There's a doll in her trunk, tucked away between some old robes and a pair of holey pyjamas. It has knotty blonde hair and blue eyes, and is wearing a pink dress and a wide smile.
I fish it out and hold it up for her to see. "What is this?"
She throws a glance over her shoulder from where she's packing up the things on top of her dresser in preparation of moving out of her childhood home, apparently uninterested - but then her eyes lock on the doll and she turns around fully, face already flushing. "Put her back," she says, reaching out for her.
I hold the doll closer to my face, studying the plastic. "Her?"
"Yes, her," she insists, dropping her hairbrush back onto the dresser and coming over. She takes the doll from my hands and lovingly caresses its hair. "This is Barbie."
I can't decide whether to be amused or freaked out. "She has a name?"
"Of course she has a name! Haven't you ever seen a Barbie before?"
Now I'm worried. "There's more than one of her?"
Her jaw goes slack. "Oh wow." She sits down beside me on the bed and holds the doll out in front of us, using one finger to flip her entire arm out. All of her plastic fingers are melded together, apart from her tiny little thumb. "James, this is Barbie. She has been by my side for longer than you, and hence she deserves your respect."
I can't hold back my laugh. "What?"
"Seriously," she says, eyes earnest. "I got her for my eleventh birthday. She's been around a long time."
"She looks good for her age."
She laughs and drops the doll's arm back to her side. "And for pretty much living in a trunk."
"She comes to Hogwarts with you every year?"
"Yeah." She flattens the doll's hair down and straightens her dress. "I opened her, and then my Hogwarts letter arrived. She's my good luck charm."
I take the doll from her and turn it over in my hands. "And to thank her you keep her in your case all year?"
"Well I can't really put her on display... I'm seventeen now, and people would talk." She twists her hands in her lap, the corner of her mouth lifted up slightly.
"About how a doll has better fashion sense than you?"
She laughs and nudges me in the side. "Hey! I could totally rock that dress!"
"Yeah you could, but you're not!" I laugh too.
Footsteps pad softly down the hall, and her mum appears in the doorway. "What are you two giggling about up here?"
"Still packing, Mum," Lily says, grabbing the doll and placing it gently back into her half-packed trunk.
"Oh, and Barbie's going with you? That's nice to see," Mrs Evans says, smiling.
Lily blushes the same colour as the doll's dress. "Mum."
"It's sweet, darling!" She opens her arms for a hug, and Lily leans into it, accepting a kiss on the crown of her head. "It's nice to see you're taking some of home with you."
Her eyes water as she replies, "Mum, of course I'm taking some of home with me."
There's a pause, and then Mrs Evans steps back and wipes her eyes. "Take good care of her," she says, and I can't tell if she's talking to Lily about the doll, or to me about Lily. Either way, she doesn't have to worry.
"I will," Lily and I say at the same time. We turn to each other, smiling, and Mrs Evans sighs.
"Of course you will."
a.n. this was meant to be silly but then it got a little sad?