Chapter 1: A Photograph
This chapter was written in 2007 and updated in 2020
It was a rainy mid-morning nearing the end of June when Harry was given the shoebox. Aunt Petunia seemed to have given up issuing household orders and his family was avoiding him. This suited Harry very much and his feet were curled up under him on his bed whilst he re-read The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection.
Aunt Petunia wrapped at the door whilst barging in and tossed a shoebox onto his bed.
“Here – since you must be leaving soon,” she cast him an unkind hopeful look, “You should have some rubbish I found whilst clearing out the loft.” Her voice quietened, “They were your mother’s. I’m not sure why they’re in my house.”
Harry gaped uncomprehendingly.
“So take them, then!” Petunia spat. She seemed oddly jittery.
Harry quickly grabbed the box. “Um. Thanks.”
She stormed out and slammed the door.
Harry leant down to remove the loose floorboard, and retrieved the penknife Sirius had bought for him at Christmas.
Stomach clenching, he slit through the layers of duct tape, scooted back up to the headboard, and removed the lid.
Harry stared. Inside was an assortment of odds and ends, ticket stubs, parchment and photographs.
He was immobilised. Not knowing where to start, he upended the box and grabbed at what was closest: a black-and-white unmoving photograph. A small Lily sporting a toothy grin stood alongside a muddy miserable girl holding a crying baby.
He flipped over the photograph and read:
Me - 7, Archie - 6 months, Petunia - 8
The dreaded day of cousin Archibald’s christening had arrived. Lily had never been so bored in her life. And they weren’t even ready to leave the Midlands for the epic drive.
Lily was dressed in a frilly pinafore, her hair neatly smoothed back into a plait.
She was swinging her legs in boredom on the divan outside her mum’s room, viewing the scene playing before her with a weary expression on her face.
“Ow! You’re pulling!” Petunia screeched.
“The knots must come out, Pet. Lily was perfectly happy to keep still.”
Petunia, on the other hand, was dressed in a pair of dungarees. There was a snail living in her central front pocket and her socks were a bit muddy from gardening without shoes.
Lily smirked and folded her arms.
“Why is there mud in your hair, darling? You better not have been rolling around in the garden like a swine. You know how upset it makes me when you work on the Sabbath, and there’s no time for another bath!” she said, grinding her teeth together in an effort to keep calm.
Petunia glared around at Lily and grabbed the hairbrush from her mum and hurled it at Lily.
“Ow! That was my h-h-head!”
Mum slapped Petunia. “Awful girl! Why did you do that?”
Both girls started bawling.
Half an hour later, Lily and Petunia were bundled in the back of the car, still sniffling. They were each looking out their windows, feeling stung.
Three long hours later, a smug looking Lily stood next to now a slightly less muddy, harassed looking Petunia who cradled what looked like a red sniffling plucked chicken in a frilly frock.
“Smile nicely for the camera, young ladies!”
Archibald now being passed around to other relatives for the photographer, Petunia and Lily made their way over to the table with the biscuits.
“I’m sorry, Lil. I didn’t mean to hurt you before.”
Lily tentatively smiled up at Petunia. “That’s okay! I shouldn’t have laughed. Friends forever?”
“Sisters for life,” elbowed Petunia, reaching over to get Lily two biscuits.
Lily hugged her knees to her chest on the window seat, staring unseeingly out the window as tears ran down her face. She was 18 and was spending the week at her dad’s house in Cokeworth before leaving tomorrow to get married.
She wasn't sure where it all went wrong. It seemed that her sister had always appeared jealous at the attention she got for having the ability to do the impossible.
I never asked for this, thought Lily.
She had been phoned and written, begging and pleading for her sister to attend the wedding for a solid month - ever since she had planned the date. The registry office had been fully booked for the next six months but luckily someone had dropped out. Since Albus recruited them to the Order just two months ago, they were anxious to get married.
This week all of her arguments - that she was sorry, wanted to mend this bridge, you’re my only sister, dad would be upset, mum would be turning in her grave, that it was important to her, if she died tomorrow she wouldn't even care, that if she died tomorrow she would regret not going for the rest of her miserable life - had fallen on deaf ears.
In the end Petunia had packed her bags for London to see her boyfriend.
Lily wiped her eyes, got to her knees by the bookcase, and retrieved some old photo albums from the '60s.
She started sniffling again as she begun to flick through. Life was simpler before Hogwarts, wars, and weddings. There she was, playing happily with her big sister in the paddling pool. In another, she, Tuney and mum were all holding hands on her first day of primary school.
She gazed at toddlers on the merry-go-round at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Her younger self was grinning, her big sister’s arms were looped around her and she was planting a kiss in her filthy hair.
Just when did that sister die?
She flicked through the album, watching steadily as her family and friends aged.
Finally, she got to the last photo. It was in black-and-white and showed her and her sister next to their cousin Archibald at his christening. Archie was wearing a hideous formal frilly thing – and was rather red in the face.
Her sister looked upset and grubby. Lily was grinning up at the photographer and looked considerably cleaner than her older sister.
She felt that the photographer had captured Pet’s personality well. So she sighed slid it out of the album.
Chapter 2: A Note of Love
This chapter was written in 2007 and updated in 2020
The next thing Harry reached for was a stack of letters.
He stared confusedly at the topmost one for a while, scratching his head. He supposed it must have been from his father. He hoped it wasn’t. It was a note, or a poem to be more exact, on screwed up parchment.
Harry turned it over, wondering if that was it. It wasn’t! There was a reply, written in different handwriting…
James, A Moron Especially Sucks
Oh dear. He supposed those bad writing skills did belong to his father after all, then.
He looked over at the next sheet of parchment, heart thrumming.
17th December 1977
I know it’s only been 28 hours since I last kissed you at King’s Cross but I miss you so much I just had to write. I didn’t think I’d get time this evening but I managed to leave Sirius at the pub as he’s got lucky with a girl he pulled. We could have used you, Evans. Apparently England didn’t qualify for the “Foot Ball World Cup”, and this is common knowledge. Not that I was hitting on anyone, I was just helping out Sirius. He needs all the help he can get. I’m practicing being able to blend in as a Muggle, as this is something an Auror should to be able to do without breaking the Statute of Secrecy!
Making small talk with girls made me want to Apparate straight to your room. Whilst it would be a good use of my licence, I wouldn’t want to upset your dad.
Instead, here I am, returning home alone on a Saturday night to write to you and tell you that not an hour goes by when I don’t think of you.
Just imagine, at Easter when we have to be apart, I’ll be able to Apparate to you and hold you in my arms. We can sneak off to the pictures, eat popcorn and be alone in a dark corner. I can’t put into words how desperately I want to be alone with you… how I miss you, Lily.
How’s your dad getting on? Is your sister’s boyfriend staying too?
I forgot to tell you earlier, we have a lunar issue on Christmas Day so I’m opening your present on Christmas Eve. Sirius and I are sneaking back to Hogsmeade, Wormtail can’t get away. Mum and dad don’t mind having a belated Christmas. I’ll write to you as soon as the problem has resolved itself, probably Boxing Day morning all being well.
I don’t really have anything else to say, or any news. Just that I love you and miss you.
16 days until I can see you again.
Write back as soon as you can, Evans. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.
“Padfoot, this is it. This has been going on for too long." James flicked the last two syllables into his knee. He continued his arm waving. "I need more subtle tactics, something spontaneous, something romantic even! She's the Golden Gryffindor Snitch just out of my reach! I know I can stretch just that little bit–“
James turned around from his tirade.
“Sirius are you even listening to me?”
A snore greeted his ears.
“Siri - Sirius, wake up you mongrel! I was in the middle of telling you my sob story! Or grand plans. Whichever. Same thing.”
Sirius grunted as he was shaken awake, and yawned widely.
“Oh, don’t have a cow. Something about Evans? What’s she done now?”
“That’s just the thing. She hasn’t done anything. I think I need to change the plan. Get all romantic.”
That woke him up.
“Romantic? You? Ha!”
James didn’t look impressed.
“I dunno, just grab her and snog her, Casanova. Can I sleep now?”
“No! You told me to do that last time, remember?”
Sirius looked perplexed. “Which time?”
“The time she kneed me in the balls, you pillock!”
Sirius smile grew. “Again, which time was that?”
“Er–“ James cast his memory back, shaking his head hopelessly. “-Does it matter which bloody time? Help me!“
“You could write her a love letter, James,” Peter piped up. James wheeled around.
“A love letter? What are you, a poofter?” James looked at Sirius, inviting him to share the joke. “What the hell? Why would someone write a love note to Lily?”
“To confess my undying love for her perhaps?”
A silence followed.
“Erm," Pete licked his lips nervously. "I was just putting myself in your shoes. So if I were you, I’d write her a love note to confess your undying love for her.” Peter laughed nervously.
Remus sighed heavily. At long last he looked up from his book and pushed his tawny hair out of his eyes.
“Write her a poem,“ he suggested.
“Brilliant! A poem! Be a pal and draft one for me. You’re a sappy genius!”
“No! That’s plagiarism!” Remus flung a pillow at him.
“Reditus!” he cast, returning it. “I’d give you credit for it!”
Remus caught the pillow. “That’s admitting to being deceitful! She already thinks you’re conceited, you don’t want to add to the list.“
Remus sighed in deep relief.
“I should really get Sirius to write one.”
Remus sighed in deep exasperation.
“The best letters come from the heart, Prongs. You’d be better off writing one yourself.” He added as an afterthought, “If you send a note that Sirius wrote you’ll suffer the consequences. Where it hurts the most.”
The boys looked at Remus in utter perplexity. Peter’s mouth was slightly open, James wasn’t really listening and Sirius looked confused.
“…You mean in the balls?”
Remus smiled and set his book aside, thinking it was a joke. “Don’t know about you guys, but I’m off to bed.“
A murmur of affirmed agreement followed his statement.
Soon the room was filled with snores (Sirius’, naturally) and heavy breathing (Peter was having a wet dream). Obviously James was awake. Remus was secretly keeping an eye on James to see what he was up to.
“Go away, Ellen, I’ll have sex with you later…”
“Oy! Wake up!”
He snored on.
The snoring abruptly stopped.
“Huh? Wha'?” Sirius looked up at him blearily.
“Shhh! You’ll wake Remus!“
‘What on earth is he planning...?’ thought Remus.
“You're not my boyfriend, you don't get to share my bed,” smiled Sirius sleepily up at him.
“Shut it. I’ve been planning. I need you to promise me that you’ll write a love poem from me to Lily! “
Lily was sat with Angela, trying to look interested in her story of Danny the Stalker she met in Salisbury as she ate her scrambled eggs.
Luckily, she was saved by the post owls swooping in. She deftly caught a letter before it fell in her cornflakes.
Lil, I Love You!
She stared at it, and checked the back to see if there was a note, or a signature at least. There wasn’t. She looked along her table, to try and work out who sent it. A messy haired jerk winked at her.
Mystery solved. She glared at him disgustedly.
Tigerlily looked down the Gryffindor table, and seductively locked eyes with James. He winked at her, and got a glare in return.
“Padfoot, did you send that note?”
“Uh-huh,” Sirius said through a mouth full of toast.
“How erm… Good was it?”
