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Portrait of a Sociopath as a Loving Mother

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In memory of Lily Johanna Potter née Evans, a beloved-

 

-sister

“Mummy! Mummy!”

“What is it, Tuney?” Laura Evans calls from the kitchen, voice flat with disinterest. She was busy baking cupcakes, apron gently coated with flour, and hands sticky with the mixture.

“Lily broke my toys again!"

The little girl with dull brown hair, dull brown eyes, and dull face appears at the doorway, face twisted into ugly grimace. She is followed by another girl, more colourful and prettier, but with the same stubborn frown on her face.

“It’s not my fault! I was just playing with them. What kind of stupid toys get broken when you just play with them!”

“You did it on purpose!” Petunia Evans screams at her little sister, snot starting to run from her nose and face red with anger.

“I did not! I wanted to play with you, but you didn’t let me, it’s your own fault that your stupid toys got broken!” Lily Evans hisses back, words clipped and sharp.

Their mother looks at her children, and starts crying. It is her defence against everything in life, her armour of tears.

“I wish I was a better mother,” she says. I wish I had better daughters, she means.

This is a mother whose first child, little Rose Evans, had died on the birthing-bed. This is a mother who has never quite forgiven her two living daughters for not managing to reach the heights of success which she unflinchingly believes that Rose would have reached.

This is a mother who will raise two different breeds of sociopaths.

 

 

“Lily, don’t do it!” shrieked the elder of the two. But the girl had let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and flown into the air, quite literally flown, launched herself skyward with a great shout of laughter, and instead of crumpling on the playground asphalt, she soared like a trapeze artist through the air, staying up far too long, landing far too lightly.

“Mummy told you not to!” Petunia stopped her swing by dragging the heels of her sandals on the ground, making a crunching, grinding sound, then leapt up, hands on hips.

"Mummy said you weren't allowed, Lily!"

"But I'm fine," said Lily, still giggling. "Tuney, look at this. Watch what I can do."

Lily’s giggles are delighted, as she sees Petunia tremble. She has found a new weakness to exploit in her sister and there is no better delight in the world than finding leverage over Petunia.

Lily waited until Petunia was near enough to have a clear view, then held  out her palm. The flower sat there, opening and closing its petals, like some bizarre,

many-lipped oyster.

"Stop it!" shrieked Petunia.

"It's not hurting you," said Lily, but she closed her hand on the blossom and threw it back to the ground.

The flower crumbles. It has already become unimportant, now that it has served its purpose. Petunia trembles in rage or fear, who knows. She was always the more emotional one of them and usually it plays on her advance, as mummy likes to dote on Petunia more when she manages to be appropriately upset. Lily never quite manages to be emotional like Petunia, but now she has something else to grab mummy’s attention with.

"It's not right," said Petunia, but her eyes had followed the flower's flight to the ground and lingered upon it. "How do you do it?" she added, and there was definite longing in her voice.

Lily smiled, lips stretching to bare her teeth. Smiles for the Evans sisters had always served their more animalistic function of reminding the viewer of the teeth ready and willing to rip into each and all of your weak spots. She was feeling high, soaring above everybody else, just like when she had launched herself from the swing. Gracefully floating where others would crumble and smash and hurt themselves.

The scene is interrupted by a boy in ridiculous clothes, who raves on about magic and witches and makes Petunia draw back in trepidation. Lily doesn’t, her green gaze simply locking onto the boy’s, who doesn’t even know that he is staring at his own death. 

 

 

Lily did not hate her sister, not like she sometimes hated her mother with a smouldering, burning, ever-consuming passion. Her mother who wielded guilt as a weapon so effectively that her children had to learn not to feel it just to survive.

“Lily’s been jumping from the swing again,” Petunia tattled to mother as they were sitting in front of the large mirror in the living room; Both girls side by side, and mother behind them, plaiting their hair for school.

Lily met Petunia’s eyes through the mirror, acknowledgement of her move in the game. The girls were always playing the game. It was the only game they ever played, all the other games being just part of the bigger, never-ending game.

“Lily, why do you do that?” Mother despaired, carding her fingers through Lily’s hair. “You need to be careful Lily. I don’t want to lose another daughter.”

“I told her not to, but lily never listens.” Petunia made her next move.

“Oh Petunia. You are such a good daughter.” There were tears floating in mother’s eyes.

“I wasn’t in danger mummy.” Lily looked at her mother over her shoulder, and then looked down at the floor. Her mother liked her children guilty, there was something in their shame that pleased her immensely. In another life, she might have made a splendid inquisitor for the catholic church.

“I’m magical.” She looked at her mother again, pulling a flower from her pocket. The dried-out petals bloomed back into life and danced on her palm. “I can do magic.”

“Oh” Her mother breathed, and kneeled down in front of her daughter. “Oh, I always knew that you were special.”

“She’s not!” Petunia complained, cheeks flushed angry red. She had lost the game, and she knew it. Just like Lily knew it.

“Don’t be afraid.” Lily said, turning towards Petunia, because it was the kind of thing that their mother would imagine Rose to say. A concerned and gentle sister. Better than everyone, but humble about it. Rose would always be mother’s favourite child, but now Lily had a strong hold to the second place.

“I’m not afraid of your stupid tricks!” Petunia whined, because unlike Lily, she sometimes let her emotions get in the way of the game. She didn’t have the patience that Lily had for playing.

“Then why can’t you be happy for me?” Lily said, and decorated her face with few tears.

“yes, Petunia darling. You are not being a very good sister right now,” their mother absently scolded her now least favourite daughter.

 

"Knew!" shrieked Aunt Petunia suddenly. "Knew! Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that-that school-and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she was -- a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!"

 

Petunia holds onto the hope that Hogwarts isn’t real. It is her last defence, and she stands by it. When Lily floats mother’s collection of pressed flowers in the air, Petunia sneers and hisses that she is possessed. When Lily makes the flames in the hearth dance, Petunia says that she is taken by the devil. When Lily talks about Hogwarts, Petunia laughs and jeers and says that Lily is stupid to believe fairy tales fed to her by the Snape boy.

And every day mother grows colder towards her least favourite daughter. She starts out scolding Petunia for her ugly words, and then midway through bursts into desperate tears. Their father, a ghostly presence at best, sometimes flickers in and out of the scene leaving behind harsh words towards anyone (Petunia) who has dared to upset mother.

Some other mother might have seen Petunia’s cruelty for the pain and desperation that it was, but she was not blessed with any other mother. Petunia lived in a house that twisted people and she was growing into a mould without ever being aware of it.

The final nail in the coffin of Petunia’s sanity is hammered down when one Saturday morning mother gazes outside of the window at her garden and speaks to herself, but in a way that others in the room are supposed to hear: “I’m sure that Rose would have been magical too.”

The letter comes the next day, carried by an owl, just like the Snape boy promised.

In a moment of weakness, Petunia writes a letter back. She cannot imagine leaving the house, but she cannot imagine separation from her sister either. It is like a wound that she cannot stop scratching, her sister. Pain that is still more familiar and preferable to the itch of healing. They are tangled together, and she wants to be there, torturing her sister till the very end.

 

The Platform is colourful and loud, bustling with people wearing robes and pointed hats. Mr. and Mrs. Evans are thoroughly charmed, or at least mother seems to be charmed and her husband follows behind looking slightly lost. Their children are momentarily forgotten in favour for the ambience of the platform, huddled together as they are.

