Random

Title:Random
Author:chimera01
Fandom/Genre:Harry Potter AU, Fix-it
Content Rating:Mature
Warnings:Character Bashing, Discussion of Murder and Torture, Racism, Hate Crimes, Gratuitous Use of Magic
Summary: A series of Random days in the life of Lily Evans Potter

Author Note: This story was my entry to the Rough Trade “Call It Magic” Challenge.  It is a Fix-it Fic, seen through the eyes of Lily Evans Potter, and begins at the start of her sixth year at Hogwarts.

 

On a random Wednesday in the fall of 1973, Lily Evans looked at James Potter as something more than the arrogant bully she saw in the halls every day.

She was in the library gathering materials for her Advanced Transfiguration essay when she spied him from her spot between the stacks.  James was sitting near the rear of the massive library, surrounded by nervous First Years, and was patiently tutoring them on the method of transfiguring a matchstick into a needle.  As Lily watched from the shadows of the bookcases, James repeated the wand motions over and over, never complaining, until all four Firsties (two Hufflepuffs, a bashful Ravenclaw, and a surprising Slytherin) successfully managed to produce a shiny, silvery needle.  Once every one of them had completed the transfiguration twice, James lavished high praise on each of them, even on the Slytherin student who had obviously been reluctant to ask for assistance, especially from a notorious Gryffindor.

Lily was shocked at Potter’s willingness to help a Slytherin student, even if he was a very young one, as Potter seemed to hate that particular House with extreme prejudice.  Lily frowned as she thought back to the loss of one of her oldest friendships, caused indirectly by James Potter and his prattish cohorts—the constant bullying and teasing (and hexing) by the so-called ‘Marauders’ had driven Severus Snape to the edge of madness and temper, and he turned on her (and against her, if she was to be honest) when she had only tried to help and defend him.  The train ride home at the end of the previous term was a lonely one for Lily, as she kept hoping Severus would come to her compartment and offer words of friendship once again, but she only saw James Potter (followed by Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, of course) in the aisles, flirting and teasing in his usual infuriating manner, never once considering the pain he had caused her.

Once the Firsties gathered their things and began to leave the library (Lily smiled to herself as the Slytherin stopped and waved shyly before hurrying out), Lily back-tracked into the stacks and maneuvered around until she appeared at the other side of the library, completely unobserved to the other occupants of the large chamber.  Lily piled her books onto her chosen table and she sat down and pulled parchment and quill from her bag.  She had only just begun to write notes when she heard from behind her, “Hey, Evans!  Care to proof-read my Potions homework?”

Lily looked up to see a smirking James Potter leaning back against the table next to hers.  He raised one eyebrow at her and said, “I’m sure Slughorn’s favorite pupil can give me enough pointers to keep from failing that class, right?”

Lily sighed and shook her head, wondering briefly why she had ever thought of him as anything other than an arrogant prat.  But still, perhaps there might be something else there….

 

 

After that day in the library, Lily found herself spending much of her spare time observing James Potter, both within Gryffindor House, where he regularly held court with his fellow Marauders, and in the school hallways between classes.  She would take a table in the rear of the library for her personal study, giving her a good vantage point in which to observe James and his cronies, who preferred tables in the center of the large room—better to see and be seen, she supposed.  And in the common room Lily was able to claim a large, high-backed armchair in a corner by the stained-glass windows, where she was practically invisible to the rest of the room.  In those two places in particular, Lily made the most enlightening observations.  For one thing, James Potter seemed to be maturing as they progressed toward the end of their school years.  As a Sixth Year, James seemed to understand that younger students would be looking up to him as some sort of example, and he began to act accordingly.  When not in classes, and while in the company of his most loyal cohorts, James was still a prankish rake.  He’d toss his practice snitch in the air arrogantly and wink at anyone who would blush and giggle at him.  He would still play small jokes and pranks on fellow students, but he no longer targeted specific students or Houses.  Lily found herself hoping that he’d learned finally how much those pranks could destroy someone after her friendship with Severus was destroyed, but she understood that natural maturity may merely have finally come into play.

When James was alone, however infrequently that was, Lily found a somewhat different person: James was friendly and approachable (unlike when he was surrounded by his small clique, which seemed to make everyone nervous) and accommodating to younger students anxious for assistance with class work and acceptance from older students.  James would smile in a natural way, rather than smirking cruelly.  He would laugh with and encourage First- and Second-Year students when they spoke about their families and hobbies.  James would also, after official Quidditch practice was over, take the time to show younger students how best to fly for games—and how to make the difficult moves that could win a game.

Lily also noticed how serious James could be about his school work.  She knew his grades were good, had to be good to stay on the Quidditch team and to get into the NEWT-level classes he was taking, but Lily had just assumed that some of the subjects came easily to him, just like Potions and Transfiguration came to her.  That was not, in fact, the case.  James studied.  A lot.  Lily was always passing him in the library, both alone and with his cronies.  And he was usually up late in the common room, scribbling on one parchment or another to finish or revise assignments.  He almost never asked her for help, unless Potions was involved.  He would occasionally ask Remus Lupin to proof-read something, but the actual work was all his.  Unlike Peter Pettigrew, James Potter had no obvious need to copy homework to get a passing grade.

Of course, James was not in all of her classes with her, so Lily was not quite sure if he had help with other subjects or not, but he seemed to work alone most of the time unless Sirius Black was a partner for a particular class.  Lily understood that some of their classes were not fit for her, as much as she adored learning about her new potential life within the Wizarding World.  She was not, actually, a Peer, in either the Wizarding or Mundane Worlds, so the Peerage classes were beyond her purview.  Lily needed to know what it took to become a Potions Mistress, not how to run an estate, and she would never become a voting member of the Wizengamot, so she only needed to learn about the laws and how they pertained to her—and how they were enforced—rather than the ratification thereof.  Lily shared core NEWT classes with James and Sirius, and somewhat to a lesser degree with Remus and Peter, but then she went her way and they went theirs, and they never really studied ‘together’.

So, after a month of careful observation, Lily found out a few ‘nice’ things about the boy–no, the young man—who had tormented and teased and harassed her for the first three years of her Hogwarts career, and who flirted with and tormented her for the previous two.  And after that month of observation gave her a few new insights into James Potter, Lily began wondering if there were any hidden gems to find within the other three Marauders.  On one random, cool October Saturday, when everybody in Gryffindor House was studying or engaging in club activities or Quidditch practice, Lily sat on a bench in the hidden rose garden near the Arithmancy classroom, and began making lists in a spiral-bound notebook (Lily could never really understand how anybody could find parchment and quills-and-ink superior to Mundane writing implements).  She admittedly knew very little personal information about the annoying foursome, so she began with the surface information.

James Potter was the product of a relatively wealthy family, which held titles within both the Wizarding and Mundane worlds (Lily vowed to learn more about that as soon as she could manage it).  He played Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and was apparently very good (Lily did not really follow Quidditch, did not really understand the game, and rarely attended the school matches unless absolutely necessary).  He enjoyed playing mostly harmless pranks on students and faculty alike, and acted in generally good spirits in the halls.  He was also secretly a very studious and serious person, as Lily had recently come to understand, and could be counted upon (at least by the youngest of students) to give help with the more difficult assignments.

Sirius Black, James’ very best friend, was publically known as the black sheep of the (mostly) notorious Black Family—a mostly Dark family with supposed ties to several Dark Lords throughout history.  Lily knew that Sirius despaired the condition of his family, as she had overheard him several times mentioning that the only really ‘good ones’ were his great-grandfather, his grandfather, and a few random cousins, one of which who was recently disowned for having the audacity to marry for love rather than to submit to an arranged marriage.  Lily knew of a younger brother, Regulus, who was sorted into Slytherin House at the beginning of the previous term, but Sirius never seemed to go out of his way to speak to the boy in the halls between classes.  Lily also recalled an overheard conversation in the Great Hall before that particular sorting that indicated that Sirius may have run off and moved in with James and his family.  That was a curious thing to think about.

Remus Lupin was very obviously a werewolf.  Lily wasn’t actually an idiot, and had figured this out by then end of second year, but he had never hurt anyone, so she never mentioned it to anyone, even Severus, who seemed to not have figured it out.  Lily also figured that the faculty had had some sort of failsafe in play to keep Remus safely contained during ‘that time of the month’, so she would never consider him a threat to the Hogwarts population.  She did, however, consider the stupidity of the student population to be a general threat, because she could not understand how any of her fellow Gryffs could miss Remus’ condition.  Seriously, he was literally ‘ill’ for three days every single month, without fail, and did not have a female reproductive system to explain it away.  Still, he was intelligent enough to keep his grades up despite missing classes, and he was determined to be enough of a good role model to be placed in the Prefect position in Fifth year.  The only bad thing Lily could come up with in Remus’ case was that he didn’t do nearly enough to curtail the pranks and cruelty of James and Sirius, and Lily could almost put that down to not wanting to rock the boat with two people who possibly knew about his ‘furry little problem’ and wanted to be his friends anyway.  When Lily thought about what Remus would put up with to save that friendship, she mourned a bit more the friendship that she recently lost.

Peter Pettigrew.  Well.  Lily tapped the end of the pen against her chin while she thought about this one.  She never really felt comfortable in Peter’s presence.  He certainly obviously clung to his friendships with the other three; that was one thing Lily knew.  She did not know, however, how exactly that friendship began, though she rather thought it may have just naturally come about because the four young men were forced to be roommates in the boys’ dormitory.  They were the only four male Gryffindor students in their year, so there were no other roomies in that situation.  But Lily always felt…apprehensive…around the smaller boy.  He always seemed to revel rather too much when James or Sirius pranked someone, and his sense of humor seemed rather cruel, but that wasn’t Lily’s only problem with the boy.  Lily had observed, at a distance, Peter openly leering at several of her female classmates, and it frankly made her skin crawl.  And Peter would occasionally attempt to prank someone without the aid of James or Sirius, but his pranks were more malicious and damaging than those committed by the Marauders as a whole, and if Peter wasn’t being punished by teachers (and given detention after detention) for the damage, then he was being threatened by his victims—and he would constantly run and hide behind James or Sirius for protection.  So Peter appeared to be a coward in the ‘House of Bravery’.

Lily read and re-read her list of observations.  She was almost appalled at how little she had written, but she had to realize that she had spent five years distancing herself from the foursome due to her friendship with (and their persecution of) Severus Snape.  Since he was her oldest friend since childhood, and he was a favorite target of James, Sirius, et al., Lily was never happy to spend more than required class time with them, so of course she would never have gotten to know them.  Lily was now wondering if perhaps that should change.

Knowing the lunch hour was quickly approaching, Lily drew her want and cast an Incinerate at her notes, leaving no trace behind.

On a random Saturday in 1973, Lily found herself sitting next to an oddly alone Sirius Black in the back row of the Gryffindor box at the Quidditch Pitch.

It was the first game of the season, Gryffindor VS Hufflepuff, and James was, of course, in the locker room, getting ready to play as Chaser on the Gryff team.  Remus Lupin was doing some mysterious project for Professor Dumbledore (it was during the time of the full moon, and Lily mentally chuckled at the absurdity of it all), and Peter Pettigrew was in detention with Professor Flitwick all day after breakfast, so Sirius was by himself to watch the game.  Lily, who was a rare spectator of the Quidditch matches, took the initiative and sat beside Sirius in the upper section of the box, away from most of the other Gryffindor students.

“I’m hoping,” she said cautiously with a shy smile, “that you might be able to explain this game to me in a way that I can fully understand.”

Sirius looked momentarily surprised, but covered quickly.  “You don’t like Quidditch?”

Lily shrugged carelessly.  “I’ve been to a few matches, of course, just to show House Pride, but I never really got it.  And I’ve been spending most of my time studying, you know?”

Sirius nodded absently.  “So, if you don’t care for Quidditch, does that make you a Quodpot fan?  Or do you prefer Gobstones?”

Lily laughed lightly.  “No, no Wizarding sports for me.  My father is a huge Westminster Dragons fan, and I’d watch those matches with him every weekend when I was younger.  We even went to a few games; just him and me, because my sister didn’t care for violent sports.”

Sirius just stared at her blankly, offering no response.  It took a moment for Lily to realize that there was a connection failure, so she offered, “The Westminster Dragons are a rugby team, and no, there are no actual dragons involved.  And no, they do not play on broomsticks.”  Sirius’ eyes widened in recognition of a muggle reference, and he began to ask questions—very intelligent questions.

What followed, in the quarter hour before the Quidditch match began, was a spirited discussion about Mundane (Muggle) sports, the principles thereof and how violent some of them were (“And honestly, some of the fans are worse than the players!”)  Once the players took the field, and then the air, Sirius patiently explained what each position was, and how best to play that position, and how the scoring worked (“Do you actually expect me to believe that these matches can last for days?”)  Two hours later, Gryffindor had won the match 260-70, and students began to file down the long stairs of the boxes to head back to the castle.  Lily and Sirius stayed seated in order to let the crowd thin out, and Lily remarked, “You know, a score like that would never have happened in a lot of Mundane sports.  I mean, in American Baseball, once it became clear that a team was so far ahead that the game was bordering on unsportsmanlike, the game would be automatically ended.”

“Just how many sports do muggles have, anyway?” asked Sirius, clearly curious.

Lily pondered for a moment before answering, “Lots, I suppose.  My father was not a complete sports nut, so I’m only really familiar with rugby and cricket.  But we would watch the Olympic Games on the telly every four years, and there are a lot of events involved in those, both Winter and Summer sports.”

Sirius’ face screwed up in confusion.  “What’s ‘Olympee Games’?”

Lily cocked her head sideways a bit as she studied the dark young man before her.  “You really don’t know anything about the Mundane world, do you?  I mean, you’ve been totally sheltered in the Wizarding World, and you have no idea what’s going on all around you, do you?”  When Sirius opened his mouth to defend himself, Lily held up a hand to interrupt.  “It’s not necessarily a bad thing, Sirius; it’s just that I forget, sometimes, how sheltered and ignorant Wizardkind really is in a lot of ways.”

Sirius crossed his arms over his chest and slumped on the bench.  “I know there must be more out there, Evans, but my family….You have to understand that I was raised to believe that non-magical people, be they muggles or squibs, were no better than animals.”  He lifted one sardonic eyebrow at her and said, “You’ve heard, I suppose, about how my family completely believes in Blood Purity, and how they practice Dark Arts in order to keep the lines pure?  It’s mostly true, you know.  I mean, my grandfather, Arcturus, is okay—and very stubborn.  But my parents?  They are truly horrible, and they tried every means possible to mould me in their image.  Me and my brother.”

“But you’re not, though,” said Lily softly.  “Not really.  You’re just…horribly ignorant.  About a lot of things you were never taught to understand.”

Sirius offered a sad smile.  “I had a bit of a rude awakening after I got sorted.  I mean, I was already questioning a lot of what my parents and uncles were trying so hard to teach me, but that was because I spent a lot of time with Arcturus, learning to be the next Lord Black, and he didn’t pull punches when telling me that I needed to broaden my views if I wanted to survive childhood.  But then I turned eleven, and got invited to Hogwarts, and I took his lessons too much to heart—and I got sorted into Gryffindor, when every other Hogwarts alumni in my family had been staunchly Slytherin.”

Lily gasped in slight horror.  “Were they horrible to you?”

Sirius snorted indelicately.  “When weren’t they horrible to me?  They, mostly my mother, were always saying that I was too much like Arcturus, and that I would be the downfall of the Black Family.  Of course, she would never do too much to anger my grandfather, because he has the power to disown my father, dissolve her marriage, and toss her out on her bum, but she could and did take her displeasure out on me.  But my real attitude adjustment came in third year.”

Lily frowned in concentration, trying to think what could have happened three years prior.  “What happened, and how did it affect you?  If you don’t mind my asking, that is.”  Lily did, of course, have a small idea of what he was about to say, but only because she’d overheard several of Sirius’ conversations in the Common Room.

Sirius shook his head.  “Nah, it’s all right to ask.  The truth is, I had this one cousin that I dearly loved, the eldest of three sisters, who fell in love and eloped.  Andromeda ran out on an arranged marriage to a Pure Blood in order to marry a muggle-born, and her family disowned her.  Now, as much as my mother threatens to do so to me, she has not the power, but Andromeda’s father is a lesser son and the head of his own household, and he managed to toss Andy out of the family tree completely before Arcturus heard about it.  She was my favorite cousin, and she got married and moved almost completely into the muggle world, and I have no way of contacting her to see how she’s doing.”

The last of the students had left the box, so Lily stood and began to make her way to the exit stairs with Sirius following closely.  “Do you at least know her married name, Sirius?”

“Yeah, I do.  Why?”

Lily offered a sort of olive branch.  “Maybe I can find out where she is and get a letter to her when I go home for Christmas holidays.  If you’d like me to, that is.  I can ask her to write to you.”

Lily Evans had never before been the object of one of Sirius Blacks truly joyful smiles, so she now understood why so many of her fellow female classmates (and more than a few male ones) fell under his spell.

 

On a random Saturday in 1974, Lily found herself in the unenviable position of helping both James Potter and Sirius Black with a practical Potions project for a pre-final grade.  The two young men were taking the class grudgingly because they needed it for pre-Auror training, but Lily delighted in all things Potions—and her grades showed it.  While Transfiguration came to her as easily as breathing, Potions challenged her and drove her toward perfection.  She was frequently asked for assistance with Potions essays and other sundry homework, but she was only available on weekends for practical work.  And on this day, both James and Sirius came at her in the Great Hall, directly after breakfast, wearing twin pathetic pouts and pleading eyes.

Seriously, they both looked like kicked puppies.

Lily could have denied the request, but she had to work on the project herself, and she had already reserved a space in the practice lab for that day.  It was a fact that James and Sirius were undoubtedly aware of before they asked for help, so Lily ruefully agreed to be of assistance.

As Sixth-year Potions was an advanced class, Lily didn’t need to bother with helping the two miscreants with basic chopping and slicing instructions.  After five-plus years of this class, at the very least they should know how to treat and prepare the ingredients.  She did, however, have to keep reminding them to watch the flame level under their cauldrons, and once she almost slapped the metal stirrer out of James’ hand because the potion called for a glass one.

And Sirius kept whistling whilst working, and that almost caused Lily to burst out in giggles.  Not that Sirius would have understood her mirth, even if she could have explained it.  There simply was no way to play a classic Disney cartoon movie in Hogwarts, and if there were, the completely Magical (read: Pureblood) students would either take it too seriously, or completely miss the entertainment value.

“What has you in such a good mood, Pads?” asked James peevishly as he double-checked the consistency of his potion.

Sirius looked up quickly, shooting a shocked glance at Lily before answering, “I, um, got a letter yesterday from a long-lost cousin.”

Lily smiled to herself at the declaration, completely missing the casual use of such an unusual nickname.  She was, in all actuality, the reason for Sirius’ letter, after all.

When Lily met her father at King’s Cross station at the beginning of Christmas break, she asked how one might go about finding someone who was estranged from their family.  Lily had a name, Andromeda Tonks nee Black, but since Andromeda was a witch born into the Magical world, she would have no Mundane records.  Sirius didn’t know where Andromeda’s husband was from, or anything about him at all, and he was unaware of where the two might be employed, so Lily had no idea where to begin her search.  Lily didn’t even know where Andromeda and her husband met, so she couldn’t exactly narrow the search to a geographic area.  After conferring with her father, and avoiding the accusing glares of her sister, Petunia, Lily decided the best bet would be to hire a private investigator.  Lily’s father did his own research to find a reputable one, and Lily agreed to ask Sirius if he would be willing to finance the endeavor.  (Lily was offering a kindness to Sirius, but she was in no position to finance such an endeavor herself, and she could never ask her parents to extend their finances for such a thing.)