He swallowed and grinned confidently. “Fantastic. She’ll love it. It was poetic.”
James was struggling to look even faintly interested as his best friend, Remus, was talking about some sort of rare flower that had to be harvested on the new moon.
Suddenly he found a good distraction when the post owls swooped in as usual. James craned his neck to try and find his owl, but before he found him a school owl floated gracefully down to land on his head.
“Ow! Gerrof, you’re messing up my hair!”
James extracted a letter from its beak and shooed it off.
He stared at it confusedly.
James, A Moron Especially Sucks
He had a horrible feeling stirring in his stomach.
“Uh… Sirius? You wouldn’t perhaps know anything about this would you?”
He chucked the letter at Sirius, who quickly read through it.
Sirius’ face quickly rearranged itself into that of irritation -
“She stole my idea!”
“Idea…? What was that poem you wrote her, by the way?”
“It was like this one, but with her name instead.”
“…What? You moron! She thinks I wrote it, you idiot!”
The next morning a handsome school owl swooped gracefully down to land on James’ head.
“You!” James accused the owl. He was positive it was the same one who messed up his hair before!
James muttered something about blasted owls, and tugged the letter out of its unwilling beak.
His expression turned crimson and an expression of hopelessness settled on his face.
“Is it from Evans?” Peter piped up.
“No, Wormtail, the Tooth Fairy,” Sirius rolled his eyes. “Come off it, Prongs, you’ll get the girl in the end!”
For all his cheering efforts he got a letter thrown at his forehead in return.
Peter looked over Sirius' elbow, and Remus stood up to stare over Sirius' shoulder.
Dear James, Mary thinks you’re foxy, I’d rather snog a doxy. Though your fanclub may disagree, Your balls deserve a good knee!
I’m not confident you wouldn’t cheat, I don’t care you have the body of an athlete. There are people I care about that you mistreat, You are blinded by your conceit!
Oh James, When will you ever see? That you have overstepped the boundary? When will you get the hint - and leave me be?
Two Marauders winced. The other one had already winced, as he was a faster reader.
"Better luck next times, James."
"Yeah, good luck Prongs. At least Mary thinks you’re fit."
“I’d rather snog a doxy? That wasn’t very imaginative. It’s obviously about Snivellus.”
Three of the Marauders turned around in their seats to glare at Snape.
“We must get payback. Big time.” This sounded particularly menacing, coming from Pete.
James was sat in the Great Hall, barely noticing that the post owls were coming in. He was staring mournfully into his goblet of pumpkin juice, wondering whether it was deep enough to drown in, when an owl swooped across the table and dropped a letter.
His quick reflexes caught it before it could fall in his pumpkin juice and he ripped the letter open.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should, James. Severus is an amazing person. Leave him alone or face the consequences!
James nearly fell off his seat in shock! Snivellus? What? What had he done to deserve this?
“Let’s see what she sent this time, then,” announced Sirius, grabbing for the letter. James let it be pulled out of his hands in numbed shock.
“Whoa, let it all out, Evans!”
James was hardly listening. His ears were buzzing.
Lily bent down and smoothed out the scrap of parchment that had obviously been thrown up the girls' staircase.
Scanning down through the poems she’d sent Potter, her heart clenched a little. Perhaps she had been a little harsh. As much as she didn't want to be cruel, she was disgusted at how his gang treated Severus.
She wandered back to her four-poster bed, and called goodnight to her housemates. With a sigh she slipped the parchment into her trunk and drew the deep-red velvet hangings. She settled back against the pillows, imagining how things could be different.
Chapter 3: A Bottle Cap
This chapter was written in 2007 and updated in 2020
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lily was on the edge of her seat. She could hardly look, she was peering through the gaps between her fingers.
She clambered onto her chair, attempting to pull out her hair.
The commentator continued, “Slytherin in possession – McTavish with the Quaffle – passes Watkins – passes back to McTavish – WAS THAT THE SNITCH? – Potter catches the Quaffle, pay attention – Robins is diving-! Black is in pursuit! ...”
“Come on, Robins! Do it!” she screamed. “Spot that Bludger, you moron!” She ignored Greta Catchlove who was elbowing her out the way for a better view.
A Bludger smacked by a green and silver blur was zooming towards the Gryffindor Seeker.
“No!” Lily willed with all her telepathic powers that Robins would notice it. “Behind you!”
He did a Sloth Grip Roll – Wham! The Bludger winded Black. Ha! That would show those stupid Slytherins! Suckers.
“Oh he is – just stretch – and – yes! He’s done it! He’s caught the Snitch! Gryffindor win!”
“We won the cup! We won the cup!” she chanted with the crowd, punching her fist into the air with every syllable, going wild.
Red and gold blurs descended on little Robins who now looked as though he needed rescuing.
Lily stamped her feet in delight and nearly suffocated Angela with a bear hug who was jumping for joy. She turned around to give Greta a massive kiss on the cheek. Soon, her sight of James – no, the team – was obstructed by the front rows pouring out onto the pitch.
“Come on - back to the common room! Party!” said a voice from the crowd.
Lily and her friends milled towards the pitch like sheep squeezing out of a pen, and followed everyone back up towards the castle. Her heart was bursting like she’d won a race.
Harry stared blankly at the bottle cap. He felt a little puzzled and disappointed. He made a mental note once he was back at school to cast Specialis revelio.
The Quidditch team strutted back inside their common room from their showers amidst rabid cheering and whistles from the Gryffindors waiting for them.
A crowd of silly fan girls immediately made their way towards the topless Quidditch team and (now also topless) Sirius Black, honorary member of the team.
Lily warily eyed the Butterbeer held out to her.
‘Probably spiked,’ she thought.
“No thanks, Sirius.”
“But I spiked it for you and everything!”
Lily looked at Sirius in defeat.
‘Yup. Definitely spiked.’
“Oh go on, then. Just one,” she accepted.
She wandered through the crowd of Gryffindors cluttering up the common room and over to her books. She began to tidy away the notes she left on the table from before the match, when she felt the prickly feeling of hazel eyes gazing at the back of her neck.
She turned around to see James making a beeline for her.
James nervously ran his fingers through his hair, rumpling it up a bit. She couldn’t help rolling her eyes.
‘Oh yeah, she doesn’t like it when I do that,’ thought James.
He immediately stopped. His breath caught in his throat, an effect only Lily could create. It was the little things like that that made him sure they should at least snog. He tried to rearrange his face into something sexier than bashfulness.
Her face relaxed in response to his gorgeous half-smile. She felt her knees turn to jelly as he looked at her under his dark eyelashes. She prayed for strength.
“Can I help you?” She hoped she said that coolly enough. He was very close.
“Come to Hogsmeade with me this Saturday?”
“No.” She accompanied with a single shake of the head.
7th time and counting…
Lily looked down and stepped backwards.
“Look, Lil, I-“
“Save it.” Lily tugged at her sleeve, looking anywhere but him. Keep calm, woman!
Similar thoughts were going around James’ head. Keep it cool! Don’t be a loser!
He stood back and decided to stand amiably by her side. He pulled his wand out of the back pocket of his flared jeans.
Lily couldn’t help herself. “You know you’ll end up losing a buttock if you keep it in your back pocket.”
James grinned, “Why Lily, I’m touched that my buttocks are so important to you.”
She laughed. “I walked into that one didn’t I,” accepting an uncapped Butterbeer. “Who said I wanted a drink anyway?”
“Gryffindor won the cup, of course you want a drink.” He clinked her glass. “Cheers.”
“Cheers.” She took a long swig of her drink. Her face contorted in disgust as she clutched her burning throat, “Ugh!” She began to cough. “What’s in that stuff?”
James looked alarmed. “Uh... Don’t know actually. I think it tastes a bit like Firewhisky.”
Lily was still coughing, whilst dabbing her watering eyes. He awkwardly patted her back. Soon it turned into a stroke, sliding down her robes towards her…
Lily’s hand came from somewhere and slapped it away.
“Just what do you think you’re doing? I assume this is some grand design to get me drunk. Give me one good reason I shouldn’t go to McGonagall straight away.”
I made all the Marauders swear on their penises that they would never prank the girl I love.
He grasps her arms and stared into her eyes.
No, not this again…
“I’m sorry, Lily. I didn’t realise it had whisky in. Forgive me?”
A ‘yes’ was on the tip of her tongue, as her eyes glanced down to his lips.
She knew she couldn’t blame it on the drink that she was suddenly quite aware of just how near he was. Warmth was spreading from James’ fingers on her arms like fire, and she suddenly felt very hot. She realised James was waiting for an answer. James, who was an incredibly attractive, good-looking, adorable boy who could have anyone in Hogwarts. Or the entire world. And he wanted her. She couldn’t remember why she didn’t want him back. And he was topless. And he looked gorgeous. And he couldn’t take a hint. She wasn’t sure if she even wanted him to take a hint anymore.
She reflected that her reasons for going out with him seemed very weak. He hadn’t hexed anyone for months and had been a perfect gentleman. She stared deeply into his hazel eyes and inched closer towards him, heart thrumming.
He realised that this was the moment. The room disappeared around him, the sounds of the party muting to nothingness as a roaring sound begun in his ears. His brain caved in, and all his blood seemed to rush to his lips and his groin. There were only her eyes, her lips, and her tongue in existence. And her lovely hair that he was running his hands through. Finally.
Soft, supple lips played against hers, teasing and nipping slightly until she was giddy with breathlessness. He ran his tongue along her lower lip and she gasped.
She broke away, winded. That did not just happen. That did not just happen.
“That did not just happen.”
James’ face fell, his eyes crinkling in dismay.
“What? We belong together.”
She took a deep breath. “That’s a very arrogant thing to say. We hardly know each other. Whilst you may be a great kisser, you are still a ginormous knob. And you’re only a good kisser because you’ve snogged half the school. Go and find another.” And with that, Lily turned on her heel and sprinted up the stairs towards the girls’ dormitories.
James stared after her.
“…I’ve already found her…” he whispered after her retreating back.
Lily was tired. She wasn’t sure where the evening went, let alone the afternoon. Well she knew where the evening went, that was for sure. She had spent it in the bathroom, sat on the floor, trying to lose herself in a book.
She had told herself it wasn’t because of the boy downstairs in the common room, probably snogging hundreds of other prettier, bustier and taller girls than her. It was because she was trapped.
After running away from, no, escaping from, James’ clutches, she went up to her dormitory and almost considered running back down the stairs again.
Angela, whom she had made a pact with to never snog a Marauder (save Remus) was on her four-poster bed, hangings wide open for all to see, being thoroughly ravished by a (topless, thankfully otherwise dressed) Sirius Black.
So, much to her chagrin, Angela didn’t notice her run in, grab a book, and legging it to the safety of the bathroom.
It was very difficult to read with her hands in her ears, trying to block out the escalating moans. They were increasing in volume rapidly, and now Lily was positive that the pact was well and truly broken.
Lily gave up on Challenges in Charming and leant back against the wall, closing her eyes. She imagined James’ lips on hers again, his tongue slowly sliding in… Making beautiful moans… Stop it, Lily! My best friend is out there out there, with James’ best friend and she is likely being penetrated. Now is not the time to be fantasising about James!
