World War Two AU from this prompt list of mine.
It’s a mushy, under-researched drabble and I apologize, but here ya go
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day…
Bending to sing into the microphone, Lily Evans’ red lips curled upwards. Her gaze scanned the crowd, made up of khaki green and their colourfully-dressed counterparts. Couples swayed to the music, noses touching, their own little bubbles undisturbed by the rest of the world for just this moment.
Lily had been singing for the army for a year now, performing at various town halls around the area. She’d always liked to sing, and she saw this as a good way of shutting up her annoying sister, who worked at ammunition factories for the war effort and pestered her to do the same. She knew the songs well enough by now to let her mind wander as she hummed.
Looking over the crowd, her eyes lingered at a table in the back, where a group of three men sat. Two of them seemed suitably drunk, laughing into their glasses. The third, though, was looking straight at Lily.
For an entertaining event, this boy wasn’t smiling. His hazel eyes were thinking, she saw, as he considered her. His jet black hair was ruffled out of any attempt at a hairstyle, and his uniform hung on his slim frame, exaggerating his shoulders. He couldn’t have been more than twenty, she figured.
With her green eyes locked on his, the last note rang out.
To a round of applause, Lily stepped off the stage. Making her way to a table, she grabbed a glass, when-
“Here. Let me.”
She turned to the voice. The boy from before stood with the jug of water, a small smile on his face. Taking the glass from her hand, he carefully poured.
He shrugged, grinning.
She downed the water in one go, wiping the corners of her mouth carefully. After setting the glass down, she smiled again at the waiting boy.
“May I have a dance?” He held his hand out lightly, and Lily accepted.
He was quite terrible.
Lily had danced with her fair share of men as she often liked to stay after her performances. These were soldiers, she knew, not film stars, and so many of them floundered around with Lily taking the lead. She’d thought they were bad, but she hadn’t met this one yet.
“What’s your name?” He asked, as his arms jerked out wildly at a sorry attempt at the Jitterbug.
“Lily,” she replied. “What about you?”
“Ja- shit. Sorry. Are you okay? I’m James.”
“Right. James.” She neatly pulled her foot back from where it would have gotten crushed by his.
“How old are you?”
Eyes watering slightly, Lily rubbed her temple where he’d knocked it with his elbow. She smiled weakly, and James sighed.
“Let’s sit down for a while, yeah?”
Pulling a chair out for her at his table from before, James slumped down next to her.
“You did well, mate.” The brown-haired friend smirked. James introduced him as Remus, and the other as Peter.
“Sod off. Lily here managed to keep up.”
“She managed to survive. Was it your intention to maim her?”
James rolled his eyes, but nervously looked Lily up and down. “Did I hurt you?”
“No,” she replied.
“Yes,” Peter corrected, gesturing at the purple bruise that was forming on her shoulder.
Ignoring James’ fretful apologies, Lily covered it with her sleeve.
“So have you been singing for long?” Remus took a sip of his drink.
“I started last October. Why? Was it bad?”
“It was beautiful,” James chuckled, earning a look from Peter. “Hey, where’s Sirius?”
Remus pointed to where a couple was dancing in perfect synchronicity. The man also black hair, but his was combed over and waxed beautifully. Never breaking his jive, he turned to wink at his friends. He’d got lessons, James explained, running his fingers through his own hair.
Sitting around the table, the group talked through the night. None of them were really all that keen on dancing, it turned out, but their mate Sirius had convinced them to come. He’d turned out to be an excellent dancer, while the other three hadn’t.
They were going to be shipped off in two days, and they eagerly discussed where they might go. Lily listened as she had done for many others before them. She didn’t know where they would go. She didn’t know if they’d come back. She sat back, watching their animated faces, young boys who knew nothing of what was to come. Neither did she, really, but she had no uncles, and so she knew well enough that war was not merciful.
When Remus had been chatted up by a girl and Peter had nodded off, James stood up abruptly, scraping his chair back. Biting his lip, he turned to Lily.
“Would you take a walk with me outside?”
Lily nodded, taking his hand.
The music carried into the night as the pair stood outside on the moonlit grass. Lily shivered a little, and James held out his jacket. She let him wrap it around her shoulders, her thanks coming out in little puffs of white. They stood there like that for a while, his hand lingering on her arm, before he spoke.
“Listen. I… I really enjoyed tonight.”
Lily smiled. “Me too.”
James nodded, encouraged. All traces of the joking, confident grins from before were gone, replaced by a small nervous smile that played at his lips.
He took a breath and continued, “And I… I’d like to remember that I kissed a pretty girl before I die.”
Lily blinked. She’d gotten used to men expecting a kiss, sure. When people are going off to war, they get reckless. They’d dance with her, they’d promise to come back, and she’d never see them again. She had expected James to be the same, and wasn’t prepared for what he’d just admitted.
But because she’d seen her cousins go, because she can’t stand to see another boy not return, she touches him lightly on the cheek.
“You will,” she smiled, “but not today.”
Looking into her basket, Lily sighs. The Second World War had ended some five months ago, but rationing hasn’t eased up at all. Looping her arm through the handles, she sets off back home.
Passing the train station, she pauses. The building stands, largely unused by the townspeople, a sorry reminder of better times. This has become a habit now, this glance, though it does no good to hope. Too many men come home in boxes.
Today, though, she notices a lone man step out onto the street. Hobbling a little, he tugs on his collar before looking around. His eyes gaze past Lily, stops, and turns to her again. Hazel eyes lock on hers.
James, she whispers. He steps forward, a man enchanted, and…
“Bollocks. Bloody bugger fuck.”
Lily raises her brows. James drags a hand down his face, eyes screwed shut.
“I died. I died when you’d promised me a kiss, although if you’re here too it can’t be that bad. But I told my aunt Maggie I’d come back to see her, and now I’ve landed myself in bloody fucking heaven. Bloody convenient.”
“I don’t exactly recall dying, either,” Lily offers.
He blinks, looks behind him, and frowns at her. “What are you doing in Brighton?”
“I kind of told you that I live here,” she points out.
“Oh. Oh. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget, see, but I kept it in my pocket, and…”
He gestures to his leg, where a flash of metal showed at the bottom of his trousers.
“I’m sorry,” Lily says.
“Oh, don’t be. I’d be much sorrier if I were dead.”
He smiles as he says this, but there’s a little catch in his voice at the end. Something breaks in Lily then, and she stumbles forward, grabbing his neck and pulling him roughly towards her.
He freezes for a second as their lips come in contact, but then his bag drops to the ground. As picks her up for a spin, his right leg gives an ominous creak.
Lily steps back. “Oh.”
“It was a romantic effort,” he shrugs sheepishly, pulling her back for another kiss. With his lips against hers, James closes his eyes.
He whispers, “You know… I’d like to remember that I married a pretty girl before I die.”