They didn’t sleep much during the war. Sometimes they’d just lay beside each other. It would be the middle of the night and they had said their goodnights hours before, but they lay wide-awake beside each other in the dark of the night. They’d stare at the ceiling silently, or out the window, and occasionally Lily would reach for James’ hand, because she knew he was awake too. She’d waited hours to hear his breaths deepen and slow, but they never did. He was just as awake as she was, and Lily didn’t know if that concerned or comforted her. Sometimes they’d sleep eventually, sometimes not until the early morning light began to flood their bedroom, sometimes not until they heard the neighbours starting their cars and beginning their days. But most nights they didn’t sleep at all. They would lie there, and the sun would eventually rise and they would rise with it.
Lily would go to find the sleeping Harry, and she would envy him. She would envy the way he smiled in his sleep, the way he curled on his side and looked at peace. Then she’d hate herself for envying her own son.
James would make the strongest coffee he could manage; one for him, and one for Lily. They’d read the paper, and Lily would sit with her fingers crossed as she read down the obituary page every morning; hoping, praying that there would be no names she recognised.
The morning that the McKinnon’s names appeared in the Prophet, Lily broke down. She fell to her knees with the paper in her hands and she sobbed for what felt like hours and hours. James sat beside her on the cold floor of the kitchen and he cried with her until their tears ran dry and their bones ached. The day of Marlene’s funeral, neither of them spoke a word.
The nights would come again and they would set young Harry down to bed, and remind themselves that it was all for him. All of this was for that beautiful little boy, and somehow it made it all worthwhile. The way he stared up at them both with his big green eyes and dark hair, the way he would grab hold of James’ pinkie finger with both of his tiny hands and hold on as tight as he could, the way he squealed with glee when Lily kissed his tummy; they’d make scenarios about that boy, they’d dream about the life he had yet to lead - Together they’d imagine his first word, his first steps, his first day of Hogwarts, his first quidditch match, his first girlfriend and first detention, his first heartbreak, his graduation, his first job, his wedding, his children – they’d imagine the life he had before them, and they imagined being front row and center for it all. It kept them calm, it kept them happy to know that one day he would be safe, and he would be happy.
But sometimes, when the night was it’s darkest and the house was silent, Lily would roll on her side, she would whisper to James through the dark and she would say the words she almost never allowed herself to say, “I’m scared, James.”
And he would reach for her hand and he would hold it tight,
“So am I.”