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The Potion



Title: The Potion
Author: kerrymdb
Summary: She just needed to drink the potion and it would be all over.
Rating: T
Word Count: 2,945
Author’s Note: The prompts were "Search and Destroy" by The Stooge, First mistake and Envy. Envy didn't get worked into the fic nearly as much as I originally planned. In fact…you might need to get out a magnifying glass to find it…

The Potion

"Evans."

"Hallo, Severus," Lily said, trying to sound happy to see him. Damnit. She would choose a day that he worked behind the counter of the Apothecary.

"Am I correct in assuming that you are in need of Potions ingredients?" Snape said with a hint of a sneer.

"Now why would you assume that, Severus," Lily said sarcastically. "Maybe I just stopped by to see you."

The moment the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. Damnit. While she was almost one hundred percent certain that Snape didn't have feelings for her anymore, there was a time, back at Hogwarts that he did. And now she was just insensitive enough to tease him about it.

His eyes gazed at the sapphire ring on her left hand for just a moment too long. "Somehow, I doubt that, Evans. Are you going to purchase something or continue to waste my time?"

Raising her chin in the air slightly, Lily said, "I need Billywig wings, Powdered Hellebore and Valerian."

He looked at her levelly and for one horrible moment, Lily thought he realised what she needed the ingredients for. "That's an interesting combination," he said finally.

Lily shrugged her shoulders. "I'm experimenting. You of all people know what that's like," she said accusingly, thinking of all the notes in that damn Potions book of his.

"Let me gather your order."

She waited while Snape walked into the back room. Next she would head to the Apothecary in Knockturn Alley and then the one in Hogsmeade. Lily was purposely buying all of the ingredients that she needed at different stores. It seemed a little overboard, but no one could know what she needed brew.

"That will be seven galleons and twenty-three knuts," Snape said as he entered back into the room.

Lily's eyes narrowed. "What cost so much?" She had estimated that it would only cost five galleons. As a Healer trainee, Lily didn't have much money to spare. While she knew James always told her that his money was her money, she wasn't willing to touch it. Not until they were married.

"Valerian is out of season, Evans, so it costs you," Snape said curtly. "Have you forgotten all of you Herbology lessons already?"

She stabbed through her purse, looking for the money. "Here." The money lay on the counter untouched. "Can I have my ingredients, please?"

"You don't want to chat? Catch-up? Make small talk?"

"Just give me my damn ingredients or I'll hex you," Lily said impatiently.

"Anything to relieve the boredom of this place," Snape said with a dry bark of a laugh.

"I heard you might be up for a position at Hogwarts," Lily said suddenly. "Slughorn's retiring."

Snape nodded. "You heard correctly."

"If you were annoyed with me about my order, how in the world will you manage to deal with first years? You remember how clumsy they can be. It'll drive you mad," Lily told him.

"I'll manage," Snape said in such a way that Lily knew that no more was to be said on the subject.

