
It was Tuney and Vernon’s wedding day, and Lily didn’t know how she felt about that. She still thought that her older sister was wasting away her potential, marrying a boring bloke just because he could provide a stable income. She didn’t see anything wrong with following her dreams, trying to make it on her own. Love and happiness were important, weren’t they? Girls were long past the point where they had to marry for income. But whenever she reminded her sister of this, the older Evans sister merely held her nose up high and mentioned that Lily was too lost in her magical, ideal world. Someone had to pick up the slack after their parents passed away. Who had kept her feet planted on the ground while Lily chased wisps of dreams, off at Hogwarts and then Oxford and then Mungo’s?
And Lily hadn’t said anything to that. She couldn’t. It was true that she had gotten enough scholarships to scrape by, and that she worked for a measly income as a trainee to get better pay when she was officially a healer, and that she really did feel that she had worked hard for her dreams. But she couldn’t deny that Tuney had made sacrifices for her happiness. If this was what her sister wanted, then she could do the same for her.
Though for all Tuney’s criticisms about magic, it was ironic that the first semi-magical wedding that she would attend was her own. Druella Black had sponsored it, naturally. It was more of a political statement against Cygnus Black than anything: they were still feuding. She had wanted to make waves in the wizarding elite by showing off her newly sponsored Muggles, and thus most of the London magical elite was invited. Lily really hoped that this wasn’t a potential disaster in the making.
Lily was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice that James never responded to her statement. In fact, he had a funny look on his face. The witch looked at him questioningly. “What?”
“Nothing,” he said quickly. Too quickly.
“What?” she repeated, poking him in the stomach. No response. “James Potter, don’t make me tickle you!”
“You can’t scare me, Lily Evans,” came the immediate response.
But she noticed his stomach muscles tense in anticipation and smirked. “We both know who wins the tickle fights around here.”
James considered it for a moment, then sighed. “All right, fine. It’s just--” He paused. “I was just thinking that--” His hand disappeared into his hair.
She gave him a look, one reminiscent of the pre-relationship days, when she had pegged him to be a totally different person than he was. But this one was laced with affection. “Spit it out, Potter.”
“What?” Lily’s face scrunched up. “James Potter, don’t tell me you’re proposing to me ten minutes before we have to leave for my sister’s wedding--” One look at his face and her eyes widened. “Oh my god. You are.”
He shifted and fished out a box from his pocket, having at least the decency to look sheepish. “Surprise?”
She scrambled up into a sitting position in a flurry of red hair and pastel bridesmaid dress. “No way.” His sheepish look brought out a wolfish grin. “James, you dork. That was literally one of the worst possible ways to--when people ask me for a story--” She trailed off, mostly speechless. “Petunia’s going to think I’m trying to steal her spotlight!” was what she finally blurted out.
He chuckled. “And this is why I love you.” He reached over to ruffle her hair again. “I actually had a better proposal planned, I swear! I just got carried away.” His grin was now roguish. “Must be the love potion you slip in my coffee every morning.”
“Oh, god, don’t even remind me--” She buried her face in her hands. “I was so awful to you back then.”
“Doesn’t matter.” He removed her hands from her face and took them gently in his. “What matters is that we’re together now, and you make me bloody happy. Lily Evans, you’re the love of my life.” He jumped off the sofa and theatrically got down on one knee, opening up the ring box. “Will you marry me?”
“James, we’ve only been dating for a year--”
“A year, two weeks, and three days,” James corrected automatically. “And that’s not an answer, love.”
She laughed. “Yes, of course, you bloody idiot.”
And all of a sudden he was pulling her up, slipping the ring on, picking her up and spinning her around. They were both grinning madly, two lunatics in love.
Sirius had the misfortune of arriving as they started kissing.
“Oh, for the love of Merlin. Break it up, you two, we have a schedule to adhere to,” he declared loudly. “Ah, Evans, is that a rock I see on your finger?” He raised his eyebrows, then turned to his best mate. “Prongs, you literally could not keep it in your pants for half a day, could you? Now I owe Moony five galleons.”
“That’s what you get for betting on me,” the Auror shot back.
“Whatever, I had more faith in you.” Sirius smirked. “So should I call the marching band to cancel, or--”
Lily gaped at her boyfriend-turned-fiance. “Marching band?”
