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The Flower and the Stag, Part 5

Lily danced around the house, singing quietly to herself. She was in a very good mood, for some unknown reason. When her mother asked her to do the dishes, Lily agreed happily, and washed them with a huge smile on her face. Mrs Cooper looked at her daughter in bewilderment.

That school has done something to my daughter’s brain, she thought in wonderment. Either that or she’s eaten something poisonous.

Lily stared at the parchment in front of her, biting her lip in frustration. Petunia appeared at the door, and grinned snakily. ‘Having problems there, sister dear?’

Lily smiled pleasantly, and surprised her sister. ‘Actually, yes. Don’t suppose you know what to use in an itching potion?’

Petunia gave her a dirty look. ‘No.’ Then she stormed out.

Lily grinned to herself, and then looked back at her parchment, and sighed.

There was a tapping on the window. She turned, expecting to see her owl, Pickles. But instead she saw three figures suspended up in mid-air. They grinned broadly, and the middle-one tapped again, motioning for her to open the window. She did, and James, Sirius and Remus flew onto her carpet, Remus crashing into her bookshelf. He still hadn’t mastered broomstick flying, mainly because he wasn’t interested.

She stared at them, her eyes wide open in shock.

‘I’m starving.’ James said, rubbing his stomach greedily.

‘Are you now? Well, there’s a pizza place down the street. You’re welcome to go there.’

Sirius pulled a face. ‘We were hoping for something a little closer to home.’

‘Oh. You mean here?’ She said in mock surprise.

‘Yes.’

‘Too bad. We’ve had dinner. What am I going to say, ‘uh mum? Three boys from school flew up to my window, mind if we feed them?’

‘Yeah. Sounds good.’ Sirius said, nodding his head.

Petunia knocked on the door, and Lily groaned.

‘Oh no. Quick! Into the cupboards!’

James stared at her in surprise, so she grabbed his t-shirt, and pushed him under her bed.

Petunia burst in. ‘Who were you talking to?’ She asked suspiciously.

‘No one.’ Lily said in rush, making Petunia even more suspicious.

‘Do you have an invisible friend?’ Petunia sneered.

‘No. I wasn’t talking to anyone.’

‘Yeah, right. I’ll bet-’

there was a low moan, coming from under the bed.

Petunia gasped. Lily pretended to look terrified, and started to shove Petunia out. Then the moans started to laugh.

Before Lily could stop her, Petunia leapt over to the bed and pulled up the blankets.

James poked his tongue out, and Lily buried her face in her hands.

Petunia ran out the room, shrieking ‘MUM! MUM! There’s a boy under Lily’s bed!’

James crawled out from under the bed, and Lily glared at him. ‘Thankyou very much.’ She said crossly.

‘You’re very welcome.’

Remus and Sirius burst out from the wardrobe, bringing an avalanche of clothes out with them.

‘Any food yet?’ Sirius asked hungrily.

‘I’m deciding how I should eat you. Would you prefer boiled or fried?’

‘Boiled.’ Remus said immediately.

‘Fried.’ Sirius argued.

James joined the conversation. ‘Boiled. Less pain.’

‘Oh, good. I’ll fry you. The more pain, the better. Just wait while I get a saucepan.’

She disappeared out the door, and the three boys stared at each other.

‘She is kidding, isn’t she?’

‘Yeah. Lily’s weird, but she’s not a cannibal. I hope.’ James said, sitting down on her bed. He picked up Loopy, Lily’s teddy and started a conversation with him.

Remus and Sirius looked at each other with amused expressions on their faces.

‘It’s the lack of food,’ Sirius said.

‘We hope.’ Remus added.

Meanwhile, Lily was downstairs arguing with her mother.

‘Lily Cooper! What are you doing, hiding boys in your room? You’re fifteen years old!’

‘I know that. They just…Appeared. On brooms. You can check if you like.’

‘I will.’ Her mother replied frostily, and she stomped up the stairs, with Lily and Petunia on her heels. Lily was biting her nails, Petunia, pretending not care, was filing her nails.

Mrs Cooper swung the door open, and James, Remus and Sirius smiled at her. She gasped, and Lily groaned.

‘Hello, Mrs Cooper,’ James said politely. He caught sight of Petunia and pulled a face. She narrowed her eyes and flounced out the room.

‘Hello boys. Are you friends of Lily’s?’

‘Yup.’ Sirius and Remus said.

‘Sort of.’ James said.

‘Oh, hello James,’ Mrs Cooper said, recognising him.

‘See, we thought Lily might be bored. So we came to visit her. Hope you don’t mind.’ Sirius smiled charmingly at her, and she laughed.

‘You must be hungry. Come on down, I’ll cook you something.’ She left the room cheerfully, happy they were normal boys. Sort of normal, anyway. At least they didn’t pierce their ears. Or dye their hair blue. What kids did these days, she thought sighing.

Sirius and Remus walked slowly down the stairs, looking at everything. They’d never been in a muggle house before. James had spent two weeks there already though, and wasn’t fussed. He and Lily leapt down the stairs, two at a time, determined to beat each other to the kitchen.

‘They’d be good brother and sister to each other.’ Sirius commented. ‘They already have the rivalry, make them related and you could call it sibling rivalry. The annoying thing about this is there’s nothing you can call it.’

‘Besides enemies, rivals, or a couple of hundred other things.’ Remus said off handedly, admiring a painting on the wall.

‘Yeah, well, nothing intelligent.’

They entered the kitchen to find James talking to Lily’s mother about something at school, and Lily glowering at him, and then at her mother whenever she laughed.

They talked about quite a few things that night, Mrs Cooper noticed the time at about 10 o’clock.

‘Oh my goodness,’ She said in surprise. ‘Your parents must be worried sick.’

‘Nah,’ James said. ‘We told my dad we might be late. See you.’

He turned to Lily.

‘Are you going to Diagon alley?’ She nodded.

‘We might see you there then. Bye.’

They went into the living room, and Lily followed. James pulled a bag of Floo powder out his pocket, and threw it into the fire.

‘Aberdene!’ he said, and disappeared from sight. Petunia, who had been watching television, screamed.

‘MUM! HE JUST DISAPPEARED INTO THE FIRE! MUM!’ She howled.

Lily laughed, and Remus and Sirius left a moment after.

