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A/N:  I know the story is moving a bit slowly, and some of you may be wondering where my plot wandered off to, but I promise that things will start picking up after the next chapter: there are just a few more characters I want to introduce you to before the ball is set rolling
Thank you so much to all who reviewed, and, please, continue to do so. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

Of course, none of this is really mine. I'm merely borrowing for a time...






      Nothing. Absolutely bloody nothing. She didn’t bounce, she didn’t fly. She didn’t even die, for which she was marginally glad, but more just upset because SHE DIDN’T DO MAGIC! How unbelievably disappointing. There were wards around the balcony. Lily stood on thin air and sighed. She didn’t even tilt forward. She pressed as hard as she could against the invisible barrier, but to no avail. Frustrated beyond belief, Lily began to kick at it, knowing that it was only a matter of time before her father snapped out of it and locked her away for the rest of her life. 

      “Let” kick “Me” kick “Through!” kick. 

      Lily realized with a jolt that she had felt something give, and then her midsection dropped out and she was falling… Backwards… The WRONG way…. 

      “Oof!” 

      “Ow!” 

      Lily landed on top of her father, his hands around her stomach. He had yanked her back, and, Merlin’s Pants, was he livid. 

      “Lily Luna Potter, what the BLOODY HELL were you doing?” Harry Potter spat, his glasses crooked his face quickly turning red from grey, his teeth and fists clenched 

      “I—“ 

      “I NEVER want to see you doing ANYTHING like that again, do you hear me?” 

      “I just—“ 

      “Merlin, Lily, you could have been KILLED, do you know that?” 

      “Dad, I wanted—“ 

      Harry’s face blanched and he turned vaguely grey again. “That wasn’t what you were trying to do, was it?” 

      “No, Dad—“ 

      “Thank Merlin. Fuck, Lily. How could you have been so stupid? WHAT WERE YOU DOING?” 

      “I just wanted to do magic,” Lily said, a little exasperated, a little petulant, and a little afraid her mum would come up to find out what the ruckus was. 

      “You WHAT?” Harry wheezed. 

      “I just wanted to do magic. Uncle Neville fell out of a window, so I thought…” Lily trailed off, turning red; the whole idea was starting to seem a little foolish now. 

      “Oh Merlin, Lily” Harry moaned, pulling his hands through his hair before hugging her tightly to him. “Promise me you will NEVER do something like this again. I almost lost you, Lily. For a second I thought I was imagining you floating there, that you were already—“ He trailed off and buried his face in her hair. Lily could feel him shaking, and she was surprised to find that she was, too. 

      “Sorry” She whispered softly. 

      “Damn it, Lily. That was stupid. We didn’t care. We knew it would show itself one day. We could have waited—you didn’t have to show us like this.” 

      Lily felt her stomach drop again. “Dad, it didn’t work. I didn’t do anything. Nothing happened. I didn’t do any magic.” The disappointment in her tone was clear. 

      Harry peeled away from her, eyes confused, hands on her shoulders to peer into her face. “Lil, you were hovering. I saw you. If that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is.” 

      Lily shook her head, unable to keep the tears out of her eyes. “It wasn’t me, Dad, it was the house.” 

      Harry had never heard his daughter sound more broken, not even when her Grandfather had died. “What do you mean?” 

      “A ward. There’s a ward there. I couldn’t go through it. It’s like the rest of the house, or at least, it felt like the rest.” 

      “What?” Harry’s mind was spinning. Whoever had built this house had died long ago; no wards they had put up should still have been active. And it felt like something?
      Lily turned her mournful eyes on her father and sighed. “Watch.” She picked up a pebble and threw it over the edge. 

      Harry waited for it to hit the roof below with a thud, but it didn’t. Curious, he looked over the wall and saw the pebble suspended mid-air, much the way his daughter had been. He shuddered. Beneath the pebble, the ground was a long, long way down. 

      “Let’s face it,” Lily said, directing Harry’s attention away from what could have happened. She was trying her hardest to be brave. “I’m a Squib.”