That conversation was held on the train back to Hogwarts at the end of the break, while Lily was meeting with friends in the aisles and Sirius was ostensibly on the way to the loo, and plans were made for Lily to Floo with Sirius to Diagon Alley during a Hogsmeade weekend, to meet Lily’s father at Gringotts for a money transfer.  After that (and wasn’t it almost scandalous, sneaking away from the rest of the Marauders for a few hours to get the business done), it was a matter of a few weeks for a Mr. Ryan Mathers, Investigator, to return a report detailing the address and phone number for a Mr. Theodore Tonks and his wife, Andromeda, in Rothwell, near Leeds.

Sirius, of course, had no idea how to send mail the Mundane way, much less how to make a phone call, so Lily told him to discuss a private mail box with Gringotts, which would receive mail from the non-magicals and transfer it into the Wizarding world.  Sirius, Lily insisted, would have to send the first letter, so that his lost cousin would understand his new circumstances and yen for reuniting.

Apparently, the whole thing worked rather well, and Lily was very pleased that she could give this to the young man she hoped to one day call a friend.

“Was that letter a good thing, Pads?” James asked as he took his small copper cauldron off the flame, drawing Lily back to the present—and the Potions project she was supervising.  Under her watchful eye, James set the cauldron onto a trivet and began stirring counter-clockwise for fifteen slow stirs.  Lily’s own potion was ready for flasking, so she glanced at Sirius, curious as to his response.

Sirius offered her a small wink before removing his own cauldron from the flame.  “Oh, I think it was a good thing, James,” Sirius said calmly.  “Andromeda was always my favorite cousin; quite bright and a jolly good chess player, and never really took herself too seriously.”

Lily invited herself into the conversation and asked, “I don’t recall an Andromeda Black at Hogwarts.  Did she go to school elsewhere?”

Sirius smiled a little grimly.  “All three sisters in that branch were home-schooled, supposedly until they reached marriageable ages.  My uncle said it would be ‘fine’ if they developed interests that might keep them busy until they began to breed, but they would never be allowed to have careers unless their husbands allowed it.”

Lily wrinkled her nose and Sirius laughed at her.  “Things are different in the Ancient and Noble Houses, Evans.  Male children are taught to hold the Old Traditions, and female children are expected to go along with it.”  Sirius sighed as he began to ladle his potion into a flask, “That’s why Andromeda was my favorite: she never really fit that mould.  She was older than me by more than a few years and she would always talk to me about her dreams of becoming a Healer, and she had actually managed to talk her father into allowing her to further her education.  I think the argument she used was that there should be someone in the family that could patch-up anyone who could not get to hospital under…confidential reasons.”

James hummed for a moment while he labeled his flask.  “If she was a favorite of yours, then why is this letter so important?  And why haven’t you mentioned her before?”

Sirius blushed slightly.  “Well, she was cast out of the family a while back, you see, and I haven’t seen or spoken to her since I was thirteen.  Everybody was forbidden to even talk about her, except for Grandfather, of course.”

James gaped at his friend.  “Merlin, Sirius!  What did she do, reveal some awful Black Arts practicioning?”

Lily stared at James in horror, but Sirius only laughed.  “No, James, she only fell in love.  Instead of accepting the arranged marriage to a Pure-blood, Andromeda fell in love with, and eloped with, a Muggle-born student in her Healing program in St. Harmon.  My uncle threw her out of the Family Magic and blasted her name off the Family Tapestry before Grandfather found out about the elopement, and her name became forbidden to mention ever again.”

James stared at Sirius for so long, Lily started to feel uncomfortable to be in the same room with them.  Finally he asked, “So, what, she just wrote to you out of the blue for no reason?”

Sirius shrugged.  “I’d been thinking about her lately, especially since I, you know, ran off to live with your folks.  Andromeda completely turned her back on the Black Legacy, you know?  I admired her when I was a child, but she gave me courage to begin questioning the family way, and from that I got the courage to stand up for myself and turn my back as well.  So I…hunted her down and sent her a letter, to let her know I was thinking about her and that I wished her well.  And she wrote back.”

James’ smile was genuinely happy.  “Good for you, Sirius!  I hope this means you’ll have a family member you can actually be happy with!  Other than your grandfather, that is.”

As Lily packed up her things and stored everything away, she heard Sirius murmur, “Once I become Lord Blackmore, I’m going to do my level best to bring her back into the family.  There’s more to the Black Legacy than Dark Arts and Purity nonsense, and we could use a few more ‘white sheep’ to pull us out of the darkness.”

 

On a random July day in 1974 Lily Evans received an owl-post letter from Sirius Black, pleading for help with a ‘cultural divide’.

Sirius had been corresponding with his cousin, Andromeda, constantly since that first letter, and he had been happily rebuilding their relationship.  From what Lily had heard (she was not eavesdropping, but Sirius was not exactly quiet when telling James the details in the Common Room when it was just the two of them), Andromeda was proud of Sirius’ escape from the Black Family stronghold, and she was happy that he had a friend like James to run to when his home life became intolerable.  Their relationship had apparently grown to the point where she had asked Sirius to visit in order to introduce him to her husband, and that was why Sirius had written to Lily: he needed her help in buying clothing to fit into Andromeda’s Muggle neighborhood.

Lily chuckled to herself as she read the letter, mentally picturing Sirius waltzing into a middle-class Leeds neighborhood wearing a proper dress robe with brocade waistcoat, linen trousers, and sparkly dragon-hide boots (they sparkled, no matter what anyone said).  Sirius was, after all, a bit of a ponce.

Lily stopped chuckling when she reached the end of the missive, where Sirius had stated that he—and James Potter—would be happy to meet her at the Leaky Cauldron any day she was free, so that she could help them shop.

James Potter.

Lily sighed softly and refolded the parchment in her hand.  James had, unfortunately, been on Lily’s mind quite a lot lately.  She had learned so much about him since that fateful day in the library, and much of it was actually good.  Lily figured her life would be much more uncomplicated if he really was a boorish git with the charm of a toadstool, but that wasn’t the case—at least, it wasn’t anymore.  James was maturing in every sense of the word, and much of what Lily had learned only served to make him more attractive.

Not that she was attracted.  At all.

Still, Lily got permission from her parents to travel to Charing Cross Road for a shopping trip the following weekend, and she wrote to Sirius to confirm plans.  There were plenty of stores near the Leaky Cauldron where Sirius could hopefully find something to his particular taste, and Lily could also take the time to watch in mild amusement as James and Sirius navigated the non-magical world on the literal border of the Wizarding World.

Of course, the first question Lily had for Sirius when she saw him was, “Why don’t you just transfigure your regular clothing?  I mean, it would be simpler for you.”

James smirked and Sirius ducked his head a bit, running a hand along the back of his neck, so Lily figured that James had already brought up this prospect.  Still, Sirius looked her in the eye as he responded, “I know it would be easier, but…. I really want to show that I put effort into this—into trying to fit into her world, you know?  Finding her again means a lot to me.”

Sirius’ voice trailed away into uncomfortable silence, so Lily took pity on him.  “Okay, then.  The first thing we need to do is exchange some of your money into pound notes, because you can’t spend Wizarding money in the regular world.  And the exchange rate is appalling, really, so be prepared for that.”  Lily held out a stuffed canvas tote and said, “Also, I brought a couple of my father’s sport shirts for you two to wear while shopping.  You can still wear your trousers with them, but you’ll have to leave the robes unworn.”

Sirius took the tote and nodded.  “I can store this in my vault until after we finish shopping, so thanks for thinking of it.”

Lily led the way to the bank, leaving Sirius and James behind her, muttering to each other about who-knew-what, and when they were inside the bank, Lily told the next available teller that her two friends would like to exchange some money into British Pounds, please.

“How much?” asked the goblin teller succinctly.

Lily thought for a moment before replying, “Twenty galleons for each of them, I think, please.”

Sirius and James gamely offered up twenty galleons each, and the goblin huffed before stepping away from his station for a few moments, returning to hand each young man a small stack of colored paper bills and rather plain-looking coins.

James pocketed his cache into a pouch hanging from his belt, but Sirius flipped through the bills, noting each different number denomination.  “Is this a lot?” he asked Lily, as twenty galleons was certainly nothing to sneeze at.

“Not particularly,” Lily replied shortly.  “You’ll be able to buy a couple of good quality shirts and maybe a decent pair of shoes for that, but you’ll have to wear your regular trousers.  The Wizarding World seems to penalize those of us born into non-magical families with that money exchange rate.  If it weren’t for the scholarship fund, my family would go into serious hock for me to attend Hogwarts.”  Uncomfortable with the way Sirius and James stared at her, Lily shook the strap of the tote Sirius carried and said, “Go on and change, please, so we can head out.  It’s time for you two to see my world!”

 

An hour later, Lily was amused to see how dazed Sirius was as he took in the sight of racks and racks of ready-to-wear menswear in the finest department store in the district.

Lily bumped his shoulder with hers and said, “You’ll have to try it on first, of course.  Nothing here is tailored to fit, but the quality is quite good and the prices aren’t painful.  I’ll help you find things that should be close to your size.”

Sirius looked at her, gaping.  “Do all muggles shop this way?”

Lily shrugged.  “Most of them, yeah.  There are specialty shops for children and infants, specialty shoe shops, and smaller boutiques for luxury items, but the majority of people shop in the larger stores like this one.  There are, of course, pricier stores where you can find hand-tailored suits and the like, but they aren’t really near here and I don’t think you’re quite ready for the underground just yet.”  Lily tugged Sirius by the arm, pulling him toward a rack of button-down shirts, and said, “Let’s get started, yeah?  How fancy to you want to get?”

So Sirius and James tried-on dress shirts and tee-shirts and walking shoes and trainers, and Lily made suggestions, and James flirted lightly with Lily.  And Lily…liked it.

She flirted back, just a bit, and answered questions about the non-magical world—asked lowly so as to not be overheard.  They shopped for hours, not because they couldn’t find what they wanted, but because Sirius and James were having so much fun.  They visited candy shops and discovered non-magical sweets that were just as tasty as some of the stuff from Honeydukes, and Lily was happy to take them into a local stationer’s, where Sirius was enthralled with the ink-cartridge fountain pen that was fashioned to look like a quill.

And James continued to flirt.  And Lily began to actively flirt back.

And somehow, some forbidden gate was unlocked.

By the time Lily received her last-ever Hogwarts letter, containing her book list for her final term and her Head Girl badge, Lily had received—and responded to—several letters from James Potter, including one that asked her to consider accepting a date to Hogsmeade once school was back in session.

 

On a random October day in 1974, Lily Potter had the good fortune to see her very good friend, Alice Greenway, completely flustered.

They were walking to Greenhouse Six for an advanced Herbology class, and Alice kept dropping her bag and spilling her parchments.  After the fourth time of helping her gather her things together (the trip from castle to greenhouse was not that long), Lily finally asked, “Goodness, Alice, what is going on with you today?”

Alice flushed bright pink and glanced around to see if anyone was paying any mind to them.  Nobody was, really, because the other students were well ahead of them due to the constant stops.  “I’m just completely gobsmacked after dinner last night, and I don’t know what to do with myself!”

Lily, slightly alarmed, asked, “What happened at dinner?”  Alice, while one of Lily’s best friends, was in a different House, so Lily only had the chance to socialize between classes or in the library.

Alice leaned forward, so as to not be overheard by the stragglers in their class, and whispered, “Frank took me into an empty classroom after dinner and…he offered me this!”  Alice brandished her left hand, which was now very clearly adorned with a startling yellow diamond promise ring.

Only years of practicing acting like a proper witch kept Lily from squealing in delight and surprise, but she did quickly hug Alice in support and glee.  “We’ll talk about this after class,” Lily said as she dragged her friend into the greenhouse, but she could tell Alice was going to have trouble concentrating in class.

 

Once the morning classes were over, Lily grabbed a napkin full of sandwiches from the Gryffindor table and motioned for Alice to follow her out of the Great Hall.  The two girls found seats in the rose garden, and Lily portioned the sandwiches for the both of them.

“Okay,” she said once they were settled, “Tell me everything!”

Alice took a dainty bite and chewed for a moment while gathering her thoughts.  “Frank came to visit several times over the summer.  He’d been to visit once or twice just after we began dating, just so my parents could get to know him, but this time it seemed different.  He was very concerned with making sure my parents really approved of the relationship, which is kind of silly since he’s from a titled family and is the direct heir.  I mean, what parents wouldn’t approve of that?”

Lily frowned slightly.  “Is it that important, the title?  I mean, I know what those mean in the non-magical world, but there isn’t much prestige in noble titles nowadays.”

Alice nodded.  “There is a very specific hierarchy to Wizarding families,” she said. “Families that can prove Magical Legacy back to the time of Merlin are Ancient, and believe me, those families take their Family Histories very seriously.  The titles that are carried today were appointed by Merlin and Arthur themselves, and only the main branch of the Family can carry the prominent title.  So Frank’s family is an Ancient and Noble family, meaning they have official records tracing the main family line back to the very beginning of Wild Magic in the world, and someone way back then performed some special service that was notable enough to have caused them to be granted an official title by the Great King himself.”

Lily frowned, bemused.  “So basically, your family is happy that you’ll be marrying up?”

Alice shrugged.  “As far as Frank is concerned, he’s the one marrying up.  He’s told me as much, because he thinks several of his relatives are complete nutters.  But my father was thrilled beyond belief that the heir of an Ancient and Noble House wanted to marry me.  It means that some of that powerful magic will bleed-off into my family line, and it’ll be a sort of social promotion if and when I birth a son and my father becomes a grandfather to the heir of an Ancient and Noble House.”  Alice rolled her eyes briefly before adding, “Honestly, Dad was really happy to know that Frank was an honorable sort who had a good heart and a strong mind.  Frank has a future beyond his Family Name, and Dad is happy that Frank will be able to provide me with a good home.”

Lily nodded in agreement.  “I think it’s far better to marry someone for love, but knowing that you won’t be living in a hovel on the dole is a definite plus.”

Alice frowned at the word choice, not understanding the muggle terminology, but expanded her position.  “Some titled families only allow marriages based on social contracts, and there is a lot of intermarriage in Noble Families.  Frank’s mother, Augusta, has a hobby of studying family lines and tracing the nobility, and she’s shown me family trees that looked like interlocking spider webs. Most of the Ancient Families are related to each other in one way or another because of all the inter-marriages, you see.  The Longbottom Family, however, has a strict tradition of marrying for love and compatibility, and no contracts are allowed.  It’s rather scandalous, really, because there are a lot of not-quite Noble Families that would have liked to contract their daughters into a marriage with an Heir, and Frank is rather desirable.”

“Yes,” said Lily dryly, “I noticed how you shied away from him every time he came near you before he finally asked you out.”

Alice blushed prettily and Lily laughed at her friend.  “Seriously, Alice, I’m so very happy for you.  I hope you get everything you want and deserve.”

 

Days later, when Lily finally had some free time to do some personal research, she went to her favorite teacher, Professor Flitwick, with a request: “Sir, I’m interested in doing some research into the official Noble Houses in Magical Britain.  Do you know where I might find some resources for this?”  Alice may have had access to Lady Augusta Longbottom and her genealogy hobby because she was Frank Longbottom’s girlfriend, but Lily had no real contacts in the Wizarding World.

“Of course, Miss Evans,” the diminutive professor replied, “the chronicling of Family Lines is a personal hobby for a…relative of mine.  I’ll be happy to give you some reference titles.”

Thus began Lily’s dive into the Social Hierarchy of Wizarding Britain (and several other countries in direct relation).  She learned that not only were families rated on how “old” the Family Magic was, but that there was a rating for how “pure” the Family Magic was—and that most of the Purebloods she had encountered had got it exactly wrong.

For instance, Pure Magic was considered that which did not taint the Natural Order of Wilde Magic, so acts of Dark or Black Magic, where the intent was to do harm, were distinctly not pure.  Acts that went against the Olde Teachings of Merlyn Emrys, like cursing a family line or creating cursed objects that can damage another’s personal magic, were considered Black and Un-natural Magic, as were acts that subjugated others in an effort to gain power over them (apparently bribing someone was okay, but Imperiusing them was not).

Familial Magic that remained true to Merlin’s teachings had a completely distinct rating system from that of the Noble Families:

Virtuous Families completely followed the teachings of Merlin and were completely Light in nature.  There were more of these families (according to the books Professor Flitwick loaned her) in the Americas and much of Asia than in Europe and Britain.

Honorable Families served Wilde Magic completely, even if the Family Magic was not purely Light.  Lily found a long list of families in Europe, Britain, and the Americas that could officially be called Honorable, as in the Venerable and Honorable House of Prewett, or the Honorable Ancient and Noble House of Willingham.

Respectable Families also served Wilde Magic, though perhaps not at strictly, and some of those families were Grey rather than Light.  There were a lot of Respectable Families in Britain, even if the Family Magics were not old enough to be considered Venerable or Ancient, and most of those families were not at all Patrician.  Lily was not completely surprised to find that most ‘common’, or non-Noble families were Respectable in nature, at least according to those books.  In Britain, there seemed to be a disturbing trend for minor Noble families to be deemed Dark or Dark-Grey in nature, and that seemed to explain the bias against half-bloods or ‘muggle-borns’, whereas in other countries, Magic was respected and honored regardless of family origin.  In fact, in the book The Pureblood Directory, there was a list of the so-called Sacred Twenty-eight—a list of families in wizarding Britain that had completely pure bloodlines (no muggle-borns at all)—and more than half of those families were definitely considered Dark in regards to the Familial Magic, so ‘pure’ did not exactly mean Pure.

Not for the first time, Lily began to hopelessly wish that her family could have afforded to send her to one of the Magical Schools in another country, where her talent and intelligence would be appreciated regardless of her muggle-born status.  In fact, in the Americas all Magical children were given a Magical Education based on personal talent and home region rather than economic status.  Normally Lily didn’t really care what others thought of her in regards to her blood status, at least she hadn’t until her Fifth year when her oldest friendship ended over a careless word, but during her research, Lily discovered the Potter Family.

The Honorable Ancient and Noble House of Potter, descended from the Honorable Ancient and Noble House of Peverelle, descended from the Noble and Honorable House of Gryffindor.

Lily had a crush, and it was on someone who was practically Magical Royalty in Britain.  Someone who, by all rights, should never even look twice at someone like Lily.  They’d been to Hogsmeade together, and they enjoyed themselves.  Lily even found herself liking (most of) his friends, one of whom was also the heir to an Ancient and Noble House.

Lily Evans was screwed.

 

On a random Monday in November of 1974, Lily Evans received a letter via Owl Post during breakfast.  This was not an unusual occurrence, as her parents regularly sent letters during the school year.  This letter, however, did not come from Lily’s parents; it came from Andromeda Tonks.

Lily double-checked the return address before tucking the letter into her book bag to read later, away from prying eyes.

Only after dinner, when she could cast a privacy charm around her bed, did Lily retrieve the letter and open it.  Lily read it once, and then once again, almost unable to believe her eyes.  It was a ‘thank-you’, from a woman Lily had never met, and it was clearly heart-felt.

My Dear Miss Evans—

I wish to convey most sincere thanks to you for bringing part of my family back to me.  My cousin, Sirius, was happy to tell me, many times, that it was his ability to confer with you that made him brave and comfortable enough to reach out to me and my husband in our home on the edge of the Muggle world.

