Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Harry Potter. JK Rowling is the genius behind that! This disclaimer applies to all of the following chapters in this story.

This fic is slightly AU in that, to allow for some creative flexibility, I have invented an age difference between the leading characters. Other than that, I have tried to stick to the HP canon as carefully as possible.

Please read and enjoy!

Chapter 1: Little Rebel

The thing to know about rebels is they hardly ever have all the information, and they aren't usually too worried about that little problem. Maybe that's why they tend to wind up in so much trouble. Be that as it may, it certainly does explain a few things about the trials endured by a certain Lily Evans.

Raising her arms up, Lily stretched her sore muscles; she hadn't worked herself that hard in a long time. The neighbourhood park – aka. "The Swamp" – had been a favourite hangout for Lily and her Muggle friends for as long as she could remember. With all of the smooth sidewalks, iron stair rails, paved ramps, and shady trees, it was the perfect spot for hanging out. They would spend hours skating and laughing, experimenting with new jumps and moves, sometimes showing off, frequently goofing off. This day, however, had been different.

Lily pulled off her T-shirt and long trousers, revealing a yellow swimsuit, and investigated a sore spot on her outer thigh. A purple bruise was already blooming. For once, she had not skated for fun. She had skated to forget. Lily had thrown herself at the ramps, attacked the rails, and generally buffeted her body with greater ferocity than ever before. No fear, no thought – just muscle and wheel and surface. Just Lily, pouring out her anger and frustration onto the pavement; forcing it out with adrenaline and pain and intense concentration. She would deal with the bruises and sore muscles later. She would deal with everything later.

Letting her ponytail down, Lily carefully crossed over the stony ground, kicking her feet through the rough sand at the water's edge. It was her favourite spot on the beach. Hardly anyone went there, and it was an easy walk from her house. She knew it like the back of her hand. It was nice knowing about things.

Lily winced as she strode into the shallow waves. Even in the summer, the water was frigid. The cold water would keep the bruises down, but it would tighten her muscles. It would also distract her from thinking. Forcing her way through the water, Lily took deep awkward breaths through gritted teeth. She lifted her feet, and let her head sink into the water before rising again and standing shoulder deep. She didn't know how long she stood there, trying to see the end of the ocean she was immersed in. That morning Lily had been on fire. By the afternoon, she was numb. The hot-tempered rage had somehow dissolved during the day and she was left with a peculiar feeling of shock.

"What do I do now?"

"I'd suggest getting out of that water before your muscles seize up."

Lily spun around to see a slight smirk on the face of her friend, Mike, skateboard tucked under his arm, safely away from the sand.

"Don't sneak up on me like that!" Lily groaned and trudged out of the water, warming up in the afternoon sun. "What are you doing here anyway?"

"Why wouldn't I be here?"

Lily raised an eyebrow; she knew he'd been following her. With her face lifted up, Lily stood, allowing the sun to warm her skin before moving towards her things that were piled haphazardly on the bench.

"That was some major air you were getting earlier at the Swamp," Mike tried.

Lily looked over and grinned silently.

Encouraged, he went on. "And that long grind was brill! I've never seen you nail that before."

She was definitely smiling now. "Yeah, that was really cool!" Not bothering to dry off, she pulled her clothes on and narrowed her eyes at Mike. "I didn't know you were watching."

"Everybody was watching."

Lily looked away while she tied her shoes. "I was kind of in a zone."

"No kidding!" Mike chuckled and Lily shot him a fake glare before grinning herself.

Mike stepped onto his board, following Lily down the road. "How is your leg by the way? I thought for a minute you'd broken it when you took that tumble off the rail."

"It's okay. I'll have a nasty bruise, but that's nothing new."

"So what's up, Lil?" He looked at her seriously. "And don't try to say it's nothing. I've known you for 15 years and it's dead obvious you're royally ticked off about something."

Watching the pavement as they moved towards her house, Lily sucked on her teeth and tried to think of what to say. She hadn't even considered what she would tell Mike, let alone her other Muggle friends. How exactly do you explain to a Muggle that you have just discovered that, upon your birth, your Muggle parents pre-arranged your future marriage to a wizard with magical powers that supposedly "best complement" your own, and then had the gall to seal the deal with a binding magical contract? Well, of course she could say it just like that, but Lily, like a good girl, had never told any of her Muggle friends that she was a witch. She had never even told Mike, her best friend outside of Hogwarts.

"Lily? Earth to Lil!" Mike was whistling at Lily, drawing her out of her reverie.

"I'm just having some problems with my parents, Mike. You know how it goes. They want me to do something and they don't even seem to care whether I want to or not. I'm mad that they didn't even ask my opinion, and now they want to force it on me."