He didn’t even bat an eye. “I told you, I had an elaborate plan.” A wicked gleam. “Have, actually.” To Sirius: “Nah, don’t cancel anything.”
“All right, Evans, you’re in for a treat tonight.” Lily didn’t like the identical smirks on the two black-haired Aurors’ faces. “In the meantime, let’s go. We don’t want to miss our portkey. Druella will murder us if we’re late.”
Lily was happy for her sister. Really she was. Though she still thought Vernon was sleazy and that Petunia was way out of his league, it was Petunia’s choice to marry him, and Lily would support her sister no matter what. But she couldn’t seem to enjoy the wedding. One, she was anxious that something awful might happen. Druella was making a risky political statement, and on top of that, she had invited the wizarding elite, the ones who were most likely to turn up their noses at Muggles. Luckily, most of the nastier ones had snubbed the wedding, but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t show up to sabotage it.
She had half been expecting Cygnus Black to hobble in through the doors in objection when the minister had said, “Speak now, or forever hold your peace.”
Yet everything had gone eerily smoothly. Which brought her to reason number two why she couldn’t seem to enjoy the wedding, and this one was a purely selfish one: her curiosity. The wedding seemed to drag on because she knew the prospect of something even more exciting, something that had been guaranteed to blow her mind, awaited.
At least James and Sirius, as groomsmen, were at her side most of the time. And at least being usurped from her maid of honor spot by one of Tuney’s friends meant that she wasn’t obligated to linger too long as the bridal party chatted with Druella at the reception. She quickly congratulated her sister again and then set for Dorcas and Remus, whom she had spotted on the other side of the room. And now that the wedding ceremony was officially over--well, she could be a little selfish, right? She slipped on the ring that she had transfigured into a pearl on her dress before she walked through the crowd. It wasn’t flamboyant, but it wasn’t exactly invisible, either.
Dorcas and Remus didn’t seem surprised at all, though, when she approached them, raking a hand through her hair so that the ring sparkled in the light.
“Sirius owes me five galleons,” Remus remarked as soon as he saw.
“He should have known better than to have faith in James’s ability to contain himself,” Dorcas agreed with a laugh. “Nice job at being subtle, by the way, Lily.”
“She was subtle during the ceremony, at least,” Remus commented. “That was some self-control there.”
“Did everybody know beforehand?” Lily groaned, cheeks tinting pink at Dorcas’s comment. It wasn’t like she wanted to publicize her engagement to the world (yet), but she did want a more--authentic reaction, she supposed. “I don’t like it when you two tag team me, by the way.”
“Know what?” Marlene asked, sidling up to the group. When she saw the ring, she let out a gasp. “Holy Helga! Is that what I think it is?”
Ah, there it was. Lily knew she could always count on Marlene for dramatic reactions. “Yeah,” she beamed.
“Ha! I told you so.” The brunette smirked. “Remember when I called it when James and Remus moved in across the hall?”
“How can I forget?” Lily retorted. “You remind me at every given opportunity.”
“So?” Marlene asked. “How did it happen?”
“I’m not quite sure. Apparently he had an elaborate plan, but he asked me ten minutes before we were supposed to leave for the wedding.” At Remus’s snicker and the glance he exchanged with Dorcas, she quirked an eyebrow. “You two know about the plan, don’t you?”
“Bits and pieces,” Dorcas admitted. “Only because James involved Remus, and he tells me everything!” she added in response to Marlene’s why-did-you-keep-me-out-of-the-loop-you-bint glare.
“Way to throw me to the wolves, Dorcas,” Remus joked, his spirits lightened by the wedding champagne he had drunk.
Marlene, too, had lighter spirits, as indicated by her fake gasp. “Are you calling me a wolf, Remus Lupin--”
She was interrupted by Sirius, who had arrived to grab Remus. “Moony, Prongs needs your help with--” Sirius trailed off as he and Marlene made eye contact. “Pete.” His eyes snapped back to his friend. “Sorry, girls, excuse us for a moment.”
When the three girls were left alone, the blonde and the redhead snuck inquisitive looks over to the brunette.
“What was that about?” Dorcas asked.
“Pete’s probably having a fit over that,” Marlene murmured, gesturing to the ring on Lily’s finger.
“Not what I meant, Marlene,” Dorcas chided. “Though yeah, I can only imagine.” The blonde looked pointedly at her friend. “I meant you and Sirius?”
