The sun shimmered on the water as Lily Evans sat on a rock, enjoying the quiet, the cool ocean breeze and the shade of the tree overhead. This was her favourite spot on the island, far removed from the village. Only the lighthouse, run by old Ab, was nearby.
The only sounds were of wind, water and seagull. She always found the sound of waves to be calming. She was barefoot and let her toes curl against the grass and sand. She had a muffin resting on the lap of her white linen dress. She made a contented sigh and pulled a bite off the muffin and placed it in her mouth, appreciating its sweet, buttery taste. The baker’s wife really did make such delectable muffins.
“Help!” a voice cried out, startling Lily as it broke the silence.
Her eyes darted around searching for the source of the cry.
There were two voices!
“Help us, please!”
Make that three. Lily set what remained of her muffin aside and quickly strode down to the beach, searching the horizon. She lifted her skirts to keep them from getting wet though the tide was only to her ankles. She looked out across the shimmering water and finally spotted the three figures, bobbing in the water.
Lily stood up straight, already feeling her fingertips begin to tingle. She closed her eyes, feeling calm and assured. She opened her eyes again and pointed a finger at the water. The water began to ripple. She guided the ripples towards the distant figures. The further the ripples went the more charged her body felt. She knew she shouldn’t do this but how could she ignore their pleas?
As the ripples reached the distant figures, Lily could feel it in her bones, like she had bumped into them herself. The figures were silent, no doubt unable to understand what was happening. She had done this before, though with driftwood rather than people.
Lily could immediately tell these three individuals were a touch heavier than driftwood. Her hands felt hot and heavy as if weighed down by anchors. With all of her might, she strained her body and pulled them towards the shore, her body feeling full of fire. She closed her eyes again and inhaled deeply, hoping that would somehow fill her with more strength.
Lily shouted and flung her arms behind her, surprising herself. Three voices shouted as water engulfed Lily and knocked her onto her back, landing on the sand with a hard thud and a mouth full of salt water, which she quickly spat out.
As the water sunk away, Lily heard three coughing voices nearby and opened her eyes to behold three naked figures before her on the sand. One boy was tall, thin and pale with long dark hair that stuck to his face in wet, sandy clumps.
Another smaller, round boy had blond hair and was flat on his back. He seemed to be struggling to move and was looking from side to side in a frantic sort of way.
The third boy pulled himself to his feet and Lily found him particularly interesting. He too was rather tall but was dark-skinned and lean. He had a fine jaw and pouty lips. His black hair was a mess and she thought not just from the water. He rubbed his eyes desperately, seeming distressed.
“I’ve lost my glasses,” he said glumly.
“James, none of us have any clothes at all,” the boy with long, dark hair said, clearly trying to turn his groin away from Lily, though naked boys were nothing new to her, given that nude swimming was a popular summer pastime on the island.
The handsome boy glanced down at himself and said, “Oh. Right.”
Lily pulled herself to her feet, wondering exactly when one of them was going to thank her until she realised that they probably didn’t understand what had happened.
James squinted at her then took several steps forward.
“Hi, I’m-” he started but upon coming close enough he froze as if something had caught him off guard.
“Yes?” Lily asked.
James suddenly seemed awkward and embarrassed. Lily looked down at herself. Her dress was covered in muddy sand but she still had clothes on.
“Am I not naked enough?” Lily asked.
“Huh?” James asked.
“You just seemed uncomfortable. Would you be more comfortable if I were naked?” Lily asked.
“No!” he said, turning away, his dark face looked red.
Lily laughed and said, “I’m Lily. Lily Evans,” then extended a hand to him.
“I’m James. That’s Sirius,” James said, pointing at the dark haired boy who was now standing and facing out at the sea, hands on his hips.
“Hello,” Lily said with a wave.
“Hi,” Sirius said, not turning around.
“And Peter,” James said, pointing at the shorter boy.
“Hi,” the blond haired boy said.
Lily smiled and waved at him.
“Thank the Goddess, you found us,” Sirius said, making the other boys nod with enthusiasm.