Annoyed she hadn’t thought of it before, she pulled out her wand and put a sound proofing spell on the door.
She slowly slid down the wall, cradling her head in her arms.
Oh, James. Why do you have to be such a idiot? Everything is so complicated now. I wish you were here with me…
A few hours had passed, and she stirred groggily from her doze. She stretched out her back like a cat, wincing at her spine popping. Rubbing at her neck, she gingerly sat up, picking up her wand and book. Cautiously opening the door and poking her head out, she quietly tiptoed out.
Black and Angela were curled up in bed, hangings of the four-poster wide open… Lily looked away, alarmed at her stark-naked mate in bed with her stark-naked possible new boyfriend.
She averted her eyes, wondering where the rest of her dormitory was, and felt her way over to her bed. She dropped the book onto her bed and tiptoed back onto the stairs. Spotting a broomstick, she surmised Black flew up to avoid the Glisseo charm that turned the stairs into a slide for boys.
She stepped outside onto the stairs and covered her face with her hands. Sirius Black? Angela? She had to find more out about that later.
Lily held her hand to her forehead and went down into the common room, her new anxieties about James surfacing.
She felt thankful that the party was long finished, and James especially was long gone.
Lily looked to where she had stood with James that afternoon, noting the spilt drink dried into the carpet and the bottle cap lying on the floor.
She walked slowly over to the spot, bent down and picked up the bottle cap. She ran her thumb over it and pocketed it.
Dear readers, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that James was a Chaser, not a Seeker as the films would have you believe.
Chapter 4: A Garter
Written in 2007 and updated in 2020.
There is an explicit sex scene that follows on from the end of this chapter, but I felt it too jarring from an otherwise PG-13 collection of scenes from Lily's life. I'll post it up and see if I can link it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She woke up and the world was screaming.
Or maybe her head. Or maybe both.
She is ready to die. She accepts her death,
Nausea pressed down from the roof of her mouth and in her desperation managed to wandlessly and wordlessly summon a bowl to throw up into.
She had to assume she hadn’t made a mess, as it was too painful to open her eyes. Her stomach rolled and she focused on breathing in and out, keeping still.
“Lil, are you awake?” came the tentative voice of someone from the bathroom.
Merlin’s balls that’s the loudest noise she had heard in her life. Please. Make it stop, her head screamed. She squeezed her hands around the bowl to stop them shaking. "Our father who art in heaven," she mumbled weakly.
A glass vial was pressed to her lips and she clamped them shut, having no desire to drink anything again.
“Come on. Small sips. It’ll help,” Jill coaxed.
She tentatively started to drink, and the pain started to dull. When she’d drunk the lot she lay back, waiting for the potion to take effect.
“I’ll put the kettle on,” Jill whispered.
10 minutes later, Lily was feeling her usual self, if a bit tired and gross, when Jill came back in with a tea. “All better? Do you remember anything last night?” she laughed.
She cast her mind back. “Not a lot, no…. Oh… Cripes! My hen night!” Her eyes widened. “I’m getting married today.”
“You don’t have to sound so happy about it. Come on. Up you get. Shower. Or I’ll Mobilicorpus you.”
Her movements were a bit stiff from sleeping on the sofa in a strange position. She wended her way around the empty bottles from last night towards the bathroom, rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
“Sweet Merlin! It’s my wedding day!”
Jill laughed at the sound of Lily’s voice reverberating around the bathroom.
A not dissimilar scene was occurring in Peter’s flat. It was the morning after four quarters of them drunk their weight in alcohol.
Remus shook James awake. “Hey, Prongs! Get up!”
James’ yawn sounded like a howl. He soon stopped, because he realised it riled the temperamental state of his pounding headache.
“Oi. Wedding, remember? Come on, wake up.”
James clamped his mouth shut so he wouldn’t be sick.
“We only have… four hours,” Jill supplied. “What are you waiting for, Lily? Hurry up in there! I don’t think a Scourgify will do the trick for Angela,” she said, ducking a thrown cushion.
Harry gingerly picked up a – what could only be described as a frilly… trimming.
It was round, white and trimmed in floral lace. As far as he could tell, it was possibly for putting around little cakes. It was conceivably some kind of a hair band, if you had a lot of hair.
He abandoned his inspection and put it in the discard pile.
Lily secured a blue forget-me-not into her hair, the finishing touch. Angela squirted some perfume around her from the atomiser.
“I’m so excited for my first Muggle wedding! And of course for your wedding, obviously. Goes without saying. I know you’ve banned Sirius from bringing his bike, but what do you think the vicar will say about our robes?”
“Panic not, I told him I’m a fashion designer and wanted everyone to wear my new ideas.” She held still as Jill reached over to re-curl Lily’s eyelashes around her wand.
“You’re joking! That’s hilarious! In that case, my Muggle backstory will be that I’m an apprentice where you work, and bring you cups of tea,” Angela laughed, giving her a hug. “You look gorgeous. If the mirror could speak I’m sure it’d agree. Sit tight and we’ll go and fetch Remus.”
Lily sat down on the edge of the bed and clawed at the quilt. This was it. The End. She closed her eyes and expelled a slow breath.
“Lily?” There was a knock on the door. She didn’t answer but stared unseeingly at herself in the mirror.
Panic rose. Her head was filled with buzzing and her mind went blank.
“Are you okay?” Remus slowly opened the door and poked his head in. “Are you nearly…” but his words died. Lily looked at him nervously. A friendly smile grew on his face. Lily’s stomach squirmed. Married. Marriage. Babies. Grey hair.
“James is a lucky man,” he said softly, entering the room fully.
Lily bit her lip, looking down. “I don’t know. Help, I can’t do this.”
He grinned. Somehow, she felt a little warmer and weakly returned his smile.
He looked her over, taking in his friend, sitting in a flowing bridal gown with her sleeves ending elegantly at the elbow. “You’ll do. Come on,” he winked.
Remus looked a bit awkward in dress robes James had bought. His russet hair had grown out a little and was brushed back like George from the Beatles. He seemed more than ready to go back to his work robes, Lily thought, as he tugged at his collar uncomfortably.
“How’s James? Nervous?” She swallowed hard.
He chuckled. “Well. Put it this way. James is threatening to move to America and Sirius is trying to calm him down. I think he’s a bit annoyed we’re not taking him seriously, given he’s been scheming for this for years.”
Her lips twitched down as she quashed a smile. “Really?”
He nodded calmly. She reached out to accept a square of chocolate from him. His soothing voice was doing wonders for her nerves.
“Lily? What’s going on? Tell me you’re ready!” Jill, Angela and Claire were crowding the corridor outside in their bridesmaid dress robes.
“Giving the bride a bit of a pep talk?” Claire asked.
“None needed,” he said, walking over to the door.
“Well, if I were you, I’d Apparate to see if you can, um, assist James.” She leant up to his ear to whisper, “Ensure the groom doesn’t get hold of his wand.” Remus rolled his eyes and left with an encouraging smile to the ladies. Claire watched him go with a faraway expression.
The four of them waited in silence for a moment. Then they shared several secret looks. There was another knock on the door, and Sirius opened it with a smile.
“Looking sexy there, Evans.” Alarmed for his health at the sight of their facial expressions, he hastily excused himself, “Don’t shoot the owl! James said I should assess the visual situation and comment appropriately.” Sirius held up his hands. “Cheerio, then. See you in five minutes. I need to get back to greeting people I’ve never met whilst preserving the Statute of Secrecy.” Sirius winked and left with a pop.
Oh yeah. The wedding.
A few seconds later Remus Side-Along Apparated her dad into the hall, and she heard their footfalls on the staircase.
She was just trying on her veil when he entered. “We’ll have to hold James up when he sees you,” he kissed her on the cheek.
“Hi dad,” she smiled.
“I wish your mum were here to see you. She would have loved to see a wizarding wedding!”
“I know,” she nodded pensively, trying not to think of mum or Tuney.
“Come on then, love, it’s time.” He motioned to the door, and she linked her arm in the crook of his elbow. Angela squeezed Lily’s hand, Claire beamed, and Jill gave her a quick hug. Lily took a deep breath, then gathered her bouquet and walked purposefully downstairs and towards the chapel.
She took several long breaths to steady herself as first Angela, and then Claire and Jill walked down the aisle. Feeling sick, she regretted not insisting on breakfast. She gripped her dad’s arm harder and they stepped out together.
In the years to come, Lily would not remember the large crowd all standing in respect for her, gasping as she walked down the aisle. She would not remember the flurry of whispers at her entrance, the squeaky shoes of her dad’s steady pace, or Mrs Potter dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. She hadn’t noticed her cousin giving Alastor a wide berth, or the Confunded look in the eye of the vicar as Immobulus’ed fairies twinkled in between the ribs of the vaulted ceiling. She would only remember seeing James.
He was waiting for her at the altar, smiling gently. At the sight of him, all doubt vanished, and she returned his smile radiantly as her dad handed her away.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of James Charlus Potter and Lily Jean Evans.”
Odd. I never knew this day would come so fast, or that the man I love could be so perfect.
James glanced at her nervously. She gave him a small smile. He grinned back and her heart melted.
After eight years, they were finally doing what Sirius had predicted on that first night at Hogwarts. She remembered it well.
“You two fight like a married couple.” They’d thrown several things at him, and then James had told them he would stay a forever single, never alone, professional Quidditch player.
That hadn’t worked out when James realised the only girl for him slept in the same Hogwarts tower.
“Do you, James Charlus Potter, take Lily Jean Evans to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, as long as you both shall live?”
“I do.” James’s voice was reassuring, determined, and loving. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to let go of his hand.
“Do you, Lily Jean Evans, take James to be your lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, as long as you both shall live?” She looked up at him, and then glanced out into the crowd.
She saw Remus’ encouraging face, Peter’s glowing one, Sirius’ laughing one, Alice’s expectant one, Claire’s bored one, curiously, and Angela’s nodding one.
Lily knew the weight of her vow. Tonight and for the rest of their lives, she wanted nothing more than to live, fight, laugh, and die with him by her side.
James’ hand tightened and she glanced back at him. His eyes were full of faith and his mouth held a small smile. For a long moment, she gazed at him, lost in the familiarity she found whenever she looked into his eyes.
She’d find her way in life if she had James to guide her; of that she was certain. There was no doubt in her mind that she belonged with him.
Her voice rang loudly in a calm strong voice, full of love and devotion, “I do.”
James took a ring and placed it onto her finger. The gold band sparkled in the candlelight. Trembling, she took the wedding band and placed it on his finger.
He took her shaking hand and stroked it, lovingly. She looked up.
Love and happiness were pouring out of his face. She smiled back at him, taking in his details. She wanted to remember him like this forever. His glasses, wire rimmed and slightly askew, his partially-tamed black hair a little wild, looking handsome in his dress robes, and his bright depthless hazel eyes staring deeply down into hers…
“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. James Potter.” They turned to face the crowd who stood up and cheered. She smiled at her friends. They all looked beautiful. Everything did. The vicar, her husband, her friends, even Peter. This was their beginning.
“You may kiss the bride.”
James needed no further persuasion. He pulled her close, kissing her slowly, and passionately. Lily returned with enthusiasm, and when they finally broke apart, she remained in his embrace, James gently resting his forehead down on hers amidst cheers and applause.
