Her hand jumped to her mouth and found a sudden scowl where moments ago had been the lips of her most despised. As if violated, she hugged her blankets to her torso tightly, eyes darting wildly about the room. What the hell had she just dreamt? Lily’s breath came in ragged and rapid bursts, her heart pounding through her chest; though in quite a different manner than it had in her dream. Her brow wrinkled. What the hell had she just dreamt?
“Wha...” Lily pressed her lips together tightly, attempting to untangle her thoughts. This was bewildering. James Potter had never before made such an appearance in her subconscious and the thought of it unsettled her. Yes, he had played minor roles in her sleeping hours, as had most of her acquaintances, but never the lead and never in such a manner. Of course, never alone and most importantly, she had never liked it. Lily could have gagged.
She ran her fingers through her auburn hair in distress, encountering a number of knots and snags along the way which she pulled through with a wince. What did this mean? It couldn’t possibly... No. Just, no. Lily took a moment to calm her thoughts, allowing her rational self to take control once more. She searched both her head and heart and found... ah, nothing. No hidden attraction or denied infatuation, only that familiar disdain. The relief washed over her in a cool wave and Lily flopped back upon her bed with a thud. Still, she had to question what had caused the dream. Perhaps the anxieties of her return to Hogwarts in less than a week? She could think of no other possible stimuli. In fact, this summer she had not even received James’ bi-weekly owls which, curious as it was, had provided her with some much-needed relief from his persistent pestering and so made her dream all the more uncalled for. Eyes wide and intent upon the ceiling, Lily spent some time questioning the cause of and shuddering at the memory of the dream before deciding it best forgotten. Buried, even.
Content with ignorance, Lily had half a mind to try her luck with sleep again until she heard the rustlings. She exhaled lightly, her eyes moving to the flip clock on her bedside table. 7:03. Really, Petunia? Lily sighed as she pushed herself into a sitting position, hugging her knees to her chest and watching as Petunia scrambled through their bedroom window, looking a mess. She landed clumsily on the hardwood floor before quickly standing, fixing her skirt and giving a small wave out of the window. Lily watched on, expressionless. Her sister wore a tight, tie-dyed dress with flared sleeves that were frayed at the edges. Although it would certainly have looked impeccable not 12 hours ago, it now had creases and stains which Petunia would certainly stress over later and no longer sat quite right. Her hair had been curled and teased and so could still have passed, if that’s the look you were going for, were it not for the leaves scattered throughout; however, her make-up looked as tired as she did.
“Shut up,” Petunia spat as she stalked across the room, throwing her things on the floor and herself on her bed. She had not even bothered to look at her sister.
“I didn’t say anything...” Lily replied quickly, her brow furrowed.
“You were thinking it, though.”
“Thinking what?” Lily sighed. This happened so often that it should have been routine but for some reason Lily could never get used to the way her sister spoke to her.
Petunia rolled her eyes, “Something about me being home so late.”
Early, Lily thought.
“It’s not my fault you don’t know how to have fun!” Petunia continued, as though Lily had accused her of something. “What did you do last night, read?” She laughed. “I’ve never understood why you always read about others’ lives instead of living your own.”
Lily said nothing.
“And it’s not like I’m doing anything wrong!” Again, Petunia defended herself against unspoken accusations. “I’m old enough to do what I want, anyway. I’m responsible. I’m practically an adult, you know. And there’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of fun now and then. I bet you wouldn’t even know what fun is. Honestly, Lily, have you ever just let loose? Can you even do that at that freak school of yours?”
It was always like this. Petunia would return home from wherever she had been, throwing around defences and accusations alike to make herself feel better for breaking curfew. She liked to be the golden child, and degrading Lily really made that gold shine.
“If you only knew the things I got up to! Not that you’d care...”
“Yes, I would.” Lily piped up quickly. It was true, she did care. Although Petunia would likely take her interest as jealousy, the truth was that Lily missed her older sister more than she liked to admit. She was desperate for a relationship again, as shallow and lifeless as that relationship may be. Even if she had to listen to Petunia’s frivolous exploits over and over again, at least she was talking to her. That was something. That was nice.
Petunia was taken aback. She sat a moment, staring at Lily curiously. “Really?”
“It seems... interesting. I’d like to know what it’s like. You know, fun.” Ignoring the sad fact of her honesty, Lily sighed and gave Petunia what she wanted, “I wish it was me out there.”
A smug smile tugged at the corners of Petunia’s lips as her face transformed into a lazy pride. “Of course you do,” she cooed, “Your life here is so boring and I can’t imagine what it’s like, you know...” She scowled deeply, “there. It’s only natural.”
Lily sat in silence for some time, listening intently as Petunia described the events of not only last night, but many before. She had always been good at listening, but it was how happy Petunia sounded that grabbed her attention most. There had been a boy named Brandon, or was it Raymond, either way he had spent the entire night checking Petunia out and Stephanie was super jealous but who cares because she’s a bitch anyway. Petunia had looked fab and she had danced all night and everybody totally wanted to be her so it was understandable that Lily did too. She didn’t know why people loved her so much, but she didn’t mind. Oh, and she had scored a ride home from this one band which was why she stank of incense. The drummer was really funky and totally cute. Petunia was thinking she might buy their record.
As fickle as they were, Lily was strangely content in her sisters’ stories. Petunia was right; Lily lived through others instead of living herself. It was easier that way, she supposed; safer. Of course, it was not what Petunia did that enthralled her (although Lily had to admit the idea of “letting loose” was sometimes tempting), but the way people saw her, and the way she saw herself. Petunia was fun. She was confident, charismatic, sexy and everybody wanted to be around her. Lily longed to be fun. She let out a deep, slow breath.
