Author's note: I'm sorry about the pathetically long wait. I started writing this chapter weeks ago but I didn't finish it until now. Reviews are always appreciated. Enjoy! :)


"It was all in vain
'Cause no senses remained"

The Cardigans - Live And Learn

Before Lily knew it, mrs Evans had wrapped her arms around her. She hugged her daughter so tightly it seemed like she never wanted to let go.

"Darling… Welcome home!" Her voice sounded strangled. "It's been too long… I'm so happy to see you. Are you okay?"

Lily let go of her mother carefully, so she could have a look at her face.

"I'm fine, mum!" She furrowed. "How are you?"

"Me? I am absolutely delighted to see my youngest daughter again!" It was obvious how she tried to steer the conversation away from herself. "Can you believe it? Your sister is getting married… When did you two grow up, anyway? I feel like it was only yesterday when you were seven years old and…"

"Mum…" Lily interrupted her, scared that she was about to bring up some embarrassing childhood memory. "This is my friend James… James Potter"

Not until now did Lily's mother look away from her daughter. Her eyes widened in surprise and it only made Lily more worried. Had her mother forgotten about all this? They had discussed it a week ago…

"But of course!" She beamed at James who still looked rather shocked by the welcoming. "It is so nice to finally meet you, James! We've heard so much about you…"

"You have?" Lily and James both asked at the same time, sounding just as nervous.

"It's really nice to meet you too, mrs Evans" James said politely and she put her hand on his shoulder.

"Please, call me Marie! Now we should all go inside before your dad starts to worry again…"

Mrs Evans lead the way into the house and Lily and James followed her.

"Please feel at home, James" Lily's mother said, still with that same weird voice that her daughter had never heard until today. "If there is anything you need, just ask!"

Lily closed the front door behind her.

"Why would dad worry about us?" she asked. "We were standing right outside the house…"

"Well, hello there! Don't be shy, come in and say hi!"

Lily couldn't help smiling at the sound of her father's voice. It came from the kitchen and seeing him in there, making dinner, was just something that made her think of her childhood. It made her feel safe. She kicked off her shoes in the hallway.

"Come on!" she said to James and together with her mother they made their way into the kitchen.

The sight that greeted them made Lily gasp. There was food everywhere, literally everywhere, and she could even detect a large, steaming saucepan standing on the floor over by the window… She glanced at James who had his eyes fixed on Mr Evans who greeted him by shaking hands.

"You must be James, Lily's friend"

"I am. It's nice to meet you sir"

Lily's father seemed slightly taken aback by James' politeness (which was not too common amongst muggle boys his age, Lily knew) but smiled warmly.

"It's a pleasure to meet you too! I am sorry you have to see our kitchen in this state. It's usually quite nice…"

"What on earth is going on in here?" Lily exclaimed, stepping further into the kitchen to examine the largest turkey she had ever seen over by the sink. "I am quite hungry and excited about dinner but this…"

"Oh don't be silly honey, this is all for the wedding tomorrow" her mother said.

She picked up the saucepan from the floor and put it on the stove. Suddenly, the strange voice, acts and face expressions made sense to Lily. Her mother was completely stressed out, perhaps even on the verge of breaking down, because she had to cook for all the guests coming to Petunia's wedding.

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked. "I could have come home earlier and helped you out…"

"You have school!" Her father put his arm around her shoulders. "And you have these important tests coming up, right? TEWN:s?"

"NEWT:s" Lily corrected him absentmindedly, still eyeing what had once been her family's kitchen.

It looked more like a battlefield now.

"I thought you were going to order all the food here! The least one can expect is for Petunia to help you out… Where is Petunia anyway?"

"She's out with Vernon" Lily heard a sudden change in her father's voice, and not for the better. "He took her to the cinema earlier today"

Now, Lily was fuming. Here her mother and father was, trying their very hardest for their daughter's special day to be perfect. They had probably been up since dawn to prepare all this… And where was the bride herself? Simply enjoying herself, at the cinema

"It's her bloody wedding" she hissed. "She should be here to help"

There was some smoke coming from the oven and Lily's dad opened the window.

"Could you two please keep it down this weekend?" he asked. "Like you said, Lily: it's her wedding. And I'm sure James won't appreciate it if you two are constantly on each others' throats…"

James. For a moment, Lily had almost forgotten that he was in the room. That James Potter was here, with her family, in her house. And this was what he had to witness…

"I'm going to show James around" she muttered. "And then I'm coming down to help you, whether you like it or not"

Before her parents had time to object, she grabbed James' arm and pulled him out of the kitchen. They grabbed their bags in the hallway and climbed the stairs.