How on Earth could she have considered running away?
After arriving by Continental Portkey in Athens, (James’ treat), they spent the rest of the evening strolling around the old part of the city.
They had received some rather odd looks as James had long ago discarded his shirt and Lily her veil, as they wandered down a narrow street on their way back to their hotel. Lily didn’t care about the state of her dress, and was giddy with happiness. They kept stopping to find each other’s lips in the street, occasionally kissing the other’s wedding ring.
Fifteen minutes later it was time for bed. And Lily was yet again about to have another fit. This time in the bathroom.
She was leaning on her hands, splayed out on the counter. This was It. If this night got screwed up, for any reason, they would both remember if for the rest of their unhappy, failing marriage.
She took a fortifying breath, sniffed her armpit, smoothed down her hair and removed her pearl earrings.
Lily left the dress; James had said he had wanted to rip it off her. She turned to leave but stopped after a moment of thought.
She bent down to remove her white garter. James should’ve removed it at the ceremony and thrown it to some unmarried boy to symbolise her being ‘deflowered’ but – well – she was already deflowered and wanted to keep it forever.
She slipped it into her make-up case.
There is an explicit sex scene that follows on from the end of this chapter, but I felt it too jarring from an otherwise PG-13 collection of scenes from Lily's life. I'll post it up and see if I can link it.
Harry picked up a carton that once held 20 Rothmans King Size cigarettes. He rattled it to check it was definitely empty, and disappointedly placed it in the to-check-for-enchantments pile.
“Sev! I was going to have to eat your lunch as well as mine,” reproached Lily as he parted the willow tree branches to enter their sanctuary.
This was only their second week of the holidays. After fourth year exams, the end-of-term party, and raucous train journey back to London, she was feeling stifled and lonely. Cokeworth with Petunia, mum and dad. Aged 16, Petunia was too cool to be seen dead with her, and her mum and dad were working. Sev was her angel of summer.
“Sorry Lil.” Severus dumped his bag down on the grass, looking miserable. “I
would’ve been here earlier if I could. Dad punched mum. I wanted to make sure she was okay.”
Eyes widening with concern, Lily said, “Oh my God! Is she alright?” She shuffled over on the picnic blanket to make room.
He sat down and wrapped his arms around his legs. “Well, by the time he’d finished with her and gone to the pub, and I’d found some bruise salve I’d made at school, she told me to bugger off. But it’s okay - I stole his cigarettes.”
Lily studied him, really studied the distress on his serious, intelligent face, and felt rotten. She bit her lip. “Christ. It’s 10 in the morning. What a lunatic. Do you want to come and live with us? I’m sure mum and dad wouldn’t mind. We could get an air mattress.” A smile was beginning to flicker across his face, like dry kindling that was ripe for burning. She wanted to see it grow. “It would be ace. You could visit your mum whenever. Summer would be such a laugh! And you could come home for Easter and Christmas too. Cokeworth is such a dump without you. If it weren’t for mum and dad I’d stay at Hogwarts too,” she declared, reclining on the blanket.
“Thanks Lil,” he said, eyes warm. “Hogwarts at Christmas is amazing. There’s about 10 of us on Christmas Day, the wizarding crackers genuinely explode, and sometimes you get actual mice from them. Dad would have a fit. The grounds are perfect and it looks magical. Well, obviously. You know what I mean. I wish you could be there. You should lend me your Polaroid camera so I can show you. You can walk round in peace with no Gryffindors – er, I mean, not you, you’ve never hexed me-“
“Yet,” smirked Lily.
Seated across from her, he smiled mischievously. “Oh? I’d like to see you try.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah right. I’d just show you mercy. I could never duel a mate. Give us a cigarette.”
He popped one in his mouth and handed another to her. She waited whilst he fumbled for the lighter in his bag. He concentrated on the cigarette and tried to forget about his proximity to her lips as he leant over to light it. She took a drag and smiled.
“I brought…” Lily mumbled as she rummaged in her bag, cigarette between her teeth. “…cheese and ham sandwiches, a Thermos of tea – obviously - … an Amazin’ Raisin bar, a Twix, ooh and some bananas. I know it’s not much but mum said she’d order an extra portion of fish and chips tonight so you’d better be coming back to ours for tea.”
“I obey your commands, O Great Lily,” he grinned, bowing his head and raising his arms.
She giggled and laid down on the blanket. “Fag first, homework second, lunch, then “Muggle Studies”, fish and chips, then we watch Top of the Pops. Sound like a plan?”
“Sounds like a plan. What are we Muggle-Studying today then?” He relaxed back with her. He would have agreed to anything.
Her eyes lit up, fingers carding through her ponytail. “Biology. Specifically, respiration, viruses, and how wings are adapted for flight, and limbs of mammals for locomotion. Don’t even think about writing about magical creatures if that one comes up. Then, if we have time, chemistry, looking at gases in the air, Boyle’s law, and preparation of crystals of sodium sulphate. If we can meet tomorrow, I’ve found an old English Language O-level paper we can go through. You won’t believe this, it says you have to compose a family quarrel. You’d be ace it if that question comes up again.”
“Phew. I don’t know if I’ve got room in my head for all that.”
“You do,” Lily confidently declared.
“I can’t believe Muggles have to do creative writing about family quarrels, and that this gives them a genuine qualification.” Sev rolled his eyes.
“Useful if you want to be an author. Or a journalist, or one of those people who write the words that go in adverts. It’ll be interesting if wing adaptation has some crossover with the Magical Creatures OWL. And viruses sound useful if you ever want to go into medicinal potions, healing, or medicine.”
They surveyed the canopy of the tree in companionable silence, listening to the distant sounds of buses, vans and cars that invaded their haven.
“Sorry. I know you’ve had a shit day. Studying is our ticket out of here, eh?” she said softly, tapping the ash off her cigarette end.
He looked mournful. “I can’t wait til I’m 17 and shot of this place. I’m never coming back. I mean it.”
She leant her head on his shoulder. To his horror, he had a hot prickling sensation behind his eyes and a lump was growing in his throat.
“If — well —” he took a deep breath, “this place is almost hell on earth.”
If it wasn’t for you, Lily heard.
“I know. I wish things were different,” she said gently. “What do you want to be do when you leave school?”
Severus cleared his throat and blinked rapidly. He took a long drag of his cigarette before answering, “I’ve no idea. Though I was wondering, if you become a Muggle vet, and you used magic to help people’s cats and dogs, would you get in trouble with the Ministry? I know it’s illegal to use magic as a Muggle doctor, because of the Statute, but technically animals wouldn’t know any better.”
“That’s a good point. I’ll ask Professor McGonagall in my careers counselling session. You know, our world is so much smaller. Our options are much narrower – curse-breaking, teaching, work for the Ministry, selling inventions. You and I have a foot in this world too, and we definitely will if we get our O-levels. You’ll think I’m crazy but I’m considering studying for my A-levels after seventh year. That would really give us options. Did you know they’re letting a lot more girls into medical school nowadays?”
“I don’t see why they wouldn’t let you in. You’d be a brilliant doctor.”
“Thanks,” she beamed. “The Muggle world is very backwards. Women are treated much more fairly in our world.”
“You can say that again,” Severus said. His mood darkened, remembering his mum back at home.
She sat up, stubbed out her cigarette, and held out her arms. “Come here, you.”
He sighed into her embrace. “Sorry. I’ll perk up in a bit.”
“No need to apologise. What are best friends for? I know what’ll cheer you up. Charms homework.”
He chuckled weakly as he withdrew and dug out next year’s textbook, a quill, ink, and some parchment. “Right. How far did we get?”
5 years earlier
"Sev I do believe you that I'm magical, I'm just worried I won't get invited to Hogwarts. So I've really got to do well in the 11 Plus exams, just in case," she said earnestly, biting her lip.
Sunbeams filtered through the trees as they sat cross-legged facing each other on a bench by the canal. He was wearing his dad’s jumper, darned in several places and long enough to reach his knees, and a pair of very worn jeans. Lily’s socks were muddy due to the abandoned purple roller-skates nearby. Sev didn’t have a pair so she felt it rude to use them.
“You have exams?” he said, aghast.
She nodded and counted on her fingers, “An essay, a maths exam, verbal reasoning, and logic puzzles. If I do really well I’ll get to go to Cokeworth High School for Girls,” she said, eyes lighting up. “Do you not have exams? And why don't you go to Peel Brow Primary with me? Or do you go to Edenfield?" she shuffled nearer to him, fascinated, in spite of his dirty hair and strange shirt.
He shook his head, “No, I’ve never done an exam before. They sound horrible. Mum teaches me spelling and Latin, and she lets me read her schoolbooks and old essays so that I can memorise spells.”
“Wow,” gasped Lily. “That’s amazing – no school! You’re so lucky. Do you have homework? Can I see the books too? Hey – can you teach me all of it?”
“You’ve got a lot to catch up on,” nodded Severus importantly, “but I’ll do what I can.”
“Wow. Thanks so much. You’re a life saver.”
He sat up a little straighter and leant forward conspiratorially. “I’ve just realised – mum has a Muggle-repelling charm on her school trunk, where she keeps magical things away from dad. So if you can see the trunk, without suddenly realising you need a piss, then you’re definitely a witch. Muggles – that is, non-magical people, can’t find it.”
“What? Really? That’s insane!” she exclaimed with glee. “Are you serious? When can I come round?”
Severus, who had never had a friend, hesitated. “We’ve never had visitors before. Dad’s lost his job again, so we’ll have to wait until he gets another. Should probably only take a couple of weeks.”
3 weeks later
Lily jogged up to their willow tree, pigtails swaying. “Sev! Hi! Phew. How are you?”
“Fine! You?” he beamed up at her, spreading out his dad’s coat for her so she wouldn’t get mud on her school pinafore.
“Great! I had such a good day at school! I had Science, where we had to learn the flowers of the British Commonwealth, then PE,” at this, she wrinkled her nose, “where we have to run around the assembly hall in our vest and pants, I hate it, then we had to sing folk songs in Music, and then we were learning about the Egyptians after lunch.”
“What’s PE?” he asked, taken aback.
“Physical Education. I don’t like running about in my knickers much. It’s a huge waste of time,” she explained. “Anyway, for homework, I still haven’t memorised my four times tables, and I need to collect some leaves for identification and use in Art on Thursday.”
“I can help you with the leaves, definitely,” he assured her. “Why do you go? Let’s spend all day tomorrow together.”
She sat back, astounded. “I can’t believe you don’t know. If there’s full attendance for the whole week, so no one is off sick at all, we all get an extra hour of playtime on Fridays. I absolutely cannot play truant. Anyway. Enough about me. School is boring. Tell me more about magic. Oh and I bought you some Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums, and Smarties. You’ll have to tell me your favourite. Although I’m your best friend, I don’t know much about you,” she said, eyeing him sideways.
“You didn’t have to buy me anything,” he said, face flushing, as he reached over and began to unpeel the wrapping of the Fruit Pastilles. “I like talking to you.”
“We’ll share them, then. Because we’re sharing Latin, magic, arithmetic, a secret den, and I fully expect you to share in helping me find some leaves for my Art homework.”
