if i could save you (i would i would i would)
A/N: for anyone that has ever messaged me anything ever. because i adore all of them and all of you.
WARNING: graphic depictions of violence and very sad things ahead and in general im just v sorry for this whole thing
Lily wears her new cloak backwards. This is how it starts. James tells her in potions and she laughs. It feels weird to laugh at something James Potter has said because she’s in seventh year and hasn’t spoken to him since Sev broke her in front of the whole school. He laughs at her like he’s pretending not to. Sirius gets detention and forces Remus to get one so he won’t be lonely. Marlene slips in the hallway and almost fractures her tailbone. Evangeline and Mary have to lug her up three flights of stairs to the hospital wing while she yells at them to be gentle. They yell at her to shut up and when she doesn’t Mary ‘accidentally’ let’s go and Marlene really breaks her tailbone. Lily puts her cloak on the right way. James applauds her for this in the middle of the corridor. She bows.
Mary and Peter are partnered for charms but have an epic wand-sword fight instead. Sirius calls Melina Spillini a ‘hot chick’ and Marlene calls him a ‘fucking pig’ and then stomps on his toe. James laughs. Lily takes her earrings out, loses them and every time she tries ‘accio earrings’ all of the girls in the area yell at her to stop stealing their jewellery. Remus skips Care of Magical Creatures to help her look. Lily calls him a darling and he blushes because he is. Three people go missing and the ministry doesn’t know here to look because they don’t seem to know anything. James dares Sirius to swing from the chandelier on the second floor and it breaks mid swing. McGonagall gives the whole lot of them detention and Evangeline is laughing so hard she falls over and lands in the chandelier. Mary fails a paper and cries because she really did try. Lily tells her it’s okay and it’s not, but it will be. Marlene calls James a ‘plastic bottle of toads piss.’ And Peter copies it into his charms notes because he wants to tell Sirius about it later.
James lends Lily his charms notes. She spills coffee on them. Sirius tells Remus his theory about Merlin being Dumbledore. Mary overhears. They start a secret club dedicated to exposing the truth. Evangeline calls them idiots but is always ‘stumbling’ onto their meetings. Marlene ruffles James hair when she walks past him in the library. Mary pulls Remus’s tie when they eat breakfast. Lily uses her quill to tickle the back of Peter’s hand when they sit next to each other during astronomy. Evangeline just calls Sirius a ‘fuckface’ as often as she can. Remus tries to paint the dormitory wall and gets a months’ worth of detentions from McGonagall. Sirius calls it ‘noble work’. Janet Brown’s mother is killed by a man with red eyes and Remus can’t get her face out of his head because her daughter was twelve and this woman will never see her get any older. Lily gives James’s charms notes back with the coffee stains on them while apologising profusely. James just charms the stain off. Lily realises she didn’t read the notes carefully enough.
Sirius goes out with Janie Porter. Peter rereads his favourite book, where everybody is brave and nobody dies. Mary reads gossip magazines while Marlene draws moustaches on all the people. The bodies of the three missing people are found drawn and quartered in Diagon ally, hanging from ‘Flourish and Blott’s’ light fixture. Evangeline hears this and goes to throw up in the toilet. Lily starts studying with James in the library on Thursday’s. Marlene puts her feet on Sirius’s face when they’re lying on the common room floor. Remus writes to his mother. James and Peter flood the staffroom with orange juice and blame it on Lily and Sirius. Mary eats so much cake on Evangeline’s birthday that she ends up throwing up over the toilet while Remus holds her hair back. James and Lily start studying together on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s because he can’t do potions for shit and Lily thinks it’s hilarious. Sirius breaks up with Janie and she calls him a ‘FUCKING GARBAGE SCUM WHORE’ in front of the whole school. Remus laughs so hard he gets a detention.
James steals Lily’s toast off her plate at breakfast. Evangeline locks Mrs Norris in a broom closet and tells Filtch he’s an ‘embarrassment to the human race’ when he catches her doing it. Jason Lee calls Marlene a bitch and James punches him because only they’re allowed to call Marlene a bitch. He gets a detention and, although she’ll deny it till the end of time, Marlene gets a detention on purpose so she can keep him company. Mary pops her chewing gum in people’s faces because she thinks it’s funny. Lily finds out Peter can’t peel an orange without a knife, tells Sirius by accident and by the end of the week Sirius is putting oranges in all of Peters stuff. The next week a rumour goes around school that Sirius Black likes to eat dog biscuits in his spare time and Sirius stands on the table in the Great Hall during breakfast trying to convince everyone it’s false. James and Lily boo while throwing oranges at him. James bets Lily three galleons that she can’t get one in Sirius’s mouth. She does, and calls James a loser for the rest of the month.