He provided her change and Lily headed towards Knockturn Alley to get the rest of the ingredients for the potion she so desperately needed to brew.

~~~~~

Hours later, Lily was in the bathroom of the small flat she shared with James, who was out of town with his mother for some charity event or another. Normally Lily might go as well, if it didn't interfere with her training, but in this case, she wanted the time to herself to think and then once she thought things through, to make the potion.

Her hair was off of her face, tied back with a bandana. Even though she was only wearing a tank top and a pair of James' boxers, beads of sweat were trickling down her face, onto her neck and finally down her chest and back.

She desperately wanted to open a window, but the temperature of the room had to be precise. If it was off, even by two degrees, the potion would be worthless.

And she'd still be pregnant.

With the back of her hand, Lily wiped some of the sweat off of her brow. A glance at the clock currently balanced on the side of the bathtub told her that in fifteen seconds she needed to stir counter-clock wise twice. Then immediately add the Valerian, and then more stirring.

Merlin, she hated having to brew in the bathroom. It felt silly to be sitting on the back of the toilet, a small cauldron sitting in the sink. But the kitchen was in full view of the fireplace. And if anyone Flooed, they'd be able to see exactly it was that she was doing.

Lily generally didn't believe in coincidences so she was quite annoyed when there was a sudden ringing tone in the living room, indicating that someone was in the Floo for a call. Damnit. For a moment, Lily felt guilty – it could be St. Mungo's – but it was more important that she finish this potion.

She stirred precisely for the next seventeen minutes. Then with a gentle hand, she added a scoopful of Pomegranate. Now all she had to do was let it sit for at least twenty minutes, and it would be ready. Almost six hours of work completed.

Lily didn't look forward what was ahead of her. The potion would cause her to essentially miscarry. She knew it was risky, any type of hemorrhage was. But as far as she was concerned, it was the lesser of two evils.

How in the world had she gotten pregnant? Lily didn't understand it at all. She was on The Potion - she brewed it herself - so she always thought it was foolproof, unlike some of those potions from manufacturers that might be a little dodgy. She must have brewed a batch incorrectly. That was the only thing she could think of.

Now that the potion was almost finished, the temperature didn't have to be exact. Lily gladly left the bathroom and walked into the living room, rolling her shoulders as she opened up the windows to let the cold December air into the flat.

Immediately she felt better and took a kitchen towel to wipe the sweat off of her face.

The Floo bell rang and Lily, horrified, looked into the fire. Please don't be James, she thought. Not now. She couldn't face James right now. Her features relaxed when she saw Remus.

"Lily!" Remus said excitedly. "I didn't think anyone was home. I've good news! I'll be right over."

His face was gone before Lily could tell him that she really wasn't in the mood for company. A moment later, Remus was picking himself up off of the floor. He looked at her, in her tank top with no bra and the boxers and immediately his cheeks reddened. "I…are you resting?" he asked, glancing down at the floor. "Would you like me to come back later?"

"It's fine that you're here," Lily said, suddenly pleased to see him. He didn't know how fine. Now that the moment of truth was almost here, she suddenly wasn't sure if she would be able to go through with it. James would make such a wonderful father… "Let me change."

She left him in the living room and walked into the small bedroom, closing the door behind her. Leaning against the door, Lily felt her stomach clenching. Damnit. The worst thing she could do was to start thinking of the pregnancy in romantic terms. They were at war. Being pregnant, having a child, it was completely out of the question. Years from now, when the war was over, then Lily and James could have their children. Not now. Now would only put themselves and the baby in danger. It would be completely irresponsible to have a child right now.

More time than she intended passed while she leaned against the door. If she was gone any longer, Remus would send out a search party for her.

The thought of changing into her clothes from earlier today sounded exhausting. Grabbing her pink terry dressing gown – the one she loved even though it clashed horribly with her hair – Lily quickly put it on and tied it tightly at her waist. When she entered the living room, Remus was sitting on the leather couch, all traces of enthusiasm gone.

"So what's your news?" Lily asked, trying to sound interested.

His eyes found hers, and he stared with such an intensity that she had to look away. "Why isn't James here?" he asked and Lily was surprised to hear a hint of anger in his voice. Remus never was angry.

"He and his mum had some fundraiser to go to," Lily told him.

"That's not what I mean Lily, and you know it," Remus said.

Lily felt herself starting to take deep controlled breaths. "You went into the bathroom," she said, feeling faint.

Remus nodded and stood up and started pacing. "How could James leave you alone for you to do this on your own?" Remus demanded. "I never thought he could as insensitive as this! Of all the rotten things-"

"James doesn't know!"

The silence that overtook the room was deafening. Remus stopped walking instantly. "James doesn't know?" Remus repeated incredulously.

Lily shook her head and sat down on the couch, putting her head in her hands. "I can't tell him, Remus," she said. "You know how he is. He'd think it grand that I'm pregnant. It wouldn't matter to him that we're at war."

Remus walked slowly and settled in one of the wingtip chairs. Leaning to one side, he rested his chin on his hand and looked at her in disbelief. "You have to tell him, Lily."

"Why?" Lily's eyes flashed defiance. "It's my body. I can't be pregnant right now, you have to see that."

"It is your body. But because of that ring on your finger, you agreed to a partnership with James. I can't see how deciding to end a pregnancy without telling James is being a good partner."

Lily brought her knees to her chest and hugged them to her tightly. "We're at war, Remus. Twice James and I have barely managed to escape Voldemort with our lives. How I can fight if I'm pregnant?"

"You don't."