"You shouldn't have read" whispered Petunia, "that was my private how could you?"

Lily gave herself away by half-glancing toward where Snape stood nearby. Petunia gasped.

"That boy found it! You and that boy have been sneaking in my room!"

Petunia is half-right, but Lily will not enlighten her of the fact. When she makes half-glances, they are on purpose. It sometimes astonishes Lily how stupid her sister is. Blundering through life with no control. She has been playing the game with Lily for her entire life and she still hasn’t learned to play properly. She is crude in the way she plays. All foul insults and temper tantrums. It is no wonder that mother has started to turn her back on Petunia, Petunia who still cannot even lie properly.

"No not sneaking" Now Lily was on the defensive. "Severus saw the envelope, and he couldn't believe a Muggle could have contacted Hogwarts, that's all! He says there must be wizards working undercover in the postal service who take care of-"

This was how you lied. You took most of the truth; Severus had said all of those things once Lily had shown him the envelope. And it could have easily happened just as Lily had described, Severus notoriously had no civilized manners; he would have been happy sneaking into Petunia’s room to steal her private mail. It could have happened like that, so in a way Lily wasn’t even lying, but describing a plausible scenario.

"Apparently wizards poke their noses in everywhere!" said Petunia, now as pale as she had been flushed. "Freak!" she spat at her sister, and she flounced off to where her parents stood...

Lily watches as Petunia tugs on mother’s sleeve and enjoys the flash of irritation on her mother’s face as she acknowledges Petunia. She is off to the magical school, to the school for special people and there is no amount of crude insults that Petunia can cook up to fight against the reality of her sister’s superiority.

 

These days Lily has a firm upper-hand over the game. When Petunia frames Lily for the death of Mrs. Abbot's pet cat, Lily can use magic to frame Petunia of poisoning the precious dog of Petunia's first boyfriend. The summers in the Evan's household are filled with less and less scenes of sisterly love and the familiar amount of backstabbing is getting less visible from Lily and more noticeable from Petunia. 

Mother is starting to lament where she went wrong with petunia. She is almost as fond of Lily as she is of Rose, these days. 

 

Mother dies when Lily is sixteen and when petunia is eighteen. This unexpected twist leaves both Lily and Petunia feeling unanchored in the now confusing world. There is no more game, there is no more mother looming over them tearful and disapproving. There is no more the ghost of Rose being summoned to shame them, her presence disappearing with mother’s.

Their father has turned into a pale slip of a human being, silent and even easier to overlook than before. During the funeral, a chain of men and women come to talk with the sisters, all feeling disquieted by the dry eyes and the vacant stares that the girls have on their faces. They don’t look like they are in mourning, they look like they are confused, but then again grief and shock can manifest in so many ways.

Their father dies a year later, slipping away with his grief, just as unnoticed as he was in life.

 

Petunia doesn’t ask Lily to be her bridesmaid when she marries Vernon Dursley.:a man who doesn’t mind that Petunia is somewhat lacking on the department of empathy, or that she doesn’t quite manage to show affection in a genuine manner. Petunia slips into the role of a housewife like an actress in a TV-series, all of her gestures just a little bit too overacted, all of her affections direct imitations from what she has seen on television.

Lily shows up at Petunia’s wedding and doesn’t even mention the indignity of not having been given the honour of a bridesmaid. It was obvious that Petunia, being ugly as she is, wouldn’t want Lily overshadowing her in her big day. Lily had calmly explained all of this to James when he had hesitantly asked if Lily was hurt by it.

She does spit in the punch when no one is looking, but that is just for her own amusement.

 

Petunia doesn't even show up to Lily's wedding. The fact that she couldn't even bother to come and spit on their punch enrages Lily immensely.

 

 

-friend

Lily liked Severus Snape. Being with him made Lily always happy, in the way that being with other children did not. Lily had always had problems making friends, the other girls in school accusing her of being stuck-up, because they were jealous of her prettiness and her cleverness.

Severus never accused her of being stuck-up, because Severus was her friend, a real friend; and he agreed that Lily was prettier and smarter than anyone else. Being with Severus made Lily for the first time understand why people were so eager to make friends. All her childhood Lily had been invited to birthday parties, and play-dates by other parents of Cokeworth’s suburbs, and never had she understood why. She would be taken to some classmate’s house, where there would be screaming, and rough-housing, and running around, and Lily would never quite grasp what exactly it was that made these play-dates fun. She would watch. She would participate in the games. And the whole time she would feel like she was observing a herd of animals through a window, incomprehensible in their actions, and in their requirements for her to be more like them.

But with Severus it wasn’t like that. With Severus they would sit around in the park, or by the river, or wherever Lily wanted. Severus would answer all of Lily’s questions regarding magic, and regarding her new role as a witch, and assure her that she was special.

Usually they met by the river, in hidden sanctuary that the thicket of trees formed. It was a perfect hiding place for them, because Severus disliked being seen by people in his shabby clothes, and Lily disliked being seen with Severus in his shabby clothes, even if she never said it out loud. Lily was a considerate friend like that, making sure that Severus wouldn’t have to feel ashamed in their nice and clean neighbourhood, where she lived.

In that thicket, Severus basked in Lily’s radiant presence and assured her that her parentage wouldn’t matter at all when they would finally get to Hogwarts. The frown disappeared from between those enchanting green eyes, whose owner was feeling now slightly silly. It had been a silly thing to worry about in the first place. Everybody was always impressed by her.

“You’ve got loads of magic,” said Snape. “I saw that. All the time I was watching you…” His voice trailed away; she was not listening, but had stretched out on the leafy ground and was looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead. He watched her as greedily as he had watched her in the playground.

The silence alerted Lily from her contemplations and signalled that Severus was probably waiting for some kind of validation from his friend. He was a greedy little boy like that, always waiting for Lily to listen even when he had nothing interesting to say. Always waiting for Lily to verbally acknowledge their friendship or for Lily to show interest in his life. It was tedious, but Lily understood that friendship was a bit like work, you had to make some effort to keep the compliments coming.

 “How are things at your house?” Lily asked.

 A little crease appeared between his eyes.

 “Fine,” he said.

 “They’re not arguing anymore?”

 “Oh yes, they’re arguing,” said Snape. He picked up a fistful of leaves and began tearing them apart, apparently unaware of what he was doing. “But it won’t be that long and I’ll be gone.”

 “Doesn’t your dad like magic?”

 “He doesn’t like anything, much,” said Snape.

Tedious. If the conversation was not rearranged soon, she would have to lay here listening to Severus talk about his feelings or his home and there were few things less pleasant than having to listen to Severus’ self-pity.

 “Severus?”

 A little smile twisted Snape’s mouth when she said his name.

 “Yeah?”

 “Tell me about the dementors again.”

She liked to hear about the dementors. Creatures that devoured people’s souls and left behind broken husks fascinated her, but more importantly she liked to hear about the laws of the wizarding world. What kind of things would they send you to jail for? What kind of things they didn’t? What were the limits of this new sandbox.

When Petunia shows up, being her usual annoying self, she gets hit with a falling tree branch, leaving her hurt and crying. Lily hisses her condemnation at Severus’ face so fiercely that even Severus himself has no other choice but to accept that it had been his magic that had hurt Petunia. 

