NOTES and DISCLAIMERS: Harry Potter, etc is the intellectual property of JK Rowling. I'm making no money here and have no intentions to do so ever. Thanks to Jess and kel for encouragement. Title of story and lyrics quoted by Lennon/McCartney or by John Lennon. Thanks to Jess, Mare, kel and Mosca. And kel again.



INTO THE LIGHT OF THE DARK BLACK NIGHT




When Lily Evans walked onto the Hogwarts Express for the first time, she was singing under her breath. 'Blackbird singing in the dead of night,' one of her favorite songs.

She loved the Beatles. At first, she loved them because her parents did. Lily remembered being six or seven, dancing in the living room, holding tight to her father's hands while he spun her round and round until she was so dizzy she could barely stand and had to hold on even tighter. Then her parents started watching more television than dancing or listening to music so Lily would go into their room and set up the record player all by herself. Her father still bought every album as it came out, complaining each time about how young the clerks were getting at Virgin.

Petunia liked the Beatles, too, though she preferred Paul McCartney and Lily had decided from the start that John Lennon was her favorite. They'd fought a little, about whose fault it was that the best band in the whole world had broken up. Petunia said it was all Yoko's fault and Lily had stamped her feet and said Paul was clearly the most to blame. Petunia had a bright yellow record player in her room and listened to McCartney really loudly over and over again that summer before Lily left for school. Lily had her own transistor radio but not her own record player. She had to sneak into her parents' room to find John Lennon's solo albums. The first naked man she saw was John Lennon on that album cover. She thought it was sort of gross.

The second letter from Hogwarts, the one headed up with "advice to Muggle parents," had said that Muggle electronics wouldn't work at the school. Lily refused to believe it and had her transistor radio tucked in the bottom of her trunk. She wasn't sure she would make it until December without listening to the radio or hearing John Lennon's new album or any of her favorite songs. She sang under her breath and heard in her head the right voices and guitars and drums.

"All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free," she sang quietly, looking for an empty compartment or one with friendly faces. A big boy, maybe fourteen or fifteen, came down the hall and banged into her shoulder as he walked by.

"Quit singing your stupid songs," he muttered.

Lily turned around and walked backwards so if he looked over his shoulder he'd see her face. She stuck her chin out and sang louder. She touched the pretty white plastic barrettes in her hair - a gift from Petunia - and stared at his retreating back.

Then a boy her age poked his head out of the door.

"You like the Beatles?" he said and grinned at her. She'd found her place at last.

There were about eight kids her age stuffed into the compartment, none in robes and all talking about nine-hundred-and-nine things Lily knew. When she was ten, she and Petunia always called large numbers nine-hundred-and-nine because of the Beatles, she had never broken herself of the habit. The Beatles, Cliff Richards, one blonde girl with thick glasses asking if anyone ever watched EastEnders, and two minutes later Lily was sitting in the middle, already happy.

The boy was Nigel and his older brother by one year was Hugh. Four girls: Lorna, Bridget, Helen, and Sally. Two more boys who never said their names but just talked incessantly about cricket. After an hour or so, Hugh started telling all of them what to expect, but Lily stopped paying attention the third time he mentioned Quidditch and didn't explain it at all. Some game, that she got. She liked football all right. She watched that with her father on the TV and once they went to a game. Hugh was stuck-up, she decided, and maybe should've made some friends in his own year instead of lording it all over kids like them. Lily wasn't even really worried about what was to come, though she did hope that all her new friends would end up in the same House she did. Hugh made the Houses sound important.

Then the train stopped and they were led to boats by the biggest man in the entire world. Lorna gave a little scream when she saw the giant, but Lily just took a deep breath and went where he told her. Lorna grabbed her hand and said, "I'm scared."

Lily smiled. "Nothing to be scared of. He works for the school, so it's fine." Lily was sure. He was a huge man, but he looked nice somehow. She reached over and straightened the bow in Lorna's hair. Lorna nodded and stepped on the boat. Nigel and Helen got on, too, and the boat set off to the castle.

