Chapter image by Chella@TDA.
I think she saw my dad in him. I didn't.
Darren was nothing like my dad had been. Ok, maybe they had the same hair and the same eyes, but that’s all, I swear!
Darren was a model for this American magazine and he had come over to England, where he met my mum in this nightclub. It was pretty obvious from the moment that my mum brought him home to meet Petunia and I that he was only here for the money that my dad had left behind when he died- and from what I had heard my mum say, there was a lot of it.
Of course Karen would have gone for the American hunk with silky brown hair, a gorgeous tan and beads around his neck saying that they were Chinese symbols which, “brought peace to those who wore it”, or some other rubbish like that.
My mum went kind of weird after my dad died seven years ago; she flits between being the kind of person that holds extravagant tea parties and calls everybody “darling” and being a cougar who you find in dingy clubs at three o’clock in the morning.
I suppose she had been kind of lonely without anyone to talk to, what with me starting Hogwarts the year my dad died and only coming home in the holidays, and Petunia being off at university. So… I suppose I can’t say that I’m unhappy for her, but Darren’s constant presence did ruin the only time that I would have to spend with my mum till Christmas.
When I arrived home for the beginning of the summer, my mother greeted me with the formidable words, “There’s someone I would like you to meet.”
I never trust that sentence.
He was seated at the dining table looking around at the portraits on the wall of our family. Yet his eyes kept flickering to the one behind the head of the table, where my mum was cradled in the arms of my dad, laughing at some stupid joke he told her. I think it probably would have been the one about the Englishman, the Welshman and the Irishman; it was his favourite at the time.
“Oh, that’s my late husband,” said my mother hurriedly and in somewhat of a blasé manner, as she saw his gaze rest upon the painting, “he died seven years ago.”
“Huh” mumbled Darren, turning away from the painting and not even giving his apologies! I suppose you could give a little bit more respect for my father couldn’t you?
But my thoughts were interrupted when my mother turned to me saying:
“Lily darling, this is Darren, he’s going to be staying with us for a while. Could you be an angel and share rooms with Petunia so he can have your room?”
“What?!” I almost shouted. Recovering myself from the shock, I reasoned “but why? Can’t he have one of the spare rooms?” How could she ask for me to bunk with Petunia? She knows very well that Petunia can’t wait for the day to move out and be shot of us all. She would be less than happy if I pitched up in her room and told her that I had to spend the whole summer there. Anyway, we had more than enough space for guests: the house was huge.
“Well, the spare rooms are being painted. I’m sure that Petunia won’t mind, it is just for a few weeks.”
I turned around giving Darren a curt nod, not caring if I seemed rude- I would have time to make up for it later, and trudged up the stairs to my room dragging my trunk behind me. I would have to start collecting my stuff together and make use of the fact that Petunia didn’t come home until tomorrow.
My room which was on the second floor was down the hall way from my mother’s room, and had a bay window which looked out on to the garden. My room was large with a high ceiling, three white walls and one pink one; I had painted one wall pink when I was seven, but hadn’t got around to painting the others. I had then decided to use the pink wall as a kind of ‘stuff’ wall and had stuck up lots of moving pictures of Charlotte, myself and Mollie (my two best friends) at Hogwarts, along with postcards, newspaper clippings, and an old photograph of myself and my Granny Dot from my mum’s side from Christmas when I was ten.
I had always felt that my bedroom was my sanctuary, I could be myself here and I didn’t have to conform or ‘act normal for once’ as Petunia liked to phrase it. Petunia and I used to be very close as children and I would often call her my ‘younger mummy’, though this all changed when I got my letter to Hogwarts. Ever since she has talked to me as little as possible and looked at me with such distaste in her expression that it is rather unnerving. I hadn’t realized what a big deal it was to her that I was different from the rest of our family and friends.
