Lily ran down the garden, towards the swing.
Petunia ran alongside her, trying to reach it before her. They reached it and
jumped on at the same time, knocking each other off as they did so. They fell
together, giggling. When they’d disentangled themselves, Lily got onto the
swing and Petunia pushed her. Then they switched places, Lily pushing, and
Petunia swinging, screaming with excitement. The carried on like that until
Lily decided that her arms were getting tired. So they adjourned to the
playhouse, dolls in hand, and played parents until their mother called them for
dinner. It was meatballs and spaghetti, their all-time favourite. Three
platefuls later, they were too full to eat any more. Their mother looked at
them, laughed, and declared bath time.
After their mother had bathed them, dried
them, dressed them and mopped up the floor (this took some time) they read with
their father. They were up to chapter three of Fantastic
Mister Fox, and loving every sentence of it. At a quarter to eight,
as the foxes were getting dug out of their hole by Boggis, Bunce and Bean,
their father looked at the clock and then at the two girls on his knees. They
were barely awake. ‘Up to bed now, come on…’ he said. As Lily was tucked in,
she closed her eyes, rolled over and hugged her teddy bear tight. It had been a
Next morning, Lily got up and went to her
parents’ bed, and snuggled in with her father. His one-night-old stubble growth
scratched her cheek and stuck to her hair. Comfortable. She went back to sleep.
When she woke for the second time, her dad was gone. Probably at work. She
checked the clock. It was nine, so definitely work. She rolled off his bed and
padded back to her own room to dress. Then she had breakfast and went to find
‘’Tuney! Let’s go on the swing again!’
‘Yeah! Just wait a mo’… I’ve got to get
Lily now stood
outside Petunia’s bedroom door. ‘I’ve got a new trick
idea! Let’s swing really high and then let go!’
The door opened
a crack to show Petunia’s eyes. They looked slightly nervous.
‘You really think we can? I mean, what if we go too far and go over the bank?’
The swing in
their garden was positioned so that if you came off at the wrong moment, and flew
further than usual, you would land in a deep gully, at the bottom of which
flowed a stream.
for a second. ‘Okay, then, we just won’t go so high.’
satisfied by this, and once she was dressed they raced down to the swing.
This time, Lily
was faster and jumped on a full second before her sister arrived. Petunia
pushed, Lily swung, and then Lily jumped off, at the peak of the swing. She
flew at least nine feet in the air, then dropped to the ground, ten feet away
from where she started, screaming with laughter, her face alight.
around to see Petunia gaping at her, and her delight
faded a little.
‘Wow! Th-that was amazing!’ stuttered Petunia.
This time it
was Lily who pushed and Petunia who flew. She didn’t go
quite so far, but didn’t seem at all perturbed by this. When she turned around,
her face, too, was alight with joy.
* * *
They had a
break for lunch, over which they told their mother what they’d been
doing, and begged her to come and watch them do it. When lunch was over, they
pushed back their chairs and raced out to the garden again, their mother coming
By the time she was ready to watch, Lily was
already sitting in the swing, ready to go, and Petunia was pulling it back.
‘Watch closely, Mum!’ giggled Lily, as she
began to swing back and forth, faster and faster, going further at every sweep.
Finally, when the swing was going as high and as fast as it could, she let go.
And this time, Petunia knew she’d gone too
Lily was soaring high, farther than either of
them had ever gone before, and she would soon start to fall, landing smack-bang
in the middle of the stream, probably breaking her leg, or worse, her neck.
But Lily wasn’t falling, she wasn’t even
levelling out yet, and she was laughing. And now she was coming down, but she
wasn’t falling, she was soaring
to the ground, touching down on the other side of the gully, as lightly as if
she had just stepped out of a car…
And now she was
turning around and she was laughing, and her eyes were dancing, and she was…
jumping back across the gully to them… but she couldn’t
jump over the gully, because Petunia couldn’t, and Petunia was two years older
and several inches taller…
mother was just staring, her eyes bugging, her mouth hanging open, mouthing the
words oh my God, oh my God,oh my God… Over and over and over…
And now Lily
was up to them, still laughing and shining… and
she was tugging on Petunia’s hand, and saying it was her turn, but Petunia
didn’t seem to hear…
And then her
mother snapped back to reality. “Right” she said, still sounding
slightly gob-smacked “Time to go inside. And no doing that trick anymore, it’s
too dangerous – you might land in the gully.”
* * *
That night, after they had caught up with Fantastic Mister Fox and been put to bed,
Lily heard her parents talking. It was distorted, and they were talking
quietly, but as she concentrated, she could hear better.
“George, I didn’t make any mistake – you know
it’s my job to figure out angles and speed and so on. She should have fallen a
foot to this side of the gully, but she landed on the other side. That’s six feet too far.”
“Mary… are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure…but it’s impossible.” Her
mother sounded weary.
Lily decided not to listen anymore, and after
staring at the ceiling for a while, she finally closed her eyes and went to
* * *
Next morning at breakfast, Her parents weren’t
as relaxed as they should be on a Saturday morning, and they kept shooting
glances at Lily.
By the time her parents were onto coffee and
the girls were drinking juice, George opened his mouth.
‘Lily, you know that trick you showed to mummy
the other day?”
‘Do you know how you did it?’
Lily shook her
head, and her father looked crestfallen. Mary took over.
“Well, Lily, was there anything holding you
this a rather silly question, and nodded.
looked relieved as she asked ‘what was holding you up, then?’
this one silly too. ‘Air’ she replied, making her mother’s
face fall again.
‘Well, we don’t know how you did it, darling,
but can you not do it again? Please?’
thought Lily, as she nodded for the third time and stood up from the table. I’ve still got the trick I discovered with my flower
vase last night. ‘C’mon, Tuney, let’s go to the park.’
* * *
They slid down
the slide. They flew across the flying fox. They chased each other around. And
they swung on the swings.
Lily decided to
do her flying again… even though mummy had told her not
to. It was just sooo fun. But
Petunia seemed to know what she was planning.
‘Lily, don’t do it!’ she shrieked, but too
She was sailing
through the air, a look of absolute bliss on her face, laughing. She landed
again, as lightly as ever.
‘Mummy told you not to!’
swinging and walked menacingly towards Lily, hands on hips. ‘Mummy
said you weren’t allowed to!’
‘But I’m fine’, giggled Lily ‘Tuney, look at
this. Watch what I can do,’ she said, stooping to pick up a flower from a bush,
and showed it to Petunia, who was glancing round, nervously.
Lily held the flower in her palm, and made it
start moving. She felt into it, and saw its clock, the clock that told it when
to open and close its petals, and started twirling the little clock much more
quickly than normal.
penetrated her concentration, and she looked up, puzzled.
‘It’s not hurting you,’ but she dropped it
anyway, setting its clock back to normal.
‘It’s not right,’ Said Petunia. ‘How do you do
isn’t it?’ shouted the bush she’d picked the flower from, and out jumped a boy.
What was his name? Oh yes – Severus Snape