“So, why don’t you lads follow me up to the lighthouse and I’ll see about some clothes in exchange for what I expect to be a very interesting story,” Lily said, gesturing up the beach.
“I wouldn’t say no to some tea,” Peter said, stepping in her direction.
“Some clothes would be fantastic,” Sirius said, also following her as she began to march up the beach.
“I’m guessing the lighthouse doesn’t have any spare glasses lying about,” James said, striding beside her.
“No. But there’s a good shoppe back in the village,” Lily replied, smiling at him.
“Yeah, I know. That’s where I got my old pair,” James admitted, sounding ashamed.
“Wait,” Lily said, stopping and turning to look at them all.
“You’re from the village?” Lily said, giving them all a confused look.
Sirius scoffed and shook his head while Peter and James gave each other looks of shame.
“Peter and I are from the village. Sirius is… from somewhere else,” James said, with a frown.
“It’s a long story, obviously,” Sirius said with some annoyance.
“Apparently so,” Lily said with a smile, then turned back towards the lighthouse.
Arriving at the doorstep, Lily knocked firmly. Moments later old Ab opened the door and peered out at the four of them with some curiosity.
“You’re like a cat now, are ya?” Ab grumbled.
“A cat?” Lily asked.
“Yes. Sometimes you bring me berries. Sometimes you bring me muffins. And now the cat has dragged three confused and naked lads to my doorstep. ’Fraid I don’t need any of those,” Ab said with a chuckle.
“They’re castaways. I rescued them,” Lily said proudly.
“Bring them inside,” Ab said then opened the door up and let them step inside.
Ab went upstairs while James, Sirius and Peter sat down at his small dining table. Moments later Ab was back down with towels for them all and a change of clothes for the three boys.
“I left a pair of trousers and a shirt upstairs for you, Lily. ’Fraid I don’t have any frocks,” Ab said.
Lily marched upstairs and entered the bathroom, suddenly realising how exhausted she felt. She stared at herself in the mirror. She looked like she hadn’t slept in a week. Her green eyes were red and puffy and her dark red hair clung to her head like a wet mop. Doing what she had done took a lot out of her. Her muscles ached but in a good way, like after a morning run.
She removed her dress with some effort, since it was all clinging to her body. Standing naked in the bathroom she placed her hands on her bare abdomen, feeling the heat of her own skin. How long would it take her to cool down after something like that? She sighed. There was no way she would able to sleep tonight, no matter how exhausted she felt.
Lily rinsed her head in the sink then dried herself off with the towel as best she could before slipping the simple, cloth shirt over her head and pulling the trousers on. The shirt was far too big and the trousers were strangely too small, and she wondered if Ab had given her a man’s shirt but a boy’s trousers. She also felt a bit odd without any knickers on but shrugged and went downstairs.
The boys were already dressed and Ab was brewing tea.
“Some winter berries, Ab?” Lily asked.
“Winter berries in summer?” Ab asked then scoffed.
Ab sighed then nodded. He never was good at saying no to her. Ab had always been there for her ever since her parents passed away several years ago.
“Have you introduced yourself to the boys, Ab?” Lily asked, sitting down at the fourth chair at the table, pulling her legs up to sit cross legged, slapping a hand down on the table.
Ab just grunted and carried on with the tea.
“This is Aberforth Dumbledore. He’s the lighthouse keeper. He was friends with my parents before they… before they died,” Lily said, the words not wanting to leave her mouth.
James unexpectedly reached over and placed a hand over hers and squeezed.
“My parents are gone too,” James said, his lovely hazel eyes filled with understanding.
“So I guess you all should explain what in the world happened,” Lily said, giving James a small smile as she withdrew her hand.
The three boys collectively grumbled, talking over each other. Lily only caught various, stray words. Kingdom. Pirates. Parents. Boat.
“Not all at once, please,” Lily groaned.
“Sorry,” the three of them said at once then collectively laughed.
“I’ll start. My name is James Potter. Pete and I are old friends. After my mum and dad died I kind of just took care of myself. I’ve got money, you see. I never need to work. My parents moved to this island years ago, before I was born. They just wanted a quiet life, away from the kingdom,” James said.