 

Lily takes Hogwarts by the storm. She excels in charms, she has a quick hand for transfiguration, she amazes in potions, and proves her superb wand-hand in duelling. She has admirers, and many of those admirers are teachers, Albus Dumbledore not being the least of them.

People like to use words like: vivacious, charming, bright, natural, talented, brave, funny, witty, kind, and popular when talking about Lily Evans. Horace Slughorn is happy to declare her as his new All-Time Favourite, relieved to be able to bestow the title formerly held by Tom Riddle to a nice muggleborn Gryffindor girl.  

Muggleborn-miracle girl, he jokingly calls her. The name sticks.

 

“Hmpf. Yes, well. You shouldn’t have favourites as a teacher, of course, but she was one of mine. Your mother,” Slughorn added, in answer to Harry’s questioning look. “Lily Evans. One of the brightest I ever taught. Vivacious, you know. Charming girl. I used to tell her she ought to have been in my House. Very cheeky answers I used to get back too.”

 

 

"The first part in the triarchic model for psychopathy is:

Boldness. Low fear including stress-tolerance, toleration of unfamiliarity and danger, and high self-confidence and social assertiveness. The PCL-R measures this relatively poorly and mainly through Facet 1 of Factor 1. Similar to PPI Fearless dominance. May correspond to differences in the amygdala and other neurological systems associated with fear. Psychopaths tend to have reduced fear."

 

The sorting hat’s job isn’t to separate the bad eggs from the good. When it chooses Gryffindors, it doesn’t choose them because they are good, but because they are brave.

 

 

Lily has her sexual awakening when she is studying with Severus in the ambient light of the library and she catches his dark eyes so close to her own. She sees herself reflected back in the pools of raw need, of adoration, of worship, tempered only by self-loathing. Her stomach clenches with burning need.

 

"...thought we were supposed to be friends?" Snape was saying, "Best friends?"

"We are, Sev, but I don't like some of the people you're hanging round with! I'm sorry, but I detest Avery and Mulciber! Mulciber! What do you see in him, Sev, he's creepy! D'you know what he tried to do to Mary Macdonald the other day?"

Lily had reached a pillar and leaned against it, looking up into the thin, sallow face.

"That was nothing," said Snape. "It was a laugh, that's all."

"It was Dark Magic, and if you think that's funny…."

"What about the stuff Potter and his mates get up to?" demanded Snape. His colour rose again as he said it, unable, it seemed, to hold in his resentment.

"What's Potter got to do with anything?" said Lily.

The impasse of their friendship was not the fault of Lily, it was the fact that Severus was impossible and needy. He could spend hours complaining how the marauders hexed him and how he felt unsafe in his own dormitory, and how the teachers didn’t care about his safety, and then completely ignore Lily when she pointed out how distasteful she found that he spent the last weekend with his slytherin mates instead of her. When they had both been just kids in Cokeworth, Lily had found Severus to be exciting and interesting. He was magical, like her, and knew things about the magical world that she didn’t. Now the veil of mystery had been yanked off, leaving behind only an awkward and ugly boy with no real worth.

Lily considered herself to be a very kind person for continuing her friendship with Snape. She liked to hear the whispers following the two of them, from teachers and from older students. About how charitable she was. How extraordinary. Only a person of a very rare character managed to be so utterly gentle, loving even the unlovables, being the light in the lives of lesser people.

It was very good of her, but it was also exhausting.

"I'm just trying to show you they're not as wonderful as everyone seems to think they are."

The intensity of his gaze made her blush.

"They don't use Dark Magic, though." She dropped her voice. "And you're being really ungrateful. I heard what happened the other night. You went sneaking down that tunnel by the Whomping Willow, and James Potter saved you from whatever's down there."

A flicker of something resembling pain appeared on Snape’s face. Like betrayal. Like the feeling when your best friend has never once asked for your side of the story, but has apparently happily listened to the rumour mill of the school and of their opinion about the Whomping Willow incident.

Snape's whole face contorted and he spluttered, "Saved? Saved? You think he was playing the hero? He was saving his neck and his friends' too! You're not going to I won't let you-"

"Let me? Let me?"

Lily's bright green eyes were slits. Snape backtracked at once.

 

James Potter is first drawn to Lily Evans because of her magnetic beauty. But once he started truly looking, it was fascination with her personality that made him chase her. Underneath the exterior of rule abiding good girl there lived a bit of a prankster. James knew that, because sometimes when he and his mates were lounging in the common room they would overhear Lily chatting with the other girls. Far enough that she probably didn’t realise that James could overhear her, but he could.

Amidst the girly chatter, Lily sometimes slipped up, letting James hear the potential mischief-maker buried deep under her goody two shoes exterior.

“Honestly, sometimes I just wish to hex Bertram Aubrey’s head so it would be as big as his ego!” She then ducks her head, and slaps a hand to her mouth. “Sorry. That’s horrible, I shouldn’t have said that, just because he stole my charms work. I shouldn’t stoop to his level.”

Her friends chatter back something that James doesn’t pay attention to. Instead he nudges Sirius and grins.

(Bertram Aubrey would swear up and down that he has never stolen or copied anyone’s homework, but he can’t open his hex-bloated lips.) 

 

 

Lily cornered Severus after he made his way out of the herbology classroom, shuffling behind his fellow slytherins. With a quick tug of his sleeve, Lily guided him to a quiet corridor, lips thin with a frown.

“You have to stop associating with them.”

Severus looked like he might start crying again. He looked like that often. Lily didn’t roll her eyes, she kept her stare fixed in Snape’s own wet black eyes, never relenting. He had to understand that what he was doing was wrong.

“Lily… I live with them.” He fumbled his way towards an explanation. “I’m not… But I sleep in the same room with them. I have no one on my side in the Slytherin dormitories, I can’t just- What am I supposed to do? I can’t declare a war against my own house.”

Lily cocked her head, green eyes almost hypnotic in their unblinking stare.

“It would be the brave thing to do. I stand up for you when Potter hunts you.”

“Well that doesn’t stop them from doing it, now does it?!” Severus spat out, paling immediately as he realised that he had raised his voice against Lily. Lily, whose spine stiffened and whose face for a second twisted into something that frightened Severus.

“You aren’t being a very good friend right now,“ Lily says and turns to walk away.

 

 

Snape was hanging upside-down in the air, his robes falling over his head to reveal skinny, pallid legs and a pair of greying underpants.

Many people in the small crowd cheered; Sirius, James and Wormtail roared with laughter.

Lily, whose furious expression had twitched for an instant as though she was going to smile, said, 'Let him down!'

Most of the time, Lily found James and his friends to be quite amusing. You had to admit that their pranks were funny, but those boys were also disrespectful and had a habit of touching Lily’s things without permission. There was also the fact that one of them had been made a prefect while Lily, the muggleborn-miracle girl, had been overlooked. Overlooked when Remus Lupin, dull, cowardly, sickly, spineless, Remus Lupin had been chosen. Remus Lupin who was right at this moment trying to make himself invisible, curled underneath the tree, hiding behind his book. And Dumbledore had chosen him, not Lily with her unshakable moral principles.

'I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!'

Lily blinked.

'Fine,' she said coolly. 'I won't bother in future. And I'd wash your pants if I were you, Snivellus.'

