27 November 1979
James Potter found himself staring at Lily's silhouette through the bathroom's frosted glass walls. He watched her hand dip in the luxurious tub, followed by the rest of her body, until her entire figure was immersed in the water. He yearned to join her, but how could he do so after just hearing Sirius' Patronus message?
He had an inkling that everything wasn't alright.
After releasing a regretful sigh, James grabbed his wand to get himself dressed and refreshed. Wrestling with his tie, he tried not to panic as he recalled the message he had gotten from his brother.
As James and Lily were about to take a long soak in the tub, a silver mist breached his minor security charms before forming into a familiar figure. Padfoot stood rigid on all fours, looking at James with an intensity that he had never seen before. He waited several minutes for the Patronus to relay Sirius's message, only for it to keep its silence and gaze on him.
With a sigh, James knew exactly what Padfoot was waiting for. Turning to face Lily, he found her looking at the Patronus with a confused expression. "Hey, Evans, let me take this message from Pads, okay? I'll join you soon."
He saw in her face that she wanted to stay and knew that she was about to open her mouth to protest. It surprised him that she instead nodded without an utterance of a single complaint. She turned to enter the bathroom, and was about to close the door, when she paused to look at him straight in the eye.
"And it's Potter, Potter. Stop calling me Evans already." She proceeded to shut the door in his face.
"Sorry," he apologised sheepishly. He turned to the Patronus which seemed to regard him with an unreadable look. "That's right, Padfoot, she's my wife now!"
Padfoot moved in front of James, barely giving him enough time to suppress the impressive string of profanities streaming from the Patronus' mouth with a privacy charm.
"James, where the fucking hell are you?! We've been trying to contact you for hours now! You've been gone for the entire night and what news do we get from the Ministry? You're bloody married! Are you a turd or what? All of our planning down the drain! Oh just come home, will you? Dad's trying to hold off the reporters, Mum's hysterical. Apparate straight to Dad's study. Tell him everything. Oh, and do not bring Lily, got me? Do not bring her."
James was pulled out of his musings by Lily's concerned voice. He immediately entered the luxurious bathroom, dismissing its golden walls as his eyes zoomed straight to Lily's figure. She looked majestic with her body submerged in a tub filled with roses and bath salts.
"Why are you dressed?"
He quickly crossed the floor and kneeled beside her. "Sirius just asked me to head back to the manor. My dad wants to discuss something important. Will you be alright?"
Lily splashed a bit of water at him as she affectionately rolled her eyes. "Don't worry about me. Go on, your family needs you." She kissed him softly on the corner of his lips and asked, "Promise me you'll come back soon?"
"I promise," he whispered, grabbing the hand that was gripping the edge of the tub to nuzzle it. He gave her one playful, chaste kiss before quickly heading to the lift. Once out of the premises of the hotel, he quickly hid in an alleyway to Disapparate.
"What the bloody hell were you thinking?!"
As soon as James Apparated into Charlus' study, he was greeted with a shout of disbelief and a slap of a newspaper by his feet. At this point, it felt like he was on autopilot as his mind went blank while bending over to pick-up the paper. His eyes widened at the front page article.
HEIR POTTER UNITED IN WEDLOCK WITH MUGGLE-BORN!
The Prophet recently acquired information from a reputable source that Heir James Potter has taken a Magical Wedding Vow with a Muggle-born dubbed Lily Evans, former schoolmate from Hogwarts. While it has only transpired on the 26th of November 1979, word has quickly spread and it has been received with varying reactions.
Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore welcomed the union and sends his finest wishes to the newly-wed couple. It is to be acknowledged that both Heir Potter and Muggle-born Evans were sorted into Dumbledore's alma mater, House of Gryffindor. Meanwhile, Undersecretary Tom Gaunt delivered a statement inducing that "this is an outrage and a blatant violation of one of the oldest laws of the land: Parkinson's Law. It is another strategy of the Potters to abolish the Gifted." He added that there was a necessity to uphold and protect Noble Pureblood families from certain threats.