Lily lay in bed a few nights after, staring out her window. It was a cloudy night, so she rolled over and stared at the wall. She couldn’t sleep. So far, she’d tried everything, counting sheep, counting elephants, and counting fire-breathing salamanders. That almost put her to sleep, but then one set fire to her bed (in her imagination), and she was wide-awake again.

She tried to think about boring things.

Petunia, History of magic, ten-pin bowling, but nothing seemed to work. Her mind kept drifting off.

When she thought about Petunia, she remembered how her older sister had sent James love-letters. That cracked her up, and she had to run downstairs to get a drink of water.

When she thought history of magic, she remembered how James had exploded a firecracker, and scared Professor Binns so badly they thought he’d died again.

She thought about ten-pin bowling, and didn’t think about James.

For a moment.

But his blue eyes kept appearing in her head, and she bounced out of bed, and ran into Petunia’s room, breathing hard. Her sister was reading a book, sniffing, and didn’t even notice Lily run in. So she crept quietly out and crawled into bed again

She was going to Diagon Alley the next day, to get her school supplies. She fell asleep, thinking about this, and slept contentedly all night. Almost. She woke up at midnight after one of the old nightmares. She ran downstairs, turned on the living room light, and fell asleep on the couch.

When Petunia asked her why she was there the next day, she couldn’t remember a thing.

She met up with James, Sirius, Remus and Peter the next day at Diagon alley, and they got all their school stuff together.

Lily, Remus, Sirius and James all needed new robes; their old ones were far too small. Peter hadn’t grown an inch, which was just one thing he complained about during the day.

They got new books, and Remus had money to buy an animal. He wanted an owl, but while they were in the shop, he fell in love with a kitten. Apparently it was a kitten, Lily said it looked like a small version of a baby lion. Only more fierce.

Remus cuddled it for the rest of the day, even when animals weren’t allowed in one shop, he sat outside with it. He had called it Crookshanks. James liked it, and even held him for awhile. Lily wasn’t exactly fond of cats, but since she could see Remus was madly in love with this furball, she made an effort to be nice to it.

Peter detested cats. He hated this one as well. He called it names, and even Lily started sticking up for Crookshanks.

They were sitting around in the Leaky Cauldron, eating lunch, and Lily and James found themselves sitting alone together.

Remus was outside with Crookshanks (he’d eaten a magic rat on the counter), Sirius had run to get something at a shop that was closing, and Peter had disappeared again.

‘He does that a lot, doesn’t he.’ James commented, and she nodded. For some extremely demented reason, she couldn’t speak.

Get yourself together! She scolded herself crossly. It’s James, remember? James Potter. He hates you, and you hate him. She nodded to herself, and he stared at her.

‘You okay?’

‘Huh?’ She said intelligently.

‘Nothing,’ James went back to slurping his soup, and Lily imitated him.

He laughed. ‘What’re you doing?’

‘Eating. But you’ve put me off,’ she said with a grin.

He poked his tongue out, and Lily smiled to herself.

Good. Things are back to normal. She snuck a look at him. He has nice eyes- stop it!

Things were almost normal when they got to school. Voldemort hadn’t been up to much, something everyone was grateful for.

Lily and James had gone back to fighting with each other; which two people especially were happy about. (Namely, Severus and Sirius.)

It was in potions, Lily and James were still partners. They were arguing over which type of beetle to use. They didn't notice Severus Snape creep up behind them, deserting Sirius.

‘Lovely day for a fight,’ he drawled.

Lily spun around, and knocked James into their cauldron with her arm. He sat drenched, with his hair plastered all over his face, neat for once. He spat some water out and glared at them.

Lily and Severus were laughing to hard to help him, but even if they were stable, they probably wouldn’t have anyway.

Sirius saw his friend, giggled for a moment, and then stuck out his hand to help James.

‘ Hey, James,’ Lily said between laughing fits. ‘You look like something the cat dragged in on a rainy day!’ She fell down in a heap of giggles.

James made sure he dripped on her on his way out.

Severus walked up to Lily at lunchtime. She looked warily up at him; you could never tell whether he was going to do something drastic, or behave normally. He smiled at her, and she decided he was up to something.

‘So, how’s your boyfriend?’

She stared at him blankly. ‘Boyfriend?’

‘James.’ Severus said, like a two-year-old would know that.

‘He’s not my boyfriend.’ Lily said crossly. Severus kept talking, but she ignored him and counted the peas in her pie. That put her off her food, as she hated peas almost as much as carrots.

‘Goodbye Severus,’ she said as she pushed past him.

He followed her. ‘So James isn’t your boyfriend?’

‘No.’ She said, exasperated.

‘Oh. I thought he was.’

Lily rolled her eyes. ‘I figured that. But we’re not, so get lost.’

‘Don’t you want to know why I thought you were a couple?’

Lily sighed, realised she wasn’t going to shake him off without listening and said ‘why?’

‘It’s obvious, the way you’re always fighting with each other.’

‘That could be because we don’t like each other. Did that thought enter your thick mind? Or don’t you have one?’ She was losing her patience.

He glared at her and walked away, humming a song under his breath. Lily suspected it was the wedding march tune and if he hadn’t turned the corner already, she would have knocked his front teeth out.

She would have knocked all his teeth out.

James was coming in from Quidditch practise later that night, and bumped into Severus.

‘What d’you want, Snape?’ He asked. He was cold, tired and wet. But pleased with the way practise had gone.

‘Well, I was talking to Lily today-’

‘Not a pleasant experience, is it?’

Severus glanced at James with an amused expression plastered on his face.

‘What?’ he asked, not in the mood to play games.

‘I asked her if you were her boyfriend, and she said no. I was checking to see if she was telling the truth.

‘Why wouldn’t she be?’ James snapped.

‘Just because,’ Severus said in a singsong voice.

‘Because why?’

‘Well, you’re always around each other. And you look so cute together, don’t you reckon?’

James turned to face Snape. ‘I always knew you were a nutcase; this just proves my theory. Goodbye.’

Severus watched James go, and he smiled to himself. ‘Well, that was fun.’ He murmured and walked off to the Slytherin dungeons.

For the next few weeks, both James and Lily avoided each other. Severus saw this and laughed to himself, pleased.

