Chapter 1 : Cokeworth
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Disclaimer: I own no part of the Wonderful Wizarding World... anything you recognize (apart from Emmeline) belongs to J.K. Rowling.
One January morning, as the sun rose over the English Midlands and graced the small industrial town in its wake, the inhabitants of Cokeworth were already stirring. The factory was hard at work, as indicated by the copious amount of grey clouds pouring from the smokestack. The town was no stranger to determination and dedication – the men tromped their way to the factory doors as the sun poked its head over the horizon, the wives packed lunches and kissed their little ones on their way to school, and the small shop owners readied their wares for the day.
On a small, quiet street, a little girl was blinking awake as her sister came running into the room. “Happy birthday, Lily!” she sang as she pranced around, a small parcel wrapped in blue in her little hands. The girl was petite, blond, and had a rather long neck, but she was smiling a sweet smile as she looked down at her baby sister.
“Tuney, what time is it?” Lily asked, laughing, as she swung her legs out of bed. “Is that for me?”
Petunia’s grin grew wider as she proudly handed the small box over to Lily’s waiting hand. In a matter of seconds, blue paper scattered the floor and a small flower glistened in her pale hands. “Oh Tuney! It’s beautiful!” Lily’s green eyes were shining with joy as she turned the paperweight over and over, examining every edge of the glass flower.
“It’s a petunia, so you’ll always think of me…” came the shy reply. Lily glanced up at her sister in surprise. She racked her brains, trying to come up with a reason for this odd statement. Why would Lily need reminding of Petunia? Weren’t they always going to be together?
Seeing the look on Lily’s face, Petunia cleared her throat nervously and said, “I don’t mean now, but, you know, for the future. We don’t know where we’ll be if… if... well you know.” She shrugged helplessly.
Lily slowly rose from the bed and wrapped her arms around her sister. “Tuney. No matter what, we’re always sisters. Best mates, even! And we love each other. I could never forget you, even if you go to that school!” She was, of course, thinking of St. Madeline’s Grammar School. Petunia had wanted to attend ever since their neighbor Sophie had been accepted and was whisked away to the glamour and rank of the London school. It was everything she had hoped and dreamed of – a school full of proper girls and useful classes, everything Petunia would need to settle well in life and escape the smog and calluses of Cokeworth. “We’ll write, and I’ll beg mum to let me visit!”
“You could apply too! Two years from now, you could be joining me! Think of it, Lily. Imagine us, the Evans sisters, taking London’s elite by storm!” Petunia threw her arms out to emphasize her words. “Goodbye, Cokeworth! Goodbye, shabby brick houses! Goodbye, smoke-filled streets!”
Giggling, Lily shook her head. “No, no I think I’m perfectly happy right here. You know I would never fit in at St. Mad’s. What would they think of my scraped up knees and tattered dress edges? I love my adventures too much! No, Tuney, St. Madeline’s is your calling. I’ll take my streams, flowers, and toads!”
Petunia’s smile faltered at these words. “That’s all right, but what if I don’t get my letter? What if I’m denied? I’m a girl from Cokeworth” She spat the final word out with a venomous tone. Lily didn’t like that at all. Petunia not get accepted? Never.
“You just wait, Tuney. This time next month, you’ll be shopping for your new uniform.” Lily replied with confidence. “You are perfect, made for attending such a fancy school!”
“You don’t – ”
Petunia’s reply was cut short when the door opened again, revealing Mrs. Evans. She was a tall, hardy woman with dark red hair that flowed over her shoulders and a face, once deemed breath-taking, that was lined and faded with the years of the hard work that all of the residents of their little town knew too well. Upon seeing her daughters, her face broke into a smile. “Good morning, my loves. It’s time to stop dwaddling – school calls!” Her girls made for the door. “Oh, and happy birthday, Lily dear.” She wrapped her arms around her youngest child’s small frame and gave her a warm hug. “Eleven! My how you grow.”
The air was frosty and harsh, swirling flakes around and buffeting the faces of those brave enough to challenge its domain. Two little bundles of coats and scarves made their way slowly up the street, one of them hopping along and trying to catch the snowflakes in her outstretched mittens. “Lily, be careful! You’ll slip!”
Just as Petunia’s warning rang out, Lily’s feet found a patch of ice and she tumbled down. Petunia hurried to her side, prepared for broken ankles or bruised knees, only to find that her sister was giggling madly and already pushing herself up. “Did you see? Did you see what I did? I slowed myself down, Tuney! It was – ”
“Don’t Lily! Don’t… shhhh… don’t!” moaned Petunia, looking around wildly. “Someone might hear you!” Her voice dropped to a whisper, “it isn’t right.”
“It’s better than right, it’s magic!” The sisters spun around to see a dark headed boy peering out at them from the nearby alley. “Happy birthday, Lily.”
“Sev! Oh, I’m so glad to see you! Won’t you join us for my birthday tea? But, Petunia, where are you going?” Petunia was stalking away, her nose in the air. She did not reply. Lily turned back to Severus, her face downcast. “Why does she do that?”
“She doesn’t understand. She’s only a muggle” sneered Severus “She’s just jealous!”
