Lily Cooper lay in bed, fiddling with the feathers on her dreamcatcher, blowing them to and fro. She felt around the bedside table for her wand, and then lowered it down until the feathers tickled her nose. She sneezed.
Lily groaned and put her face in her pillow, muttering something about insomnia and chicken feathers. She had only graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry two weeks earlier, but was missing her friends terribly, especially Jo Gilles and James Potter- though she didn't particularly want to admit that she missed him.
After a few hours of tossing and turning restlessly in bed, she crawled out, padded down the hallway in her slippers, pinched some green floo powder up in her fingers and sprinkled it out into the fireplace.
Jo Gilles lay on the couch, eating popcorn, watching an old muggle movie on the television. Her family was a wizarding family, but her older brother had an obsession with muggle items, and their house was full of old telephones and typewriters, tape-players, records, but Jo's personal favourite was the television.
She almost choked on her popcorn when Lily Cooper rolled out onto the carpet, spreading soot everywhere.
'Er- hi. Isn't it a bit late to be house calling?'
'Oh, what's the time?' Lily glanced at a clock. 'Oops. Sorry. But I had a feeling you might be awake.'
'Exercising those Divination muscles, eh?'
Lily grimaced. 'Don't bring up Trelawney now, I am seriously not in the mood.'
'Speaking of Sirius-'
'I wasn't speaking of Sirius.' Lily said bluntly, sitting herself down on the couch and helping herself to some popcorn.
Jo ignored her. 'Have you seen him lately? I mean, I know him and James and Remus were going to stay together for awhile- at least until you and James get married, but I don't think they've found anything yet.'
Lily goggled at her friend, her mouth open, the half-chewed popcorn inside visible for all to see. 'Since when are we getting married?'
'Mm? Oh, I dunno.' Jo said this with complete vagueness, as if she had no idea she'd said anything of the sort.
Lily rolled her eyes, then looked at the TV. 'Ooh. What's on? Mary was watching some boring movie at home, but this looks better.'
'Little Women,' Jo said through a mouthful of popcorn.
'Oh, this movie is so sad. I saw it a couple of holidays ago. When Beth dies-'
'What?' Lily didn't take her eyes off the screen.
'I haven't seen it before. Now I know what happens.'
'Oops. Sorry. How 'bout I modify your memory?'
'Er- no. I'm really not that fussed.'
'Oh.' Lily sounded quite disappointed. 'But I'm very good at memory charms.'
Jo snorted. 'James couldn't even remember his name when you were finished with him, remember?'
'So it was a bit strong. Maybe I've improved.'
'Yeah, maybe being the operative word.'
Lily shrugged. 'Anyway, it always makes me cry.'
The two girls sat silently for awhile, sniffing at the sad bits. When James Potter, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin toppled out of the fireplace, the only occupants of the room were wiping their eyes. Lily quickly forgot about the movie when she saw James, however. Sirius watched them with disgust.
'Anyone would think they hadn't seen each other for weeks,' he grumbled.
'Well, strictly speaking, they haven't.'
Sirius grinned at Jo, and she had a sudden urge to throw herself at him, but decided that a) he might not appreciate it, b) Lily, James and Remus would never let them hear the end of it, and c) she couldn't think of a c, which made it all very difficult.
'So. What're you all doing here? Lil' couldn't sleep, but you all appear to be wide awake- I don't think you've even been trying.'
'Uh, no. But we have good news!'
Lily sat down on the couch next to James. 'What?'
'We found a flat!'
'In London. We just had to share the news with you.'
'We haven't found anything,' Lily said despairingly. 'And I don't think I can stand another day with Petunia- though she spends so much time with that Dursley guy, I barely see her nowadays.'
'You mean the one that looks like a pig?'
'Yeah, that's him.'
'Maybe you could turn him into a pig,' Sirius said thoughtfully.
'Petunia would not appreciate that, and I don't want to have my licence suspended, thanks very much.'
'Aww…I'd love to see him with a curly tail…'
Lily grinned and looked wistful. 'Me too. Hey, have any of you had your Apparition test yet?'
'Nope. Mine's tomorrow,' Jo didn't look very happy about this- she looked as if she would rather use Floo powder for the rest of her life, and she pointed this out.
'Mine's tomorrow too.'
'Cool. I have mine then as well.'
'Oh, good. So we can all stuff up together.'
'Jo. Think positive.'
'Trust me, I'm trying. It's rather difficult though when you imagine yourself falling on top of some poor, innocent muggle who's just wandering around without a care in the world-'
'Maybe you shouldn't imagine.'
'Hmm. Yeah, good idea.'
'You weren't planning on going back any time soon, were you?'
'Well, we can't stay all night. Why?'
'Er- Remus appears to have fallen asleep.'