Apart from my bedroom, the library downstairs was the one other room that I could find peace and quiet. The library was full of towering shelves of those dusty old volumes that you would only see in movies or in the libraries of castles, but my dad liked to collect antiques and so there were lots of first editions. No one bothered to go in there, so I had the place to myself and I could seek refuge in there whenever I needed- I had a feeling that I would be spending most of my time in there this summer.
I flopped on to my bed leaving my trunk at the foot and looked around at my room- what would I want from here to last my through six solid weeks of Petunia, my mum and Darren? Well, my copy of ‘Ballet Shoes’ was a must- a bit childish I know, but it was a sweet book and my dad used to read it to me when I was very young. Oh, and I would obviously need my Hogwarts stuff because the amount of holiday homework we all had been given this year is ridiculous! I heaved a sigh and got to work moving clothes, books, shampoo and whatever else from my room up to the attic.
On the other hand Petunia’s room, which was up in the attic, was cluttered with clothes thrown on the floor and over chairs and jewellery strewn over her dressing tables; while the odd shoe and pink nail polish lay on the floor. The place smelled of a mixture of a flowery perfume she wore and lavender room spray.
Up in Petunia’s room, I started by clearing the floor from its layer of debris to set up my camp bed, and put my clothes into her wardrobe- sharing a room with Petunia was going to be interesting.
As expected Petunia was not happy having me share her room at all when she came home from university the next day and threw a hissy fit complete with tears, screaming, shouting, and foot stomping right in the middle of the entrance hall.
Leaning over the banister it was quite a spectacle to witness what with mum trying to calm her down and Petunia shrieking at the top of her voice, but I had the guilty feeling that I was enjoying it rather more than I should.
“I hope you’re happy,” she spat at me that evening sitting on her bed painting her nails while I was rummaging through my trunk at the bottom of the camp bed trying to find my Transfiguration text book so that I could start the three foot essay on human transfiguration that Professor McGonagall had set us.
“What? Why would I be happy about this?” I asked.
“Because you get to share my en-suite,” she said as if this was perfectly obvious.
I had to stifle a snort, having an en-suite was hardly compensation for having to share a room with Petunia and it wasn’t like I had a bathroom far from my room anyway. “Well… I suppose having you here won’t make that much of a difference. I’ll be out most of the time with Vernon anyway,”
This was now the third time in an evening that she had mentioned Vernon. Mum seemed to know whom he was when she had talked about him at dinner this evening, but at the time he had been news to me. From what I could make out, she had met Vernon as they were doing the same course at university. He seemed a bit pompous to me, but I had never met the man so I couldn’t judge.
The next few days were extremely uneventful. Petunia was right as she spent the majority of the time out with Vernon and often didn’t come back until well after midnight, by which time I was usually asleep so we rarely saw each other. This left me with ample opportunity to finish everything I had to do for school and catch up on my ever- growing ‘To Read’ list.
The days were becoming somewhat monotonous: doing homework; reading in the library and trying to ignore mum and Darren, who didn’t seem content with simply making out in their rooms, but felt the need to publicly display it in front of me at every opportunity. I didn’t mind the tedium, it allowed me to fall in to a sort of daze and the days before I could start my seventh year back at Hogwarts went by faster.
A few weeks in to the holidays, just as I was beginning to go stir crazy, stuck in the house without any contact from the wizarding world whatsoever and I was starting to think that people must have forgotten me a letter came.
I was lying on my bed not doing anything, simply staring out of the window trying to make patterns out of the clouds. So far I had been creative enough to see a duck.
I blinked, as there seemed to be a rather small dark looking cloud in the distance. The small dark cloud that was shaped rather like a pineapple (there, another cloud shape!) was coming towards me, and as it became larger I saw that it wasn’t a cloud at all, but an owl. I gave a sigh of relief: someone was talking to me.
I leapt aside and opened the window as the bird flumped onto my bed and stuck out its leg importantly. Unravelling the scroll with the Hogwarts crest on it, the slanted writing of Professor Dumbledore was the first to catch my eye:
Dear Miss Evans
I am delighted to inform you that you have been chosen as Head Girl of Hogwarts. You will be expected to attend a meeting with myself and Professor McGonagall at the start of term on the 2nd September at 7 O’clock in my office to discuss your duties as Head Girl.