In 1733, Former Minister Perseus Parkinson historically passed a bill against Gifted–Non-Gifted inter-marriages in order to preserve Gifts amongst the pure-blooded. Parkinson's Law has undergone several changes, including allowing Scions to marry sullied bloodlines. It is to be noted that Heir James Charlus Potter is the only progeny of Lord Charlus Fleamont Potter and Lady Dorea Irma Potter (née Black), last direct descendants of the House of Potter in Magical Britain.
While the Prophet has yet to receive a response from the House of Potter, the public is left to speculate. What does this have in store for Magical Britain? Will another family be deprived of its ancient Gift due to being tainted? Open to page 3 for more information about Parkinson's Law and the Gifted.
James stared in disbelief at the paper in his hands. A three-hundred year-old law that hadn't been enforced in over a century was threatening to endanger his marriage with Lily. The same damned law was threatening his family and the morals of the society. He willed his brain to think of solutions for his situation, but he couldn't stop the questions pouring out of his mouth.
"How did they find out? Who reported this? Who gave them this information?" he demanded, letting out a growl as he subconsciously crumpled the paper in his hand. "It is illegal to scourge information from pure-blood families, is it not?"
Panting from the sudden spike of his adrenaline, he threw the creased newspaper in the fireplace and watched it turn into ashes before returning his gaze to Charlus. He bit back the rest of his fury when he saw identical hazel eyes peering at him as if searching for something.
Under his father's scrutinizing eyes, James stood uncomfortably as he waited for Charlus to speak. He watched his father avert his gaze, pushed himself from the desk he was leaning on, then proceeded to sit on his chair to grab a bottle of Ogden's from his desk. The Elder Potter took two sips before settling to nurse the drink instead. James couldn't help but sigh in anticipation and relief when Charlus finally spoke.
"You're not denying it," Charlus stated in a calm tone. Looking at the glass in his hand, he turned the drink one, two, three times before asking him, "It's true, isn't it?"
"Of course it is."
James automatically turned to look behind him. He watched Dorea saunter into the room with her own copy of the Prophet in hand. Once reaching the two men, she slammed the paper on the mahogany desk and turned to address Charlus. "We should've taken action while he was still smitten in Hogwarts."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Are you two actually against this? You're an advocate for Muggle-borns! How can you be opposed to my marriage with Lily?"
"That's not the issue here, James," Charlus stated with a firm voice. "We support your marriage, but the timing is the problem here! You know we're on a tightrope against Yaxley's bloc! You know of the intense loathing Minchum regards me with! Godric, I'm sure the rumour that I'm running against him came from his own camp!"
"How could you do this to us, James? How could you do this to your own blood?" Dorea asked, her eyes brimming with unshed tears. "Are we not your family anymore?"
Shocked at her accusation, James vigorously shook his head. "No, no, Mum, of course you–"
"Then how could you!" James felt his body freeze as if he had been slapped. Amidst all the stupidity he had done, Dorea had never raised her voice against him. "I never raised you with my own beliefs, James. My only wish was for you to be loyal to your family. Familia Supra Omnia, my son."
It was true. Dorea had never spouted any of her pure-blooded beliefs other than upholding family over everything. James wanted to pull at his hair in his frustration, but decided against it when he realised that his mum would become even more distressed with his action. Sliding slowly to his knees, a move favoured by the elders for asking forgiveness, he apologised quietly. "I'm sorry." He was sorry for everything—for not thinking about the consequences and most importantly, for being selfish.
"What were you even thinking, son?" Charlus asked morosely. "Were you thinking of running away? Join one of the Potter families in another continent?" A wave of realization appeared on his face. "Is that why you opened a universal vault?"
Yes," James admitted quietly.
He had been planning to escape from the woes of politics and media since he had begun courting Lily in sixth year. Sirius thought he was crazy for thinking of marriage at a young age, but James knew Lily was the one for him. He couldn't mess this up for her. And so they had plotted—Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Lily too, when he had finally told her of a forgotten law that might be used against them outside of Hogwarts.
As students, no one had taken their relationship seriously. Even Gifted Heirs dated a few Muggle-born students here and there, but none of them ended up marrying one. No one knew how James and Lily were serious with each other, except Sirius perhaps.
Charlus heaved a sigh and turned to address his wife. "Too much Gryffindor courage?"
