After is best, when it's just them, and the slight drag of breath across skin, the burn of muscles and blood cooling to a rhythm that she can't help but want to stretch, to keep forever. Lily wishes she knew the magic in it, the power that could do that, erase the past and the present and keep the now, so long as it was just the affection in James' eyes and the way his hair kicked up in the back but curled along the back of his neck with sweat.
"All right?" he asks. He always said that, like it wouldn't be, like there could be something better than here, now, in his arms, the closeness that Lily sometimes thinks only they have made perfect.
"Love you," she replies, the usual answer, because James smiles, and kisses her, and tugs her closer into his arms to await morning, real morning, when there would be no more after, but thoughts of the day, of the war, of danger and orders and missions....
...but after is still now, so Lily kisses James back, closes her eyes, slides into sleep.