"It's a shame you had to come on a day like this…" Lily said, opening the door leading into the guest bedroom. "My mum is usually quite normal, I promise. But this wedding is obviously driving her mad… Remind me to never get married"

James laughed slightly, looking around the room.

"They seem really nice, both of them"

"I just can't believe Petunia would do that!" Lily began. "… Actually, I can. But still! She's the one getting married and my mum is making five hundred different sorts of turkey down in the kitchen. It's just not fair"

"What is a cinema?" James asked curiously.

For a second, Lily was surprised. Even now, she sometimes forgot that James had grown up in the wizarding world with magical parents who had never introduced him to such things as the cinema.

"It's… It's like a big screen…" she explained. "Lots of people gather in front of it and they watch something new that's just come out. Usually it's a movie with actors, but sometimes they show documentaries too… You have no idea what I'm talking about, have you?"


She giggled.

"I'll show you some time. We'll go to the cinema together"

Like a date.

Lily silently hoped that James couldn't see how the thought itself embarrassed her. She wondered whether he was thinking the same thing. Petunia and Vernon were at the cinema together and they were a couple. And now, Lily had just suggested that she and James would go there, too…

"Anyway" she cleared her throat uncomfortably. "This is your room for the weekend"

"It's great" James put his bag on the bed. "Thank you"

"I'm so glad that you're here" She really meant it. "I don't think I could stand all this alone"

"I'm here for you, you know that"

They smiled at each other before Lily forced herself to look away. It was too much. It was always too much.

"So… Do you want to see the rest of the house?"


James had never been inside a muggle house before, and never had he expected that the first one would be Lily Evans'. Her bedroom was a lot smaller than his had been back in Godric's Hollow, but he could see the appeal. There was a large bookshelf that witnessed of her love for all sorts of literature, and an old Gryffindor scarf hanging on the wall. Over by the window, there was a photo of Lily and Alice at King's Cross Station. James knew exactly when that picture was taken. It was on September the first when they were about to start their second year at Hogwarts, and he had seen how Lily's dad took out his curious looking, muggle camera to take a photo of the two best friends before they were off… The picture was not moving.

"I haven't changed much in here for a long time…" Lily said, slowly walking over to the window. "I'm only here during the holidays, anyway, so it seems rather pointless"

"You should see Sirius' bedroom in the house where he used to live with his family" James grinned to himself. "He made it his life's mission to annoy them all as much as possible by decorating it with all sorts of Gryffindor- and muggle related things"

Lily smiled, but then it faded and she said:

"Petunia hasn't been in here for years. I think she considers this room a reminder of what I am"

"Will she be here tonight?"

James tried to keep the worry out of his voice but he didn't think he succeeded.

"I have no idea" Lily replied. "I'll have to ask mum and dad when we get downstairs. Right now I'm so mad at her for making mum do all that extra work…"

But James had stopped listening. He had reached Lily's desk and accidentally laid eyes on something that was half buried under a book called Wuthering Heights. It was an old newspaper and the date was what first caught James' attention:

July 16:th 1977.

Carefully, almost as if he thought it might burn him, he pulled it out and read the headline:


Likely the work of supporters of You-Know-Who.


Lily had probably asked him a question, for she walked over to him when he didn't say anything.

"I didn't realize… I didn't think that one was still in here…" she mumbled softly.

James put The Daily Prophet down again and forced himself to look away from the words.

"Did you save it?" he asked quietly.

He was not ready to turn around and look at her face. Not yet. Lily seemed to understand, though. The mere fact that he knew she was standing right behind him, that she was there, was enough.

"I couldn't throw it away" He could feel her warm breath on his neck as she spoke. "And I kept re-reading it because I… I guess I was looking for answers"

James closed his eyes for a moment and then he turned around to face her.

"What answers?"

Somehow, she seemed to find her words forbidden. She hesitated, looked away for a moment and James could see how she bit her lip.

"That you were okay" she finally said. "I needed to know that you were okay"

He couldn't help furrowing.

