“We should probably go down to the town and find somewhere to sleep or something. Its late and we can’t stay up here forever.” James said quietly, helping me up carefully.
We both turned to the sound of the yell, and through my puffy eyes and hazy vision, I could see someone with long, swinging blonde hair running towards us. Recognition didn't come at first, but then it hit me who this was so suddenly I thought I might collapse again.
“Nikki!” I squealed as I ran to meet my old school friend. James slowly ambled over to where we both stood, hugging tightly. It was all I seemed to be able to do - hold my dear friend and struggle against the emotion overwhelming me.
“Lily…I missed you.” Nikki murmured, clearly also in tears.
“Oh I know, Nik, I missed you too, so, so much. It’s been so long.”
Nikki laughed quietly, “It’s only a bit over a year.”
“So? It seemed like ages.” I couldn't help the whine in my tone, and Nikki gave another watery giggle.
“I can’t believe you’re here.” Nikki said as she pulled away to smile at me with a mixture of joy and sadness. Then she turned and looked at James. “Both of you.”
“Yeah, I don’t think it has really hit me yet.” I said as Nikki went to hug James, still crying.
“Hey, Nikki.” He murmured, and I watched as tears pooled in his eyes while Nikki started to sob into his shoulder. “Long time, no see.”
She laughed softly through her waterworks. “Indeed, Jamie. I missed you.”
Nikki and I had met in the first year of Hogwarts when we shared a boat with Mary on they way up to the castle, and the three of us had become fast friends. Then, in seventh year when Mary started going out with Remus and Nikki got a crush on Sirius, the three of us started spending more time with the Marauders, much to my dismay at the time. But before I knew it, we had all grown a lot closer to the guys, and I eventually I had to admit that they're weren't as immature and annoying as I had previously thought. A little.
Nikki, with her fun, loud, confident attitude had got on famously with James and especially Sirius. Her relationship with Sirius turned into something more then friendship while her and James became great friends.
“I missed you too, you were the only one Sirius would actually stop being stupid for. He went out of control.” James chuckled, clearly remembering.
She giggled, “Really?”
“Oh yeah.” I said, coming up beside them, but then I suddenly remembered why she was here, and I murmured. “Of course, it was probably because he was so devastated about your death. It broke his heart, Nik.”
She sighed, “It broke mine too. I was up here, all alone. It was so different, not having everyone around.”
“But now we are here!” James said in an obvious attempt to lighten the mood. It worked to an extent. We all laughed for a moment, but then Nikki tentatively spoke.
“How—I mean…what happened? Why are you guys here?”
“Voldemort.” James and I replied simultaneously.
Her mouth dropped open, “He found you? How?”
“We don’t know.” James said, frowning. “We changed Peter to Secret Keeper a couple of nights ago. It was Sirius’s idea—he thought that Pete would be a less likely target. But Wormtail would never betray us.”
I nodded. I trusted my husband's judgement and his friends, but there was a tiny, suppressed part of me that wondered if maybe...
Nikki looked like she was thinking along those lines. “Are - are you sure? I mean, Peter was always very quiet, and he did seem to be a bit out of it last time I saw you…”
But she trailed off because James was vehemently shaking his head before she was done. “No. He would never do that to us. He is a Marauder. Marauders are loyal, trustworthy friends who just happen to be geniuses at pranks and devastatingly handsome.” He grinned cheekily at us.
We rolled their eyes. “Okay, whatever.” Nikki said, then she glanced down at her watch. “Oh! Look at the time! I’ve got to meet someone. I just saw your names on the screen before and I had to come and see you, but I’ve got to run.”
“Okay—wait, what?” James said, but she had already hugged me and kissed James on the cheek and run off down the hill. I couldn't the happy smile spreading across my face. She was exactly the same as the last time I had seen her.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!” she yelled over her shoulder.
When she had disappeared, James turned to me with a raised eyebrow. “She loves a dramatic exit, doesn’t she?”
I laughed, “She sure does.”
“It was so good to see her. It has been a while.”
“Yeah, it has.” I smiled, full of bittersweet emotion. “I really missed her.”
He nodded silently, and neither of us spoke for a few minutes. Finally James said, “Lils, don’t you think we should go? I mean, we can’t live up here.”
I had completely forgotten where we were. “You’re probably right.” I muttered and James started leading me down the hill, keeping an arm around my waist, “But where are we going to go?”
“I think we can help with that.” A deep but not unfamiliar voice said.
“Dad! Mum!” James yelled when he recognized the two figures walking towards us. They looked a lot younger then when we had last seen them. They looked about 30. What was this place?
“Hi James, Lily.” Harold said as Judith let go of her husband’s had to fly at both of us and hug us tight.
