Lily Potter hated the war, with all its casualties and distress and brokenness.
Lily Potter hated Voldemort and all his boot-licking, half-brained minions.
But most of all, Lily Potter hated waiting. All that helplessness and uncertainty was simply unbearable. Of all the hardships one had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.
But as they always said, life’s a bitch, and that was probably why Lily Potter was on the armchair at home, doing precisely what she loathed most – waiting. Patience is a virtue, they told her. Lily thought that, if that was the case, then perhaps she didn’t want that virtue anymore. This was torture.
Waiting, while her husband and his best friends were out there, fighting death eaters, saving lives… making a difference in the war. And what was she doing? Nothing! Zilch! Nada! Zip! She growled in desperation. Lily Potter wanted to fight. She wanted to kick some death eater… butt. She wanted to get out there, be on the battlefield, and for once, be the one doing the saving. But no! Stay here, Lily, you can’t fight as well with Harry, and no death eaters will be able to get you while you’re here under the Fidelius, he told her. The man with the crooked glasses and messy, raven hair. The man with soft hazel eyes and Quidditch-toned body. The man with her heart. What nonsense this was, she thought, but obeyed anyway, simply because she didn’t possess the ability to say no to him.
And that was why she was stuck here now, wasn’t it? Lily groaned again. This was exhausting. Doing absolutely nothing was exhausting. How ironic.
Placing her palm gently on the bump at her midsection and rubbing soothing circles, the redhead tried her hardest to smother the relentless negativity. Alas, it was just that – relentless – and the young woman could do little to quash the onset of possibilities.
She was just sitting there, completely ignorant, totally helpless. She had no idea if her husband, or his friends, would be killed today or tomorrow, or at all. She had no idea if today was going to bring about the deaths of her closest friends, her family in all but blood. And the worst thing was that she couldn’t even make a difference to that outcome, because she was trapped here, in a comfortable sitting room, in front of a roaring fire, and she detested it with every fibre of her being.
Countless copies of The Daily Prophet littered the floor of the sitting room, each headline as demoralising as the next. ‘Death Toll Hits 1,000 and Rising’, ‘500 Muggles Killed in Late Night Massacre’, ‘Not Even the Pure Blooded are Safe’, ‘20 Aurors Killed in Heated Battle’… Lily Potter despaired, feeling a depressing hopelessness sink into the pits of her stomach, and put her head in her hands, her fingers entangled in her long, fiery hair.
Lily Potter found her eyes flickering between the clock and the door every few minutes, unconsciously chewing on her lower lip in her anxiety. Time seemed to crawl on by like a snail with a house upon its back. She prayed hard, willing every god and deity above to hear her cry, to bring her husband and his friends, whom she had come to know and love as family, safe and swaggering through the door frame as they always did, grins on their war-worn faces.
Lily Potter waited, helplessly and desperately, for the people she knew and loved to be safe, to return at the end of the day, perhaps not unscathed, but safe all the same. She prayed that they would all survive another day in this ruthless war.
She prayed that she would see her husband again, with Sirius at his heels, both wearing identical expressions of happiness. He would pick her up and spin her around, before setting her on the ground and kissing her tenderly. Then, he would step back and let Sirius engulf her in a tight hug. She would murmur her joy and relief at their safety, before sitting them down, inspecting their injuries and healing them. While doing so, she would enquire after Remus, and they would tell her that he was all right and safe at home (between the winces and ‘Ow, Lily, that hurt!’s, of course). She would also enquire after Peter, and they would tell her that he, once again, had been absent from the battle. Lily would furrow her brows upon hearing this, but then James would take her soft hand in his rough, calloused one and tell her to relax, and that there was nothing to worry about. She would doubt a little initially, but still believe him in the end, and they would have dinner together, the three of them. Together, they would chat happily and reminisce about the past, when murders weren’t happening by the hundreds, when everyone was happy, and when their biggest worries were their final year exams, detentions, Quidditch and those ‘slimy Slytherins’. For the Marauders, of course, their pranks had been their topmost priority. A wry smile appeared on her face.
Now, Lily Potter waited, not knowing whether the previous night would be the last time she ever felt her husband’s arms around her, and his tender lips on hers.
Lily Potter waited, not knowing if tonight, she would be preparing a dinner for one instead of three.
Lily Potter waited, not knowing if the next time the front door opened, it would be an Order member, or maybe an Auror, offering his sincere regret and a piece of parchment that would tear her world apart.
Lily Potter waited, her mind in overdrive, because anything could happen out there. Anything, which translated to everything, which quickly fell to worst things possible.
Lily Potter seriously considered knocking her husband upside down when he returned, and demanding, with her infamous temper, to go along with him the next time, so that she wouldn’t have to endure this nerve-wrecking waiting. But she didn’t think she would carry through with her plan – she never did, anyway.