“That sounds like a fair deal,” he nodded enthusiastically. “So. I’ve got a list of things to tell you about our world. There’s this amazing ice cream parlour that my mum takes me to on my birthdays. You won’t believe how many flavours you can choose from. On my next birthday, you can come too. She Side-Along Apparates me, so we don’t need to pay to get to London.”
“It’s in London? What is ‘Side-Along Apparate’?”
“Of course it’s in London,” he said empathetically. “That’s where the magical shops are. She can disappear and reappear anywhere in Britain. We’ll get to do it too, when we’re adults with wands.”
“Woah. Does it hurt? Is it safe?” she bounced up and down in excitement.
“You do feel very squashed – but only for a few seconds. You could get splinched, which is when you accidentally leave your body parts behind if your magic isn’t good enough. Don’t worry though – my mum’s a very good witch,” he said reassuringly.
“Amazing. I can’t wait! When’s your birthday?”
“The 9th of January. When’s yours?”
“The 30th of January! All the best people have birthdays in January,” she grinned.
“Definitely,” he declared, his face lighting up.
6 weeks later
Lily was drumming impatiently on her knees, trying to avoid looking at the sweets and snacks she’d laid out. She had spread out a blanket underneath her dad’s golfing umbrella to shelter from the rain that was thrumming on the leaves. Their tree was dropping big fat drops onto the umbrella. She stared unseeingly on the ground, also attempting to ignore a worm and a slug.
“Hullo! Sorry to keep you waiting. Dad got upset because he found out mum had used a warming charm on the bathwater. I wasn’t sure you’d be here cos it’s so wet.” Severus was loitering uncertainly near the umbrella.
“What are you waiting for? Come in!” She patted the ground next to her. “Why does your mum warm up the bath? Isn’t it already warm?”
He came in under the umbrella and was pressed up against her in the small space. She thought he looked harassed, tired and cold. He looked at her uncertainly as she offered him a Fruit Pastille. “Promise not to laugh?” he asked.
Her eyes went wide. “Of course I won’t laugh.”
He nodded in acceptance of her vow. “We, um, don’t have enough money to pay for hot water.” A beat of silence followed. “You don’t need to feel sorry for me. It’s not a big deal, really,” he said quickly.
“Oh. I see. What’s your dad’s job?”
“He’s just got a new job working in the coffin factory. I don’t know exactly what he does because he doesn’t like to talk to us. He gets the sack a lot because he’s drunk a lot of the time. I don’t think he’s a very good dad.”
“He sounds terrible,” she agreed. “Why won’t he let her do warming charms? That sounds like a great idea. Are there other spells that can bring down your bills?”
“There’s a spell that can conjure water, Aguamenti. I’ve memorised it for when I’m out of here. There are cleaning spells so we wouldn’t have to pay for the launderette. I’m sure she could mend my clothes with a spell, too. I actually don’t know why we have to pretend to be Muggles at home – I’m not allowed to ask. She teaches me magic anyway though,” he said, brightening. “I’ve already learnt 25 curses.”
She put her arm around him and rubbed both his upper arms. “Ooh you’re so chilly! Magic is just so amazing. It’s a real shame your mum can’t use the spells to help you.” She dropped her arms and looked down. “My parents don’t think Hogwarts is real,” she said glumly.
“Just you wait,” he said, eyes sparkling, “our letters should be coming any day now.”
Since 1988, 16-year-olds in the UK have sat exams called GCSEs (a General Certificate of Secondary Education). Prior to this, in Lily's and J.K. Rowling's days, they were called O-levels, or Ordinary Levels. I felt like a bit of a dummy when this sank in - OWLs.
It might be shocking to some but I remember in the 1990s doing PE in our vests and pants in the school hall. In the 1970s, there were schools that penalised the whole class when a child was ill or bunked off. The O-level exam questions and homework Lily had were accurate for this time period, as were the sweets.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I liked writing it. If you did, I'm sure you'll like A Red Feather.
Chapter 6: A Paintbrush
This was written in 2007 and reworked in 2020.
Harry gingerly picked up an unidentified object, hoping that it was safe to assume nothing that was once his mother’s would be cursed.
It was a solid blue lump of bristles. Didn’t witches decorate with magic? Why would she keep this? He was beginning to feel frustrated with the questions every item asked of him, and put it in the To-Ask-Remus pile.
It was an uncharacteristically chilly Easter holiday that had landed in April this year. She’d opted to spent it with her wonderful and wicked boyfriend.
Although she had her Apparition license, James had only turned 17 the Sunday before, and hadn’t had the opportunity to go to London yet for his test. Sirius had Side-Along Apparated them to Berkshire, before popping back to Hogwarts.
They were now both of age, so had shrunk their trunks down into their pockets, and were strolling hand-in-hand down the country lane. Birds were tweeting in trees, and she could see sheep munching on grass in the distance.
A ruddy-faced man in a flat cap and tweed waistcoat was ambling down the lane toward them, his collie fast approaching.
“Muggle,” James hissed in her ear.
The dog bounded up to them first. “Hello handsome!” she greeted, scratching behind his ears.
“Young James!” The man boomed, waving his walking stick.
James grinned, and went to shake his hand. “Good to see you again, Mr Fullwood.”
“Quite right, quite right. Back from Harrow, I see. I hope you’ve been working hard.” He turned his beady eye to Lily. “And who is this this?”
“This is my girlfriend, Lily. We’re just home for the holidays,” he beamed.
She shook Mr Fullwood’s hand. “We didn’t meet at school,” she blurted. “It was a friend-of-a-friend situation. I’m a sister of his friend.”
James peered at her peculiarly.
“Oh yes, quite right, quite right, very good, very good. Run along now and see your parents.”
They waved and wandered on up the lane. “You are terrible at lying. What was that all about, anyway?”
“Girls don’t go to Harrow,” she said.
“Really? How do you know?”
“Oh it’s only the most famous school in Britain. I can’t believe your parents tell everyone you’re at Harrow,” she laughed. “It’s ridiculously posh. Winston Churchill went there. Do you know who that is?”
“Of course,” he said, rolling his eyes. “He was the Minister for Muggles.”
Her first impression of his home occurred as they rounded the corner. He had described it as a country house in the middle of Berkshire – she thought it was more like a mansion as she stopped and looked at it in awe. “Blimey. There are only three of you to fill this place?”
“Merlin, no! There are five of us here at the moment. Mum, dad, Hibble our house-elf – and me, and you. Of course Sirius has his own bedroom too, cos his family are terrible. Come on, let’s get a cup of tea with mum and dad. Dad’ll want to show you his flying Jaguar, he loves Muggle cars. After, I’ll introduce you to the horses. Do you ride?”
“These are the stables,” James said as he pushed the creaking door open. “Mum asked if we could repaint it. She’s no good at redecorating spells and doesn’t trust Hibble to do a good job.”
“Sure, no problem. It doesn’t smell like a stable,” she said.
“Magic, Lil,” he winked, spelling open a tub of paint.
“Of course. As mad as it sounds, sometimes I forget.” She lit the wall sconces and waved her wand at the wall, cleaning it, and transfigured her dress into floral dungarees.
“I can’t believe you don’t like horses,” he said, painting vertically along the back wall.
“They’re beasts! My uncle got killed by a rampaging escaped horse when he was on holiday in Cornwall.”
James looked across at her and said, “Not all horses are like that. They may have hidden traits – and a side to them they don’t like to show. They like to appear rough, uncaring and cool but they don’t really mean it. You just have to train them up a bit. You know, encourage them. A good owner can – er – help.” He looked across at Lily furtively.
She caught the hint. “So – uh – Do you know any that need this ‘training’? Or a bit of tender loving care?”
“Yeah. I do. He’s a sweetie, can be gentle when he tries, and loves someone very much. He just needs daily tender loving care,” he grinned over at her, dripping paint on the floor.
“Daily?” she replied, not willing to believe her ears.
“For the rest of his life. I think having baby horses would help his attitude problem, too,” he added quietly.
‘He couldn’t possibly mean that,’ she thought.
Lily stopped her meticulous painting and put down the brush so she could admire her handiwork. She had a feeling they might not be finishing this side today.
James put his brush down too. Out the corner of her eye she could see he was fiddling around in his pocket. He was twisting something around in his hands, looking down, as if he were undergoing an internal debate.
Rooted to the spot, her blazing gaze swept to meet his. Then, he knew.
He had taken to carrying round a ring with him and was willing to wait a hundred years for the ‘right moment’ to come around. Somehow, he knew this was it, and prayed to Godric for bravery. He took a deep breath.
“Lily, you’re perfect. I feel like I’ve known you all my life. Before, whenever I stood within a mile of you, I felt broken. Something was missing from my soul. I wanted to spend every moment that I could with you. I know I was a prat then, but you do bring out the best in me.”
Her expression was soft, and she felt frozen in disbelief. She tried not to let much emotion show on her face – she wanted to remember this moment forever. She’d have to slap herself in the face if she ruined the moment.
James took the silence, coupled with the fact that she wasn’t slapping him, as a good sign, and pressed on confidently.
“These past few months have been the best in my life. I never want this to end – what we have. And I – I think you feel the same way. You’re the best thing that will ever happen to me.” He came closer and tucked her hair behind her ear. “You’re pretty, clever, and have the heart of a lion. You don’t take shit from anyone, and you’re a brilliant witch. I’d do anything for you. There’s, er, just one thing I need to ask. So…”
He licked his lips, picked up his brush, and painted on the wall without taking his eyes off her: ‘MARRY ME?’
She read the words; eyes wide. He dropped the paintbrush on the floor and got down on one knee, presenting her with a ring.
Lily’s stunned gaze flickered back and forth between the two words. Then, she beamed, laughing softly.
She looked down into his alarmed and solemn expression and asked, “Promise me you aren’t rushing into this because of the war?”
“I have been waiting for this moment my entire life. I just didn’t know it.”
She wiped her hands on the insides of her pockets. “Yes, of course. I’m sorry I took so long. Yes – yes of course I’ll marry you, you idiot!”
She kneeled down, and his hands shook a little as he put on the diamond ring.
“Oh James – it’s beautiful!” She hugged him tightly.
“I’ve never been so happy in my life. You make me so happy. It was my grandmother’s – I’m glad you like it,” he babbled, burying his face in her hair.
“Thank you. I love it. I love you more, though.”
“I love you too. Don’t repeat what I said to the guys, I’ve got a reputation to uphold.”
“Joking! Sorry.” He held her tighter. “The truth is, there’s not much you could ask for that I would deny you. Anything you want – a house, daily sex, season tickets, babies – anything.” He rubbed his nose down along hers as he stroked the back of her neck. “Anything. If I ever behave badly and you want to lock me out the house – go ahead. I want you to be proud of me.”
“Potter,” she said, “You’re talking out of your arse. I know you’ll always be good to me. I’m proud to have you by my side.” She kissed him softly on the cheek.
“I’m sorry I didn’t ask your dad first. Please don’t let him kill me.”
“I don’t plan on letting you die,” she said, looking down at his lips. “We’ll always be together.”
“Yes. We will,” he said huskily.