"That's not acceptable," Lily said, shaking her head. "I have to fight. I'm a soldier, not a mother. Not fighting is not an option."

Remus looked at her again and she was relieved to see that that look of intensity was off of his face. "I don't want you making a rash decision, Lily. Have you talked this over anyone? Your friends?"

Lily let out a bitter laugh. "And who are these friends you speak of? You know I don't have time for friends anymore. Not close ones, at least. No one I would trust with this."

"You have me," Remus said softly.

"Let's be realistic, Remus," Lily said quietly. "Your loyalty is James. Not to me."

Remus looked down at his hands. "That's not true and you know it, Lily. You and I have been friends, good friends, even before you and James became a couple. My loyalty is to both of you."

She knew he was right. Out of all the Marauders, Lily was most comfortable with Remus, besides James, of course. "I appreciate that," Lily said softly. "But surely you can see that I couldn't just invite you over for tea, saying, 'Fancy that, Moony, Prongs got me pregnant. What should I do?'"

"Are you going to tell him afterwards?"

"Are you?"

"No," Remus said simply. "This isn't mine to tell."

"James and I will have all the time in the world to have our children once the war is over," Lily said, repeating one of the arguments she had used to convince herself. It had never sounded more hallow.

Another silence settled over the room and this time, instead of overwhelming her, it seemed to give her a sense of peace. Remus' presence was comforting. But now Lily just wanted to put this behind her. She just needed to drink the potion and it would be all over. The sooner the better.

Lily stood up. "If you don't mind, Remus, I'd like to be alone."

His eyes were troubled. "Are you going to take the potion now?"

She nodded.

"Then I'm staying." Remus spoke with an authority that Lily knew would take no opposition. "I might not agree with what you're doing, but you're not going to go through this alone."

Lily closed her eyes and a relief unlike she had ever known washed over her. Until his offer, she had no idea how much she wanted someone to stay with her and hold her hand during this process.

Without another word, Lily stood up and walked into the bathroom. Remus' soft footsteps could be heard behind her. Lily found herself staring at the dark green potion resting blamelessly in the cauldron. She only needed to drink eight ounces and then she wouldn't have to think about this any longer.

Her hand was steady as she picked up the goblet. Then Remus asked, "How will this work? Will it start right away? Or does it take time?"

"It will take some time for the potion to start everything. An hour or so, I think," Lily said in a small voice. The goblet in her hand suddenly felt heavy, like it was weighing her down.

"Believe me, Lily," Remus said quietly, "I'm not going to judge you for this decision. But could please just answer me why in the world you don't want to tell James?"

Lily opened her mouth to answer when she realised she had none. The thought that she was completely underestimating James suddenly crossed her mind. In the stress or the discovery, she simply assumed that he would be delighted to have a baby. He could very well have the same reaction to her pregnancy that she did, that it had to be terminated.

Then it would be James standing next to her as she prepared to take the potion. And then, once it was finished, they could cry over the rotten timing together, realising that this whole thing had scarred them both, but made them that much stronger.

Or perhaps, Lily wondered as her hand ran unconsciously over her flat stomach, they could have the child. Defy Voldemort in the most natural way possible, by showing the world that life, that love, could go on even in the midst of such terrible chaos.

Because this child would know love.

Her eyes closed and Lily knew then that her path was set. She was never one to believe in Divination, but somehow, she just knew. Seven months from now, she would hold a baby in her arms. James would hand out expensive cigars, Sirius would buy impractical gifts, Remus would read to the baby and Peter would worry about dropping it on it's head.

Lily was surprised to taste the salty water of her tears on her lips. She hadn't realised she was crying. Wiping her tears with one hand, Lily reached out with the other and turned the knob of the faucet. Tap water poured into the cauldron, making the potion useless.

Behind her, Remus left out a slow breath. She turned and looked at him, a weak smile on her lips. "I'm going to be a mother."

His eyes sought hers. "Are you sure?" he asked with a hint of hesitation.

"Yes," Lily nodded.

"Could I offer you congratulations now?" Remus asked.

"You may," she told him with a smile.

Instead of the pat on the back she expected, Lily found herself with Remus' arms wrapped around her. She rested her head against his chest and let herself be supported, something she let happen so rarely, even with James.

"Thank you," she whispered. There was so much to thank him for, but Lily knew that saying the words once would be enough for Remus.

"You're welcome," he said softly back, dropping his arms and crossing them over his chest.

He still looked concerned and Lily realised that she needed to get out of the flat, away from this potion. Just out. "I'd like to go out for a bit, Remus. Do you have time to go down to the Leaky Cauldron to get a drink?" Remus raised an eyebrow. "I mean, you get a drink and I get a gillywater."

"Best offer I had all day," Remus said, smiling, walking out of the bathroom. Lily followed. "Wait, that's not true. The best offer I had all day was the job offer I received today."

"That was your news!" Lily had completely forgotten in the stress of the potion that Remus came over as a bundle of energy. "Let me change and you can tell me all about it."

Five minutes later, they left the flat, Lily hooking her arm in his as they walked towards the pub. Tomorrow, James would be home and she would tell him everything. Even the ugly parts. Perhaps tomorrow that last bit of pedestal that James still had her standing on would crumble. She would welcome that. More than anything, Lily wanted to walk besides James, not above him.

Especially now when a baby – a baby – would turn their lives upside down completely. But they wouldn't be alone. Help would be there. They had Remus and the other Marauders. The members of the Order. They had each other.

And soon, Lily smiled to herself as she thought of the tiny life inside her, they would have a baby.