Ab placed four mugs of winterberry tea on the table, spilling just a little from each of them.
“If you lot will excuse me, I’ll be going back to bed,” Ab said.
“It was nice meeting you,” James said.
Ab just grunted and went upstairs. Lily had forgotten that Ab would have to be up all night watching the coast. Of course, there were never boats around here, which made the appearance of these three boys all the more curious.
Lily tried to take a sip of the tea but it was much too hot, despite its wintery chill.
“So anyhow, my parents owned a boat. Well, sort of. They owned it but were lending it to the island, sort of indefinitely,” James said.
“You’re the ones who stole the boat!” Lily said, amazed that she hadn’t put it together yet.
James and Peter looked embarrassed and nodded.
“But that was two years ago!” Lily said, feeling astonished.
“We were only fourteen,” Peter admitted.
“I told myself it wasn’t theft if my parents owned it. We were just going to take it out for a few weeks. Instead, we sailed across the sea and ended up docked in the kingdom,” James said.
“We got arrested. Mistaken for pirates,” Peter said.
“And this is where I come into the story,” Sirius said with a grin.
Now that his hair was dry and he was clothed, Lily realised that Sirius was rather handsome himself. His features were slight and his grey eyes were cool but not cold.
“I’m all ears,” Lily said, dropping her legs to the floor and leaning forward towards Sirius.
“I’m… Look, I know this is going to sound ridiculous but it’s the truth: I’m a prince,” Sirius said, his face a strange mixture of pride and revulsion.
“OK,” Lily said, feeling nonplussed.
“That’s it? No reaction? No shock or disbelief?” Sirius said, seeming unnecessarily offended.
“You seem princely enough,” Lily confessed.
Sirius scoffed but continued: “When I heard my mother and father were bragging about having arrested some pirates I just had to go have a look at them. You see our kingdom has a notorious pirate problem. We never arrest or capture pirates. It just doesn’t happen. So I went down to the dungeons only to find these two looking like poorly fed puppies.”
“Pete and I had only been at sea for six months before that. We had stopped at various ports and got lost a dozen or so times but we certainly weren’t any sort of pirates!” James said.
“Of course, I could tell they weren’t pirates. Any fool would know. Look at James’s face. Does he look like a pirate to you?” Sirius said.
Lily considered James’s face with a smile. No, he didn’t look like a pirate. He looked like one of those handsome sailors her mother used to tell her bedtime stories about. They were strong, heroic and beautiful and always knew how to treat a lady. Lily thought the stories were boring but she suspected not much about James Potter could be classified as boring. He looked very interesting, indeed.
“No, of course not,” Lily said, restraining from saying that he was far too pretty to be a pirate, though it was certainly true.
Lily felt a small patch of sadness on her heart when she thought of the stories her mother told her. She tried to push it out of her head. She mustn’t think of those stories. Not right now. She picked her mug up from the table and took a sip of it, the coolness of winterberry filling her body now that the tea wasn’t so hot. The chill from the berries was calming. She wondered if Ab suspected that the berries hadn’t had those properties when she’d harvested them.
“As I lay in bed that night I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t bear to think of these two remaining in our dungeon and ending up either executed or locked away for the rest of their lives. I snuck down to the dungeons and released them. The three of us fled the palace and we escaped on their boat.”
Sirius looked nostalgic, his face conveying far more than his words as he sipped his tea. Lily pictured Sirius as a boy who never felt at peace with his own lot in life. Being a prince never suited him but he couldn’t really escape it either. Running off with James and Peter must’ve been quite the change for him.
“And so we sailed together, exploring the seas for nearly two years until… Pirates. Real pirates, mind you. We were finally taking the boat back to the island. We knew we should’ve done it a long time ago… I guess it was selfish,” James said, taking a big gulp of his tea, shivering as it chilled his body.
“You guess it was? It definitely was,” Lily said, giving James a firm glare.
He turned away in shame.
“I know. You’re right. But you see… it gets worse. The pirates boarded the ship, made us strip down then tossed us right where you found us,” James said.
Lily didn’t know if she wanted to yell at them all, laugh at them or just express sympathy. They definitely deserved the first one and probably the last as well. Instead she sighed and shook her head.
