In a forest somewhere very hot and un-pronounceable, a tall man stood in the middle of a large circle. By his side, or rather, by his feet, a small, tiny green and silver lay. It was hissing rapidly, while the tall man relayed its message, a small and evil smirk on his own snake-like mouth.
'They have the young Potter and Black working with them…Malfoy.'
A fairly young man glanced up, attentive. 'Yes, Lord?'
'I'd like you to deal with them…no…' The man stroked his chin, thoughtful. 'No. Kill the boy.'
'Which boy, Lord?'
'Diamond.' A woman amongst the Death Eaters gasped- he was her son.
'The little brat from Hogwarts? Lord- why?'
'Silence!' He roared, turning on the man, who backed away slowly, his hand hovering towards his wand. 'Do you dare to question me?' He said in a dangerously soft voice, almost a hiss.
'N-no, my Lord. I was- was merely wondering.' Lucius Malfoy stammered- the tall man was getting quite agitated.
'Lord! Please! You- you can't kill Alex! He's only a boy, Lord, please!' The woman had pushed to the front, her husband furious with her- he hadn't been able to hold her back.
'Oh? He is your son, isn't he?' The man's voice was mockingly sweet. 'How sad…' he tutted loudly, his wand by his side as it always was. Slowly he raised it up into the air, the green sparks flying 'Avada Kedavra!' He yelled into the hushed silence. The woman flopped, lifeless, to the ground.
'Diamond,' the killer said sharply to her husband. He looked up.
'Yes, my lord?'
'Do not inform your son of this tragedy…let him a have a present on Christmas day.'
'Yes, my lord,' said Mr Diamond, bowing deeply.
'And you, Malfoy. Deal with the brat after that.'
The snake hissed a message, and the tall man's features twisted into a horrible smile. 'What a wonderful Christmas this will be…'
Rowena Archer was on holidays- she wasn't supposed to be out of school, but had taken the Hogsmeade day as an opportunity to sneak out and find Lily Evans- Professor Trelawney wouldn't be much help. She already knew she'd die one day, and didn't need to be told again.
She checked the address in her hands and then looked up at the door in front of her. Number 12. There was a holly wreath on the door and lots of little fairy lights strung up all over the roof. A loud crash from inside could be heard from where she was standing. This was it.
Rowena knocked on the door and waited impatiently. After what seemed like hours, but was probably only a few minutes, the lock clicked and a head peered out. Rowena recognised her- she was a friend of Lily's. The girl opened the door properly.
'Hullo,' she said cheerfully.
'Hi. Um, is Lily here?'
'Yep. Who wants to know?'
'I'm Rowena. Archer- I go to Hogwarts.'
'D'you live round here?' Said the girl, inviting her in. She led her down a small and narrow corridor that had pictures stuck up on them, of moons and stars and planets and photographs. It was all very cosy, and Rowena was so busy looking at the pictures it took her a moment to answer.
'Uh, no…I kind of snuck out, so I can't be long.'
The girl laughed- Rowena was surprised, most people, especially witches that had already graduated, wouldn't find this funny at all. Maybe she'd been drinking something a bit too strong.
They entered a kitchen. At least, it looked like a kitchen. There was certainly enough mess in it for it to be a kitchen. It looked as though someone (probably Lily) had been trying to cook. Trying, anyway.
'Lily,' said the girl loudly.
Lily spun around, and Rowena realised why she hadn't seen her. Lily's red hair was now white. How strange, Rowena thought to herself. Lily shook her head and cloud of flour puffed out, the red now visible, just a very dirty and pale colour. Lily sneezed.
'Rowena! Hi! I thought you lived in the country?'
'Um, I do.'
'She escaped Hogwarts,' said Lily's friend.
James Potter- who looked exactly like the boy in her dreams- sauntered in then, helped himself to a drink in the fridge, and then left.
Lily rolled her eyes. 'That's a sickle you owe me, Potter,' she called.