"But we weren't even friends back then"

"I know" Gently, Lily took the paper from him, folded it and put it back on her desk. "It's funny, isn't it? I still cared. Perhaps I didn't want to admit it to myself, but…"

"… but that's what you do" James filled in, knowing for sure that he loved her in that exact moment. "You care for people. Even when they don't deserve it"

"You had never done anything to deserve what happened, James" He was surprised to feel the touch of her hand on his arm. "It wasn't your fault…"

"Should we go back downstairs?" He considered the question the best escape for now. "I'm sure your parents want some help with all the food"

For a moment Lily looked like she wanted to oppose. Then she simply sighed and took one last glance at the newspaper from the worst day in his life.

"You're probably right" she said. "Let's go"


It took almost an hour to create some sort of order in the kitchen. James didn't seem to mind helping out, but Lily honestly thought that it was a bit embarrassing. He'd had house elves in the house where he grew up with his parents, hadn't he? And now he had to do this… Then again, he was the one who had suggested that they'd go downstairs. She knew it was all some pointless try of diversion and more than anything she wished that he would just listen to her. How could he possibly blame himself?

"That was your sister on the phone" Lily's thoughts were interrupted as her dad came into the room. "She's coming for dinner"

Lily could see how James paled slightly and personally, she felt almost sick. Petunia was like a ticking bomb and no one knew when it would explode… Perhaps during dinner tonight, and Lily did not want James to have to witness that.

As usual, whenever you dread something, time seems to fly by. It wasn't long before they all heard the sound of a car right outside the house. Someone slammed a door right as Lily's mother starting laying the table.

"Whatever she says, don't care about it" Lily muttered to James. "She can be really mean sometimes but all you have to do is pretend like you haven't heard her…"

"It's fine, Lily" he interrupted her, and even managed to give her a small smile. "I actually met Sirius' mother once so I think I can manage"

"I'd rather meet mrs Black a thousand times than sit through this dinner"

James snorted.

"No you wouldn't. That woman is really good at swearing and yelling but that's about it"

"Well, the only thing Petunia is really good at is… Oh! Hi Petunia!" Lily could almost feel how fake the smile on her face must look. "It's great to see you. Congratulations! Are you excited?"

Petunia didn't look any happier than she normally did whenever her younger sister was around. She greeted her parents quickly, ignored Lily and James completely, and glanced around the kitchen.

"Where is all the wedding food?" she asked sharply, almost as if she expected her mother to have gotten rid of it all.

"Don't worry darling, we managed to get most of it into the fridge" mrs Evans said. "Lily and James helped… Oh, but you two haven't met! This is Lily's friend James, Petunia. James, this is Lily's older sister"

"Nice to meet you, Petunia"

James stretched out his hand for Petunia to shake but she looked at it like it was made out of poison. Lily wanted to disappear and never come back. This didn't start well… Slowly, James withdrew his hand and Lily's father cleared his throat uncomfortably.

"Well… Let's eat before it gets cold! Please have a seat everyone"

It was a great thing that Lily's mother had managed to make some delicious food, for that meant that both she and James could use it as an excuse for not talking.

"This was really good, mrs Evans" James finally said, breaking the silence.

Lily could see how Petunia rolled her eyes demonstratively but Lily's mother looked really happy.

"Thank you dear. I could give you the recipe if you'd like"

Lily couldn't help giggling and James looked at her, raising his eyebrows playfully.

"What's so funny?" he asked.

Lily took a sip from her glass of water before she replied:

"I'm just trying to imagine you cooking"

"I'm quite good at it, actually"

"There we go!" Lily's father said, sounding pleased. "We need more men in this world who can cook, don't you agree James?"

"Sure" James said, still smirking. "How are your cooking skills, Lils?"

"Oh she can't even boil some pasta without help!" Lily's mother laughed. "Do you remember that time when you…"

"The movie Vernon took me to today was great" Petunia interrupted the conversation, even raising her voice slightly. "You should go see it too, mum. And you, dad"

"How about we all go together some time?" Mr Evans suggested. "It could be quite nice"

"Oh I don't think Lily would appreciate it" Petunia said, giving her sister a rather nasty glance.

"Oh really?" Lily didn't even bother trying to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. "Actually, that sounds like a great idea, dad. I'm sure I'd absolutely love it"

She could see from the corner of her eye how James stared down at his plate as if his life depended on it, obviously trying very hard not to laugh. Lily's father broke the silence:

"Do you like the cinema, James?"

"Uh" James looked slightly nervous and considering the judging look on Petunia's face, Lily didn't blame him. "I don't know. I've never been"

Lily's parents stared at each other for a moment.

"You've never been to the cinema? Poor boy! You really should go with us some time!"

