"This isolation is starting to get to me," James Potter said as he paced the hardwood kitchen floor of his home in Godric's Hollow. His shoes made a dull clomping noise as he stomped them with unnecessary force with each step he took.
"I just charmed the scuff marks off of that floor, I'll have you know," said Lily Potter, giving him a sidelong glance as she pulled something down from the cupboard – a bright blue box that made her one-year-old son, Harry, coo with delight upon setting eyes on it. She opened the box and handed the baby something from within.
"What's that you're giving him?" James said, suddenly distracted from his pacing. "Owl treats?"
"They're not owl treats!" said Lily indignantly. "They're baby biscuits … he's cutting teeth, James."
James turned up his nose as Harry happily gummed the tough biscuit. "On second thought, maybe owl treats would be better."
"You're hopeless," Lily said, laughing and swatting her husband with a dishtowel.
"So I've been told," James said, cocking an eyebrow and giving his wife a look that made his hazel eyes twinkle quite mischievously.
"Don't give me that look, mister," said Lily in warning tones. "I've got things to do around here." She gave the stack of dishes in the sink a sullen glare.
"I'm bored," James moaned.
"You're dangerous when you get bored," said Lily sagely.
"How true," agreed James. "So I think you ought to entertain me."
"Don't tempt me," said Lily with an impish grin, clearly not thinking along the same lines of entertainment as her husband was – she was envisioning transforming him into a goat if he didn't stop with the bleating about being bored. "This kitchen isn't going charm itself clean… or should I leave Harry to the pots and pans while I'm entertaining you?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Lily. Harry can't reach the sink." James had crept up behind his wife and grabbed her around the middle.
"You're absolutely incorrigible!" said Lily, who wasn't quite ready to admit defeat.
"So you tell me every five minutes," said James with a grin. He was fairly certain his wife's resolve would be crumbling any second now. He blew softly into her ear.
"Fine. You win," said Lily in martyr-like tones. "Give me time to tidy up the kitchen and to lay Harry down …"
"I'll take care of the kitchen," James said eagerly. "You take Harry up to bed, then I'll meet you on the sofa." He waggled his eyebrows roguishly.
"Hopeless," sighed Lily, but this time she said it only half meaning it. She hefted Harry up from his highchair and wiped the crumbs from his chin. "Say goodnight, Daddy," she said, presenting James with his son.
"Goodnight, Daddy," James whispered in Harry's ear. His kissed the boy on the forehead and gave him a squeeze. "Sleep tight, son … sweet dreams, too, just like I told you before … of Snitches and Quaffles …"
"All right, you two," said Lily, taking Harry back as he smudged tiny fingerprints onto his father's glasses. "You'll have his first word be Quidditch-related yet, won't you?" she chuckled.
"See you on the sofa, then," said James, flicking the dishtowel at Lily's posterior as she went to tote Harry upstairs.
Lily pulled a crimson and gold striped pajama top over Harry's head and slipped his chubby arms into the sleeves. She tried to smooth down all of the jet-black tufts of hair that had gone astray from pulling the shirt on, but realized that her attempt at keeping her son's untamed hair in check was just as futile as trying to do the same with her husband's.
"I'm afraid you've inherited your father's delightfully unmanageable hair, my love." She kissed Harry's soft, unruly locks and sat down with him in their favorite rocking chair. Harry nuzzled into his mother's arms and she rocked him slowly, humming his preferred lullaby – which, thanks to James, was the team anthem of the Caerphilly Catapults.
When Harry's breathing had evened, Lily gently eased up from the rocker. She laid him onto his Snitch-patterned sheets and pulled the stuffed dog his godfather had given him for his first birthday near his arm. "There's Snuffles," said Lily in a whisper. "You're all set."
She tiptoed from the nursery to rendezvous with her husband on the sofa.
As she passed the kitchen, Lily couldn't help but peer in to see what condition James had left it in. Not too shabby, she thought as she walked on to the parlor.
As she rounded the corner, prepped to pounce on the figure lounging on her chintz sofa, she stopped dead in her tracks, not sure whether she wanted to laugh or scream. There was James Potter, sprawled out with his arms tucked behind his head and his glasses askew halfway down the bridge of his nose … fast asleep.
Lily sighed. "Well, now that both of my boys have gone to bed …" She chuckled softly and sat down in an armchair. She looked around the still room. "Now I'm bored," she said to herself. "How ironic is that?" She picked up the latest edition of the Daily Prophet, turning quickly past the dark headlines to the crossword puzzle in the back. "Blast it, Padfoot!" she said as she tossed the paper aside. Sirius had obviously done the puzzle when he stopped by that morning.
She finally gave in and grabbed a pillow from the end of the sofa,fluffed it and tucked it behind her head. "If you can't beat ‘em ..." she said as she closed her green eyes.
"Lily … Lily, wake up."
"Hmmm?" groaned Lily. Her back was aching from curling up in the armchair. What time is it? she thought as her husband's face came into focus.
"We fell asleep downstairs," James informed her. "It's half-past one … let's go to bed."
Lily nodded, feeling the muscles in her neck twinge as she did so. She made a mental note never to sleep in that armchair again.
James wrapped an arm around his wife's shoulder and they walked up the staircase to their bedroom. Lily paused by the nursery door and put a finger to her lips as she softly creaked the door ajar. Harry's muffled whimpers could be heard coming from his cot.
"He's probably had a bad dream," said Lily, her brow furrowed.
"I'll bet he dropped the Snitch," said James, peering into his son's room.
"Or worse yet, been hit by a Bludger … honestly, the things you've already told your one-year-old son." She cast a disapproving expression at him as she listened to Harry's cries become more pronounced.
"I'll take care of him … you go on to bed," said James, by way of making up for scandalizing his only son with ghastly tales of Bludger calamities.
But Lily held up a hand in protest. "It's all right, James. I don't mind." She kissed him tenderly and nudged him towards their bedroom. "I'll be there in a bit."
By the time she reached the cot, Harry had broken into a fit of wails. Lily scooped him up and pressed his head to her shoulder, whispering softly to him as she made her way back to their rocking chair. This time she gave up on the Catapults anthem and sang a different lullaby.
"Come stop your crying, it will be all right. Just take my hand, hold it tight. I will protect you from all around you. I will be here, don't you cry." Lily stroked Harry's back as his sobs lessened and continued her song. "For one so small you seem so strong. My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm. This bond between us can't be broken. I will be here, don't you cry."
Harry let out a peaceful coo as Lily continued to rock and sing.
"'Cause you'll be in my heart, yes you'll be in my heart, from this day on, now and forever more. You'll be in my heart, no matter what they say. You'll be here in my heart always. I'll be there for you always, always and always. Just look over your shoulder. I'll be there … always."
Author's Note: The title and the lyrics included in this story are from the Phil Collins song of the same name, which was featured in the Disney film, Tarzan. And just for any smart-alecky types out there, I know the song wasn't written in 1981, but I like it and we're pretending that it was. So there. ;-)
And thanks a million to Sherylyn. She's been a busy little bee, but she still managed to beta two of my fics in one pop. Sherry, you're the greatest. :-)