When my father and mother cast me out of the family because I chose to marry for love rather than to submit to the contract they would have forced upon me—and to marry a man who was not a full-blooded wizard—I feared that I would never again know a familial connection.  Even the Black Family patriarch, Arcturus, held himself beyond my reach after my marriage, and I was left alone aside from my husband.  My husband and I have recently decided to start our own family, and that I was able to share this happy news with a favorite cousin is due to you.

I am reaching out, Miss Evans, in an effort to get to know the extraordinary young woman who has helped to heal this familial rift.  If you are amenable, I should like to exchange letters and perhaps a visit or two during your school holidays.  I think, perhaps, the two of us could become good friends.

 

Lily smiled as she read the letter.  Andromeda Black Tonks seemed like a very nice lady, and Lily would certainly like to have her as a friend.  Andromeda could be a wonderful ally for Lily as she negotiated her way in the post-Hogwarts magical world.  Andromeda had managed to become a relatively successful healer, and she happily married someone from the non-magical world.  Perhaps she would have some advice for Lily on how to have a magical career without sacrificing her family contacts.  Andromeda may have been forced from her family, but Lily vowed to never lose hers.

 

During the next Gryffindor Quidditch match, Lily sat with James’ friend, taking the seat directly next to Sirius, in order to show support for the young man she was hoping to call her boyfriend.

“You’d better watch out, Evans,” said Peter Pettigrew somewhat snottily, “or James will think you’re throwing him off for a better man.”

Lily sucked in a shocked gasp as Remus Lupin turned on his rotund friend.  There were words spoken, by Remus, Sirius, and Peter, but Lily did not hear them.  Her heart was pounding too hard in anger and frustration for her to hear anything around her, and before any more students entered the Gryff box, she stood and hurried to the stairs.  She never even noticed when Sirius stood to follow her, only to be pulled back by Remus.

Fighting the crowd of students filing into the stands, Lily found herself actually crossing paths with James as the team was headed onto the pitch.

“Lily?” James called as he reached for her.  “Where are you going?  The game is this way.”

Lily pulled her arm from James’ grasp and shook her head.  “I just…can’t, right now, James.  Really.  I’ve tried to get on with your friends, truly, but right now….  I just need to…write a letter, or something.  Good luck with the match,” she said hurriedly as she stormed off, completely ignoring the baffled look on James’ face.

Instead of heading to her dormitory room, Lily found herself again in the rose garden, scribbling away in one of her ever-present spiral-bound notebooks.  She was completely isolated there, and she knew that her friend Alice would be the only one to look for her there because the two of them took to hiding away in the roses just to get a bit of privacy, so Lily took the time to write-out her frustrations in a letter to Andromeda.

 

Dear Mrs. Tonks—

First, let me entreat you to call me Lily, as Miss Evans seems quite formal for a budding friendship.

Secondly, showing Sirius how to get in touch with you was only my pleasure.  I could hear the earnestness in his voice as he spoke of his fondness for you, and I only wanted to show him that all was not lost.  I barely did anything, really, but show him how to go about finding you again.  He did all the hard work, and I’m so happy that you returned his interest.

Thirdly, I would love to exchange letters with you, and I think a visit during school holidays would not be too much to ask.  You may be the only one I can safely ask for information about the intricacies of the magical world.  I’m preparing to leave the safety of Hogwarts, with only one more term to go, and I would love some advice on how best to navigate the world I have chosen to become a part of.

The letter, written quickly but neatly, went on to describe Lily’s interests in school and her hopes for further study after leaving Hogwarts.  Lily wrote about her family, her introduction to Magic, and how her life had changed since she entered Hogwarts as a wide-eyed eleven-year-old girl.  She wrote about the pride of her parents at having a witch as a daughter, and also about the estrangement with her once-close sister, and how Lily personally knew the ache that Sirius had at being separated from a dear family member.

Lily also wrote about her budding relationship with James and how she was unsure what to expect from the Potter family—and how frustrated she often became when dealing with James’ close friends.  Words poured out of her pen, fluidly and fluently, as Lily described her excitement and fear and anger.  Before she knew it, several pages were filled with tidy, busy words, and Lily was on her way to the owlrey to send off the letter.

And the Quidditch match was over.

Lily met James (and Sirius and Remus) in the hall just outside of the portrait of the Fat Lady as she was returning from the owlrey.

“Lily?” James said timidly, “Are you all right?  Have I done…something?”

Lily sighed deeply.  “I’m so sorry James.  I just…I had news for Sirius, of a personal nature, but before I could tell him—Peter started in on how you would assume I was cheating on you with your best friend, and I really don’t have to deal with that.  Nobody should have to deal with that.  And it was either I leave the scene immediately, or I was going to hex him so hard in the Gryff box.  And I’m Head Girl and can not be seen hexing some git for not minding his mouth!”

Remus snickered softly, but backed away quickly when Lily turned on him.  “I’ve already told him off, Lily,” said Remus carefully.  “I don’t know what had gotten into him, but there was no cause for what he said. So…I’ll just leave you three to talk, or whatever.”  And Remus spoke the password and entered the Common Room, leaving Lily, James, and Sirius in the hall.

Sirius looked completely uncomfortable, so Lily took careful consideration with her words.  “Sirius, I really doubt that you have any romantic interest in me, whatsoever, and I certainly have no interest in you beyond friendship.  And I do not want you to avoid spending time with James if I am present, so please don’t think so.  I only wanted to tell you that I had a letter from Andromeda, and I wanted to show it to you, so you would know what she said.  It’s not private, per se, but is very personal to the two of us.”

Sirius offered a relieved smile.  “That’s all right, Lily.  And Andy actually indicated that she wanted to write to you, so I’m glad she did.”  Sirius rubbed a hand over the back of his neck and stepped back to the portrait-hole.  “I think the two of you need to talk, without me, so I’ll just go inside and…finish that Charms essay.”

Once they were alone, Lily turned to James and heaved a sigh.  “I’m sorry I missed your match, James.”

James huffed an incredulous laugh.  “Really?  That’s all you have to say?  You looked so upset, I was afraid you were going to tell me to go right to hell and that you never wanted to see me again!”

“Oh, no!” Lily exclaimed.  “Don’t think that!  I do enjoy my time with you, really.  And I actually enjoy spending time with Sirius, and Remus is wonderful to chat with and study with.  But Peter?  There’s something about him that just hits me as wrong, and I can’t really explain it.  I try, really, because he’s your friend, but he’s so inappropriate sometimes.”

James’ mouth twisted slightly.  “Yeah, I know.  Sirius and I try, of course, to help him fit in.  Have done, really, since that first night after our sorting, but sometimes he tries too hard and over-steps.”  James offered his hand to Lily and looked so relieved when she took it.  “So things are really okay between the two of us?”

Lily smiled softly.  “Well, I do have some concerns, of course, but I’m seventeen and not quite certain of my place in the world, so I’m supposed to have concerns.”

 

 

On a random Monday in March of 1975, Lily Evans was called into the teacher’s lounge of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Inside were her Head of House, Professor McGonagall, and her Potions teacher, Professor Slughorn.  Both were looking rather smug.

“Ah, Miss Evans,” Professor Slughorn exclaimed as she entered the room, “my favorite student of the year!  We have such wonderful news for you!”

Lily glanced from one to the other in confusion before Professor McGonagall ushered her to a comfortable armchair and offered tea and biscuits.  After Lily prepared her tea, Professor McGonagall addressed her directly.

“Miss Evans, I feel compelled to inform you that your performance as a student in this institution has been exemplar.  I do realize that you still have your NEWTs examinations ahead of you, but we, the faculty, are certain that you are headed for a bright future.”

Lily barely prevented herself from choking on her tea.  “Thank you, Professor,” she stammered.  “I do try my best.”

“Yes, yes,” said Professor Slughorn, “and you shall continue to do so, I am certain.  And since you have performed so well up to this point, and since we are all certain that you shall endeavor to do us all proud once you are graduated, I have reached out to several of my successful past students, and I have procured for you a prime Mastery program for after graduation!”

Professor Slughorn looked so proud of himself, as he usually did when doing a favor that someone would owe back to him, but Lily was too stunned to really notice.  A Mastery Program! Lily had expected to have to apply to dozens of programs for dozens of Potions Masters before finding acceptance, and Professor Slughorn (and probably Professor McGonagall as well, from the look on her face) had reached out and found one for her!

Lily gently placed her teacup on the side table before launching herself out of the chair to hug her teachers.  “Oh, thank you, thank you!” she exclaimed.  “I’ll not let you down, none of you!  You’ll never know what this means to me!”

The rest of the meeting involved paperwork and advice, and the setting up of an appointment with the Master who would eventually train her, but Lily, if pressed, could not have recalled much of it.  She was completely overwhelmed, happy and nervous at the same time, but she was also determined that neither teacher would regret offering this opportunity.

The first thing Lily did after the meeting was write a letter to Andromeda Tonks.  The two women had been corresponding constantly since the previous November, and had even managed to meet in person over the winter holiday, and Lily now counted Andy as one of her closer friends.  Once that letter was sealed, but not sent, Lily went in search of James Potter so that she could share her news with her boyfriend.  After all, it would not have been fair to him if Lily had shared her good news officially with someone other than James.

After a minor glitch in the fall, Lily’s relationship with James had managed to progress very nicely.  James had even made time to visit Lily over the winter holiday just so she could introduce him to her parents (Lily’s sister had no interest in meeting him and made herself scarce when he was at the house).  Group excursions into Hogsmeade slowly morphed into solitary dates, and while Lily was happy to socialize with James’ friends, especially Sirius Black, who was a brother to James, Lily was much happier to spend time alone with the young man she was quickly coming to care deeply for.  Lily had even met James’ parents when they came to the school to watch him play Quidditch in his final year, and she found them to be charming and welcoming, and she was happy to sit and chat with them in the Gryff box before the games or at the Gryff table for dinner afterwards.

Lily found James with Sirius out on the Quidditch pitch, racing around like two idiots just to burn off energy.  When they spotted her, they quickly landed and dismounted their brooms.

“You look quite pleased, Lily,” said James as he offered his arm to her.

Lily gently squeezed his upper arm between both her hands and practically bounced in place.  “I’ve gotten into a Mastery program!  It’s in Ireland, and shall begin two days after we leave Hogwarts, but the place is already mine!”

James and Sirius both laughed and bounced with her, jumping in a circle like a trio of First Years.  “How did this happen, Lils?” James asked when they calmed slightly.

“I’m not too clear on that actually,” said Lily in a daze.  “I was called into a meeting with McGonagall and Slughorn, and they told me about it.  Slughorn said he could see great things in me, whatever that means, and he put out feelers to past students.  You know how he collects people and favors.”

James smirked at her.  “I always thought that was rather presumptive of him, actually, and it made me very happy that I’ve never been in his sights.  Now I suppose you’ll ‘owe’ him something after all this?”

Lily shrugged carelessly.  “I always bring him that candied pineapple that he likes so much, so I think I’m good on the favor front.  I’m just happy to have the opportunity.  I was fully expecting to have to spend months interviewing for a placement after graduation, and certainly I’d have had to travel further abroad than Ireland, so I’m very blessed in this.”

The three friends walked back to the castle, chatting about Lily’s good fortune and the up-coming Quidditch match, before Lily pulled away, saying, “I really need to write to my parents about this!  They’ll be sad to see me leaving again, but they’ll be happy for me all the same!”

 

In the following week, Lily had received congratulation letters from her parents and Andromeda, and she also received some very shifty looks from James.  He never said anything to her, but she would catch him glancing at her in the halls between classes. When she would bring it up when they were together, James would prevaricate and change the subject.  Still, Lily didn’t think there was anything bad going on and resolved to ignore everything until she was proven wrong.

But she was not proven wrong.

James, unbeknownst to her, had been given certain Heir Privileges that allowed him to leave the school in his final year in order to take care of Family Business, and he had been taking advantage of those protocols.  While Lily was studying and helping younger students (and being distracted by Sirius, if she were being honest), James had been plotting and planning, and during one Hogsmeade weekend in April, Lily found out what his plans entailed.

“James!” Lily exclaimed laughingly as he pulled her into the Hogsmeade Post Office, “What are we doing here?  We both use the school owlrey for our mail!”

James chuckled and answered, “I’ve gotten permission to take you for a family visit, Lils, so we’re using the Floo here.”

Lily frowned at her boyfriend.  “Shouldn’t you have asked me first before ‘getting permission’?  What if I’d had plans for later today?”

James offered her a doleful look.  “Lily, I promise that this visit is a good thing.  At least, I hope it will be.  And I’d think I would have known if you’d had plans, so I could have you back at a decent time.  Please, come with me?”

Lily ducked her head slightly and smiled.  “I’ve never actually thought about going to your home to meet with your parents.”

“You don’t have to worry about this, Lily,” James said with a smile.  “They absolutely love you, you know.  Besides, we’re not going to my home for this visit.”

Before Lily could ask what he meant, James had activated the Floo with the words “The Leaky Cauldron”, and Lily was left to follow him or never find out what he’d had planned.

Lily was completely gobsmacked to find her own parents waiting for them on the other side of the Floo.  Because Lily’s family was almost entirely unmagical, getting into public places like the Leaky Cauldron was difficult for them, because those places were masked to non-magicals.  Lily’s father could, with extreme effort, find the doorways in emergencies, and he could use the ‘special post office’ in the lot next to the Leaky Cauldron to send owl posts, but could not cross into magical areas like Diagon Alley without a magical escort, so he rarely ventured to meet Lily in the world that was quickly becoming her home.  It was one reason that Lily resolved to not leave the non-magical world completely behind her when she graduated from school.  Her parents had been thrilled to hear about her acceptance into the Mastery Program, but Lily knew they didn’t completely understand it.  Still, to see them sitting there, in this magical pub, having tea with James Potter’s mother and father…?

“I didn’t know your parents knew mine, James,” Lily whispered as she joined him outside the Floo area.

“I introduced them shortly after you told me about the Mastery,” James whispered back before straightening his jacket and offering his arm to her.

Lily gamely allowed James to escort her to her parents and she happily fell into her mother’s hug.  “He’s a charming young man,” she said to Lily in a quiet whisper.  “I was so pleased to get his invitation for lunch today.”

Lily grinned.  “I’m pleased as well.  Where are we going?”

Lily’s father stood and shook James’ hand.  “At the suggestion of your young man here, I made reservations at a French restaurant near here.  I’ll be driving, of course, so we should head out.”

Lily was pleased at how casual and calm James and his parents appeared in the automobile on the way to the restaurant, when the non-magical conveyance clearly confused and frightened them.  Once at the restaurant, however, everyone was relaxed and happy.  Conversation flowed easily as the Potters and Evanses got to know one another over lunch, and once the plates were cleared, James stood in his place.

“If I could beg a moment of your time, please,” he said as he fiddled with his pocket.  James looked at Lily with adoration in his eyes.  “I’ve come to care deeply for you, Lils, and I’ve come to the decision that I can’t possible go through my life after school without you.  I’ve already spoken to your father, of course, as well as mine, and we’re all in agreement: this must be your decision.  Lily,” James said as he removed a velvet pouch from his pocket and took her hand, “I would very much be pleased if you would agree, after you achieve your Mastery of course, to become my wife and the next Lady Potter.”

Lily was struck silent, and she looked at the faces of the parents around her.  Her parents were teary-eyed and happy, but James’ parents looked absolutely thrilled.  Lily took a deep, calming breath and looked to James with hope and happiness.

“I’ll not do this immediately, James Potter,” she said sternly. “I’ve a year or more to study to be a Potions Mistress, and I mean to take it very seriously.”

James nodded seriously.  “Of course, Lily.”

Lily nodded.  “And I won’t be popping out babies at the first chance, either, James Potter.  I mean to have a life and career outside of motherhood.”

James grinned and said, “Of course, Lily.  I completely agree.”

Lily nodded again.  “Well, then, as we’re in agreement, I should love to accept your proposal.  Do you have a ring for me?”  Lily’s voice trembled, because she had done her research and she knew enough about the Ancient and Noble Families to know that there was a specific ring given to the future Ladies of those Houses, and she was certain that she’d be incredibly nervous to wear such a ring.  Thrilled and happy and very, very nervous.

James opened the pouch and pulled out a shining silver-ish band adorned with a shimmering ruby stone.  He rolled the ring between his finger and thumb for a moment.  “This ring has adorned the fingers of many Lady Potters over the generations.  My own mother wore it before she married my father, and she only removed it when it was replaced by the Lady ring upon their marriage.  It’s enchanted to keep its shine, of course, but there are also spells to keep it safe from damage or theft.”  James looked Lily in the eye and said, “I don’t ever want you to fear wearing this, so we can have it charmed to stay on a chain while you’re working in your lab.  I know your work is important to you, and I’ll never want to keep you from it, not for any reason.”

Lily sobbed softly as James placed the ring on her finger, and then her mother pulled her into a tight hug.  “I’m so very happy, my darling girl.  Your James is a good young man, and I know he’ll make you happy.”

“I know, Mum,” Lily replied.  “I think he will, too.”

 

The rest of their time in London was spent showing James’ parents the stunning muggle art in the National Gallery and planning a future wedding.  Because the Potter Family was prestigious and titled, the wedding was going to be rather large—and it was going to take place in Wizarding Society.  Lily’s parents prevaricated over everything, but finally admitted that they would be uncomfortable attending such a wedding. Lily, in tears, attempted to change everything, but her father refused to listen, arguing that this was her world now, and he would be more than happy to host a reception for her and James for any non-magical friends that would not be able to attend the wedding.

Lily appreciated the offer, but ultimately knew that she would have to refuse.  Those friendships were long over after she had been absent from them for so long, and only her family would be attending such a reception.  Her sister, Petunia, would refuse on general principle, so that left only her parents.  James offered a more pleasant solution to the Evanses: Allow Lily and him to marry the ‘muggle’ way, in front of a judge of their choosing, before the huge Society wedding that his position demanded.  Since the Potter Family held title in the non-magical world as well as the magical, that wedding would be deemed legal and binding, and it would satisfy Lily’s parents’ need to see their daughter happily wed.  James’ parents agreed to the unconventional solution, and stated that, since the ‘official’ ceremony would not take place in the wizarding world, then it would be kept secret in that world, and the announcements for the magical ceremony would be the only once sent out.

Neither Lily nor James would ever dream how that small offer would impact their future lives.

 

On a random Sunday in May, Lily received an Owl Post letter from her sister, Petunia.  This was a rare event for two reasons: For one, Petunia had completely and permanently eschewed all things magical after Lily had been accepted to Hogwarts and Petunia had not, thus cementing a rift between the once-close sisters.  The second reason for the rarity of the event was that Petunia had herself sent the letter, meaning that Petunia herself had to visit the ‘special’ Post Office next to The Leaky Cauldron, and Lily had never known Petunia to be one who would lower herself to do such a thing.  Petunia was two years older than Lily, and had already finished schooling and moved out of their parents’ home in an effort to become more independent, and Lily only saw her briefly during school holidays when her parents insisted they try to have a peaceful family dinner, so the notion of Petunia willfully visiting a wizarding post office to mail her a letter was…stunning.

 

Lily,

Mother and Father have informed me of your ‘betrothal’, so I suppose congratulations are in order.  The whole idea seems horribly staid and old-fashioned to me, but I suppose that is part of the freakishness that now surrounds you.  Because you seem to have found someone to put up with your oddness, I feel it only fair to inform you that I, myself, shall be marrying in June.  Mother beseeched me to tell you, and to ask for your presence at the ceremony.  I shall welcome you, as sisters do, but would entreat you to leave the freakish behavior behind.

