25/11/2016


Phoenix

"The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames."
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway


1967 was the year of the Summer of Love and that year that Lily Evans informed her sister that on her eighteenth birthday she would be moving to San Francisco to join the peace movement. This news, as real a revelation as anything else Lily had experienced in her life thus far, seemed unimpressive to her sister, who did not look up from her book. That night the sisters had crawled into their beds as they had every other night of their lives and drifted to sleep, as Cokeworth lay beyond the windows of their parents' house, silent and innocuous and empty while a war raged across the sea.

Lily Evans had dreamt of San Francisco and Greenwich Village and Havana. Lily Evans wanted to learn to meditate in India like the Beatles and grow her hair to her hips. She wanted to live in a squat in Haight-Ashbury and march through Washington and she wanted to end the war. She wanted to fall in love over and over again and travel to every corner of the earth with a man she adored and who adored her in return, but she would never marry or have children or be anything but free.

But Lily Evans would never do any of that. Her hair never passed her elbows and in her lifetime she only fell in love once. She married at the age of nineteen and became a mother at twenty. In her brief, terrible and immaculate twenty-one years on this earth she never left the United Kingdom.

By 1978, the Summer of Love was gone and the war was over and Lily Evans no longer saw freedom in the bohemian squalor of cities she would never visit but instead in something glistening in the future of the long life the world was promising her, but the path to which was blocked for her by this a new war that was no longer known to her through pictures on the television set but in the slurs of Mudblood hissed at her from across classrooms.

And perhaps, as time went on and her bones turned to dust beside the man she loved, when days of dreaming of San Francisco were long passed and the eyes of history would turn to her and scholars would write the name of her child in their books, there would be some knowledge – some legend – that the long ago promise she had given to her sister would realise itself, and perhaps she would, indeed, end the war.

Of all the promises she had made to herself in her short, little life she had never expected that to be the one she would keep. Time, she knew, had a habit of breaking promises, not fulfilling them.

She had promised herself war and all its advocates were and always would be sinners, but by eighteen she was first and foremost a soldier. She had promised herself she would never raise her wand on a person, but raising a wand became the difference between life and death. She had promised herself, many months earlier when she first felt the tugs of longing deep within her, that she would never love James Potter, but love him she did, and loving him was the beginning of everything, because if she had not begun to break these promises the war would have raged on long after her body went into the earth, and the first of these promises was broken on the 25th of May 1978 when she agreed to a date with James Potter.

The 25th of May 1978 was a warm night and a gleaming moon hung in the sky, light streaming through the high stain-glassed windows and casting the two Gryffindors in squares of colour. He was looking at her in a way she had never seen her do so before, hazel eyes luminous in the moonlight, his dark face set in a copper hue.

He cleared the lump in his throat to break the silence. 'I mean, you probably have plans, but just if you've got a free moment…'

'No,' she replied in a voice she hoped, but doubted, sounded even. 'No, I don't have any plans – none.'

He stared at her and said nothing, and she did nothing but stare back. She wondered if there was any feasible possibility that his heart was beating as quickly as her own.

'No plans at all?' he asked her. 'Wow, little miss popularity, you are.'

She smiled, and he smiled, and they continued to gaze at the other. 'Shut up, Potter. And I suppose you have an action packed Saturday planned.'

'You know me too well. But seriously, if you want to, then I want to.'

'I want to,' she assured him and she looked away, dropping his gaze, hoping that in the dim light her blushing cheeks would not betray her. 'I think we best get back upstairs.'

'Ever the practical one,' he remarked, as they started back down the corridor.

The walk back to Gryffindor tower was shrouded in a heavy silence that seemed thick enough to touch, the moon gleaming with an unearthly luminescence, the chill of the soundless corridors somehow soothing. James Potter walked beside her and her heart was pounding. She had broken her promise, and every cell in her body was screaming with infidelity. Blood coursed through her veins in sacrilege, her unfaithful lungs struggled to keep her breathing even.

In and out, in and out, her heart was whispering. You're going on a date with James Potter. In and out, in and out.

Breaking that promise, she thought as she climbed through the portrait hole, felt sweet on her tongue, and the world felt electric beneath her fingertips.

'Night, Evans,' he said to her at the foot of the stairs that led up to the girl's dormitory.

'Goodnight, Potter.'

Perhaps, she thought as she climbed their stairs to her dormitory, she had just started something that she wouldn't be able to end. Breaking that promise, she had no way of knowing, had started something that wouldn't end for many, many years, and was the beginning of the end of her waning lifetime.


A/N: Okay, that's just a very brief introduction to a fic I started a long time ago and never got the chance to finish. There's not a lot to garner from the first chapter so I'm uploading it just to see what reaction I get before I continue writing.

Thank you so much for reading! I know that was very brief (especially considering the embarrassing length of chapters I usually write) but at the moment Stuck On a Puzzle is my writing priority so if I don't get any reviews for this chapter I may just leave it here as a one shot.

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading, and if you would like the next chapter please let me know in a review! Love always.