Chapter 1 : And Then Petunia Had Purple Lipstick . . .
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There was summer, and there was Hogwarts.
For Lily Evans, the two had remained distinct, absolutely separated for as long as she could recollect. At Hogwarts everything was magic and wonder and the painful struggle to stay afloat in a harsh teenage world. During the summer the magic and fighting faded, and an unusual sort of harmonious infatuation took its place.
Every year since she was twelve, she would arrive home and attend an art class for the entire summer. It had started off as a whim – Petunia had joined a gardening class or something, and Mrs. Evans felt Lily needed something to amuse herself the blistering, monotonous summer. And so she would ride her bike to the high-ceilinged art studio on the corner a mile or so away, and liberate all the troubles boiling inside her.
For Lily, there was nothing better than putting her nub of charcoal to thick, creamy paper and sketching her view of the world. Her emotions, her hopes, her agony, her ecstasy – all of it rushed into each drawing like a torrential downpour from the sky. She felt alive. Art was not a light hobby for her anymore, it was her everything. And so when Hogwarts fell into the distance, and the train wound away like a silvery snake in the tall, swaying grass, she did not pity herself. She reveled in the excitement. Unsurprisingly, her friends, Marlene and Alice, were quick to notice.
“You know,” Marlene said conversationally to Alice, “we should probably say our heartfelt goodbyes to Lily now. Merlin knows she’ll be too busy to write this summer. Perhaps we should just lower our expectations.”
Alice giggled, “Surely she’ll write once or twice, right Lily?”
Lily, her freckled cheeks blushing, shrugged apologetically, “Sorry. I’ll try to write you more often.”
“Sure you will,” Marlene teased, “at the end of August, when your class is finished and we’re already back on this train.”
“C’mon now, I’m not that bad, am I?”
Marlene and Alice exchanged amused looks, and then Alice burst out laughing, “Lily! I’ve received a total of eleven letters from you the past four summers! Lets face it, you’re a bit . . . preoccupied when you’re not at Hogwarts.”
“And I’ll bet I know why,” Marlene waggled her eyebrows, “a certain Mr. Potter perhaps?”
Lily wrinkled her nose. The ever-loud, ever-mischievous, ever-arrogant, ever-annoying James Potter lived a mile or so from her in his family's manor. The prat unluckily seemed to find delight in painting. They went to the same art class during the summer, much to Lily’s vague irritation and displeasure.
“You’ll fall in love with him eventually, Lils,” Marlene continued, “but in the mean time, would you mind penning your friends every once in a while?”
“I’ll do my best,” she promised. And she meant it.
Unfortunately, her ‘best’ probably would not exceed that of previous summers.
“Lily, come down for dinner please!” Mrs. Evans shout rang up the stairs.
“Coming!” Lily called back. She brushed her long, dark red hair one more time, blinked indifferently at her reflection, and then swirled to hurry down the stairs.
The whale man, Petunia’s boyfriend Vernon, was crashing her homecoming dinner. He was large, utterly repulsive, and completely egocentric. Lily knew Petunia could do better, but was afraid to say it because her relationship with her sister was already tremulous at best. Lily figured it would be preeminent to allow Petunia to appreciate on her own that she was dating a sweaty lump of blubber.
Lily skidded to a halt outside her family’s quaint kitchen. She smoothed her summery dress one last time, sighed with resignation, and then slipped quietly into the kitchen.
“Ah, it’s Lily!” Vernon bellowed as soon as he saw her, waving his fork around. “How is my Petty’s sister?”
She winced at Vernon’s use of ‘my Petty’, but forced a painful smile on her face, “I’m very well, thank you. And yourself?”
Vernon immediately swelled, and Lily instantaneously regretted her words. She had presented Vernon the opportunity to endlessly discuss and praise his favorite subject – himself.
Trying to avoid her parents’ exasperated looks, Lily slid into the seat between her mother and Petunia. Petunia pointedly ignored her by repulsively simpering at Vernon’s self-absorption.
“Good evening, Lily Flower,” Mr. Evans said quietly under Vernon’s thunderous declarations, smiling fondly at his daughter, “did you have a good term?”
Lily nodded, trying to act as though she was paying the utmost attention to Vernon’s narcissism, “Yes, it was fine. I’m third in my class. How was home?”
“Wonderful,” the corners of his eyes crinkled slightly, “we’ve had quite a few dinners with the Potters, and the Brandons, down the street. Pet and Vernon also manage to come over often, which is . . . well, an event.”
Lily glanced at Vernon’s sweaty, pompous, voluble face. She giggled sympathetically, “I’m so sorry, Dad.”
He gave her a look that was two parts amusement and one part stern. Petunia elbowed Lily in the side.
