Lily first woke up when the boys woke up. It was hard not to, what with their thunk, thunk thunking up on the third floor. However, with a groan she turned over and, putting a pillow over her head, promptly fell back to sleep.
Alas, her slumber was once again disturbed when a few minutes later the whole lot of them came thundering down the stairs. Although she tried to ignore it, Lily found it impossible to do so as the din continued from the first floor. Giving in to the inevitable, Lily dragged herself out of bed and over to the mirror. She stared into it and a pair of eyes, their brilliant green shade barely visible because they were still closed most of the way, blinked back at her sleepily.
"Brush your hair at least, dearie," the mirror advised. "You don't want it to be seen in its present state, even if it is just for breakfast."
"Thanks," Lily said, for once agreeing with it. She didn't get along very well with her mirror; it was too vain. They got into numerous fights over Lily's looks. The mirror didn't think she spend nearly enough time primping in front of it and Lily didn't think she should have to look good enough for a night out on town during her summer holidays.
Lily grabbed her brush from the dresser and started to calm her tangled locks of red hair.
"Much better," the mirror said approvingly when she was finished. "Now if you'll just change into some nicer robes . . . "
"I knew it!" Lily accused. "You had no intention of letting me go down there in my nightgown, did you?"
"Of course not," the mirror snapped, losing its temper. "You look dreadful. How you could even think about leaving this room looking as you do, I don't know. There are boys down there. How can you ever expect to impress them if you look like you just got out of bed?"
"I did just get out of bed," argued Lily.
"But they should never know that," the mirror explained. "You'll never catch a husband that way. How can you expect a man to marry you if he knows what you look like first thing in the morning?"
Clenching her teeth, Lily said, "I can get a husband on my own, thank you very much. I'm going downstairs now, looking just the way I am."
She started to leave and the mirror called after her, "Just see if I help you on your wedding day. Not that you'll have one at this rate."
The sound of a door slamming was all the answer the mirror received. Her resolve to go immediately downstairs, however, changed when, after covering a huge yawn with her hand, she wrinkled her nose and decided that going downstairs could wait until after she brushed her teeth.
Ten minutes later Lily left sanity and entered the madhouse that was more commonly known as the kitchen. Thanks to the mirror's efforts she looked better than the majority of the people there. But then, considering four of them were teenage boys, it was hardly surprising.
None of them had thought about even brushing their hair before coming downstairs (although in James' case it didn't make any difference). Peter didn't look too bad, but that was because his hair was cut so short that there wasn't many ways it could go.
Mr. Potter was the only calm rock in a sea of chaos. He was sitting quietly at the kitchen table reading the Daily Prophet, drinking his coffee and ignoring the madness that was unfolding around him. Mrs. Potter was running around trying to make breakfast, get ready for her meeting at the Ministry and avoid the boys' impromptu game of Kitchen Quidditch all at the same time. She hurried out of the room at the same time Lily came in.
As Lily sat down to a chorus of "G'morning Lily"s, Sirius took a break from the game to rescue the sausages, which were starting to burn. Peter, unfortunately, noticed a second too late and Sirius was hit in the back with an apple that had been designated as a Bludger. "Sorry," he said, wincing.
"Oww," Sirius yelped, almost dropping the sausages. "That hurt!"
"I said I was sorry."
"Here I am," Sirius complained, "trying to rescue the food, and what do you do? You attack me." He carefully placed the sausages on an unused burner then turned around and sent the apple flying back at Peter.
The latter, expecting such a move from Sirius ,was able to duck out of the way in plenty of time, but that meant the fruit was now on a crash course with Lily. She noticed, but just in time and the apple whizzed past her ear, barely missing hitting her.
It was Sirius' turn to wince. "Sorry, Lil," he said.
"Watch it!" Lily shrieked, sitting back up in her chair. "What are you guys doing?"
"Playing Kitchen Quidditch," was the answer. "What does it look like?"
"It looks like you're throwing fruit at each other, that's what it looks like."
"That's because we are," James explained with a quirky grin. "Kitchen Quidditch is played like regular Quidditch, except with only the Bludgers."
"Boys," Lily muttered. "Quidditch with only the Bludgers. How typical."
Sensing her bad mood, Peter tried to placate her. "Sirius wasn't aiming at you," he said.
"But he still almost hit me," Lily said. "Why do your parents put up with this, James?"
With a charming grin, Sirius responded for his best friend. "Because they're so kind and understanding."
"How can we not be understanding after they explained the rules of the game?" Mrs. Potter asked, re-entering the kitchen. Her long brown hair was swept up in an impeccable French twist without a single strand out of place - a stark contrast from the bird's nest it had been a few short minutes ago. "I mean, at first I had my doubts, but when the boys so carefully explained how if they hit, broke, maimed or otherwise injured anything or anyone they would spend the next week cleaning out the attic without magic - well who was I to protest? The attic needs desperate cleaning out, after all."
Peter, Remus and James looked decidedly uncomfortable, as if they hadn't known about that aspect of the game earlier, but Sirius was not perturbed.
"Just like I was saying," he said, sounding very satisfied.