“You owe this island. James and Peter especially,” Lily said.
“I know. And I intend to make it up to them. I have money and useful skills. I’ve learned a lot these last two years. I will be everyone’s servant until my debt is paid,” James said.
“Yeah, me too,” Peter said, though something on his face told Lily that he wasn’t looking forward to manual labour.
“I’m happy to help. If this is to be my new home I suppose I should earn my place. I say… I wonder if the old man needs any assistance. Lighthouses have always been a secret passion of mine,” Sirius admitted, going from a grin to a frown within seconds.
“You want to be a lighthouse keeper?” Lily said skeptically, raising an eyebrow at Sirius.
“Better that than a bloody prince, I’ll tell you that. I like watching the water. It’s calming,” Sirius said.
“You’ll have to ask him yourself but you’ve already seen what he’s like,” Lily said.
“Also… did you say his name is Dumbledore?” James asked.
“Yes. Why?” Lily replied.
The three boys exchanged pointed glances.
“We met a Dumbledore on one of the larger islands. Albus Dumbledore. Interesting man. Not a very common surname, is it? Reckon they’re related?” James asked.
Lily frowned. Ab had mentioned having a brother and none of what he’d had to say was positive.
“That may be so,” Lily said.
“Small world,” Peter said.
Lily finished her tea in silence. Her body felt calm and tingly. Perhaps she would get sleep that night after all.
“I suppose we should head to my home. I’m afraid after two years it won’t be very clean. I’ll be lucky if there aren’t any squatters,” James said.
James’s home wasn’t in the village at all, Lily discovered, as she followed the three boys across the island. It was on the cliffs that overlooked the village. She knew the house all too well. She had always wondered who had lived in it.
“They have these elevators in the kingdom… these metal cages that lift you up with chains attached to pulleys. I’d like to build something like that for the people on the cliff. It would help us be more connected to the rest of the island,” James said.
“It would also be less of a pain on my feet,” Lily said, thankful that they had stopped by her home so that she could drop her dress off and grab some shoes.
“Can’t you fly?” Peter said suddenly, as they crossed the final hill to James’s cabin.
Everyone stopped moving. Peter looked embarrassed and none of them would meet Lily’s gaze.
“All right. Just get it out of your systems,” Lily grumbled, gesturing with her hands insistently.
“You can do magic!” Peter said.
“I wasn’t sure if it was you. It can’t have been… but it must’ve been!” James said.
“It was beautiful. It was like… could you two see it? It was the colour of good dreams,” Sirius said, sounding genuinely moved.
The three of them looked relieved to be able to actually say what they were all probably thinking.
“To answer the questions I know you’re about to ask me: No, I’m not a witch. No, you didn’t imagine it. No, I can’t tell you how I did it,” Lily said.
That last part really wasn’t a lie. She couldn’t tell them how she did it. Not just because the concept was difficult to explain but she literally couldn’t speak the words. It was physically impossible. She had tried once to explain to her friend Dorcas. She tried desperately to force the words from her lips but it was no use. It had been humiliating.
Lily didn’t know exactly what or who she was but whatever she did know, she was completely unable to share with anyone else. Luckily, no one questioned her further. Instead, James led them inside his home.
The place reeked of mustiness. It was a two-storey cabin and it had held up well, considering the storms the island had seen in the past.
“Nice place,” Lily said, then dragged a finger over a counter top, bringing with it at least half an inch of dust and added, “Sort of.”
“I suspect I’ll spend the next week cleaning this place up. With Sirius and Peter’s help I’m sure we’ll have it cleaned up in no time,” James said.
James reached the staircase then turned around and said to Lily, “Follow me?”
Lily shrugged and went up the stairs behind him.
“This is my room,” James said, opening one of the doors at the top of the stairs, the other obviously being his mum and dad’s room.
Lily wasn’t sure what she was expecting James’s room to be like but it wasn’t this. Everything was strangely simple. The room was large and the bed was certainly larger and probably a great deal softer than the one she slept on at night.
James walked to the back of the room and opened up double doors, revealing a balcony and a most interesting view below of a small pond and a rather tall tree that hung over it, giving it shade.