She kissed him again. He sighed in pleasure and traced his tongue across her lips, dominating their embrace. She relaxed into him, as he pushed her shoulders back onto the ground, wrapping his arms tightly around her. His hands propped her off the ground slightly so her dungarees wouldn’t get dirty. She knew he’d never let her come to any harm. She moaned up into the kiss, and ran a hand through his hair, the other one sliding up under his shirt, feeling his flawless, perfect skin.
Yes, she could get used to this.
All was quiet in the house as Lily tiptoed out of their room. She had watched James fall asleep before untangling herself from his grasp.
She wound her dressing gown around tighter and tried to remember the way to the front door in his maze of a home. Quietly letting herself out, she paused to allow her eyes to adjust to the black night. She regretted her lack of footwear, as she carefully toed across the gravel driveway to reach the soft damp grass.
“Accio paintbrush,” she whispered. She squinted out into the darkness and breathed in the fresh scent of grass.
5 seconds later it whooshed towards her, nearly hitting herself in the face. Perhaps in another life, she would’ve made a good seeker.
She gripped the handle and squeezed her eyes shut. Her life had changed so much in the last few hours.
Thinking of his hands holding the handle hours before, she smiled as her heart grew warmer.
Chapter 7: A Honeydukes' Wrapper
A/N: Hey guys, sorry for the wait! I've been away, and my computer's internet went to sleep for a while, so I had nothing but my notepad. (It's difficult to write with annoying brothers hanging around thinking you're writing a diary!)
Less chat, more chapter eh? Hope you like it!
Chapter Seven: A Honeydukes’ Wrapper
Harry picked up a piece of paper and unfolded it.
It turned out to be a Honeydukes wrapper! He had no idea how old it was, and was glad that his parents had that shop in their day.
What he would just give to walk down Diagon Alley and grab some chocolate right now.
Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, there was no chocolate left. It would have long been mouldy and completely rotten, so he banished the thought of some decent food from his head.
He had no idea why this wasn’t in the bin – maybe this was what this box was supposed to be? A bin for all her rubbish?
Severus gasped as he reached the top of the stairs.
He slowly dragged himself along the corridor, wincing at every step he took.
“You’ve knocked yourself about a bit again, Sonny,” gasped a knight with only half an arm, lying in a pool of his blood within its elegant frame on the wall.
Severus sharply looked up, feeling ridiculous that he didn’t realise he was being watched the whole time. No wonder he had been easy prey for Potter and Black! He soon wished he hadn’t looked up, after some extra painful throbbing set in.
All of a sudden he swayed violently, his vision upending. Severus grabbed at a wall that wasn’t actually there and his sight swam dangerously before his eyes.
One of his frantic hands landed on a convenient wall and he clutched onto it, trying not to be sick.
The knight hanging on the wall looked very alarmed, as if he wasn’t used to things like this occurring on this very corridor in which he was stationed.
“Pomfrey, get here now! There’s a dying boy outside your door!” called the knight, struggling to clunk through the frame of the painting.
“Severus?” cried a voice.
In the blink of an eye a girl named Lily Evans appeared before him. He groggily acknowledged her by nodding slowly.
“What happened to you? Quick, let’s get you to Madame Pomfrey!”
Severus vaguely recognised that someone had taken his arm and he was near the end of the corridor before Madame Pomfrey came charging out of swinging doors.
“What’s all this? What in Merlin’s named have you done now, Snape?” she demanded, conjuring a stretcher and magicking him onto it. “And thank you, Evans, for making sure he got here,” she added, nodding to Lily who smiled in return.
“Well? Are you unable to speak?” she ordered sternly, levitating him through the doors that she opened with a flick of the wrist. Lily, unsure of what to do, followed.
Severus, finding it much easier to talk when he wasn’t burdened with walking, replied, “No, ma’am. I… fell.”
“You fell,” she repeated, not quite looking convinced. She appraised him, taking in his blackened eye, the blood he was coughing up, and the leg that was quite obviously broken.
Severus nodded, squinting up at her. He couldn’t really think of something to say that wouldn’t make the situation worse or more uncomfortable. He hoped Evans would go; he hated people seeing people when he was weak.
Usually, he’d be quicker and not get hurt, or at the very least heal himself. This was so humiliating! Pomfrey now believed he had been ‘rescued’ at his weakest by a girl – a muggleborn no less! Madame Pomfrey had usually been the only person to set him out of his misery but he’d never dreamed he’d be so slow as to let them fight him that badly – let alone be caught by someone.
“Why don’t you just tell me what really happened, young man?” Pomfrey commanded. “I need to know so I know how to heal you,” she added, a little quieter.
“It’s true! I fell… Down the stairs,” he finished lamely.
The lady raised an eyebrow. “Did you now?” This sounded more like a statement than a question, and Lily squirmed under her questioning gaze. Somehow she felt that this was her responsibility, and felt it prudent to answer.
Realising she should do something to help this poor boy, Lily intervened. “He fell. I saw him. That’s why I was helping him to you; I didn’t want to just leave him. I’m not very good at conjuring, or else I would have brought him on a stretcher. I’m sorry.”
Severus tried not to react, and bit his tongue. It was very frustrating that he couldn’t hang his mouth open in shock. He had never shown any kindness to this ginger-haired interfering Gryffindor who was very publicly and very humiliatingly (for him!) adored by the unrequited Potter. It seemed that they were on the same side; against Potter and his cronies.
Madame Pomfrey nodded uncertainly. “I’m sorry for doubting you, Snape. And next time,” she said, turning to Lily, “don’t move him. You could make his injuries even worse. Let’s just hope there won’t be another little trip down the stairs. I shall of course be informing the Headmaster about the stairs exuding odd - and quite unheard of - qualities.”
Lily wasn’t sure what was going on, but she could have kicked Severus right then. Was he always lying to Madame Pomfrey about falling down the stairs? What was really hurting him? Or whom? She bet she could guess, though. That boy had quiet a few enemies at Hogwarts who were capable of doing something for no reason.
Poppy was not buying a single word of this. It was obvious that falling down the stairs would not do that to someone. She was glad that Severus had made a friend, though, so she was willing to let this pass. Just this once.
And she was furious that those little horrors, Potter and Black, had been up to their little juvenile tricks again. However she was even more furious that Albus was blatantly ignoring her. She’d been saying over and over again for a couple of years now, which all the signs pointed to the fact that Snape was being bullied by two Gryffindors, but he just wouldn’t hear of it. Something about them only being children, not wanting to cause any unnecessary trouble and having no proof! What tosh! She had her suspicions that he was biased towards the Gryffindors and would willingly turn a blind eye in the direction of the Marauders. That was why she had refused to join the Order – and that was why she had been Obliviated by none other than the embodiment of all things Good itself - Albus. Obviously, she recorded everything that went on in her Wing by closet circuit surveillance charms. She had received quite a shock when she knew that he had modified her memory.
She would have left this school, if she wasn’t certain that her Slytherins didn’t need taking care of. Early retirement had welcoming arms, but she couldn’t bear the sight of her well-earned position disappearing to some St. Mungo’s snob. Working out mysteries like these that seemed to pop up every few years kept her going. That and the Quidditch matches that were just begging for casualties! Nuisances like Quidditch should be banned. When a famous sportsperson recovers, does anyone think about the agony a Healer had to go through?
However grudgingly, Severus was feeling very grateful to Lily at that point. He even allowed her a small gratifying smile to charm about his lips. She beamed back.
Severus would never be able to look her in the eye again. How could he have been so stupid? He didn’t need her friendship. She pitied him that was all! He definitely didn’t need any pity. He could take care of himself, and had been doing ever since he arrived.
Not that he was complaining. This place was far better than Spinners’ End, which only held ugly memories for him. Severus knew if he ever got a letter sent home to his father, his situation in the holidays would be worsened considerably. His father, Tobias, hated anything magical simply because he couldn’t use it – if he ever saw an owl out in daylight holding a letter in its beak, of all things, he’d probably faint with shock, and somehow place the blame on Severus.
“Make sure you eat all of this.” Madame Pomfrey handed him a great slab of Honeydukes’ chocolate and turned on her heel and left with, ”wait a moment while I get you some potions.”
Severus sighed in relief as he heard her heels clicking away from them and snapped the big chunk of the chocolate in half.
“Here,” Severus said, giving an awkward Lily half the chocolate, ”I suppose I owe you half.”
She accepted the chocolate, “It was nothing, really.”
“Thanks. You know, for that - covering up for me. You didn’t have to do it,” he stammered.
“No problem,” she grinned.
She leaned in closer and muttered in an undertone, “if Potter or Black or any of his little mates ever give you any stick – just let me know and I can use it as a reason not to go out with him.”
She straightened up, and wrapped the chocolate in the wrapper and observed Severus.
His smirk was quite effective, despite his marred face. “Of course. Anything. Wouldn’t want to be indebted to you, after all.”
Lily strolled back to the Gryffindor common room, glad that at least someone was on her side. Everyone had been nagging at her, or bitching about her, about why she wouldn’t go out with Potter, and what was wrong with him. What was right with him was the real question.
She popped the remaining little squares of chocolate into her mouth, sticking the crumbs to her finger and eating them, chewing thoughtfully.
Severus seemed like a good person to have on her side – and that smile! She doubted that anyone had ever seen it before.
She stopped suddenly, and pulled out her wand.
Lily tapped the wrapper, muttering a cleaning spell. She then folded it up neatly, and placed it back in her pocket.
Chapter 8: Born to those who have once defied Him
Written in 2007, updated in 2020
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A/N: Well - this finally relates back to the summary.
‘Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…’
Her legs screamed at her as she sprinted as fast as her legs could carry her. Terraced houses with an air of neglect were racing past. James had shortened his stride to keep pace with her.
Ideas were flitting through her mind as quick as she could dismiss them. Steal a car? Can’t without magic. Towards the football stadium? Would that lead to Muggle torture? Outrun the Anti-Apparition Ward? Were they even running in a straight line? Was Sev behind them? Was he their only hope?
Harry stretched his sleeve down over his hand to pick up the bone. It was half the size of his index finger. Was it from a KFC? Or the remnants of a potion?
Frustration mounting, he put it in the discard pile.
Benjy Fenwick felt despair creep through his bones. Every day this war continued was a day he struggled to get out of bed. It was not going to end. Their numbers were falling. He had been in the Order for 10 years. He could not do this for another 10. He had no family. He was afraid to have friends. Death Eaters outnumbered them twenty to one.
James ran as if Death himself were chasing them. He pushed his anger to the back of his mind, furious that Lily had insisted on coming with them whilst their life grew inside her.
He tried to take in their surroundings, an endless maze of houses in urban Liverpool. His mind never failed him. No time to make a Portkey before their magic was detected. He swigged from his Endurance Potion and passed it to Remus.
He was furious Remus had come with them. Only a few days since the full moon, he wasn’t up to his full strength. He was angry at himself, his stupidity for not making a Portkey in advance, at the hopeless situation they were in.
Fabian’s heart ached. Sprinting onwards, he tried not to consider turning back, and slaughter as many Death Eaters as he could before they killed him. He found he just did not care anymore for self-preservation.
He admitted to himself that he had lost. Resistance was futile.