Lily looked at the all the kids, nervous and fidgeting and realized she wasn't worried at all as she stepped up to stool and the Sorting Hat. That's because you don't know anything, she thought, don't know what it means. But her dad said she could do anything she put her mind to, sat down on the stool and smoothed out her robe over her knees. The hat was on her head for a second before she heard the shout of "GRYFFINDOR!"

She got up and ran to that table. Gryffindor, she thought. She looked up and down the table and the Gryffindors seemed nice enough. Except sitting right next to her was another newly sorted first-year with his head in his hands, laughing or crying but clearly nearly hysterical. She'd never seen a boy that agitated. He kept wheezing and saying, "Gryffindor." Then he shook his head and straightened up. There were tears in his eyes but he was grinning like a lunatic. "Gryffindor," he said, laughing for sure this time. "I can't believe it." Lily had no idea what she was supposed to say to that. She touched her barrettes again and thought she'd better not tell Petunia that the first person she met in her House was mental. She turned her back to him to see where her new friends got sorted to.

None of the people she knew ended up in Gryffindor. Lorna and two of the other girls from the compartment were in Hufflepuff, another boy and Nigel in Ravenclaw, along with the girl who liked EastEnders. Helen, whose mother was a witch, ended up in Slytherin. Lily waved to her friends and then turned back to the kids sitting around her at her table. There was the mental boy who seemed to have calmed down a little. He had a certain lift to his head, a way of just sitting there she found off-putting. Another boy with black hair and glasses, two scared looking boys who avoided her eyes and everyone else's, and two girls next to her, both blondes. There were even more Gryffindor first-years, but where Lily was sitting she'd have to crane her head or stand on her seat to see them and she thought that would be rude. So she turned the girl next to her and introduced herself.

There were seven girls in their dormitory, but only one other who didn't have a witch or a wizard for parents like Lily. And that girl, Anne, didn't like the Beatles and seemed to have decided to forget she'd ever been anywhere but Hogwarts. Lily made friends with the other girls, but Anne snubbed her from the first night. Lily thought Anne was downright stupid.

The mental boy was named Sirius and he seemed to have become best friends with the boy with glasses with one glance. The boys in Gryffindor all seemed to be completely stupid and loud and obsessed with showing off the pathetic spells they could already do. The only ones Lily would even sit near were the two quiet ones, Remus and Peter. But they both quickly became friends with mental Sirius and his friend Potter, so she stayed away from them too unless they were alone.

After a week or two, Hogwarts almost felt like a second home. Lily never did get her transistor radio to work, but she loved her classes and the other students were mostly a nice lot. She had classes with all her friends from the compartment and she studied in the library with Lorna, Helen and Nigel all the time. One day Lorna pulled out an American music magazine with a huge interview with John Lennon that her sister had sent her. Lily said, "Can I borrow it, please, please? I'll return it and won't get it dirty, I swear." Lorna grinned and said she'd written her sister for it because she knew Lily would like it.

It was such a long interview and there was a review in the back of the magazine for John Lennon's new album, Imagine. Lily wished so much she could hear it somehow. She tried to make up the songs in her head from the interview and the review, but she knew it would never be as good as the album itself. She wrote Petunia to beg her to tell her about it. Petunia wrote back and said she didn't want Lily to send her any more notes from school. The owl had come right into the living room while Petunia's friend from school was there and Petunia had had to make up some stupid story and now her friend thought Petunia was cracked. And all Petunia said about Imagine was that Dad liked it. Lily was so annoyed she stopped wearing her barrettes under her hat.

One time before Christmas, Lily was studying in the library again with Helen, Lorna and Nigel when Sirius and his friends came in. Sirius leaned against the table and said, "Evans, you do remember what Professor McGonagall said, don't you? Your House is like a family to you. Why are you always studying here?" It was a very good imitation of Professor McGonagall, but Lily really liked her so she didn't laugh. Nigel laughed quietly.