 

Mudblood. It was a word that Lily hated more than anything in this world. Mudblood, mundane, lesser, judged by your ancestors. It was the most unfair phenomenon, working until you bled, studying until you dropped, charming the teachers, being the best version of yourself that you could possibly be, being a perfect student, perfect witch, perfect daughter, and still deemed less because of some arbitrary nonsense metric of your blood.

It was almost like the game back home. But instead of measuring against the dead Rose, you measured against some unknown entity that all muggleborns were supposed to transform into. Leaving their pencils behind and learning to write with quills. Leaving their clothes, their music, their sports, their technology. Putting on robes and learning to appreciate quidditch and listening to the songs that play in the wizarding radio. Never saying anything against the muggle-studies text books and always assimilating, assimilating perfectly and then saying thank you when you have burned your old culture from your identity.

Play your part little Lily, and maybe you will be loved by the wizarding world with the same vague and oppressive manner that your mummy loves you. The game is on, and Lily knows how to play.

 

"I only came out because Mary told me you were threatening to sleep here."

"I was. I would have done. I never meant to call you Mudblood, it just-."

"Slipped out?" There was no pity in Lily's voice. "It's too late. I've made excuses for you for years. None of my friends can understand why I even talk to you. You and your precious little Death Eater friends.  you see, you don't even deny it! You don't even deny that's what you're all aiming to be! You can't wait to join You-Know-Who, can you?"

He opened his mouth, but closed it without speaking.

Severus Snape was teetering on the edge of realisation that might have saved his future. A realisation that normal friends did not prevent you from ever completing your sentences, or that normal friends did not smile when you were being sexually assaulted, or that normal friends did not soak up compliments without ever returning them. There was almost a moment when it was clear why there was such a need to call Lily Evans by ugly names tucked tight inside his heart. But Severus Snape had nothing to compare to, so he never arrived at this realisation.

"I can't pretend anymore. You've chosen your way, I've chosen mine."

"No listen, I didn't mean."

"to call me Mudblood? But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?"

He struggled on the verge of speech, but with a contemptuous look she turned and climbed back through the portrait hole...

 

When Lily closed the portrait hole, and her friendship, to Severus Snape, she felt like she was finally freed. Freed from a dark chain that had been dragging her down for many years now. She would have smiled if there had been anyone there to witness it, that was how happy she felt. Might have even pushed a tear or two from her eyes.

It turned out that there was someone to witness it after all, Mary Macdonald, who was still lurking by the fireplace, her eyes following Lily. She had obviously been listening in, and the frown on her face indicated that she wasn’t particularly happy with what she had heard. This, Lily felt, was very peculiar of her; seeing that she was a fellow muggleborn and should appreciate Lily’s sacrifice of cutting of her best friend for her morals.

“You are still up.” Lily opened the conversation between them, little disgruntled that the moment for believable tears had passed.

“You know, you weren’t nearly this distressed when Snape called me a mudblood, remember that Lily?” Mary answered, her dark eyes accusing. “You never felt the need to correct Snape’s behaviour when it was somebody else that he was throwing slurs at.”

Lily gaped at Mary, at ugly, spiteful Mary, who was this petty during Lily’s time of need. Lily could feel her cheeks heating in tightly controlled rage.

“Of course I was upset that he would use such words about people of our birth!”

“And still, you only offered your ultimatum after he insulted YOU. Not when he started using the word mudblood, not when he started hanging around those death eater wannabees, not when he started throwing dark hexes and curses at other people. You didn’t seem to have any moral panic then?” There was a glint in Mary’s eyes that Lily did not like. An amused glint that said that she was utterly unimpressed by Lily, even worse that she found Lily to be slightly comical. Lily had to bite back the overwhelming urge to throttle the girl.

“Are you really going to do this!? Are you really going to stand there accusing me of... of who knows what, right after I had to end my friendship with my oldest friend!”

“Not to mention your only friend.” Mary drawled dryly, showing no empathy whatsoever to Lily’s turmoil, the bitch. “Tell me, were you more insulted that he called you a mudblood, or when he claimed that he didn’t need you?”

“you know what Mary? I do not owe you anything. I’m going to bed.” Lily pushed past the other muggleborn, not lowering herself to knock shoulders or to posture in any other childish manner.

 

The day after that, the marauders play a prank on Mary where her face gets covered in yellowish boils. The hex lasts for a week, and the mean nickname of pimple-Mary lasts for the rest of her life.  

 

 

During sixth year, James and Lily start to circle each other. It is like a game that they are playing, a game where Lily demands and James obeys. Lily wrinkles her pretty nose and tells James that he should start acting more mature. James grins and shows up to the transfiguration class with extra essay to hand in, discussing his career options without a hint of mischief in him. Lily rewards him with a smile.

Lily frowns her cupid-bow mouth and tells James that he should stop hexing people on corridors. James cards his fingers through his hair and tells the other marauders that maybe it is time to stop their mayhem in the corridors. Lily rewards him with a late-night conversation on the Gryffindor common room sofa.

Lily bites her plump lip and tells James that he should stop fixating on himself so much, should stop messing up his hair, and boasting about his quidditch wins, and stop being so full of himself. James looks down at his toes, feels a bit ashamed, and stops acting like a conceited jerk. Instead he starts to pay attention to all of Lily’s many achievements. He starts to tell Lily how great she is, how smart, how pretty, how good. How much better she is than James. Because of her upstanding morals. Because of her kindness. Because she fixed James.

So, James lets himself be fixed, becomes the boy that Lily Evans can approve of, changes his core personality for her. That’s what love is right?

 

‘How come she married him?' Harry asked miserably. ‘She hated him!'

‘Nah, she didn’t,' said Sirius.

‘She started going out with him in seventh year,' said Lupin.

‘Once James had deflated his head a bit,' said Sirius.

‘And stopped hexing people just for the fun of it,' said Lupin.

‘Even Snape?' said Harry.

‘Well,' said Lupin slowly, ‘Snape was a special case. I mean, he never lost an opportunity to curse James so you couldn’t really expect James to take that lying down, could you?'

‘And my mum was OK with that?'

‘She didn’t know too much about it, to tell you the truth,' said Sirius. ‘I mean, James didn’t take Snape on dates with her and jinx him in front of her, did he?'

 

One quiet afternoon, Lily looks James in the eyes and she can see herself reflected back in those brown eyes full of admiration and worship, sprinkled with a promising hint of self-loathing and guilt. He has hexed Snape and now feels that he doesn’t deserve Lily because he is lying to her. The sweet, dumb, dear. Sexual desire comes back to her.

 

The relationship between Lily and Sirius is complicated. Sirius is loud, reckless, charming and easily the centre of attention wherever he goes. He is also fiercely protective of his friends, doesn’t mince his words and pays no attention to politeness, which he sees to be the first bastion of the pure-blood society’s fortress. He is wild and impossible to control, and easily both hated and loved. He also loves James with force that could move mountains.

Lily is vivacious, charming, witty, kind… well you know the list. When James and Lily were not dating, Sirius found her to be an annoying goody two shoes. Her pig-tails were fun to pull, but that was all. When James and Lily started dating, James suddenly did not have time for Sirius anymore. They had head-student duties, or dates, or studying time, and Sirius was left pacing in the common room, making everybody else wary. Remus would try to placate him, pointing out that new relationships were usually like that, it wouldn’t last forever.