Dorea sniffed in response as she reached down to pull James to his feet. "I love you, my son," Dorea said, cupping his cheeks with her palms. "Why must you be so stubborn?"
"That's one of the reasons you love me," James answered softly.
"Perhaps," Dorea agreed and patted his cheek. She took a few steps back to position herself beside Charlus. Standing in front of them, James felt like a little child instead of a nineteen-year old.
"Leave us for a while. Wizengamot has called up for an emergency meeting tomorrow morning and we have to prepare." Charlus gave him a reassuring smile. "We'll try to fix this. Use this time to reflect, please. Stay in the manor and don't even attempt to Apparate."
"I'm on house arrest?" James asked in shock.
"If you put it that way, then yes," Charlus conceded in a firm tone. "Tell…Lily to stay in the Muggle world for a while. Tell her to hide while we settle this. We must not physically bring her into court, or else they'll do something to her. Do you understand?" James nodded quickly. "Use this time to consider and think of the next action. Help us, James."
"I can't believe you did it, Prongs."
James looked up from the various bottles of liquor and saluted to acknowledge Sirius' presence. He returned his gaze to gingerly peruse his hidden stash of liquor before closing it to open another collection underneath. Muggle beers. Tossing a can to Sirius before grabbing one himself, James walked behind his study desk to sit on the chair, while Sirius opted for the couch.
"Japanese?" Sirius asked, raising a sceptical eyebrow at him.
"Yeah," he muttered as he stared at the can. Asaki. "They were a gift from Lily's parents when they went to Japan for an anniversary."
Taking it as an invitation to open his can, Sirius tipped his head back to take a huge gulp and asked, "What were you thinking, Prongs?"
"I wasn't," James confessed as he opened his can. He took a sip before explaining, "I wasn't really thinking, Pads. It just...happened."
Sirius smirked and raised his can in his direction. "And what else is new?"
"Shut your gob, Padfoot," James replied sulkily, shooting him a glare when Sirius barked a laugh. They tipped their cans to each other before taking a long drink in silence. Falling into their usual comfortable peace usually calmed James, but it felt like torture this time.
He couldn't stop his mind from fretting over Lily. He felt terrible on how she was suddenly left in that hotel room without any warning on his part. He felt sickened as he envisioned how she might've felt after receiving that distressing, cryptic Patronus message from Prongs.
He was just this close to running away from home. He had half a mind to plan his escape already: subdue Sirius, grab the Cloak, and just run—until Sirius broke his dangerous train of thought.
"Do you regret it?"
James stared at can in his hand as he mulled the question over and over again. Had he regretted doing it? Definitely not. Did he regret doing it now?
"Perchance," he considered. "Do I regret being married to Lily? No. Am I regretful about the timing? That's a whole different cauldron." He turned to look at Sirius, whose gaze was upon one of the pictures on his bedside drawer. "But if I were to do it again, I don't think I would've changed any of it."
"It felt right." This time, James followed Sirius' gaze with a steady look of his own.
The photo he was looking at was taken in Seventh Year when they had given Aunt Minnie a Muggle camera for Christmas. He looked at the static faces of Sirius, Remus, Peter, Lily, Marlene, and Dorcas—they looked carefree and exhilarated as they were frozen in an eternal hug. It was weird seeing non-moving pictures, but, nonetheless, it remained one of his favourite photos.
His gaze moved to another picture—a moving one this time. It was of him and Lily, bundled up in winter attire as they danced to some silly song in a Muggle park. How he yearned to be beside his girlf–nay, wife right now.
"I love her so much, Pads."
"I know," Sirius whispered before tipping back his head to finish his beer. James followed suit. "What's the plan?"
"Mum and Dad are trying to come up with a plan to present to the Wizengamot tomorrow morning," James began, making his empty can disappear with a flick of his wand. "I already sent a message to Lily, told her that she should stay in the Muggle world for a while."
"You think she'll take that seriously? She's stubborn as a hippogriff."
"That's where you come in, Pads." James turned to Sirius with a sombre expression. "Everyone will be watching me like thunderbirds. Please, please help Lily in any way you can."
"I will," Sirius assured him with a determined expression.