Lily said, "We can have friends outside our family." Sirius was so perfectly stupid, like she was doing something wrong being friends with people from other houses. Sirius rolled his eyes and strutted off with his friends. As Lily stared, Potter said something under his breath to Sirius, Sirius laughed and glanced back at her. Stupid Potter and stupid mental Sirius. She really disliked both of them.

Helen said, "He's cute, that Sirius." She blushed and looked down at her book.

"Please," Lily said. "He's very much not. He's also completely mental." She told them about his behavior at the Sorting.

"Well," Helen said, "he's from a very old family. A wizarding family. My mum said so. He was probably really surprised to end up in Gryffindor. I think most of his family've been in Slytherin."

Lily laughed. "If you could take his place, I'd so wish the two of you would switch. I'd rather have you in all my classes than him."

When Lily got home for Christmas, Dad had moved the nice stereo into her room and given her all his Beatles albums. Petunia, the complete prat, had hidden the albums. After Lily found them, she snuck into Petunia's room and drew all over Paul McCartney on the cover of Ram. Petunia stopped being so ridiculous after a week or so, but she still didn't want Lily to write with her crazy owls and Lily could tell Petunia didn't pay much attention to Lily's stories of school. Her parents listened and nodded with eyes wide. Lily was on an adventure, her mother said. She didn't say that about Petunia's school.

But the best part about being home was being able to finally hear the new John Lennon album. Imagine was an amazing album and Lily listened to it for two straight days to memorize every song. She went back to school singing them over and over again under her breath.

When summer came, Lily felt closer than ever to her new friends, and even Anne had warmed up and started talking to her. It was awful being home at first, not being able to use magic and missing her friends. Petunia was a prat for two solid weeks, drawing on Lily's albums and hiding her books, but she finally stopped and actually sat on Lily's bed for two hours to talk about the boys she'd met at her school. Lily didn't have any boy stories to tell Petunia. She thought Nigel was awfully nice, and Remus, if sickly, seemed sweet, but Lily wasn't boy crazy like Petunia. In her heart she liked John Lennon most of all and no one at Hogwarts would ever compare.

She spent most of the summer listening to records and reading her schoolbooks in her room. She went out once in a while to see her old friends from before but she had to lie so much about Hogwarts and it was too tiring.

*

Lily still studied in the library with Lorna, Anne and Nigel her second year. Helen didn't hang out with any of them anymore, standing instead with her Slytherin friends during the classes they had together. She barely waved sometimes when Lily said hello. It made Lily sad and she wondered if it was Lily's parents or her House that made Helen be so standoffish. Either one seemed like a horrible reason to not be friends with someone.

Lily had given up on hearing new music or any music at all at Hogwarts. Lorna shared the magazines she got from her sister and Lily kept a list in her trunk of the albums she would buy when she got home. She walked between classes singing under her breath.

*

By her second summer home from Hogwarts, Lily felt like her only connections to her old world were the records she bought at the Virgin store down the street and her family in their familiar house. Even Petunia seemed weird and alien, her nose always in the air and her expression perpetually pinched. Her parents were still the same but Lily wasn't used to the expression they'd get of almost awe when she talked about some of her classwork. She felt strange and out of place. But not when she listened to her music and mostly not when she was back on Hogwarts Express.

She was singing when she stepped onboard. She walked along until she found the compartment where Nigel and Lorna were already sitting. Anne came in and sat with them, face flushed. She looked almost two inches taller and seemed embarrassed. Lily patted the seat next to window and Anne sat down gratefully. The four of them were talking about their summer when James Potter came rushing in and sat down right next to Lily. "Well, hello, Evans. You look well." He smiled brightly and took a deep breath. "How are every single one of you?"

Anne laughed. "How was your summer?"

James started to answer but Lily said, "You and Sirius Black have done some mischief and you're just hiding out here." She scooted over on her seat.