~~~~

Seven months later, Harry James Potter was born.

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Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
jdbracknell
Apr. 25th, 2007 11:16 am (UTC)
I really liked this. Is completely believable to me that Lily would have felt like this - it's not the best time in the world to have a baby, and it stirkes me she'd know that under any other circumstances they'd be over the moon, but the reality of their situation changfes things. And I thought you dealt with that really well.

I loved this bit:

Or perhaps, Lily wondered as her hand ran unconsciously over her flat stomach, they could have the child. Defy Voldemort in the most natural way possible, by showing the world that life, that love, could go on even in the midst of such terrible chaos.

Because this child would know love.


Because I think that's kind of the truth of what they did - defy voldemort with nothing but love on their side, damning the consequences because that was enough.

I really loved the moment of Remus coming out of his shell, too, being where he's most needed and saying exactly the right thing, and I very much enjoyed Snape's cameo, too (and for some reason, the line about Sirius buying inappropriate gifts and Peter fretting about dropping the baby really amused me - because that's so them).

Great stuff.
kerrymdb
Apr. 26th, 2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
Gah! Sorry for the deleted comment. LJ is being all funny on me today. Here's the non-funny looking reply...

I've always wondered why the Potters (and the Longbottoms and even the Malfoys) choose to have kids when they were on the front line of a war. So I guess it just made sense to me that it wasn't really a choice but maybe more of an accident. (Wonder how Harry would react if he ever found out!)