Lily stared into the fire that was burning strongly, and she thought back to the times when they did not have this heavy burden on their shoulders, when James would prank Sirius early in the morning, and Sirius would seek revenge for his lost dignity, and tackle James to the ground. The two of them would roll around on the floor in a mock brawl, laughing like the brothers they were. Then, Lily would make her presence known, and James would jump up immediately to hug and kiss her, leaving Sirius to complain, in that melodramatic yet endearing way of his, about how James had caused the loss of his dignity earlier that morning. To that, Lily would cheekily reply that one could not lose what one never had. James would burst out into raucous, hearty laughter and Sirius would pretend to be deeply wounded, perhaps sniffing and wiping away a fake tear or two, clutching at his heart and whimpering. Sirius, always the drama queen, she thought affectionately.
Tears formed at the corner of her eyes as Lily remembered their lost innocence. She recalled that innocence, that naivety they all had, before it had all been taken away by the war, by Voldemort and his pure-blooded craze. She snarled. They had been forced to grow up way too quickly - young seventeen year old witches and wizards, just barely of age and fresh from school, fighting bloody wars alongside seasoned Aurors and protecting the innocent – even if they, too, were one of those innocents. A tear flowed slowly down her left cheek.
Lily remembered how the war tore, and was still tearing, countless families and people apart, how the war tore her family apart, leaving her all alone in this rotten and god-forsaken world, just in one horrible night. She remembered how James’ fire had been extinguished after his parents had been murdered by Voldemort himself, before it was rekindled and burnt more brightly than before, when they had been offered the chance to fight the death eaters by joining the Order of the Phoenix. She knew how the war beat people down, but if they stood up again, they stood prouder and stronger than ever before.
A chime resounded around the room that suddenly seemed way too empty. It was now eight in the evening, and James and Sirius still hadn’t returned. Were they usually this long? Lily could not remember.
The anxiety and fear increased tenfold.
Thousands of ‘what ifs’ sprang to the forefront of her mind, each playing out scenarios more vicious than the last, taunting and mocking her. She pushed them back roughly, unwilling to believe that she wouldn’t be seeing James and Sirius again. They would be just fine, she chanted to herself, wanting, no, needing, herself to believe the words coming from her own mouth.
Just as Lily could bear it no longer, a soft tinkling signalled that someone had just passed through the wards surrounding the house. It was definitely someone friendly, or else the wards would have forbidden him or her entry. It could either be James and Sirius finally returning, or someone from the Order coming to inform her of their demise. Lily hoped with all her might that it was the former. If it was the latter… She didn’t think she would be able to bear it.
Nevertheless, she rose from her chair and stood facing the doorway, wand outstretched. She called out in what she hoped was a steady voice, and asked for the password. As a deep voice answered correctly, Lily fell to her knees in sheer joy as she unlocked the door with a quick swish of her wand. The door swung open to reveal James Potter and Sirius Black, looking tired and slightly bloody, but alive all the same. Both of them looked as happy and relieved as Lily was.
Despite feeling sore from all the fighting that day, James Potter could not resist the smile that crept onto his face when he saw Lily, his Lily, alive and well. Crying out his beloved wife’s name, he bent down and lifted her off the floor, spinning her around as he always did, because he loved to see her smile. Her smile caused the room to brighten two octaves. Lily gave him a quick, but sincere, peck on the lips and returned Sirius’ bear hug. She hurriedly sat the two of them down, tossed their shirts to the side and checked them for any injuries, just like a mother hen. James chuckled and smoothed out her creased brows gently with his right thumb, his hand lingering on her left cheek in a soft caress, kissing her forehead and telling her that they were fine, and that the blood was not theirs. Lily’s sigh of relief was almost audible as she cast a quick scourgify and handed their shirts back to them.
Lily wanted to shout at them for leaving her behind again right there and then, to demand, as she had planned earlier on, that they include her in their next death-defying mission. Just as her mouth opened, however, James cast a worried look at her, asking if she was all right, and if she’d hurt herself. Lily almost laughed at that, for how could one possibly get hurt while sitting in an armchair in front of the hearth for the whole day? But the look of genuine concern etched on James’ face made her swallow her laughter, place a hand on his shoulder with a small smile and reassure him in the negative, her earlier intention of insisting on following them the next time evaporating wholly.
She marched them into the dining room and prepared the table with a well-practised flick of her wand. She barely restrained herself from breaking out into chortles when the two grown men, strong and skilled enough to fight death eaters more than twice their age, dug into their meals with gusto, shovelling spoonful after spoonful into their mouths messily, their dignity entirely forgotten. She followed soon after at a more sedate and dignified pace, relief washing over her like a flood when she realised that they had survived yet another day.
While they could be the most annoying and immature prats in the whole galaxy, she was thankful for another day with them. Surrounded by the two people she loved the most in the world, she felt strength seep into her weary bones. Maybe they would win this war after all.
This war was a cruel and unforgiving one. It had people living naught but for the hour that lay ahead of them. But today, it had spared her. It had spared them, and they could live through another night in the company of each other.
No one said it would be easy...Lily sighed as she thought of what another day of waiting could do to her already severely damaged mental state. It was so hard, being the one left behind, being the one who stayed.
But they promised it would be worth it.
And, looking at the two men in front of her, happy and whole, she knew that it definitely was worth it.