"That stinks."

"Absolutely!" Lily liked that about Mike. No matter how confused he was, she knew he would never try to drag the story out of her. He would just support her.

"Your dad and mum are usually pretty cool though," Mike said. "Maybe they know something about it that you don't."

Lily just grunted at this. She didn't like them enough at that moment to admit that they could know anything at all.

"Remember that time they dragged you off to America for the summer? We did everything we could to get them to let you to stay behind at my house so that we could build that fort we had planned out. They made you go with them though, and it turned out to be totally brilliant. Plus, my parents shot down the whole fort idea in the end anyway. For some reason they didn't really go for the idea of us dismantling the tool shed for lumber."

A smile was tugging at the corners of Lily's mouth. "It was so unfair!"

Mike stopped in the street and faced her. "Maybe whatever it is will end up being better than you think."

Avoiding his eye, Lily sighed. Mike seemed to send that he was hitting the nail on the head. "All I'm saying," he added, "is it might be worth keeping an open mind until you're sure you have all the facts."

She nodded once and took a deep breath. "Maybe you're right Mike. I just don't know what to do."

"You'll figure it out, Lily. Just keep you chin up, and remember that killer grind." Waving, Mike repositioned his skateboard and sped off, leaving her at the Evans' back gate.

Lily smiled and raised her hand at him in response. "Thanks, Mike."

Smile fading, Lily coasted through the gate and skated down the garden path to the house, bracing herself for what was to come. The previous night had been horrible. There was no other word for it. Under normal circumstances, Lily got along with her parents relatively well - especially since her sister had moved out – but their last conversation was just…well…horrible. Mr. and Mrs. Evans were Muggles, but they were well aware of the wizarding world and, while they didn't understand it terribly well, they found it fascinating. Too fascinating, Lily thought.

It was over dinner the night before when they had dropped the bomb on her: she was engaged. Not only was she engaged, but her future husband would be visiting them the next evening with his mother so that they could all meet. Wasn't that lovely.

For some odd reason, when Lily was born, the Evans had been informed that Lily was a witch. Shortly afterwards, they had been talked into roping Lily into a Wizarding Betrothal, which just happened to be magically binding. They obviously still thought it was a wonderful idea, and were quite pleased with themselves.

Hesitant to believe that something like that could be for real, Lily had joked with her parents about it for a while, thinking that they were trying to play some bizarre prank on her. She should have known that her parents weren't funny enough for decent pranks like that. When she'd finally realised they were in earnest, something inside Lily snapped.

"Binding my foot!" Lily had shouted at them. "I don't have to marry anybody I don't want to, and I am certainly not going to marry some stranger who's obviously too pathetic to get a girl on his own!"

"Why are you doing this to me? Do you hate me or something!"

"Why do you have to run my life for me?"

"Don't you trust me to make any decisions for myself?"

"Are you going to pick my career for me too? How about you schedule what clothes I should wear every day?"

"You can't make me do it!"

"Why don't you trust me?"

"I hate you guys!"

Lily cringed as she recalled the horrible things she had shouted at her parents. They had gone around in circles for hours, but she had been deaf to all explanations, unwilling to hear any of their reasoning. Finally storming up to her room and cranking up angry music as loud as she could, Lily ignored them until falling into an uneasy sleep. She had snuck out early in the morning to go to the Swamp, where she had skated hard until she was near exhaustion and in danger of really hurting herself. Lily knew full well that she had been unreasonable and mean, but she also knew that she would never marry a man she didn't love, regardless of the consequences. She was still angry with her parents; although the reckless anger she'd felt earlier had evolved to a calmer sense of indignation.

What was she going to do? It was all like a bad dream…maybe she would wake up.

Lily suddenly froze, realising that a car was pulling up in the circular drive out front. Lifting her skateboard, Lily crouched behind a tree and watched as a young man emerged from the driver's door. He was obviously quite a bit older than she was – maybe he was a chauffeur. The young man jogged around to the opposite side of the car and opened the front passenger door for a small lady whom he gently helped to her feet.

Definitely a chauffeur. Too bad: he was kind of cute. When nobody else seemed to be exiting the car, Lily's eyes widened. Maybe that was him! The lady stood looking happily up at the front door while, just behind her, the young man inhaled deeply and straightened his vest. He ruffled his hair with one of his hands in an irritated sort of way ,and then stepped up next to the lady, leading her to the door.

He didn't exactly seem thrilled to be there, and Lily felt a little encouraged. Was he ticked off about the betrothal too? Or was he just nervous? There was only one way to find out.