It had been over a year since Ava met with him to explain her arranged marriage to Dolohov, and 10 months since he stood shivering under an Invisibility Cloak at their wedding. She looked happy and at peace and he Apparated away before he would inadvertently reveal himself and get himself killed. Dolohov needed a Pureblood Slytherin wife to produce an heir for the Dark Lord’s regime, and Ava’s dad felt refusal would be a death sentence. Could he make Ava a widow? Revenge would be sweet.
A Muggle child stopped jumping in a puddle to scream at the Death Eater masks. 35 of them had split up to pursue the Order.
Their mission was clear: Lily belonged to the Dark Lord, show no mercy to the others, kill as many Aurors as possible. His Mark hadn’t burned – Lily was safe, for now. His only plan was to find her first, and – then what? Break his cover by giving her a Portkey to Spinner’s End. They couldn’t win against 15 Death Eaters, so he’d have to jump in front of any curses while she got away.
He aimed a wordless Confundus at Jugson who suddenly veered down a side street.
“Where are you going?” spat Yaxley.
“There’s no time! We must go!”
Up ahead, she saw that Remus had stopped by a manhole cover, and Benjy and Fabian were helping heave it open.
“Strength potion,” James gasped, passing round a vial.
Lily faced away from the men, wand gripped hard, and mouth set in a grim line. With each passing second, her anxiety was heightening. Time was moving slowly, her blood racing from their long sprint.
“We’re in!” said Remus.
“Come on, Lily!”
“Stop being so gallant.” There was no time to argue so leapt down the rungs as the others piled in after her.
Fabian and James were the strongest and squeezed next to each other on a rung so they could push the manhole cover back. Balancing with a foot on a rung and another braced against the wall, they heaved it across. Remus and Benjy were holding their ankles in place.
The light coming from above disappeared as the cover slid into place.
“Couldn’t have done that without your potion.” Fabian was gasping for breath.
James grinned in the darkness. “Always be prepared.” He clapped him on the shoulder. “Is everyone okay?”
Before anyone could answer, footsteps thundered above them.
The five of them froze, barely breathing, their bodies screaming at them from their exertion. Clinging to the rungs, Lily squeezed her eyes shut, and tried to block out her racing heart.
Footsteps pounded away from their hiding place into the distance.
Fabian pulled back his sleeve to examine the glowing stars circling around the face of his watch. 30 minutes had passed since they had crept to the bottom of the shaft. As there wasn’t room to sit down, they were pressed up against each other and so were unaffected by the cold.
Lily was pretty sure she was standing on a skeleton of a small animal. She wished James could hold her, but as it was pitch black she had no idea where he was. She was reasonably sure by his height that Benjy was in front of her, and that the guy pressed into her right didn’t smell like James. She felt it would be rude to try and swap places with the others.
“I hate not fighting,” whispered Fabian. “I feel so useless.”
“How long do you think we should wait?” Benjy’s stomach rumbled.
“At least another three hours so it’ll be dark. They might guess we’re still in the area,” murmured James.
“I agree. I still think we should avoid magic just to be safe. We’ll get a taxi or bus to somewhere we can Disapparate from,” whispered Lily.
“This is fruitless,” snarled Dolohov. “We will all be punished greatly. Where are the others?”
“The Mark has not been cast, nor have we been Summoned. We must conclude that the others have been similarly unsuccessful,” said Malfoy, his lip curling in distaste.
“Perhaps we should play with the Muggles. It may lessen our punishment.”
Severus’ stomach turned. “The Dark Lord would be most displeased if we spent time playing rather than accomplishing his tasks,” sneered Severus. “They did not use magic. Perhaps they used brooms or have a nearby safehouse. They could be anywhere in a five-mile radius.”
“We should continue to search,” said Brown. She looked around nervously, as if expecting Gryffindors to come parading out of one of the front doors.
“I highly doubt they are sitting in a Muggle pub,” glared Severus. “We must prepare ourselves for the Dark Lord’s wrath. We must go.”
Dolohov pressed his wand against Severus’ chest. “Who put you in charge?”
Severus raised his eyebrow. “I am not your enemy, Antonin,” he lied. “I am as anxious to find them as you are. I am simply realistic about our prospects.”
“Lower your wand,” hissed Malfoy. He withdrew four shrunken books from beneath his robes and levitated them around. They seemed to be bound in human skin, and Severus imagined this was a nightmare that wasn’t happening. “Portkeys to my Manor. From there we will re-join the Dark Lord.”
Lucius removed a glove and stretched a finger towards the floating book, and groups of 5 or 6 Death Eaters gathered around each one.
“On my count, then. One, two, three.”
Did you spot Harry's watch?
Chapter 9: A Record Cover
Chapter Nine: A Record Cover
Harry stared. This was bizarre!
In his hands was a photograph of four people, who looked like they were all in their young twenties, was mounted on a piece of flimsy card that was all torn at the edges.
He raised his eyebrows. The scene looked Christmassy, and that was all he could discern from it. He vaguely recognised the small party, but he just couldn’t place where.
Harry flipped it over. There was nothing written on the back.
He shrugged his shoulders, and placed it back on the bed. At least it wasn’t too disgusting this time.
Lily gazed unseeingly at the book she had propped open against the orange juice jug. She had never tried so hard to lose herself in a book, and had never failed so miserably.
The book itself was suitable for an incompetent first fear – but that wasn’t the reason why she couldn’t read it. Lily was an excellent reader, and was once of the regular visitors of the library at break, lunch, after school, and at the weekends.
The fact was that she had taken out this dull book for some light reading. At least, that was what she kept telling herself.
The book was entitled ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’. She refused to acknowledge that this book had anything to do with James, and that she had not decided to add a book on Quidditch to her selected Christmas holiday reading because of That Boy.
Even Lily was not unintelligent enough to deny that she was falling in love with the bane of her existence. Even with the admittance of her change of circumstances with James – it had nothing to do with the fact that she had borrowed a book from the extensive Hogwarts library on Quidditch, of all things.
She had always been fascinated by Quidditch, she mused, looking out the window at the swaying leaves on the rose bush. James would be horrified if she ever declared that she didn’t know even a sixteenth of the Quidditch rule book.
Everything was black and white in James’ world – you both loved Quidditch and knew every single rule, move, and chant in the book or you hated it, lived in a cave, and didn’t know any brands of any broomsticks.
This was the problem with James – it was the very reason he didn’t trust any Slytherin, good or bad. To him if you were in Slytherin, you were the Moste Supreme Eville being. This idea was so stupid, so ancient, that it was even worthy of You-Know-Who. James was easy to read – but surprisingly, she loved all that she saw. This annoying trait was what James believed in, and Lily was forever afraid that he’d never change.
Thankfully, James had got to the stage where he said he’d change his ways. This came at a very lucky time, as Lily was just about to give in and go out with him anyway. Obviously, she’d said she would have to see the proof with her own eyes before she would agree, or else this would delete the epitome of waiting until he caved.
She was just worried that this ridiculous trait of things being black and white was here to stay – perpetually. Lily didn’t know if he would ever stop hating Severus’ guts, or if Quidditch would ever stop being the sport of the Gods to him.
Lily realised that this might well be his undoing – if James carried on like this he would never learn to forgive and would make far too many enemies.
There were the regular enemies, such as anyone who practised the Dark Arts, and then there were real enemies, like Death Eaters. Then came the most preposterous type of enemy and of the largest numerically, the Slytherins.
This meant that he would not recognise his foes that were disguised, or in any other house, or indeed non-magical folk.
Oh, James. What are we going to do with you?
Lily’s head snapped up. “Yeah?”
Lily’s mother smiled. “Good read there, love?” and picked up an overflowing laundry basket.
Lily plastered on a wide smile. “Oh, it’s fascinating!”
“Is it about magic?” Lily’s mother asked, tucking her fiery hair behind her ear, proudly grinning down at her daughter.
“Of course it is! There’s so much I still need to learn, Mum.”
James was fascinating. There wasn’t much more of him I need to learn - but his favourite hobby was hardly a bad place to start.
“I’ll leave you to it then,” she said, leaving the breakfast room.
Lily glanced guiltily down at the book she hadn’t got very far into.
This tedious book was all worth it. For James.
Think of James.
James strode confidently up the road of his house, in the rural area of Muggle Bristol.
He was clutching a large plastic carrier bag, and had a look of triumph upon his face.
James pushed upon his stiff, red, gate and crunched up the gravel to his maroon-coloured wooden door and let himself in.
The first thing he did when he got in was removing his boots and tugging off his red-and-gold scarf. Soon, he was upstairs, and was climbing on top of his bed, reaching for the top of his wardrobe, dragging out his unused record player.
James carefully removed the dust cover and slowly hopped off the bed and back down to the floor with it.
It couldn’t hurt to have a quick listen, could it…? He couldn’t believe he was doing this. He was so sad and pathetic! But he was just dying to get another taste of Lily’s personality.
He removed the object from his bag, and held it between his thumb and forefinger, scowling at it in disgust.
James examined the cover with disdain.
Two couples were gazing at him through a window, looking all lovey-dovey with their arms all over each other. It was snowing, and all four of them were all dressed up and looked ready to dance.
Oh yeah. That’s another thing I should do with Lily if she ever agrees to go out with me. Dance with her.
The four on the cover all looked far too cheerful. One day he and Lily would be like that, his arms wrapped lovingly around her waist, only far better looking and he would be a much happier man than any members of Abba.
James took a deep breath, deciding to take the plunge. He carefully removed the vinyl from its case, trying to keep it pristine for Lily.
He stuck his finger in the middle, and twirled the record round, watching the curve of light stay stationary.
James gently placed it on the record player, and plugged the machine into the wall.
He then dragged out some speakers from under his bed and plugged the trailing wires into the wall and into the back of the record player.
It came alive with a low hum.
He could not deny that he was excited as he pulled the metal arm to rest on the record, pressing the ‘start/stop’ button.
The turntable started to rotate.
James wrinkled his nose as the guitar came in, and that funny chiming noise started. This was definitely a woman’s song.
A lady started to sing. At first, James couldn’t really make out the words.
‘Walking through an empty house, tears in my eyes Here is where the story ends, this is goodbye’
Oh Merlin. Another break-up song.
James sat there, bored out of his mind, determined to hear the song all the way through.
‘Breaking up is never easy, I know but I have to go’
Lily would never break up with him, would she? It would be awful to marry her, and then have her leave him.
No. That would never happen. Stupid brain!
‘In these old familiar rooms children would play Now there's only emptiness, nothing to say’
Their children would be beautiful. Had she imagined their children? Had she even imagined getting together with him? Probably not. This made James feel even more ashamed. He was behaving like a woman, for Merlin’s sake! He should stop dreaming, and start doing something about it.
At last the stupid song drew to an end. He slipped it back into its card wallet and sat up at his desk, beginning to quill a note.
I really miss you. I know we aren’t even going out, and are hardly friends - so it’s not like I actually have the right or anything like that… I hope you don’t mind, but you were probably expecting that I couldn’t resist buying you a Christmas present,
I hope you like it, and I can’t wait to see you again in January.
Have fun with your family,
James replaced his quill and attached the note to the vinyl’s cover. James just hoped she would like it. Her friend had said something to Padfoot about Abba and how it was her favourite Muggle band. The single had just come out, so he hoped she wouldn’t already have it.
