With thanks to my amazing beta reader,
Willow, 10 1/4", Swishy
On a Saturday morning in July, Lily Evans walked back from
checking the mailbox in front of her family’s Surrey
brick Tudor-style home. The sun was
still low in the sky, yet it already radiated good warmth in its effort to
steam the dew from the grass of the suburban lawns. A few of the neighbors were out and about:
gardening, walking the dog, chatting with one another about how the roses were
doing this year. Lily had been home for
a week now, and seeing as she wasn’t allowed to do magic away from school, was already
running out of things to do. In an
attempt to be helpful, the redheaded teen made her way back to the house with
the mail. She tucked between the hedge bordering
the driveway and her father’s parked car; he’d left it out of the garage that
day with intentions of washing it. She
mused about washing it for him with the Scourgify
spell, knowing how amused and proud it would render him. She had delighted her mum with a vial of
concentrated Garden Grow Potion for Mother’s Day this year and three months
later, Mrs. Evans was still talking
about it. She loved being able to share
magic with her parents, but the occasions were few due to the Ministry’s
restrictions on underage magic in non-magical areas. It seemed so unfair, really, as it was common
knowledge that students from wizarding homes could often perform a bit of
wandwork here and there without Ministry or parental detection.
Lily’s reverie broke when she noticed Petunia coming down
the driveway in her direction. Upon seeing
her younger sister, Petunia quickly traversed the driveway so as to walk on the
opposite side of the car. True, space
was limited for two people to pass by on Lily’s side—her mother and father
would likely have walked the same path as Petunia—but something about Petunia’s
manner and facial expression told Lily that more than just space constraints
had caused her sister to distance herself.
Passing her sister, Lily entered the house and ducked into
the dining room to give her mum the mail.
Family friends had joined the Evanses for dinner last night. She set the mail down on the table.
“Here you go, Mum.”
“Oh, thank you, Lily,” Mrs. Evans called from where she worked
at trimming some plants arranged in stands in the corner. The enjoyment of having her daughter home for
the summer holidays had not yet worn off.
“You’re welcome,” Lily answered as she re-entered the
kitchen to pour herself a glass of water.
As she neared the sink, she saw a familiar wooden object sticking out of
a pot soaking from dinner the night before.
“My wand,” Lily gasped, pulling the light brown, spindly,
carved object out of the pot and flicking the water from it. She stood, mouth agape. Her eyes narrowed.
“Mum, was Petunia in the kitchen?”
Mrs. Evans stuck her head into the doorway. “Hmm, dear?”
“Mum,” Lily began, exasperated, “I just found my wand
soaking in this manky pot from last night’s dinner.” She held it up as an exhibit.
“Oh, dear. I wonder
how that happened…” Mrs. Evans mused sympathetically.
“I think I know!”
Mrs. Evans’s eyes widened.
“I think Petunia put it in there.”
“Oh, Lily, do you think she would do that? Maybe it was a mistake.”
“Well, why don’t you ask her, dear?”
Just then the back door swung open and Petunia pushed
through, stopping. Lily and her mother watched
“What?” Petunia asked
“Petunia, did you put my wand in that nasty pot soaking in
“No,” Petunia said, turning to her mother for support. Lily knew high drama when she saw it; her
sister had always leaned toward the
“Well, then who did?” Lily demanded.
“I don’t know. Why
don’t you ask Dad?” Petunia’s voice was
cold and accusing.
“Dad,” Lily yelled toward the living room, where he was sure
to be reading the morning paper.
“Did you do the dishes?”
There was a moment’s silence.
“Did you put my wand in the sink?”
From the other room, the newspaper rustled. “Your wand in the sink…? No, of course not. What was your wand doing in the sink?
Lily shot a poignant glare at Petunia.
“It wasn’t me.” Petunia was steadfast in her denial.
“Sure it wasn’t,” Lily said, turning toward the stairs.
“Maybe someone confused it for a wooden spoon,” her mum
“You don’t soak those, either!” Lily stormed out of the
room, throwing a last baleful glare at Petunia.
Once upstairs, she shut the door to her room and pulled a
towel from her laundry hamper to wipe her wand dry, inspecting it for signs of
cracks and water damage as she walked toward her bed. It will
need oiling, she thought. She sat,
one leg tucked beneath her. The day
outside was magnificent; she made note of that, before falling onto her back.
It was certainly too nice of a day
to be stuck at home with Petunia. She
longed to see her Hogwarts friends, but it always seemed to take too much
effort. The Evanses weren’t set up on
the Floo network like wizarding families and meeting somewhere in Muggle England often
confused wizard parents. Meeting in
Diagon Alley was the remaining choice; she wished desperately that visits could
be easier to plan. If only she could use
a broom, but the distances were generally too far and she couldn’t risk being
seen. Cleverness and resourcefulness
were, for once, failing her. With a
sudden surge of jealousy more befitting Petunia than herself, she realized that
her classmates could visit one another regularly via the Floo network. If only they could get added to the
network! But her parents wouldn’t allow
it, and all to mollify Petunia.