But it did. And the more Sirius injected himself into James and Lily’s company, the more he started to dislike Lily and the more Lily started to dislike Sirius. It didn’t show in their actions, nor in their words, but it was the undercurrent that dominated their relationship.

When Sirius would manage to wrangle James from his girlfriend, he relished in the opportunity to go pranking people, hexing snivellus, getting into trouble, doing things that Lily had forbidden from James.

(Don’t you ever think of how others will see us. Don’t you want to be the better man? Lily always guides James away from anything that could stain his new image as a man fixed by Lily Evans.)

Then it all finally boils over and Sirius ends up having an argument with Lily in the privacy of one of the unused classrooms. Nothing gets resolved and Sirius ends up leaving in a huff and slamming the door behind him. The next time he sees Lily, she sits cuddled up to James on the common room sofa, her face covered in angry welts from a nasty stinging hex. Everybody tells him that Lily doesn’t want to talk about it, and James gives Sirius a politely cold shoulder for the rest of the month, leaving Sirius both worried and confused.

The memory of that month torments Sirius in his later years, because it is the closest he ever got to his greatest fear, his one true nightmare where James hates him. It is a memory that Sirius’ subconscious will take full advantage of in Azkaban, to make his nightmares more realistic.

Sirius will tell many stories of James to his godson, and none about Lily. Some ghosts are best left alone.

 

 

In the three broomsticks, Lily Evans and James Potter lean across the table, their pints of butterbeer forgotten and their eyes locked. They look pretty in the only table situated next to a window, with the sun alighting Lily’s hair into an inferno.

On the dusty and shadowy corner table, a group of unpopular friends drink solemnly from their pints.

“Three cheers to Dumbledore for making two Gryffindors head boy and head girl, the political move of the century.” Says Davey, bitter and already drunk. Bertram snorts, and it cannot be said whether his disdain is for Davey or Dumbledore.

“Well, let’s be realistic. There was no way that Dumbledore wasn’t going to make the muggleborn-miracle girl into a head-girl,” says Florence, the shy slytherin who tries to please everyone.

Mary MacDonald laughs, long and heartily. She throws her head back, and for once her acne-scars are not hidden by down-turned face and abundant curls. “Exactly! Exactly! She’s perfect isn’t she!?”

 Stebbins doesn’t look amused. The Ravenclaw has spent his whole school-life working to be the most rule-abiding, the best graded, the most trustworthy of Hogwarts students. He had been appointed a prefect in his fifth year. All of his hard work had been pushed aside for Lily Evans, with excellent grades and no understanding of basic empathy, and James Potter, the bully.

“Neither of them were even prefects! What do they know of the responsibilities of a head-student! They’ve done nothing to deserve the post!” Stebbins’ friends look at him in sympathy. They have heard this rant before, but they will listen to it again if it will make Stebbins feel better.

“I mean! Potter cursed Mary for Merlin’s sake!” Mary hides her face again behind her curls. It’s instinctual. “And remember how they hunted that Snape boy! And what Potter did to Bertram!” Bertram takes another long sip, trying to look like he doesn’t care. “I mean, it’s just- what does being a head boy even mean if James fucking Potter can just waltz in and take the job after zero effort.”

“You think Potter is bad?” Laughs Mary. “That’s because you’ve never shared a dorm with Lily Evans.”

 

Lupin was very fond of Lily, we'll put it like that, but I wouldn't want anyone to run around thinking that he competed with James for her. She was a popular girl, and that is relevant. But I think you've seen that already. She was a bit of a catch.

 

After starting dating James, Lily also starts making friends with the other marauders. Sirius and Lily never really get on, but James falls a little bit more in love with her after he sees how good Lily is with Remus and Peter. They are both very insecure boys that like to follow, and both have serious self-loathing issues. Despite all that, Lily loves spending time with them.

One night, Remus comes to James, with tears in his eyes. “She is so kind! So incredibly kind. Oh James, you have no idea. She said I’m not a monster, oh she is so incredible! You will cherish her, won’t you, Oh you must, she is the most beautiful soul- Such an uncommonly kind woman! She said she would be my friend! Even after I told her! She is the best of women, isn’t she!?”

James agrees, even if something uncomfortable is niggling at him.

 

 

-wife

 

In the darkness of the night, James was weeping, and Lily was wishing that he would stop. She was trying to sleep. They would have to wake up early again tomorrow but James predictably didn’t care.

“What’s wrong?” She asked, sitting up and lifting the covers; lighting the tip of her wand. In the blue glow, she could see her husband’s tear streaked face. James looked at Lily’s perfect features, and wasn’t sure if he recognised the creature sleeping next to him.

“That girl was just a child.”

“What girl?”

In front of James Potter’s eyes floated the image of a small shape in black robes, crumbled into a heap on the street. The white mask cracked and revealing underneath a face of a child. A girl that couldn’t have been more than sixteen, or seventeen if they were lucky. Fuck, James had wished that the girl had been seventeen. Or at least sixteen. Her pale face and lax features, frozen into a vague surprise, had made her look closer to fifteen or fourteen.

“That girl you killed.” He clarified, her eyes still haunting him.

Lily looked at crying James, confused. They were in a war, she had killed before. James had killed before; she didn’t understand why they were talking about any of them.

“James, I don’t understand.”

 James felt a shudder run down his spine, a shudder of revulsion that he pretended to feel for something else than his wife. A shudder that felt like he had been trying to supress his entire marriage.

“She was just a child and… I understand that as members of the order we sometimes have to make- It’s just- Merlin don’t you ever-“ James lost his words. His wife was staring at him in the pale light of the lumos-charm, and she had never looked more like she was carved from marble.

A rustle of fabric alerted James before a cool hand settled on his cheek, her wife peering close to him with those mesmerizing eyes. (They are the same shade as an avada kedavra, a stray thought passes through his mind)

“James, if we want to be heroes, we have to work for it.”

“I don’t know if I want to be an auror anymore.” James whispered. They had started recruiting members straight out of Hogwarts because of the war. You entered training when you were seventeen, and they pushed you out six months later, ready for action. Through training James had felt impatient to get to the real job. Hunting down evil wizards. Now all he wanted was to curl up in his bed and never get up again.

Lily’s soft fingers curled around his jaw, and turned him to face her green eyes again. “James, it’s alright. I know you don’t mean that.”

“What if I do?”

“Of course, you don’t. The man I married would never mean that.”

James curled back under the covers, feeling his wife’s arms curl firmly around his chest, keeping him captive, in place.

 

James and Sirius meet on top of a skyscraper in muggle-London and get completely smashed on muggle-beer. It feels good. It feels like how life is supposed to be like. James, Sirius, and the night-sky.

“Sirius, I’m afraid of my own wife,” James says, laying prone and with a lump in his throat.

Sirius takes a long drag from his joint, and tilts his head back, contemplating the stars polluted by muggle-London.

“I…I always thought she was peculiar. There was something…Why are you afraid of your own wife?”

Isn’t that the million-galleon question? Why indeed? James would have given his wand-hand to have a clear answer.

“She is…. intense. Ruthless. Neurotic. I don’t understand what she wants from me.”

Sirius crawled close and buried his head in the crook of James’ neck. “You could run away with me.”

Something in James’ heart breaks apart. “I’m going home.” He says, thinking of green eyes and red hair and marriage vows and loyalty in good times and the bad.  