“Am I boring you?” Petunia asked suddenly.
“No, no...” Lily began quickly, but Petunia cut her off.
“I don’t know why I bothered, you wouldn’t know a good time if it was standing right in front of you.” She stood stubbornly, making for the door, “I’m having a shower. Jimmy said this incense was his favourite, but it’s giving me allergies. If we’re going to have a future together, he’ll have to get over that.” And with that, she was gone.
Lily lay in bed for some time after that, just thinking. It was almost 8:30 by the time she finally rose and would you believe that Petunia was still in the bathroom? Not liking her chances of a shower that morning, Lily resigned herself to dress and gathered her hair into a messy bun. She spared herself a moment’s glance in the mirror, shrugged indifferently and continued out into the hall to find the house awake.
“Morning, sweetheart” her father greeted her from the kitchen, chewing idly on a piece of toast, “What would you like? Cereal, toast? I can make some eggs...”
Lily smiled warmly, making her way past him. “Mm, not hungry yet,” she declined, leaning into the fridge to find the orange juice. Her father passed her a glass. “And when I am, I think I can manage it myself.” She flashed him a grin, filling her glass to the brim and bending down a moment to slurp up the excess.
“I thought I taught you manners,” her father began, shaking his head. He was a kind man, always the type to go above and beyond. Tall, and with her colouring, Lily’s father was the sort of man people were drawn to. Whether it was the smile or that twinkle in his left eye, Lily didn’t know, but she loved her father more than she could fathom.
“Nope, that was Petunia,” she retorted before he could continue, offering a playful grin and kissing her father on the cheek as she passed. He laughed pleasantly.
Lily made her way into the lounge room, plonking down on the couch beside her pyjama-clad mother and folding her legs beneath her. “Good morning, honey” her mother greeted, rubbing her arm briefly, “Did you sleep well?”
She mumbled a “yes” through her juice and looked over at the newspaper her mother was reading, shaking her head light-heartedly as she noticed the pictures moving.
“Shouldn’t you be reading your own newspaper?” Lily laughed, placing her glass upon the coffee table and noting that Dumbledore was in the news again.
“Oh, shoosh,” her mother replied, taking a sip of her morning coffee, “Yours is more interesting. Besides, I already read ours. Dull!” Lily could only grin. Her mother was best described as eccentric. “Politics this and agriculture that. There’s nothing magical about it, that’s for sure. And I’m getting very tired of those stationary pictures!”
Lily stifled a laugh and her mother narrowed her eyes. “And” she continued, “That paper boy is a disgrace! I found the newspaper in the tree this morning, in the tree. I must have looked quite a sight scrambling up it in my dressing gown. And for what? The same old dull stories.”
“I don’t think they’re dull,” her father chimed in from the kitchen, “I’ll have you know I’m very interested in both politics and agriculture. Salinity is a growing problem for our farmers! Somebody should tell the politicians...”
Lily’s mother grunted lightly, looking back to the Daily Prophet. “This one is full of mystery and intrigue! Like a good novel. Growing fears of an uprising – you would tell me if there was any danger, yes sweetheart? – magical mishaps, murder! There was a horrible story about this poor, orphaned boy...” Lily opened her mouth to inquire when her mother hastily continued, “Not to mention it is delivered so delicately each morning by that beautiful owl! Jonathon, honey, I think we should look into getting an owl. Don’t you think they’d mak – ”
“ – No.”
Lily laughed, looking over her shoulder to see her father sitting happily at the kitchen table. Her mother pouted. “I’ll never know why I married such a dull man.”
“I wasn’t dull when you married me.”
“Ah yes, I vaguely remember him...” Lily’s mother smiled, standing and kissing her on the forehead. She made her way into the kitchen, dumping her coffee mug on the sink, and sat down beside her husband. They kissed briefly, and Lily smiled.
“I love you” her mother cooed.
She groaned again, turning away.
Lily laughed, leaning back into the couch in comfort. She sipped at her drink, looking about the room absently as her parents chattered in the kitchen. It was not a large house, but it sheltered the four of them and was cosy enough. She had lived here her whole life, the proof marked upon the kitchen door frame where her parents had measured her and Petunia each year on the same day. Petunia had always been taller. They had a small fireplace and a large garden which grew up and into the house in some places. If you weren’t careful, you could get lost in that tiny overgrown backyard and Lily often did. Sometimes on purpose.
This was home and it was beautiful.
Eventually, her father roused her from her thoughts. “By the way, dear,” he began, flipping through the London Times, “a letter came for you this morning. By owl.”
Lily’s mother sighed exaggeratedly but her father and her only shook their heads. Excited to hear from Hogwarts, she leapt up and took the few steps into the kitchen, following her father’s gesture to find her letter resting in a pile of documents on the kitchen bench. Lily greedily snatched it up, smiled at her parents as she ran past them and up the hallway and threw herself onto her bed unceremoniously. Should she be this eager for her book list?
Lily heard Petunia’s shrill voice in the back of her mind, freak.
She shook her head, rolling onto her stomach and admiring her name in cursive on the yellowed envelope. Lily smiled. She had missed Hogwarts. The smell of the envelope was as nostalgic as the red, waxy seal stamped on the back.
Eagerly, Lily tore open the envelope and her eyes twinkled as a shiny new ‘Head Girl’ badge fell into her palm.
Chapter One, done. Posting still makes me nervous. I thought I'd give a little insight into Lily's home life, to set up the character and all that jazz. I hope you enjoyed it! Please let me know, even if you didn't. I'm a sucker for constructive criticism. Thank you for reading!