Petunia

 

Lily stared at the sheet of embossed stationery and blinked once.  And then again.

When had Lily become so estranged from her own sister?  They had been so close when they were very much younger.  Petunia had, according to their mother, been so pleased to be a big sister, and had personally taken to looking after Lily when she was an infant.  As they grew, Petunia was so happy to have Lily follow her around, to show her things and to teach her.  It was Petunia that taught Lily how to read and write her letters, and it was Petunia that showed singular pride when Lily did well in school.

And then came the first burst of accidental magic, when Lily summoned a storybook that Petunia had been reaching for, and Petunia had run in fear.  Lily was seven years old, and Petunia had been nine.  Two days later, Lily and Petunia had encountered a young Severus Snape in a local play park, and he revealed all that he knew about magic and what it meant to be a wizard or witch, which admittedly had not been much but was enough to illustrate that Lily was slightly different than ‘normal’, and Petunia had pulled further away from Lily.  She only seemed slightly eager to maintain a sisterly relationship when Professor McGonagall had come to explain about Hogwarts and the invitation letter that Lily would receive at age eleven—a letter that Petunia would never receive herself.

Their relationship was never the same after that.  Lily had enjoyed her first year at Hogwarts, sending letters home every week to describe the majesty of the castle and grounds or the incredible things she was learning.  Lily had sent letters to Petunia, as well, but they were never returned, and Petunia kept to herself during school breaks when Lily was home and eager for family time.  During the later years, before Petunia had finally left school, Lily never even saw her sister when she was home for breaks unless their parents demanded a reunion.  The once close sisterhood that they shared had been shattered by the Magic woven into Lily’s soul, and there had been nothing she could do about it.

Lily sighed with regret and re-read the letter in her hand.  Lily’s final exams, the NEWTs, would be over by mid-May, with the results in before the first of June.  Lily would have to report to
Institiúid Meascán Gleoite by June tenth, giving her one week to spend with her family before entering the Mastery Program.  Petunia would be getting married on June eighth, the Sunday before Lily left again.  It would be cutting it quite close, but Lily figured she would have time to find a nice frock to wear for the wedding.  This invitation looked like a peace offering, and Lily was determined to accept it.  Lily quickly penned a response, congratulating Petunia on finding her happiness and thanking her for the invitation to the wedding—and promising to leave her wand at home.

Lily passed James on the path to the owlrey and he asked about the letter in her hand.

“Sending off confirmation for your Mastery?” he asked after kissing her cheek.

Lily blushed slightly and returned the kiss.  “No, silly.  I responded to that ages ago—as soon as I found out about it.  No, this is a letter to my sister.  She’s getting married in a few weeks, and I’m letting her know that I’ll be there.”

James puffed up a bit.  “Oh!  A muggle wedding!  I can’t wait to go!”

Lily frowned.  “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, James.  Petunia is completely…displeased…by my being a witch.  We were very close friends before my magic manifested, but now she avoids me whenever possible.  I think the wedding invitation was a sort of peace offering, but she specifically asked that I keep the magic stuff away, and you don’t know enough about the non-magical world to not act…oddly.”  Lily cringed when she spoke, but James merely laughed.

“I understand, Lily,” he said quickly.  “I really do.  Your parents are lovely people, but they clearly don’t know how to act around me, not that I’m really any better,  so I wouldn’t expect your sister to be any different.”

Lily shook her head.  “No, you don’t understand James.  Petunia wouldn’t just be uncomfortable; she would be completely hateful.  I don’t know what happened with her during my fourth year here, but when I went home during the summer she acted like I was someone she didn’t know; someone she really didn’t want to know.  She’s older than me, and she was concentrating on passing her A levels and going to some sort of training school, and I wanted to be so happy for her.  But every time I entered a room, she left it.  When I was leaving for the train station before fifth year, Petunia told me she hoped I did well enough in ‘freak school’ that I wouldn’t be forced to try to live in the ‘normal’ world, as she’d never be able to explain me to her friends.  I was heart-broken, but I eventually got over it.”

James took her hands in his and squeezed gently.  “I’m sorry she’s like that, Lily.  Are you sure you don’t want me to go to the wedding with you?  It’ll be a long time before we can spend any time together after I start at the Auror Academy.  At the very least, I could offer moral support.”

Lily offered a wan smile.  “As much as I would love it, I think your presence would really make Petunia miserable, and that would be unconscionable on her wedding day.  I’ll muster through as best I can, and Mum and Dad will be my moral support, and you and I will see each other as often as we can manage.  You knew asking me to marry you would mean some difficulties, and this is just a small one.”

 

In truth, Lily figured that James would soon come to the conclusion that he’d be much better off pairing with someone of his own status, and Lily would have to settle into life as a spinster Potions Mistress, living with a house full of cats and visiting her non-magical parents on odd weekends.  Lily understood James’ social position very well, even if he was determined to have a career in law enforcement, and having what amounted to a ‘commoner’ wife probably wouldn’t be what was best for him.

Still, his parents seemed to like Lily well enough, having come to the school several times since the proposal just to get to know her better.  And Lily really did love James….

Perhaps she was just being silly.

 

Lily posted her letter and returned to Gryffindor Tower to revise for her NEWTs, and completely pushed the issue from her mind.  Once the examinations were over, Lily was once again able to relax, and she sent a letter to her parents to inquire about Petunia and the man she was to marry.  Her father couldn’t say enough good things about the man, a Vernon Dursley, who was to marry his eldest daughter.  Vernon was, apparently, a diligent salesman with a drill company, and was quite able to keep Petunia in a comfortable home.  (Of course, Petunia was a working woman herself, and lived in a flat with two other secretaries and paid her own bills, so Vernon wouldn’t be hard-pressed to provide a luxurious home or fully support her monetarily right away.)

Lily’s mother, however, seemed to find the man quite boorish and gruff, and warned Lily that Vernon Dursley was in a like mind with Petunia on matters that were not ‘normal’ or ‘usual’.  Lily took that to mean that she would have to be on guard while at home, and especially while at Petunia’s wedding.

 

As it turned out, Lily’s mother was more right in her assessment than her father: Vernon Dursley was a boor.  A very loud, very opinionated, boor.  And Petunia was utterly besotted.  Lily was careful to keep any personal comments un-detailed, only mentioning that she attended an exclusive boarding school in Scotland and that she was studying to be a chemist.  Vernon seemed mildly impressed by that, so Lily left it.  Potions was enough like chemistry for it to not be a lie, after all.  Vernon also seemed mildly impressed that Lily was also engaged, but turned his working-class nose right up at the idea of marrying into some sort of Noble family.  Apparently inheriting one’s money was not as impressive as earning it, and it didn’t seem to matter to Vernon if her betrothed was gainfully employed or not if he was of Noble Blood.  As several friends and family members tried to coo over Lily’s betrothal ring, drawing attention to her and away from Petunia, Lily took care to keep her left hand covered or hidden, not wanting to draw any ire from Petunia on her special day.

Just before the newlywed couple was about to leave the venue, Lily cautiously approached her sister, offering a stiff hug.

“I’m so happy for you, Petunia,” Lily said wetly.  “I know you’ll be very happy, and I want only the very best for you.”

Petunia sniffed haughtily.  “Yes, well, thank you for coming, Lily.  I hope…that you do well in your life, as well.  And thank you for not embarrassing me with your nonsense.”

 

On a random Tuesday morning in February of 1976, Lily Evans received an owl-post from Andromeda Tonks, announcing the birth of her daughter, Nymphadora.  Lily chucked lightly when she read the announcement.  Sirius had briefly explained that the Black Family had a sort of ‘history’ with naming children after astronomical bodies, and Lily had found the information illuminating.  It certainly explained the ostentatious names of a lot of Pureblood families, especially the Ancient families.

Lily was well into her Mastery Program and was receiving offers of employment from various apothecaries and governmental offices, and the many letters that she received from family and friends were her respite from all the hard work.  When she entered the program, Lily had only anticipated becoming a Potions Mistress, but her sponsoring Master had seen her pure talent with Transfiguration and declared that she would obtain a dual Mastery, which meant deeper and harder study, but also more future employment opportunities.  To offset the hard (and oft-times difficult) work, Lily’s Master, Ailill Caomhanach, was kind enough to give her brief leaves-of-absence every few months, so Lily used that time to visit with her family, James, and her very good friend Andromeda Tonks.

And while Lily was happy to have another girlfriend to spend time with, or to write letters with, both she and Andromeda were determined to keep their friendship mostly secret.  Lily understood the brotherly relationship that James and Sirius had, but she didn’t want them to try and influence her personal friendships.  Already, James was pushing Lily to build an even closer relationship with Alice (Greenway) Longbottom, completely based on the fact that Frank Longbottom was a fellow Peer and a professional colleague of James’ rather than the fact that Alice had been one of Lily’s best friends in school.  So, while Lily was happily growing closer to Andromeda Tonks, she kept that information hidden from James, Sirius, and even Alice.  Some sort of intuition told Lily that this particular friendship would be very important to her future, and that making it generally known could damage it.

Lily happily sent a congratulatory note to her friend, joking about silly Pure-bloods and their ostentatious and ridiculous names, and promising a visit as soon as she could arrange one.  Lily did have a scheduled break coming up, but James had plans for them to spend it with his family in their ancestral home.  Lily figured that was so that she could get used to the place, since they’d most-likely live there after they married—even though James promised her that they could live away from his parents in another of the Potter properties if she didn’t care for Potter Manor.

Potter Manor.

Despite her absolute love for James Potter, and her growing affection for her soon-to-be in-laws, Lily had a very hard time wrapping her mind around the fact that she would soon be marrying into Magical Royalty.  Well, sort-of Magical Royalty, since there was no longer a magical king and the wizarding world fell under the ultimate purview of the British government (at least in Great Britain) whether they realized it or not.  The Nobility issue was a rough one for Lily, most especially because many of the other magical Peers looked down upon Lily due to her parentage.

Right after sending off Andromeda’s letter, Lily sat down and wrote to James, citing a need to spend a day away from him and his family during her break, just so she could reconnect with some of her other friends.  Two days later, Lily received two responses: one from James, stating that he completely understood the need to have some private time after all the work she had been doing, and the other from James’ parents, telling her to take as much time as she needed because she was ultimately going to become a part of their family and she shouldn’t need to be cautious around them.  That second letter just reminded Lily of how lucky she was to be marrying into that family.

 

A few weeks later, Lily was sitting on a comfortable sofa in a mostly-muggle home in Leeds, watching Andromeda Tonks feed a tiny baby.  Both mother and daughter looked so happy and content, and Lily, for just a moment, envied her friend.

“Has Sirius been by to see the baby yet?” Lily asked as Andy brought forth a huge burp from the small girl.

Andromeda laughed heartily and passed the gurgling baby to Lily, who gamely accepted the small burden.  “Oh, he said she was almost enough to make him reconsider his bachelorhood.  Of course, Ted and I have had to place a limit on how much he’s allowed to spoil her, but now he’s even more determined to bring me back into the Black Family fold.”

Lily sighed and made funny faces at the baby, who seemed to smile in return.  “I imagine that proper family is very important to Sirius, Andy.  And this little jewel is just the match to light a fire under his arse in that regard.  Oh, yes, she is!”  Lily looked up to see Andromeda watching her with a calculating gaze.  “What?”

Andy smirked.  “You’ll make a wonderful mother some day, Lils.”

Lily blushed and cradled the baby close to her chest. “Well, not for a few years yet, that’s for certain.  I don’t want to be one of those women who has baby after baby right after marriage, with no regards to her own well-being.  I fully intend to give everything I can to any children I do have, but I want a different start to my life.  I have plans, you know, and James completely supports me in that.”

Andromeda sighed and got up to prepare tea.  “I know that, Lily.  And I actually think it’s a smart idea.  You’d be wasting that Mastery of yours if you started a family so soon after marriage.  It was the main reason Ted and I took so long before becoming parents.  Being a healer is such a huge part of me, and if I’d gotten pregnant right away, then I wouldn’t have that.”

Lily cooed over the baby for a few more moments before placing her in the waiting bassinet.  “I’ve already received offers, you know.  Between Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, and Slughorn, and my sponsoring Master, there are a lot of places looking to hook me in.  And it’s all based on my own merits, too, and not because I’m part of the Potter Family.”

Andromeda looked at her shrewdly.  “That’s important to you, isn’t it?”

Lily sipped from her teacup daintily.  “Yes, I rather think it is.  All through school, I had only myself to depend upon.  Nobody gave any quarter if I didn’t automatically know something because I was not brought up in the wizarding world, so I had a bit of a learning curve, but I got by.  And I got great marks and excellent test scores.  And while Professor Slughorn may have contacted Master Caomhanach in regards to me, if I hadn’t measured up, I never would have gotten the position and training.”

Andromeda set aside her cup and saucer and settled her attention on her young friend.  “Lily, you and I both know that you will go far on your own achievements, but you need to understand that there is influence in that family you’re marrying into.  There will be people who will offer you practically anything in order to garner favor with the Potters, so you should make your mark now, before the marriage.  James’ parents are young enough still, so you’ll not have to worry too much about being ‘Lady Potter’ for some time yet, and James is set on being an Auror with Sirius and doing good that way, so stand out!  Don’t let anyone try to convince you to drop everything to produce an heir if you’re not ready for it”

“All right,” said Lily sternly, “I won’t.  I’ll consider any job offer I receive very carefully, and I’ll choose the one that feels right to me, regardless of what James might think.”

“Good for you!” exclaimed Andromeda, clapping her hands delightedly.  “Now, what offers have you received, and what looks best to you?”

 

By the end of her visit, when Lily apparated to the front of the café James wanted to try for dinner, Lily was firmly convinced of two things: One–that she would probably be taking a position as a researcher with the Department of Mysteries, and Two–that any child she gave birth to would have an easy, sensible name.

 

 

On a random Saturday in May of 1976, the Daily Prophet began reporting about increasing activity on the part of the terrorist organization known as Death Eaters.  Lily was, of course, dismayed to hear the news.  Since she kept in close contact with her parents, Lily was certain that no attacks were taking place in the non-magical world, or at least not around London, but Lily also went out of her way to get subscriptions to wizarding newspapers from other countries just to keep a weather-eye on the situation.  So far, all of the attacks had been domestic, but that was worrying enough.  Everyone attacked had been of the Half-Blood persuasion, and that made Lily incredibly leery.

She was fairly insulated in Ireland, completing her Mastery and refining her skills, but James was finished with his Auror training and was actively investigating Death Eater activity.  She worried.  James’ parents worried as well, she knew, so Lily took extra time to send encouraging letters to her future in-laws.  James’ mother seemed relieved to hear from her, and had been subtly offering hints for wedding plans.  Lily assured her, often, that she was game for almost any type of ceremony, but details would have to wait until she finished her Program.

James’ mother was relentless.

 

After several months of news reports detailing how some ‘half-blood’s’ home was destroyed, or how the body of a ‘muggle-born’ child was found mutilated and killed, Lily started to become enraged at the attitude that seemed to prevail in the Daily Prophet: if a Pure-Blood was not killed, injured, or inconvenienced, then the Ministry wasn’t very pressed to make inquiries or arrests.  Daily reports of how Death Eaters had kidnapped or killed muggle-borns and their families began to overwhelm Lily, and she began to write letters to James, demanding to know what the actual Ministry position was.

James was…reticent.  Lily could tell that he was also frustrated in his efforts to find and punish Death Eaters, but he seemed to be angered by Minister Bagnold’s personal assurances that there were no Pure-Blood citizens involved in the attacks.  It was an unfortunate position to stand behind, as there were soon reports of notes left behind at crime scenes (because all evil villains left notes behind)–notes announcing a plot to eradicate all that ‘threatened the Purity of Magic’.

Basically, the Death Eaters seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be Blood Purists, and very ignorant ones at that.  Lily vividly recalled the research she did on the Magical Families in Britain, and how ‘purity’ had less to do with blood status and inbreeding, and more to do with how a Family Line respected and served the Magical Legacy that Merlin left in the world.  According to letters she received from both James and Andromeda, those Death Eaters seemed to think muggles and muggle-borns received their personal magic by ‘stealing’ it from Pure Bloods.  Lily would have laughed if it hadn’t been such a tragic thing.  Logic had, apparently, never entered into any discussions of Magical Heritage and Secrecy.  For instance, how could a person who had never heard of Magic (nor seen it) go about ‘stealing it’ from a magical person—and how could a mere child younger than six-years-old manage to master-mind this ‘theft’?

Lily’s letters to James became filled with the frustration she felt at watching the world burn down at the hands of people who were actively damaging their Magical Cores by turning away from the Teachings of Merlin.  James’ replies became entreaties for her to ‘never change, Lily, ever; I love you just as you are’.

 

And then one day, James’ letter came filled with information of a different sort.

 

Professor Albus Dumbledore, who rose to fame as the wizard who vanquished the Dark Lord Grindlewald while only a Transfiguration Professor, and who now held the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts School, was starting an unofficial counter-group to fight against the Death Eaters, and he wanted James and Sirius to join.  Oh, he actually wanted a lot of people to join him, including Remus Lupin, who had been working at a bookshop in Lyons, and Peter Pettigrew, who was a low-level clerk in a minor office in the Ministry, but James mentioned a lot of names that belonged to rather prominent (and wealthy) families, and Lily had to question Dumbledore’s motives in that regard.

Another thing Lily questioned was the actual purpose of Dumbledore’s little group, which had the impressive name of The Order of the Phoenix.  It wasn’t a group dedicated to rebuilding homes or re-housing families that were displaced by the Death Eaters.  It wasn’t a group dedicated training fighters or investigators.  It wasn’t even a group dedicated to spying on the suspected Death Eaters.  James couldn’t tell her much about it, actually, because it was all supposed to be ‘secret’ and neither James nor Lily were official members, but James did let out that Dumbledore asked, very politely, that those with more income donate funds to keep the organization running.

Running for what, Lily wanted to know.

While Lily was working to finish her Program, James would send letters telling her about Sirius’ latest antics in the Auror-corps bullpen (once a prankster, always a prankster) or talking about the goings-on at ‘headquarters’, which was a Black Family property that Sirius had gained possession of from Arcturus, and then promptly donated to The Order of the Phoenix.  James and Sirius still hadn’t officially ‘joined’ The Order yet, but Dumbledore kept pulling them in for some reason or another.

Since Lily knew that Sirius kept in contact with Andromeda, Lily took a chance and wrote to her, asking her opinion of The Order of the Phoenix.  Andromeda was less than complimentary.  She seemed to think that The Order was a wannabe vigilante group that was populated with people who were less than effectual in their personal lives.  People who seemed to want to be important somehow, but had not the wherewithal to submit to the training to actually make something of themselves.  Even people who had the training and possible skills, but seemed to hate actually working within an acknowledged system to affect change.

Rebels and outsiders.  People who could possibly form a decent army, if only they could follow instructions.

Andromeda worked as a Healer at St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Ailments, so she knew more about several of the Order members than Lily did, and she was free with her information so long as it did not betray her confidentiality oaths as a Healer.  It seemed the Order members that Andromeda knew about had no problems letting on that their injuries occurred during ‘business with the OTP, but I can’t really talk about it’.  Lily often found herself rolling her eyes in sympathy for her friend.

