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The Lily, the Violet, the Tiny Babe

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Lily feels her son’s need of her, hears the infant’s whimper. She draws near, sees the head of unruly black hair bent tenderly over the blanket-swaddled baby. Her husband James, once wild Marauder, has turned awed father.

When he lifts the baby, she sees the father’s green eyes, though they don’t see her. Sees the lightning scar half-hidden by his hair. She forgot, time is different on the other side of the Veil. Her son Harry is this man, older than she, older than James ever had a chance to become. Her son is a father. And Lily feels a fierce pride.

But Harry is worried about the fretting child, still tiny, newly born. He holds the infant awkwardly.

"Oh, Matty, what I wouldn't give for ten minutes with my mum to find out how to be better at this," Harry murmurs to the little one in his arms.

“You’ll learn,” she tells him, but he cannot hear. “Sha sha sha, there now,” she whispers to the baby, who stills for a moment and blinks at her with eyes like Harry’s. Like her own.

Lily and James were awkward new parents once too. How often she’d wanted to turn to her own mother, Violet, for help, only to have grief crush her chest as she remembered her mother was gone. The sudden loss of her parents, of James’ parents, the rift with Petunia, the war – it had been overwhelming.

That’s when Lily started using the violet perfume her mother used to wear. The light, fresh fragrance seemed to keep her mother near. When sorrow seized her, Lily would press her eyes shut, grip something to steady herself, and breathe. Her mother’s love was rooted in her heart, and nothing could dislodge it.

She and James had each other, and their laughing child, to live for. To die for, if necessary. As it had been.

Who does Harry have, she wonders, to raise this child with?

Harry holds the baby up to rest against his shoulder, and the green blanket falls back to show a shock of blond hair. Unmistakably pale hair for a wizard, and memories swirl around Lily.

She is back in the Great Hall at Hogwarts at her first day Sorting Ceremony, watching from her new place at the Gryffindor table as Sev is sent off to the Slytherins. Lucius Malfoy, cold and pale and gleaming with his prefect’s badge, pats him on the back as Sev sits down with them. Lucius catches Lily’s intent gaze, and his mouth moves. Lily has no trouble reading his disdainful lips. Mudblood.

Then she is in this bedroom again with her son, and it chills her for a moment, to see Malfoy-blond hair on this child with Harry’s eyes.

Is that how it was for Severus, to look at Harry and see Lily’s eyes gazing out from the face of James? Her dear brave exasperating James, who tormented Severus again and again in his thoughtless youth?

As a child, Lily loved two children: Sev, the friend who first opened up the wizarding world to her, and Tuney, the sister who could not follow her into that world.

And when Lily grew up and was murdered and left behind a child, Albus Dumbledore asked those two to protect her baby Harry, each in their own way. How grudgingly they agreed. How bitter they were in their compliance. She has not seen every detail of Harry’s life, but enough of his distress has reached her that she knows. Lily’s love could shield her son from the most powerful dark wizard of their time, but it couldn’t protect him from his aunt’s neglect or his teacher’s scorn.

Was there anything she could have done? To make peace between James and Severus, to keep Severus from the dark road he’d taken? She does not know what.

And Petunia. Once they were happy, playing together in the little garden their mother worked so hard at. But somehow, Lily became the joyful child, and Petunia the complaining one.

How did it start? Perhaps when Lily held a fallen flower in her hand and found she could make the petals open and close, delighting their mother.

Petunia took a flower in her hand, and the petals only drooped. Petunia clutched her fist shut until her fingernails left marks on her flesh, and opened her hand again. Her flower was crushed.

Petunia decided Lily’s flower was wrong. A freak, not a wonder.

Surely their mother tried to be fair, but perhaps a laughing child is easier to love. Or perhaps that’s just what a jealous child fears.

Some hurts Lily did not know how to heal, and so her son suffered for them. “He’s an innocent child,” she wanted to tell Petunia, tell Severus. “Don’t blame him.” But they couldn’t hear her, muffled by the Veil.

The infant in Harry’s arms whimpers again. Lily softens as she looks. An innocent child. And Harry has survived it all, the abuse and neglect and the Dark Lord’s curses. Lived to love, and let others live and love.

Lily blows the fussy baby a kiss, and the air is fragrant with violets.

Harry is startled. He looks around. “Mum?” he breathes. The baby blinks at her again, and is quiet. Harry gives a low, wondering laugh. “Thanks, mum,” he says softly, looking at his child, now peacefully asleep.

Another current of feeling warms the room. Lily notices the man lying in bed. His disheveled hair gleams from the pillow, the same silver-blond as her grandchild’s. He looks exhausted and content, and love beams from his grey eyes as if Harry and the baby are all that matters in the world.

Memory swirls again and Lily is walking through the Forbidden Forest with Harry. James and Sirius and Remus are with them, they are all there to keep his courage up as he goes to meet his death, death that they have met already. Harry is so brave, and she tells him so, and they gaze at each other. “Stay close to me,” he tells her, and she does.

She sees him walk into the circle of Death Eaters, she hears dear faithful Hagrid struggle to help him, she sees Voldemort cast the killing curse, and then Harry falls. Falls into some in-between place she cannot reach, as if the Veil is a waterfall in front of a cave, and he is standing under the spray, neither on one side nor the other.

But his body still lies on the forest floor. Harry had asked her to stay close, so she does, and she hears Voldemort order a woman to go see if he is alive. Narcissa Black hurries over – Narcissa Malfoy now, she remembers – looking haggard. Narcissa feels for Harry’s heartbeat, and Lily hears her whisper a question to him. “Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?”

“Yes,” Harry breathes back. He breathes – he lives. And in return for the news of her own son’s life, Narcissa lies to Voldemort so Lily’s son can live.

And that memory fades and Lily is back in this bedroom again, watching Harry lay his child in the cradle and go to the bed to join his lover – Draco. As Harry slides under the covers, Draco kisses him, and she hears them murmur about the baby. “You smell like violets,” Draco says.

She has an image of love winding through the generations like bright streams of gold, from Violet through Lily herself into Harry, from Narcissa into Draco, merging and flowing into this little babe. And she foresees the warm bright current flowing on into the future, into young ones yet unknown.

Time to let Harry have his privacy with his beloved. Lily can go now. All’s well here.

And through the glass window shines the sun.
How should I love, and I so young?
The bailey beareth the bell away;
The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.

❀ ❤ ☼ ❤ ❀