     James was currently hiding from his mother in a third floor bathroom. He’d heard his mum and Aunt Hermione in the kitchen, and while they could talk for ages, it was only a matter of time before Ginny remembered she needed to murder her son. He decided now was not the time to trust his rather iffy luck and dubious charms and hedged his bets instead. Which explained why he was crouched on the dusty loo, desperately wishing (for quite possibly the first time in his life) that he had brought something to read while he waited for some sign that it was safe to come out again. The life of a fugitive (James was prone to exaggeration) was not nearly as exciting as he had expected. In the meantime, he took to counting dust motes. 

      He was up to 345 when the first thump made him lose count. He momentarily panicked, thinking that his mother had already found him, until he realized that it had come from inside the wall, not the door. When the thumps became regular, like footsteps, he concluded that Lily must be exploring again. But the pounding soon became so loud that it rattled the speckled mirror on the wall, making James’ frightened reflection jump. James tried his best not to think of the various legends he’d heard (or made up to scare various siblings and cousins) about this house and instinctively reached for something he could use as a weapon. His wand lay forgotten on the floor. 

      The mirror gave a gigantic shudder and a baleful groan, plaster cracking and showering down on James, who still held the whatever it was he had grabbed over his head. He waited, holding his breath, and heard a polite cough. Out of the hole climbed Lily, who hopped nimbly off of the vanity counter and gave her brother a funny look when she spotted him in the tub (when, how had he gotten there?) with an incredibly moldy toilet brush over his head, ready for action. 

      James spluttered in protest but tensed again, realizing that something incredibly dirty was climbing not-so-nimbly out of the dusty hole. James was ready this time. He motioned Lily back and she obliged looking highly amused. This was it. 

      “Yaaaaaaaaargh!” James charged on the thing… which turned around to say: 

      “James?” followed by “ACH!” as it (he) was hit in the head by a foul-smelling toilet brush. 

      James realized far too late that “it” was his father. Harry realized far to late that the thing in his mouth was a toilet brush. And Lily realized far too late that she shouldn’t have giggled (read: cackled) quite so loudly. Unfortunately for all three of them, “far too late” meant there was nothing to be done about the unpleasant situation they were now in. 

      Harry spat out the brush and pulled out his wand. James, picking up on his cue, stepped adeptly behind Lily with the grace and ease of one much accustomed to using various siblings (or cousins) as shields. Surprisingly, Harry pointed the wand at himself. 

      “Aguamen—“ Harry paused, looking at the distinctly grey and furry brush, and seemed to change his mind mid-spell. “Scourgify” His mouth filled with soapy bubbles. Once he had spat out the bubbles and rinsed his mouth, he turned to glower at his eldest son. James attempted to hide behind his diminuative sister. 

      “Sorry?” He offered weakly. 

      Harry sighed and rubbed his face with his hands, “Let’s not tell your mum about any of this, right Lily?” 

      Lily nodded, understanding what her father meant. He wasn’t talking about his attempted murder by toilet brush. James, however, wasn’t even listening. He had recovered enough to get back his second wind. 

      “What were you lot thinking? This is a bathroom, for Merlin’s sake. I could have been on the loo, or in the shower…” 

      Lily cringed at that thought. “Or hiding from Mum” she added thoughtfully. 

      Harry looked up in time to see James making frantic (and slightly spastic) ‘No’ motions at Lily, who smiled innocently. “What’d I miss? James?” 

      “Why does everyone always assume it’s me? Al’s in trouble this time.” His attempt at outrage was undermined by his sister’s rather dry assessment. 

      “Because, James, whether or not you actually do something personally, it is always your fault.” 

      And James couldn’t argue with that.






      “Mum, I don’t want a birthday party, or dinner, or anything!” Lily argued as her mother bustled about sorting laundry. “There’s no point.” 

      Ginny spun, a pair of James’ faded grey pants swinging wildly in her hand. 

      “Your grandmother is expecting us at her house on Sunday for your birthday dinner, as usual. You will attend, and you will look as though you are enjoying yourself and appreciate all the work that has gone into making your big day special.” Her eyes had narrowed to slits as she glared at her defiant daughter. 

      Lily held her ground, mirroring her mother, small hands on straight hips and eyes flashing dangerously. “Look, Mum, the only reason an eleventh birthday is important is because it’s the year you get to go to Hogwarts…” She paused, unsure of how her mother would react to the second half of her argument. “And I’m not going to Hogwarts, so there is no reason to make a big deal out of it.” 