The Prewett Brothers, Gideon and Fabian, were low-level Aurors from the Venerable and Honorable House of Prewett, and they seemed to think they had a lot to prove to society.  The Prewetts were once very wealthy, but had lost a lot of social influence since the days of Grindlewald, and the twins (a rare occurrence in Magical Families) seemed to go out of their way to try to bring that influence back to the family.  Joining the Auror Corp was a respectable choice for them, but Andromeda had treated both, frequently, for injuries incurred on the job.  They appeared to be quite reckless.

Elphias Doge and Alastor Moody were old friends of Dumbledore from childhood, and Aberforth Dumbledore was Albus’ brother, but Andromeda didn’t know them personally, except that Moody was also an Auror.  In fact, there seemed to be several Aurors in the Order, and most of them were either newer recruits, like James and Sirius, or old friends that were loyal to Dumbledore for some reason or another.  So really, people who probably wanted to show loyalty to a much-venerated Light-fighter in an effort to build themselves up.

Lily tried very hard not to be suspicious, especially in the shadow of such horrible happenings, but she had a feeling that Dumbledore knew more about those Death Eaters than he was letting on, and he was calling in personal favors in order to make a name for himself once again.

After all, going from exalted hero to school headmaster could not have been easy on the old man.

 

On a not-so-random Saturday in July of 1977, Lily Evans wed James Potter.

Their ‘official’, highly-anticipated formal Society Wedding was slated for the following Tuesday and the RSVPs had been tallied and finalized, but James and his parents were determined to make good on their promise to Lily’s parents, and they all met at the local register office (Lily’s father gladly paid the register fee two weeks prior, so all they needed to do was say their vows and sign the papers) at nine o’clock in the morning, dressed semi-formally for the occasion.  Lily knew, from the letters that her mother sent, that James’ parents had visited several times over the past year, in an effort to get to know the Evanses a little better, so Lily was not surprised to see how well they dressed in ‘muggle’ attire for the occasion.

The whole thing took less than half-an-hour, and the vows were quite simple for the occasion.  Lily vowed, on her heart, soul, and life, to support James and help him make the important decisions that life would bring them, to give him a happy and healthy home, to protect him from any perceived evils and to prevent as many bad decisions as possible, and to be a bright light to guide him from whatever darkness he might face.  James vowed to never betray Lily’s love and trust, to always listen to her concerns with an open mind and heart, to defer to her in matters of Family, to never drag her down mentally, emotionally, or physically, and to provide a healthy and happy home.  While nothing visible occurred during the vows (which would be impossible to explain in a room full of muggles), Lily felt a warmth settle into her magic—and from the look on James’ face, he did as well.

In that moment, Lily knew that no matter what vows they might recite during the official wedding, the one the wizarding world would witness and see and magically binding, the vows that they had just spoken (and accidentally imbued with extremely strong and powerful magic) would over-rule everything else.  For all intents and purposes, James could try to pull a ‘lord-of-the-manor’ maneuver and try to bind her in a constraining marriage (as so many pure-blood males did with their spouses), and that magical decree would never take.  Lily and James had not only promised to be equals, they had promised to protect each other no matter what circumstances came to them.

Lily, wisely, kept this knowledge to herself.  She had a feeling that this horrid magical war against Dark wizards would bring untold dangers to her life, and knowing that James would never act against her, in even the smallest way, was comforting.

 

After that small, intimate ceremony, Lily found the ‘real’ wedding, in front of the cream of Wizarding Society, to be slightly overwhelming and ostentatious.  Lily’s formal wedding robes were made of gleaming ivory silk, and were heavily adorned with pearls and silver embroidery (made with real silver thread), and they were difficult to move in—an incredible contrast to the lavender skirt-suit she wore to the register’s office.  James appeared more comfortable in his dress robes than he did in his ‘muggle’ suit, but he still looked stiff and regimented.

The vows were different, as well, with Lily stating that she would not bring shame to the House of Potter (James appeared to be rather ashamed of that one, as if he wasn’t aware it was a thing) and that she would ‘support her Lord in all things’, while James only had to promise to honor her as his Lady and to provide for a family and a decent lifestyle.  Lily wryly noted that there were no vows of fidelity in a Noble’s wizarding wedding, and was secretly happy that James vowed to remain faithful to her in their first wedding—and didn’t bat an eye for it.

James and Lily barely had time for a short honeymoon before his Auror duties took him away and her new job in the Department of Mysteries began.  They opted for a two-day stay in a quaint cottage in Cornwall, well away from both magical and non-magical society.  They relaxed on the beach and shopped in a small village and made love on cool cotton sheets.  And they spoke again the vows they made in that register’s office, the important vows that Lily held dearer than anything.

 

Two days after her big, fancy wedding, Lily (Evans) Potter walked into a lift in the Ministry of Magic and was carried down to the Department of Mysteries, where she would begin her career as a researcher.  Lily’s actual official job, she soon learned, was to create new healing or defensive potions for the Auror Corps and to research possible adaptations of muggle items for magical use.  While Lily was relieved to learn that non-magical weapons were not being researched (apparently the magical world did not consider ‘muggles’ that much of a threat, the poor idiots), she was amused to see things like televisions, radios, and automotive transportation on her list.  Lily was part of a six-person team of researchers, and was one of only two women—and was the only muggle-born of the lot.

Her team-mates were mostly of the non-welcoming sort.

Even the other woman was less than welcoming, as she was of an old (but not Notable or Venerable) Pure-Blood family and considered muggle-borns to be interlopers into the magical world.  Lily was shocked and dismayed to overhear the woman, Ellersly Rosier, wonder aloud to another Ministry employee just who Lily ‘stole’ her magic from, because ‘everybody knows muggle-born magic is un-natural.’

Lily resigned herself to working mainly alone, never complaining to James (or Sirius) about how she was treated on the job.  There was, of course, no outward hostility, and no hexes were cast in her direction; they simply made her feel like an outsider, and Lily was used to that.  Of course, Lily did not hold back her feelings when she went to visit Andromeda.

“Honestly, Andy,” Lily moaned over tea one weekend in August, “it’s like they think I’m going to, oh, I don’t know, bewitch them and steal their magical cores!”

Andromeda snorted indelicately into her teacup.  “Lily!  You’re horrible!”  Andromeda sobered quickly, though.  “It’s the way they’re brought up, Lily.  My family was no different.  The older the Family Magic, the more they’re convinced that they are the only ones ‘entitled’ to have any magic.  Any family with less than thirty generations of Familial Magic is considered suspect, and magical children who mysteriously sprout up in non-magical families are definitely not to be trusted.  Pure-Bloods honestly have never had to consider that Magic wasn’t always in the world, or that at some point in their Family Histories there were non-magical people.”

Lily nodded but frowned.  “When I have an idea that none of them have considered, they look at me like I’m some sort of alien being; like I’m a plant that has just suddenly started speaking for no discernible reason.  I’ve started keeping my own notes separate from theirs in the workplace, and I keep all of my belongings under a very strong shield spell so they can’t steal anything.  And when a marked deadline is due, I turn in my own research separately so they can’t claim any advancements I personally make.  It’s stupid really.”

“Well,” said Andromeda cheerfully, “you’re certainly my favorite talking plant!”

 

 

On a random Tuesday in September of 1977, James Potter’s parents were killed in a Death Eater attack.

Lily Potter, as someone who was not raised in the wizarding world, did not, at first, fully comprehend the magical Marriage Bond that she had entered into with James, but she came to appreciate it when a strong sense of anger and foreboding came over her in what became known as the hours after the attack.  Simply put, Lily began to empathically ‘feel’ James’ impotent rage and mourning over the loss of his parents.

As soon as the wave of empathy hit her, Lily ran from her office to the lifts outside the lobby, and rode anxiously to the floor housing the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.  James, tears in his eyes, met her just outside the lift area, with Sirius beside him.

“What’s happened?” Lily demanded to know.

James brought her close in an embrace and shook his head, burying his face in her hair.  “I’m not sure yet, Lils.   I just felt a shift in the Family Magic.  I feel like…Mom and Dad are…just gone, somehow.”

A muted sob caught in Lily’s throat.  “How can we find out?”

Sirius, feeling perhaps intrusive and completely useless in that moment, ran to the Floo and disappeared in a flash of green smoke.  When he returned, some twenty minutes later, his face was grim and he was in the company of Albus Dumbledore.  Lily frowned at the presence of the old wizard, but James took in the grim look on Sirius’ face and pulled her toward the Floo.  In another flash of smokey green magic, Lily found herself in an empty parlour in a nicely appointed townhouse, and James was prodding her into a chair.

“I’m terribly sorry to deliver this news, my boy,” said Dumbledore gravely, “but it appeared to be a Death Eater attack.  Potter Manor has been completely obliterated and the Dark Mark was shimmering in the sky over the ruins.”

Lily gasped, covering her mouth with a shaking hand, but James appeared grimly determined to know as much as possible.  “Were their bodies found?”

“Yes,” Sirius answered quietly.  “I’ve seen it myself.  James…it’s bad.  The house-elves—I think they tried to defend your family.”

While Lily tried to comprehend what had happened, James and Sirius conferred with Dumbledore over what was possibly to come.  Soon enough the Floo activated again and again, spewing out people Lily had never met, but had begun to assume were members of the Order of the Phoenix.  They all delivered reports of other attacks, on the Wellesley, Archmont, and Ballefort families.  The names meant nothing to Lily, but James and Sirius reacted almost violently.

“James,” Lily asked, pulling him away from Dumbledore, “what is the matter?  I know this was a horrible tragedy, but why are you so troubled?”  And he was troubled; Lily could feel it through their Bond.  Outwardly, James showed none of the grief that Lily felt with him, but his personal magic was almost dancing on his skin with his agitation.

James scowled briefly before pulling her into another hug.  “Those families that were attacked—they all had sons or daughters who recently wed muggle-borns.  We’ve known for some time that Voldemort and his Death Eaters were Blood Purists of the worst kind, but this kind of attack is unconscionable.”

Lily found herself frowning at her husband, but before she could say anything, Dumbledore was calling him and Sirius into a private meeting.  Lily tagged along closely so as to not be left behind, feeling that anything to be said to James could be said in front of her.  She did vow, on her very life, to aid, comfort, and protect her husband in troubled times, and the times were very troubling now.

Dumbledore appeared ready to ask Lily to leave the room, but James had caught her hand and held her in place, so the old man merely ignored her.  “I think,” he said loftily, “that in the light of the attacks on such prominent families, that perhaps it would be best for the two of you to pull away from the public eye.”

“So, what,” asked Sirius, “you want us to stop being Aurors?”

“Not at all, dear boy,” the old man simpered.  “I think, perhaps, it would be best to refuse your titles for the time being and to avoid the Wizengamot.  That kind of power would undoubtedly bring the attention of Voldemort, and I need you too much in the Order.”

Lily was flabbergasted!  The Order needed James and Sirius?  When did they join?  Why hadn’t James informed her of this?

“Pardon me, Professor,” interrupted Lily, using Dumbledore’s official title, “but I think my husband and I need some time alone to process everything that has happened today.  We’ve just suffered a great loss, and we must deal with this as a family, as I’m sure you understand.  We’ll take our leave now, if you don’t mind.”  Lily turned to James’ oldest friend and said, “Sirius, could you please come with us?  You were as much a son to Fleamont and Euphemia as James was, and there is a funeral to plan.”

Without waiting for a response, Lily stalked to the Floo and transported to her home, where she busily made tea and waited for James and Sirius to arrive.  She did not have to wait long.

“Lily,” said James softly, “don’t you think you were rather rude to Albus?”

Lily whirled around and glared at her husband.  “Rude?  Me?  James Charlus Potter, there are important things to discuss here, and Albus Dumbledore has no place in this discussion!”

“Oh, well, then perhaps I should go,” Sirius began, uncomfortably, but Lily ordered him to “Sit!” and placed a teacup in front of him.

“Okay, Lily,” said James placidly, “why don’t you tell us what’s on your mind?”

Lily took a deep breath.  “Firstly, we really do need to plan a funeral.  I know this might be the last thing on your mind, James, but we must prioritize.  Once the news breaks, and that will be soon, the floodgates will open and we’ll be deluged with well-wishers and public mourners, and we need to prepare for that.  And very soon, this all will hit you, James, and your grief will completely take you over.  That goes for you, as well, Sirius.  You want to take action now; I know because that’s your way.  You want someone to fight, and there isn’t anyone just yet, so you want to go find someone.  But that grief will soon cripple you both, and I’d like to have a plan in place so that you can take some comfort in not having to deal with it all.”

James slumped in his chair and rubbed both hands over his face.  “You’re right, of course.  I’ve just never felt so, so…useless.”

Lily sat next to him and rubbed his shoulder.  “James, you’re anything but useless.  It’s just the shock, right now.  Nothing has really hit you yet.  Soon, very soon, I will expect you to start throwing furniture and yelling and blasting things off shelves and crying and tugging at your clothes.  The grief will take over, and the last thing you want to show the general public is your private grief.”

Sirius drummed his fingers on the table in front of him, his face glum.  “I always knew you married a smart one, James.”

Lily offered a wan smile.  “Well, now, let’s see if you think I’m so smart about this next bit.”

“What next bit?” asked James.

“Oh,” said Lily calmly, “the bit where I tell you that following Dumbledore’s directives about not claiming your titles and staying away from the Wizengamot is an utter bullshite idea.”

James huffed.  “Lily, I don’t expect you to understand….”

“Understand what, James?” Lily shot back.  “Understand that Albus Dumbledore wants you to turn your back on the totality of your Familial Magic, which would make you more magically powerful than you are now.  Or perhaps that Albus Dumbledore wants you to give up the inheritance that is your due, and that you shall one day pass along to your own children?  If you give up the title now, you might not be able to do that, you know.”  Lily was in a full snit, but she was on a roll and refused to be interrupted.  “And you, Sirius!  If you give up the title that Arcturus wants for you, then you’ll have no way to bring your dear Andromeda back into the Black Family Magic, or to bring in her daughter.  Is that what you really want?  To leave them alone like that, after promising something different?”

Sirius at least looked abashed, but James appeared ready to argue.

Lily was not deterred.  “And as for not claiming your seats on the Wizengamot—do you really want to give all the voting power to the Blood Purists who seem to have a vested interest in passing laws that work in Voldemort’s favor?  I’ve done my research, James, you know I have. Albus Dumbledore has no political power anymore.  He rode his laurels after Grindlewald for a very long time, but he refused the offer of power twenty-odd years ago, and now his time has passed.  His position as Chief Warlock is as an arbiter, and his words only carry the power that others give to him.  He wants your money and power, but he’s also better served if he can keep his loyal followers from gaining more political power than he personally has.”

Lily left the table to find one of her ever-present notebooks and a fountain pen, and James and Sirius were left alone to reflect on Lily’s words.  When she returned, ready to make lists and funeral plans, both men were very contrite.

“You’re right, Lily,” said James as he kissed her on the forehead when she regained her seat.  “I guess I wanted to do…something, but I wasn’t thinking clearly.  And I do agree about the Wizengamot seats.  The Potter seats have a lot of power, and it would be irresponsible to leave them empty when we’re basically at war.  And I really do want to leave a healthy legacy to any children we have.”

“Yeah,” Sirius agreed, “it would be stupid of me to turn away the Black title after all the work I’ve been doing to make the name respectable again.  Arcturus has a lot of years ahead of him, I hope, and he’s been helping me make plans, so I don’t want to abandon them now.”

Lily slumped a little in relief and opened her notebook.  “I’m very happy to hear all of that.  I did, if you will  recall, vow to protect you from bad decisions, so it’s for the best if you begin listening to me in earnest now, during our first real crisis.  Now, we’ve got to get planning, because I fully expect the gravity of today to hit me hard in the next few hours as well, and I’ll be a weepy mess for at least a week, and totally useless the whole time.”

The funerals were planned, and James contracted with several salvage groups to clear the wreckage of Potter Manor (and with the Goblins of Gringotts to make sure there were sufficient wards over that and all the rest of the Potter properties).  A few house-elves were, in fact, found injured but still alive, although most did die defending their family, and James gave them leave to find homes at another Potter Family home so that they could heal and recover.  Lily allowed two to come live in their small cottage home because direct contact with the Family Magic would help them heal faster and they were quite bad off.  Lily worked with them to plan memorial services for the fallen house-elves, because mourning had to be done correctly, and their service needed to be honored and recognized.

At the graveside service for Fleamont and Euphemia Potter, James was seen stoically and proudly wearing the Potter Family ring, Sirius Black was seen proudly wearing the Black Heir Ring, and Albus Dumbledore was seen sporting a very seriously disgruntled expression.

 

On a random Monday in October of 1977, Lily Evans Potter sat in stunned silence as Professor Albus Dumbledore convinced James Potter and Sirius Black to join his vigilante group, The Order of the Phoenix.

In all honestly, if you could have asked her, Lily would have said that James and Sirius had put that foolishness behind them.  They did seem to, throwing themselves into their work hunting down and arresting minor Death Eaters and preventing several attacks on muggles and muggle-borns.  Never once had James mentioned that infernal Order or his former Headmaster, even while he regaled Lily with tales of his more gentle assignments (he felt that Lily didn’t really need to hear about life-threatening battles with criminals and Lily agreed with him).

And yet…Lily was taken aback when she came home from a very busy day at work, eager to tell James about a potions breakthrough that she had made, only to find Albus Dumbledore sitting at her dining room table with her husband and his best friend, preparing to officiate some sort of vow.

A vow!

“What’s going on?” she asked with no little trepidation.  Clearly her appearance in her own freaking home had unsettled the trio, although Dumbledore recovered more quickly than the others.

“Ah, Lily,” James said cautiously, “Sirius and I have decided that we can do some good as members of the Order of the Phoenix—official members, that is.  We’ll be working with some good people away from the purview of the Ministry, and I think we can be effective.”

Lily frowned slightly.  “All right, then, if you think you can work within the law, that is your choice.”

“I’m so happy to hear you say that,” Albus beamed at her.  “Someone of your own talents would be absolutely welcome in the Order.  And we’ve recently brought in the Longbottoms.  I believe you and Alice Longbottom are good friends?”

Lily nodded absently, staring at the kitchen table to avoid meeting Dumbledore’s eyes.  “Alice and I still have lunch a few times a week.  What, exactly, does membership in this Order entail?”

Albus, for once, looked rather flustered, almost like he didn’t expect to be questioned.  “Well, we’re gathering information about the Death Eaters, of course.  And sending in people to stop attacks.”

Lily nodded again, still staring at her kitchen table.  “I see; just like the Aurors, right?”

“Well,” said James, completely unaware of how tense Dumbledore had become, “there are several Aurors in the Order, and we’re uniquely suited for the job.”

“Uh-huh,” said Lily, finally looking up.  She directed her laser-like focus onto Dumbledore directly, ignoring for a moment her husband and his friend.  “And do you share any information you gather with Ministry officials, or do you keep it to yourselves?  Or do you have spies in the Ministry giving you information?  And are you actually effectual, this Order?  I’d like to know, you see, before I put my own efforts into it.”

Dumbledore was turning redder and redder with each question Lily asked, and Sirius began to notice.

“And,” Lily continued, “would I be required to take some sort of vow of loyalty?  Because I really can’t do that, you see.  My employment in the DOM prevents my pledging loyalty to any subversive people or groups.  It’s how the DOM keeps control of any information they produce.”

Finally James began to notice how discomforted Dumbledore appeared.  “You know, Albus,” he said suddenly, “I’m fairly certain that making a vow of loyalty to you would cancel my vow of loyalty to the DMLE.  After all, Aurors all vow to protect and serve Wizardkind all around, and that means we can’t really work outside of the Ministry officially.  Any contrary loyalty vow would force me to leave the Auror Corp.”