He’d send it off later.
She hugged the record to her chest. How on Earth did James find out? Just how closely had he been watching her?
She had been planning on getting ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ with her Christmas money when James’ handsome owl arrived.
Lily had listened to the tune repeatedly for a while now, and decided to pack it away for the night.
She took the record off the turntable, and placed it in the wallet of a different Abba record.
Lily then ripped the window off of the front of the cover, and slid it under her bed for safekeeping.
One day, she would dance with James.
Chapter 10: A Red Feather
This chapter was written in 2020, and the earlier chapters are being updated.
Chapter Eleven: A Red Feather
There was nothing but the sound of rubber gloves and the clink of plates as Petunia and Lily were washing up after evening tea.
“I’ll get it!” called Lily, as the doorbell rang.
Petunia scowled. Trying to get out of finishing the dishes.
Lily wiped her damp hands on her apron and opened the door. Her eyes widened.
“MUM! DAD!” she bellowed upstairs.
“Good evening,” he smiled kindly. “Please don’t be afraid. I wondered if I could come in and speak with you and your family.”
Her face transformed into a manic smile as she looked back over her shoulder at her parents who were descending the stairs.
“Who is it, Lily?” said her dad.
“This is Professor Dumbledore!” she exclaimed, closing the front door behind him.
Her parents stared at the oddly dressed man and exchanged looks. “Please, come in. Can I offer you a cup of tea?” asked Mrs Evans.
“That sounds marvellous,” he beamed.
“Do you take milk or sugar?”
“Both --- or neither. Today feels like a day for some milk and two sugars.”
She looked slightly flummoxed at this and went into the kitchen.
The rest of them settled down into the living room as Petunia sidled in, watching Professor Dumbledore relaxing into a plush armchair and pick up a nearby cross stitch magazine. His lemon-yellow suit clashed horribly with the glimpse of purple waistcoat that could be seen behind his voluminous beard. Lily sat down on the rug in front of the fireplace, watching him in awed silence.
Nobody said a word for several minutes until Mrs Evans returned with tea and biscuits.
“The refreshments and these remarkable magazines are a big perk of the job,” he twinkled at Mrs Evans, accepting the drink and a chocolate digestive. “I would acquaint myself, but perhaps your youngest would be kind enough to make the introductions.” He bit into a biscuit as his eyes sparkled out over the top of his glasses at Lily.
“Of course! Mum, dad, this is the best wizard in the world. Professor Dumbledore. He’s the Headmaster of Hogwarts where children go to learn magic, just as I said. Sir, this is my mum and my dad and my sister.”
Petunia’s face resembled a gaping fish. Mr and Mrs Evans’ eyebrows raised as they shared another look.
“Is this true?” asked Mr Evans.
“I certainly don’t claim to be the best wizard in the world,” he chuckled, “but I am the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I have come to explain about things and offer young Lily a place at school.”
“Is this some sort of joke?” Mrs Evans asked, tea paused halfway to her mouth.
He took out his wand, pointed it at the fireplace, and said, “Incendio”. He then pointed his wand at the plate of biscuits, and cast, “Accio Chocolate Digestive!” He chuckled happily as he caught another biscuit.
“Right. I see.” His dad was nodding very fast, perhaps a little hysterically. “And you’re saying Lily…?”
Dumbledore swallowed a bite of biscuit and replied, “Is a witch, yes.” He looked over at her over his half-moon glasses. “Miss Evans, how did you recognise me?”
“My best friend Severus Snape told me all about you. He said you had a long white beard, were extremely old, and would probably come and tell my parents about Hogwarts before giving me my letter.”
“Quite right,” he nodded. “Your name has been written in the Book of Admittance for at least 5 years.” He turned to her parents and sister, “Have you ever seen Lily do anything that seemed inexplicable, perhaps when stressed or upset?”
Mr Evans cleared his throat. “Well — I don’t mean to embarrass you, love — there was this time when her school tutor informed us that a school rival’s underwear had disappeared in a brawl during PE.”
Professor Dumbledore raised his eyebrows.
“Dad! I didn’t touch Billy’s underpants. Ugh. As if I would!”
She turned to Professor Dumbledore hastily. “He was being nasty to my friend in PE. I didn’t mean it.” Remembering Severus didn’t know what PE was, she continued, “We, um, wear pants and vests at school when we’re running laps in the assembly hall, and his pants disappeared. I really can’t explain it. But it definitely wasn’t me. It’s impossible.”
Professor Dumbledore’s lips twitched down as he suppressed a laugh. He cleared his throat and pointed his wand at the biscuit remnants on his saucer. “Evanesco!” Lily gasped as the quarter biscuit disappeared into thin air.
He began gently, “My dear, I believe you vanished them accidentally—"
“She can fly, too,” added Petunia helpfully.
All eyes were on Petunia, then Lily.
“Excellent,” beamed Albus. “Now, let me find your admission letter and equipment list.”
He dug around in his pockets, which seemed much deeper than they could be. “Ah! Here we are. I saw this and thought of you,” he passed her a sugar quill, “Oh! My pet phoenix, Fawkes, dropped this and I didn’t want it to go to waste,” he handed her a small red feather and winked. He gave up with that pocket, and rummaged in his other suit pocket. “Ah! Here we are. Your letter,” he said, handing her a thick envelope which she greedily accepted.
He turned to face her parents. “If you would like to accept this school place, we must receive your letter by the 31st of July. I realise you won’t have a post owl, so allow me to give you the PO Box that the Royal Mail can redirect to us…” He recommenced his rummaging and resurfaced with a quill and parchment, and write down an address. “That should do the trick,” he muttered, and tore off the address to give to Mrs Evans.
“Now, if you accept the place at Hogwarts, you’ll need to get your spellbooks and robes. Allow me to give you the address of an excellent pub…” he trailed off, writing down another address. Mr and Mrs Evans exchanged an alarmed look, whilst Lily and Petunia looked at each other trying not to laugh.
“To buy school supplies, you’ll need to go to this address to find a pub named The Leaky Cauldron. You must hold Lily’s hand when you stand outside as only witches and wizards can see it. Go to the bar and inform the barman that you’re a new student and need helping to get to the shops. He’ll let you through. Then, walk to the bank — can’t miss it, really — and ask to change your money into galleons.
“The current exchange rate is two pounds to one galleon. We know you went decimal earlier this year, and haven’t got shillings anymore,” he beamed. “I do so enjoy the Daily Telegraph.” His face fell. “Terrible news about the Beatles, terrible. I’m in mourning, that’s why I’m wearing yellow today.
“Well I must be off. You are a very charming family. If you should choose to accept this place, I will expect great things from you, Miss Evans. You would fit in very well.”
He stood up, and everyone else did, too, as he went towards the front door. “Thank you very much for the refreshments.” He shook their hands, including Petunia’s. “Farewell!”
“G-Goodbye, Professor,” said Mrs Evans.
“Good day to you all.” They blinked and he was gone.
Lily rushed over to the bureau and retrieved pen and paper. She spoke aloud as she wrote at a feverish pace, “Dear Professor Dumbledore, … I would very much like … to come to your school for magic. … Thank you for visiting. … Please come again. … Yours sincerely, … Lily Evans.
“Oh mum, dad, can I go? Can I? Please?”
“This is all a bit of a shock, dear. I can’t believe this isn’t a dream,” Mrs Evans said, looking over at her dad who still looked somewhat dazed.
“We should at least go to wizarding London to have a look around. It’ll be fascinating. Can we go this weekend? Oh, my friend Severus should come! He’s a wizard too!”
“Well—” she looked over at her husband. “I don’t see why not, dear.”
Harry’s eyes found a letter sealed with the Hogwarts crest and he opened it excitedly.
He felt an echo of exhilaration that he shared this moment with his mum. At 11, they hadn’t known they were magical. This letter must represent the amazing feeling that this other world out there existed, learning about his incredible school, and he scanned the letter hungrily noting the differences.
He felt a bit surprised that in 20 years so many of the set books were the same, but thought that magic didn’t get updated very often. Given that Binns had been teaching for eternity, it wasn’t a surprise that A History of Magic was still there. Bathilda Bagshot must be very rich.
He pulled out his copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to remind himself what a puffskein was.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Miss Evans,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on the 1st September. We await your owl by no later than the 31st July.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
First-year students will require:
- Three sets of plain work robes (black)
- One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
- One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
- One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
- Plain black shoes
Please note that all pupils’ clothes should carry name tags
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Charms of Defence and Deterrence by Catullus Spangle
A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
So You Think You Know Herbology? by Ernest Gambol
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts by Arsenius Jigger
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass phials
1 set brass scales
Parchment, quills and ink
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a kneazle hybrid OR a toad OR a puffskein
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST-YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS
Lily ran up to their willow tree and drew back the curtained branches. “Severus!” she shrieked, waving her letter. “Guess what?”
He waved his letter back in glee. “I knew it! I told you you were magical! Can we just pause a moment here? Repeat after me: ‘Severus you are always right, and I will forever believe you’.”
She threw back her head and laughed, joining him cross-legged on the soil. “Severus, you are always right, and I will forever believe you,” pushing him in the arm. They grinned at each other.
“Did a teacher come to your house?”
“You’ll never guess who came.” She laughed in glee, savouring the moment. Unable to hold it in any longer, she said conspiratorially, “Albus Dumbledore!”
His jaw dropped and he leant closer. “I don’t believe it. The best wizard in the world, in your sitting room! Tell me everything.”
“Professor Dumbledore arrived just after tea. He was really very strange. He was wearing a yellow suit. He had a big white beard like you said. I told him you were my best friend and I think he seemed impressed I knew his name.” Severus puffed out his chest, and a pleased blush grew over his cheeks.
“To prove he was a wizard, he lit the fireplace with a spell, flew a biscuit over as if he was, I dunno, pulling it along with an invisible string, and after he’d eaten most of it, made the rest of his biscuit disappear! Then, he told my parents how to take me shopping in wizarding London. He convinced them I was a witch because of an embarrassing story my dad told him — I ban you from asking me about it — He also gave me a quill made of sugar, and a feather from a real phoenix which I’m going to keep forever.”
His eyes widened.
“Isn’t this amazing, Sev? We’re finally going to Hogwarts!” She brought the scarlet feather out her pocket and handed it to him.
He gazed down at it, twirling it in his fingers. “I am counting down the days. I’m certain it’s going to be the best day of my life.” He reached over to compare their letters. “My mum already has 5 of these books—”
“Yes, I recognise them!”
“—and dad’ll be glad I’m taking the scales, cauldron and telescope out the house—”
“It’s so great you already have most of this. I can’t wait to get a wand. Or a kneazle hybrid. What’s a kneazle hybrid?”
He shuffled round to face her fully. “I’ve read all about them in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. You need a license to own a kneazle because they can be aggressive. They’re basically very intelligent cats, that live a very long time. There’s a shop called Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley, we can definitely go and look at them at least.”
“That would be so ace, Sev. This is all so amazing. It’s like a dream come true, a dream I didn’t even know I had until we met.”
He tucked the phoenix feather into her hair. Dark eyes met sparkling green for a few seconds. “Me too.”