A/N: Many references to Peter Pan appear in this oneshot, and for the sake of those unfamiliar with the story, Peter Pan flies with the aid of happy thoughts and fairy dust. He also gives directions to his home, saying, "Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning."
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
-High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Jr.
Lily had always wanted to fly.
She knew how it would happen. She would stretch her arms out, like slender wings, and feel the magic tingle in her toes. It would spread across her, a warm, quivering sensation, and then golden sparks would fly from her eyes, and her whole body would be shining, and she'd suddenly be up in the air, whirling a Lily-hurricane in her room, soaring, soaring.
Then she'd draw back the fluttering drapes from her windows, and silently slip past them, out, into the vast night sky. She'd dodge flying stars and clouds, and she'd laugh at the pale moon, huge in its proximity. She'd call out to the people below, and allow the wind to snatch her words away. She'd tumble and spin and dance among the constellations, and maybe she'd even chart a course for the second star to the right…
It was a dream cherished, treasured, and jealously stored away. Because how in the world could anyone, anyone fly without fairy dust, no matter how many happy thoughts you envisioned?
So whenever she had dreams of skimming lightly atop moonlit waters, or smiling at stars reflected in her eyes, with the breeze in her hair and her face, she told no one, saving those dear imaginings for herself, like a piece of candy a child saves in his pocket. And though they would never-- could never-- come true (even though her parents always told her that whatever she wanted, she could have, just as long as she worked hard enough), she nursed a little shard of hope in her heart, all the same.
And then suddenly, she was doing it. She was flying. It was short-lived, true, and she needed a jumpstart from the swing, but she was soaring through the air, coming to a light stop on toes that tingled with magic.
Magic. That was what it was—truly magical, how a whole new world opened up new possibilities and put you in reach of your wildest, most delicious dreams. Every night, new fantasies flitted through Lily's sleep: an old stone castle by an impenetrably, enticingly secretive lake; children with magic at their fingertips; linking hands with friends and nonchalantly soaring to classes—all these fed by the stories Severus had told her about Hogwarts.
It was the first question she asked a Hogwarts teacher, ever. "Professor McGonagall, can you fly?"
She had blinked a little, and said, "Why, of course, Miss Evans. I am not inefficient on a broomstick."
She had blushed at the misinterpretation and said, hastily, "No, Professor, I meant, can you fly without a broomstick? You know," she had waved her hands wildly, "just float up into the air and fly?"
She had heard snickering from the back, and whipped her head around in time to catch Black and Potter hiding sniggers from behind their hands. She had raised an eyebrow, and Potter had put his hands up defensively.
"It's not that I think it's stupid," he had explained, coughing furiously as though to contradict his statement, "it's just that… why would you not want to ride on a broomstick?"
She had given him a supremely disdainful look and turned back to Professor McGonagall. Potter didn't deserve to know about any of her dreams. "Professor?"
"I'm afraid no one can fly in that way without Dark Magic, Miss Evans," Professor McGonagall had said quietly.
"Even with fairy dust? Or happy thoughts?"
She had regretted saying it the moment the words fell out of her mouth. It hadn't just been Potter and Black tittering then—nearly the whole class had been hiding chuckles, and she had felt herself go red with shame.
And when McGonagall had finally declared (after a long, bewildered pause) that she hadn't the slightest idea what Lily meant, it had taken all her willpower not to burst out crying.
Though she felt, at that moment, foolish and devoid and lost—as those who lose dreams often feel—she couldn't help but look forward to starting on a broomstick, all the same. Though it was a poor substitute to soaring on her own, and though it dismayed her to have to depend upon an object, and not her own power, for flight, it would take her a step closer to that lost dream…
It didn't. Not really. There was the same rushing of the wind that she had envisaged, the same whipping of hair and biting of the breeze into her cheeks, but it lacked the most important part—that—that—magic. And watching the Quidditch games made it even worse: How could those black, rollicking Bludgers have anything in common with her dreams of golden dust and soaring in moonlight? Quidditch was an exciting game, yes, one she would have loved were it not for the fact that it seemed to symbolise everything that mocked her lost vision of flight.
The wonderful idea of her new world, as compared to its crushing reality, seemed to her exactly the same as her dream of magical flight and soaring on a broomstick: The reality was truly amazing, but so limited, so constrained, when set beside a dream that only her imagination could conjure...
"I think you could be an amazing flyer, Lily."
On a cold November day by the Great Lake, Lily looked up to meet James Potter's determined gaze, even as she registered the two broomsticks he held.
"Flying isn't for me, James… I've learned that in my past years here." There was only a touch of bitterness in her murmur.
"You don't even try."
"Maybe I don't want to."
Green and hazel locked, and a silent struggle ensued.
"Please," he said, surprisingly courteous, "ride behind me on my broom. I don't know if you're afraid, or not… I don't know the reason behind your refusal to ride a broom, but I'd keep you safe."
Sincerity rang in every word, and Lily felt that she had no choice but to settle herself behind him and clutch onto his waist (though she knew his guess that she was afraid was far, very far off the mark). They were off, and the trees dwindled into tiny spots on the ground as they climbed higher and higher.
And suddenly, something changed. Lily wasn't sure what it was—all she knew was that she was becoming warmer, and a quivering, golden feeling was spreading through her body from her hands, lending strength and joy all the way from her feet to her eyes, where—could it be?—she thought she felt the beginning of golden sparks—
She looked down at her hands, the source of it all, firmly wrapped around James Potter's waist, and let out an involuntary gasp. He heard, twisted around, gave her a quick smile, and then they were really off.
James Potter, Quidditch virtuoso, showed Lily Evans what it meant to really fly on a broomstick.
In those few, desperate, windblown moments, everything changed. As they traveled across the sky, Lily realised what she should have known all along—even disappointed dreams never lose their magic. And the reality can still be truly… well, magical. Looking beyond the misty illusion of your imaginings is all it takes…
And it had taken, of all the people in the world, James Potter to make her realise this.
Afterwards, Lily could never describe their flight properly, and neither could James. He admitted that even he had never gone on such a ride in his life. All Lily remembered, however, was the rush and the light and the golden sparkles dancing on the edges of her vision, almost like fairy dust, and how she could close her eyes and almost imagine that she was flying on her own, skimming moonlit waters, smiling at reflected stars.
And when they finally reached the ground, hands somehow entwined, Lily could have sworn that her toes were tingling with magic.
A/N: A clarification: when I say Lily found that she was "flying" after swinging, I don't believe that was true flight-- her magic simply kept her from being injured by the jump. She couldn't really generate flight the way Voldy and Snape seemed to be able to.
This story was written for the RL Fanon challenge, where a list of common fanon in the HP fandom has been put up. Our challenge was to pick one and write a story based on NOT including that particular piece of fanon. The one I took was: 41. Lily is scared of riding a broom/hates Quidditch.