“Very well,” Dumbledore stammered, “I’ll not require any vows from you.  But the Order still can use all the help we can get.  I’ll go now and let you all discuss this.”

Lily watched with no amusement as Dumbledore practically flew through the front door to Apparate away from the house—with an incredibly loud bang!  Lily turned to her husband and pointed a finger at him.

“What was that?  I thought for certain that you had agreed to stay out of his influence!”

Sirius gaped at her while James tried to explain his position.  “Lily, the Order is fighting Voldemort….”

“How?” Lily demanded. “How is the Order fighting Voldemort?  Are they somehow guessing where the Death Eaters will attack next and setting up ambushes?  Are they confiscating properties or weapons?  Have they personally arrested and delivered Death Eaters to the DMLE?”

“Lily,” James said gently, “you don’t understand.”

“Then explain it to me!  Explain what kind of influence Albus Dumbledore….”  Lily trailed off, horrified.  “Wait right here, both of you!” she exclaimed before rushing out of the dining room toward the rear of the cottage where she kept an office.  When Lily returned, she was brandishing two vials of a virulent purple potion, which she thrust toward the two men.  “Drink that, now!”

As James and Sirius swallowed the sickly-sweet potions, Lily began casting wildly with her wand, shooting purple and gold spells over both men, who began to sway in their seats before slumping down, unconscious.

Two hours later, James and Sirius began to rouse, still in their chairs at the dining room table, and Lily was placing steaming mugs of overly-sweet black tea in front of them.

“What the hell, Lily?” asked Sirius dizzily as he reached for his mug.

“Influence and Compulsion spells,” Lily replied, shrugging.  “For some stupid reason, ever since we’ve graduated, the two of you, and possibly more people, seem to be completely enthralled with Albus-bleeding-Dumbledore.  You’ve given him money and property, at his request.  You almost forsook your titles and political seats, under his direction.  I just could not figure it, because you’ve both been quite level-headed up to this point.”

“So you checked us for spells?” asked James, incredulously.

Lily cocked an eyebrow at her husband.  “I work in Spells and Potions Research, James.  And I’ve been fighting against back-stabbing co-workers since day one, so it’s made me very suspicious.”  She nodded toward the empty vials and said, “That potion is a Flushing Draught of my own design, and it works against compulsion spells and potions, and I take one every night after work, before I fix dinner for the two of us.”

James gaped at her, mouth wide open.  “Merlin, Lily, I had no idea things were that bad for you!”

Lily shrugged and turned toward their cooling unit to retrieve vegetables for a salad, as food helped the Draught to settle.  “I never wanted you to fight my battles for me, James.  I earned my position, and if there are ignorant people in that department who don’t understand how intelligent and talented I am, and who don’t know how lucky they are to be working with me, it’s nothing to me.  There are two people in the DOM that I’m out to impress, my direct supervisor and the Director of the Department of Mysteries, and they’re both very impressed and thrilled with the progress I’m making with my personal projects.”

Sirius held one empty vial toward the lantern and observed the remains of the potion.  “Do they know about this little gem, Lily?”

Lily shrugged carelessly.  “My direct supervisor knows I was working on something like that, but he’s not really aware that I’ve perfected it, and Croaker was the only one who knew it was finished.  In fact, it was under the direct supervision of the Director himself that I finalized and tested that particular potion, and he’s kept it a very carefully protected secret.”

James appeared rather flustered.  “I, uh, don’t suppose you can, um…”

“Make it available for you and Sirius while you’re on the job?  I’d love to, if only to keep you from under the influence of anyone with an inflated sense of self-importance.”

“Now, Lily, really….”  James stopped speaking when he saw Lily’s expression.

“James,” said Lily calmly, “I’m not saying that private citizens should not stand against Voldemort and the Death Eaters.  Terrorists only work if they inspire terror, and the more people that oppose them, the better.  But private militia groups like the Order of the Phoenix can muddy the waters, so to speak. If they use vigilante tactics, then they risk becoming more criminal than the people they’re fighting against.  I don’t want that for you, and I do believe I took a vow to stand by you and to keep you from making major mistakes.”  Lily only resorted to reminding James of their marriage vows when he was being completely stubborn or stupid, and Dumbledore had a way of making him both.

 

In the end, James and Sirius promised to give aid to the Order of the Phoenix, but only if it did not risk their duties as Aurors.  Sirius also allowed the Order to continue to use the London townhouse as a base of operations free of charge, which mollified Dumbledore slightly.  James and Sirius also kept vials of Lily’s Flushing Draught on their persons, just in case.  If asked, they claimed it was a modified and personalized Pepper-Up Potion that they used to keep clear heads on long jobs.  It wasn’t quite a lie.

 

On a random Sunday in January of 1978, Lily Potter spent a lovely day with her good friend Andromeda Tonks and her lovely daughter.  Nymphadora was growing into a bright and shining little girl, and Lily enjoyed every chance she got to spend time with her.

Lily also loved the time she got to spend with her friend, with whom she could discuss her special projects from work.

“I’ll admit to being excited about experimenting with non-magical devices,” Lily said as she fed Baby Dora her bottle.  “The two-way radios are a personal challenge, of course, but I’m having fun with them.”

Andromeda smiled indulgently at Lily.  “Ted has a HAM radio that he plays with here.  He has radio ‘buddies’ from several countries that he chats with on Saturday nights after dinner.  Are you trying to make them portable?”

Lily took the bottle from the baby and placed it on a side-table and lifted Dora to her shoulder for a burp.  “Right now I’m just trying to get them to work in a magical environment.  You have electricity here because you don’t live within a magical enclave, but the radios we’re using in the office don’t react well to the magic.  I’m the only one that hasn’t dealt with an explosion, but that’s only because I erect a shield barrier before I begin work.”

“What are your objectives for the radios?”

Lily placed the baby in her play-pen and turned to her friend.  “Well, I’m not sure what my co-workers are trying to do, but I’m interested in making long-distance conversations easier for the magical community.  Floo-calls are okay, I suppose, but they’re dreadfully uncomfortable.  It’s just not practical to try having a long conversation if you’re on your knees in front of your fireplace.  If I can get the radios to work, I’ll focus on telephones next.  I hear there are telecommunication companies across the pond that are working on mobile telephones, and I aim to make them work in magical areas.”

Andromeda goggled at her friend.  “That’s ambitious, Lily!  You could make a fortune with that kind of thing!”

Lily shrugged.  “It’s not like I really need the money, but I do love a challenge.  Even if I only manage to make one or two work for personal use, it’ll be worth it to me.”

 

One of the reasons Lily enjoyed her visits with Andromeda was that she got to practice playing ‘mommy’ with sweet Dora.  Lily knew that she wanted to have a family with James, and as soon as she got settled in her career she was going to start planning that.  Lily was the ultimate planner and she hated leaving anything to chance.  And the more that Lily thought about raising a family, the more Lily thought about how invested Albus Dumbledore was in getting control over James and the Potter Family influence.

James still made himself available to act on any intelligence the Order might have come up with, but he steadfastly refused to take a vow of loyalty to Albus Dumbledore, not that the man didn’t keep trying to force the issue.  Sirius was right on James’ side in regards to the vow issue, and he contributed his own views on the subject, so Lily knew that the two men would continue to keep each other honest.

Still, Lily understood the value and power of a vow, especially a vow made on one’s personal magic, so she made a plan herself—one intended to protect both James and Sirius if it worked.

 

“You want us to what?”

James’ incredulous tone almost shocked Lily, but she was prepared for it.  This was, after all, an unusual and unorthodox suggestion.

“I want you both to take a vow to each other, with myself as the sealer,” she said simply.

James and Sirius stared at her for a few moments before Sirius moved to the liquor cabinet, leaving James to attempt to reason with Lily.

“After everything you’ve said against making any kind of personal pledge to Albus, you want me to vow to Sirius?”

Lily sighed in exasperation.  “James, I wrote the vow personally, and it’s intended to make certain that nobody can make either of you act against the other.  With the way this war is going, anyone could use the Imperious to make either you or Sirius try to hurt the other.  You’re both too well connected and politically powerful, and your arrest rate is very high because you’re very successful at what you do.  That makes you both very visible targets.”

James took a deep breath and accepted the tumbler of fire whiskey that Sirius handed him.  Lily refused the drink, as it made her muzzy.

“Can we read this vow before we commit to it?” asked Sirius.  “Not that I’m promising anything, mind you, but if you really are trying to protect us from external magical manipulation, then I’d like to see how much thought you put into it.”

“Of course you can read it, Sirius,” Lily replied.  “In fact, if you agree to the vow but don’t want me involved, then you can choose the person to seal the vow yourself.  I certainly don’t want to force myself on the two of you, but I did take a serious marriage vow to make certain that James is protected.”

Sirius frowned in confusion.  “Um, Lily, I was at your wedding, you know, and you made no such vow.”

Lily and James shared an amused look before James leaned forward and said, “Sirius, old pal, Lily and I didn’t actually get married at that ceremony you attended.”

“What do you mean you didn’t get married?  Of course you did! I was a witness!”

James laughed.  “No, well, yes—we got married, but not then.  We actually officially married two days prior, in a muggle register’s office so that Lily’s parents could witness our marriage and be comfortable doing so.  They wouldn’t have been welcomed at our society do, you know, so Lily and I decided to marry the muggle way first.”

“And your parents went for that?” Sirius asked, aghast.

“Sirius,” said James seriously, “my parents were witnesses to that.  They understood that Lily’s parents would have felt out of place in attendance at a magical ceremony and they were happy to get dressed in muggle-wear and stand in a public register’s office in order to welcome Lily and her parents into the family.  And our vows were rather…unconventional, but they were very binding and very powerful.  We spoke from the heart, both of us, and Lily vowed to help me make the important decisions in my life so that I would not be led astray, and her very life, soul, and magic were bound in that vow.”

Sirius gaped at his two friends.  “Wow!  I bet that would have been extraordinary to see!  I wish I could have been there.”

James laughed.  “It was very intimate, Sirius, and it was just for the six of us.  I don’t think either of us thought the vows we made in that muggle office would be so magically powerful as to supersede any magical marriage vows.  It was our intention to honor our Magical Bond in every way; we just accidentally made it two days early.”

Sirius sighed with disappointment at having missed the ceremony.  “Did your parents know?”

Lily laughed and shook her head.  “I very much doubt it, Sirius.  I was surprised when I felt the Bond settle, and I could see that James was as well, but his parents didn’t seem to notice anything was amiss.  If it had been visibly noticeable, I think they wouldn’t have been able to hide their reactions.  They were rather raw from spending so much time in the non-magical world.”

“Yeah,” said Sirius baldly, “I can certainly understand that.  I feel a bit raw whenever I visit Andromeda and her family, and their home is near a magical district.”

Lily perked up a bit.  “Well, if you two do agree to settle on this vow idea of mine, you could always ask Andromeda to seal the vow.  She has no vested interest in it, and she’s trust-worthy.”

Sirius raised one eyebrow in consideration.  “Let us read it over first, and then we’ll talk.”

While Lily prepared dinner with the Potter house-elves Jacki and Moxie, who were still too injured to care for the household alone, Sirius and James retired to James’ home office to debate the vow.  Lily was certain that they would agree to undertake the Vow as written.  The words were simple, but very powerful, and the intent behind them was Pure in all ways:

“I, (state your name and title), do swear on my Magic and my Honor to never Betray, By Word or Deed or Intent, My Friend, (state his name and title), or his Family or his Magic, or his Honor.  In the name of Pure, Wilde Magic, So Mote It Be.”

James and Sirius read and re-read the written vow several times before debating the points for and against it.  Lily had been, as she so often was, thorough in her research before she wrote the final version that she had presented to them.  On the surface, it seemed to be such a simple thing, but James could tell by the wording that it was one of the most powerful pieces of magic that he had ever seen.  It was old Ritual Magic, not just some rash, fly-by-night vow.

Once they agreed to this, James and Sirius would be required to push Personal Magic and Intent into the words, and that was where the real power lie.  There might have been no actual blood involved, but the magic woven into the words would be stronger than any Blood Vow James had ever seen, and James and Sirius had studied Blood Vows at the knee of James’ father, who was the Family Historian for the Ancient and Noble House of Potter.

 

Lily gave the two men as much time as they needed to discuss the option of the protection vow, and once again threw herself into her work.  As usual, her project team seemed to think they could work better without her, so Lily decided speak to her superior about her special projects.  She was very close to getting the two-way radios to work in the magical enclaves, and she needed to submit her progress report.  As luck would have it, Croaker himself was meeting with Supervisor Ringwold when Lily knocked on the door, and he seemed eager to hear about her progress.

“I’m so glad I personally recruited you, Potter,” said Croaker, pleased.  “I knew you’d be an asset to this department.”

Lily flushed with pleasure.  “Thank you, sir,” she said to the magically-hooded man.  “I’ve always enjoyed meeting new challenges and goals.  Actually, since you’re here, I was wondering if I could run something by you.”

Lily allowed Croaker to prod her from Ringwold’s office and into his own, where she detailed her ideas about mobile telephones.

“You see, sir, non-magicals have been using wired telephones to speak over long distances for decades, and it’s a very efficient mode of communication.  There are telecommunication companies that are developing a wireless telephone that would be portable, so they could talk without being bound to one place.  I believe the signals would bounce from satellites that surround the planet, allowing communication from remote areas.”

“Very interesting, Potter,” replied Croaker.  “And you think you can make those work for magicals?”

Lily shrugged.  “Well, the muggles in America haven’t quite gotten them to work in the regular way yet, but wired telephones have been working quite well in the magical enclaves in America for some time now.  I’ve been reaching out to a counterpart in the American Department of Mysteries about my work on the radios, and he’s promised to send me proto-types of the mobile telephones once they’re available.”

Croaker offered what Lily assumed was an encouraging smile.  “I’ll sign off on your personal projects, Potter.  This could give our Aurors an advantage in the field if they can communicate over long distances without a Floo connection.  Just forward any notes and progress reports directly to me.”

 

Lily was riding high the rest of the day, and when she got home, she was greeted with more good (to her) news.

“Okay, Lily,” said James with a kiss to her cheek, “Sirius and I discussed your little plan with Arcturus Black, and he agreed that it was a good layer of protection for both the House of Potter and the House of Black.  The way your worded the vow was inspired.”

Lily grinned.  “Of course it was, silly.  I’m very smart, and I don’t ever want anyone to take advantage of you.  It’s my job to protect you and our family, even if it’s from yourself.”

 

On a random Thursday in November of 1979, Lily Potter discovered that she was pregnant.  It was both the most thrilling and the most frightening discovery of her life, and she couldn’t even brag to her parents about the whole thing because her sister had already made the exact same announcement the week prior.

When Lily heard from her mother that Petunia was going to have a baby, she was so happy for her sister.  Though they were no longer close, Lily was genuinely did want Petunia to have a happy life.  In fact, her first thought was to throw a baby shower for her sister—until she thought better of it.  Petunia would not have thanked her for the effort.  After Lily married James, Petunia refused all contact with her at all.  Even their mother was harshly rebuked for mentioning Lily in casual conversation in Petunia’s presence, which was heart-breaking for the woman, who was very proud of both of her daughters.

Petunia’s dislike of all things Magic was well known in the Evans household, and Petunia’s marriage to a small-minded bigot made things even more tense and uncomfortable for the family.  Vernon Dursley never had a good thing to say about anyone who didn’t have a normal office job, with normal wages and a normal house to live in.  He disparaged labor workers and government employees and the unemployed masses equally, stating that people were either ‘too good for everybody else’ or ‘not worth the time of day’.  Lily had been of the opinion that if her own father hadn’t had a decent office job with a utility company, then Vernon would never have allowed Petunia to remain in contact with her own parents—but Lily was careful to never voice that to her father.

So the fact that Lily was a talented witch with a successful career in Magical Research created a divide between the sisters, and Lily’s marriage to a wealthy titled member of the Nobility, who did not have to work but enjoyed a career in public service, only widened it.  During rare family gatherings, Lily was allowed to hear about Petunia’s personal high points (her promotion at work, Vernon’s promotion at work, the new car, the new house), but if she mentioned any of her own good news, she was accused of trying to one-up Petunia.  Lily could tell her parents privately about her job and her home and any personal accomplishments she might have had, and her mother was always happy to celebrate with her, but Lily could never, ever feel good about sharing any news with Petunia.  Lily could see the tightness around her mother’s eyes when Petunia was mentioned, so she was careful to direct conversation away from that topic during their frequent lunches.  It was a hard compromise, because Lily craved contact with her own family very much, but she was willing to suffer to keep the tentative and uneasy peace between her parents and her sister.

So Lily found out she was pregnant, and the only people besides James that she felt comfortable telling were Andromeda Tonks and Alice Longbottom.  Andromeda had been a mother for a few years yet, and Alice was also newly pregnant, so Lily was in good company—not that the other two women ever socialized with each other.  Sometimes Lily felt truly divided, having one very good public friendship, one very good private friendship, and one very strained relationship with her own family.  James was her shelter, and even then sometimes his friendships made her feel isolated.

Sirius Black was a constant presence in their home; not because he had no family of his own, but because his chosen ‘brotherhood’ with James made him stronger morally and magically, and his grandfather and Lord, Arcturus, actively encouraged the friendship.  Remus Lupin visited at least twice a month, having been dragged into the Order of the Phoenix for occasional secret ‘missions’, and Lily was happy to host him.  Really.  He was intelligent and well-read, and she had very amusing and interesting conversations with him over tea and shortbread.

And Peter Pettigrew…still clung to James and Sirius like a determined barnacle.

So, James had his Marauders, and Lily often found herself settled in on the sofa in Andromeda’s parlour, sipping tea and expounding on her advancements with the mobile telephones (James still didn’t know about that).

“You know, Lily,” said Andromeda one day, “once you get those things working, I fully expect you to give me one.”

“Why would you need one?” Lily laughed.  “You have a working telephone, right there in your kitchen!”

Andromeda shrugged.  “I might want to talk to you while I’m out shopping.  Or I might want to call Ted from work to tell him I’ll be a bit late if my appointments run long.  The private hospital I work in is still a Magical Hospital, and there are no public telephones available.  You are totally right about how uncomfortable Floo Calls are.”

“Fair point, that,” Lily agreed.  “You’d be able to use the mobile phone in St. Mungo’s if I get it to work.  So—I’m pregnant.”

That’s how she told her good friend—very plainly, with no fanfare.

Andromeda dropped her wine glass and stared at her.  Lily just laughed softly and repaired the broken glass with a casual wave of her wand.

“Lily!  You can’t just say things like that!”

“I think you’ll find that I can,” Lily replied dryly.  “Oh, come on, Andy—I needed to practice saying it to people I’m not married to, and you were the perfect target.”

Andromeda’s eyes sparkled with mirth.  “How did James take the news?”

“Oh, well, you know James,” said Lily with a roll of her eyes.  “He just…passed right out from shock.”

“You’re kidding!”

“I’m really not.”  Lily sighed.  “We hadn’t planned anything like this, so he was as surprised as I was.  I just recovered more quickly, and I was in my Healer’s office so there were no witnesses.”

“Are you happy?” Andromeda asked shrewdly.

“Oh, Andy,” Lily exclaimed.  “I’m thrilled to death!  I just wish I could share this with my mum, you know?  I mean, I’ll tell her at lunch next week, and she’ll be very happy for me, but we really won’t celebrate because my stupid sister will take offense, like I got pregnant just to show her up.  Muggles have parties with family and friends to celebrate pregnancies, and I won’t have one of those because of her.”