“ . . . and so the boss – a fine old chap – says that if I continue at my pace, I’ll be up for a promotion right quick,” Vernon continued loudly, “I’m setting myself up for a wonderful, distinguished career. A true provider. That’s the way it should be done, right Petty?”
She gushed, “Oh, of course! And I think it is so impressive, don’t you Mum?”
Mrs. Evans concealed her disapproval of Vernon flawlessly, “Yes, dear. Vernon is quite the specimen.”
Vernon puffed up his chest, “That I am, dear Mrs. Evans, that I am.”
Lily choked a little in her throat. She seized her napkin and hacked into it, refusing to permit Petunia to think that she was satirizing her ridiculous boyfriend.
“Mummy, would you pass the green beans?” Petunia asked.
Mrs. Evans handed the blue china bowl to her eldest daughter, and then turned to Lily. “You’ll be doing art class again, I assume?”
Lily looked scandalized, “Of course!”
“Just checking,” Mrs. Evans’ eyes twinkled, “James Potter will be there too. He’s a fine boy, don’t you think?”
“Oh, mum,” Lily felt even more queasy, “I know you’re fond of his parents, but please don’t try to match us up. I’ve told you how we fight at school. It’s no different here.”
“Who’s this boy?” demanded Vernon, slapping butter on a piece of bread, seemingly vexed that the conversation had moved on to skinnier topics.
“Just a schoolmate,” Lily replied, “but Mum, really. Don’t get your hopes up. Potter and I can never quite see eye to eye.”
Mr. Evans shrugged, “That could change.”
“Oh, not you too,” Lily scowled, “honestly, you’re supposed to be on my side!”
Petunia coughed shrilly, “I think he’s a wretched boy! Not quite . . . normal, wouldn’t you say?”
Lily’s eyes narrowed. Mr. and Mrs. Evans frowned at Petunia warningly.
Vernon smacked his lips rudely, “More bread, Mrs. Evans?”
Later, after Mr. Evans, Petunia, and Vernon had retired to the garden for a few drinks and pound cake, Lily scoured the dishes with her mother.
“Are you sure school was pleasant, dear? I know it’s hard to talk with him around, but was it truly?”
Lily nodded as she attempted to dry a china plate with a damp rag, “It was fine, Mum. Challenging with prefect duties, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Marlene and Alice are wonderful as ever. Everything’s excellent.”
Mrs. Evans pursed her lips, her eyes worried, “Oh Lily. I just . . . I wish you’d find a boy you liked. You’re seventeen. Its time you started looking for someone to make you feel special.”
“I’ve had boyfriends,” Lily contradicted, suppressing her fiery irritation, “but Mum, I’m not going to run off with just anyone. It has to be someone that . . . I dunno, goes above and beyond.”
Her mother pursed her lips skeptically as she scrubbed Vernon’s greasy plate, “Perhaps you should lower your expectations a bit dear.”
“To what? James bloody Potter?” Lily snapped.
“Calm down,” Mrs. Evans handed her a dry rag, “no. Well, possibly. I still don’t understand what your issue with that boy is. He seems so polite, and ever so charming.”
Lily snorted, “Mum, he’s a conceited, arrogant prat. Besides, he doesn’t like me much either. I’m too ‘rule-abidingly proud’ for his tastes.”
“Well, you do have a proud streak,” Mrs. Evans said gently, “ah, who knows. One day you’ll find someone that loves you for you. And hopefully you’ll fare better than your unfortunate elder sister. I do hope she doesn’t marry him.”
“She probably will,” Lily countered spitefully, “she’s got a thing for men that work with drills. And she must enjoy the stench.”
“Be supportive,” Mrs. Evans warned her, “Pet’s been nothing but happy the past few months.”
Lily rolled her eyes, “So long as they don’t have any children that I’m forced to be the Auntie of, I’m okay. Warn me before he leaves, alright?”
Mrs. Evans nodded, “Of course, dear.”
Carefully checking to be sure Vernon was not around the corner, Lily apparated with an inaudible pop up to her room.
After only three days of being at home Lily was already bored stiff. As a child she’d been wild and reckless and not one to sit still. As a teenager she had mellowed some, but listening to Petunia coo about the whale man rammed the frenetic energy right back into her.
Lily’s father went to work every day, and her mother attended various neighborhood book clubs, cooking parties, and sewing classes. That left Lily to meander around the house, trying in vain to tune out Petunia’s nauseating prattling.
“Oh, he is just so handsome, and clever! And he’s really setting himself up for a good life, you know? Very financially capable. And respectful too! None of the cows that Mum chats with would dare say a bad thing about him, because he’s so spotlessly reputable! Oh, he is just perfect,” Petunia giggled, “Don’t you think he’s just so wonderful, Lily?”