Then one night, James and Sirius grabbed the invisibility cloak and snuck down the boys’ staircase. Peter was asleep and they didn’t bother to wake him up; he always got scared wandering around at night time.

They were almost at the portrait, when a voice spoke up, and make them both leap in fright.

‘Going out tonight, boys?’

Lily.

‘What are you doing up?’ Sirius hissed.

‘Nothing. So, where are we going this time?’

‘Nowhere.’

‘Yeah, right.’ She walked over to them and grabbed the invisibility cloak off James before he realised what she was doing. He reached for it, but she danced out of his reach, laughing quietly at the expression on his face.

‘If you let me come, I’ll give you the cloak.’

‘No way.’ James and Sirius said in unison.

‘Oka-ay.’ Lily disappeared; she had wrapped the cloak around herself, and was invisible.

James and Sirius looked at each other helplessly.

‘All right, you can come.’ Sirius said, looking around the room; he didn’t know where she was.

‘Goody.’ Lily said. She was right behind them.

She handed them the cloak, and they all slipped under it. Lily was standing in the middle, trying not to step on Sirius’s feet. She didn’t particularly care if she stepped on James’s.

The crept down to the library, and Sirius whispered something to Lily.

‘We need more books on animagi. The potions nearly ready.’

‘Really?’ Lily said, and she forgot to whisper in her surprise.

‘Shut up!’ They muttered, opening the door.

James lit a candle after they took off the cloak, and the three of them sat reading quietly for about half an hour, jumping at every little sound.

‘When are you going to try it?’ Lily whispered after awhile.

‘Next week,’ James said.

‘Oh. Can I watch?’ James started to say no, but Sirius interrupted.

‘Yup.’

James glared at him, and Sirius said ‘ Well, we need someone to watch, in case something goes wrong. Which it won’t,’ he added.

James shrugged and went back to the book he was reading.

When they had everything they needed, Sirius handed the other two the cloak, and said in a whisper 'I‘ll go back to the common room, you get food.’

Lily looked at James. ‘Food?’

‘He means from the kitchens,’ James explained and turned to Sirius. ‘Why don’t you come?’

‘Oh,’ Sirius said loftily. ‘I thought you and Lily should spend some time alone.’

James raised his eyebrows. ‘Why would you think that?’

‘Well it’s obvious that you like each other. You just need time to sort this out.’ He raced out the room before James could do anything drastic. Like murder.

Lily sat at a table, burrowing her nose in a book, in an attempt to hide her red face. James laughed.

‘Most people like to read their books with the words up the right way,’ He said with a grin, and gently turned the book up the right way.

Lily turned redder, if that was possible and said ‘It's more interesting that way.'

‘So, you coming to the kitchens?’

‘Guess I don’t have much choice.’ She put her book back on the shelf and James covered her in the invisibility cloak with him.

They snuck down to the kitchen, and pushed the door open quietly. It was empty, not that it really mattered, since they were invisible.

As James piled little cakes into a bag, he spoke to Lily, careful to keep his voice down.

‘So, do you like me?’

Lily dropped the orange she was holding, and picked it up hastily, knocking over a pan.

They stood still, waiting for Filch to come running in, screaming. But he didn’t, and they breathed a sigh of relief.

‘Do you?’

‘What?’ Lily asked, turning away; she knew exactly what he was talking about.

‘Like me?’

‘No.’ She answered, just a little too quickly.

‘Why’s that?’ he asked with a grin, coming over to where she was standing. She dropped the orange again, and crawled under the table to find it. James followed, and they knocked heads.

‘OW!’ James sat rubbing his head, and Lily bumped her head again on the table leg.

They heard footsteps and froze, silent. James grabbed the cloak, and threw it over them. He could hear her breathing deeply, and he patted her hand.

The person entered the room, James held his breath, and since he couldn’t hear Lily any more, he guessed she had too.

He could hear his heartbeat in his ears, and waited for the person to look under the table and pull the cloak off them. It was impossible for them to not be able to hear it. It was like a drum. Thump, thump, thump. He took a deep breath quietly, grabbed Lily’s hand and pulled her out from under the table. They tiptoed silently out the room, and then ran for the common room. James helped Lily in through the portrait, still holding her hand.

Sirius was waiting, and grinned at them, pleased with himself.

James and Lily realised at the same time they were still holding hands, let go, and out of the corner of his eye, James thought he saw Lily grin.

‘Have fun?’ Sirius asked cheekily.

‘We almost got caught.’

‘Oh well. You didn’t.’

‘Thanks for the sympathy,’ Lily said, but they could tell she wasn’t mad. She went up the girl’s staircase and Sirius turned to James.

‘So. What happened? Did you kiss her?’ James stared at his friend.

‘Why would I kiss her? Okay, she’s pretty, but she’s my friend. Sort of,’ he added hastily.

‘She is pretty, isn’t she?’ James’s eyes almost popped out of his head as Sirius put on a dreamy expression.

Sirius laughed. ‘Just kidding. She’s all yours.’

James glared at him. ‘Get lost, Sirius. I don’t like her, okay?’

‘You do too.’ Sirius said, and before James could say anything, he ran up to their dorm.

James collapsed into a chair and sighed.

The most annoying thing about what Sirius had said, as that it was true, in a way.

Get real, James. She doesn’t like you, and even she does, she’ll never admit it. Get over her.

He fell asleep soon after, and dreamed of something strange. A woman was singing a song in a soft, sweet voice. The voice was familiar somehow, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird, and if that mocking bird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

He woke up in a sweat, with a face looking over him.

‘Wha-?’ He said sleepily, trying to focus on the face in front of him.

They had green eyes, red hair, and were smiling.

‘Hello, Mr Potter. Had a nightmare?’

Lily.

James felt his heart try to leap out of his chest, and scolded it to get back down.

‘Maybe. Why’re you up?’

‘Couldn’t sleep. What did you dream?’ She actually seemed to care, and that surprised him.

‘Don’t worry about it.’ He muttered.

‘Wasn’t going to,’ she said with a grin. He poked his tongue out, and she laughed.

‘I’ll sing you to sleep,’ she said, still smiling.

‘Great.’ He muttered. ‘Rock songs?’

She rolled her eyes, and started to sing.

‘Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird, and if that mocking bird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.’

She had beautiful voice.

