A/N: First and foremost, I would like to thank my wonderful beta KC, who is wonderfully patient and always tells me when I get too "comma-happy"!
I *know* that this is not how it happened. J.K.R. has made it perfectly clear in her books that my particular scenario did *not* happen, but I liked the idea, and am using my artistic license. I hope you enjoy it, and in my revisions, I have tried to make it as canon-oriented as possible. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I have had to form Lily and James' characters (using some of my friends' ideas) since all we know from J.K.R. is what they looked like, but besides that, everything else is pretty much property of Ms. Rowling.
Chapter One: And So Begins the Story of Lily
Lily Carolyn Evans was born on a dark and dreary day. The attitude in the house was very oppressive, not what you would expect, since a baby had just been born.
There should have been laughter, beaming faces, and a feeling of joy everywhere.
But there wasn't.
Lily's mother, Iris Marie Evans, lived long enough to name her new baby before leaving for heaven.
Iris had been sick for many days before Lily's arrival, and was very weak and pale on the day of Lily's birth. Her husband – rich, charming, and loving Edward Evans – had pleaded with her to stop the baby by getting an abortion, but Iris had stoutly refused, saying that she would rather die than kill her own child. After giving birth successfully to the already redheaded child, Iris' health plunged drastically and she passed away, leaving a mournful father and four-year old daughter.
Edward, maddened by grief, buried himself in his work as the head of a large drill company in London and was rarely seen at home.
The youngest daughter, Lily, lived under horrible conditions. Edward only brought her out when he had to and forced her to live in the old barn on their property. He allowed one maid – a young, kindhearted woman – to care for her by making her clothes, feeding her, and living with her in the barn. However, once Edward found out the maid was teaching Lily to read and write, he fired her immediately and forced Lily to work for Petunia exclusively.
The young girl never thought, as she mended her own clothes, did her own laundry, and bathed in the small tin tub filled with water from the hose, that she would ever do anything but work for her father and sister. She never thought she had anything special or would mean anything to anyone except to the young maid who had loved her like a child. Little did she know she would be all she didn't think, and more.
And so begins the story of Lily.
"UP! GET UP NOW, GIRL!"
Lily sat bolt upright, breathing hard. She pressed her small hand to her heart and slowly got off her "bed" – a mattress made of hay inside an empty horse-feed sack – with her heart still thumping from the rude awakening by the cook.
"I'm coming!" she cried hurriedly, her voice hoarse from sleep. She glanced through one of the many cracks in the old barn wall and saw a faint pink tinge coming from the horizon. "Oh no!" she moaned to herself, "It's already light outside! Petunia is going to kill me!"
The girl reached for her old, tattered dress and a clean pair of underwear, noting that she only had one clean pair left, and made a mental note to do her laundry. She removed her also tattered white nightdress and put on her clothes, and then went over to her basin of water from the hose and cleaned her teeth and face. She dried her face on one of the two old towels she had and then walked to the ladder. She leapt down it with practiced ease and ran to the huge mansion known by everyone as the Evans' House. As she was running, she realized with a start that today was July sixteenth – her eleventh birthday. Oh, well. Another one gone, she thought morosely.
The small redhead jogged through a back door that led to the kitchens. Once she entered the main kitchen, the cook shoved Petunia's breakfast in her arms and practically pushed her out the door. Lily climbed the back stairs and entered Petunia's huge bedroom. She released a breath that she wasn't aware she was holding – her sister was dead asleep – and quietly placed Petunia's breakfast on her table in the center of the room. She lit a fire in the grate and cleaned out Petunia's hairbrush, which rested on her large vanity.
Lily looked up from placing the hairbrush back where it belonged and straight into the large mirror attached to the vanity. A pale, freckled face, framed by dark red curls that tumbled down to her mid-back, stared back at her. She would have liked her hair to be shorter, for it was always in her way, but she was only able to steal a pair of scissors sharp enough to cut hair with every once in a while.
But perhaps Lily's most startling features were her bright green eyes that sparkled like precious jewels in the light.
A rustle from the king-sized bed startled her from her gazing and she quickly backed away from the mirror. She pretended to be poking at the fire.
"LILY!" Petunia screeched. Lily jumped and dropped the wrought-iron poker inches from her toes. "STOP MAKING SO MUCH NOISE!" Petunia roared.
"Sorry!" Lily said hastily – the last thing she wanted was to annoy her snobby sister.
"Well, now that you've woken me up," Petunia snapped as she got up from her bed, "I might as well eat my breakfast." Her limp blonde hair was tousled from sleep, making her look like a lion with a mane. Lily giggled suddenly.