“I grew up down there,” James said, standing against the railing and looking down.
Lily scooted beside him, admiring the view.
“It’s lovely,” she said.
“I lived on this island all my life but I never swam off the coast. I swam down there in the pond,” James said.
“I bet it was nice in the summer,” Lily said, thinking a quick dip would actually be perfect right now.
“Very. Always wished I’d had more friends, though. My parents weren’t strict or anything. But living up on the cliff didn’t really lend itself to meeting lots of other kids. I only met Pete because he was running an errand, delivering something or the other to one of the other houses along the cliffside,” James said.
Lily felt sad. She too had been a lonely child. She was pretty, and people said she was nice, but everyone knew something was different about her. Parents were afraid to leave her alone with their children and her parents had discouraged her from even trying to make friends out of fear of what might happen. Even her own sister, Petunia, was afraid of her and called her a freak.
“I wish we had known each other,” Lily said, touching James on the back of the shoulder affectionately.
James turned to her with a warm smile.
“A pretty girl like you? Come on,” James said.
Lily blushed and looked away, removing her hand from his shoulder.
“I mean it. I didn’t have any friends. I still barely do, really. Just Dorcas Meadowes,” Lily said.
“Believe me when I tell you that you have made three brand new friends today,” James countered.
Lily felt herself flush with happiness. It was something that she hadn’t known how badly she wanted until she truly had it. Friendship! What a novel idea.
“I welcome it, though I hope the island itself and all the people who live on it will become your friend. The loss of our only boat has been a terrible one,” Lily said.
“I swear I will make it right,” James said.
Something in his eyes told her that every word he said was true and she nodded in affirmation. Lily slid her hands in the pockets of the trousers Ab had given her, another novelty she wasn’t used to as none of her dresses had pockets. She decided to remember to sew some pockets onto some of her dresses.
“I really should start wearing trousers more often. I love a good pocket,” Lily said.
James laughed and they both looked down at the pond in silence.
“You should come round for a swim sometime,” James suggested.
“I would like that,” Lily said.
A crashing sound downstairs interrupted the peace, forcing the two of them to go and check on the other two boys.
“It was Peter,” Sirius said flatly as they came back downstairs.
“Traitor,” Peter replied.
“Was it you?” James asked Peter.
“Yeah,” he admitted with a shrug.
“Well, lads, I think I’ll leave you to it. I’ve some chores that still need doing,” Lily said, heading towards the door.
“It was nice meeting you,” Sirius said with a nod and a smile.
“You too,” she called back.
James rushed to the door, which he opened while standing there.
“I’m going to come down to the village later this week to get new glasses. Would you mind if I came by to visit you?” James said.
“I look forward to it,” Lily said.
James grinned then stuck out his hand for her to shake.
“Miss Evans,” James said.
“Mr. Potter,” Lily replied.
Lily felt almost like she could fly on her way back down to the village. She had never felt this way before. How exciting it was to make friends, James Potter in particular.
Oh, she had a desperate desire to tell Dorcas about James immediately. Lily was very excited about her burgeoning friendship with James Potter. He really was so very interesting. And he was funny! And when he smiled it was like everything was wonderful.
Lily arrived at her home to find it empty as usual. Petunia was almost never home these days, preferring the company of that nasty man, Vernon Dursley. Lily didn’t like Vernon Dursley one bit and Lily liked most people. She thought there was a bit of good in everyone. If there was good in Vernon Dursley she hadn’t located it yet.
Lily did her dishes and washed her dress while she daydreamed about her new friends. Just as she was taking the dress outside to hang on the line, she heard a familiar voice say, “Well, there you are.”
“Sorry, Dorcas. I got caught up in things,” Lily said.
“Caught up in things? What things? There are things now?” Dorcas said, walking up, the sun setting behind her, casting an orange haze over everything.
Dorcas Meadowes was a short, dark-skinned girl with natural curls she often kept in a ponytail. She also wore glasses which reminded her again of James Potter and his impending visit later that week.
“It’s a long story. Come inside and I’ll tell you everything,” Lily said.