You will be working alongside James Potter who has been appointed Head Boy.
I hope that you are having an agreeable summer holiday and congratulate you on your excellent achievement.
Professor A. Dumbledore
I’ve been made Head Girl? I almost screamed in excitement, this was what I had dreamed about ever since I had been made a Prefect in fifth year.
Wow, breathe Lily, breathe. I read and re-read the letter about five times just to make sure that I wasn’t being fooled.
How best to break the news to my mum? Should I just slip it into the conversation somewhere or should I steal the limelight and run in to the living room shouting at the top of my voice? I opted to slip the fact nonchalantly into conversation and see the expressions on their faces.
But as the news began to sink in and the excitement faded, another thought clouded my mind: James Potter.
How is it that that prick got made Head Boy of all things? Honestly, how was I supposed to work with him? He wouldn’t take it seriously, him and Sirius Black would dump all the responsibilities on to me and go off and have a nice time. And worse… we will have to be alone together when we do most of the duties that Dumbledore wants us to do. Arghh. I could just imagine the look on that stupid boys face when he found I was Head Girl.
Pushing that unpleasant thought to the back of my mind I turned to the other piece of parchment that was written in Professor McGonagall’s handwriting:
Dear Miss Evans
The Hogwarts Express will leave from King’s Cross Station on platform 9 ¾ at 11am on the 1st September.
A list of textbook required for your seventh year is enclosed:
Standard Book of Spells Grade 7 by Miranda Peavey,
Defensive Magic by Gregory Pritchard and
N.E.W.T Transfiguration by Ethelbert Moore
You are asked to carry on using your current text books for the rest of your chosen subjects.
You are reminded that no magic is permitted outside of Hogwarts, and for those in seventh year who have received their apparition license, apparition within Hogwarts is not only banned, but impossible.
Congratulations on your appointment as Head Girl, I am sure that you will do the school proud.
Professor M. McGonagall
I had got my license last year as my birthday was on 30th January, but the warning was a bit pointless as we had all been reminded of this fact so many times during our lessons last year by our instructor.
I gave the owl a few treats from the empty cage of my own owl Erin. Erin was a tawny owl that I got gotten as a present before I started my first year of Hogwarts who had been gone for about three nights now, and with that the other owl took off.
A few days later as mum was getting ready for one of her fancy tea parties and I was brushing her hair as she applied blusher in front of the mirror on her dressing table, my opportunity to show off arrived. Petunia was out again with Vernon, and it happened to be one of the rare days when Darren was not in the house as he was off at a shoot for a magazine. I think that was the main reason why mum decided to throw a party, so that she didn’t feel too alone.
Looking at me through the mirror she said “Lily, can you make sure that you take everybody’s coats when they arrive?” then as an afterthought she added “you can stay if you like,” just so that I didn’t feel too left out, “but don’t mention anything about your school, make something up if they ask you about it.”
This was it I thought, my opportunity had come. Trying to hide a small smile as I imagined her face when I let it slip I said casually “Can I mention that I’ve been made Head Girl?”
The look on her face was a wonderful mixture of complete surprise, shock and excitement. “Really?” she exclaimed. “But why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I only just found out,” I said, which wasn’t strictly true, but I had been waiting for the perfect time to tell her. It would have been better if Petunia was there as well, so that I could steal her limelight, a bit petty I know, but as sisters I always wanted to be better than her at something, and mum did seem to get along and understand her better than me. Probably because not only did Petunia see mum more often than I did, but also because she looked almost exactly like mum, with her blonde hair, tall thin figure and blue eyes, whereas I had inherited my dad’s vibrant red hair and green eyes.