Petunia jerked her head up from sipping tea. "What's so funny?" she snapped again, rubbing her eyes.
"N – nothing, Petunia," replied Lily with a straight face.
"Erm," Lily said, swallowing and getting her giggles under control, "it's your hair."
Petunia jerked her head around to face her mirror and shrieked. "Lily! Brush my hair! Now!"
Lily took a breath and walked slowly to her as Petunia settled herself onto the cushioned seat in front of her vanity. She began brushing Petunia's thin hair.
"Dad's coming home today," Petunia said conversationally, leaning forward and rubbing at a newly formed spot on her forehead.
"Oh." Lily didn't know he was gone.
"Yes, he went to visit Aunt Violet, and she's coming home with him to stay for a bit," Petunia said, still nonchalant.
"Who's that?" Lily asked, trying to untangle a piece of Petunia's hair.
"Oh, don't you remember? She came here a long time ago and we had to clean you up and dress you properly," she sneered.
Lily shrugged, trying hard to remember, but to no avail.
"Anyway, she's quite young, only twenty-two last time she visited. That means now she must be twenty-five or six. Dad told me I'm to find some decent clothing for you and you're to take a bath and fix your hair."
Lily's heart leapt. "When is she coming?"
"Some time this afternoon. I didn't like her much; she's a little strange, I think. But at least she wears the latest styles. Plus, she is extremely rich." Petunia sounded as though this made up for her being "a little strange". "I'll dress and shower first – you lay out clothes for me, then get Mary to go to the attic and get some of my clothes for you from when I was, oh, let's say, eight?" She smirked at Lily and flounced into her bathroom to take a shower.
Lily sighed and looked into the mirror again. She did indeed look to be around eight years old – certainly not eleven. She sighed again and went to find Mary.
It had been about three years since Lily had taken a proper shower with hot water and real soap, and it was heaven to her. Mary chose a little, pink, polka-dotted tea dress from when Petunia was eight. It was the nicest old dress, but even then, it was fraying and smelled musty from the attic. However, it felt wonderful to have her hair done by someone instead of vice-versa, and when Mary was done drying Lily's hair with a hair dryer, the effect was amazing. Lily looked much like her eleven-year-old self, even if she was too thin and not quite tall enough.
The sound of a car coming up the driveway meant Aunt Violet had arrived. Lily raced down the stairs – the front stairs, she was pleased to note – while Petunia stuck her nose up in the air and walked daintily behind. She had taken great care to dress in the latest style – a very short mini-dress and pearls.
Lily hesitated when she reached the bottom of the stairs. The great front door was only a few steps away….What would her father do when he saw her?
She didn't have time to ponder this further because, at that moment, the door was flung open and a tall man with reddish hair entered. He was smiling jovially and holding a suitcase, which he gave to the butler. As he removed his hat and driving gloves, he cried, "Princess? Where's my-"
He stopped dead when he saw not one child before him, but two. The smile slipped off his face just as a blonde woman entered behind him.
"My, how they've grown!" she beamed, removing her large sunglasses. "Haven't they just, Edward?"
Edward Evans cleared his throat and smiled, averting his eyes. "Indeed. Hello, Lily."
Lily replied in a small voice, "Hello, Father."
He quickly moved to Petunia, not looking at the slight redhead, and smiled at her, a true smile, and hugged her tightly. Lily had to remind herself to breath, and to her shame, felt tears rising in her eyes. She quickly looked around for something to study and settled on the blonde woman.
Aunt Violet was indeed dressed in the latest style, just as Petunia had said. She had on a pink sleeveless dress; a scarf covered the top of her shoulder-length blond hair. She was even prettier than the former American First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, whose style she was imitating.
Violet Wellington was a smart woman. She had left school at the top of her class with honors, and things were not apt to get by her very often. She noticed the exchanges between Edward and little Lily, and then Edward and Petunia immediately – and her mind began turning very quickly. She slowly removed her white gloves, aware of the younger daughter's tearful stare, and placed them in her pink handbag. She gave it to the butler and then walked over to the tiny redhead with internal caution.
"Hello, Lily," the woman said and hugged her tightly. Lily tensed up as if she wasn't used to the affection, which made Violet frown.
"And Petunia! How lovely you look, dear," she said, smiling, and gently embraced the blonde. "Very grown-up. You're fifteen now, right?"
"Yes," Petunia replied, pursing her lips. "I turned fifteen last month."
"Growing like a weed!" Edward said proudly, his arm around her skinny shoulders.
"She reminds me of myself when I was that age," Violet said, smiling. "And how is school?"