‘Why are staring at me?’ She asked suddenly, bringing him out of a trance.

‘That song was in my dream.’ He said quietly.

‘What?’ Lily said, shocked.

‘That song was in my dream.’ He repeated, wondering why this mattered.

She stared at him for a moment. ‘Please tell me that you’re joking.’ She whispered.

‘No. Why?’

Lily looked terrified. ‘Don’t worry about it.’

‘But I am worried, Lily. Why are you so scared?’

She looked at him for a moment, grinned prettily, and ran out the common room and to her dorm.

James sat puzzled, wondering what was wrong with her. She had gone crazy. Completely bonkers.

Lily didn’t speak to him about the song the next day, so he pretended it didn’t happen. He didn’t tell Sirius. Somehow, he didn’t think it would matter.

So, they went back to hating each other. He couldn’t tell if she really did hate him, or if she was just pretending.

The funny thing though was, that while he did like her a bit, it wasn’t hard to fight with her.

Maybe it was because it had just become habit, maybe because she really did make him mad sometimes. But it was sort of a joke now, while they really hadn’t even been friends before.

Lily went home for the Christmas holidays, and she sat on the train with Remus, who was going home as well.

They talked about school for awhile, and then laughed about Severus. Then Remus brought up the subject of James.

‘Do you really hate him?’ he asked curiously.

Lily considered this. ‘I don’t hate him- through no fault of his own- but he does make me mad.’

‘I can see why. ‘Hey Lily, is your hair really made out of carrots, or did you just mix them in?’

He imitated what James had said the day before during potions.

Lily laughed, not at what James had said, but because she remembered what she’d answered.

‘James, I have a joke for you. There are two pigs, and they come across a fence. How do they get past it?’

‘Over the fence.’

‘No, too high,’

‘Under the fence.’

‘No, too rocky.’

‘I dunno, I give up.’

‘Yeah. So did the other pig.’

James had chased her around the room with his wand, trying to burn her hair off.

Hogwarts express pulled into the station, and Lily and Remus hopped off together. She waved goodbye and ran over to her mother, grinning. Petunia was there, with a scowl on her face.

‘Waiting for James?’ She teased, ducking as Petunia tried to slap her.

‘No. Mother made me come.’

‘Mother how could you?’ Lily said in a posh voice, delighted Petunia was in a bad mood. It was more fun that way. She still wished they could be friends, but it was Petunias’ choice they weren’t.

On the way home, Lily talked about school the entire way, with Petunia glaring at her. She told her mum about everything, how they had gone to Hogsmeade and seen a unicorn in the forest (she didn’t tell her it was called the forbidden forest), how Sirius had turned Severus’s hair blue, and no one could change it back.

Petunia interrupted. ‘Do you ever do work at your school?’

‘What d’you mean?’

‘Like math , English, normal subjects.’

‘I don’t go to a normal school, sister dear.’

Petunia glowered at her, and Lily went back to talking to her mother.

On Christmas day, their cousins came over. Mary, Katrina, Davie and Matt, with their Aunt and Uncle.

Lily woke up early, and ran into her sister’s room.

‘Wake up! Get up, Lazy bones!’

Petunia groaned, and rolled over in bed. ‘I’m too old for Christmas.’ She mumbled.

‘Fine with me, I’ll have your presents.’ She ran out the room again, and leapt down the stairs, missing the last six steps altogether.

Her parents were already sitting in kitchen, cooking breakfast. Actually, her mother was just setting the table, while her father cooked. Mrs Cooper was hopeless at cooking, although she often tried to make pancakes. They usually came out looking like scrambled eggs without the yoke.

‘Lily!’ Mrs Cooper scolded her.

‘What?’ She was puzzled.

What’d she done now? She’d made her bed, besides, even if she hadn’t, how would her mum know?

‘Patrick and Lucy and the kids will be here soon. Get dressed!’

Lily groaned, and her mother frowned. ‘Okay, okay. I’m going.’

She’d forgotten all about them coming. Mary was a thirteen year old brat, although Lily supposed she was probably fourteen now, and worse. Katrina was cute, but she was always crying. Davie was her age, fifteen, but the last time he'd come over , he only spoke about books.

He was obsessed. In a bad, bad way. He liked reading about princesses, which she supposed was because he couldn’t get girls, due to the fact his head was always hidden behind a book.

She did like Matt though, he was sixteen and the nicest out of her cousins.

As she got dressed, she planned out how she was going to hide from Mary, and then walked slowly down the stairs, poking her head into Petunias room to ask if she could still have all her presents.

When she entered the kitchen, she found her relatives had already arrived. Mary was whining about her nails; they were too short and stubby, although from where Lily was standing, it looked like they were sharper than lions’ claws.

Matt had fallen asleep on a chair, with his head resting on the table, Davie was reading and Katrina was sucking on her thumb and looking through a picture book. Lily pulled a face, hoping Katrina wasn’t going to turn out like Davie.

Mary looked up and smiled nastily and Lily was strongly reminded of Petunia. Matt snored away, Davie looked up, nodded as if to acknowledge her existence, and Katrina glanced up and ran over to her.

‘Lily! Lily!’ She shrieked, and Lily remembered how Katrina had idolised her the year before. It was cute, yet extremely annoying.

Aunt Lucy and Uncle Patrick turned around and smiled at her.

‘My, you’ve grown!’ Aunt Lucy said, and Lily did her best to smile. She had grown a bit, but she hated it when adults said this.

‘And where is our darling Petunia this beautiful morning?’ Uncle Patrick boomed.

‘Our darling Petunia is too old for Christmas. She said I could have her presents.’ Lily didn’t dare to look in her mother’s eye. It would have meant instant death, at least this way she might last until evening.

Petunia appeared later that day, with make-up plastered all over her face in case Matt’s friends had decided to come like the year before. She was disappointed to find he sat alone, but made sure lots of pictures were taken.

Lily managed to escape after lunch, and she crept right up to her room. She sat reading for awhile, until she heard a knock on the door. She shoved the book under her pillow and opened the door, peeking her head around to see who it was. Matt. She breathed a sigh of relief and opened the door, checking Mary wasn’t going to run in after him.

He sat on her bed, and smiled broadly. ‘So, cousin Lily. How’s life been treating you?’

‘Okay.’ She answered.

‘Just okay?’