      Ginny slammed James’ poor pants against the counter. “Don’t say that!” 

      “Why not Mum? It’s true! I’m NOT GOING to Hogwarts—“ 

      “Lily, DON’T say that.” 

      “—and to be perfectly honest, I’d rather not have all of our friends and family gathered for the joyous occasion, wondering whether I’d gotten my letter yet, whether I would… I just don’t want to spend my birthday listening to people whisper about me being a –“ 

      “YOU ARE GOING!” Ginny screamed and stomped out of the room, pulling the door shut with such force that a stack of neatly folded laundry toppled to the floor. 

      But Lily wasn’t sure whether her mother meant the unwanted party or the long-desired Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.






      Lily found herself avoiding her mum the rest of the week. She had taken to staying out of doors; climbing trees, crouching in the bouganvillas to try and catch some of the hushed conferences her mum and Aunt Hermione were having (something that made her father chortle uncontrollably when he found her in that incriminating and uncomfortable position one evening), and attempting to elude Albus. James had finally been released from punishment, so he was easy to avoid as long as she veered far around the sheltered paddock where he was frantically practicing with his broom. Al, however, was doggedly following her around. She supposed it was on her father’s orders. 

      After nearly two days and an annoying half-morning spent trying to lose Albus, her temper got the better of her. 

      “What do you want, Al?” Lily demanded, striking a pose eerily similar to one of their mother’s. 

      Al shrugged. “I wanted to know what you are going to do if you’re a Squib.” 

      Lily gaped for a second. Gone was any resemblance to the boy who had broken down in the supermarket. Al was back to being blunt, straight forward, and sensible. 

      “I don’t know” she admitted. 

      Al frowned. “You should.” 

      “Why, Al? Because it’s so obvious that I have no magical abilities?” Lily snapped, annoyed by how matter-of-fact his tone was. 

      “In a word: yes, Lily.” Al didn’t bother trying to soften the blow. He was a Slytherin, after all. “Look you’re eleven in four days. You’ve never done any magic, not even accidentally, and at this rate, you might never do any. I’m not trying to insult you, Lil, but you need to face the facts. In all probability, you might be a Squib. Now, you can either sulk and try to disappear, or you can try to find a way to turn it around in your favor.” Yes, Al was definitely a Slytherin. “No, you can’t do magic, but, yes, you can still learn about it. Learn about other, more important things. You aren’t useless Lily. Don’t think that.” Al preempted Lily’s protest. 

      “You’re brilliant, which is good, and you’re curious, which is even better. And, although I hate to admit it, house pride and all that you know, you’re brave, too. Which will get you through this.” Al’s voice grew deadly serious. “Look, if I couldn’t do magic, I know what I would do. I’d turn tail and run. That Slytherin thing. But you’re different, Lil. If anyone could handle being a Squib and take advantage of it, it’d be you.” 

      Lily was at a loss for words. Praise from Albus was rare. Al admitting to a fault was even rarer. But what truly astonished Lily was that Al was giving her his word that he would support her. Where her mum was in a state of desperate disbelief and her dad was grimly accepting, Al was firmly on her side. For the first time, Lily thought that maybe she wasn’t alone in this. 

      “Al, it’s not fair” she murmured quietly, repeating the mantra she cried herself to sleep with each night. 

      Al surprised her again by pulling her into a hug. “No, Lily, it’s not fair. But I don’t think us Potters are allowed to have it too easy. Something has to happen every so often to shake things up, make sure we don’t get too comfortable. You just drew the short straw this time, Lil. It’ll be me next, I guarantee it.” Al stroked his little sister’s hair as he spoke, wishing that he could make her feel better. 

      “You know, for a Slytherin, you are awfully open with your emotions.” Lily smirked when she felt Al stiffly pull away. 

      “Yeah, well, we can all make exceptions. Besides, I asked to be in Slytherin. Dad was right, the hat really does listen.” 

      Lily was, once again, surprised and a bit mystified, but she decided against pushing her luck. Al would tell her when he was ready. Instead, she decided to surprise him for a change. “Now, what should I do if Hogwarts is out?” It was getting much easier to think this way. 

      Al blinked, but recovered quickly. “Well, I’ve been talking to a friend of mine that’s a muggle-born…”

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