"She's making excellent marks," Edward informed her proudly. "We're actually looking to transfer her to a different school. I wanted to speak with you about that, Violet. You attended a fairly good boarding school, didn't you?"
Lily watched curiously as her aunt's face froze, and her right hand jerked towards her pink handbag.
"Violet?" Edward inquired. "Are you all right?"
Violet blinked her large blue eyes and cleared her throat. "Perfectly fine, Edward, but I must say, after that journey, I need to use the loo!" she exclaimed brightly. "Lily, would you be a dear and show me where it is?"
"Erm, all right then. Petty and I will be in the parlor."
"Lovely, and please, don't hold tea for me!" Violet said, quickly following the little redhead out of the entrance hall. Once they were in the dark hallway, she stopped suddenly and rubbed her forehead. "I don't actually need the loo," she confessed.
Lily regarded her curiously again. "You don't?"
"No. It was getting a bit – er – stuffy in there."
Lily's eyebrows shot up but just as quickly went back down. She didn't say anything, only stood beside her aunt, watching her feet and wondering what was wrong with the lady.
Violet cleared her throat. "Actually, Lily, I wanted to talk to you….Is there somewhere we can go to talk by ourselves? Your bedroom, perhaps?"
Lily's heart stopped. What was she supposed to say? She didn't have a bedroom! An idea struck her suddenly. "But tea – won't Father wonder where you – we – are?"
Violet waved her hand dismissively. "Don't worry about that. Is your room upstairs?"
Lily hesitated, bit her lip, and finally said in a tiny voice, "I don't have a room."
Violet sighed. This was worse than she thought. "Well then, do you know a place where we can talk alone?"
Lily studied Violet for a long moment, sizing her up, wondering if she was trustworthy. Violet met her eyes evenly, bright blue to very green. After what seemed an hour, Lily nodded and started briskly down the hallway. Violet followed, inwardly rejoicing – this girl was nothing like her sister. Violet was beginning to think that this girl was very different indeed.
Lily led on, through the large kitchen and out a side door, across a well-manicured lawn and through a patch of trees, before coming out into a field. An old, half-rotten barn was in a corner of the field, and when she saw it, Violet stopped, panting and sweating, as a horrible thought came to her.
No, surely not…
The little girl kept on going, oblivious to her aunt's distress, and entered the barn. Violet slowly followed, heart beating, her horror slowly turning into unspeakable rage. She entered the barn and watched as her niece climbed effortlessly up a ladder leading to the hayloft. Violet managed to control the shaking of her hands enough to climb up, cursing her pretty pink spiked heels. When she finally got up, she stopped, her blue eyes roaming over everything: a sack of something that looked like hay in the corner and a rickety table with a basin of dirty water, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a towel on its old surface.
Appalled, Violet needed several moments to remember her niece was in the room with her. She turned to the little girl, wondering frantically what to say to her. She decided finally that Lily looked like the type who would appreciate bluntness the best and asked quietly, "Lily, is this where you sleep?"
Violet swallowed. "I see. And how long have you been sleeping up here?" she asked, going to examine the old table. The floorboards creaked beneath her, and she felt her spine tingle. This was obviously very unsafe. Another burst of anger consumed her and she almost missed Lily's hesitant answer.
"A long time," the girl said, looking down at her shoes. Violet noticed how thin her arms were.
"Ah," she said, trying to keep her voice even and under control. "And does your father ever come visit you up here?"
Lily looked up quickly and then back down again. "No."
Violet clenched her jaw and gripped her handbag so that her knuckles turned white. "Does he give you clothes?"
"Petunia's old stuff. They're over there," Lily said, gesturing to a pile of clothing in the corner.
"Why don't you wear them?" Violet asked with surprise in spite of herself.
"They don't fit," Lily said, shrugging her small shoulders. "In the winter I wear them sometimes."
Violet took several deep breaths, and when she felt she could speak again, said as happily as she could manage, "And you're eleven today, aren't you?"
Lily looked up at her with wide, surprised eyes. "How did you know?"
Violet frowned slightly. "Because it's your birthday. I always send you money on…." She trailed off. It was obvious Lily had never seen the money before.
"You do?" Lily echoed, her eyes becoming even wider.
"Yes," the aunt managed, struggling with her temper again. "That's also why I've come down." Oh, how could she have let it go this far? It was obvious her brother-in-law blamed Lily for Iris's death – a problem that made Violet's heart ache. She had to do something…she couldn't let Lily grow up like this-
Suddenly overhead, there was a great flapping of wings and a small, brown owl landed right in front of Violet.