“Oh, James! Look at you! You look even more handsome then last time a saw you! I have my boy back!” Judith sobbed, hugging James tightly.
When she moved over to hug me, I saw Harold walk over to greet his son. I could see them murmuring to each other, but I couldn't hear what they were saying over Judith sniffling in my ear. "Lily, darling, we missed you as well! I can't believe you're both here! And so suddenly!"
"I know." I whispered back, choking down the emotion. Judith had always been like a second mother to me, and it was almost overwhelming to see her and feel her hugging me the same way she used to.
so nice to see you again Lily, dear.” She continued quietly, pulling away to smooth my hair back gently. “Last time
we saw you, you were still at Hogwarts. I must say, motherhood certainly suits
My eyes filled with tears at her compliment and at the reminder of Harry but I blinked them back, pushing away the pain of losing Harry. “Thank you so much Judith, it is so good to see you again.”
“Wait a minute,” James said, having evidently heard his mothers comment. “How did you know about Harry? We haven’t seen you for almost 5 years.”
“People die everyday James," Harold replied, smiling slightly, “people tell us things all the time. Remember Uncle Basil? He was at your wedding and when he passed, he told us you too got married. Not that we were surprised. You had been wanting to marry Lily since you first saw her, and we knew you would. We were so happy for you. And then when you visited our grave last year. We heard you.”
“You can actually hear us talk to you?” I asked, astounded.
“Oh, yes dear. And it rather makes our day, or our month.” Judith amended as the group started walking down the hill. “We have a little speaker in the kitchen, you see. And when you and James visited our grave last September, your voices come through the speaker. We heard all about Harry, and how you got married. We were so happy!”
“You bet.” Harold agreed looking at James, “Your mother didn’t stop crying the entire day.”
Everyone except Judith laughed. “Of course I didn’t!” she said indignantly, “I was just so happy! My son had finally married the girl he had loved from the moment he saw her. And then they had a little boy! I still can’t get over the fact that I’m a grandmother! And you!” She rounding on her husband, “Even you cried when they said they had named him after you.”
“Only a little.” He admitted reluctantly.
“Wow, so you can hear us speaking to your graves. How did you know we…arrived tonight?” James asked.
“Well, that’s the other thing,” Judith said, “Every house in Above has a—”
“I’m sorry, every house where?” James blurted.
“Don’t interrupt when I’m talking James,” his mother scolded, “it’s very rude. I taught you better then that.”
James muttered “Sorry,” quietly and I giggled at his abashed face.
“As I was saying, every house in Above—which is where you are now—has a small screen in their living room that shows the names of people who have just arrived to the people who knew them. The names come up in different colours according to how they die. So when your names came up in purple, we knew instantly that you both had been murdered. White means old age, green means sickness, blue means accident and red means you are going Below.”
“And Below is…” I prompted.
“Below is…hell basically.” Harold verified, “And Above is heaven. When you die, some part of you, your subconscious maybe, decides what age you want to be in Above. You don’t age here so your mind picks an age that you were happiest with your life or your image, and you stay that way forever. Unless you died when you were below seventeen because that is not adult age. Partners usually end up being roughly the same age. And seeing as you two died so young, you are probably same age here as you were when you died. You turn up on the top of that hill,” he pointed behind them, “and those glittery gates are called the Diamond Gates. That’s where everyone arrives from.”
“Oh, Harold, don’t forget to tell them about the muggles.” Judith said.
“I was just getting to that, dear.” Her husband chuckled at his wife’s pushiness. He looked at me specifically as he spoke. “This part of Above is only for witches and wizards, people with magical blood. But, over the other side of The Diamond Gates, is the muggle Above. Now, there is a magical barrier, that makes our side invisible to them, but we can see over there just fine. If you are blood related to a muggle, you are able to pass through the barrier, as are they and speak to them as if you were in the same place.”
“Why aren’t they just here with us?” James asked, and I was glad he had found a way to voice what I was feeling. “It’s stupid to have two different sides! It sounds like something the maniacal purebloods would think of, separating us!”
“There are a lot of pureblood people here, James, who don’t like muggles as much as some other people would.” His mother calmly explained, smiling at his exclamation, “It doesn’t make them automatically bad people. Above has to cater to everybody. Then of course we still have to remain inconspicuous, even up here.”
James sighed and nodded, not seeing me smile at him. I loved him for that. The fact was that he remained the decent and caring person, even though all I had seen was the arrogant, annoying side of him all through school, until seventh year. I sometimes wondered how I hadn’t seen that in six years of knowing him.
Harold and Judith continued to tell James and I all about Above all the way back to their house and by the time they arrived, we were all exhausted. The Potters insisted that we stay with them until we found somewhere else to live. We went to bed quietly, and I intuitively knew that James was just as overwhelmed by this crazy day as I was.