somewhere up above the stars
the wreckage of a universe floats past
who knows when we’ll be coming home at last
It is cold, bitterly cold, more so than Lily remembers it ever being in February. It is the kind of cold that seeps into you, finding every warm pocket and spreading the reach of its cold fingers. It is a deep cold, one that reaches into her, towards her heart.
It is cold, and so she lifts her fingers to her mouth, breathing on them in the futile hope that it might warm them. All the warming charms in the world could not chase the chill away.
The room surrounding her is pitch-black; she has not bothered to light her wand. It seems that darkness is always surrounding her nowadays.
She should be sleeping. It’s too late - or is it too early now? - to be awake, especially with the hours she is forced to keep. Moments of rest are far and few between, and yet here she is, squandering hers.
But she cannot sleep.
Lily shivers and pulls her dressing robe around her, fists clenching and unclenching in a desperate attempt to retain feeling.
She’s a powerful witch; she could cast a charm or a spell, and it would be strong enough to keep her little home toasty.
But effective spells must come from the heart, and Lily can’t find the heart to do anything lately. So instead she stands there, shivering away as she studies the small pinpricks of light in the night sky.
She finds a savage sort of pleasure in the cold, in the numbness. It is a Muggle feeling, separated from magic.
God, she wishes she was a Muggle right now. She wishes she was a Muggle and she had never heard of Hogwarts and that she was with Petunia and her parents, right now and everything was all right-
Of course, things wouldn’t have been all right. Lily’s not dense; she knows that. She’d be just as surely killed then as she is likely to now. She would not have been any safer.
But the difference would be that she would be in a society that liked her. A society where she fit in. A society where she was not sneered at or looked down upon or told that she was unworthy scum whose blood ran the thick brown color of mud.
She would have a sister who loved her. Liked her. Tolerated her. There would be no gaping chasm between the two of them that steadily grew larger. She could be going to uni, making a name for herself.
She could be Lily Evans. Not someone with a target upon her forehead, not someone hated, simply someone who could live in peaceful anonymity.
Instead, she is Lily Evans, former Head Girl, Dumbledore’s Mudblood pet - oh, that one was a favorite of Mulciber’s - and hated by all, even (or is it especially?) by her sister.
She hates that she has had to choose between her magic and her family.
God, she misses them. She misses every part of them. She misses Petunia. She misses even being able to say God - she made that mistake in her first year, only to receive strange looks from the Wizarding children. Merlin, always Merlin.
And now it’s three o’clock in the morning, and even London seems to be sleeping, but Lily is wide awake and shivering away, her head flitting from thought to thought.
She hates this war. She hates this war with every fibre of her body. She hates having to fight in it. She hates being in the Order. She hates this constant feeling of panic, of paranoia, of being stretched so thin she thinks she’ll snap.
And Lily hates not knowing where James is.
There is all so much unknown, so much mystery. Lily does not cope well with unknown. Lily likes facts: cold, hard facts that are inarguable. She, Lily Evans, is standing by the window in a dressing gown at 3 o’ clock in the morning - make that 3:04 AM - looking at the stars as she tries to warm up her fingers while wondering why she can’t go to sleep. Facts.
But there are no facts in this war. There are feelings; there are hunches. There is maybe-so and hope-so and endless amounts of ifs.
Feelings are notoriously unreliable. Lily dislikes that.
So she stands there in her threadbare slippers and thin dressing gown as she looks out at the city, worrying. She hates this. She hates this.
Lily is afraid to go to sleep - not to close her eyes, but to have to open them again. She does not want to wake up again. If she never goes to sleep, then she’ll never have to wake up again, right?
She can live her whole life right here, in this moment, with her shivering body and a deep black blanket of sights. She can live right here, as she slowly counts the number of breaths she takes.
One, two, three, four...
Come the morning, she has a patrol for the Order. Come the morning, she’ll don her warmest pair of gloves, use a Warming Charm and soldier her way outside and into the brisk air.
But it is the night for now, quiet and still.
And more than anything, she wishes that James was home.
Here’s a secret that Lily won’t tell anyone: she’s vulnerable. She’s fragile. If you push her too hard, she will break, shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.
She has never had to say a word of this to James. Somehow, he knows; somehow, he knows how to put her thousand tiny pieces back together again.
Lily needs him now. It has grown beyond love and want and into a need. Without his steadying hand, she feels as though she is slowly slipping away from reality.
She likes to think that he needs her too. They are each other’s anchors, holding the other down.
Time passes, and Lily does not move. The numbness has fallen upon the rest of her body now, an icy hand traveling up her spine and immobilizing her. Sleep is out of the question.
She can’t tell you how long it’s been when she hears the faintest sound in the background, an exhalation of breath. It is unconscious; before she realizes it, her wand is in her hand and she is alert, waiting.
The door creaks. The sound of breathing grows louder as the quiet thuds of footfalls on the carpet approaches. She is sure of who it is now; still, the possibility remains that it could be someone else, and her grip on her wand does not let go. Yet she cannot quite bring herself to turn around, cannot quite bear to face the truth if it is not the person she hopes it to be.
The sound of a foot tripping over something. A murmured expletive. She can picture him now, nursing his stubbed toe.
The voice is low, held in a whisper, hardly believing that she would be awake. “Lily, love, is that you?”
She finally permits herself to turn around; she says nothing aloud. Her hollow eyes meet where she imagines his would be; his face is still in shadows as her eyes struggle to adjust to the weak light now streaming through their bedroom window.
“Lily,” James says once more, and she walks over to him, still silent. She makes no motion to acknowledge him other than reaching out and taking his hand into her frozen one and linking their fingers together, pulling it towards her and resting her head on it briefly.
He allows her to play with his fingers for a few moments before wrapping his free arm around her body, pressing her to him.
James is warm, and his warmth seeps into her body, doing what magic never could. Lily rests her head upon his shoulder and closes her eyes, taking comfort in his familiar scent.
“Shh,” he says though she has said nothing, and Lily stays there in his comforting embrace.
He is home, and while she is in his arms, she feels as though she might be able to get through to the next day.
They are not perfect. They have never been perfect and never will be. They are Lily and James and this is a war and she is cold and he is warm and while he is here, Lily can sleep again. Those are the facts.
“Tomorrow,” she says, and he nods. “Tomorrow we’ll be all right.”
For now, the darkness of night is still present. But soon, dawn will come with its rosy streaks and new promises. A new day with new worries and problems. But for now, the night stands still.
Lily succumbs to sleep, one warm arm wrapped around her cold one.
A/N: Quote Moving to Mars by Coldplay. I hit a bit of a writer's block for Ch 2 of Black so instead I wrote this (rather quickly) because the queue was so short. :P Just another piece of angst. I seem to be liking the Marauders era recently!
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