"Your eyes were like that." Said Sirius softly, running one finger over the baby's forehead. "All the midwives crowded round to see the baby who wasn't born with blue eyes."
The little girl gurgled with pleasure at the attention, and pawed out with one tiny hand to try and catch Sirius's finger. Harry murmured something to her in a quiet, soothing voice. Remus said nothing, but he hadn't looked away from the child's eyes since the birth.
"I'm just sorry I have to burden her with the same line I got all through my childhood." Harry said, smiling down at the fragile little beauty in his arms. "You look just like your mother, but you have your father's eyes. Poor thing."
Tentatively, Remus stretched out a hand and brushed it over the baby's forehead. "Lily's eyes." He said, his voice constricted. "She looks just like your mother, Harry."
Sirius nodded. Glancing over at Hermione, he asked, "Do you want us to give you some time alone?"
Hermione, too exhausted to move after an unusually long labour, smiled her thanks. Sirius and Remus left, both surreptitiously brushing tears away from their eyes. Harry, cradling the babe in his arms, went over to sit by the bed. Handing the little girl over to his wife, he watched in rapture as she held her to her breast and let her feed. It was, without exception, the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
When he found the voice to speak again, he asked in a croak, "What should we call her?"
They had never discussed it. Hermione had always said firmly that they would know when the child arrived, and had been as steadfast on that as she had been in her refusal to find out the sex of the child beforehand. Now she sent him a surprised look.
"Well," she said matter-of-factly, "isn't it obvious? Of course she'll be Lily."
Harry's eyes widened. Her simple acceptance of the name, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, somehow seemed to release something that had been straining inside him for months, sitting uncomfortably on his chest. And, somehow, it felt exactly right. Of course she should be Lily.
Holding out his arms to take his daughter, feeling the frail warmth of her weight against his chest, he felt the tears rising in his eyes. "Lily." He murmured softly into the first soft red down on her head. "Lily, my daughter."
Every day since the age of eleven, Harry Potter has been fighting evil. Now, at twenty-five, he spends his life beating up bad guys, putting his life on the line to face things that would make anybody else faint from terror, fight battles against Dark Minions that could kill and ordinary wizard with a flick of their fingers. Every day, he goes out and does things that would make a samurai tremble to save the lives of people he's never met. Darkness follows him everywhere he goes. Oh...and at six o'clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, he must go home to read 'Where's My Cow?' with all the right farmyard noises, to his little girl. There are some things you have to do.
"Hermione," he said, his eyes full of exhaustion after a long day's evil-fighting, "she won't go to sleep."
Hermione, turning the page of her book, called out from the bed: "Sing her a lullaby."
Harry blinked. Evil Dark Lords he could handle. This was something else. "I don't know any."
Hermione dropped her book, and her hand flew to her mouth. "Harry! Oh, how stupid of me, of course you don't, how could you… I'm sorry I was so tactless. Here, let me do it, she's so fractious and she knows my singing voice…" Tumbling out of bed, her hazel hair falling down her shoulders in tousled hazel curls, her white nightdress creased from the time she had already spent lying down. Padding over to the cot, she leant down and picked up little Lily, cradling her against her breast. She sang softly, her characteristic alto untrained and a little husky but full of love.
Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles await you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing you lullaby.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby.
Care you know not, therefore sleep
While o'er you a watch I keep
Sleep pretty darling and do not cry
And I will sing you lullaby.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby.
Harry could barely hear the first few lines for the wailing, but almost at once the little girl hushed. By the time the last line faded away and Hermione caught her breath Lily was asleep, clearly exhausted.
It took Harry a moment to realise that tears were running down his cheeks. Somehow Hermione's voice called to some forgotten memory of those first few months, the first and only time in all his childhood that he had been loved, and wanted, and had had someone to sing him lullabies. When Hermione saw his tears, she didn't have to ask. She simply took him by the hand and led him to bed, and there she wrapped him in her arms, until he fell asleep.
There was a knock at her bedroom door. Looking up from the textbooks strewn across her bed, Lily called out absently, "Come in."
Her mother and father entered, her father carrying a brown paper parcel. Frowning curiously at it, she pulled the books towards her and gestured for them to sit down. They did so, her mother putting an arm around her and her father sitting straight in front of her, the parcel sitting on his lap.
"Now, Lily," said Hermione, smiling down at her daughter, "Are you all ready for the morning?"
Lily nodded obediently, smiling back at her parents. The evening before her first day at Hogwarts, and she had clearly not packed any of her books. She rather suspected her mother was remembering a similar evening from her own childhood.