 

The idea haunts James. It is not something commonly done in the circles that James has grown up in, the pure blood circles, but divorce still exists. Never in his life has he spared a thought for divorce, but now it haunts him, follows his thoughts.

He could. He could just walk into the ministry and file for divorce.

Instead he walks into his kitchen, where his wife is cooking dinner. It smells delicious.

“Smells good.” James says. His wife lifts her eyebrow.

“Smells like the best meal I’m ever going to have” James says again.

“You are such a flatterer.” Lily laughs.

 

Alastor Moody takes Lily as his personal protégé, not long after she has become a full-fledged auror. (At least in the capacity of the war time.) Alastor Moody is one of those legendary figures that tend to scare away the new recruits, but not so with Lily Potter. She stands there, back straight and eyes fixed on Moody’s own miss-matched ones as the old auror spits and curses and calls her a fool straight to her face.

She takes all of it and then calmly asks what they are going to do next. Moody praises her for her nerves and for her backbone of steel. He teaches her all that he knows, how to hunt for dark witches and wizards, how to approach the dark arts with cool and clinical eye, how to predict how cruel people will think and act.

She learns it all, but is never once tempted by the dark arts. Moody starts out being secretly jealous, and then unnerved.  

In the future, Moody will take a protégé who is clumsy, awkward, who does things wrong and who makes people roll their eyes in annoyance, a Hufflepuff with abundances of personality. He never talks about the Potters, not about the time he spent mentoring Lily Potter who did everything that a good auror should do, who was never afraid of anything, and who gave Moody an unexplained crawling feeling down his spine.

 

"Now, yer mum an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I ever knew. Head boy an' girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst'ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get 'em on his side before... probably knew they were too close ter Dumbledore ter want anythin' ter do with the Dark Side.

 

Also, James and Lily turned him down, that was established in "Philosopher's Stone". He wanted them, and they wouldn't come over, so that's one strike against them before they were even out of their teens.

 

There are few things worse in life than walking into your home and finding Lord Voldemort sitting on your armchair, sipping from a glass of whiskey that he has generously prepared for himself from your liquor cabinet.

James pisses himself and presses flat against the wall of the living room, wand raised and trembling in his hand, the adrenaline pounding on his head making everything sharper and louder.

Lily flinches when she sees the snakelike man in her living room but raises her wand with untrembling hand.

“Mr. and Mrs. Potter. Please, put down your wands and let us act like civilized people.” The man smiles like a snake, like some unfathomably cruel thing, and lifts both of his unarmed hands up in a gesture so patronising that it makes Lily gag. As always, it is the suggestion of being slighted that makes Lily’s dangerous temper flare, manifesting in this situation as cold fury, a flame that burns so hot that it is small and blue.

James stays pressed against the wall. Lily sits down on the edge of her sofa, opposite to the dark lord. Her green eyes meet the red ones of the dark lord, red and green, green and red, always red and green. Red and green like she is Gryffindor red and he is Slytherin green. Like how red and green are on the opposite ends of the colour wheel, the complementary colours. Isn’t that funny, opposites called complementaries?

 “The Potters are an old and respected family. I think that it is a shame that they have decided to ally themselves against us. Especially with the… talents I have observed from you. The new world order needs all of the powerful old families to help built it, especially those with such promising levels of magical power.”

“You want me to join you?” Lily says, too calm, and too flattered.

“I want the Potters to join me. Your dear husband there isn’t exactly exhibiting behaviour befitting of a pure blood,” The unnaturally pale wizard waved a lazy hand to the direction of the wizard cowering against the wall, “but nevertheless, he is of a proper bloodline. And I fully believe that you, Mrs. Potter, will make up what your husband lacks in personality and talents. I have observed you and believe that you could be of tremendous use to me.”

“I don’t let people use me.” She answers. Seeing the two talking to each other is like watching two mannequins, or a mirror facing another mirror. There is the disquieting feeling of seeing two voids bounce off of each other. Their faces don’t quite manage to go through any expressions with no partner whose little emotional clues to follow. “And you called me a mudblood four months ago.”

“We have never met before, my dear.”

“Four months ago, in a hijacked radio transmission, Mulciber said that ‘his lord had promised to not let the Potter’s mudblood wench run free for much longer’.”

“What an excellent memory you have. You have proved your worth since then and I’m willing to make an exception, just this once, concerning your parentage.”

“I’m not. Willing to make exceptions, I mean.”

At that point James gathers his courage and intervenes. He has to save his wife and himself from the grasps of you-know-who. The duel is intense and they barely escape with their lives. James tries to not to think of the moment that he had contemplated leaving Lily behind and just saving his own skin.

 

While there is a widespread and justified belief that a wizard who is not pure of heart cannot produce a successful Patronus, a rare few witches and wizards of questionable morals have succeeded in producing the Charm. It may be that a true and confident belief in the rightness of one’s actions can supply the necessary happiness. 

Spangle is interesting on the subject of those unusual witches and wizards who produce a Patronus that takes the form of their favourite animal.

‘It is my firm belief that such a Patronus is an indicator of obsession or eccentricity. […] Whatever the form of their Patronus, you would be well-advised to show respect, and occasionally caution, towards a witch or wizard who produces the Patronus of their choice.’

 

The stag and the doe are subject to much admiration and even much secret jealousy inside the order. They are a magnificent pair, an irreputable proof of true love shining through these dark times.

“Your love for James is an inspiration to us all.” Say many, who are secretly seething with jealousy when they see the doe, shining bright like a star, so powerful.

(purity of a soul is a tricky thing. The purest are either those who understand evil intimately and still choose the good, or those who do not understand good and evil at all, like children.)

 

“And you agree with the wizengamot’s assessment?” Lily spat out, while Alastor Moody looked at her impassively.

“In this rare case, yes.”

“This is all utter nonsense!” Her sharp voice echoed in the rarely used corridors of the ministry, lashing out like a whip. “Unnecessary use of force? Use of spells and hexes in unauthorized ways? Reckless behaviour?! We are in a war if you hadn’t noticed!!” She had crowded near Moody’s personal space, hands fisted to the front of his jacket and face only inches from Moody’s own scarred one.

Moody pushed back. Moody always pushed back.

One curse-burned hand curled over Lily’s throat, slamming the woman against the tiled wall, and the other gnarled hand held a wand steady at her temple. “Don’t you posture for me girl! Don’t you talk to me about the war, girl! I know that we are in a fucking war and I damn well know what it is like to fight dark arts every day, what it does to you! Half of the cells in Azkaban are filled because of me. And do you know how?”

“I don’t care.” Auror Potter sneered back, all traces of the sweet Mrs. Potter gone.

“Because I trust my instincts. And do you know what my instincts tell me about you?”

“I don’t care.”

“That you are one creepy fucker.”

Lily slowly gathered herself, slipping the persona of a kindly but strong-willed witch, who takes no bullshit but then comforts you afterwards, on again with visible effort.

“Alastor. I Have not broken any laws, I have not gone against my mission guidelines, I have not used dark magic-“

“But you have been pretty creative with non-dark magic-.”

“-You cannot suspend me. What do you think that the people will think? The muggleborn-miracle girl suspended because she fights too well against the death eaters?”

“Sweet-talking will do you no good with me. You are temporarily suspended until your final hearing next month.” The hand dropped from her throat as did the wand from her temple. (to be former) Auror Potter stayed standing against the wall, staring at the retreating form of Auror Moody.