The concept of defying was really signifigant to me. Beause the prophecy doesn't say that the Potters escaped or fought the Dark Lord. It say they defied them. So I liked bringing that back full circle. :)

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Now that I've written Lily, I may have to try it again. She's fun to write. :)
shimotsuki
Apr. 27th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
This was a compelling read. It's terribly plausible that Lily would worry about having a baby in the middle of a war. And I love the friendship you've shown between Lily and Remus, the way she feels better with him there even when she thinks she's still going to go through with taking the potion. The way he reminds her that he can be James's friend, but still be hers too.

You make Lily's change of heart very believable, as well, by giving her doubts several times along the way.

I also liked the Lily/Snape interaction, with a hint of a shared history of ... friendship? Or something. (I wonder if Snape did guess what she was up to. That would certainly put a new spin on his reaction when Harry turns up at Hogwarts.)
kerrymdb
Apr. 28th, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC)
You make Lily's change of heart very believable, as well, by giving her doubts several times along the way.
I've often wondered why do many people fighting on the front lines of a war (both Order and Death Eaters) choose to have children when they did. Not everyone must have been happy with the news, but I like the idea of Lily realizing that the baby could be a blessing in disguise.

Thank for reading and taking the time to comment! :)
bratanimus
Apr. 30th, 2007 11:11 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, I really liked this. You really captured all the tension and trepidation of Lily's journey, starting with her buying the ingredients at different shops (and I think Snape knows exactly what they're for - after all, there must have been many women who refused to bring a child into a world at war). The temperature in the flat really added to the tension. And her thoughts scurrying from one rationale to the next just carried the piece along.

I thought the scene with Remus was fabulous. The fact that he initially thought James knew and blamed him for not being there with her says that he has no judgment for people who made that decision, especially at wartime. But when he finds out that James doesn't know, he very justly reminds Lily that the engagement ring on her finger is a reminder of a promise of partnership with James. It's the only real arguement he gives to her, but it's so true. And then he vows to stay with her so she doesn't have to go through it alone. What a friend. And the hug at the end, when she finally surrenders and allows herself to collapse a little bit, was just beautiful.

The psychological and emotional journey Lily travels in this is absolutely lovely and very well-crafted. Just perfect. I really did love this. :D
kerrymdb
May. 1st, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so pleased that you liked it! For some reason, Lily seems to me like one that doesn't want anyone knowing her personal business (except for close friends) so the thought of anyone figuring out what she was trying to brew (especially Snape!) would be mortifying.

The fact that he initially thought James knew and blamed him for not being there with her says that he has no judgment for people who made that decision?
Remus always seems like the type that wouldn't allow himself to be judgemental. Might even consider it hypocrisy. And I think Remus had to stay with Lily if she took the potion. After all, he does know that having a friend during his transformation makes them easier.

Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate them! :)
ravnclw_lioness
May. 3rd, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry this is so late, RL's such a pain sometimes! :)

I really loved this. It's not a scenario I'd ever considered before, but its so plausible. Lily may well have reacted with fear instead of the hope or courage she seems to have in abundance. I love that she wants to be an active part of the war effort and not side lined with a baby of all things.

Your characterization of Remus is perfect. He's able to break through the timid shell he inhabits when he sees someone in such great need. In fact, he's even a little pushy when he insists on staying with her. But at the same time, there's no judgment of her decision.

The part with Snape was really interesting. He seems to have an idea of what she's planning and then uncharacteristically suggests a chat - to confirm his suspicions? A great addition to the piece.

Thanks for submitting this to the challenge: creative scenario, dead-on characterization, and lucid writing style. Excellent!
kerrymdb
May. 4th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've always thought that Lily was an active participant of the war and the idea of being pushed to the sidelines because of pregnancy would almost shell-shock her.

I'm so pleased you like Remus' characterization. In the past, I tended on focusing on his more negative qualities, and that's something I'm trying to change!

