Author's Note: I've always imagined for Lily and James to truly fall in love something monumental had to happen. I don't know why, but in my mind James becoming Head Boy and Lily losing Severus' friendship at the end of 5th wasn't quite enough. This is my version of events that drove the two of them together. Of course, there is a standard blanket disclaimer. I do not own these characters, just the plot (and some of that is borrowed as I'm trying to stick to the story line).
Lily Evans gripped her trunk with one hand while her sister stood open mouthed beside her. In front of them stood a house in flames along with the fire department. Her parents were no where to be seen and as much as she hoped they went out to get a carton of ice cream to welcome her home, she knew they were dead.
Dark magic lingered in the air and Lily did her best to hold back tears. This had happened to other muggleborns, but their families had narrowly escaped death. The Dark Lord wasn't ready to wage a full out war just yet, instead he torched homes of those he deemed unworthy to grace the halls of Hogwarts.
"Excuse me," a fireman said as he was walking over. "Are the two of you occupants of this house?"
"I guess you could say that," Petunia started. "My parents live there alone most of the time. My sister," this she said with great disdain, "is off at a school in Scotland for most of the year." She leaned in close to the man. "One of those sort of schools, if you know what I mean." She eyed her sister, gave her a look of fake pity and continued, "I recently moved in with my fiance."
Lily froze. She knew her sister was dating Vernon Dursley, but she hadn't known that they got engaged. Down the street a shiny car parked and out came a large man with a curled mustache.
"If you don't mind, that's my fiancee, I'll be over there." Petunia's eyes were flooded with tears, the first real emotion other than hatred or anger Lily has seen in years.
"Are they-did you-?" The young witch couldn't form a complete sentence, tears were welling in her eyes.
The fireman didn't quite know what to do with the tearful girl. "Miss," he started slowly, probably believing her sister's lie, "was this always on the side of your house?" He held up a Polaroid picture and Lily's legs gave out.
"He killed them," she sobbed.
"Miss, please, can you tell me who you are talking about?"
The fireman still held that vile picture in his hand. A picture that she had seen tattooed on the older Slytherin's forearms year after year. Lily screamed, as if from pain, when the fireman attempted to show her the photo again. It drew the attention of many people. Through her veil of tears she saw a familiar face further down the street at Spinner's End. Severus Snape. He halted like there was an invisible barrier. "Are you happy?" she shrieked, stumbling to her feet heading in the direction of him. Someone caught her by the arms, pulling her back.
Severus looked at his ex-friend, her face tear stained and twisted with sadness. It broke his heart to see her like this. To see who he thought to be the kindest person ever to grace this earth experience that much sadness.
"The school must not have given her the medication today," Petunia whispered to the firemen. "You can't blame them, it being the last day of the term and all," she said sadly as a policeman held her sister back.
Lily sat in the back seat of the police car, blanket wrapped around her shoulders even though it was summer. The house continued to burn slowly and Petunia continued to tell lies. The red-headed witch didn't know what to say, anything that would explain the fire would make her sound insane. Usually she could try twist around enough to trick muggles, but these muggles thought the school she went to was one for disturbed children.
"Miss Evans?" a kind voice asked.
She looked up and saw a woman stand in front of her. The woman had to be at least forty, but with her fashionable dress and trendy hair it took years off of her appearance.
"I'm fine, the policeman say I'm in shock. I have a blanket, see?" It was her attempt at humor and maybe this woman would leave her alone if she thought Lily was as simple-minded as Petunia claimed.
"Miss Evans, I'm a member of the ministry," her tone was hushed as she spoke.
"Miss, I don't know what you're talking about," Lily replied.
"Your name is Lily Evans, Gryffindor Prefect at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." She looked around. "I know it's rather unfortunate for you to have to play a simpleton at home, when you are such a bright witch, but it gives us the perfect cover."
"Lily, I don't think you're safe here. If you want to go with your sister-"
"No!" she said quickly. "Tuney hates me," she explained softly. "She hasn't been the same ever since I left for school. She'll probably blame for me for this." Lily wiped away her tears and then gestured at the house that was still flaming in places, in others it had been reduced to wet, smoking ashes.
"It is not your fault." The woman grabbed Lily's arms, shaking her softly. "Do you understand that? The Dark Lord is going after innocent, defenseless people. He is scared. He should be, you or someone like you will be his downfall."
Lily's green eyes met the woman's hazel ones. She wriggled free and hugged the woman tightly, not caring that she was an almost stranger. "Thank you for being here."