Evangeline covers for Marlene when she’s late to early morning Defence because she can’t wake up to any alarm. Sometimes Sirius wakes up retching in the middle of the night because he’s dreamed he’s become his father. There is a school assembly about how to handle the death of a loved one. Remus and Peter convince half the sixth year that they have to take N.E.W.T.S one year early. 23 people cry and 14 faint, Mary calls them arseholes but can’t stop laughing behind her hand. Lily eats half a handful of Bowtruckle Wings on a dare from Sirius, locks herself in the bathroom to throw up and passes out over the toilet. James breaks down the door to get her out and Remus clears the hallways by yelling ‘WE ARE TRYING TO SAVE A LIFE HERE PEOPLE’ while Sirius runs to Madame Pomfrey. Peter alerts the girls and within twenty minutes four girls, three boys and one frantic Sirius Black are pacing the waiting room refusing to leave. Lily wakes up thirty minutes later, and the first thing she says is: ‘Black you owe me five galleons’. James has never smiled so hard in his life.
All 121 women in ‘Mothers against Muggle-Born Murder’ are found buried in a field, their bodies tangled together in one huge hole like they’re clothes in a drawer. James hears on a Tuesday when he’s studying with Lily in the library. Lily thinks about all of those women’s families and how they were fighting for her right to live. James curls his fingers around hers and it feels like he is trying to anchor her to the world. Sirius convinces the girls to sneak into the boy’s dorm that night, they sit on the floor eating liquorice and Mary leans on Remus’s knees while Lily plaits Evangeline’s hair and nobody says much of anything. Then James says he’s just discovered that sucking on ice-cubes is the best thing ever, and Marlene tells him he’s weirdo, so then Remus tells Marlene that’s she’s a weirdo for still using the word weirdo and life goes on. Because life has a tendency to do that.
Mary becomes hooked on records and won’t stop humming, much to everyone’s annoyance. Lily puts her feet on James when she’s lying on the couch and he draws flowers on her anklebone. Sirius sleeps with two girls in the same broom closet at two different times, and both times manages to get caught by a teacher. He says he has a gift as he sits in detention. Evangeline forgets how to spell the word ‘combined’ for no good reason. Mary paints Lily’s toenails. Marlene makes a first year cry by asking them to pass the marmalade. Peter thinks this is hilarious. James talks a fourth year out of throwing away all of her high heels because her boyfriend doesn’t like it when she’s taller than him. James reminds her that girls don’t exist to make boys feel important. He is right. Lily and James have a three hour debate about whether the Giant Squid can read and then they fall asleep in the common room, her head on his chest with his heartbeat in her ears. Regulus spits in Sirius’s face when he walked past him and Sirius wanted to hit him but somehow couldn’t make himself do it. His hands were shaking too much. So Marlene did it for him and called Regulus a ‘spineless fucking piece of shit’ for good measure. Then she leads Sirius around the corner and asks him if he’s alright in her sharp Marlene voice and Sirius can’t answer the question because he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know.
There is now a column in the paper solely dedicated to reporting the new names of the dead each morning. Remus gets a bruise from hitting the side of the common room table. Evangeline throws grapes at James face and he tries to catch them in his mouth. Lily joins in and the whole thing deteriorates until Lily is straddling James’s chest while Evangeline shoves as many grapes as she can in his mouth. Peter breaks a common room window by throwing a Quaffle through it accidentally. Lily and Sirius play a game where they try and come up with the lamest joke. Lily wins and Sirius gives her a daisy crown he made earlier as a prize. She kisses his check and falls in love with him a little bit, he does the same. Remus and Mary attempt to cover Peter’s broken window by getting Mary to sit on Remus’s shoulders and refusing to move when McGonagall comes into the room. When Lily smiles a cracking noise like a firework going off happens in James’s brain. He decides to ignore it the hope that maybe it will go away.