‘Yup. How ‘bout you?’

‘It’s good. Bit boring. ‘Just wait until you’re my age, the work’s awful.’

Lily choked back a laugh. ‘My school’s a bit different to your’s I think.’

‘Oh. The strange school. Petunia told me.’

Lily felt panic rising. They weren’t allowed to tell muggles, even nice muggles like Matt that the magical world existed.

‘What-’ she swallowed and started again. ‘What did she tell you?’

‘Just that it was for weirdos. I asked why she wasn’t going there too.’

Lily laughed; relieved. Petunia wouldn’t want anyone with cute friends to know Lily was a witch.

They went downstairs again to open the presents. Mary got so much nail polish, it would last her until she was twenty, but she didn’t seem too happy. ‘I wanted coral, mum, coral. You gave me blue, green, aqua, but I wanted coral. Can’t you get anything right?’

Lily rolled her eyes. She’d opened almost all her presents, while her cousins were only a quarter of the way through their piles.

There were only five presents left, all of them fairly small.

She opened the largest of them first, ripped of the paper, and out fell a beautiful book, with gold lettering imprinted on the front. She grinned, and hid it under some paper so Davie wouldn’t get a glimpse of it. She doubted he’d want to try the spells; but you never knew with muggles. Or wizards, for that matter. She read the tag and grinned.

To Lily

Hope your Christmas was extremely boring

Love,

James.

There was a bag from Remus; she’d been complaining about how uncomfortable her book-bag was. Some ingredients for some spells from Sirius; she guessed he’d been talking James. Peter didn’t send anything, not that she really cared. She hadn’t sent him anything either.

Holly sent her a cute little toy dog, she knew that Lily loved dogs, but wasn’t allowed to have one.

There was one box left, and Lily looked at it curiously, trying to imagine who it was from. She had quite a few friends at school, but she doubted they’d send her a Christmas present. She tore off the wrapping, and a little box fell into her lap. It was a lavender colour, and smelled sweet as well. Like lavender. The box had little flowers floating around it; lilies breezing across the sky.

It was magic.

She opened the box carefully, and something sparkled in the light. Something else jumped into her lap and she grinned. A little frog. She slipped it into her pocket before Mary could use it to test the nail polish on, and looked inside the box. A necklace with a delicate silver chain lay on a piece of shiny material. A glass pendant hung from with end of it, with a miniature flower enclosed inside the glass. It was beautiful. She sat and stared at it for a moment, then checked for a note or a card. Nothing.

Lily frowned. Who could it be from? Not her parents, unless they had suddenly acquired magical powers, which she doubted. Not her cousins, not Petunia; it must be someone from school.

Who would send her something as nice as this? She racked her brains, but couldn’t come up with anything. All her close friends had sent her something. She sighed, and Matt looked over at her.

‘Wow!’ he said when he saw the necklace. ‘Who’s that from?’ She shrugged

Mary saw it and frowned, jealous. ‘Is that for you?’ She asked, obviously hoping there’d been a mistake.

Lily nodded. It had had her name on it.

Soon everyone was crowding around her, admiring the necklace. ‘You going to put it on?’ Mary asked. ‘Cause if you’re not, I’ll have it. You can have my art set.’

Lily glared at her. ‘I don’t think so, sweetheart.’ She slipped it over her head; it fit perfectly. That didn’t surprise her, it was obviously magic. They all oohed, and aahed, and then remembered they all still had presents to open.

Later that night, when all her cousins had gone home, Lily lay in bed toying with her necklace. It was so weird. She was trying to guess who bought it, when Petunia came banging in.

‘Have you ever heard of knocking?’ Lily asked in exasperation, she’d been having an imaginary conversation.

Petunia dismissed this comment, and Lily saw her sister’s face was extremely pale. She was shaking. "What?’ Lily asked. ‘Toady hasn’t gotten into your room, has he?’

Petunia stared at her, confused. ‘Huh? Who’s Toady?’

So Toady hadn’t escaped. She breathed a sigh of relief. ‘What do you want?’

There was a loud bang, louder than anything Lily had ever heard in her entire life. It shook the house, and they heard footsteps running up the hall. Petunia gasped, and ran to the window.

She started to climb out, and Lily watched her, still in shock. ‘Hurry up.’ Petunia hissed. Lily climbed after automatically, stumbled on a vine at the bottom, and Petunia dragged her into the bushes where there was a gap in the leaves. The two girls used to play there when they were little, it had been their hide out.

Except when they used to play there it had been quiet and peaceful, with the birds flying overhead. They would have tea parties, and play board games.

But now they were two teenagers, terrified and hiding in the dark.

‘What is going on?’ Lily whispered, doing her best to breathe quietly.

Petunia took a deep breath. ‘When you went upstairs after Uncle Patrick and Aunt Lucy left, I was talking to Mum and Dad in the kitchen. Then there was a knock on the door. I was curious, because I mean, who knocks on your door at 10 o’clock on Christmas night? So I answered the door. There were three men, I think they were men, and they were standing in a row.’

‘What’d they say?’

‘Is Lily Cooper here?’

‘Yes,’ Lily said, getting impatient.

‘No.’ Petunia hissed. ‘That’s what they said. Then Mum and Dad came to the door, and I could hear the people asking for you still. So I went up there to tell you. And then there was that big bang.’

Lily stared at her sister in the darkness, bits of moonlight shining down on her face. ‘What were they wearing?’

Petunia glared at her. ‘What does it matter? They’ve probably killed Mummy and Daddy, and it’s all your fault!’

Lily’s eyes stung with tears. ‘I need to know, Petunia.’

Petunia was gulping in air, tears streaming down her thin cheeks. ‘Black cloaks, okay?, black cloaks! That’s how I know it’s your fault. Normal killers wouldn’t wear that stuff. I should’ve let you die!’

Something croaked at their feet. Petunia opened her mouth to scream, and Lily clapped her hand over Petunia’s mouth. ‘It’s just Toady.’ She whispered, and to the frog she said ‘hello, Mr. How are you?’

Petunia let out a strangled scream, unheard in the sirens wailing nearby. ‘You’re worried about a slimy frog, when our parents are dead?’ She spat angrily.

Lily sat down and hugged her knees to her chest, stroking Toady. Petunia sat down as well, and the two girls sat silently.