There was a time when Lily regretted the loss of her
sister’s friendship, but after five years of attending Hogwarts and coming home
to such a sour demeanor every holiday, she was getting over it. In Lily’s mind, the current animosity could
be traced back to an early manifestation of her magical abilities, way back when
her mum still referred to them as her “flower girls.” Local children who studied ballet were given
the opportunity to audition for roles in the familial Christmas Party scene of
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite performed by the Royal Ballet of London. Remarkably, both Lily and Petunia had been
chosen. Each rehearsal, after the girls
had finished performing their parts, they would stand at the curtain’s edge and
watch the famous company of dancers. Lily
had always found herself deeply touched by the tragic scene where the
Nutcracker was killed by the Mouse King for defending Clara, who ran to hold
the fallen victim in her arms and wept.
On opening night, the costumes, the
lights, and the palpable sadness all combined to make Lily cry; as she did, real
snowflakes fell from the rafters. She
could discern the hidden confusion in the faces of the professional dancers. Meanwhile, the audience drew awed
breath. The snow segued marvelously into
the dance with the Nutcracker Prince and the March of the Sugar Plum Fairies. Somehow Lily knew that she’d made it
happen. She whispered fervently and
secretively in Petunia’s ear, excitement causing her to momentarily forget that
previous claims had earned her rebuke from her sister. Petunia had recently been trying to appear
more grown-up to fit in with the popular girls at school and such a claim
challenged that tractable nature. In a
bossy voice, Petunia claimed Lily suffered from an overactive imagination and sought
attention. Back at home the argument
persisted on and off for months. Lily’s
Hogwarts Enrollment Letter arrived less than a year later, causing her parents’
pride to bubble over and silencing Petunia.
Over the next few years, as they became teens, Petunia became
increasingly concerned about appearances: spellbooks, cauldrons, owls, and
robes around the house would trigger hysterics.
On Lily’s first trip to Diagon Alley, she had been forced to
settle for a black cat when she preferred an owl; Petunia had created such a
fuss about ‘looking like freaks in the
neighborhood’ that their parents forced Lily to compromise, even though the
neighborhood was already full of cats.
Other sources of friction arose. Sometimes Lily noticed the funny way Petunia
looked at her in their shared bathroom as she brushed out her hair for the
night or primped to visit her friends.
This year, Aaron Derby from the neighborhood had begun stopping by on
holidays. He seemed more keen to talk to
Lily, even when Petunia propped herself noticeably on the arm of the couch
where he was sitting (when her parents were absent from the room, of course). Petunia was always quite nasty to her after
Lily had learned to look forward to the reprieve Hogwarts
provided from her sister. To her distress,
she had received a rumpled dirty sock from Petunia for her birthday this year. Lily had opened the parcel at breakfast in
front of all her peers, whose curiosity had been raised by the tape and brown Muggle
paper. Even James Potter had witnessed
that incident, raising an eyebrow questioningly at her in an inquiry she chose
Potter: now there was
another frustrating subject. What did those
Gryffindor boys think they were doing last week, torturing Severus Snape in
front of the whole school? She had her
doubts about Snivellus too, but he hardly needed that kind of treatment in
public, as unpopular as he was. It was
clear that Potter, at least, had been using it as a means for earning attention
he in no way needed; he and Sirius Black were wildly popular already. Seeking more at Snape’s expense was just
loathsome. So for her part, she wouldn’t
give it to him, even if—oh bugger, these were her thoughts, she could be honest—she
had noticed him in other contexts, like
when he wasn’t being cruel but simply excelling brilliantly in class, or heroically
dodging Bludgers in Quidditch matches, or joining forces spectacularly with
Sirius at the Dueling Club to teach those cheating-prone Slytherins a lesson
when Flitwick had stepped out. But none
of his successes were lost on him and that
is what made him a hopeless toe-rag.
He also had no
idea how to ask a girl out properly: not
in public, not in bargain, and not cajolingly and over-confidently. What a prat!
At least she’d been ready with the ”giant squid”
response. And that bit about making
Snivellus apologize… did he think she was helpless? It made her cheeks hot just thinking about
For the second time that day, Petunia broke her reverie, this
time by skulking into the doorway and making Lily blush due to her most recent
train of thoughts.
“Would you put your Halloween
costume away?” She held Lily’s cloak at
arm’s length in two carefully pinched fingers.
“I have friends coming over.”
“Maybe I’ll wear it, then.”
Lily was aware of the surliness in her voice and the devious smile tugging
at her mouth. She
had never particularly liked Petunia’s friends or the sound of cruel gossip and
laughter that ricocheted down the hall when they were over.
Petunia’s already long face fell. “You wouldn’t.”
Lily smirked satisfactorily.
Petunia let out a small shriek, released the cloak, and dashed
down the stairs.
Lily could predict what would happen next. Any instant now Petunia’s shrill voice would
break out into a desperate appeal to her parents. Well, she’d
asked for it, after all. Standing,
grinning, Lily donned her cloak and fairly floated
down the stairs.