Rowena watched it all nervously- she was normally quite outgoing, but in a strange house full of eighteen year olds that she didn't really know and when she was sure to be facing detention if McGonagall found her out- she was a bit shy.
Lily turned back to her and grinned, her nose white with flour as well. 'So, Ro. What's up?'
'Could I maybe talk to you in private?'
Lily raised her eyebrows (her now white eyebrows), and nodded. 'Uh huh. Jo, go and stop James and lover boy exploding something important.'
Jo! That was her name- she hated it when she couldn't remember who someone was. Jo poked her tongue out at Lily, but left, grabbing an apple on her way out.
'It's a very long and disgusting story. Sirius Black,' she added.
Lily peered at her. 'Are you okay? You look like you're about to faint or something.'
Oh dear. Not again.
'I'm fine…it's just that I've been having these dreams,' she said slowly, twisting her fingers together. 'And you're in them…and James- I sent you a letter, didn't you get it?'
Lily shook her head, frowning. 'No.'
'Oh…uh oh. Oh no.'
'What?' Lily asked, thinking that maybe Rowena was a few screws loose- in the nicest possible terms.
'Alex. He's got the letter, I know. He does. That rat,' she said ferociously.
'Sorry,' Rowena said hurriedly. 'I came because of the dreams, Trelawney wouldn't be much help and you're in them and I don't know anyone else who might be able to help…'
Lily shrugged. 'What're they about?'
Rowena thought for a moment. 'There're all sort of different, just with the same people…you, and James, and a boy who looks like James…he was a little baby in one, and you and someone else were talking to him. You were his mum…I think, anyway.'
Lily stared at her in surprise. 'Me?'
Lily looked quite pale for a moment, although, Rowena supposed that might have been because she had bits of flour on her cheeks and just about everywhere else as well.
'But- who was the dad?' She asked quietly, glancing for a moment towards the doorway Jo had left by.
'James, I think…I don't really know. Would we be able to talk properly some other time?' She said suddenly, looking at her watch and realising just how long it must have taken for her to reach Lily's house. 'McGonagall will kill me,' she muttered.
'Nah, you'll probably just get about ten detentions.'
Rowena sighed. 'Yay.'
Lily took her to the door and said goodbye, watching her walk slowly down the street. She was obviously in no hurry to get back to school. Then Lily turned back to go inside, wondering if Rowena's dreams were real…a baby?
Rowena dashed in the common room, sweaty faced and tired. She'd almost run into Professor Flitwick- he wasn't too bad but it was very late and she wasn't sure what kind of mood he was in.
'Well, well, well. Miss Archer.'
'Tinsel! We need more tinsel!' Lily's orders rang through the house, the house she was currently turning upside down in her search for tinsel. There were large boxes strewn everywhere that Lily had collected from her cousin's place, all of them opened with the contents spilling out.
James entered, eating a large chocolate chip muffin. 'Use your wand,' he said in a muffled voice, waving his own wand about for effect. 'It's easier.'
Lily glared at him. 'I want to do it the muggle way,' she insisted.
'Why?' James asked, spraying cake crumbs all over some Christmas tree ornaments.
'Just…because. I've never done it any differently.'
James shrugged, and left, chocolate muffin in hand.
'Ah ha! Tinsel!'
Lily pulled the long sparkly strings of the tinsel out of quite a small box, and began hanging it up everywhere, draping it over the Christmas tree cheerfully, humming to herself as she worked.
It was Christmas Eve, and the house was so decorated and ready for Christmas Day that James had to stop Lily from doing any more. 'Just one more little bit of holly up there?' She begged.
'Pretty pretty please?'
'D'you want us all to suffocate? You hang up anything else and there'll be no room for oxygen.'
'That is a slight exaggeration.' Lily grumbled.
'Want some cake?' James said, in an attempt to distract her from the many wonders of tinsel.
'We have cake?'
'Mm,' James answered through a mouthful of cake. 'It's good.' He handed a piece to her, and Lily, after chewing for a moment, agreed with him.