‘Remember how we used to play witches in here?’ Lily asked, struggling not to cry.

Petunia nodded.

‘I’m really sorry.’ She wailed suddenly. ‘I didn’t want this to happen! It’s Voldemort, he’s done this!’

Petunia watched as her sister broke down into sobs, and patted her awkwardly on the arm.

The sound of leaves crunching came closer and closer, Lily and Petunia huddled along the back wall of their cubby, holding their breath.

‘Girls?’ A friendly voice said.

Lily peered out the branches and saw their next door neighbour, Mr Thompson. She nodded to Petunia and they crawled out, dirty from sitting on the ground, their faces streaked with tear marks.

He sighed with relief, and hugged them, smiling. ‘Oh, thank god!’ He said, and Lily could tell he was crying.

‘We thought you were dead! You poor, poor girls.’

He patted their heads, and led them out to the front footpath. A large crowd had gathered and they were all staring at the Coopers house. It lit up the night with bright orange flames, crackling and spitting.

With her parents in there. Lily struggled away from Mr Thompson’s grip, and raced towards the fire, she had to find her parents. The crowd gasped.

‘Lily! LILY!’ Mr Thompson chased after her, for an old guy he was pretty fast. He grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her back from the flames. She sobbed into his top and he hugged her.

Petunia just watched the whole thing.

Lily didn’t deserved to be hugged. She should be comforted. She should be cuddled, and loved. It was Lily’s fault. If she hadn’t gone away to that school, they would still have parents. She glared at her younger sister with hatred, anger building up inside her. When Lily collapsed, she didn’t run over to see if she was okay. She sat down weakly, shaking from the cold night air.

She hated her.

*****

Lily woke up in a white room and stared around. It was impeccably clean, with rock star posters plastered all over the walls. Sunlight streamed out onto her pillow.

Where was she?

And then it all came flooding back, the fire, the people, Petunia, her parents. Her parents. She sat up quickly, jumped out of bed and ran out the door in a pair of pyjamas. They weren’t hers, and she wondered if she was having some weird sort of nightmare.

But falling down doesn’t hurt in dreams, and as Lily picked herself up she figured it was real. She could hear voices coming from a room at the end of the hallway, and she walked into a kitchen where three adults were sitting.

They all had very grim faces, but smiled when Lily entered the room.

‘How are you, sweetie?’ One of them had the nerve to ask.

‘My back hurts, my head hurts, my legs hurt, and altogether I don’t feel great, how about you?’

The people exchanged worried glances.

‘Where are my parents?’ Lily asked.

‘Lily, I know this might come as a shock to you, but-’

‘They’re dead, aren’t they?’ Lily said, more as statement than a question.

They nodded. ‘I’m so sorry, I can’t begin to imagine how awful this must be for you,’ a lady with blonde hair said.

Lily stared at her, with tears filling up in her eyes and blurring her vision.

‘That’s right. You can’t.’ She ran out the room and out the front door, to see where she was.

Across the street was a blackened house. Her house. She walked slowly over to it, and stepped over the barrier the police had put up. She climbed the stairs that had bits of timber all over them, and walked down the hallway to her room. She pushed open the door, to find the fire hadn’t touched her bedroom. The walls were a bit black, but her things were okay.

Her broom, her books, her photo album. She collapsed in a heap and stared around her miserably.

After collecting all her stuff, she carried it back across the road and closed her self into the rock poster room, and shut the door.

She flipped through her photo album, not really looking at the pictures. There was a knock on the door. They didn’t wait for her to answer, just walked in and sat on the bed quietly. She pretended they weren’t there and started reading her favourite muggle book, Through the Looking Glass.

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said

‘To talk of many things

Of shoes - and ships - and ceiling-wax,

Of cabbages - and kings

And why the sea is boiling hot

And whether pigs have wings’

A tear slipped down Lily’s cheek, and she became aware that the woman was talking to her.

‘You’ll be staying with your cousins, of course, you’ll be able to go to school with them as

well-’

Lily’s head snapped up. ‘No! I have to go back to Ho- my school.’

The lady sighed. ‘Are you sure? You don’t have to.’

‘Of course I’m sure.’ She snapped, and went back to reading.

‘But wait a bit,’ the Oysters cried,

‘Before we have our little chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

And all of us are fat!’

‘No hurry!’ cried the Carpenter

They thanked him very much for that.

'A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said,

‘Is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed-

Now, if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed.’

‘But not on us!’ The Oysters cried,

Turning a little blue.

‘After such kindness that would be

A dismal thing to do!’

‘The night is fine,’ the Walrus said.

‘Do you admire the view?’

‘It was so kind of you to come,

And you are very nice!’

The Carpenter said nothing but

‘Cut us another slice.

I wish you were not quite so deaf-

I’ve had to ask you twice!’

‘It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,

‘To play them such a trick,

After we’ve brought them out so far,

And made them trot so quick!’

The Carpenter said nothing but

‘The butter’s spread too thick!’

‘I weep for you,’ the Walrus said

‘I deeply sympathise.’

With sobs and tears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchief

Before his streaming eyes.

‘O Oysters,’ Said the Carpenter,

‘You’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?’

But the answer came there none-

And this was scarcely odd, because

They’d eaten everyone.

Lily laughed at the nonsense poem, and was soon hysterical. She was laughing and crying at the same time, tears pouring town her cheeks, making her exhausted.

She fell asleep on the floor, and dreamt her parents were alive.

*****

A few weeks later, she met up with Remus at Kings Cross Station. He grinned and waved, and she smiled and waved back. But when she got closer, Remus saw she wasn’t the same girl he’d been friends with before. Something was missing; her bright green eyes were missing their usual spark.

‘You okay?’ he asked, concerned.

She nodded weakly.

‘Come on, let’s go. I expect James’ll be lonely without me. No one to tease him.’ She sighed dramatically, and Remus grinned.

‘I reckon Snape hates him almost as much as you do.’

‘That can’t be possible!’ Lily said, in mock horror. ‘I hate him more than anyone, I’ll fight Snape for that privilege if I have to.’

Remus laughed, and she grinned. She’d almost forgotten already about her holidays. Almost.

Lily and Remus climbed through the portrait hole together, and bumped into James and Sirius immediately. They were on their way out somewhere.