"My dear, my work is not yet done." The woman smiled, but a tear remained in the corner of her eye. "Usually Professor Dumbledore or Professor McGonagall would be here, but they have to handle another situation." The woman cleared her throat and looked around. She pulled out her wand, waving it in front of a file. Suddenly it grew with papers and she hid her wand. "Now, I feel like I'm insulting you, but play along and you'll be out of here so enough."
Lily folded the blanket on the seat of the police cruiser following the woman. She talked in soft tones with the detective and fireman, showing a badge and beginning to rummage through the file folder. "I am from Holmstrom Academy. We got a phone call not too long ago. Now, Miss Evans is a special case. Change does not bode well for her and it would be in the best interest of everyone if she came with me."
"Where are you taking her?" Petunia asked.
"Sweetums, maybe we should listen…" Vernon started, warily looking at Lily.
"We know this is a troubling time for all, however, I think Miss Evans would be better suited for Holmstrom's summer term. She will come for the funeral and, Miss Evans," she looked at Petunia. "While family should come together at a time like this, it would be dangerous for your sister to go to a strange place. I was informed that you recently moved in with your betrothed."
"Yes," Petunia said. "But I want Lily somewhere normal for once."
"Holmstrom's summer session is a perfectly normal. Now, if your home passes a social service check-"
"I agree with you. I think it would best for Petunia's sister to have someone around that can deal with her problems." He nervously looked over the girl. "I can pay for the session, Tuney. You don't have to worry."
"In situations like this, the fee is waived," the woman quickly replied. She placed a hand on Lily's arm. "Why don't I leave you alone for a bit? Give you chance to say goodbye to your sister." Her tone was soft, a forced cheerful and she spoke slowly as if she were a child. It brought sparks of anger to her, even though she knew it was an act.
Eventually everyone stepped back a few meters from the sisters. Petunia stood in front of her sister, not quite knowing what to do. Lily gave her no choice, she wrapped her arms tightly around her sister. "I'm sorry, Tuney. I would never have-"
"Hush," Petunia ordered, and then held out her sister an arm's length away. "She's a freak like you, isn't she?"
"She's a witch, yes. She works for the Ministry of Magic," Lily explained softly.
"I don't want you coming with Vernon and I, but I don't want you to go somewhere with another freak. This never would have happened if mum and dad just tore up that letter, told the Headmaster no."
"I'm sorry, Tuney, please…" Tears started to stream down Lily's face. She gripped her sister's arms and shook her head.
"If you promise never to use magic again, to not go back to that school, I'll convince Vernon you can leave with us. It'll be like old times," Petunia said, a forced smile on her face. "If you give it up you won't be a freak, you'll be Lily again." Her sister's forced smile widened, it became hopeful.
Lily shook her head, looking up at her sister through her eyelashes. "I will always be Lily, magic or not," she whispered. "It's a part of me, I can't ignore it. I don't know why I have it and you don't...I don't know why mum and dad aren't magical…" She took in a hiccupy breath. "If it takes giving up my entire life to get you back, I can't do that Tuney. The price is too high."
"You choose your freakish life over me?" she questioned, shaking her sister. "I'm the only family you have left!"
"Yes, and I want more than anything for us to be friends again, real sisters again, but...if you loved me, you wouldn't ask me to choose. There's not much left for me in the muggle world," Lily told her. "I only have you and a few friends from when I went to school here."
"Fine." Petunia dropped her hands and walked towards Vernon, out of her sister's life.
Lily was surprised that the woman from the ministry had a car and could drive. "We never properly introduced ourselves, my name is Agatha Potter." She smiled at Lily. "My husband's name is Charles. I believe you know my son, James."
Her heart stopped. This kind woman was related to James Potter? The immature prat that would never give her a moment's rest? That Potter?
"Don't you worry about my James, I see to it he behaves at home."
"Where am I going?" Lily asked. They had been driving for quite some time. "Are you taking me back to Hogwarts?"
"Of course not, that was just a cover." Agatha patted her knee. "You're in safe hands. You'll have to stay with me for a few days, the ministry certified me to help out in cases like this. During that time we'll see if one of your friends families can do it."
Lily shook her head. She was friendly with a lot of people at school, but Alice and Marlene were the only one's she ever visited at home. Alice was on a vacation all summer with her parents, traveling around Europe. Marlene was going to France, she had a cousin that went to Beauxbatons that she hardly ever saw.