But to have Petunia in the same room as both of us would have been nigh impossible as when she wasn’t out with Vernon till the wee hours of the morning, she avoided me as much as possible and had taken to wandering around the garden or sitting under the oak tree, which reminded me of the trees in the Hogwarts grounds that I would sit under with Mollie and Charlotte in the summer.
“Oh darling that’s just wonderful!”
I smiled at this, “Thanks mum.”
“Well, we will definitely have to celebrate at some point, maybe tonight when Darren is back,” she mused, “we could go out for dinner. Would you like that Lils?”
Lils? Wow, she must be really impressed; she hasn’t called me Lils in ages. Really it was my dad’s name for me, but I liked that she had called it.
In actual fact my school or that I had been made Head Girl never came up in conversation during the party. So after about three hours of listening to middle- aged women dressed in their flowery skirts and matching jackets, waffle on and on having to smile and laugh politely, I got a bit bored and so I quietly left (sneaking another scone on my way out).
Upstairs, to my surprise I found Erin asleep in her cage beside my bed with what looked like the remains of a dead mouse lying at the bottom. I gave her a small stroke and left her in peace.
The ‘party’ that mum planned in my honour didn’t go down in the way we had hoped either, as Petunia had chosen tonight to introduce Vernon to the family.
Vernon was a beefy man with very little neck and what looked like the beginnings of what would be a spectacular moustache. the tall thin and boney figure of Petunia looked rather odd partnered with him, and I wondered what she saw in him- he certainly wasn't my type at all- I think I'd like someone with more life in them- someone who could make me laugh.
We all sat around the table for dinner and no one seemed to be able to think of a topic of conversation. Or, when something was brought up such as ‘So, Vernon, where did you grow up?’ it was usually followed by a monosyllabic answer as he was too busy tucking in to the food on his plate.
But after dinner when we had all moved to sit in the living room, politely sipping our coffee and nibbling chocolate biscuits, Vernon started to talk. And once he got started it was quite tricky to shut him up. The problem was that he wasn’t talking about anything remotely interesting; in fact it was probably the least interesting conversation (or rather lecture) I had ever heard in my life. Drills. He wanted to set up his own company and sell drills for a living: “Oh yes there’s lots of money to be had in drills you know. Yes, lots.”
But the worst part of it was that Petunia hung off his every word and giggled girlishly at whatever he said- it was sickening. By the end of the evening, not only could I never look at another drill again in my life, but I was ready to throw up all over Petunia, and it was with a huge sigh of relief that I shut the front door at one in the morning and saw Vernon drive off.
During the last week of the summer holidays I got increasingly nervous about going back to school. This was a usual occurrence for me and although I loved Hogwarts, there are always those worries at the back of your mind, mostly stuff like: will my friends have changed much? What if there’s a teacher I don’t like? And whether I was going to be able to cope with the workload again- that almost killed me last year. Yet the biggest worries I had were whether I was going to be a good Head Girl. Would I mess it up? Would I forget to do my responsibilities? And how on earth was I going to cope with having to work with James Potter?
The night before I left to go back to Hogwarts, mum had cooked a large dinner and I was lying in bed with a very full stomach. My trunk lay at the foot of the bed with everything neatly packed inside including my new broom, a Cleansweep 7 that I had bought in my quick trip up to Diagon Alley the previous week to get my school supplies. Erin was in her cage and I had checked and double checked that I had done all the homework that my teachers had set me, my rosewood wand and my train ticket were on the table beside my bed and my cloths for tomorrow were folded on top of my trunk.
I was listening to the steady flow of traffic outside of the window and Petunia’s gentle snores… my eyelids were slowly dropping… I was outside a magnificent country house, the sun was shining and you could hear the splashing of a river running close by. I had been here before, in a dream, or when I was very young.
I watched as my ten year old self was calling “Come on. Come on,” though the open back door; I was clutching a fishing rod in my hand and was practically jumping with excitement.