“Yeah, you never told us the full story of what happened between the two of you,” Lily pressed.
“It was nothing,” Marlene brushed off, repeating the same mantra that always came up whenever this topic was mentioned. “We dated, we broke up, that’s how it goes.”
“Clearly there’s more to the story,” Lily protested. “Merlin, Marly, you could cut that tension with a butter knife.” James and Remus had stopped acting awkward around Marlene the past year, but everything was more or less the same as far as Marlene’s and Sirius’s interactions went. Since two out of three of the pairs happened to be dating, well, it made tensions between the third pair awkward. Lily wished that there was something that she could do to fix it. She didn’t need them to be on close terms or anything, but clearly, something had happened that left them both with bad feelings, and she just wanted them to clear the air and get along. Maybe if she knew more of the story...
Dorcas seemed to be equally worried. “And with you starting training in the fall--”
“Look, guys, can we not do this right now?” Marlene’s smile looked rather forced. “Today is a wedding. It’s a happy day.”
“If you say so, Marlene.” Neither of the two looked convinced.
Marlene snorted. “Let’s stop talking about boys, okay?” She took each of her friends’ hands and dragged them towards the dance floor. “It’s a reception, and I want to have some god damn fun.”
“That was amazing,” Lily breathed, as the last remnants of the fireworks that spelled out ‘Will you marry me?’ disappeared into the night sky. Not for the first time, she considered herself lucky that she had him. He proved that he would jump through hoops to make her happy--and she would gladly do the same in return.
“Worth the wait throughout the day?” he asked, clinking his glass of champagne with hers. The little boathouse they were on bobbled with the waves, now safely docked back in the harbor.
“Well worth it.” She relaxed contently, resting her head on his shoulder. “James Potter’s creative mind, his flair for the over the top, and the help of magic means that other blokes don’t even stand a chance in comparison.”
He grinned, pleased. “I knew you’d like it.” A pause, as he fumbled around for his wand. “And since that’s a yes--” He looked questioningly over at her. “It is still a yes, right? Got cold feet yet, Evans?”
“Well, the night is a bit chilly,” she teased.
“There are spells for that.”
At a wave of his wand, flames lit up in the jars surrounding where they were sitting, glowing pink.
“Did you plan that line just so you would seem cool?” At his admission, she leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. “Well, it worked. I’m duly impressed, future Mr. Lily Evans,” she whispered in his ear.
He grinned in response and then brought a finger to his lips, indicating that she should listen. Right on cue, music started playing around them: it was the soundtrack of the Gryffindorks’ new album, she realized.
“And it just keeps getting better,” she grinned as she sat upright again, appreciating the nod to one of the very first conversations --if you could even call it that -- they had had together. “How long have you had this planned?”
“A while,” he admitted. “I was going to propose our one year anniversary, actually, but then, you know, Remus.”
“Right.” Full moon had coincided with their dinner plans, she had remembered. Though they had moved dinner to another day, James had looked more disappointed than she thought warranted, and now she realized why.
“After that I realized I didn’t want two big things coinciding--one year is an accomplishment on its own, you know? And it’d be awful if you rejected me on our anniversary.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t try to use that fact to your advantage,” she teased.
“Ha, ha, very funny,” he retorted. “But really. I didn’t want to pressure you into anything, Lily. I was ready to spend the rest of my life with you, but if you weren’t ready yet, I’d understand. I am three years older than you, after all.”
“But I’m three years too mature for my age, so that makes us even,” she grinned back. “Don’t worry; you didn’t pressure me into anything. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, too.”
She leaned in to kiss him, but he pulled back. “Wait.” He fumbled around for his wand, then murmured an incantation, sending sparks into the air. They exploded into fireworks that bloomed like sunflowers. “Just wanted to set the mood, you know.”
“James Potter, you’re a dork,” she laughed. “You’re showing me that spell sometime, just so you know.”
“As soon as you show me the spell you cast to get me to fall in love with you.”
“The one that’s worse than crucio?”
“The very one.” And this time, he was the one to lean in.
They kissed to the backdrop of fireworks against a starry night sky.
A/N: And that’s a wrap, folks! Thank you so much to everyone who stuck by until the very end. This is the first novel I’ve completed on this site, and I’m ridiculously excited about that. Cheers to James and Lily making more lil baby Harry’s and not succumbing to a dark overlord: that's the beauty of AUs. c:
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