Lily grunted. Petunia took that as assent, and continued gushing, “And he’s to inherit quite a bit, too! His father owned that one company – oh what was it, something to do with lumber. Anyway, they put the fortune at a nicely large sum. There’s a house too – one in Surrey, I believe.”
It took all of Lily’s effort, and then some, to not tell Petunia to shut up. She suspected that had Petunia not been utterly love struck, she would not have been talking to Lily at all. Lily would rather her sister speak to her than ignore her, even if it were nothing but a slew of adoring compliments concerning Vernon Dursley.
Finally, she decided she should best leave before something regrettable happened. She leapt up out of the flower-patterned chair, “I’m feeling a bit faint, Petty, I’m going to go for a walk. Alright?”
Petunia nodded dreamily, not comprehending a word she said.
Rolling her eyes, Lily tied her sweaty, long hair up in a messy bun and hurried through the front door.
Lily’s neighborhood, like many muggle neighborhoods, was one of those where most everything looks identical. Every house was either painted pastel green, sunny yellow, or light blue, with a large square of vividly green grass in the front. Flowers blossomed from little planters near the front doors. The only exception to this merry rule was the Potter Estate, which took up a massive chunk of the neighborhood on its own.
Although not usually a girl impressed by materialistic things, Lily could not help but admire the huge mansion. It was made of soft, toffee-colored stone, with large glassy windows and a vast lawn. Trees lined the sides of the house, effectively blocking off the backyard from people strolling down the street. Lily suspected that, due to the Potter’s magical practices, the space was used for variety of non-muggle activities.
She padded lightly on the scorching pavement, her white, knee-length skirt fluttering around her. After ten or so minutes of aimlessly wandering, she found herself before the Potter Estate.
Lily slowed to a halt, looking curiously through the black, vine-like fence. The manor was so distant that Lily could hardly distinguish the front door. A neat, elongated drive wound through the perfectly cut lawn, swirling around the side of a sparkling sapphire pond. It was so exquisite that Lily felt the bitter taste of envy swell up in the back of her throat.
She was not spiteful, nor did she wish to take away what the Potters’ had. She simply wished that her house could have that same luster, magic that this place possessed.
Grimacing, she persisted down the street. It took her another ten minutes to get past the barrier that marked the Potter Estate.
Lily walked for another hour, managing to get as far as the creek alongside Hemmingway Avenue. When the sun began to dip, and the afternoon clouds commenced gathering, Lily turned towards home.
“Mummy, where is my yellow scarf?” Petunia hollered frantically as Lily slipped through the front door.
Mrs. Evans replied calmly, “I washed it, dear. It’s hanging in your closet.”
Lily accepted a glass of chilled lemonade and collapsed in one of the flowery armchairs, swiping the sweat away from her porcelain forehead. Petunia’s thundering steps could be heard on the stairs, and moments later her dark-haired sister emerged at the landing.
“He’ll be here any moment! Where are my shoes?”
“Which ones?” Lily snorted quietly.
Petunia was infamous for her collection of shoes, most of which were out of style and utterly repugnant.
Mrs. Evans set her glass down on a coaster, and then stood to help her eldest daughter prepare for what was undoubtedly a date with Vernon. “Petty, you must calm down. You don’t want to be all flushed when he arrives, do you?”
Petunia relaxed at once. Lily watched contemptuously as she tucked her black curls behind her ears, swiped purple lipstick on her thin lips, and tightened the orange sash on her dress.
“Where’re you going?” she asked uninterestingly.
“Dinner,” Petunia snapped, “and no, you can’t come.”
Lily rolled her eyes. The thought of dealing with Vernon for another entire evening caused her stomach to churn uncomfortably. The whale man made her want to rip tufts of hair out of her head and screech like a banshee.
The doorbell rang. Petunia gasped, shoved her feet in the orange heels Mrs. Evans had found, and then practically sprinted to the door.
“Ah, good evening Petty,” Vernon greeted her in his deep, detestable voice, “for you.”
Lily imagined him handing her an ugly bouquet of wilted flowers. Petunia squealed excitedly.
Petunia giggled, “Let me get my purse.”
She floated back into the parlor, dropped the unsightly bouquet of flowers in an empty vase, and snatched her purse. Mrs. Evans waved her off, “Goodbye, Petty! Be safe!”
“Bye , Mummy!” Petunia shouted back. The door slammed shut.
Lily breathed in relief, and pressed the icy glass of lemonade against her flushed forehead. Less than twenty-four hours until her first art class, and the beginning of what was turning out to be her most irritating summer yet.