They waited for Remus and Jo and Sirius (who had to work) and Peter to arrive, eating cake and playing games of eye-spy, for some curious reason. Lily was extremely excited, but James noticed that whenever she wasn't actually doing something, she seemed to be a bit sad and depressed.
'What's up?' He asked during one of these moments, and she looked up. She smiled cheerfully and shook her head.
Except for the fact that my parents are dead and they aren't here…but nothing, really, nothing important.
James frowned slightly, but he didn't say anything about it, mainly because Peter had just turned up. Lily, while she still wasn't exactly what anyone would call fond of Peter, had decided he wasn't quite the little slug she'd thought at Hogwarts (maybe because he was holding gifts) and James had never really had anything against him in the first place.
He smiled at them nervously, hoping he didn't look too nervous, holding the presents tightly in his hand.
'Hello,' he squeaked.
The three of them sat in the living room, either playing eye-spy or just talking, Lily nibbling on the cake, which she had decided was very tasty. Peter sat with his hands in his lap, staring about as if some large, ferocious and rather hairy monster would leap out of the shadows and gobble him up any second.
Lily stopped trying to explain a joke to Peter when Remus turned up, much to James's great relief, as he'd heard the joke a million times already and he didn't particularly want to hear the theory behind it.
'Hullo,' he said, pulling off his jacket.
James leapt up off the couch, feeling incredibly grateful towards Remus. Peter, judging by his confused expression, was quite happy that Lily had been interrupted too.
'Remus!' Lily called cheerfully. 'Come over here!'
He came, James and Peter groaned.
'I wasn't going to talk about that,' Lily said, poking out her tongue (how childish). 'I just wanted to say merry Christmas!'
James snorted. 'She'll ask you a favour.'
'I will not!' Lily turned her back on James and spoke to Remus. 'Hello, Moony. Merry Christmas.'
He smiled. 'Merry Christmas.' He nudged James for reason- James elbowed him back, then grinned angelically- which really didn't suit him- at Lily, and she frowned suspiciously. Then she remembered that she never had explained that joke to Peter. 'And so the elephant is shoved in the fridge-'
'But how does it fit? Fridges are small, they aren't designed to have elephants shoved into them…I mean, even if you shrunk the elephant it probably wouldn't fit.'
'Peter, it's a joke! Okay, imagine that it's a very big fridge, right?'
'But- how does the giraffe get in? Don't they have long necks?' Peter's forehead was creased as he tried to understand what Lily was getting at.
Lily threw up her hands. 'I give up.' She got up to answer the door- Jo and Sirius had knocked, for the first time in their life- and left Peter to imagine strange and wonderful thoughts about giraffes that could do poga. Or was it yoga?
'Hullo!' She said cheerfully, opening the door to her cold and chilly friends. They both grinned identical Cheshire cat grins (Jo has been spending waay to much time with Sirius, Lily thought) and then looked her over.
'Has-' Sirius started to say enthusiastically, obviously very excited about something.
Jo kicked him in the shins.
'James made the fruitcake?' Sirius finished, after some quick thinking.
'There's fruitcake?' Lily looked surprised. Why had no one told her there was fruitcake?
'I guess not,' Sirius said hurriedly. He rushed into the kitchen, and a moment later, they heard yells of pain, shouts, and then the crash of a frying pan.
'I hope that wasn't the cake,' said Jo, peering into the kitchen. She heard what James and Sirius were saying and closed the door with a bang, her back to it.
'Er- Lily! Come with me!'
'Was it the cake?'
'What cake? Um, no! Just…come. Now.'
Lily blinked, slightly confused by Jo's ramble, but she followed her anyway.
'What's going on?'
'Nothing,' Jo said, peering out the window to see if it was still raining.
'Yeah, right…tell me!'
'Aw, come on Jo.'
Jo spun around on her heel biting her lip to stop herself from talking and to remind herself of all the pain she'd be in if she did decide to talk.