When they saw Lily and Remus though, they stayed for awhile, and told them about the holidays.

First it was the usual stuff, what they’d done to Snape, how many times they’d blown something up, how many detentions they’d had.

Then James turned serious.

‘Voldemort’s doing more and more. He killed the Prewetts, you know Lisa Prewett? That fourth year Ravenclaw?’ They all nodded.

‘She died.’

Lily felt sick.

‘And there’s a rumour he tried to kill a family of muggles, but no one can figure out why. He killed the parents, but the muggle sister and a witch survived.’

Lily needed to sit down. She realised she was sitting down, rested her head on the cushions, feeling a little green.

They boys looked at her. ‘What’s wrong?’

Lily shook her head, and smiled. It was a huge effort, and she hoped they couldn’t tell.

‘Nothing. I’m just tired. I think I’ll go to bed.’

They watched as she got up slowly, and disappeared up the girl’s staircase. James saw a tiny burn on her hand as she walked past him. It hadn’t been there before.

*****

The next day, Lily was more herself. James still watched her closely, worried something bad had happened, but he tried not show it.

Lily was managing to keep herself sane by concentrating on school. And playing tricks on James and his pals. She was his friend too (sort of), but after Christmas, she went back to playing with Holly and Laura. The only reason for this was because they weren’t likely to notice if she was upset, or different, because they were more worried about their hair. It was depressing in a way, but she didn’t want people feeling sorry for her.

It was in a Charms lesson when all the feelings she’d been bottling up inside came flying out.

James was feeling cheerful, and danced around the classroom before professor Flitwick arrived. He was waltzing with all the girls (and boys) but when he got to Lily, she was absorbed in a book about animagi. He asked her politely to dance (dah-ling Lily, may I have this dance?)

She shook her head, which made him even more determined to get her to stand up.

‘Puh-lease? I’ll do anything for you.’

She ignored him.

‘If you don’t, I’ll write to your mother and tell her you’ve been a naughty girl.’ He teased.

Lily saw red, grabbed the nearest thing closest to her, which was her book, and whacked him with it.

‘Ow! What was that for?’ he said angrily, holding his nose to stop the blood dripping on the floor.

‘My mother is dead, Potter! Okay?’ The entire class stood in shock, James the most shocked at all.

‘Why didn’t you say something?’ He asked softly. She shrugged.

‘I didn’t want to.’

‘We would’ve helped, you know.’

Lily looked down, and felt her cheeks go pink. She looked up again and saw James was still watching her.

‘Sorry about your nose.’ She whispered, and ran out the room.

Professor Flitwick walked into the room and bumped into James Potter, who was rushing out.

He watched him race down the hallway, and then walked into the classroom in a daze, shaking his head.

‘Right. Today we will be starting Hover charms-’ The professor squeaked this sentence out, and then stopped. No one was actually listening, and professor Flitwick sighed, sat down at his desk and had a quick snooze.

James ran through the corridor, looking for Lily. He saw a red-headed figure running out across the snow outdoors, and he pushed through the doors after her.

‘Lily!’ he yelled. She stopped, turned around, then kept running again.

He groaned, then had a brilliant idea. He ran to the broom shed and grabbed his broom, flew up into the sky, and looked for Lily. He saw her sitting on a log near Hagrids hut, her head in her arms.

He flew down to the ground, stopping right behind her.

‘Hey.’

She spun around and fell off the log. James couldn’t help grinning as he helped her up, but his smile faded when he saw her face.

Lily brushed a strand of red hair behind her ear, and looked at the ground. ‘Why’d you follow me?’

‘Because. You seemed sad.’

‘You cared because?’

‘I like you.’ He snuck a look at Lily, and smiled when he saw she was shocked.

‘You hate me.’ She corrected him.

‘Why would I come out into the freezing cold to make sure someone I hated was okay?’

‘Because you’re strange?’ She guessed.

James glared at her. ‘I don’t know why I bother.’

‘With what?’

‘You. I try to be nice-’

‘You call me carrot.’ She interrupted.

‘On rare occasions.’ He said. ‘But anyway, I can see we’re never going to be friends, so why don’t we just say goodbye.’

‘Goodbye? Why goodbye? Can’t we just go on hating each other in a friendly type way?’

James grinned, and sat down on his broom in front of her.

‘And why would you want to do that? Wouldn’t it be easier for us to just ignore each other for the next two years?’

‘No.’

‘Then why, may I ask?’

‘Because- because-‘ Lily couldn’t think of a good reason, not one she wanted to say out loud, anyway.

‘You like me.’ James supplied, and she glared at him with red-rimmed eyes.

‘No. Just- because, okay? You are way too cocky. You’re like a black-haired version of Peter Pan.’

‘What?’ James said. He looked at her with a worried expression on her face, wondering whether Voldemort had done some damage to her brain.

Lily remembered he wouldn’t have heard of Peter Pan. ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a story my mother-’ she stopped suddenly, and looked at her feet.

‘It’s a story my mother used to tell me.’ She finished. ‘When I was a little girl. A muggle fairy tale.’

James could see it hurt her to talk about it, and hugged her gently. When he let go, Lily looked at him, and for a moment she didn’t see the boy who annoyed her with his games, and the boy she teased for fun. She saw someone kind, and funny and cute. She pulled a face, and James laughed.

‘Eat a pickle?’ He said with a grin, and she tackled him down into the snow.

‘I hate to interrupt,’ said a dry voice, and Lily looked up to Professor McGonagall frowning.

She grinned, despite herself, and she almost felt like nothing had changed.

‘Follow me.’ They got up and James picked up his broom, motioning for Lily to climb on. Then he flew up ahead of McGonagall, yelling ‘Last one’s a rotten egg!’

Lily shrieked with laughter, and was just beginning to enjoy the ride, when they came to a stop. ‘Have fun?’ James asked, his cheeks red from the cold wind.

She nodded, and watched the Professor approach. They exchanged a glance and cracked up. Professor McGonagalls hat was lop-sided, and she was shaking her fist angrily.

They sat in Dumbledores office, watching McGonagall talk to professor Dumbledore.

‘They left class to argue with each other!’ She said furiously as Professor Dumbledore attempted to defend them. When she finally left, Dumbledore smiled at them.

‘Back again, my dears.’

They nodded.