Peter falls asleep in one of Dumbledore’s speeches after a full moon. Evangeline draws a moustache on Sirius while he’s sleeping and he doesn’t notice for three classes until Mary finally gives into the guilt and whispers it to him during Defence. A ministry spokesperson calls for the downfall of the dark arts and is found the next day by his screaming wife, his head floating in her best soup pot. Lily calls James a twat for getting a better charms mark than her and he flicks her on the nose and calls her jealous. She flicks him in the eye and laughs while he drags her to the hospital wing because ‘honestly Lily I think I am blind take me to Madam Pomfrey’. Marlene can’t master the Owl summoning spell and she sort-of loses it, crying angry frustrated tears because she can’t do it and everything is shit and a second year came up to her yesterday wanting to be walked to the bathroom because she was scared she would be attacked on the way there. And Marlene is crying and crying and crying and then she is screaming and screaming and when Peter finds her on the bathroom floor he first begins to think that there is a small chance that they aren’t winning. That maybe they were never even playing the right game.
Lily and James take turns piggybacking each other while the others clap, lying on the Quidditch pitch. They end up collapsing and James is laughing and Lily wants to crawl into it, to crawl into his happiness and live there for her whole life. Sirius calls Remus a ‘sunflower’ and then proceeds to make up a song about it. Mary does the harmony and Evangeline walks ahead of them on the hallway so people don’t think she’s with them. But everyone knows that she is, including her. Professor Flitwick’s teacher in training Professor Arlinta breaks down crying in the middle of a charms lesson because her sister is no longer on the planet. Mary tells a group of third year girls that if a boy tells a joke they don’t think is funny they don’t have to laugh. Marlene listens while leaning against a wall. She is all at once very proud that she is friends with this person, in the way that only girls can be. Peter and James charm all of the walls so that they’re no longer stone, but shag carpet, Lily says it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. Her and Evangeline slide against the wall for the whole day until the teachers figure out how to change it back. More people die. Remus hears all their names thump against his brain and slides down the bathroom wall.
All at once everything seems to get very dark very quickly. Mary can no longer see light unless she is doing something routine, like putting on her makeup. Marlene can only glimpse it when she’s flying. James can only see it when he’s listening to Lily’s voice. Sirius can’t see it at all. Names are plastered in the papers. Teachers stare into space in the middle of lessons. The whole thing seems like a horrible, horrible dream. And then Mary is taken out of Astronomy by McGonagall and James hears a scream from outside and he runs out just in time to catch her before she hits the floor. And she’s screaming screaming screaming and crying crying crying because her mother wrote to her last week about how she was planning on getting new curtains for the kitchen and how her father wouldn’t help pick and now they will never ever get to pick anything ever again. James is holding her and they’re lying on the floor of the hallway when Evangeline finds them, and then Remus with Lily and Sirius stumbles in through a daze being led by Marlene. They’re lying on the corridor floor when Peter finally gets to them, they take up the whole space and Mary is crying into Sirius’s shirt while Lily leans her head into James and Peter thinks of his favourite book. The one where everyone is brave and nobody dies. But the thing is that not everyone is brave, and not everyone can live. And that’s when Peter knows, with horrifying clarity, what he is going to do.
Marlene carves her name onto her headboard so there will be something left of her. James kisses Lily, or Lily kisses James and it’s not beautiful or romantic but full of teeth and swelling heart. Lily wants to kiss him forever because when she does her brain goes quiet and she doesn’t have to think of a single thing. James traces his long fingers along her collar bones and has a feeling that she will be his downfall. He doesn’t care. He will throw everything away, all of it, on her if he has to. He can live without her but he doesn’t ever want to. Mary wears oversized shirts and feels lost in all of the space. Remus looks at things without seeing and Evangeline’s teeth trap in all of the words she wants to say. Marlene bites her lip until it bleeds. Sirius sits in trees alone and has sex with random girls and falls asleep outside because he feels so trapped in every place where he can’t see the sky. Peter sets his jaw. Evangeline wishes she could become gold light, and pour over everyone she loves.
And then they’re graduating, sitting on the astronomy tower roof drinking firewhiskey that heats their blood. And Evangeline has her head in Marlene’s stomach while Mary sits in between Peter’s legs. Remus has his legs on James’s as Lily leans into Sirius’s chest, her hands curled around James’s bony fingers. And in this universe they are betrayed, and in this universe they are all dead before they have really lived and in this universe something worse than death will find some of them. But in this same universe they sit on a roof and love each other with their whole hearts. And that is not enough but it has to be because there isn’t going to be anything else. There isn’t going to be another single thing.