Lily rolled her eyes while Mrs. Potter tended to breakfast. The boys went back to their game, though everyone except Sirius was going to great pains to be more careful at first.
Mrs. Potter was putting the food on the table a couple of minutes later when Mr. Potter, looking up briefly from his newspaper while he turned the page, noted, "Mail's here." His comment was made in a mild voice and at first no one took any notice. Then several things happened at once.
There was a loud clatter as Mrs. Potter dropped the plate of toast and whipped out her wand. She knocked the orange-Bludger out of the way of the incoming owl just in time. The owl, hooting wildly, dropped the letters into the middle of the table rather ungratefully and flew away as quickly as possible.
"It's our Hogwarts letters," Sirius said, fishing one out of the pitcher of milk. He handed the sopping letter to James. "Here, Prongs, this one's yours."
"How can you tell?" James asked, staring at the undecipherable smudge of ink that had been a name.
Sirius shrugged. "Quid pro quo. You threw the orange at the owl, it dropped your letter in the milk."
Shoving Sirius to the side, James said, "I didn't throw the orange, you did."
"Actually," Remus said, "I think Peter did."
"It doesn't matter who it was," Mrs. Potter said, rounding on them in a fury. "I warned you - I warned you, and what happened? You almost killed that owl!"
"But we didn't, did we?" Sirius all too often was adopted an attitude that if everything turned out all right in the end there was no need to worry about it. It infuriated the professors at Hogwarts and it didn't mollify Mrs. Potter any, either.
Luckily, James knew his mother better than Sirius did. "We're sorry, Mum. No one was hurt. Why don't you finish getting ready for your meeting. We'll make sure the kitchen's cleaned up after breakfast."
Mrs. Potter relented. "All right, but only because I'm running late. Mind you, this kitchen had better be spotless when I come home tonight."
"It will be," James promised.
She left and James sat down at the table with a relived sigh. Papers ruffled and Mr. Potter said, "I wouldn't think of cutting corners this time, James. Your mum's pretty upset and if the kitchen's still a mess, she'll very likely follow through on her threat to make you clean out the attic."
"I know, Dad," James said. "I won't." He piled food onto his plate. The everyone else followed suit.
Lily looked down at the thick parchment envelope that bore her name. She had been too caught up in Mrs. Potter's anger to open it. So had, it seemed, the other boys.
Sirius had been right; James' letter was the one that had ended up in the milk. Instead of trying to read his own, James seemed content to let his best friend read the letter for him.
Dear Mr Black,
We are astonished to tell you that against all odds, you have been allowed to continue your education at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry for your final year.
The new school year will begin on the first of September. Considering it started on the same day last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the decade before that, and probably even three centuries before that - hell, the first term at Hogwarts has started on September the first for time out of mind. The very first students Godric Gryffindor and the others had way back when Hogwarts was founded probably had their very first term starting on September the first. So if you are in the least bit surprised by this information, I must confess to be extremely disappointed in you. But since ou are the most intelligent - not to mention the most handsome! - student Hogwarts has seen for over a century, I find it difficult to believe you were not already knowledgeable about this.
For the same reasons, I will leave it up to your imagination to decide when and from where the Hogwarts Express leaves.
Allow me to take this opportunity to remind you of a few of the rules of Hogwarts. Headmaster Dumbledore will undoubtedly go through these on the first day of the term (that's September 1st, in case you've forgotten), but since I have your undivided attention right now, I thought I would reiterate them. Perhaps if you hear them enough, these rules may actually start to sink in.
First, the Forbidden Forest was not named such to dare such students as yourself to enter it. No indeed, it was named so to keep students out. Please refrain from entering the Forest during your final year here at Hogwarts.
At this point Sirius broke off form his narrative. "Well I'll be," he said, awestruck. "Now they tell us. A little late, isn't it? Just imagine how different life would have been if they had told us that back in first year."
"What?" Lily asked. "You would have gone in there your first week instead of waiting for your second?"
"Exactly," Sirius exclaimed before going back to the letter:
Second, you have been given permission to go to
Hogsmeade during the designated Hogsmeade weekends, not every weekend. Moreover,
you are not permitted to go into Hogsmeade village whenever it pleases you. Also
be reminded that just because it is a Hogsmeade weekend does not mean you can
spend the entire weekend in Hogsmeade. There is still a curfew in effect at
Hogwarts, another thing you would benefit from remembering.
Third . . . well this is not as much a rule as a request. You are a man of considerable - Sirius made a suggestive pause - charms. Please take care to tone them down a touch. It will not do to have the whole of Hogwarts' female population swooning at your feet.
This proved too much for his friends.
"Maybe of fright," James said, "but I can't see any other reason for girls to faint at the sight of Sirius."
"I don't know," Remus said thoughtfully. "It could very well be his smell."
"And do you smell me often, Moony?" Sirius asked, managing to add layers of innuendo to his words. It was a gift.
"Honestly, Sirius," Lily said crossly. "You flirt with anything with two legs."
"Give him a little credit, Lil," James said.