“Severus! Don’t say that. She’s my sister!” Lily glared up at her friend. “If you’re going to act that way, then I will just see you tomorrow.”
Severus had the decency to look ashamed. “No, Lily. I won’t… please don’t go. I have a present for you.” He held out a small box. “It’s a chocolate frog. They’re really good, and you can start collecting the cards! I saved up…”
Lily took the box gratefully and gave her friend a quick hug. “Thank you, Sev. Eleven! Do you really think I’ll get my letter this summer? That we’ll be going to learn -” she glanced around and then whispered “magic?”
Severus Snape watched her face as she spoke, a greedy look in his eye. “We’ll go together.”
Several months passed, the school term ended, and Lily continued to see the Snape boy from a few streets over. Petunia disapproved, but Lily couldn’t stop herself from spending time with him. He told her about the magical world and described the wonderful things there, such as flying on brooms and owls delivering letters. She could hardly believe that she would be joining it! But now it was the middle of July, and still, no letter had come. Lily tried not to feel discouraged – what if Severus had been wrong about her?
A knock at the door rang out through the little house. The sound carried up the flight of stairs, up to the small bedroom where Lily and Petunia sat, playing dolls. It was curt, short, and polite. When Mrs. Evans opened the door, it revealed a woman exactly like the knock: she was rather stern looking, with her hair tied back in a knot at the base of her skull. She wore a smart blouse of emerald and a set of crisp, black dress pants. Her glasses were perched on a straight, long nose and her dark eyes looked shrewdly out over them. “Mrs. Evans? My name is Minerva McGonagall. May I come in?”
Mrs. Evans was taken aback. Strangers were not common in Cokeworth, especially not this kind of stranger. She stepped back and allowed her guest to pass into the hall. The two Evans girls peeked over the banister and gazed curiously down. Glancing up at her children, Mrs. Evans said, “Can I interest you in a cup of tea … Ms. McGonagall?” She led the way down the hallway to the quaint sitting room.
Pictures of the happy family lined the mantle of a modest fireplace. Two little girls holding hands and smiling at the camera, one of Mr. Evans and a beaming Lily at the park, one of the girls and their mum coloring at the table, and a beautiful wedding photo. As Lily followed the strange woman into the room, she noticed her studied interest in the pictures, almost as if she was surprised to see them. Strange…
Lily perched herself on the worn sofa and motioned to Petunia to join her. Their mum bustled about, making tea and gathering their nicest china for the occasion. “My husband will be here soon. He gets home around this time… are you here to see him about the factory?”
“I am here to speak to both of you about your daughter” said the visitor. “I presume you are Lily Evans?” Lily jumped slightly at being address and turned towards the stern-looking woman in shock. How did she know her name? Had she heard of Lily’s strange talents and come to take her away? She took a deep breath and willed herself to sound brave.
“Yes. Who are you, exactly?”
“Forgive me, dear.” She replied, with a kind smile. “I would like to wait for your parents before we discuss that. We do have much to discuss. Biscuit?” A tartan tin was produced from seemingly nowhere and offered to the girls. Lily cautiously took a gingersnap and started to munch on it, while Petunia wrinkled her nose.
The sound of the front door opening and closing sent the elder girl hurrying back down the hallway. A moment later, Petunia returned, her hand clasping her father’s tightly. Mr. Evans swept his eyes around the room and then looked at his wife, a question in his gaze. “This is Minerva McGonagall. She has come to - ?” Mrs. Evan’s answer was cut off as she turned to the older woman. “I actually don’t know why...”
Mr. Evans seemed to give himself a shake before turning to greet the visitor, hand extended. “Harold Evan, ma’am. Pleasure.” They shook hands and then seated themselves on the armchairs that stood on either side of the fireplace. “What can I do you for?"
“Now, this may come as a wee shock, but I ask that you listen to what I have come to say. Have you ever noticed anything … different … about Lily? Anything special?” Mr. and Mrs. Evans exchanged a glance. Lily felt relief wash over her. This woman wasn’t here to take her to the loony bin! She now knew what this visit must be about. She glanced at her parents. She knew they were thinking of all of the things she could do. She could jump off a swing and soar. She could make flowers dance in the wind! How could she not have known who this strange woman was? It was finally happening! Lily had to clamp her mouth shut over the excited squeal that tried to escape.
These reactions did not go unnoticed by Minerva McGonagall. She chuckled lightly and said, “Lily is a very special little girl. She was born with certain… talents. I am a professor at a school for children just like Lily. I am here to offer her a spot at the school for the upcoming year. She will learn to harness these… talents… and learn about her world.” Professor McGonagall put her hand into her pocket, withdrawing a strange, heavy envelope. She handed it to Lily and nodded. “Go on, Miss Evans.”
Lily stood in the bathroom. She was gazing at the mirror, examining her reflection. She had her mother’s dark red hair, her father’s almond-shaped, bright green eyes, and shared the same pale skin as her sister. Yet, she was unique. She was special. She watched as a smile slowly spread across her face, stuck out her hand to an invisible person and said “Lily Evans, Witch.”
Author's Note: Hello! Thank you for reading my story - it's the first one I've ever tried to write... I sincerely hope you've enjoyed this first chapter. Let me know what you think in the reviews :)
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