"It's not that big of a deal" Lily said, rolling her eyes slightly. "And I told you: James was brought up in a magical family, remember? There is no such thing as a cinema in our world"

At the words "magical" and "our world", Petunia grimaced. Lily tried her best to ignore it.

"I would really like to more about your world…" Lily's mother heaved some more food onto James' plate even though he hadn't asked for it. "We haven't heard that much from Lily, you know"

"I think we've heard more than enough" Petunia snapped. "And can we talk about something else, please? Like the fact that I'm getting married tomorrow?"

"We will talk about that, sweetheart, I promise you" her father assured her. "But first I would like to ask you, James: what is your favorite subject in school?"

Lily was already feeling bad for him. Now, everyone was eyeing James curiously and even though Lily thought she already knew the answer, she guessed he was trying to figure out whether it was a trick question. She gave him an encouraging look and he said:

"I like Transfiguration. Defence Against the Dark Arts is great, too. And Charms…"

"You like Transfiguration too, don't you honey?" Lily's mother asked her. "You told us once that you were second best in your class…"

"Yeah" Lily smiled at James. "Guess who number one was"

"Really? That's quite impressive, James! Best in your class…"

"Don't you take any normal classes in that school of yours?" Petunia asked. "Like English, math, science…? How is that going to prepare you for every day life once you're out of there?"

"Transfiguration is part of our every day lives" Lily said impatiently. "You need it for lots of professions and especially if you're going to work at the Ministry of Magic…"

"Do you know what you want to do once you're out of Hogwarts, James?" Lily's mother asked gently and her youngest daughter rolled her eyes and put down her fork.

"What is this, some kind of interrogation?"

"It's fine" James said and Lily's father exclaimed:

"Nonsense! We're just trying to get to know him!"

"Lily has only told us about this one profession in your world… Aurors, is it darling?"

"Yes…" Lily said slowly, wondering where this was going.

"It seems like quite an important job" her father said, nodding. "Is it something you'd be interested in, James?"

"Not really" James said, giving him a small smile that didn't reach his eyes. "My parents were aurors, but I don't think it's for me"

There was a short silence. Lily could see how her parents looked at each other and she knew what they both were thinking. They knew that James' parents were dead; she hadn't been able to hide that newspaper from them last summer. Should they offer their condolences now that he brought them up, or would it be better to pretend like nothing? Her father opened his mouth and closed it again. Lily's mother said:

"Well… At least you have it in your blood in case you'd change your mind"

"They 'were' aurors?" Petunia repeated, looking right into James' eyes for the first time since she entered the house. "What do you mean they were aurors? Did they suddenly decide to take some time off?"

"Why don't you stop sticking your nose where it doesn't belong, Tuney?"

Lily had used the old nickname out of habit, probably because she got nervous. It looked like Lily's mother wanted to interfere, too, but before she did James replied calmly:

"They died"

For a split second, so short that Lily might have missed it hadn't she looked so closely, something strikingly similar to sympathy was visible on Petunia's face. Then, without saying anything, she merely pressed her lips together and looked away. It was obvious to anyone that she wouldn't mention the matter again.

During the rest of dinner they talked mostly about Petunia's wedding, and every now and then Lily's parents stopped to ask James a question or two about his life and preferences. She could tell that they really liked him, unlike Vernon who Lily's father had despised since the first time he laid eyes on the man.

Eventually, Lily's mother started doing the dishes and she refused to let James help even when he offered.

"Absolutely not! You're a guest here and I'm sure you're both tired… Lily has showed you where you're going to sleep, yes?"

James smiled at her and Lily could literally feel how her insides warmed up.

"Yes, she has"

"Great! Tomorrow will be quite a busy day for us all…"

"Don't make too big of a deal out of this, all right mum?" Lily warned her. "I can tell you're on the verge of a nervous break down"

"That's easy for you to say" Petunia snarled, standing up. "I'm the one who's getting married"

"Then I suggest you offer some more help than you've done so far" Lily retorted. "Is Vernon's mother making any of the food, by the way?"

"She's a very busy lady" Petunia began. "She couldn't possibly…"

"And our mother could? Don't you care for her well-being…?"

"Girls! Stop it at once! Petunia, you can help me out in the kitchen and Lily and James can go upstairs" Their mother interrupted them. "I'll see you tomorrow"

For a moment, James could only stand by and watch as the two sisters glared at each other almost as if their lives depended on it. No one seemed willing to look away first. Then, remembering she had company, Lily sighed and turned around to leave the kitchen.