Thank you for reading and your comments! :)
gilpin25
May. 4th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
See you're tackling the easy subjects again... ;)

I've spent about five minutes wondering how much difference it makes because you know the baby is going to be Harry, and that Lily gives her life for him, and I've had to stop thinking or I'll never write the review! This seems a very plausible scenario to me; that Lily would think the pregnancy couldn't have happened at a worse time (I'm glad you put in that they'd twice been nearly killed to emphasise she's got real reason to think this), seek to 'spare' James while not realising she's excluding him, and that love makes her realise that she both wants the baby and does have a way to defeat Voldemort at one and the same time. I also thought her worry that she had to be able to fight was spot on and rather tragic.

Really liked Snape's cameo and the strong hint that he knew exactly why she wanted the ingredients. And your Remus is excellent - both in his reactions and quiet reasoning, as well as his loyalty to them both. The hug at the end is lovely; I thought She rested her head against his chest and let herself be supported, something she let happen so rarely, even with James perfectly summed up how she's so tough yet so vulnerable at the same time.

Thought you did an excellent job with this and it's a compelling read. :)

kerrymdb
May. 5th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC)
See you're tackling the easy subjects again...
I'm writing far too much fluff lately. I needed the counter-balance. :)

So many fics have Lily almost as a Madonna that I really wanted to explore the opposite of that. If she was active in the Order, I can't imagine that it would be easy for her to stop fighting because of pregnancy.

I'm very pleased that you liked Remus in this. Sometimes I think the PoA movie colors my view of Remus too much (especially with his line, "she was there for me...") but he seems like he would want to be loyal to both of them. That Lily has become an extension of James almost.

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you liked it! :)
phoenixfyre13
May. 5th, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)
Oh, Kerry, this was so beautiful.

I think what struck me most was the irony that this was in fact about Harry. It brings so many questions to mind about the future if she had gone through with it.

And it's so interesting how she feels about her own ability to have a child, especially in the times she lived in, wrapped up in one very telling line: I'm a soldier, not a mother. Oh, how could she possibly know she would be both in that one single moment of sacrifice a little over a year later? Heartwrenching, particularly since we know what happens.

I love that Remus is the one to save her here, even by just being as supportive as he was in her moment of need, and even though she didn't think she needed it.

And I thought this line really wrapped up perfectly the way each of the Marauders would handle little Harry: Seven months from now, she would hold a baby in her arms. James would hand out expensive cigars, Sirius would buy impractical gifts, Remus would read to the baby and Peter would worry about dropping it on it's head. That was wonderful! I laughed and almost cried at this, because it is so spot-on character-wise, and gives a bittersweet picture of what could have been.

I really loved this! Great job!!
kerrymdb
May. 5th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

It brings so many questions to mind about the future if she had gone through with it.
Very much so. I can't tell from JK's timeline if Trelawney would have had the prophecy already. If she had, I don't think Lily would have had a choice (even if she thought she did).

You quoted one of my favorite lines, the one about the Marauders. I could just see Peter fussing about and the rest of them. And it might have been like that at the beginning, until Peter...

Thank you for reading and commenting! :)
ericadawn16
Dec. 19th, 2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
Loved the part with Lily and Snape.

"Just give me my damn ingredients or I'll hex you," Lily said impatiently.

"Anything to relieve the boredom of this place," Snape said with a dry bark of a laugh.

Hehe

Aww, I loved the plot of the story because it does make sense that she would have second thoughts.

How was Remus able to recognize the potion so easily?

Lily said softly. "But surely you can see that I couldn't just invite you over for tea, saying, 'Fancy that, Moony, Prongs got me pregnant. What should I do?'"

Aww, loved how that was phrased.
kerrymdb
Feb. 8th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC)
I loved the plot of the story because it does make sense that she would have second thoughts.
She wouldn't have been normal if she hadn't. With the war? Who would want to bring a child into that world?

How was Remus able to recognize the potion so easily?
My convenient reasoning is that the potion is a very recognizable color. ;)

Thank you for reading! :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )