Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. In order to make my story seem more authentic, I have literally cut and pasted direct scenes from Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. These scenes are clearly italicized, and are properly referenced that the end of the chapter.
"Very whitely still the lilies of our lives may reassure their blossoms from their roots, accessible alone to heavenly dews that drop not fewer; growing straight out of man's reach, on the hill."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Harry Potter looked up at the ruins of an old cottage. The last time he was visited this place, he was nearly killed by Voldemort. Harry touched the gate gently, and as it had done so before, a sign began to rise from the ground:
On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981,
Lily and James Potter lost their lives.
Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard ever
To have survived the Killing Curse
This house, invisible to Muggles have been left
In its ruined state as a monument to the Potters
And as a reminder of the violence
That tore apart their family.
Harry read the sign once more, as well as the graffiti that had been written upon it, and smiled. He gently pushed open the gate and entered the yard. It hadn't been safe to enter the area before, as Hermione had stated. But now that Voldemort was dead, any curses that may have been caused by him would be broken.
Harry surveyed the area around him. Had he, as a child explored this area? Had he once played in the grass? Had he ridden his toy broomstick here? Harry walked carefully toward the front door. It was no longer a door. It was clear that it had been blasted off its hinges to the ground. The remains lay on the ground, burnt, black and broken. He walked into the house and recognised the hall immediately.
A flash of memory made him realise that this was the place his father had died. Harry closed his eyes, unwilling to take in the scene. At least the body was removed, he thought. He wouldn't be able to handle it if he had to see his father's dead body as well as imagine it.
Harry looked up. There was a gaping hole in the ceiling. This was probably where the Killing Curse had rebounded. Harry decided not to go upstairs. The floor didn't look very stable, after all. Furthermore, Harry could not bear to see the place where his mother had died.
Harry looked at the ground. There was a small piece of parchment lying directly below the hole in the ceiling. He reached over and picked it up, noticing that it was scorched at the sides.
Spell-proof parchment, he realised. But however spell-proof it was, it had still been damaged by the ricocheted Killing curse.
On the parchment were words that were quite obviously scribbled in a hurry, but it was neat all the same. Harry read the words silently. He smiled, then looked up, wondering about his parents. How had their lives been growing up? He looked back at the note in his hands. Had his mother and father gone through what he had? They both had to face Voldemort. But how were their lives different than his?
'Lily! Lily, are you awake?'
Lily Evans woke up, hearing the sounds of her elder sister pounding on the door.
'Coming, Tuney!' she called. She got out of bed and reached for the flower that she had found yesterday and placed on her bedside table. She brought it close to her, smelling it with a grin.
That's odd, she thought suddenly with a gasp. Did the petals… move? Lily turned and glanced at the open window behind her, then replaced the flower on her table. Must have been the wind, she decided as she got up to open the door.
A little girl a bit older than Lily stood there, smiling and carrying a parcel in her hands. She was slightly taller than Lily, with short, blond hair.
'Happy seventh birthday, Lily!' the girl exclaimed, holding out the parcel eagerly.
Lily took the parcel gently in her hands and hugged her sister, smiling hugely. 'Thanks so much, Tuney!'
'Come on,' said Petunia, holding her little sister's hand and leading her through the door. 'Mummy's calling us.'
With one last look at the flower still lying on her bedside table, Lily followed her sister downstairs, unknowing of the fact that magic most reveals itself at the age of seven.
James Potter rushed home, carrying a toy car in his hands. He wrenched the front door open, ran into the living room where his father was sitting on the couch and plopped himself down onto the carpet.
'Hey Dad, look at this!'
Mr Potter looked down from his Daily Prophet. 'What is it, son?' he asked with a curious look on his face. It was clear to see that James greatly resembled his father.
'Watch what I can do!'
James placed the small car onto the carpet and shuffled away from it to indicate a distance between them. Then he stared at it, a look of deep concentration etched onto his face. Automatically, the car started to move forward.
James' face broke into a grin at the sight of the moving car, and then turned to look at his father. Mr Potter's face had cracked into a grin as well as he thrust aside the newspaper in his hands and slid onto the carpet to congratulate his young son.
A woman entered the living room. She had long red hair that fell over her shoulders and light brown eyes.
'Mum!' exclaimed James, pointing at the toy car that was still moving, though rather slowly now. 'Look at what I did!'
Mrs Potter looked around in the direction to where James was pointing. 'Oh no, not another lamp! I'm running out of Spellotape.'
'No, no,' said James hastily. 'Not that. That.'
Mrs Potter's eyes fell on the toy car and a kind smile appeared on her face. After a fraction of a second, however, it was replaced by a stern frown.
'James Potter, where did you get that car?'
A sheepish smile appeared on James' face as he put up his hands. 'I… er… got it from the Muggles across the street.'
Mrs Potter tilted her head and gave James a look that was reserved for whenever he did wrong.
'Anyways,' said James hastily, reaching over and grabbing the car, which was coming around the other way. 'I made the car move! Withouttouching it. Isn't that great?' he asked, without meeting his mother's piercing eyes. Mr Potter ruffled James' hair and grinned at him.
'It sure is, son,' he said, pride thundering in his voice. 'You'll be going to Hogwarts in no time!'
James grinned, turning the toy car over in his hands and looking from his mother to his father in pure joy.
A couple of years later still, Lily found herself making remarkable things happen. She still loved flowers (especially lilies, considering those were what she was named after) and found that she could make their petals move without even touching them.
One day, at about nine or ten years old, Lily and Petunia went to the playground they often visited during the summertime. Lily was fond of swings, and often found herself swinging much higher than she ought to. Her mother had even scolded her twice about this. But Lily saw no harm in the matter. After all, she had never gotten hurt.
She ran forward to claim a swing, sat down upon it and promptly kicked off from the ground. Petunia followed and sat on the swing beside Lily, watching her warily. Lily swung herself higher and higher. She loved this feeling. It was as though she was a bird. Suddenly, something caught her attention in the nearby bushes around the playground. Lily blinked, but when she had looked a second time, there was nothing there. Shaking her head and telling herself she was imagining things, Lily swung higher.
It was then that Petunia shrieked, 'Lily, don't do it!'
Ignoring Petunia, she let go of the swing at the very height of its arc and flew into the air, launching herself skyward with a great shout of laughter and soared like a trapeze artist through the air, staying up quite longer than usual and landing quite lightly, indeed.
'Mummy told you not to!'
Petunia stopped her swing by dragging the heels of her sandals on the ground, making a crunching, grinding sound, then leapt up, hands on her hips.
'Mummy said you weren't allowed, Lily!'
'But I'm fine,' said Lily, still giggling. 'Tuney, look at this. Watch what I can do.'
Petunia glanced around. The playground, it seemed, was deserted apart from themselves. Lily picked up a fallen flower from a nearby bush. Petunia advanced, evidently torn between curiosity and disapproval. Lily waited until Petunia was near enough to have a clear view, and then held out her palm. The flower sat there, opening and closing its petals.
Lily smiled. She had gotten quite good at moving flowers.
'Stop it!' shrieked Petunia.
'It's not hurting you,' said Lily, but she closed her hand on the blossom and threw it back to the ground.
'It's not right,' said Petunia, but her eyes had followed the flower's flight to the ground and lingered upon it. 'How do you do it?' she added, and there was definite longing in her voice.
'It's obvious, isn't it?'
A boy had jumped out from behind the bushes. Petunia shrieked and ran backward toward the swings, but Lily, though clearly startled, remained where she was. A dull flush of colour mounted the boy's sallow cheeks as he looked at Lily. He was small and stringy, with overlong black hair. He was wearing too short jeans, a shabby, overlarge coat that might have belonged to a grown man, and an odd smock-like shirt.
'What's obvious?' asked Lily.
The boy had an air of nervous excitement. With a glance at the distant Petunia, now hovering beside the swings, he lowered his voice and said, 'I know what you are.'
'What do you mean?'
'You're… you're a witch,' he whispered.
Lily looked affronted.
'That's not a very nice thing to say to somebody!'
She turned, nose in the air, and marched off toward her sister.
'No!' said the boy. He was highly coloured now, as he flapped after the girls, looking ludicrously bat-like.
The sisters considered him, united in disapproval, both holding on to one of the swing poles, as though it was the safe place in tag.
'You are,' he said to Lily. 'You are a witch. I've been watching you for a while. But there's nothing wrong with that. My mum's one and I'm a wizard.'
Petunia's laugh was like cold water.
'Wizard!' she shrieked. Her courage returned now that she had recovered from the shock of his unexpected appearance. 'I know who you are. You're that Snape boy! They live down Spinner's End by the river,' she told Lily, and it was evident from her tone that she considered the address a poor recommendation. 'Why have you been spying on us?'
'Haven't been spying,' said Snape, hot and uncomfortable and dirty-haired in the bright sunlight. 'Wouldn't spy on you, anyway,' he added spitefully, 'You're a Muggle.'
Though Petunia evidently did not understand the word, she could hardly mistake the tone.
'Lily, come on, we're leaving!' she said shrilly. Lily obeyed her sister at once, glaring at Snape as she left. He stood watching them as they marched through the playground gate, his face fixed with bitter disappointment.
[Rowling, Deathly Hallows, p. 350-351]
Mrs Potter stood out in the backward, her arms folded, looking at her husband and son with a determined look on her face.
'Aww, please mum?' James was pleading with his mother. 'Just once?'
'Oh, come on dear. He'll be fine.' Mr Potter was holding a broomstick in his hands as he smiled sheepishly at her. His face fell when he saw his wife's raised eyebrows.
'No way,' said Mrs Potter firmly. 'I know how crazy you two get about broomsticks and flying.'
'Mum, I'm not a baby!' insisted James. 'I'm going to Hogwarts in a year and a half, so I'm going to have to ride a broomstick eventually.' He returned his mother's determined glare.
'How about I ride it with him?' asked Mr Potter. 'You know, to make sure nothing happens.'
Mrs Potter considered him for a moment, and then sighed with exasperation.
'Oh, alright.' Mr Potter and James grinned at each other. 'But you make sure you don't fly too high. We live in a Muggle neighbourhood, you know.'
James nodded eagerly as he mounted the broomstick and sat in front of his father. 'Thanks mum!'
Mrs Potter smiled and pushed her hair back as James and Mr Potter rose to the air.
James let out a great shout of laughter as the broom accelerated forward. He loved this feeling. It was as though he were a bird.
The next day, Lily returned to the playground. Petunia hadn't wanted to come due to the events that took place the day before and had advised Lily not to either. Lily, who had never really taken to obeying her sister, went anyway. As odd as that Snape boy was, Lily's curiosity as to what he had spoken of was overwhelming.
Just as she had predicted he was in the playground when she arrived. He was quietly playing alone in the sand box. Snape watched as Lily entered the playground, but then averted his gaze quickly. Lily headed toward the swings as usual, but simply sat there swaying back and forth, rather than swinging high as she usually did. Lily and the boy were the only people in the playground and there was an awkward silence between them.
After a moment's silence, Lily asked in a quiet voice, 'Is it true?'
Snape turned around to face her, eagerness in his face.
'That thing you said,' responded Lily, still swaying back and forth. 'About witches and wizards.'
Lily watched him carefully as he nodded.
'I'm a… witch?' she asked again. 'That's why I can do all that stuff?'
Snape nodded again, still not taking his eyes off Lily.
Lily considered him for a moment, and then protested, 'But, I don't have a green face! Or a cauldron or a broomstick or a pointy hat or anything!'
Snape laughed, making Lily flush with embarrassment.
'That's not what a witch is. That's just what Muggles think they look like,' he responded.
'Muggle… that's what you called Petunia yesterday. She wasn't pleased.'
Snape shrugged, still staring at Lily. 'So what? She's just a Muggle.'
'What is a Muggle, anyway?' demanded Lily.
'Non-magical people,' said Snape simply.
'Oh… am I a…'
'Nope.' He shook his head. 'You can do magic. I saw you.'
Lily wrinkled her brow and the boy, flushing slightly, returned to playing at the sandbox.
'So I'm a witch?' repeated Lily.
'Yeah,' clarified Snape, sounding relieved that she had continued talking to him. 'You'll get to go to Hogwarts. Me too.'
'Hogwarts?' Lily raised her eyebrows. 'Gross, why would I want to see a hog's warts?'
Snape was evidently confused, because he wrinkled his brow and shook his head quickly. 'No,' he said, in a slightly louder voice. 'Hogwarts. It's a school of magic.'
Lily's eyes had popped open and her eyebrows shot up to her head. 'A school of magic?' It was hard to keep the wonder out of her voice.
Snape nodded. 'Yep, that's right. It's where we learn to use magic and stuff. We get to go there when we turn eleven.'
Lily had gotten off her swing and was making her way toward Snape. He watched her eagerly as she came up to the sandbox and plopped herself down on the sand across from him. The corners of Snape's mouth twisted into a smile. Lily began to make a pile of sand.
'I'm Lily,' she said, giving him a brilliant smile.
'I kn – I'm Severus… Snape.' He looked embarrassed by what he had almost let slip.
Lily nodded, pile of sand in front of her growing larger still. There was a moment's silence.
'So what's this school like?' asked Lily, her curiosity unbearable.
'Well, like I said, it's a school about magic. You get to go when you're eleven and you learn magic for seven years.'
Lily quickly counted her fingers. 'So until we're eighteen then?'
Snape nodded again. 'You get to learn all sorts of things. Like how to do spells, how to change things into other things, how to make potions… and even how to fly!' Snape watched Lily's face as he said this, to see the reaction on her face.
'Fly?' whispered Lily.
Snape nodded. 'On broomsticks. I don't know all that much about it, but my mum tells me about it sometimes.'
Lily smiled and leaned forward.
'It must be fun,' she said, gazing up at the sky.
'Mum? I'm home,' called Lily, as she entered her house and shut the front door behind her. A kind looking woman with shoulder length strawberry-blond hair approached to greet her.
'Hi there, sweetheart,' she said, giving her a smile that was almost identical to Lily's one. 'Where have you been?'
'At the playground.' Lily paused. Should she tell her about what Severus had said? 'Where's Tuney, mum?'
'Washing up for dinner – you should, too. Go on, now.'
Lily took off her shoes and headed toward the bathroom. Perhaps right now wasn't a good time to startle her mum with odd information. She entered the bathroom to find Petunia scrubbing away at her fingers. Petunia saw Lily enter from the corner of her eyes and gave her a stern frown through the bathroom mirror.
'I know where you went,' she said, turning the tap off and placing her hands on her hips. 'You went to the playground.'
'So?' asked Lily defiantly. 'What's wrong with that?'
Petunia turned to check if there was anyone outside the bathroom floor, and then returned her glare toward her sister. 'Well, that rude Snape boy was there yesterday.'
'What if he was there yesterday? What makes you think he was there today as well?'
Petunia raised an eyebrow.
'OK, OK. So he was. But Tuney, you wouldn't believe it! I can do magic! That's how I made the flowers move and everything. Magic, Tuney! Isn't that amazing?'
Petunia looked at her; both of her eyebrows were raised now, and she let out a cold laugh.
'Magic? Lily, you can't do magic!'
'Yes, I can!' said Lily indignantly. 'Remember the flower petals?'
'That wasn't magic, Lily! I just can't believe you believed that Snape boy.'
She laughed cruelly, leaving Lily hurt and alone in the bathroom.
James was lying down on his stomach on the carpet in his living room, kicking his feet back and forth.
'Yeah, son?' Mr Potter looked down at him from the top of his Daily Prophet.
'Tell me about Hogwarts again.'
Mr Potter grinned and cast aside his newspaper, as Mrs Potter entered the room and sat on the arm of her husband's chair.
'Hogwarts,' began Mr Potter, 'is the most extraordinary school in the world. When we went there, the Headmaster was a man named Armando Dippet. Wonderful man. Recently though, Albus Dumbledore became the Headmaster. Another great man. He was a good teacher, too. In Hogwarts, you get to learn greater magic than any other school can offer, in my opinion. There are other schools, of course. Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. Both very respected as well. But I believe that Hogwarts had the best teachers in the wizarding world. It also teaches amazingsubjects. Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Flying…'
'Yep, that's right,' he added, catching his son's eye. James had the largest smile on his face. 'Flying too. But quite honestly, son, Hogwarts is most exceptional because that's the place where you meet incredible people, lifelong friends and soul mates.' Mr Potter took his wife's hand and smiled at her, while James feigned throwing up behind their backs.
Despite what Petunia had said, Lily had become more and more interested in what Snape had to say. The topic of witchcraft and wizardry, especiallywithout the evil with it was associated to in television, was quite addicting, and Lily and Snape spent hours at a time every day talking about it. One such day, Snape and Lily sat together in a small thicket of trees. A sunlit river glittered through their trunks. The shadows cast by the trees made a basin of cool, green shade. Lily and Snape sat facing each other, cross-legged on the ground. Snape had removed his coat now; his odd smock looked less peculiar in the half light. Snape was talking, yet again about the wizarding world.
'… and the Ministry can punish you if you do magic outside school, you get letters.'
'But I have done magic outside school!'
'We're all right. We haven't got wands yet. They let you off when you're a kid and you can't help it. But once you're eleven,' he nodded importantly, 'and they start training you, then you've got to be careful.
There was a little silence. Lily had picked up a fallen twig and twirled it in the air. She was imagining sparks trailing from it. Then she dropped the twig, leaned in toward Snape, and said, 'It is real, isn't it?'
'It's real for us,' said Snape, 'Not for her. But we'll get the letter, you and me.'
'Really?' whispered Lily.
'Definitely,' said Snape, and even with his poorly cut hair and his odd clothes, he struck an oddly impressive figure sprawled in front of her, brimful of confidence in his destiny.
'And will it really come by owl?' Lily whispered.
'Normally,' said Snape. 'But you're Muggle-born, so someone from the school will have to come and explain to your parents.'
'Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?'
Snape hesitated. His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom, moved over the pale face, the dark red hair.
'No,' he said. 'It doesn't make any difference.'
'Good,' said Lily, relaxing. She really had been worrying about that lately.
'You've got loads of magic,' said Snape. 'I saw that. All the time I was watching you…'
His voice trailed away; she was not listening, but had stretched out on the leafy ground and was looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead. He watched her as greedily as he had watched her in the playground the first time they met.
'How are things at your house?' Lily asked.
A little crease appeared between Snape's eyes.
'Fine,' he said.
'They're not arguing anymore?'
'Oh yes, they're arguing,' said Snape. He picked up a fistful of leaves and began tearing them apart, apparently unaware of what he was doing. 'But it won't be that long and I'll be gone.'
'Doesn't your dad like magic?'
'He doesn't like anything, much,' said Snape.
A little smile twisted Snape's mouth when she said his name.
'Tell me about the Dementors again.'
'What d'you want to know about them for?'
'If I use magic outside school -'
'They wouldn't give you to the Dementors for that! Dementors are for people who do really bad stuff. They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban. You're not going to end up in Azkaban, you're too -'
He turned red again and shredded more leaves. Then a small rustling noise: Petunia, who had been hiding behind a tree, had lost her footing.
'Tuney!' said Lily, surprise and welcome in her voice, but Snape had jumped to his feet.
'Who's spying now?' he shouted. 'What d'you want?'
Petunia was breathless, alarmed at being caught. She was struggling for something hurtful to say.
'What is that you're wearing, anyway?' she said, pointing at Snape's chest. 'Your mum's blouse?'
There was a crack. A branch over Petunia's head had fallen. Lily screamed. The branch caught Petunia on the shoulder, and she staggered backward and burst into tears.
But Petunia was running away. Lily rounded on Snape.
'Did you make that happen?'
'No.' He looked both defiant and scared.
'You did!' She was backing away from him. 'You did! You hurt her!'
'No – no, I didn't!'
But the lie did not convince Lily. After one last burning look, she ran from the little thicket, off after her sister, and Snape looked miserable and confused…
[Rowling, Deathly Hallows, p. 351-352]
'James Potter, what am I going to do about that hair?'
Mrs Potter stood in front of James, looking down at his wild, unruly hair, and then at his father, who was grinning sheepishly behind him. 'We just got it cut yesterday, too!'
'He's got his old man's hair!' said Mr Potter, ruffling his own hair and laughing.
'You're not old, dad,' said James, grinning and watching as his dad ruffled his hair, with a look of admiration on his face.
Lily was still quite angry with Snape the next day and had stopped going to the playground to meet him after what he had done to Petunia. However, by the following week her anger seemed to have evaporated. It was replaced more by the burning feeling of curiosity. Though Snape had told her everything she needed to know about Hogwarts, Lily felt a void in her life without him in it.
As her eleventh birthday approached, Lily felt an anxiousness engulf her. Would she get the letter then? This would be the moment of ultimate truth. Then, she promised herself, she would make up with Severus.
On the morning of January 30, Lily got up extra early. She rushed downstairs and sat in front of the front door. Her parents, as well as Petunia, were still asleep but Lily didn't care. This was it. Her eleventh birthday. If Snape was telling the truth, the proof would arrive shortly. Lily sat there watching the mail slot for a full half hour before the flap popped open and a barrage of letters fell through. She gathered them all up and went into the sitting room. Sitting atop the couch, she went through each letter one by one.
To Mr Evans, To Mr. & Mrs Evans, To Mrs Evans, and to Lily's excitement, To Miss L. Evans. Lily gasped. She dropped the other letters onto the couch to her right and brought the one addressed to her closer to her eyes. There it was. With her address and everything. Lily fingered the flap of the envelope and opened it carefully. This was a crucial moment, she thought. Ceremoniously, she got the entire flap open and pulled out the letter.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., , Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Miss Evans,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We shall be sending a Hogwarts school official to your home today.
Lily let out a shriek of happiness and began to jump up and down. Mr & Mrs Evans rushed downstairs, still wearing their pyjamas with a worried expression on their faces.
'What's the matter!' asked Mrs Evans, a crease in her brow.
'What is it?' asked Mr Evans. He was slightly taller than his wife, with brownish-blond hair and brilliant green eyes. Momentarily, his tall face was fixed with worry.
'Look, mum! Look, dad!' Lily excitedly thrust the letter into her parents' hands and watched their faces as their eyes ran over the words on the letter.
Finally, Mr Evans spoke.
'My goodness… This is amazing. Magic, huh? My little girl?' He put his hand lightly on top of Lily's head and she giggled.
'Why, this is really some news, isn't it?' said Mrs Evans, still examining the letter.
'What's going on?' Petunia had come downstairs too. She stood at the middle of the stairs, looking from her parents to her little sister. Lily's face lit up at the sight of her and she ran forward to greet her.
'Tuney! Guess what! It's true! I can do magic! Sev was telling the truth all along! I'm going to Hogwarts!'
Petunia looked bewildered as she looked at the letter in her mother's hand. Her mother had now looked up from the letter.
'Looks like they'll be sending a school official later today,' she said.
The doorbell rang.
Lily hurried to open the door, half-hoping it was Snape. Standing in front of the door was a tall, old man. He wore half-moon spectacles, had a long, crooked nose, and flowing silver hair, beard, and moustache. He was wearing long robes, a dark blue cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright and twinkled behind his glasses when he smiled down kindly at Lily.
'Hello, my dear,' he said. 'I am to understand that you are Miss Lily Evans?'
Lily smiled and nodded at him. Mr & Mrs Evans came to her side and the man's face lit up.
'Ah! And you must be Mr & Mrs Evans! Pleasure to meet you.' The man took a bow.
'Hello,' said Mrs Evans nervously. 'And you –?'
'Oh, of course. How utterly rude of me. I am Professor Albus Dumbledore and I am the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.'
Mrs Evans' eyebrows shot up to her head but Mr Evans leaned forward and offered his hand to Dumbledore, who gladly shook it.
'Please come in,' said Mr Evans.
Dumbledore smiled broadly and entered the house, looking around it in amazement. He noticed Petunia standing near the stairs and smiled kindly at her.
'Ah, you must be young Petunia.' He bowed lightly to her and then allowed himself to be led into the sitting room. Petunia, still looking bewildered, did not return Dumbledore's smile.
'Wonderful home, wonderful home,' muttered Dumbledore as he entered the sitting room. 'Oh, and let me say your lilies are flourishing.'
'In more ways than one,' said Mrs Evans affectionately, standing behind Lily and hugging her. Petunia looked as though she had been punched in the stomach.
'Now,' began Dumbledore, once seated with a cup of tea in his hands. 'As you know, your daughter is quite gifted.'
Mrs Evans nodded slowly, as Dumbledore continued. 'She has the ability to perform magic. In our school, Hogwarts, we teach students to control their Magic and to use it well. We have highly skilled teachers who will make sure their students study well and very comfortable dormitories, so students can get a good night's sleep as well.'
He took a sip from his tea. Mr Evans leaned forward.
'Well,' he said, 'we also have a few concerns as well.'
'Naturally,' said Dumbledore kindly. 'Please, ask away.'
'Well…' Mr Evans seemed to be in deep thought. 'First… what sort of magic is this? Magicians? Like magic tricks in kids' birthday parties?'
Dumbledore chuckled. 'No, my dear man. This magic is quite real and I assure you it isn't a trick. The magic your daughter is capable of is the kind that allows her to enter the wizarding world. In Hogwarts, she'll be able to learn how to use this magic. She'll learn simple charms and spells, learn how to brew potions – for helpful purposes of course – how to transfigure one item into another, and even defensive jinxes and hexes.'
Mr Evans nodded and seemed quite at ease hearing the word 'defensive.'
'Right,' he said. 'And this education… is it purely magic?'
'Ah... well, you see Lily is now part of the magical community. Subjects such as math and science are still taught, but they are quite different from the kind Muggles learn. For example, Arithmancy -'
'Muggles?' Mrs Evans seemed quite confused.
'Non-magical people,' supplied Lily, remembering what Snape had said.
'Quite right,' said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. 'Hogwarts also teaches History of Magic and Astrology and Lily has a choice in which subjects she chooses, keeping in mind it helps her get into a certain job field.'
'Job field… Oh, so there are jobs available too?' Mr Evans looked very pleased.
'Of course! In fact, we also have a Ministry of Magic.'
Mr & Mrs Evans looked quite impressed, but Petunia was looking unimpressed on the whole.
'What about housing? Will Lily be coming home every day?' Mrs Evans looked worried when she said this.
'Ah, well, like I said, Hogwarts has a large number of comfortable dormitories, where she can sleep every day. She can come home for Christmas and Easter holidays, but other than that, she will live in Hogwarts.'
Mr & Mrs Evans looked at each other.
'Hogwarts,' added Dumbledore, 'has excellent security, with extremely skilled teacher guardians and exceptional defensive spells surrounding it. It is also a wonderful environment for a child to grow up in.'
Mr & Mrs Evans finally looked at ease. They smiled at each other, at Lily and finally at Dumbledore.
'Well then, Professor… er…'
'Professor Dumbell-door.' Dumbledore smiled as an embarrassed-looking Mr Evans continued, 'With that kind of an exceptional program you seem to be running, we'd be fools to not accept your offer.' He got up with Dumbledore and shook his hand.
'Excellent! Now… term starts on September the first. Here…' Dumbledore took out a blank piece of paper from his robes and tapped it with his wand while Mr & Mrs Evans, Lily and even Petunia watched curiously, '… is a map of Diagon Alley, with instructions on how to get there. You should be able to find it quite easily. Just go into The Leaky Cauldron, Lily should be able to find it, and ask for Tom the barman. And…' Dumbledore reached into his robes and fished out a small sack. 'This is what we call wizard money. It's not the same as Muggle money. You can use this money to buy Lily's books and robes –' he pointed to the paper attached to Lily's letter), '–or you can also exchange Muggle money into wizard gold, which can be done at Gringotts bank.'
Mr & Mrs Evans looked as though they had a lot to digest, but Lily nodded understandingly. Petunia looked from Dumbledore to Lily, still speechless.
When Dumbledore had finally left, Petunia spoke. Her voice was barely a whisper when she demanded, 'Let me see,' and grabbed the letter in Lily's hands. She read the letter quickly and silently, then thrust it back into her sister's hands and ran upstairs without another word.
'Tuney? Tuney!' Lily called after her sister but no response came. Mrs Evans put her hand gently over Lily's shoulder and bent down to whisper in her ear.
'Don't you worry, dear. She's just upset because she's going to miss you. Just give her some time, alright?' Lily nodded weakly.
Later that day, Lily went to the playground. She had a feeling that Snape wouldn't show up there, especially since it had become quite cold, but she went all the same. Bundling up with a coat and scarf, Lily rushed to the playground, clutching the envelope and letter tightly in her hands. But as she had hoped, there was Snape. He wasn't playing in the sandbox, as he usually preferred, but was sitting quietly on a swing, swaying back and forth slowly.
'Sev!' Lily ran forward and flung her arms over Snape's neck in an embrace. Snape, who had just realised Lily's presence there, looked quite shocked but happy all the same. When Lily had finally let go, he seemed quite pleased with himself.
'Look!' Lily thrust the letter into his hands and watched his face grow with excitement as he read it.
'That's great!' he croaked as he handed the letter back to Lily and the excitement of their meeting had died down. He looked at Lily and there was an awkward silence.
'I'm sorry,' muttered Snape. 'About the branch and your sister.'
'Never mind,' said Lily bracingly. 'Forget about it. Just… try not to do it again.'
Snape nodded eagerly and watched as Lily dusted the snow off the swing next to him and sat down.
'Oh right,' said Snape after awhile, pulling out a small box and handing it to Lily. 'Happy birthday.'
'Sev! How'd you – Thanks so much!' Lily opened the case slowly. Inside was a less-than-neatly braided multicoloured bracelet made of a bundle of thin threads. She lifted the bracelet out and examined it under the sun.
'I wanted to make it with magic,' said Snape quickly, not catching Lily's eye. 'We're allowed to use magic until we start at Hogwarts, you know. But every time I tried, it just came out wrong. So I just made it by hand. I know it's not that great,' muttered Snape.
But Lily had flung her arms around Snape again. 'It's brilliant! I love it.' Snape flushed with happiness.
An owl had flown into the Potter home and swiftly dropped a letter onto James' lap. James picked it up, read the return address and jumped up with joy. Yes! It was the twenty seventh of March and James had finally turned eleven.
'Congratulations, son!' Mr Potter, who was reading yet another Daily Prophet, dropped it on the kitchen table and leaded forward to give his son a high-five.
'I've got eleven chocoball pancakes for the birthday boy who just turned eleven!' Mrs Potter set down a plate in front of her husband and son.
'Mum, look!' James showed her the letter and her face broke into a grin.
'That's marvellous! Why, we should go into Diagon Alley today to get you things! We can pick up a birthday present as well!'
She leaned forward and kissed a wide-grinning James on the head.
'Wait, that's a Hogwarts letter.'
'Huh?' Lily turned around to find Snape craning over a letter on Petunia's desk. They had been playing Hide-and-Seek and Lily had found Snape yet again, even though he had figured he was safe in a Muggle's room.
Snape picked up the envelope and held it up for Lily to see. Like Lily's letter, this one had a Hogwarts crest on the envelope.
'Petunia's going to Hogwarts too?' Lily couldn't help but smile. Her big sister was going to be at Hogwarts as well?
Snape shook his head promptly. 'No. She's a Muggle. That's for sure. Professor Dumbledore would have talked to your parents about her too if she wasn't.'
Lily's face fell slightly. 'Then how come she has a letter?'
Snape looked deep in thought. 'I don't know. I can't believe a Muggle contacted Hogwarts. Oh… wait, there must be wizards working undercover in the postal service.' He nodded his head matter-of-factly.
Lily took the envelope from his hands gently and pulled out the letter inside. She read it, and then reread it, her eyes misting over.
'She must have really wanted to go,' she said quietly. Snape looked rather uncomfortable as Lily put the letter back on Petunia's desk and left the room without another word.
'Here it is, son. The magic begins here.' James and his parents were standing in the King's Cross station in London looking directly at Platform 9 ¾. James stared at the wall between platform 9 and 10, then looked at his father.
'Where's platform –?'
'You're looking at it.'
James looked back at the wall. He saw platform 9 on his left and platform 10 on his right. But no platform 9 ¾. Then a realization occurred to him.
'Wait,' he said grinning. 'You have to –?'
'That's right.' Mr Potter grinned and Mrs Potter gathered together James' luggage, placing it all onto a cart.
'Make sure you run at it,' said Mr Potter.
James gripped his cart handle tightly, preparing to run into the wall.
'What, no goodbye?'
James turned around to see his dad feigning a hurt expression. He rushed forward and gave his father a fleeting hug.
'Bye, Dad! Bye, Mum!'
He permitted his mother to kiss him before gripping his cart and running toward Platform 9 ¾, disappearing behind its wall.
Platform 9 ¾.
Lily looked back at the wall, gaping. She had just followed a boy across the border separating Platform 9 ¾. And she wasn't injured. Even though she had run into a wall.
Lily caught sight of Snape nearby and gave him a small smile. Then she turned back to her family. Her parents were overjoyed, looking around at their surroundings. Petunia however, looked quite cross, as though she hadn't wanted to come. Lily pulled her away from her parents.
'You're mad at me, aren't you, Tuney?'
Petunia did not answer, but continued to look down at her feet with a cold glare.
'Listen Tuney. I wanted you to come too. I promise.' No response.
'I'm sorry, Tuney, I'm sorry! Listen -' She caught Petunia's hand and held tight to it, even though she tried to pull it away. 'Maybe once I'm there – no, listen, Tuney! Maybe once I'm there, I'll be able to go to Professor Dumbledore and persuade him to change his mind!'
'I don't – want – to – go!' said Petunia, and she dragged her hand back out of her sister's grasp. 'You think I want to go to some stupid castle and learn to be a – a…'
Her pale eyes roved over the platform, over the cats mewling in their owners' arms, over the owls, fluttering and hooting at each other in cages, over the students, some already in their long black robes, loading trunks onto the scarlet steam engine or else greeting one another with glad cries after a summer apart.
'– You think I want to be a – a freak?'
Lily's eyes filled with tears as Petunia succeeded in tugging her hand away.
'I'm not a freak,' said Lily. 'That's a horrible thing to say.'
'That's where you're going,' said Petunia with relish. 'A special school for freaks. You and that Snape boy… weirdos, that's what you two are. It's good you're being separated from normal people. It's for our safety.'
Lily glanced toward her parents, who were still looking around the platform with an air of wholehearted enjoyment, drinking in the scene. Then she looked back at her sister, and her voice was low and fierce.
'You didn't think it was such a freak's school when you wrote to the headmaster and begged him to take you.'
Petunia turned scarlet.
'Beg? I didn't beg!'
'I saw his reply. It was very kind.'
'You shouldn't have read -' whispered Petunia, 'that was my private – how could you –?'
Lily gave herself away by half-glancing toward where Snape stood. Petunia gasped.
'That boy found it! You and that boy have been sneaking in my room!'
'No – not sneaking -' Now Lily was on the defensive. 'Severus saw the envelope, and he couldn't believe a Muggle could have contacted Hogwarts, that's all! He says there must be wizards working undercover in the postal service who take care of -'
'Apparently wizards poke their noses in everywhere!' said Petunia, now as pale as she had been flushed. 'Freak!' she spat at her sister, and she flounced off to where her parents stood, leaving Lily hurt and tearful.
[Rowling, Deathly Hallows, p. 353]
Lily entered the train feeling extremely hurt. Petunia was angry with her. She probably hated her now. Tears filled Lily's eyes. Lily hurried to find a compartment, but everywhere she looked seemed to be full. She just wanted to be alone right now, but it seemed as though there were no empty compartments left. After awhile, she gave up and went into a compartment that at least had some seats.
Inside were a group of boys talking excitedly to each other. One of them, the boy she had seen enter the platform, looked up as she arrived. He had jet-black hair and hazel-coloured eyes. Lily blinked hard, hoping her tears weren't visible. He looked at her for a fraction of a second, with a concerned look on his face, and then gave her a small smile before returning his attention back to his newly-made friends. Lily found a window seat at the other side of the compartment from the boys and curled up in the corner. She pressed her nose against the window and saw her parents and Petunia.
Suddenly, Snape slid open the compartment door and sat down opposite Lily. She glanced at him and then looked back out of the window. It was evident to Snape that she had been crying.
'I don't want to talk to you,' she said in a constricted voice.
'Tuney h-hates me. Because we saw that letter from Dumbledore.'
She threw him a look of deep dislike.
'So she's my sister!'
'She's only a -' He caught himself quickly; Lily, too busy trying to wipe her eyes without being noticed, did not hear him.
'But we're going!' he said, unable to suppress the exhilaration in his voice. 'This is it! We're off to Hogwarts!'
She nodded, mopping her eyes, but in spite of herself, she half smiled.
'You'd better be in Slytherin,' said Snape, encouraged that she had brightened a little.
One of the boys sharing the compartment, the one with the jet-black hair, looked around at the word. He was slight, but with that indefinable air of having been well-cared-for, even adored, that Snape so conspicuously lacked.
'Who wants to be in Slytherin? I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?' James asked the boy lounging on the seats opposite him. He was slightly tall for his age, with fair skin and dark hair. The boy did not smile.
'My whole family have been in Slytherin,' he said.
'Blimey,' said James, 'and I thought you seemed all right!'
The boy grinned.
'Maybe I'll break the tradition. Where are you heading, if you've got the choice?'
James lifted an invisible sword.
"Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart!' Like my dad.'
Snape made a small, disparaging noise. James turned on him.
'Got a problem with that?'
'No,' said Snape, though his slight sneer said otherwise. 'If you'd rather be brawny than brainy -'
'Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?' interjected the boy sitting across from James.
James roared with laughter. Lily sat up, rather flushed, and looked from James to the boy across from him in dislike.
'Come on, Severus, let's find another compartment.'
James and his new friend imitated her lofty voice; James tried to trip Snape as he passed.
'See ya, Snivellus!' a voice called, as the compartment door slammed…
[Rowling, Deathly Hallows, p. 354]
James watched, laughing, as Snape left the compartment. What a git, he thought to himself. He wanted to be in Slytherin? And that girl with the red hair and green eyes. She had been crying…
James shook his head. He was quite pleased with himself, in any case. He had been on the train for five minutes, and he already made friends. He had met the boy in front of him – Sirius was his name – when he entered the compartment. James glanced at Sirius in pity. His whole family had been in Slytherin. And he was afraid to end up there himself. James' parents at least had belonged to Gryffindor, so there was a great chance he would end up there as well.
'Do you know about the Fat Lady?'
James snapped out of his thoughts as he was forced back into the conversation.
Lily and Snape, however, had not been able to find an empty compartment. Minutes later, they finally found one where a girl and a sleeping boy were seated. Hoping for better luck in this one, Lily knocked on the door boldly and slid it open.
'Can Severus and I stay in this compartment? Everywhere else is… full.'
The girl looked up and nodded. She had creamy light brown skin, long, silky black hair and fascinating eyes. Lily smiled at her politely and took the seat across from her. Snape stood there quite awkwardly for a few moments, and then sat down beside Lily.
'I'm Lily Evans,' said Lily, extending her right hand toward the girl. She smiled and shook it.
'Kalah Ramnath. First year.'
'Me too,' said Lily, grinning at her. She gestured to Severus at her left. 'Er… This is Severus. He's… er… shy.'
Severus made no acknowledgement whatsoever of the girl, but kept staring at his foot. Lily glanced at the sleeping boy, sitting at the other side of the compartment. He was shabby looking, with neat hair and hand-me-down robes.
'He was asleep there when we got in here,' said Kalah, examining him with her head tilted to one side.
A short while later, there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said, 'Anything off the cart, dears?'
Kalah looked up. Lily shook her head.
'I… er… don't have any wizard money.' She turned to Kalah. 'We were going to exchange Muggle money for it,' she explained, holding out a five-pound note, 'but mum was frightened of the goblins at Gringotts.'
Kalah grinned, pulling out a small pouch from her robes. 'Well, I've got some,' she said. She turned to the witch now. 'We'll take a bit of everything then.'
Lily spent the majority of her ride going through the chocolate and candy that Kalah had bought. There were so many different kinds of candy, each more amazing than the last. Chocolate Frogs, Fizzing Whizbees, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum…
'See? I told you! Candy and chocolates in the wizarding world is so much more fun than Muggle candies,' said Kalah, laughing, after Lily had blown an unbelievably large bubble from Drooble's Best Blowing Gum.
'It is!' said Lily enthusiastically. 'Thanks for letting me try it, Kalah!'
'Every Flavor Beans,' announced Kalah after awhile, holding up a box and speaking seriously. 'They mean it. Every flavour. Even disgusting ones like earwax or vomit. It's more of a risk candy.'
Snape was still quiet. Once or twice, Lily had offered him a Chocolate Frog and invited him into the conversation, but it was quite obvious that Snape proved awkward in this crowd.
James was feeling especially happy. He had made friends, had a lot of chocolate before him presently and was on his way to Hogwarts. He had gotten to know Sirius quite a lot in the last few hours, and found him to be somewhat like himself. Sirius, for example, was interested in the prospect of belonging to Gryffindor house and seemed less troubled now by the fact that his entire family had belonged to Slytherin.
It was starting to get dark and James and Sirius had already changed into their school robes. A while later, the train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door onto a tiny, dark platform. James and Sirius, carrying their trunks, followed. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and a loud voice boomed out into the night.
'Firs' years! Firs' years over here!'
There was a large man standing there, with long a long shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard. The first years looked at him anxiously, but a lot of other students walked past him, smiling and nodding, greeting him.
'Hagrid, how're you?'
Hagrid smiled at them and waved, before turning his attention back to the first years.
'Right then, any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!'
James caught sight of Snape from the corner of his eye. He nudged Sirius, who looked round and snickered.
Lily followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of her that Lily thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody spoke much.
'Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts soon,' said Hagrid, holding up the lamp.
There was a loud 'Oooooh!'
Lily moved over to catch a better view. The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
'No more'n four to a boat!' Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Lily slipped into the nearest boat, followed by Kalah, Snape and the boy that was sleeping in the compartment.
'Had a good sleep, then?' Lily asked him, grinning. She had just noticed his awakening.
The boy smiled weakly at her. 'I wasn't able to get much sleep lately.' He looked up anxiously at the sky.
'I'm Lily,' supplied Lily.
'Remus Lupin.' He shook his head and took a better look at his surroundings.
'Everyone in?' shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. 'Right then – FORWARD!'
And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.
'Heads down!' yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face.
'Oi – you there! Quit rockin' yer boat! D'yeh want to drown?'
James and Sirius stopped swaying side to side, large grins plastered on their faces. The large mousy-haired boy and the brown-haired girl in the same boat had round, fearful eyes.
Soon, they were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbour, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.
They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door. Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.
The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in sapphire-blue robes stood there. She was young, but had a very stern face and it was quite obvious that she was not someone to cross.
'Firs' years, Professor McGonagall,' said Hagrid.
'Thank you, Hagrid. I can take them from here.'
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J. K. Rowling Bloomsbury, London: 2007.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. J. K. Rowling Bloomsbury, London: 1998