Lily raised her eyebrows skeptically. Raising both wasn't a effective as raising just one, like her friend Anna could, but despite hours spent practicing in front of a mirror, Lily still hadn't mastered the art of raising just one.
James finished his thought. "He has, on the occasion, been known to flirt with things with four legs."
"Why, you - " Sirius launched himself at James and wrestled him to the ground.
Then Mrs. Potter, who, Lily figured, had to have some kind of magical radar to know just when she was needed, came back into the kitchen now dressed in formal robes. Instantly James and Sirius were on their feet, looking as innocent as babes except for a small guilty glint in the back of their eyes that was only visible if you knew what you were looking for.
Mrs. Potter gave them a hard look but said nothing, helping herself to some breakfast instead.
Sirius sat down and went back to the letter. "That's it," he said, his eyes scrolling down the parchment. "Yours very sincerely, etc. Oh, there is a postal script. You are a sex god. I will never forget that night when - " he cleared his throat and primly folded the letter again. "That part's a little private."
"That's odd," Remus said dryly. "My letter was the standard one, telling me about the start of the new term and listing the books and supplies I will need."
Sirius shrugged. "We all know they like me more. It only stands to reason my letter was personalized."
"I did get a new prefect badge," Remus continued, holding it up. "They changed the design."
It was difficult to see the changes to the badge at the angle Remus was holding it - besides which, Sirius had already stolen Remus' badge - so Lily opened her own letter at last to get a closer look at the badge she knew to be inside.
Her letter, she discovered, was not the standard welcome back to Hogwarts, nor did it resemble Sirius' version.
"Mine's really different," she said faintly in a would-be casual voice. "I'm Head Girl."
There was a loud, "You're what?" from Sirius before she was flooded with congratulations by everyone else there.
"I knew you could do it," James murmured, going over to her and kissing her cheek.
Lily tilted her head so that their lips could meet, but a quick peck was all they were willing to do in front of an audience.
Mr. Potter neatly folded up his newspaper and carefully straightened out the creases. Taking one last sip of his coffee, he said, "Well, I'm off." He Apparated off to work.
"What?" Mrs. Potter cried out. "What time is it?" She looked over at the kitchen clock and its hands swung to "You're late." Mrs. Potter gave out a most unmother-like exclamation and hurried off.
"Mum. Mum. Mum. Mum." James kept on repeating her name until Mrs. Potter hopped back into the room, trying to put an earring on with one hand and a shoe on with the other.
"What?" she asked, more than a little annoyed.
"Your wand." He held it out to her and Mrs. Potter took it gratefully.
"Thanks, James," she said sounding embarrassed at her earlier outburst. Then she, too, Apparated away.
"The scary thing is that she goes through the exact same thing every morning," Sirius commented.
"That's my mum," James said lightly. "Now I suppose we should get started on the kitchen."
None of the boys, much to Lily's surprised, objected. Perhaps the numerous detentions they had received in Hogwarts had made them used to carrying out punishments without grumbling. Somehow she doubted it, though.
"Hey, James," Peter called out. "Do you want me to throw this out?" He was holding up James' illegible Hogwarts letter.
"No, I should get my badge out first." He took the letter from Peter and ripped it open. It was more difficult than it normally would have been because the paper was soggy and clung together. In the end he settled for simply clearing the paper off of the badge.
When James went to the sink to rinse the milky residue off his badge he stopped and laughed. His friends regarded him curiously.
"What so funny?" Lily asked.
"You'll never guess who's Head Boy," James said.
"You're kidding, right?"
Lily started to giggle. "No offence, James, but are you sure? Head Boys usually are a little more . . . Well, they tend to . . .. I mean . . . " She couldn't find the right words.
"James, you're vying with me for most detentions of our year," Sirius said bluntly.
"Only because you have this unbelievable need to take credit for everything you do," James shot back.
"Professor Sinistra says we should never do anything we are ashamed to put our name on," Sirius said properly.
"Yes," James said, "but when you tell the teachers we were responsible for making everything in the Great Hall pink, is it any wonder we get in trouble for it?"
"That was years ago!"
Lily felt ready to scream. "Cut it out," she ordered. "Congratulations, James."
Their argument forgotten, Sirius said, "Yeah, congratulations. Oh! You're Head Boy and Head Girl together! How romantic. Now you have to get married and have a kid and it can be the Head Baby."
Remus put a stop to Sirius' babbling, thankfully, by throwing a tea towel at him, hitting the black-haired boy in the face. "We washed," he said, indicating himself and Peter. "You can dry."
"I don't suppose you'd like to help," James asked Lily pointedly. She was still sitting at the kitchen table, idly watching the clean-up.
Scrunching up her face, Lily pretended to think about it for a moment before answering, "Nah. I wasn't the one stupid enough to be playing Kitchen Quidditch after all."
James scowled, but didn't try to convince her further to help. He and Sirius cheated and used magic to dry the dishes. With the help of magic, it took them less than ten minutes to finish cleaning the kitchen.
"You missed a spot," Lily pointed out helpfully.
She was buried in tea towels.
Sunday, July 29, 2001