Disclaimer JK Rowling owns it all. Except the plot. And, well, the song lyrics. The latter goes to the fabulous Regina Spektor.
4 – 8 July 1975
Tomorrow back to work again
but run to the supermarket
Running hopeful through the aisles
Haven't been this happy in a long time
but not a single jar was smiling
The warm summer air swept into the shop through the front door, which Lily had propped open to let in some fresh air for the animals – and let out
the putrid scent of droppings and fur. She sat in a chair by the door, with half her body under the awning, and her legs sticking out just enough for there to be a visible line across her thighs where the shadows stopped and the dazzling sunlight began. Lily had a book cracked open in front of her, but that still did not keep her from constantly glancing up when a visitor entered the store.
They’d had quite a few this afternoon, but none of them were the one that she wanted to see; the one that she’d been hoping to see since about three days ago.
As a pear-shaped woman in a shawl and her rambunctious son scampered past, Lily leaned back in her chair for what felt like the hundredth time that afternoon with a heavy sigh. She looked down at her book – she hadn’t made it past the eleventh page, and it was one of her favorites.
Why was she so dead-set on the bloke returning? He’d bought his pet so, quite frankly, he had no real
reason to return.
“Hey, Lily,” she looked up, finding the Magical Menagerie’s only other clerk, Liam, hovering on the threshold at her elbow. He towered over her, even though he was two years younger. He’d just started working at MM the day before. “I’m going to take my break now.” He glanced back at the counter. “Would you mind covering for me? I won’t be long –”
“Don’t worry about it, Liam, I can take over,” Lily assured him, shutting her book and slipping it into her bag. As she did so, he noticed that she still had a sandwich and an apple in there.
Liam pointed to it. “Aren’t you going to eat first?”
As she shouldered her bag, she looked down at what he was pointing at as though she’d only just noticed that she’d had food. Lily stood up with a shrug. “I suppose I wasn’t hungry,” she replied. Lily took one last look at Diagon Alley as she slipped past Liam – which wasn’t difficult, as he was rather slender – and into the shop.
It was about as deserted as it could be in early July, without a single sign of the bloke she’d met three days ago in sight.
The next afternoon, it rained, and they had all of three customers throughout the day.
Lily sat cross-legged on the counter, playing a solitary game of exploding snap. An old song by the Weird Sisters was playing on the radio, but it was really low, so as not to disturb Margo and set her off on her daily frenzy.
The front door opened with its customary ding, and Lily half-heartedly glanced up to see who had just braved the near stormy weather to visit the shop. It was only Liam.
She watched him solemnly as he removed the hood of his cloak and approached her, water dripping from his sopping wet cloak onto the floor. His boots squelched unpleasantly, and though he’d had his hood on, his blonde hair clung to his face.
He studied her face as he shrugged off his cloak. “Were you expecting someone better?” Liam joked.
But it only made her feel even more despondent.
Lily stood behind the counter on a late July afternoon, drumming her fingers on the bars that lined the top of the cage in which a large, white rabbit rested. She let out a hopeless sigh, perching her chin on her arm as she stared across the shop through the window. It had been nearly a week since she’d last seen him round.
She didn’t expect him to be returning every day, as he had found himself a pet already and Puffskeins were pretty low maintinence, but still she waited. Day after day she’d hoped against hope that maybe today
would be the day that he would walk through that door again.
But he never did.
Frankly, she was beginning to get a bit antsy.
“Where’s that bloke that had come in here a few days back? Don’t tell me you scared him off; he was quite the looker.” Lily jumped, spinning round so fast that her elbow collided painfully with the side of the rabbit’s cage, causing it to shift fearfully into a silk top hat. Behind her was Margo, who shuffled past her to the cage on the counter. Margo opened the cage and set the top hat in her hand, stroking gently. Lily’s mouth opened and then closed again stupidly. “Oh, don’t play dumb, child. I saw
“What’s it to you, whether or not I get the attention of some bloke?” Lily demanded, stepping round the old woman to retrieve the enchanted broom that had been sweeping the same spot for the past fifteen minutes. Her cheeks were suddenly very hot.
