Chapter 1 : How Could I Tell Them I Hate This?
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“Lily? Lily! Mum wants you.”
“Why?” Lily called from her room. She switched her radio off with a sigh and was just placing the cassette back in its case when Al came in. “What does she want?”
“She wants you to get your lazy bum down the stairs so she can talk to you, that’s what,” Al replied with a faint smile.
“What does she want to talk to me about?” Lily asked. She knew perfectly well what her mum wanted, and she also knew perfectly well that she was stalling, but she really didn’t want to go downstairs and submit to her mum’s orders so that they would get to Diagon Alley in time. She didn’t want to be on time.
Al looked at her with something like pity in his eyes. “I think you know,” was all he said before he pushed her out of her room and down the stairs.
Lily padded quietly down the stairs, avoiding the sixth stair from the bottom, which was squeaky. James has crashed into it on his broomstick when she was nine and he was twelve, and the broken board had been replaced with a squeaky one. “Mum? What did you want to talk to me about?” Lily asked when she entered the kitchen.
She watched her mother whirl around in shock with something like pleasure. “Lily! You scared me.” I know, Lily wanted to say. I meant to. But she didn’t. She couldn’t.
“Are you ready to go to Diagon Alley? You know you have to be there by a quarter past one Lily, and it’s half past twelve and you’re still not ready! Go change into something nice now, there’s a dear.” Ginny turned around to face the sink again, and waved her wand to make the dishes resume washing themselves.
Lily watched for a second before slipping out of the room. She almost bumped into James as she turned towards the stairs.
“Lily! You’re so quiet! I never hear you coming towards me!” he exclaimed, with shock plain on his face.
She shrugged. “Sorry.” He looked at her, his eyes softening, and gave her a rough hug.
“Don’t worry, Lily. You’ll be great, I know you will.” She hesitated, then hugged him back. When he let go of her she turned away and climbed the stairs quietly, avoiding the squeaky sixth step.
When she came out of her room again, her hair was brushed and tidied away into a ponytail. She was dressed nicely in semi-formal clothes. The barest hint of makeup was visible on her face. When she reached the entry hall she looked in the mirror. The girl who looked back at her was a completely different person, but very familiar to Lily. She gave herself a once-over with a critical eye, before leaning forward to inspect her makeup. Of course she looked perfect.
Smile, Lily thought bitterly before pasting a fake smile onto her face. No, look happy! You’re never going to fool anyone with that smile. Crinkle your eyes a bit more. That’s right. Now the girl in the mirror was happy as well. It was a perfect fake. She looked perfect. She wasn’t just Lily anymore. Now she was Lily Potter, daughter of Harry Potter and Ginevra Weasley-Potter.
She turned away from the mirror and went back inside.
“Lily, where are you? We only have ten minutes before we have to leave, Lily. Don’t tell me you’re not ready!” Ginny shouted up the stairs. Lily moved from the doorway to behind her mother.
“No, I’m ready.” Ginny whirled round in shock again, and Lily resisted the urge to snicker.
“Stop scaring me like that, Lily!” Ginny admonished, before looking her up and down. “You look good today, and we’re on schedule as well.” Ginny leaned forward and undid Lily’s admittedly messy hair, redoing it into a neater, sleeker ponytail with strands of hair left down to frame her face. “There,” Ginny said, leaning back slightly to admire her handiwork. She checked her watch. Five minutes left.
As Lily snuck quietly into the kitchen she heard her mother telling the boys – “and be careful, don’t break anything, Harry, make sure they behave themselves, if you have spare time you can do something productive like the laundry, don’t go into the kitchen, I still don’t trust you boys after last time when you set fire to the curtains and nearly burnt the cat – ”
“Bloody hell mum, that was a year ago!” Lily heard James exclaim indignantly. She gave in to temptation this time since there was nobody around to hear her and snickered, imagining his expression. Reaching up, she opened a cupboard and grabbed a packet of chocolate chips. She opened them and scooped out a handful.