Lily sighed. There was something going on, and the only person besides Peter who didn't know what it was was her.
At Hogwarts, the Christmas celebrations were in full swing. Rowena and Joey were throwing water balloons at each other (useful muggle thing they were, really) and just as Joey finally managed to hit Rowena with a balloon, they heard a loud bang from the end of the hall they were (not supposed to be) playing in.
Rowena exchanged a glance with Joey, he nodded, and they ran to the end of the hall, their feet pounding on the stone floors. Rowena slipped several times- water was a slippery substance, after all.
'Alex!' She shrieked once they were within seeing distance. She sprinted the rest of the way.
He was lying on the ground, not moving, completely lifeless.
'Uh oh,' Joey muttered. He had no clue of what else to say.
'Maybe we should-' Rowena gulped. 'Get a teacher.'
'Yeah…' Joey's eyes were wide, but they narrowed for moment, and he peered at something. 'What's that?'
'What?' Rowena asked, wondering why the hall was suddenly looking so wobbly.
'That note,' Joey said, bending down to pick up the note.
'Don't!' She snapped.
Joey pretended not to hear her, and he unfolded the parchment- another piece fell out as he did so, and it fluttered to Rowena's feet.
She picked it up. 'Joey…' She whispered, after reading for a moment. 'His mum died.'
'Did he kill himself or something?' Joey said, still unsure of how to react.
'Yeah,' she said sarcastically, still numb from shock. 'He used the unforgivable curses on himself, the ones he hasn't even learnt yet.'
'So why would anyone kill him? I mean, he was too dumb to do anything worthwhile.'
Rowena slapped him, and they were both silent for a moment.
'Hey, Ro,' Joey said after skimming through the letter he'd picked up. 'Why's he got your letter to Lily?'
'The letter you wrote to Lily…this is it.'
Rowena snatched it away from him. 'Come on. I'm going to Dumbledore.'
Joey took one last look at the body, and a sick feeling rushed over him. 'D'you- d'you think they meant to kill him?'
'Yeah…you don't just fool around with those curses… Come on…I think I'm going to be sick.'
'Well, don't be sick on me.'
At Lily's house the six of them lay around eating, drinking, and singing songs. Sirius did a re-enactment of Snape at the last Quidditch match (slightly exaggerated), while Lily watched the snow fall gently outside the window.
'Have you asked her yet?' Sirius hissed to James. Remus glanced up and looked over at Lily.
'Now?' James hissed, and Jo nodded fervently, her eyes big.
'Just ask her, you twit.'
James bristled. 'I am not a pregnant fish…are you sure I should ask now?' He was biting his lip in a most unlike James fashion.
'Okay, okay. Hey, Lily!'
Lily looked over. 'Mm?'
'Want to marry me?'
She stared at him, while Sirius gaped at James with his mouth wide open and Jo muttered 'good grief…'
James grinned at Lily hopefully, and she nodded, slightly dumbstruck. 'Okay…'
'Well, good. Now that that's all settled, who wants to open presents?'
'Poor, poor Lily,' Jo said under breath. 'She's just agreed to marry the most un romantic man in the world…poor thing.'
Later that evening, Lily sat out on the balcony, her face white from the moonlight shining down on her. She was humming quietly to herself, a small smile of content on her face. When James came out she didn't say anything; she just glanced at him and then looked away thoughtfully.
'D'you really want to marry me?' She said after awhile.
'You can cook.'
She hit him, laughing. 'No, really.'
He shrugged, his dark brown eyes looking into her own green pair, the stars reflecting in them so that it looked as though part of the sky had fallen into them. 'Because…right now, everything's so jumbled up and no one knows what's real and what isn't- I don't know who I can trust or who my real friends are and every time I step out the house there's a chance I could get killed. Because if something happened I'd want people to know that I loved you and even if nothing did happen I'd want to be with you…'
'I always wanted to be proposed to under the moon,' she said. 'I never thought someone'd yell across the room and ask me…'
'Okay, okay.' James knelt down and it would have been rather romantic, had he not had a grin on his face, almost as though he was trying not to laugh. 'Marry me?'