The old woman looked up at her. “You’re young, Evans. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and you’re wasting it holed up in this old shop, with loads of animals and me
Lily turned to face Margo again, clutching the broom in both hands.
“And Liam,” she reminded her.
“That doesn’t exactly make working here better
, does it?”
“So… let me get this right,” said Lily, rolling her eyes toward the ceiling. “What you’re trying to say is that you want to get rid of me, correct?”
Margo’s thin lips curled up at the corners as the top hat turned back into a rabbit in her aged and bony hand. Lily’s brow hitched up in surprise; this was the first – however small – smile she’d witnessed on Margo’s face in, well, ever
. “Precisely,” admitted the old woman.
Lily slowly smiled back. “Uh, uh,” she shook her head. “Who else is going to take over once you’ve gone? You haven’t got any children or relatives. I doubt Liam’s willing to stick around that long.”
“Who says I want to keep this old shop open after I’m dead?”
“Oh, give it a rest, Margo!” Lily called as the old woman retreated to her private quarters, bringing the rabbit along. She took a few steps backward as she spoke. “Just face it; you’re not getting rid of me anytime soon!”
“Not even for an hour?”
Lily jumped about a foot off the ground and let out a loud, short-lived, unpleasant scream, dropping the broom from her hand. She spun round, coming face to face with none other than the bloke she’d been so
close to giving up on.
Despite her fears, he laughed, holding his hands up in front of him defensively. “Alright! How about half an hour?” He reasoned, the amused smirk never leaving his face. “Not a moment more!”
“Oh Merlin, it’s you.” Lily clutched at her chest, and he cocked an eyebrow at her skeptically. Then her eyes widened. “Oh! No! I didn’t mean it like – I meant… I’ve just been a bit edgy lately, and you just scared me a bit –”
“More like a lot,” she admitted, looking away sheepishly. She was very aware of how red her face was, as it felt like someone had just kicked up the heat about six notches.
Or perhaps that was just because he
had turned up.
Shut up, brain!
Lily inwardly chided, rolling her eyes.
He put his forefinger under her chin and tilted her head up to look at him again. Though it was quite brief, his touch sent sparks right to her extremities. “So how about that break, then?” he inquired, and Lily blinked. Had he mentioned something about that while she zoned out? Was he asking her out on a date
? “You, me, a nice summer day, and Florean Fortescue’s ice cream. I swear it’s the best in town.”
Lily felt herself smile.
“Let me be the judge of that,” she replied coyly. “I’ll just go get out of this apron.” Lily scampered off to the counter again, leaning the broom against it as her free hand untied the loose bow at the small of her back and yanked the apron off in one swift motion. She shoved it under the counter, and when she straightened up again, she could feel her heart pounding against her ribs.
Suddenly, she felt sick.
And a pair of eyes watching her from behind. Lily turned round, finding Margo peering out from round her curtain. “It’ll be fine,” she promised, “and so will the shop. Now shoo
.” Margo waved her off, and Lily couldn’t help but smile a little as the old woman winked at her, before disappearing again.
Liam replaced her then, toting a large box.
“She’s right, you know,” he said pointedly, adjusting his grip on the box as he walked round her and headed toward the nearest shelf. “If my opinion counted for anything, which I’m sure it doesn’t, I’d say that you should go.”
He winked at the bloke over Lily’s shoulder. She spun round, facing him again. Lily eyed him, before shaking her head. “I don’t even know your name, though,” she explained matter-of-factly.
Why had it taken so long for them to get to this stage of very minor introductions?
“Sirius,” he said, smiling slightly. “Sirius Black.”
For all of you who are familiar with this song, you will realize that the lyrics are not in order. Instead, I have moved them around as I've seen fit for the story. Thank you for taking the time to read! General feedback is welcome and appreciated as always! :)