“– and if you’re bored you can Apparate to Ron and Hermione’s place, make sure Albus does the Apparating if you want to go anywhere James, you’d probably end up in South America in a thousand tiny pieces if you tried to Apparate anywhere –”
“I resent that!” Lily popped several chocolate chips into her mouth and chewed, closing her eyes to savour the yummy deliciousness that was the taste of chocolate. She stuffed the rest of the chocolate chips in her mouth as she used a rubber band to tie the packet closed.
“– and please try not to cause a catastrophe, I’m only going to be gone for a couple of hours.” Lily put the bag of chocolate chips back into the cupboard and slipped back into the entry hall as her mother came out of the living room. “Are you ready to go, Lily? Come on then.” Ginny offered Lily her arm, and when Lily took it she twirled on the spot, pulling them both into blackness.
As soon as Ginny and Lily landed in Diagon Alley they were swarmed by reporters.
“Miss Potter, how do you feel on your sixteenth birthday?”
“Lily, is it true you’re a closet fan of Celestina Warbeck?”
“What is it like being sixteen?”
Lily withdrew into herself, watching as Fake Lily smiled for the cameras, made witty comments for the reporters and replied to some questions, more charmingly and prettily than the real Lily could ever hope to act.
Ginny tugged Lily along the cobbled roads of Diagon Alley, finally stopping before a neat building which gave the impression of being small and quaint, although Lily knew from experience that it was much bigger on the inside than it looked from the outside. Above the glass doors were the words Witch Weekly Office.
Lily looked at her mother, then stepped forward and pushed the door open, holding it for her mother. Ginny stepped through the door with a nod of thanks.
Almost as soon as they stepped through the foyer, the party of two were greeted by the CEO of the Witch Weekly magazine company.
“Ginny, how wonderful to see you again! It’s been too long, don’t you think?”
“Absolutely, Pam, how are you?”
The two women moved towards each other and exchanged kisses on the cheek.
“Oh, I’m wonderful Ginny, thank you for asking,” Pamela simpered. “And this lovely young lady must be Lily? I hardly recognise you, my dear! You look so grown up!”
Lily wanted to turn around and leave, but Fake Lily rose up and pushed that feeling down. Fake Lily put on a charming smile, stepped forward and offered her hand to Pamela Murray. “It’s so lovely to see you again after such a long year.”
After exchanging greetings, Ms. Murray introduced the new Head Journalist Alyssa, a tall, frail – looking lady with a charming smile and quick, darting hazel eyes which didn’t look like they missed much to Lily and Ginny – “Amy decided to retire and become a freelance writer,” – and the whole party trooped into one of the many rooms inside the building.
The interviewing session was long and tedious, and Lily couldn’t wait to get out of this horrible building whose inhabitants wanted nothing more than to pry into her life - her thoughts, her dreams, ambitions, interests, love life. The questions came thick and fast from Alyssa, who was apparently tougher than she looked and asked some very insightful questions Lily barely managed to dodge.
What was her favourite activity? Did she have a love life? Did she want a love life? What did she look for in a guy? Did she have any advice for the young girls who idolised her? Did she feel like she was close to her admirers? Did she have any flirting tips? What were her feelings about tackling sixth year and her NEWTs when she went back to Hogwarts?
When Alyssa finally stood up and thanked them both for their time, Lily thought they were going to be allowed out of the Witch Weekly office. Instead Alyssa shepherded Lily and Ginny into a studio where their photograph was taken by a quiet, efficient man whose name Lily couldn’t catch when he introduced himself. Picture after picture was taken and it seemed like an eternity she spent smiling and posing, sitting and standing and always smiling, smiling, smiling. Some pictures were portraits, some were just her torso and face and some were full – body shots. Then Ginny was brought up and they posed together. Smiling, always smiling.