James frowned. "That is completely untrue. I've spent all summer thinking about you, and Parker over there and you, you brilliant Ravenclaw, you. And Lorna, you're looking much taller. You must be taller."

Lily said, "His name is Nigel." Lorna rolled her eyes.

James nodded. "Nigel, I'd forgotten." He was clearly lying. He clapped his hands on his knees and said, "So, let's talk about Quidditch. Shall we?"

Lorna said, "I don't think I really like Quidditch. It's really hard to follow from the stands, sometimes."

James looks completely confused. "No, it's not."

Lily laughed. "We were talking about the Beatles." She smirked.

"The bugs?" James blinked. His glasses were slightly smudged and Lily wanted to snigger and not tell him why.

Just then Sirius burst into the compartment and said, "James, it's clear." James jumped up and the two of them ran out and down the aisle.

Lily rolled her eyes and said, "Well, there's two who didn't grow at all over the summer."



One night Lily was studying in the common room because Lorna and Nigel weren't nearly as good at Charms as she was and it was just boring waiting for them to catch up. She read and practiced in a quiet corner and ignored the conversations around her. As it got later, the crowd cleared out and she could hear a fourth-year she didn't know very well saying blankly to his friends, "He's just not there. No one can find him."

Lily looked up from her books. The boy looked numb and his friends were just sitting there. Lily felt bad and stared at her book. People disappearing, she'd heard rumors about that. But she didn't get the Daily Prophet and she didn't really know anyone from a wizarding family. She pretended to tap her wand and did that for another few minutes until she heard people coming through the portrait hole.

Of course it was Sirius, James, Remus and Peter. Of course they were being loud and laughing about something completely stupid, their nine-hundred-and-ninth completely juvenile prank. The fourth-year looked suddenly stricken, and he got up quickly, followed by his friends. Lily snorted and turned back to her books.

"Were we being loud?" Remus sounded almost amused.

Lily got her books together and went upstairs to get away from them. She told Nigel all about it, and he said it was all very worrisome. But they couldn't do anything.

It made her feel even more odd when she was home for Christmas again, thinking about the other kids. Maybe they felt even more odd than she did, worrying and scared. She wrote lots of letters to Nigel, Lorna and Anne and ignored Petunia's dark looks as the owls came and went.

Petunia didn't even admit to liking the Beatles any more. She liked movie stars and only listened to the music the boys she liked said they liked. Petunia would literally turn up her nose when Lily talked about school now. It was very very tiresome. And it didn't change at all when she came home at the end of the year. Lily spent even more of her summer in her room listening to her albums.

*

Two months into her fourth year, Nigel put his hand over hers when they were studying Transfiguration in the library and said, "I'd like, er, it would be awfully nice if we could ..."

Lily smiled and almost blushed. "Yes, definitely." Nigel had got very cute in the last few years, he was smart and sweet and never once tried to convince her Quidditch was the best game ever. And he still liked the Beatles best.

She wasn't like Potter and his little minions, but she knew how to sneak out and find places where nobody ever looked. They snuck into an unused classroom and first just held hands and talked. Then they were kissing and it was mostly just wet, but then it got better. Nigel was very hesitant like he expected to be slapped at any moment so Lily pushed her hands under his robe to let him know it was okay.

They'd been making out for two weeks when Lily came to Herbology and there was no sign of Nigel. She walked over to Lorna and said, "Where is he? Is he sick?"

Lorna huffed. "He's in the infirmary but not because he's sick."

"What's wrong?"

Lorna glared over at Potter and his stupid friends. "You should ask them."

Lily stared at them. They were laughing and glancing at her and then laughing again. "Oh, I don't think I'll be asking them anything."

She wasn't immediately sure if it was all four of them or just Sirius and Potter but those were the only two she ever saw hexing people in the halls. So when she snuck into their dormitory while they were sleeping, she only hexed the two of them. And she didn't even laugh the next day when neither of them was in classes. She saw Remus glance at her and then look away quickly. She allowed herself a smirk then.

