Lily nodded, biting her lip and concentrating on trying not to fidget.
Helena let the knocker drop, and almost immediately the double-doors opened without a creak. Lily, who had been expecting a snooty butler with a crisp British accent, was presently surprised to see the tiniest little house-elf she had ever seen. The huge blue eyes almost filled the head, the big bat-like ears twitching. Lily noticed that this elf was wearing what looked like a pink Roman toga.
“Good morning,” said the little thing in a very high pitched voice, bowing deeply and almost toppling in the process. “And welcome to—”
But she—at least Lily guessed it was a she—was interrupted by a high-pitched squeal of delight as a little white rocket hit Helena right in her ample bosom.
On closer inspection, the rocket turned out to be a girl. In fact, Lily got her first look of little Miss Diane Jenkins. The face was still chubby with baby fat, and her raven hair escaped her pretty green hair-band to fall in eyes such vivid blue that for a minute that was all Lily could see. Diane had on a white frock, very muggle-looking, which would have looked good when it was washed and ironed. For now, it was dirty and crumpled. There was dirt on Diane’s feet.
In short, she looked exactly like someone her age should.
Helena laughed. “Hello, Dee-Dee,” she said, waving the house-elf away.
“Why are you goin away, Nanny?” came the swift question. “I did somethin wrong again, didn’t I?”
“No love,” said Helena patiently. “Here, this is Lily. She will be your new nanny for this summer. Say hello.”
“Hello, Miss Lily,” said Diane dutifully, then turned back to her eloping Nanny. “But I don’t want you to leave me! I love you!”
Helena looked like she was going to cry at the little girl’s declaration, and so Lily found herself nudging into the conversation. She sat down on her knees so that she and the pouty child were at the same level.
“How old are you, Diane?”
“Four and five-twelfths, Miss Lily,” came the prompt answer. Diane puffed her chest proudly.
“Oh. Then why are you behaving like a baby?” Lily asked innocently.
“Yes you are,” came the gentle reply. “Your Nanny does not live far a way, and you know you are welcome anytime, so why are you creating such a fuss? Don’t you think she deserves a summer vacation, beautiful?”
“Like Cousin Jim? He doesn’t go to Hodwerts in the summer cause its too hot. Nanny wants a—a… waka— vaca—sion like that?”
“Yes,” replied Lily, neither knowing nor caring who Cousin Jim was.
It took a while for both Helena and Lily to placate Diane, but when the little witch had run back to the garden to make mud-pies, Helena thanked Lily for her help.
“Oh, well, she looked miserable…Really, it was nothing.”
“Oh yes it was.”
Lily turned to see who had said that. At the end of the long foyer stood a young woman in a long pale-gold dress robe, with short, spiky black hair, and a deeply amused look in her—familiar?—hazel eyes.
“I have never seen anyone so comfortably avoiding a tantrum,” she carried on, marching forward. The handshake she gave Lily was firm but gentle, a rare combination, and Lily had an insight that she would be a similar kind of mother. “Come into the parlor.”
The parlor was magnificent—obviously—and was tastefully decorated with subtle antiques. The fireplace was full of sweet smelling summer blossoms, as it was the middle of June, and the mantle-piece above it was cluttered with knick-knacks that make a house a home. Lily was particularly attracted to a birthday card to ‘world’s best mommy’, which was in her clear line of view as she sat on the proffered seat by the silk curtains adorning the French bay window.
“You must be Mrs. Jenkins. Hello. I am Lily Evans. I came about the—”
“—advertisement in the…Wha—what?”
“You heard me. Anyone who is capable of making my girl smile through her tears is worth a try. If you are not worthy enough, you will be asked to leave with a reference and a severance pay. If you hurt my daughter, I will plant my dragon-hide boots up your ass. Am I understood?”
Lily, whose jaw was hanging wide open, simply nodded dumbly. Was she dreaming?
“Good. Was the pay offered satisfactory?”
“Err…it was a bit too much.”
The hazel eyes winked gold with humor. Lily sensed Helena stifle a chuckle.
“Trust me; it will seem too little when you are running after my daughter. Anyway, as I said, you are hired. Listen up. I am going to the States for some work, and am leaving Dee-Dee with my sister. The only problem is that my sister, Jenny, works at the ministry. My nephew can take care of her in the day, but…I don’t trust teenage wizards with toddlers. Will you live here?”
“If it isn’t too much troub—”
“I wouldn’t have put it in the advertisement it that were so. So? Are you in or out?”
“Are you always so no-nonsense and straight-forward?” Lily blurted out before she could stop herself. She mentally kicked herself for speaking first and thinking later, but the two elder witches just laughed.
“Damn right,” said Mrs. Jenkins. “I can’t do the small talk at—”
But she was interrupted by the loud opening of the door to the parlor, and an enormous bellow of ‘HEY NANNY! I HEARD YOU WERE HERE! CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME TREACLE—’
The bellow stopped abruptly on a choking sound, and Lily tilted her head to see who the crazy man doubled up in the doorway was.
She gasped when her eyes met a shock of naturally untidy jet-black hair. Hazel eyes, wide as dinner plates, goggled at her from behind thick lenses.
The gorgeous hunk panting in the doorway was James Potter.
Author’s Note: - So? What say? Will Lily stay now that ‘Cousin Jim’ is revealed? I am sorry for passively killing James’ dad by not mentioning him, but my whole plot looks better without him.
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