'Don't laugh, Lil. James has followed in his footsteps.'
'He has?' Lily twisted round so she could see him. 'Aww…doesn't he look cute?'
'If you call that cute, then I guess so.'
Lily rolled her eyes. 'You're just jealous.'
'Moi? Jealous of that?' He snorted.
'This is ridiculous. At this rate we'll all be falling asleep during the written part of the test.' Jo sat down next to James and Lily, looking stressed.
'I thought we were rid of tests forever.' Sirius collapsed onto a cushion and landed on the popcorn. 'Ouch.'
'I was going to eat that,' Jo said, looking at him with disappointment evident in her eyes.
'Ah, well. I'm sure it's still good.'
'Er- no, thankyou. I'll manage.'
Lily looked around at her friends, two of whom were fast asleep, one who was yawning, and the other helping themselves to rather crumbly popcorn. Lily grinned, wondering if she should go back home. James's head rested on her shoulder. Well, she couldn't very much disturb him, could she? So she stayed, drifting off to sleep quite contentedly.
When Jo's brother got up for a drink later that evening, he was quite surprised to find not one, but five teenagers on the couch, four who were asleep. The other was blindly eating the popcorn, missing his mouth every couple of handfuls, as his eyes were full of tears. Sirius sniffed.
He rummaged around for the TV guide to see what the movie was, so he could complain about it being too sad. Little Women, eh? Sirius wiped his eyes as the credits came on. He felt around in the bowl for some popcorn, and discovered it was completely empty, but for a few crumbs.
'How depressing,' he muttered, curling up next to Jo and Remus.
Lily watched as witch after wizard after wizard after witch disappeared to who-knows-where for their apparition tests. They were mostly graduates from Hogwarts. Katherine McDowell smiled at James as he walked past, and Lily cursed her with a Hobbling Hex, making her look quite like she was an old woman with a limp. The grey hair Sirius added as a final touch didn't really help her image, and the wart on her nose just made things worse.
Lily gulped as she approached the Training Wizard. There was even a nurse standing by, and Lily heard Jo muttering something about her ears. 'I'll bet I leave them behind.'
'Really? How much?'
As Lily stepped up to the platform they were supposed to Apparate from, she heard Jo slap Sirius, which possibly calmed her down. A bit. Then she waved her wand, said the spell, and it was quite like using floo powder, only much quicker and not so dizzying. She landed on top of a hill, where there were some more wizards.
'Oh, good. Now. Is all of me present?' Lily looked down at herself, and was happy to find that not even a toe was missing- well, she assumed no toes were missing. It was kind of hard to tell.
Jo appeared a few moments later, her eyes closed tightly together. She opened one cautiously. 'Am I all in one piece?' She asked, not opening both eyes just yet.
'You sure about that? Cause I don't want to discover I've only got one arm…today has been hectic enough as it is.'
'Yeah, you're okay.'
Jo breathed a sigh of relief. 'Oh, good. Where's everyone else?'
'Dunno. Sirius was behind you, wasn't he?'
'Maybe he's had complications.'
'Yeah! Maybe his eyes fell out!'
'For someone who's madly in love with Sirius, that's a pretty harsh comment.'
'Well, then he wouldn't know who it was kissing him.'
Lily raised her eyebrows. 'You really want to kiss someone with no eyeballs?'
'Hey, he'd still basically all be there.'
Sirius popped up right at that very moment, and he looked at the two girls quizzically. 'Who would?'
Jo spun around, seemingly checking Sirius's eyes. She looked a bit disappointed. 'Oh. No one.'
'What took you so long?' Lily asked, sitting down to wait for the others.
'Yeah, right. Did you say the wrong charm or something?'
'I er- may have turned the Training Wizard into a possum…' Sirius trailed off and Jo goggled at him.
'How did you manage that?'
'I was nervous. Oh, look. Saved by Prongs.' James sat down on the grass dizzily.
'Do have to go back now?'
'Nah…I'm hungry.' Sirius rubbed his stomach and looked around for some food.
'You're always hungry,' said Remus who had just Apparated.
'Good. All of us are here. Let's eat.'
'Do you only think about your stomach?'
'No.' Sirius grinned. 'I think about lots of other things.'
'Oh, God.' Lily pulled a face. 'I don't even want to know what goes on in your twisted mind.'
'I want to know.' Jo piped up and Lily sighed, hoping Sirius wouldn't listen. But instead he smirked and whispered something in her ear.
'Yup, Lily, you didn't want to know.'
Lily was helping Katrina, her youngest cousin with making a play-dough snowman when Jo wandered in, looking extremely pleased with herself.
'Who are you?' Katrina asked, accidentally mushing the play-dough nose under her fist.