"Whatever…" she muttered. "Come on James, let's go"

Walking up the stairs, she told him:

"My parents really seem to like you"

James looked rather surprised, but pleased, by these news.

"You think?"

"Definitely" Lily nodded. "You should have seen the first time my dad met Vernon… It was a disaster. I have never met a man who can eat so much before in my whole life. And he's very rude, too. Wouldn't dream of offering to do the dishes…"

"I like your parents" James said. "They seem really nice. But I think your mum needs to calm down"

"It's this wedding…" Lily opened the door to her bedroom and grimaced. "You may have noticed already, but Petunia can be quite demanding…"

"You don't say"

They grinned at each other and then, thinking about what had happened during dinner, Lily's smile faded slightly.

"And she can be rather insensitive, too… I'm sorry she made you talk about your parents"

James shrugged.

"The reactions I get when I tell people are worse than the actual telling. They all look terrified when they find out, like they expect me to burst into tears or something"

"I guess my parents just didn't know what to say" Lily didn't mention the fact that they already knew. "And Petunia… Well, I guess we should be grateful for that reaction. She actually was on her best behavior tonight"

James started walking towards the guest bedroom, and she suddenly felt like they would be miles and miles apart. He turned around to face her one last time, smiling in that way she loved.

"Goodnight, Lils"

She was perfectly fine with him using that nickname. In fact, it had never sounded better before. She was surprised to find her voice when she replied:

"Goodnight James"


She couldn't sleep. Maybe it had something to do with all the coffee she'd had at breakfast the same morning, or the fact that her older sister would get married to a walrus the very next day. Maybe it was because James Potter was sleeping only meters away from her, in her house, or because Lily was still more worried about her NEWT:s than she'd ever admit to anyone.

Sighing heavily, she turned around in bed yet another time. Realizing it wouldn't make a difference, she sat up and glanced at the alarm clock on her bedside table. It was past midnight. Her mother was right; she really needed her sleep if tomorrow was going to be bearable… Lily suddenly remembered that her parents had always given her warm milk when she was younger and couldn't go to sleep. Perhaps that would help now? After all, she had already tried everything else. Not even reading one of her favorite books helped this time.

She tried to make as little noise as possible when she opened her bedroom door. From the hallway she could see that James had turned off the lights in his room. He had probably been asleep for a while now… She couldn't help wondering if he was still having nightmares. The bare thought of waking up to the memories of what he'd been through…

Lily didn't want to think about it. She went downstairs and was surprised to see that one of the smaller lights in the kitchen was still on. Assuming that someone had just forgotten to turn it off, she entered the room…


Lily stared. Her mother was sitting by the kitchen table, alone, face in her hands and sobbing silently. The moment she heard her daughter's voice she looked up and tried, in vain, to hide her tears by wiping them away. Her voice cracked as she spoke:

"Honey… Oh, I'm sorry if I woke you up…"

"What's wrong?" Lily hurried towards her and wrapped her arms around her without hesitation. "Why are you sad?"

The smile her mother gave her wasn't real.

"It's nothing, dear, I swear. Now go back to bed, we have a long day ahead of us…"

"Is that what this is all about?" Lily interrupted her, feeling how her anger from before returned with full force. "Petunia's wedding? Merlin, if she knew she was actually driving you to tears…"


"No, mum, it's only a wedding! You need to tell her when you've had enough and she needs to respect that! I don't understand why you all make such a great deal out of this. If the food isn't perfect that doesn't mean someone's going to die…"

Perhaps Lily was imagining, but at the word "die" her mother's face expression changed ever so slightly, like she was in great pain… Then, she looked down and pressed her lips together.

"Don't be so hard on your sister" she mumbled. "This isn't all about the wedding"

That was not what Lily had expected to hear, and it was bad. She felt guilt. She had been so busy with her own life lately, and she definitely wouldn't be nominated as "best daughter of the year"… What if her mother had been carrying some heavy burden for months, and Lily hadn't even bothered to find out what it was? What if the signs had been there all along? What if…?

"Then what is it?"

She wasn't sure she wanted the answer.

For a moment, all they both heard was her mother's silent sobs.

"Oh Lily" she finally said. "I shouldn't be bothering you with this, but it's just… I'm scared, that's all"

The confusion and nervousness from before… She almost seemed to have forgotten that James would come and visit… This wasn't like her mother at all, Lily knew that. So what was going on?

"What are you scared of?"