"Merlin's beard, this is bloody harder than I thought!" a young woman complained as she stashed herself in an alleyway after shrinking her bag of necessities—newly bought from a nearby grocer's store. Feeling a bit scared and unsure of the upcoming days, she knew she had to channel someone important within her mind...someone more formidable than her own self.
Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.
Struggling to keep the bobby pins in her thick red mane, she felt the rest of the 'flobberworm-like hair'—dubbed by James when she had dragged the four of them to watch Star Wars in a random Muggle cinema, days after their last Christmas as Hogwarts students at the cottage—droop and fall to its original position:
Straight and lifeless by her ear.
Glaring at the bobby pins muddled in the dirty puddle of water, she sighed and removed the other side bun on her head. She pulled out her wand and pointed it at her long, dark red hair. In an instant, two perfect 'Leia buns' sat on her head.
"So much for doing it the Muggle way," she remarked bitterly to herself.
Satisfied with her hairstyle, she strolled out of the alleyway and found herself at the end of a quaint Muggle village. She tried to study the area in the least conspicuous way as possible while following her modified Four-point spell (layered with a couple of charms, notice-me-not one of them, of course) to find 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging in Surrey.
"How bland," Lily Potter muttered to herself as she peered at the identical boxy houses decked on both sides of the street. "As if James and I are ever going to live in a place like this. We could never fit—oh there's number four!" She hurriedly hid her wand in her pocket before attempting to adjust her clothes.
"You can do this, Lily," she chanted to herself. "It's just Tuney!" Gathering her wits about her, she raised her hand to strike six sharp knocks on the door.
The door was immediately opened by Petunia, whom she hadn't seen since they had buried their parents four years ago. She had hardly changed since Lily last saw her, albeit she looked a lot older and more mature. Lily immediately mimicked Remus' innocent expression.
"Good morn—what the bloody hell are you doing here?" Petunia hissed as she surveyed the streets for any onlookers. Lily couldn't help but let herself be impressed at her sister's instantaneous shift of expression from gracious hostess to hostile sister. She waited silently for Petunia's brown eyes to land on her again.
"Go inside, you witch. People will talk." The next thing Lily knew, she was being hastily shoved through the front door.
Lily surveyed the living room in front of her and didn't bother hiding her expression of disgust as her gaze settled on a huge portrait of Vernon and Petunia. Their postures suggested a happily married couple but there was something a little…unnatural about the way they held each other. Lily dragged her eyes away from the picture.
"Vernon isn't here?"
"No," Petunia answered bluntly, glaring at the buns atop Lily's head. Petunia raised her chin and rolled her eyes, and Lily got the impression that her sister thought it was silly of her to fashion her hair like this. Which was good. The look of disdain on Petunia's face only made her love her 'flobberworm-like hair buns' even more.
"Answer me. What are you doing here?"
While Lily thought of ways to break the news to her sister, she stared back defiantly as a pretense that all was well. The words marriage, stupid law, blood status were still swirling in her mind like a hurricane when she suddenly noticed something peculiar about Petunia that she couldn't place a finger on.
There was a difference in the way her sister carried herself, something unfamiliar about her lithe frame. Her roaming eyes finally lingered on Petunia's stomach and a pair of hands immediately clutched at it as if to protect it.
Lily gasped in realization. "Tuney, are you pregnant?"
As if on instinct, Petunia immediately retracted her hands from her stomach then hastily put them back, all the while keeping their eyes locked together. "No. I mean—yes! Jealous?" she asked in a defiant tone, as if challenging her sister.
Lily couldn't help herself from letting forth a squeal of joy as she encased Petunia's body in a hug. "Oh, I'm so happy for you, Tuney! You're going to be a mother! I'm going to be an aunt! Wow!" she breathed out, glad when she felt Petunia's body relaxing in her embrace.
"Let me spoil him, please?" She felt Petunia tense under her hug before being briskly pushed away.
"Speak. What are you really doing here?" Petunia asked as she brushed her dress for invisible dust. As if hugging her sister made her dress dirty. As if Lily was filth, or mud.
Pursing her lips to keep from crying, she tried to avoid Petunia's stare. Taking a deep breath and mustering all her courage, she spoke, injecting a plea into her voice.
"Please help me, Tuney. Let me hide here for a while."