Title: The Peace of Wild Things
Paring: none. James Potter-gen
Word count: 1,031
Summary: The last night at the Shack.
Notes: Based semi-accidentally on the poem “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, which can be found at the end. Thanks to blue_moony for the beta. You did a stunning job. Written for the shack_challenge. x-posted to my journal. For any other archiving, please ask - firstname.lastname@example.org.
List of items used: ladder, blanket, candle
“You and Lily are bright stars for dark times, James. I truly believe you can save our world.”
Dumbledore’s words still echoed in James’ mind as he entered the Shrieking Shack, whispering “Lumos”. With the light of his wand reflecting off the walls of the narrow staircase, he crept upstairs, afraid that Padfoot, or even Wormtail had beaten him here. Tonight more than ever he wanted to be alone, at least for a while.
He entered the main room and pointed his wand in the direction of the candle he knew lay on the table, muttering “Incendio”. The room lit up suddenly, the shadows cast by various objects within flickering on the walls. The edges of James’ mouth curled up slightly as he looked everything over, ensuring that all was in place for later. Some of his favourite nights during his time at Hogwarts had been spent here, during the full moon, when he, Padfoot, Moony and Wormtail could just run free, leaving the cares of the world far behind them, cares that tonight weighed heavily on James’ mind.
He turned, walking towards the kitchenette they kept, to make themselves breakfast if they couldn’t get back to school in time. Grabbing the blanket on his way, he climbed up the ladder and threw open the shutters set into the roof. As the early evening breeze toyed with his typically unruly hair, he swung his feet out of the gap in the roof, turning himself to face Hogsmeade. The village was already quiet as people hid in their homes, no doubt wondering if tonight would be the night The Dark Lord would come for them. Only this morning, there had been yet another photo in the Prophet, the Dark Mark etched in the sky above another home whose occupants had refused to submit to his will.
James’ normally smiling face was tonight tinged with worry. In just a few weeks he would leave Hogwarts, his home of seven years, and he was under no illusions as to what faced him, and Lily, for that matter. Their wedding was scheduled for two and a half months from today, and although they were both full of joy and anticipation, both knew they were leaving school to enter a war, a war that had already claimed the families of some of their year-mates. For all Dumbledore spoke of their potential, James knew it would take more than top NEWTs marks to defeat the Dark Lord.
In those moments, as he saw lights going out in what were probably children’s bedrooms, James knew he would do whatever it took to ensure his world was not swallowed up by that…that monster. No matter how afraid he was, for Lily and any children to come, he knew there really was no choice. He would fight for the light, for everything that was good in the world, simply because the alternative was too terrible to countenance.
Closing his eyes now, he saw Lily’s face: her beauty, yes, but also her determination to see this through, to stand and face the future and to fight until her dying breath for that which she held dear.
James was no fool. He was aware that war was messy, was costly. So was everyone in their world. But he had never truly considered what fighting such a war could cost him, and his friends. If he lost Lily, would it be worth it? Would it be worth the broken bodies of his three dearest friends, if their world could made be free? Would he be prepared to die, if that was what it took?
And yet again, there was no real choice. With everything he held dear now threatened, he would do anything to give his generation and those to come a free world. The cost of failing in this did not bear contemplating, so great was it when compared to the price of success.
James looked upon the surrounding land once more, just able to see the shadow of Hogwarts in the distance, startled to see how dark it was becoming. Moony, Padfoot and Wormtail would be here soon. With a sad smile, he wondered what he would do without their monthly excursions. The time he spent as Prongs was an escape for James, a much-needed release when he could just run and leave the world with all it’s darkness behind.
When the four of them ran together, it was simple. There was cold air, rushing past, and the ground beneath his feet. The future didn’t go away, but it seemed so much more distant. Prongs was, for James, a refuge, a form wherein he was still himself but not. When he transformed, he could simply be, and enjoy the time spent with his friends without imagining the four of them lying broken on a battlefield.
He heard them arrive, Sirius first, clattering up the stairs, shouting his name. “Oi, James, are you here already? We couldn’t see you on the map.”
“’M up here, Padfoot. Just coming now.” James’ voice drifted into the main room, where Peter was sitting quietly on the bed, just watching them all. Remus already looked to be in pain, his bones starting to feel the moon’s pull.
First James’ feet, then the rest of him, appeared in the room, and he broke into an involuntary grin at the sight of his closest friends. Would they still be laughing together in a year’s time, or would he be standing at their graves, or they at his? Never, he told himself. We’re going to win this. We have to. He looked over at Remus, who just nodded tersely, his form already beginning to shift. They all walked down the stairs and outside.
Wormtail transformed first, then Padfoot, and finally James, on seeing Remus complete his transformation, closed his eyes and felt the gentle tug all over his body as he almost dropped into Prongs’ body. Opening his eyes, he saw only a world innocent again, waiting to be explored and discovered anew. Indicating for the others to follow him, he broke into a run, away from his worries, away from the war, truly free just one last time.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.