Pamela came in around three – quarters of the way through the photoshoot. Lily didn’t miss the slightly nervous look the cameraman shot in the CEO’s direction, but if Pamela Murray noticed, she didn’t show it. She merely stood in the corner of the room, nodding her head occasionally at a particularly good picture.
After they’d finally finished, Lily wanted nothing more than to Apparate home and lie down on her bed and mope. She felt like Play–Doh or putty, endlessly being shaped and reshaped. Her cheeks were sore from smiling.
After the tedious goodbyes and kisses on the cheek, all of which Fake Lily carried out flawlessly, Ginny led her out of the building, still waving to Pamela.
“Did you enjoy that, Lily?” Ginny asked happily. It was clear that she had thoroughly enjoyed talking to Pamela Murray and being photographed. Lily couldn’t ruin her mother’s good humour, so she put her smile back on her face and replied.
“It was great mum, I really enjoyed it.” I hated it. It was horrible. It’s my birthday. Why are you making me do this? And it’s the Easter Holidays. Aren’t I meant to have fun during the holidays? Please, please, please, please, please. I don’t ever want to do that again. Please, mum.
Ginny took Lily’s arm and tucked it into the crook of her elbow before spinning gracefully on the spot and pulling them both into blackness with a faint pop. Lily could still hear the cameras.
As they landed perfectly in front of the front door of their house, Ginny, without missing a beat, opened the door quietly and stepped inside. “We’re home!” she called into the direction of the living room. Lily cringed at the loud noise. She hated loud noises. She wanted to be quiet so that nobody noticed her. Quiet so that people were shocked when she greeted them. Quiet so that she would be unnoticeable and nobody’s attention would be fixed on her as soon as she entered a room.
Vague shouts of greeting came from the living room, along with the robust voice of a Quidditch commentator. Lily rolled her eyes slightly. Trust the boys to get into Qudditch as soon as she and Ginny were gone.
Ginny slipped her shoes off and went towards the living room. As soon as she had gone Lily kicked her flats off under the shoe cabinet. Then she sighed and bent down to retrieve them and put them onto her shoe shelf, which held an impressive collection of flats, heels, boots, school shoes and trainers. Ginny would surely pick up on it if she left her shoes under the shoe shelf.
Lily walked towards the living room and heard the rest of her family chatting about the game. Apparently if the Holyhead Harpies won this game by at least two hundred points then they would be assured the top position on the ladder, regardless of whether they won or lost next week against the Ballycastle Bats. Finding the conversation uninteresting, despite the vocal battle going on between her mother and father as to whether the Harpies or the Bats’ Seeker was better and whether it mattered, Lily turned away and padded up the stairs.
The memory of those smiling reporters and flashing cameras still lingered in her mind. God, she hated those reporters. And their stupidly fluffy microphones for sports matches, and the flashing cameras. But she was being unfair. It is their job to be horrible.
But they always made her feel so claustrophobic, like she was trapped. Like she was a goldfish in a glass bowl, or a butterfly in a jar. On display for everyone to see and snicker at or admire. She didn’t know which one she found more uncomfortable.
In her room, she left the door slightly ajar, the sounds of her family squabbling distant and quiet. Using a quick spell to get rid of the makeup on her face, she changed into more comfortable clothes and took her socks off, throwing them into a corner of her room. Then she threw herself on her bed, bouncing up and down slightly as the soft bed bounced underneath her.
Instead of dwelling once again on how much she hated reporters and interviewers, she grabbed the muggle inventions called headphones and slipped them on over her head. Wizards had just adapted headphones and a radio into the magical atmosphere a couple of years back, so that wizarding children could listen to music from a radio.
Hello again! This plunny has been floating around in my head for a while now, and I just wanted to get something uploaded before I disappear for NaNo, because disappear I will, and it will probably be wiith a vengeance, too. :P
As always, any feedback or CC at all is welcome! The little grey box is always hungry.
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