‘Well. Why did you leave class?’

James started to talk, but Lily got in first. ‘Sir, I was upset about my parents, James was just being nice. I’m really sorry.’

James grinned, pleased he wasn’t going to get another detention that day. Filch had already cornered him for setting off a firecracker in Moaning Myrtle’s toilet, and he had a detention that Friday.

Professor Dumbledore smiled, looking immensely pleased about something.

‘Off you go. Actually, Miss Cooper, wait here for a moment.’

Lily sat down again, ignoring something James was trying to mouth to her.

When he’d closed the door, Professor Dumbledore smiled. ‘Lovely boy, isn’t he?’

Lily looked at him. ‘Guess so.’ She wondered if Dumbledore had eaten something strange. Headmasters didn’t usually keep a student back to tell them someone was a ‘lovely boy.’

But he said she could go then, and Lily guessed they might. Dumbledore was a bit odd, anyway.

*****

Peter knocked on the door of his Masters house.

‘Enter.’ A voice boomed, and he pushed open the door with trembling fingers.

Master smiled eerily at him through the darkness.

When he didn’t say anything, Peter went first. ‘You- you tried to kill Lily, didn’t you?’

‘Clever guess, my boy.’

‘Why?’ Peter asked curiously. He didn’t really care if she died, but he was interested.

‘Now, don’t go worrying your pretty little head about that, boy. Let’s just say she’s not someone we want around.’

Peter nodded, but he wasn’t happy with being told he had ‘a pretty little head.’

‘I wonder if there’s something you can do for me?’ Master said, and Peter nodded eagerly.

‘Yes, anything. Just say so, and I’ll do it, you don’t need to worry-’

‘Shut up.’ Master said impatiently. ‘Do you what you can to get rid of her without getting noticed. We need everyone we can, don’t want one of our best little spies getting caught out, do we?’

Peter left the room glowing, never had he received such a high compliment.

Voldemort watched Peter leave and grinned evilly to himself.

‘Pitiful.’ He murmured.

*****

Lily, James, Remus, Sirius and Peter sat in Moaning Myrtles bathroom, getting the potion ready.

Lily was stirring and adding bits to the liquid, talking about something with Sirius while she worked.

James and Remus were practising a the spell they needed to say, while Peter watched the whole thing, bored.

‘Can I do something?’ he asked grumpily.

‘You could take this out to the bin,’ Lily suggested, giving him an innocent smile.

He would have liked to do away with her there and then, but then the potion would be destroyed as well. he sighed, glared at her, and dumped the leftovers into a bin nearby and walked back into the toilets.

Later that night, hidden under the invisibility cloak, the five Gryffindors snuck out the front hall carrying the potion. They had to stop a few times to wipe up puddles they’d spilled; no one could know about it.

When they were finally in the trees, away from the windows or where anyone would come, and looked at each other.

James licked his dry lips. ‘I’ll go first.’

He pulled a spoon out of the bag they had brought with them, and dipped it into the cauldron. He sipped it, pulled a face, and waited. And waited. Just when they were beginning to think nothing would happen, there was a loud pop, and instead of James there stood a large stag. It pranced around for a while; it seemed to being doing a little victory dance, which looked rather odd.

This continued for a moment, and Lily and Sirius looked at each other with worried expressions on their faces.

‘D’you think he can change back?’ Lily said, watching the stag.

‘Yeah. He’s just showing off.’

The stag disappeared, and instead there stood James, with a huge smile on his face. ‘I was not showing off!’ Then he remembered what he’d just done, and skipped around his friends with glee.

‘I did it, I did it!’ He hugged Sirius, then grabbed Lily’s hands and started to dance. When he had finally calmed down, Sirius took a sip of the potion and shuddered.

‘Ew!’ He said, pulling a face. But before he could say anything else, a large, black, shaggy dog stood in his place. He ran around them all, sniffing and barking.

‘We need a muzzle,’ Lily said, wiping dog slobber of her hands onto her robes.

When Sirius came back, he was ecstatic. ‘Yay! We are the best! We are the best!’

Lily rolled her eyes and handed the spoon to Remus, but to her surprise, he shook his head.

‘I’m not going to be one.’ He said, looking a bit embarrassed.

‘Oh. That’s okay, neither am I.’

‘Wimp.’ Peter muttered. Lily tripped him up, then handed him the spoon while he was still on the ground.

He poked his tongue out, and she shoved the spoon into his mouth before he could say anything. He looked disgusted, opened his mouth to yell at Lily, and turned into a rat.

Lily fell down laughing, Remus grinned, and Sirius picked Peter up by the tail.

‘Hello, little Peter. Shall we call you Wormtail?’

When reappeared, he was miserable. Lily thought it was hilarious, and Sirius only called Peter Wormtail. James did his best to comfort the small boy, but he didn’t want to be comforted.

*****

Lily, James, Remus, Peter and Sirius sat together in a compartment on the way home. Lily would have liked to stay, and even asked Dumbledore if she could, but he said no.

So she wasn’t very happy, but did her best to be cheerful. Sirius was trying to get all his homework done before the holidays ‘so they’ll be fun,’ he explained.

Peter was still sulking over the fact that he was a rat, Remus was daydreaming, and James was talking to Lily about the holidays.

They dragged their bags and school stuff out the train, and went through the barrier to find their parents, or in Lily’s case, her Aunt and Uncle.

She saw Aunt Lucy waving frantically, sighed and dragged her trunk over to them. Holly waved, and Lily smiled at her, then followed Aunt Lucy to the van. Mary and Davie were sitting in it, though Lily couldn’t figure out why Davie would want to come. She suspected he’d been talked into it, as he wasn’t a holding a book, and seemed to be quite miserable.

Lily had just closed her door when someone tapped on the window. It was James.

She rolled it down and grinned at him. ‘What?’

‘Just coming to say goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

James grinned cheekily and whispered in her ear ‘that necklace looks good on you. I couldn’t decide which one to pick.’ He kissed her on the cheek and disappeared into the crowd of Hogwarts students.

Aunt Mary started the engine, and they drove off.

Mary stared at Lily with her mouth wide open.

‘What?’ She asked, afraid her cousin was going to drool on her pants.

‘He is hot.’ Mary breathed. ‘You lucky, lucky thing.’

Lily grinned.

‘I know.'