“Yes, yes, I’m coming Lils, if you would just give me one moment to get my hat on. Have you got your sun-cream and your hat?” The tall figure of my father was saying as he headed down the stairs, adjusting a fishing hat on his head. He smiled when he reached me, “Ready to go then?”
I scampered down the lawn of the back garden doing the odd cartwheel on my way as my dad jogged to try and keep up with me.
“Now stop when you get to the edge of the river, I don’t want you falling in.” My dad warned from behind me.
“Yeah, yeah,” I called dismissively, yet I did stop when I neared the river bank and I watched as my dad set down the fishing rods, sandwiches and buckets as he went to the boat house nearby.
The river was wide with weeping willows lining the banks at the other side, which shaded the river and protected us from most of the sun’s rays, and there a large field just visible behind the trees, it was peaceful and there was nobody around to disturb us.
The river had a strong current, but this was where the fish were and dad had promised that he would take me fishing this holiday. Every year when we went to my Granddad George’s house I would beg and beg to go fishing in the river at the back of the garden, but every year my dad refused and finally last year he had agreed that next time he would take me.
“Be careful in the boat, and remember not to stand up when we are on the water,” he said as he was dragging a small two person boat out of the boat house. I nodded and watched as he set it by the water’s edge and piled our stuff inside.
“Now hop in,” he extended his arm and I clutched his warm hand as I jumped into the boat. Dad pushed the boat into the river and got in after me, he smiled at me as he handed me my fishing rod and started to show me how to use it.
“Ok, so this is how you real the line in if you feel a tug at the end, and remember not to let the line go under the boat when you are bringing in a fish or it could pull you under as well.”
“Sure,” I said practicing my casting with an approving nod from my dad.
We sat there in silence for a while enjoying the sunshine and the peace and quiet, I was nibbling on a ham and cheese sandwich that my granddad had made and was staring absentmindedly into the water, when I felt a definite pull at the end of my rod. I looked up at my dad, excitement in my eyes, and pointed at the fishing rod which was definitely bending.
“What do I do?” I said as I didn’t want to mess this up. He gripped my hands lightly and re-showed me the method to real in a fish. Under his guidance I looked determinedly into the water, and with tongue between teeth I started to real the fish in.
I don’t remember when his hands left mine as I was too keenly concentrating, desperate to do this properly and impress him. It was a big fish- bigger than any I had ever seen, even at a fish monger!
Almost wild with excitement I let one of my hands slip off the rod in order to grip the side of the boat to help steady myself.
That was a mistake.
The fish pulled a bit harder and as I didn’t have both hands I couldn’t fight back. The line went under the boat as the fish tried to swim away. And I went under with the line.
The current was strong, and I could feel it pulling me down stream under the boat. My clothes were weighing me down and I realized that I was still clutching the fishing rod in my hand that now felt oddly light- the fish must have got away. I started splashing madly trying to reach the surface of the water but I kept being dragged under by the weight of by my clothes or the current.
“LILY!” shouted my dad struggling to grab hold of me.
I felt a strong grip tighten around my wrist and felt myself beginning to be pulled out of the water. I looked through the water to the distorted earth above me and could see what looked like my dad standing over the side of the boat leaning ever closer trying to pull me back up. As I neared the water’s surface I could see the pale face of my dad with relief in his eyes, but I could also see the other side of the boat tipping dangerously because of dad’s weight centred on one side. Before I could open my mouth or even just shake my head to try and warn him, the boat capsized.
We were both left floundering in the water, I could still feel his grip tight around my wrist and I could see contents of the boat including or sandwiches, buckets and hats being quickly carried downstream by the current. I was being thrust up on to the up turned boat and I clung to it hard spluttering and coughing up water gasping for breath.
I turned my head and the last I saw of him was a man spluttering; chocking; drowning.
I sat bolt upright cold sweat sliding down my forehead and I gripped my wrist where my father had held on so tightly, as Petunia rolled over in her sleep, the last moments of my father’s life etched into my mind.
I killed my father- I’m the reason he’s dead.