Instead of answering her daughter's question in words, Lily's mother pointed at something on lying on the kitchen table right in front of them. Lily hadn't noticed it until now. It was a muggle newspaper, but it was not hard to guess why today's headlines made her mother thing of the wizarding world:


"This is only one of so many, Lily…" The despair in her mother's voice was heartbreaking. "People missing or found dead, and the police has no idea what's going on… 'Family of four'… That could be us! We know this is the work of that evil wizard and his followers. They just never seem to have had enough… They kill innocent people. Women! Children! And for what?"

The tears were streaming down her face now and Lily grabbed her hand, and held it tightly. There was no point hiding the truth. Not now.

"For hatred" she said softly, looking her mother right in the eye. "For being like us. For being part of the muggle world. It's all about judging people from their blood-status. They think our blood is dirty…"

"But that's mental! It sounds like the Holocaust or Apartheid or…"

"I know" Lily interrupted her, sighing heavily. "I know"

"If something happened to you… If Hogwarts is being attacked while you're there…" Her mother's voice was so shaky it was hard to make out the words now. "I would never forgive myself"

"I really think we could win this war, mum" Lily grabbed her hand again. "We have something worth fighting for, You-know-who hasn't. I will never stop fighting for what's right, for a world where everyone is accepted… And neither will Dumbledore, or the minister of magic, or Alice, or James…"

"James…" Her mother wiped her eyes again and now she seemed to have calmed down slightly. "That poor, poor boy… I had no idea what to say to him during dinner… How does anyone move on from something like that? He must be so strong…"

"He is strong" Lily agreed quietly. "But he doesn't exactly have a choice. It's either trying to move on with his life or…"

She drifted off. What was the alternative, really? She didn't know for how long she'd remained silent when her mother interrupted her thoughts:

"I think you make him happy. I've seen the way he looks at you"

Lily didn't know whether she ought to tell her mother this, but right now she just needed some motherly advice and support. James would have to forgive her for it…

"He thinks it was his fault… That they died" she began. "I've tried to talk him out of it but he won't listen. And it hurts, mum. It hurts seeing him like that, so full of guilt"

"Can I ask you a question, honey?"

Lily raised her eyebrows in surprise.

"Of course"

Her mother hesitated for a second.

"Is James… Just a friend? Or is he something more?"

This was harder. Worse. Painful. Lily stood up and walked over to the fridge to prepare some hot milk.

"You should ask him" she muttered. "I'm sure his answer differs from mine"

"Because he's obsessive and still fancies and asks you out after all these years? Because he might even be in love with you?"

"No, mum, because I'm in love with him"

The second the words had left Lily's mouth she froze. She was standing there, facing the sink and her cup of milk, and refused to turn around. What had she just said? Telling Alice was one thing, but her mum… Was that wise?

Whatever her mother truly felt, she managed to keep her voice sound quite natural and calm.

"And he doesn't love you back?"

"He doesn't want to jeopardize our friendship" Lily replied shortly. "And neither do I, but…"

"Have you talked to him about this?"

"Not really"

We just pretend like everything is fine. And to him, it probably is.

"James seems like a really good boy" her mother said, and Lily could almost hear from her voice that she was actually smiling now. "Even your father liked him a lot"

"I know he is, but what if he's right? I don't want to lose him as a friend…"

"Friendship must be built on truth, and not lies"

That sounded like something Dumbledore could have said, and as much as Lily hated to admit it, it was probably true. As soon as her milk was done she sat down again, opposite her mother this time. She wanted to change the subject desperately.

"I promise I can look after myself" she said. "Try not to worry too much about all this. Live your life! Maybe you and dad should go away for a while?"

Her mother laughed slightly.

"Go away?" she repeated.

"Yes!" Only now did Lily realize what a great idea it was. "Petunia will move in with Vernon after the honeymoon anyway, won't she? And I will still be in school, and even when I graduate I'll be all right for a month or two. Maybe I could stay with Alice. You should take some time off work and travel! Go to Australia or Thailand or South Africa or…"

"You're sweet" Lily's mother leaned forward to kiss her daughter on the forehead. "But I'm afraid it's not that simple"

Why not? They would get away from everything and find time to relax and be with each other, and Lily herself would not have to worry about them… It was a win-win situation…

"At least promise you'll think about it"

Her mother nodded.

"I promise. Now finish that milk. It's time we both went to bed. Tomorrow is your sister's big day"

"Oh yes…" Lily replied miserably, thinking about Vernon's weight. "Literally speaking"