"I was only at home during Christmas this year. My mum made me promise I would stay with them all summer and help with Petunia's wedding." Lily tears has stopped, but at this they began anew. "They were coming to see me the last week, I don't have anywhere to go until them." She sobbed in her hands. The next thing she knew Mrs. Potter pulled off to the side of the road and began to rub circles on Lily's back. "Thank you, for everything."
"I can't promise you everything will be alright, but you'll have a place to stay until it's time to go back to Hogwarts."
After a few minutes Lily manage to reign in the tears and set up a bit straighter. She may have lost her family today, but it didn't seem like she would be alone any time soon.
It was another hour before they arrived at Godric's Hollow. The neighborhood seemed to be from another time period. The houses weren't quite manors, like she heard that quite a few pure blood families had, but they were quite large.
Agatha Potter parked her car at the side of a butter yellow house trimmed in red. The grass was perfectly manicured, flowers peeking out of flowerbeds. For some reason she didn't imagine the great James Potter living here. With a wave of the wand Lily's trunk was gone and inside the house. "Our house is a magical house, just a fair warning." Agatha chuckled. "It's more Charles' doing than mine, he can't live without magic. I, on the other hand, have tried to learn to at least blend in the muggles." She gestured to the car. "Did I do a good job today?"
"Terrific," Lily replied, allowing herself to chuckle a bit.
"I'll show you where you'll be staying, then we can get something to eat." Agatha led Lily inside and allowed the young muggle born to look around. Everywhere she turned there seemed to be something magical, something that even the brightest muggle couldn't explain intelligently. "All the bedrooms are upstairs. I'm going to put you across from my husband and I…" she pointed out where the bathroom and linen closet was. "That's James' room, it's connected to the bathroom," she warned. "Don't worry, we have other guest rooms beside that one." She pointed to the other room next the bathroom. "That's where Sirius stays." She opened the door to show Lily. "We let him decorate it, he's here so often." She pointed to the posters around the room and she noticed the second bed. "Peter and Remus are here a lot as well." She walked further down the hallway, past another pair of closets and a third bathroom. "This will be your room."
The room was simple and inviting. Lily saw her trunk sitting there as she entered. The walls were cream, the bedspread blue and all the furniture white. One corner had a narrow bookshelf, a desk sat close to it with a window on the other side of the room. "Thank you."
"You've said that enough," Agatha Potter told her.
"Where is your husband and son?"
"Some important Quidditch game abroad, Charles took James and the boys." Agatha sighed and rolled her eyes. "Boys and their games, anyway I have the house alone for a few days. I like the quiet, but I hate being alone."
The redhead hugged her self before reaching up to pull back her hair with the ponytail holder around her wrist.
"I am starved, how about you?"
"I'm not very hungry," Lily admitted.
Nonetheless Agatha Potter placed a gentle, but firm hand, on Lily's shoulder to guide her downstairs. The kitchen was large, warm and well-lit. A good-sized table sat in an alcove of windows. "What would you like?"
"Whatever's easiest," she replied with a shrug. Lily jumped, though, when a very small...creature appeared in front of her.
"Mopsy, could you make us lunch?"
"Of course, Miss, anything for you." The creatures face broke into a large grin as it walked over Lily Evans. "So very pretty, can I touch?" It gestured to Lily's hair. Startled the witch only nodded. "Such a vibrant young witch, what would you like to eat?"
"How about you make your specialty?" Agatha asked. "The one that makes James feel better?"
"Right away!" the house elf scurried away.
Lily laughed as she watched. Immediately she felt drawn towards the creature. She wanted to scoop it up into her arms. Getting to her feet she wandered into the kitchen area, where the stove was.
"Lily, what do you want?"
"Tea," she responded, looking around the kitchen. Before she could get to anything cupboards started to fly open, the tap turned on and soon enough there was a kettle on the stove. It didn't take long before both a cup of tea and a plate of food were set in front of them.
Lily didn't say much more, just thanked Mopsy several times and ate the food placed in front of her. It was a hot sandwich with meat and cheese accompanied by lovely salad with a mixture of vegetables and a savory dressing. "It was quite delicious, but I've had a long day. I just want to shower get some rest."
"Of course, but Lily…" Agatha looked down at her cup of tea she was holding firmly in her hands. "I don't wish to pry, you don't have to tell me...What did your sister say to you? The two of you looked visibly upset."
Lily bit her lip and looked down at the ground. "She said that if I gave up...If I gave up magic for good and was normal I would be her sister again." Lily looked closer to tears. "I told her the price was too high. That I loved her, but I couldn't ignore that part of me." She swallowed her tears and looked around the kitchen. "I'm going...thank you again."