Andromeda gaped at her.  “Wow, and I thought my family situation was tense.”

It was an old joke between the two friends, that Andromeda’s family situation was anything but great.  Andromeda had a loving husband and an adorable child, and she had Sirius and Arcturus on her side, but she also had two sisters who walked the very edge of Darkness (although Lily was certain that the youngest was actually a Death Eater in all but name) and parents that never spoke her name.  Sirius had, under the direction of Lord Arcturus Black, ritually reinstated Andromeda (and her daughter) into the Black Family Magic, and confirmed the settling of said magic, but as far as Lily knew none of the other family members had remarked about it.  Lily had once told Andromeda that the only family that counted was the one she made for herself, and Andromeda totally agreed.

 

Lily’s mother was, of course, thrilled at the news that she would be having not one, but two grandchildren, but she sadly agreed that Petunia was not to know, at least not right away.  So Lily went shopping with her mother (and occasionally her father) for things for the baby’s room, and she and James set up a lovely Magical nursery (making Moxie the official Nanny Elf for the new Potter Heir), and then she asked Alice Longbottom, as her ‘oldest’ friend, to be the godmother to her child.  James had asked Sirius to be godfather, as was expected, but Andromeda urged Lily to choose Alice because of her ‘official’ standing as a so-called Blood-Traitor.

“You know I don’t care about that, Andy,” Lily told her, but Andromeda brushed her off.

“Lily, I know you don’t care about that, but society will care.  I’m so happy to have you as a friend, and I’m more than relieved to be a part of the Black Family again, but I’d rather stay out of the spotlight as far as that goes.”

So, Alice Longbottom was set to become godmother to Lily’s baby, and Lily was set to become godmother to Alice’s.  It was the perfect set up as far as the general public was concerned.  And Lily did enjoy spending time with, and commiserating with, Alice as they planned for their new families.  They were happy to meet for lunch in the Ministry commissary, showing united hope for a bright future no matter the situation with the Voldemort War.  Since James and Frank Longbottom were both successful Aurors, they joined their wives as often as possible, projecting the image of happy new parents defying the horrors around them.

No, the real trouble, in Lily’s eyes, began when James shared his good news with Albus Dumbledore—along with the fact that he had no intention of abdicating his title and inheritance.  Others may have missed the dangerous gleam in Dumbledore’s eyes, but Lily was always an observant person and she did not.  Dumbledore was plotting something, and Lily had every intention of protecting her family from his machinations.

 

On a random Friday in July of 1980, Lily Potter gave birth to a son.  In a moment of weakness, Lily sent an announcement to her sister, never expecting to hear anything in return.  It was a bitter-sweet moment for Lily, delivering her child, because her own mother and father would never hold him

Earlier in that year, Lily’s parents happily told her that they were finally going to take the extravagant vacation they had always wanted: a week-long second honeymoon to New Zealand.  Lily’s mother was especially excited because she had always wanted to leave England for vacation.  Lily took them shopping, buying them expensive wardrobes and cameras so they could go in style.  Lily received a few postcards while they were gone, but she was in no position to receive long-distance phone calls, so she waited eagerly for their return so she could hear all about the trip.

Their plane lost power and crashed shortly after take-off in Wellington.  Lily would never see them again, and when she next met with her sister it was to settle their meager estate and to divide their possessions.  Petunia did her level best to ignore Lily the whole time, so Lily only gathered a few photo albums and several small heirloom pieces of jewelry that had personal meaning for her.

When Lily tried to offer comfort to Petunia, she was rebuffed completely.  Lily quietly contacted the attorney who was handling the Evanses wills and made arrangements for Petunia to receive everything, only asking that her request be omitted from the record.  She was determined that Petunia never have cause to hate her even more than normal, and if she had tried to claim any inheritance, that is surely what would have happened.  Lily was aware that Petunia had had a son of her own, and that Vernon Dursley made enough money to keep his family comfortable, but she knew that the life insurance money would be needed more in the Dursley family than in her own.

So Lily Potter nee Evans held her son and cried.  The boy, who she named Harry James in defiance of the Pure-Blood tradition of ridiculously ostentatious names, had the same shock of uncontrollable black hair that adorned her husband’s head, but Lily hoped that his baby-blue eyes would turn to the bright green that she saw in the mirror every morning—and that she saw when she looked at her father’s smiling face in the treasured photographs.  They were unmoving muggle photographs, of course, but they were the only means she had to teach her children about the other half of their heritage.

 

Sirius Black settled happily into his role as godfather, which had a different meaning in the wizarding world than it did for muggles.  For Magicals, the role of godparent was that of a secondary parent; literally, Sirius was little Harry’s Second Father, ready to raise Harry properly as Regent if anything should befall James.  Sirius was so, well, serious, about being a positive and responsible role model for the new baby that he promptly accepted a more active role as Arcturus’ successor, and his very first act was to publicly announce the reclamation of Andromeda Tonks nee Black and her daughter Nymphadora Delphini Tonks into the Ancient and Noble House of Black.

There was some outrage from the family, of course, but if Andromeda’s sisters could maintain good standing in the family (one was a known Death Eater, who was married to another known Death Eater, and the other was married to a suspected Death Eater), then Sirius figured Andromeda could not possibly lower the standards of the House of Black.  There was more outrage when Arcturus handed over the title of Lord of the Family officially to Sirius so that he could retire sanely (and safely) to his manor in France, and Sirius threatened to excommunicate every member of the family that even thought about practicing Dark Magic.  Lily was almost positive he made the statement because his younger brother was killed by Voldemort, possibly for not being loyal enough.

Whatever the reason for the execution, Sirius’ own parents blamed their youngest son for his ‘failure’, and Sirius just couldn’t stand it.  But he acted out in a positive way, reading stories to Harry at bedtime and working with James to change some of the backward thinking in the Wizengamot.

All in all, Baby Harry was a healing influence on everybody around him.

Dumbledore, however, did not seem pleased by the recent developments.  He kept sending Remus Lupin abroad to attempt to lure werewolf packs to the ‘side of the Light’, which seemed unnecessarily dangerous to Lily.  For one thing, Remus had never been affiliated with any packs, local or abroad, and would have no standing in their eyes.  For another thing, none of the Death Eater attacks had occurred outside Britain’s borders, and none of the foreign werewolves would care what happened in an isolated environment.  Simply put, Voldemort was a British problem, and unless the Ministry wanted to involve the ICW, there would have to be a British solution.  And from all accounts, the Ministry wanted desperately to keep the ICW out of their affairs.

 

Lily was settling into her role as a mother quite well.  She adored Harry to her very bones, and he was such a happy baby.  A happy and magically powerful baby.  At three months, Harry was summoning his favorite stuffed toy from a shelf in his room, a fact that Lily and James were happy to keep hidden from anyone in the Order of the Phoenix.  While James and Sirius were happy to use any intelligence they got from the Order, they also knew that the backroom militia group could have been bad news for them.

Lily’s research into the mobile phone appliance was moving forward quickly, as well.  She had already managed to get the two-way radios to work wirelessly, and there were several sets throughout the Ministry, connecting various offices better than Floo calls ever could.  Lily also developed a magic/typewriter based on the automatic typewriter that her father had used in his job, which meant a lot fewer ink blots on the inter-office memos.  Lily was still, after all those years, regarded with distain within her project group in the Department of Mysteries, even though her production rate was higher than that of her co-workers.  Croaker was pleased, however, and that meant more to Lily than any acceptance from her co-workers.  Lily’s potions research gave the Department of Mysteries several high-quality healing potions, a stronger blood-replenisher, and a more effective Wolfsbane alternative that didn’t actually poison the werewolf taking it (Lily managed to patent that one in her own name and used Andromeda’s position as a healer to issue the potion to in-need werewolves at no cost to them).

Croaker wanted to promote Lily to Project Head, but Lily was busy with her baby and didn’t really need the extra responsibility.  She was happy to work only half days, so that she was home with her baby most of the time, and her evenings were spent in her office, working on the mobile phones that she’d received from her contact in the United States.  Mobile technology had really picked up over there, but it still didn’t work in the magical enclaves.  Lily had plans to change that.  Of course, she worked on the project at home, because she didn’t intend to share it widely until she had it perfected.  She would give one to Croaker, because he worked closely with the DMLE, but others would be kept closer to home.

 

Lily also had another private project; one Andromeda was reluctantly willing to help her with.

“I just don’t really understand this, Lily,” Andromeda told her as they watched Dora play with Harry.  “I mean, why would you need to do something like this?”

“I don’t know how to explain it, Andy,” said Lily tentatively.  “I have this haunting feeling that all is not…well.  I mean, things are fine now.  James is working hard, both within the Wizengamot and within the Auror Corp, and I think he’s making great strides professionally.  But sometimes I feel like everything is going to fall down around me.”

Andromeda held out the life-sized doll that Lily brought with her.  “And this is going to help you?”

“Oh, that?” said Lily with a laugh.  “No, that’s for Harry.  He’s very happy to play with the adults in his life, but he’s not too used to being around other babies.  The Anima-Locomotis potion I created will turn that into a sort of ‘living’ doll for him to play with.  I’m going to make it look like him so he’s not afraid of it.  Right now, children his own size really scare him for some reason.”

“It’s because the only child he’s ever around is Nymphadora, and she’s quite a bit older than he is,” Andromeda replied wisely.  “You should have him interact with the Longbottom child.  They were born at the same time, were they not?”

“Yes,” Lily admitted.  “Neville was born the day before Harry, actually, but Augusta Longbottom is fanatic when it comes to her grandson.  I don’t think anyone outside of family has even seen him, other than me, and I was only in the room with him just long enough to pledge my honor as his godmother.  He’s a cute baby, but very protected.”

“That’s a shame,” sighed Andromeda.  “Children should be cherished, not hidden away.”

 

On a random day in January of 1981, the magical war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters began to escalate.  There were bold attacks on Diagon Alley and Godric’s Hollow, the Dark Mark floating high in the sky as horrid memorials to the carnage.  Everywhere Lily Potter looked, people were quaking in fear, including the Ministry.

Albus Dumbledore had ramped-up activity in the Order, sending the volunteers everywhere possible to find new information.  Nobody seemed to know for certain who was branded with the Dark Mark and who was not.  The Blood-Purist Bloc of the Wizengamot kept trying to pass more stringent laws against Half-Bloods and Muggle-Borns, restricting their rights as citizens in Magical Britain, and there were few opponents standing in the way.  Dumbledore’s spies could only provide the barest information about who was voting on which laws, but not who was proposing them.

Every day, Lily cuddled her son close to her heart and whispered promises of a happy world, full of freedom and magic and love, but she was inwardly frightened that they were empty promises.  Harry deserved to know only the best of the world, and Lily didn’t know if she could deliver.  She worked hard to bring him comforts, and James and Sirius totally spoiled the child, but she knew from experience that he needed love more than luxuries, and she begged James to spend time with his son.

Albus Dumbledore, however, seemed determined to make sure James and Sirius were away from home at every opportunity.  James would kiss her good-bye at breakfast, only to leave for Scotland or Wales in search of Dark artifacts or wanted criminals.  Lily sometimes wouldn’t see James for days at a time.   She didn’t even have a mobile telephone to give him so that he could keep in touch with her, and she completely refused to ask Dumbledore for information on his whereabouts, especially since the old man tried so hard to convince her to allow him to become an ‘honorary grandfather’ to Harry, “Because he has no other grandparents available, my dear girl.”

Oh, no.  That was not ever going to happen.

 

While James was away, Lily at least had the pleasure of watching her son grow more confident every day.  The poppet she created was a constant plaything, and with it, Harry became more out-going.  He would play at ‘adventures’ in the back garden, toddling along with the poppet at his side, and Lily happily watched as he discovered plants and insects and one particularly memorable snake.

Harry was talking now, as he was nearing one-year-old, and she was amused to see him chatter away at the poppet as he explained the plants in the garden.  Lily went over her notes, trying to find an adjustment that would allow the poppet to chatter back.  She wouldn’t actually be able to give the gift of speech to the poppet, but she could program recorded messages for it to repeat.  The poppet was a poor excuse for a real friend, but it was a useful teaching tool.  Lily could use the phrases that Harry was fond of, and teach him to refine his speech patterns.

She hoped it would allow him to use complete sentences rather than the odd hissing he used when in the garden.  Of course, that only happened when that snake was around.

 

Lily had no compunction leaving Harry with Andromeda while she was at work.  He loved her as a babysitter, and Andromeda kept him safe from Dumbledore and the Order, as the old man had taken an extreme interest in Harry.  Lily didn’t know why, but she suspected that Dumbledore wanted access to the Potter fortune.  Lily’s school-time research into the Magical Lines of Britain showed that the Potter Family could trace its lines all the way back to Godric Gryffindor and the time of Merlin, and the Magical Legacy was rich, not only in gold and silver, but in history.  Access to the Potter vaults meant access to books and artifacts and untold treasures.  James was proud of his heritage, and Lily wanted Harry to be as well.

And that meant keeping that Legacy intact for Harry to inherit some day.

So, Lily went to work every day, deep in the heart of the Department of Mysteries, and tried to ignore the fear-filled expressions on her fellow Ministry employees.  The touch of Voldemort could be felt even here, in the seat of Magical Government.  Minister Bagnold was more on edge with each attack, and the Head Auror was very snippy with everybody.  In fact, the only Ministry employees that didn’t seem to be affected were those in the Transportation and Magical Cooperation Offices.  Even the employees in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes were on guard, because the most subtle of attacks have been in the form of cursed objects placed in public venues, and those could affect the most innocent of victims…

Croaker had taken to meeting with most of the Department Heads on a regular basis, as much of the Department of Mysteries research was used in those departments, and he needed to be kept abreast of any needs they might have.  After those meetings, Croaker would assign research projects duly, splitting teams so as to best utilize his assets.  Lily was often put in charge of Potions research, as she had a particular knack for it, as she certainly proved with her improved Wolfsbane Potion.  While the Ministry as a whole seemed reluctant to actually help werewolves, Croaker had made certain that Lily’s curative was freely distributed outside of hospitals so that Werewolf Rampage was no longer a general threat.  With everything else going on, werewolf attacks which were totally preventable should have been the least of their worries.

 

 

Lily sat in her office, gently casting light spells at the set of mobile telephones that lay on her workstation.  She had already removed the inner workings of the devices and treated the wires and circuit boards with potions of her own design.  The casings were reinforced with strong shield spells and the antennae were strengthened, so the only thing left to do was cast the proper transmission spells.  Her contact in the United States had happily supplied the mobile telephones after Lily had been able to successfully charm ‘corded’ telephones to work within Magical Enclaves—something the Magical Congress of the United States of America was only too happy to utilize even if the British Ministry of Magic was reluctant to do the same.  Sometimes Lily was extremely frustrated with how backwards the British Magical population was.

Harry sat at Lily’s feet, giggling as the flashes of gold, purple, and orange spell-light landed, one after the other, on the telephones.  Harry was fascinated with magic, and always had been.  Lily had enjoyed exposing Harry to as much magic as she could as he grew older.  Much to her dismay, Harry enjoyed flying, and Lily knew that Sirius had planned on buying him a training broom for his first birthday.  She wanted to refuse the gift, but Sirius so obviously loved his godson, and Harry adored Sirius, so she just couldn’t.  What she could do was make sure Harry received the very best Magical Education ever, and that started at home—and it started young.

Lily finished her spellwork and set aside her wand, tucking it into a drawer before Harry could summon it into his hand.  He’d done it before, but was unable to cast with it, thankfully.  He was much too young for that kind of thing, but his so-called accidental summoning was actually willful and controlled.  Once her work was safely away, Lily picked up her son and carried him into the kitchen for a snack.  James was away again, so Lily was alone for the day.  Once Harry was settled into his high-chair with sliced apples and nut-butter, Lily went to the writing desk to send a note off to Gringotts Bank.

It was time to put the finishing touches on her very special project.

 

 

Lily Potter, dressed in her very best professional robes, entered the glittering lobby of the Wizarding Bank with her head held high and her toddler son in a hovering stroller by her side, attended by his nanny-elf.  The goblin guards stood aside as she approached the main teller.

“How can Gringotts be of service, Lady Potter?” the teller asked.

Lily looked the goblin in the eye, as was proper for her station.  “I wish to see a private manager, to set up a private account.”

“As is your will.  Please wait here.”  The goblin teller left his post to see to her request.  He returned moments later to escort her to a private office.  “Granite-Eye will be with you shortly.”

“Thank you,” said Lily gratefully, “and may the gold in your coffers overflow their confines.”

Lily took a seat at the ornate conference table and checked to make sure Harry was still sleeping.  Once she had tucked a light blanket around her son, a door at the rear of the office opened and in walked a smartly-suited goblin carrying a leather-bound file case.

“How may Granite-Eye help the House of Potter?” the goblin asked.

Lily smiled gently at the goblin.  “Well, actually, Granite-Eye is being asked to help only the Lady Potter, rather than the House of Potter.  I do hope that isn’t a problem?”

The goblin eyed her shrewdly.  “So long as no vows against the Honorable Ancient and Noble House of Potter will take place, Gringotts is always willing to enter into profitable business.”

“Good,” Lily said as she folded her hands in front of her.  “There are things I need to set into place, and in order to do that, I need a very shrewd business-person on my side.  Firstly, I need to set up a personal vault.”

Granite-Eye opened his file case and pulled out several forms.  “How large a vault will you need, Lady Potter?”

“Hmmm, I think I’ll need a moderately-sized one,” Lily said carefully.  “I’ll be shifting my entire salary into it, past and future, and I do make quite a bit as a researcher.  I need to separate my personal money from the Potter estate.”

“If I may ask,” requested Granite-Eye cautiously, “is there a problem with the Potter Estate?”

“Oh, no,” Lily was quick to reply, “the Potter Accounts are in perfect order.  But there are…influences…that I have a feeling I need to protect against, and I know that Gringotts is the best place to get the advantages I need.  I’ll also need a special attorney, one that can liaise with both the goblins and the wizards on my behalf, but one that can’t be connected to the House of Potter in any way.”

If a goblin could have looked more disgusted than normal, Granite-Eye certainly did.  “You know of some subversive sects that will act against the House of Potter?”

“Let’s just say I suspect there is a subversive sect that will try to act against the House of Potter,” Lily confirmed.  “My husband, for all that he does not act like it, is a powerful man.  The current Dark Lord is certainly his enemy, and Lord Potter is working very hard to bring an end to him.  I may not be able to protect my husband from all the evils in the world, but I can do my very best to protect my son until he is old enough to fight his own battles.  They say motherhood brings about unheard-of intuition, and every instinct I have says I must act now, before the fight is brought to my own front door.”

Granite-Eye grinned a horrible, toothy grin.  “You may not know the history of the Honorable Ancient and Noble House of Potter, but there is precedent for the Lady of the House to stand in direct interference to threats to the House.  It is good to see the current Lady Potter fulfilling her Noble role.”

Hours later, Lily Potter left the bank with the account ledger for her personal account, a receipt for the recording of her personal Last Will and Testament, and an appointment to meet with the Honorable Gregory Walder-Stone, Attorney at Law.  That meeting would also take place in Gringotts Bank, and Andromeda Tonks would be in attendance.

Lily Potter may have only had a rough feeling for things to come, but she was determined to have as many contingents in place as possible in order to pave a safe path for her son.

 

On a random Saturday in August of 1981, Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Hogwarts Headmaster and leader of the Order of the Phoenix, revealed that he had heard a prophecy.