 

 

“You’ve faced the old snakeface twice now and survived.” Sirius salutes James with a can of muggle-beer on top of a familiar skyscraper. “I don’t know what it is that’s giving you luck like that, but I hope it keeps!”

“Thrice.” Mumbles James, remembering the red eyes in his living room, and throws the empty can over the ledge. “I’ve come face to face with you-know-who thrice.”

“Merlin.” Sirius whispers. He is afraid despite his aloof appearance, James can tell. “One day I’m going to wake up and you won’t be there anymore.”

James wants to disagree, but there is nothing to say. Sirius’ dark eyes are made strange in the polluted half-light of the London night. James is once again struck with the wild feeling of something unnamed, something that defies duty and honour and chivalry. The thought of divorce and escape.

“You know James, you know what I think of in the dark of the night? I think that one day you will be gone and it will be because of her. I don’t want you to die for her, I don’t want you to die for that bitch.”

“You have always hated her, haven’t you? From the beginning?”

“Not hated…” Sirius tries to gather his thoughts. “Not in the beginning. But she isn’t…She isn’t good for you.”

James laughs a little, lost in the privacy of his own mind. Sirius would have given anything to have access to what was going on underneath that messy hair. Instead he takes a long sip from his own beer and is content to look. Like he always is.

“You didn’t hex her on seventh year, did you?” James finally says.

Something ugly and slimy twists in Sirius’ gut, as he remembers. How he had asked if Lily was alright, of what had happened. The cold restraint of James as he said that Lily didn’t want to talk about it, the pity of Remus as he kept throwing glances on his way. The relief when after a month of restrained politeness, Lily had encouraged James to end his cold spell towards Sirius. “You need to cherish your friendship. I think Sirius needs you.” She had said.

That bitch.

“What did she tell you?”

“That you had an argument. That you lost your temper. That she didn’t want us to confront you. That it wasn’t your fault, that you had been under a lot of stress. That with your family background-“

“That bitch.”

“Yeah.”

 

In their kitchen, James brought up divorce. Lily smiled at him indulgently from where she was making pancakes in a cute light blue apron.

“You wouldn’t leave the mother of your child behind, now would you?”

James tells her that she is lying. Lily shows him the test results, then she lets James do the spell himself, and then they go to the hospital to confirm the testing, and then James is a father.   

 

The pregnancy changes everything, but for once it feels like things have taken a turn for the better. The worst edge has disappeared from Lily, leaving behind the woman that James remembers when they started dating. Funny, mischievous, attentive. She signs herself for maternity leave from the auror department and is gifted a large bouquet of flowers as gift from her co-workers. Her suspension hearing is cancelled.

James also sends in his letter of resignation, deciding to concentrate on being the financial backbone of the order and not put himself in the field anymore. Their domestic bliss in Godric’s Hollow is like something out of a fairy tale. They are blessed with visitors almost every day and Lily goes out to the order meetings to raise the morale whenever she can, glowing with motherhood and pregnancy. (Much more attractively than Molly Weasley. It’s very selfish of her to be pregnant at the same time, trying to push herself into Lily’s spotlight. Luckily, she isn’t pretty enough to really hold anyone’s attention.)  

Then comes the prophecy.

 

-And a mother

Dumbledore says that it could be either one of the boys. It won’t be. It will be Harry. It will be her son, because does anybody really think that fucking Neville Longbottom will defeat Voldemort. The ugly baby of ugly parents. That after everything Muggleborn miracle-girl Lily has done to the wizarding world, they would write the Longbottoms into the history books instead of her.

No. Lily potter would not be hidden away just to be forgotten. She would not spend years and years locked in this house, watching her son grow, and doubting, always doubting whether any of it was worth it. She would not one day get news of Neville Longbottom becoming the hero, of making small talk with people on the streets: “why yes Neville Longbottom, there’s a hero right there. Good and handsome and brave and all that. And me? Why I’m the Muggleborn miracle-girl who turned into boring, ordinary mother.”

Fuck that.

Dumbledore might force them into hiding, push them safely away from everyone’s minds, but Lily will not be left behind to rot.

 

Remus was a good friend because he adored Lily and hated himself. It was generally a good status quo. Sirius, a known rebel against status quos, didn’t abide by this one either. He showed up at their house four times a week, threw himself on their sofa like he owned the place, and proceed to have very good time with James. They would coo over Harry, they would play with Harry, and they would let Harry ride around on Sirius’ back while he was on his dog form. He annoyed Lily on purpose when visiting, and he did it in a way that left Lily seething, because it was impossible to counter. Sirius did not try to hide his petty little games. Instead he would laugh, loud and proud, and proclaim: “You know what would be really funny?” Then he would wave his wand and suddenly she would be covered in yellow feathers and look silly and stupid.

James always laughed, and then he looked afraid right afterwards, but Sirius did not. He was not afraid of making Lily look foolish and while Lily always laughed good humouredly at the antics of her boys, there were daggers hidden in the sound of her laughter.

But the worst habit of Sirius Black was that he would steal James away to midnight excursions, underneath their invisibility cloak, flying away to freedom and carelessness while ignoring the fact that James was supposed to be devoted only to Lily.

 

James unlocked the small chest where his invisibility cloak was stored, and saw that it was empty. He went to open up every drawer in the bedroom, and then went on his knees feeling underneath the bed. Nothing.

“What are you doing?” questioned his wife, standing in the doorway.

“Where is my invisibility cloak?”

“You gave it to Dumbledore.”

James turned to properly look at his wife, still on his knees on their bedroom floor.

“Have you forgotten already?” After three years of marriage with one Lily Evans Potter, James had learned to hate that sincere voice of hers. It was so genuine that it looped right back to mocking, and you could never explain to anyone why said tone of voice enraged you so.

Standing slowly up, he suddenly became very aware of his own height looming over Lily’s, of the strength of his arms compared to Lily’s delicate form. Never before had he felt his body so keenly, the endless possibilities of his athletic strength.

“I did not send my invisibility cloak to Dumbledore,” He intonated slowly and clearly.

“You did.” Lily simply answered, looking up at her husband who had come to stand in front of her. “You packed it into a little brown parcel, and slipped a letter inside, explaining in it how you believed that the active fighters of the order would need it more than we do. It was very well done by you. Very selfless and considerate. You truly are an exceptional wizard, James.”

James was under no illusion that if he asked, Dumbledore would tell him that a brown parcel with a letter written clearly in his handwriting had arrived to him. He was sure that the letter would have been sealed using his wand and that there would probably even be few of his hairs stuck in the tape of the parcel.

“I hate you.” Slipped from James’ mouth, and it was like a religious revelation to say those words out loud.

A smile curled on those pretty lips. “You love me.”

Something boiled over and James found himself standing over his wife, who was wiping a trail of blood from the corner of her mouth. In horror, James watched his raised fist, feeling the vertigo of his spiralling thoughts and tasting the vomit waiting to escape his mouth.

The smile was still curled on those pretty lips.

“You love me-“, She continued, delicately feeling the area of her jaw, “because if you don’t love me, you are nothing. You hear me James Potter, nothing. When you were in Hogwarts, you had only three friends who could stand your company, all broken and latching onto you because they didn’t know any better. Teachers thought that you would never amount to anything expect your father’s money, and your peers found you annoying. Who changed that?”

James silently shook his head, trying to fight against the sickness in his mouth.

“The only time that people thought that you were decent was when you were trying to be someone I might like.”

“Shut up.”

“the only good thing that people can say about you, is that Lily Evans allowed you to marry her.”

“SHUT UP!”

“Face it baby. The only good thing about you is me.”  

James watched on as his wife gathered herself up, brushed the wrinkles from her robe, and walked calmly behind a corner, leaving James behind to desperately fight against a rising panic attack.

 

We had a very quiet birthday tea, just us and old Bathilda, who has always been sweet to us, and who dotes on Harry. We were so sorry you couldn't come, but the Order's got to come first, and Harry's not old enough to know it's his birthday anyway! James is getting a bit frustrated shut up here, he tries not to show it but I can tell -- also, Dumbledore's still got his Invisibility Cloak, so no chance of little excursions. If you could visit, it would cheer him up so much. Wormy was here last weekend, I thought he seemed down, but that was probably the news about the McKinnons; I cried all evening when I heard.

 

Silently dancing in the dark living room, baby cradled in her arms, Lily kept a litany of whispers going on. She was soothing the baby back to sleep.

“There, there little Harry, my darling, my dear. You are the chosen one, I know it, because you are mine and mommy knows that it will make you special.“  

 

 

Life isn’t really worth living anymore. No one admires her anymore. Dumbledore sometimes shows up in their kitchen and tells them that it will probably be the Longbottom baby that Voldemort will choose. Of course, they can’t be sure, but it would better fit his profile to believe that a pure blood is the bigger threat. It makes sense. They should take comfort in the fact. Lily takes no comfort in the fact that she has been wiped out from the narrative.

Suspended from the aurors, husband who stays in the house only because it is the only alternative to a violent death, and no one left who is willing to sympathise with her plight and maybe remind her of what a great person she is.

Heroes get remembered but martyrs are worshipped. Heroes will eventually die, but martyrs are immortal. Lily knows the power of the dead very well, can still picture the superior smirk of Rose Evans up there in the heaven. The long days and the longer nights have made Lily’s mind crumble in on itself, the relentless yearning for either perfection or death leading her here.

With Dumbledore in their kitchen, they frequently weight on the exact meaning of the prophecy. Lily lets them turn the words over and over, she already knows what the prophecy means. If the child will be “marked as the dark lord’s equal” it will survive the marking. Become the chosen one. Become great. Become a legend, obviously as he is Lily’s son, and therefore shares Lily’s superiority. But if Harry is going to be the hero of the story, she feels that she deserves the place of the martyr. Deserves to live forever as the example of perfection.

It is going to be Harry, even if she has to find a way to send an letter of invitation to Voldemort himself to make him come here instead of Longbottom’s house.

 

Sometimes it feels like her mind is cannibalizing itself in the closed space of Godric’s hollow. All she can see before her is the oncoming mundanity, the long days that drag on and on, eventual obscurity, the live-burial of being forgotten and ordinary. James is haunting their home, not even pretending to be a good husband anymore. Sirius laughs on her face, Remus and Peter are utterly boring and predictable, and rest of the people who used to visit are either dead or incapacitated. Dumbledore is invested in things other than his former favoured students.

Out of all the people to offer the solution to Lily, she would have never guessed that it would be Peter.

Peter who followed Lily’s hips with eyes filled with lust and loathing, who stuttered his way through a conversation, and who tried to keep up with his friends and always failed.

Peter, who Lily cornered one dull night when her thoughts kept circling and cannibalizing and she felt that if she didn’t acquire some excitement she would surely die. Peter had been visiting, and the visit had rather stretched on and involved hefty amounts of fire-whiskey, and now the poor boy was sleeping on their couch.  

Lily slipped to sit on the sofa, her hip digging into Pettigrew’s side. He was rather ugly, but it didn’t matter. He was James’ friend, one of the sacred four. It had been itching at her for years now that between the two of them James was the one to have such loyal and devoted followers. She needs to create some discord.

James wasn’t allowed to have things that she didn’t have.

She slipped one of her hands to gently stroke his face, waking him up, and the other sneaked between his legs.

Remus never would, Sirius hated her. From the three, Peter was the one who would betray James.

Their coupling was silent, quick and uneventful, expect for when Peter’s sleeve slipped and the glamour flickered with the force of his orgasm, and she saw the dark mark inked on his arm.

Oh, Peter Pettigrew, hymns should be sung in your name, the saviour of those who are in danger of being pushed out of the narrative!

 

An anonymous source sends a letter to the prophet. It is a death threat, addressed to one Sirius Black, and strongly suggesting that he give up the location of the Potters if he wants to live. The order panics, but not as much as Potter and Black do. The death eaters must have drawn the correct conclusion that James has chosen Sirius as his secret keeper.

They decide that it is going to work in their favour. Sirius will be the bait and he is not afraid to draw the worst of the heat away from the real secret keeper.

Lily pulls Sirius aside and tells him in no uncertain terms that he will convince James to choose Moony. Sirius loudly advocates for Wormtail just to spite Lily.  

 

Lily has no particular need to punish Pettigrew, living your entire life as Peter Pettigrew is already a punishment enough, which was why she decided to have some fun with Sirius instead and started her diary. She wrote it all over one sleepless night, the entries dating from the day she started living in Godric’s Hollow to the present day. In her diary, she wrote about their anxious but loving life under the threat of Voldemort, a story of heroic triumph for true love. She also wrote that Sirius was acting weird, that he had been acting more and more suspect, but that she as a loyal friend would never believe that Sirius would ever betray them, no matter how many incriminating incidents she sprinkled on the pages of the diary.

Not for any other particular reason, expect that she wanted to have the last word when it came to their arguments, and she was feeling petty. Have fun in Azkaban, asshole! As long as Peter doesn’t confess, they will never be able to prove that it wasn’t you!

 

James sees the dark lord approaching from one of the living room windows and has a bit of a freak out. Lily notably does not.

“Well finally,” she says, Harry in her arms, walking up the steps towards the nursery beyond James’ reach. She is also holding James’ wand.

It is incredible what your brain is capable of in a crisis. In only few seconds, James sees his life flash before his eyes, remembers that it would take only few steps of running through the backdoor that he would be on the other side of the shields and could apparate to safety, and then makes the decision to stay.

Instead he makes one last desperate plea for his wife to regain at least some part of her sanity and listen to the survival instinct that she must have tucked in her somewhere, and get the hell out of here!

Then he dies.

 

Some other mother might have tried jumping from the window, or hiding behind the door and attacking with a table-lamp, but Harry did not have any other mother. He had a mother who posed herself in front of Voldemort and indulged in a bit of a monologue. After all, she knew that it was an auror policy to extract memories from any living witnesses, even when they were infants.

The only downside to the whole thing is that it takes an uncomfortable amount of pleading from her before Voldemort obliges and makes her immortal.

 

 

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death

 

The lovely bones in their grave do not rattle for the treatment that Harry Potter suffers on the hands of aunt Petunia, nor for the cruelty he has to face from Severus Snape. They do not rattle for Sirius Black in Azkaban, or for Remus Lupin slowly wasting away in his grief. They do not rattle for the burden of the prophecy that young Harry has to bear, nor for immeasurable grief that an orphan always has to carry with him.

Why would they, when they are being appeased by a lovely statue built in their honour?