'This is my friend Jo.' Lily answered, wiping her hands on her pants. 'How come you're here?' She asked her friend, gesturing for her to sit down.
'I found us a flat.'
Lily shrieked and jumped out of her seat, smushing the snowman in the process. 'Lily!' Katrina wailed, sticking her bottom lip out.
'Oops. Here, hang on a second.' Lily thought for a moment and then waved her wand. A fully built snowman reappeared before their eyes, making the little girl squeal with delight.
'Where is it?' Lily asked, her eyes wide with excitement.
'Er- somewhere in London…I'm not sure where…but it's got two bedrooms, a bathroom, a smallish kitchen and another room. It's small but really cute. And it's cheap.'
'So, muggle money or wizard money?'
'Wizard. It belongs to a wizard; I don't remember their name. So you want it?'
'Course I want it! When can we move in?'
'Oh- er- well, that's the thing. It has to be by tomorrow or the next day.'
'Cool. I mean, I have to say goodbye to Kat and Matt and Davie and Mary -eurgh- but then I can leave. Oh, and Petunia. But after I've packed I'll come over to your house, kay?'
'Yup.' Jo grinned, and then Matt walked in, looking at Jo with interest.
'Oh, Jo, this is Matt. And that's Katrina,' she added as an afterthought, remembering they hadn't been introduced.
'You're the one who's in love with the guy who broke our lamp, aren't you?'
'I am?' Jo looked confused, thought she assumed he was talking about Sirius. 'He broke your lamp?'
'Mm…how come you're here?'
'I found Lily and me a flat.'
'You leaving us, Lil?'
'Aw, sorry Matty. But-'
'She wants to be closer to darling James.'
'Darling James? Isn't he the one you were threatening to kill a few years ago?'
'Yeah, and I might kill her if she doesn't shut up.'
Mary had entered the room without them noticing, and she spoke up, sounding quite interested. 'He's that really cute guy with the glasses, isn't he?'
Now James and Sirius came into the already very crowded kitchen. 'Yeah, him! Didn't you kiss Lily?'
James looked a bit taken aback, having missed most of the conversation, but Sirius rolled his eyes. 'D'you want the whole list? I mean, he kissed her in our fifth year, at least a million times in our sixth year, in our seventh year, last week...want the dates as well?'
Mary obviously thought this stranger was very strange, and she left the room, but only after staring at him for a few seconds.
'You didn't tell me you had a boyfriend.' Matt said with a grin.
Lily muttered something under her breath and escorted her three friends out the room and into her backyard.
'That was…odd.' James commented, seating himself on the tyre swing.
'That was my family.'
'Like he said, it was odd.' Sirius looked at a garden gnome with great interest.
'Hey, I wasn't disagreeing.'
'We've found a flat!' Jo said, changing the subject.
'In London somewhere, it's really cute.'
'How does a house get to be cute?'
'When're you moving in?'
'Tonight, that is, if Lily ever packs her stuff.'
'I haven't exactly had a chance yet.'
'We'll help you pack.' Sirius offered.
Lily shrugged. 'Kay.'
The four of them trooped upstairs and started packing all her stuff into boxes and then sending the boxes off to Jo's house with spells. 'Hey, what's this?' Sirius was going through one of Lily's drawers, and she rolled her eyes.
'That is known as underwear, Sirius, or don't you wear it?'
'I'm no expert in girls undies, thanks very much.'
'Do you mind?' Lily said, as Sirius rifled through her drawers.
'Ooh…this is pretty.'
'Thanks.' Lily said dryly, slamming the drawer shut, missing Sirius's fingers by inches.
'I didn't know you owned pink underwear.'
'Well, guess what? I also have a pair of- now, I know this may shock you- blue underwear.' Sirius mock fainted at this statement. James and Jo watched the others with amusement, and Jo glanced at James with her eyebrows raised. James shrugged. 'D'you have a pair of purple underwear?'
'That is for me to know and you not to find out.'
'Aww. Such a shame.'
'When we've finished discussing the colours of Lily's underwear, can we finish packing?'
'Oh, yeah, that.'
About half an hour later (with the help of a lot of magic) Lily's room was empty. She said goodbye to her cousins, waved to Petunia who was just coming into the house with Vernon Dursley. Then they Apparated away, with Petunia screaming after them.
A few hours later, Lily appeared in their new 'house.'
'What d'you think?' Jo said eagerly, wandering through the rooms, looking out all the windows to see the view.
'Can I have this room?' Was Lily's answer, so Jo followed to sound of her voice and entered a room that was painted a light blue colour, with the ceiling black and painted with stars that twinkled.
'Yeah, I guess. I want the room with the skylight.'
'There's a room with a skylight?'
'Well, no, not exactly. But there will be soon.'
to the Tower!