Dumbledore had called a private meeting with James and Lily Potter and Frank and Alice Longbottom, and when they had all gathered in his office in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he told them all the horrible, horrible prophesy that threatened to seal the doom of one of two children.  Their children.  How tragic.

At first, when they had entered the office, Lily had wondered why all the portraits in the office were silent and still.  While she had never given cause as a student to be called into the Headmaster’s office, her personal experience with magical portraits (her inlaws for instance) was that they were constantly moving and chattering, as if the people portrayed in them were overly eager to interact with the living beings around them.  After Dumbledore repeated the shadowy words that were spoken to him during an innocent employment interview, Lily realized that the reason the portraits were silenced was so they could neither offer council nor berate the current Headmaster over the business at hand.

Lily Potter had had no use for prophecy.  It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in seers, because she did.  But Lily had always felt that people make their own destinies, and vague prophecies did nobody any favors.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.  The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…**

Lily ran those words over and over in her mind while her husband quietly lost his mind over the whole thing.  While James and Frank plotted and planned how they were going to protect their respective sons, Lily considered the words of the prophecy carefully.  And she considered the look on Dumbledore’s face as he revealed those words.

They could have meant anyone, really.  Albus didn’t really reveal when he heard the thing, so it could have been years since they were spoken.  And Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom were certainly not the only children born at the end of July; were certainly not even the only magical children born in that month in the entire world.  Lily was aware that literally millions of children were born in July every year, and there were certainly more than a few children born into magical communities in that month every year, so they only had Dumbledore’s word that Harry and Neville were the only potential candidates.

And then there was that whole deal about ‘those that thrice defied him’.  If Lily thought long and hard, she would be hard-pressed to find a single instance where she was in the position to defy Voldemort personally. Sure, as Aurors James and Frank were certainly defiant, but all Aurors who took their vows of protection seriously were in defiance of Dark Practitioners.  It was kind of in the job description.  But Lily, and James, had defied someone at least three times: Albus Dumbledore.  Lily didn’t know about Alice and Frank, but Lily had certainly made sure that she and James never fully gave into Dumbledore’s demands, pretty much on a regular basis.

Not that Lily would ever outwardly call Albus Dumbledore a Dark Lord.

But the potential was certainly there.  And Dumbledore certainly took that defiance personally.

 

Lily tuned back into the conversation just in time to hear:

“…will of course hide under the Fidelis Charm.  It’s the only way to be certain you’ll be safe.”

Wait, what?

“I’m sorry,” interrupted Lily, “but could you repeat that part.  I was a bit lost in thought.”

Dumbledore offered an ingratiating smile.  “Of course, my dear girl.  I was just saying that the only way to keep the children safe from this threat is to hide all of you under the Fidelis Charm.”

Lily cocked her head slightly to the side and narrowed her eyes.  “You want to hide us together?”

Dumbledore looked taken aback.  “No, of course not.  Both families should choose your hiding places and your Secret Keepers.  I will be happy to seal the charms personally.”

“Uh-huh,” said Lily flatly.  “So you’ll be the only one to know who the Secret Keepers are, right?  And you’re sure this is the only way to keep our families safe?”

“Lily…”

“Lily!”

James and Alice spoke at the same time, one shocked, the other hesitant.

“No!” said Lily, stronger in her conviction.  “No, I don’t buy it.  We aren’t even sure that this prophecy is about Harry and Neville, and our old school Headmaster is telling us that we can only protect our children if we go into hiding.  Using a freaking charm that depends on the complete honesty of a Secret Keeper!  I. Don’t. Buy. It.”  Lily grabbed her purse and cloak and stood up.  “Alice, Frank, I love you both like family.  I completely adore Neville, and I dearly hope you will make plans to keep that darling boy safe so that he and Harry can grow up to become great friends.  However, if any of you for one minute think that I’m willing to risk my child on a Fidelis Charm, then you don’t know me at all.  James, I’m going home to my baby.  Do what you want here.”

And she swept from the office with calm and dignity, leaving the other occupants gaping at her retreating figure.

 

Since Lily had left Harry in the company of his godfather, she quickly apparated home and rushed to his side.  Her entrance was so dramatic that Sirius jumped up to see if James was with her.  He was not.

“Lily, what’s wrong?  Where is James?”

Lily looked up at Sirius with furious tears in her eyes.  “James is probably still dealing with Albus-freaking-Dumbledore.  I’m sure he’ll be home soon, and I’m equally sure he’ll be happy to tell you all about our meeting.  Right now, I think I need to be alone with my baby, please.”

Sirius nodded and left the nursery, leaving Lily alone with Harry.  As soon as she was certain he was out of earshot, Lily carried the sleeping baby down the hall and into her office and picked up the mobile telephone she had finished working on, and she dialed carefully.

Hello?”

Lily sighed in relief.  “Andromeda?  I think it’s worse than we thought.  Can I come over once James comes home?”

Of course, Lily.  I’ll be expecting you.”

 

Lily tucked the mobile phone back into her desk and carried Harry back to his crib, where James found her tucking him in.  Lily turned to face her husband, and he lifted his hands in front of him in supplication.

“I’m on your side, Lily,” he said softly.  “Always, I’m on your side.  You can’t think I would have agreed to that ridiculous plan.”

Lily nodded shakily.  “I do, though, James.  I think that if I hadn’t insisted on giving you those flushing draughts that you would have totally gone along with that plan.  And I think I might be failing Neville as a godmother, because there is no way I can force those draughts onto Frank and Alice, and I think they’re going to go along with that plan.”

James shrugged.  “Only sort of, really.  I convinced Frank to take Alice and Neville to one of the unplottable properties, along with his mother, if they were certain that there was no other way to protect Neville.  That’s certainly safer than the Fidelis at any rate.  I just…I don’t know when you stopped trusting Albus, and I’m not sure you aren’t right about it.”

“James,” Lily sighed, “I know he was once a great fighter for the Light side of Magic, but that time has passed.  He has some sort of connection to Voldemort, I’m sure of it but I don’t know what it is.  I do believe that he’s fighting against Voldemort, but I think there’s an ulterior motive behind it all.

“Harry is over a year old, James.  If that prophecy was about him, shouldn’t you think he would have told us right after he was born?”

James stared at his wife in shock.  “But, but he said he only heard that prophesy during an interview with a prospective Divination teacher.”

“Yes, he did say that.”  Lily sighed again.  “Did you know that I have lunch once a month with Minerva McGonagall?”

“No, I had no idea—what does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, she was my favorite teacher at school, you know, and she was partially instrumental in getting me my Mastery after graduation.  So we get together once a month, and I tell her all about the interesting things that I’m working on.  Well, the not-secret things, anyway.  And I tell her about Harry and how he’s doing.  And she tells me the latest goings-on at Hogwarts, if it’s anything interesting.  And the last new-hire was indeed a Divination teacher, only Sybil Trelawny was hired two years ago.

“So tell me, how was that prophecy relevant, James?  And why, if it was potentially about Harry or Neville, then why not tell us a year ago?”

James shivered and crossed the room to look into the crib at his sleeping child.  “What do you have planned, Lily?  Because I know you have something planned.”

“I plan,” said Lily calmly, “to make sure my child grows up healthy and happy, and lives to be a very old man.”

 

Days later, Lily Potter clutched the hand of her toddling son and guided him into a private conference room in Gringotts Bank, where she was meeting Gregory Walder-Stone for the final time.  The purpose of the meeting was to make certain that her personal Will had been accepted by the Ministry Office of Records.  Lily had no control over her husband’s estate or Will, but she could make sure that, if she outlived James even by a minute, her Will would take precedence as the Last Potter Testimony. And if, by chance, Albus Dumbledore managed to get James to sign over the Potter wealth to the Order of the Phoenix, then Lily’s carefully stashed personal fortune would certainly be enough to ensure that Harry lived well until he could find his own path through life.  Her personal patents alone brought in a large annual amount that James had never even asked about.

James was still not aware of all of Lily’s plans, but he never really forced the issue.  The war with Voldemort was escalating, and James knew he would be kept busy fighting, whether it was along-side of The Order of the Phoenix or not, and that if Albus Dumbledore was intent on gaining some sort of control over James, then he would have ample opportunity.  Lily hated keeping secrets from James, but he told her that the less he really knew, the better it would be for everyone.

 

Frank and Alice Longbottom had taken James’ advice and moved their entire family to an unplottable property, where they were willing to wait until Voldemort was imprisoned or killed, so they were firmly out of the direct influence of Albus Dumbledore.  Frank continued to administrate the Longbottom Family business through Gringotts, but he effectively resigned from the Auror Corps, stating a real need to protect his young family.  Lily hoped it would be enough, because she knew that Frank had happily jumped into the Order of the Phoenix, along with Alice, and that they both had probably taken vows of loyalty to Dumbledore.

Lily would have to console herself with the knowledge that she had, at least, prevented James from doing the same.

 

 

On a not-very random Saturday in October of 1981, the Dark Lord Voldemort launched a very personal attack on James and Lily Potter.  Lily had known it would be coming, though she didn’t know how she knew.

Word had traveled through the Order, via Remus Lupin of all people, that Voldemort had been made aware of the prophecy.  It was, it seemed, overheard on that day by an undisclosed Death Eater, and revealed to the Dark Lord in an attempt to garner favor.  That was the story Remus told, at any rate.

Once Lily knew that Voldemort knew about that prophecy, she was somehow absolutely certain that Halloween would be the time he would make a move.  It was a magically special time; a time when the veil between worlds was thin and spirits could cross and interact with humans.  Since Voldemort was trying to become immortal, that seemed a logical time for him to act out against ‘the one who could vanquish the Dark Lord’.

 

The first indication of attack was a change in the air.  The blue sky turned stormy-grey and the wind began whipping through the trees and against the walls of the cottage.  Though it was only mid-day, the street lamps flickered on—then died just a quickly.

Lily shared a frightened look with James before running to the rear of the cottage, to where the nursery and her office were located.  Lily knew James was keeping watch from the front windows, so she pulled Harry from his crib and reached for the mobile telephone.  One-handed, Lily dialed the first of two phone numbers—two calls that might save her life, but would definitely save her son’s.

Lily?”

“Yes, it’s me.  They’re coming.  Activate the switching charm, Andy, and hold steady.”

“Okay, Lily, I will.  I hope I’ll see you again.”

“Me, too.”

 

In a subtle flash of purple magic, Lily was suddenly holding a charmed poppet instead of her child, and she began to dial the second number.

The phone rang once, then twice.

“Hello? Potter?”

“Croaker!  This is Potter.  They’re here!”

They were the only words she needed to speak, and she could hear the bustle on the other end of the line.  Her boss, the most powerful non-politician in the Ministry, the man who believed in her raw talent and power, was rallying his personal troops.

Ever since Voldemort had begun escalating his attacks, Croaker had begun training an elite corps of Hitwizards that specialized in close-quarters ambush combat.  Lily had allowed Croaker to place a locater charm on her personal mobile phone, and that would enable his troops to apparate directly to her location no matter where she went; all Lily had to do was carry the telephone with her at all times, especially when she was with her son (Lily may have let slip about the prophecy while discussing Voldemort with Croaker during a work break).  If Voldemort was arrogant enough to attack boldly, Croaker’s hit squad would hopefully even the odds.  If Voldemort was leaning toward a sneak attack, and placed anti-apparition wards around his target, then Croaker might be able to come close enough to Lily that they could sneak through the wards.  Hopefully.

From the front of the house, Lily could hear James casting shields and protections to surround the cottage.  They had wards on the house, but they were far from the War Wards that Potter Manor had, and they would not hold against a strong attack.  Lily could only hope they would hold long enough for help to arrive.

The sound of the wind grew louder and louder, and Lily heard glass breaking as rocks and branches slammed into the windows.  The wards were failing.

Lily ran to the front of the house, still clutching the poppet to her chest, just in time to see shadowy figures approaching the house from the darkened street.

 

 

On a random Saturday night in August of 1991, Harry Potter wandered into the front parlour of his Auntie Andy’s house and asked, “Will you tell me a story about my mother, please?”

Harry was eleven years old now, and had been asking for stories of his mother since he could talk.  It was an indulgence that Andromeda Tonks was glad to encourage, as she enjoyed telling the boy all about his mother, who had been one of Andromeda’s closest friends.  Occasionally Andromeda’s cousin, and Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, would join in on the story-telling, adding information about Harry’s father, James, but Harry really liked hearing about Lily Potter the best.

“Well, Harry,” said Andromeda as she took a seat next to Harry, “what would you like to hear?’

Harry brushed his unruly black hair off of his forehead as he thought for a moment.  “Tell me about the night she saved my life.”

Andromeda couldn’t help but smile. This was, of course, Harry’s favorite story.

“Well, I’m not sure when Lily got the idea that you would be in danger, but she took extraordinary measures to make sure you were safe.”

“Like my doll?” Harry asked.

“Yes, like your doll.  The Anima-Locomotis spell was one of Lily’s best inventions, and there are very few wizards or witches who are powerful enough to make it work for more than an hour or so.”

Harry smiled widely.  “My mom was really powerful, huh?”

Andromeda met his smile with a wistful one of her own.  “Yes, she was.  I knew from the moment that I met her that Lily was a very special witch.  From the very first, she went out of her way to make sure the people she cared about were safe and protected.  When she learned she was pregnant with you, I think the first thing she did was make a list of all the possible things she could do to keep you safe and happy.”

Andromeda vividly recalled how happy, and stunned, Lily had been when she first learned about Harry.  Lily was no longer close with her own family, so she had turned to Andromeda for support, and Andy was happy to give it.  Lily was, of course, part of the reason Andromeda had her own family back after being disowned so long before.

 

“Hey, pup,” came a voice from the hall, “are you still listening to those old stories about your mum?”

Harry brightened and launched himself from the sofa as Sirius entered the parlour.  “Those stories aren’t boring, Padfoot!” he exclaimed as he threw his arms around the man.

“Uh-huh, sure they aren’t,” said Sirius skeptically, returning the hug.  “They never change, you know.  Always the same story over and over.  I don’t know how you don’t get bored with it all.”

“Oh, hush, you big mutt,” said a woman behind Sirius.  “You’re just jealous that I’m his hero, and not you or James.”

Sirius turned to face Lily Potter and smiled.  “Enjoy it while you can, woman.  Harry’s going to Hogwarts in a couple of weeks, and then we’ll see who his heroes will be.  James and I have much better stories to tell him about going to school than you do.  We were, after all, wildly popular.”

“You mean you were wild trouble-makers,” said Lily as she reached out to ruffle her son’s hair gently.

Yes, Harry was soon to be going away to attend Hogwarts.  Lily was going to miss him greatly, but she had her work to keep her busy.  Still, she knew she would always have Harry foremost in her thoughts.  After all she had done to make sure he thrived as a child, and that he survived a dark and wicked war that her husband valiantly fought, her duties as a wife and mother would always remain the most important jobs in her life.

The attack on the Potter’s home in 1981 signaled the end of the Voldemort War, and while arrests and trials of Voldemort’s followers went on for five more years, Voldemort himself was dealt with in a fascinating and creative way—and Lily Potter could have taken all of the credit, if she had wanted to.

Truthfully, Lily had a lot of help from her contacts within the American Department of Mysteries.  Certainly she had no help from her own office, as the snobbish co-workers she had learned to ignore from the start would never have stooped to help her, even if they had had the magical talent and strength to do so.  Croaker himself was the only one Lily had felt she could trust with her plans, and he didn’t even have the whole of it.  In fact, the only part Croaker knew about (and totally approved of) was the magical mobile telephone for emergency communication.  All of Lily’s other work went through Gringotts bank via highly warded communications posts and the odd international portkey.  Even James was left in ignorance of her plotting, just in case he was captured and questioned.

Lily’s counterpart in the MACUSA had put her in contact with a Light-based Voodoo priestess that specialized in dolls and poppets and soul magic.  Several long, late-night conversations were followed by long letters riddled with Arithmancy scribbles and half-perfected Potions formulas, and the result was a specialized switching spell that could withstand anti-apparition wards.  Lily had placed the switcher on Baby Harry’s poppet-playmate, and then layered-on a Voodoo Magic-Leach.  When Lily asked, Andromeda activated the switcher, and Harry and the Poppet traded places, leaving Harry safely in Leeds—far away from any conflict.

When Voldemort and his favorite Death Eaters came to attack the Potter Cottage, they quickly tore through James’ spell defenses and forced James to personally defend his home and family.  From the back of the cottage Lily could hear the shrill voice of the madman taunting James, telling him that he and Lily could live if only they surrendered their child.  Lily took that as a cue to run to the front of the cottage, poppet in arms like a small child.  By the time she reached the front hall, where windows were broken and the door was off its hinges, Croaker had arrived and was engaging the Death Eaters fully.  Lily brushed James aside with her shoulder and stood in the open doorway, facing the snake-faced horror that was Voldemort.

“You want this child?” she screamed, “Then have it!”

Lily tossed the poppet directly at Voldemort, who reached out in shock to catch it.  Once he made contact with the poppet, a bright flash of orange magic lit the entire area, and was quickly followed by an inhuman scream.  The Magic-Leach latched onto Voldemort’s magical core and held tight, dropping the man where he stood.  An impenetrable magical shield formed around the poppet, making it impossible for it to be removed from the person holding it.

Lily Evans Potter had effectively imprisoned Voldemort within his own magic, and while he would be kept alive, he would never again have the strength to harm another person for as long as he lived.

Croaker made arrangements for Voldemort to be jailed in an ICW facility away from Britain, even as convicted Death Eaters were placed in Azkaban indefinitely.  Lily never offered to tell, or show, how she created the poppet-prison, and Croaker closed rank and refused to allow anyone to question her about it.

He did, however, request the formula for the switching spell, citing a possible need for trapped Aurors to escape difficult situations unnoticed.  Lily was more than happy to comply.

 

With their leader neutralized, Death Eaters became very easy to catch.  Some (most) of them didn’t have the brain-power to launch their own attacks, and Voldemort’s reign of terror fizzled away.  The only person who seemed to have a real problem with that was Albus Dumbledore, who argued time and again that Voldemort had made some sort of plan to defeat death and was still very dangerous.

“It’s doesn’t matter what his death-defying plans might have been, Albus,” said Croaker, finally at the end of his patience with the old man, “because he doesn’t have the strength to feed himself, and he never again will.  Leave it alone, will you, or people will wonder if you wanted Voldemort to succeed.”

Lily Potter managed to quietly, through her Gringotts attorney, patent the spellwork and potion work used to capture the Dark Lord, and she ‘loaned’ the spells to Croaker and his Hitwizards for indefinite use.  James tried, very hard, to lecture her on her reckless actions, but he failed every time he looked at his son.  Eventually James forgave Lily for keeping such secrets and they went on with their lives.

Shortly before Harry’s sixth birthday, Albus Dumbledore resigned from his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  He applied to be Chief Warlock for the Wizengamot, citing his life experience as proof that he would be a good arbiter, but he was denied.  Lily lost track of him after that, but honestly she never really looked very hard.  Instead, Lily focused on raising her son, and working on more research projects for the DOM, and generally living her life.  She and James discussed having more children, and Harry seemed to want to be a big brother, so she thought perhaps they would try while Harry was away at school.  But she didn’t want to plan for it.

She would let it happen randomly.

–fin–

Cast Pictures:

Lily Evans Potter (Scarlett Howard)

James Potter (Robbie Jarvis)

Sirius Black (James Walters)

Andromeda Black Tonks (Eva Green)

 

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