Lily didn't say anything for a few seconds; she just gazed at him with an almost sad look in her eyes. Then the sadness was replaced with a kind of joy, and she leapt into his arms.
James choked. 'Oxygen' he gasped, and she released her hold on him around his neck. 'You really want to marry me?'
'Course I do, twit,' she said, leaning back against him. 'When?'
'Oh, I dunno. Maybe when we're, say, fifty?'
Lily poked him.
'Sometime. Sirius said I had to ask you now because otherwise you'd dump me for the guy at the newsagent.'
Lilt thought about it. 'He is quite cute,' she said slowly, her forehead wrinkled with fake concentration.
'Well, Miss Lily. You know what I really, really want to do?'
James grinned evilly, his teeth glinting in the moonlight. 'Tell Petunia.'
Lily rubbed her hands together. 'Off we go.'
They walked inside, James getting their coats and calling 'we're just going somewhere, see you all later, okay?'
The door closed softly behind them, and Jo looked at Sirius, who was sipping on butterbeer with a ridiculously satisfied grin on his face.
'D'you think they need chaperoning?' She asked, listening to their footsteps on the landing outside.
'Nah, they're getting married, they're allowed to act indecently.'
'Can you imagine Lily Evans acting indecently in public? It wouldn't happen,' he said, finishing off with a loud burp. 'Besides. If I know James and Lily, they won't get married for ages. They’re far too disorganised.'
'Maybe,' said Peter, still watching the door for some reason, 'they'll still be engaged when they're 30.'
'I'll bet you 10 galleons they get married before they're 25,' said Jo.
'I'll bet they get eloped next week,' said Sirius.
'You know, run away, get married in some little chapel-'
'Yes, we know that,' Jo said impatiently. 'But why would they- oh, who cares. How much d'you want to bet?'
'Only five?' The disappointment in her voice was evident.
'I'm not completely daft,' he said.
'Could've fooled me,' she muttered.
Lily and James were standing outside a very plain house, with lots of little flowers growing in neat little rows, the colours all matching perfectly.
James pressed the doorbell again, and voice could be heard calling ' I'm coming, wait a moment!'
'How many moments have we already been here?' James said.
'Too many.' Lily said, waiting almost nervously for Petunia.
The lock clicked and the door swung open, revealing a tall and very skinny woman, wearing a nightgown. She scowled at them.
'What are you doing here?' She said snappily, her eyes narrowing at the sight of Lily and James.
'We just wanted to tell you something.'
'What?' She said, as if they'd already wasted enough of her time and to hurry up.
'Want to come to our wedding?' James piped up, smiling charmingly at her.
Petunia's mouth dropped open. 'What?'
'Are you losing your hearing, 'Tunia?' Lily asked innocently.
'You- you're too young!' She said, recovering from shock.
'We aren't going to get married now, silly,' Lily said. 'We just thought you might want an invitation, so you wouldn't feel left out.'
Petunia struggled to say something, decided there was nothing to say, and she slammed the door.
'Well,' James said, turning away. 'That went well.'
'Very.' Lily said, smirking.
'What?' Lord Voldemort hissed. 'Those two, engaged?' To someone standing a few metres away it would have looked like he was talking to the floor. But closer up it was clear that he was actually having a conversation with a very small and tiny snake, which was also hissing.
'When did this happen?' He demanded.
The snake told him, and his hand collided with the table with such force a large crack appeared down the middle of the grain.
He too a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. 'Well. If we can't get them now, there is one little thing I'd like. There's a wizard family with two little children- the parents are both Aurors, I believe. What is their name again? Ah, yes…the McKinnons.' He rubbed his hands together with what almost looked like glee.
'What a pity…such young little children.'
That night, a large, poisonous green skull floated up into the sky, a snake slithering out of its mouth.