"Lily," picked up her father, grinning at her, "After much heated debate, your mother and I have finally agreed that you should not be denied the opportunities that made our time at Hogwarts so enjoyable."
"..when you weren't dueling the Evil Forces of Darkness, that is." Said Lily helpfully. Harry winced.
"Well, yes. The point is, your mother and I thought now would be a good time to pass on some… ah… family heirlooms." Undoing the parcel, he handed her a rich, silvery cloak and a scrap of blank parchment. "My father handed these down- indirectly- to me, when I was at school, in the hope that I would- ah- carry on some of the fine family traditions of the Potters."
"You mean, dueling the Forces of Darkness while breaking every rule they bothered to invent, and some they didn't?"
Harry grinned. "Creative interpretation. Not, of course," he added quickly as Hermione gave him a sharp look, "That we are encouraging rule-breaking in any way, shape or form. But if, for whatever reason, it is ever necessary to employ- ah- subterfuge, we feel that you should have the necessary tools at your disposal.
This," he said, holding up the silvery cloak, "is an Invisibility Cloak, which frankly I think is self-explanatory. Use it well. This," he held up the scrap of parchment, "requires a little more explanation. To activate it," he held out his wand and tapped it, "just tap it with your wand and say, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.""
As he did so, an intricate web of black ink spread out from his wand-tip, interlocking and crossing until the whole map was formed. Lily stared, open-mouthed, at the sight of something so obviously designed for rule-breaking in the hands of her father, the ultimate authority figure of her youth. Of course, she had known that his own school-years had hardly been peaceful or obedient, but somehow seeing this proof of it really brought it home.
Then she realised exactly what it was he was holding. The words spread across the top- Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs proudly present the Marauder's Map.
That was her grandfather and Sirius and Remus. They had made this thing… suddenly everyone she had grown up perceiving as strict and firm seemed wonderfully exciting and rebellious. And a map of Hogwarts with moving people… The possibilities were endless. Her mind was already buzzing.
Harry and Hermione smiled and exchanged glances. Somehow, they had the feeling that Hogwarts wouldn't know what had hit it.
Lily hugged herself slightly, trying not to show her fear. The line was shortening, and they were on the M's, which was dangerously close to the P's. She watched as a boy called McNorris was sorted into Hufflepuff, and took a deep breath. It wasn't like she had to duel a dragon, after all. All she had to do was put a hat on. It wasn't precisely rocket wizardry.
Nolsey, Laura, sorted into Ravenclaw. She tried to fix her mind on her parents, on her father taking her aside the night before. There's a secret to the Sorting Hat, Lily. All you have to do is tell it which house you want to be in. We are defined by our choices, not by our birth. She tried to remember all the amazing things her parents and grandparents had done when they were her age, all the courage they had mustered when they needed to.
Nevertheless, she was still bloody terrified.
Professor McGonagall, a stern-faced woman with white hair and a drawn face who looked too old to be so active, was holding the list. Her eyes flickered towards Lily, and there was a shake in her voice as she read out the name. "Li- Lily Potter." Lily got the impression that she was not a woman who stuttered often. She probably remembers my grandmother, Lily realised. She was vaguely aware that the hall had gone very quiet, that all the students and a few of the white-haired professors were staring at her. She was used to that. Walking up to the stool and sitting down as calmly as she could, she felt the soft brim of the hat slipping down over her eyes, and the world went dark.
Ah, yes… Lily Potter. You know, you look just like your grandmother. I remember her well.
I believe I've heard that, Lily thought dryly. It was the universal litany of everyone who met her.
The characteristic green eyes, of course, and the red hair.. And you take after your family in other ways. Your mother's cleverness, your grandfather's cunning, your grandmother's loyalty, your father's courage. I sorted them all, you know. All of them into Gryffindor. But you… you could succeed anywhere you wanted. You would make a fine Ravenclaw, in particular.
Gryffindor, thought Lily fiercely, praying her entreaties would be enough, Put me into Gryffindor…
Exactly what your father said. And your mother, too, although she would never admit that she was terrified of being put into Ravenclaw. But are you sure? You don't have to do the same as your family, you know.
Well, if you're sure, there's another one for GRYFFINDOR!
This last was screeched out to the hall, which exploded in cheers and applause much louder than any before. From the Gryffindor table several of her Weasley cousins sent up red and gold sparks, and it took several minutes for the furor to die down. Walking over with a huge smile to join the other first-years, Lily couldn't help feeling better about the next seven years than she ever thought she could.