Nigel was upset when she told him. She said, "Oh, please, you can hex them back, too. I'm just so tired of all of them." She didn't understand any of them, all the kids who grew up with magic. Yet, she felt out of place at home, found herself thinking of her own parents as Muggles, like they were separate from her. But she didn't feel like she fit in at Hogwarts either. She wanted to scream sometimes. She wished she could make her record player work here; it would be worth so much to be able to lock herself in her dormitory with her John Lennon records and scream along to them. She tried to charm it once but it still didn't work.

Nigel broke up with her and started going with some Hufflepuff third-year who Lorna called "Betty the incredibly boring." It wasn't the most creative nickname but it made Lily laugh.

*

She wasn't surprised that she made Prefect, though she wouldn't admit it to anyone and blushed when Anne said she was just the right girl for it. She was completely surprised that Remus Lupin was the other fifth-year Prefect from Gryffindor.

She spent a good ten minutes imagining Potter's face when he got detention every single night and had to miss Quidditch practice. Such a beautiful thing. She sang "Paperback Writer" under her breath with glee the first time she saw him on the Express.

She hated the way Remus always looked the other way when it came to his friends. He wasn't so bad when he was away from them. She could actually talk to him and not have it just be about classes, Quidditch, or his friends.

They were patrolling the corridors before Christmas, looking for people sneaking around. Lily walked slightly ahead because she thought if they ran into his damn friends, she would give them detention before he could warn them. After an hour, Remus tugged on her sleeve and said, "James and Sirius are actually back in the tower. If you were hoping to find them." He almost smiled and leaned against the wall.

"I don't believe that." He was probably telling the truth, though, so she stopped, too.

"They do study occasionally."

"Not according to their very tiresome and loud conversations at every meal."

"Well." Remus shrugged. "It's not necessarily for a class." He was still almost smiling. He looked very tired. He clapped his hands and stood up straight. "So, as you and I should probably study for our classes, should we head back?"

"Fine." She was amused, really, but she tried not to show it.

She was humming without realizing it when Remus said, "You always do that."

She glanced over at him. He said, "You hum and you sing quietly. It's, er, very you."

"Well, my radio never works here." It wasn't an actual answer, but she was a little embarrassed.

Remus said, "No, it's not, you shouldn't feel sorry. It's funny, you and Lorna and Anne, you all have your little quirks."

"You mean, things we do that show we come from Muggle families?" She said it more sharply than she meant.

"You have your music and Lorna uses that foul smelling stuff on her nails and Anne does that thing to her hair," Remus twirled his fingers like Anne's permed hair.

"We try and try so we don't stand out. Never works, does it?"

Remus shrugged. "Do you want it to be? It's not like who you are, your family, it's not a secret. It's just who you are."

"But we all try, though. We want to fit in." She took a deep breath. "Oh, forget it, we don't at all, anyway. You suss us out before we even open our mouths."

"We're wily and clever." Remus made a face and she couldn't help laughing.

"At least you're nice. It seems like some of the other students feel very strongly that we shouldn't even remember where we came from." She frowned and started walking again.

"I think most of them don't care. Really. It's not like we all look down on Muggles." He was frowning, then, too, like he knew the ones who'd cared felt it was very very important. And not in a way that made Lily feel safe talking about her family with that lot.

"Yes, I'm very sure that, say, Sirius wouldn't even think twice about bringing me home to meet his old and storied family. Isn't that how his brother describes them?"

"Well, Regulus." Remus rolled his eyes. "Given how much Sirius enjoys taking the piss out of his mother, he'd be thrilled to bring you home. If he were going to do something like that." Another slight frown and this time Lily couldn't guess what Remus was thinking about.

"Oh, his nine-hundred-and-ninth argument with his mother, I suppose."

Remus snorted. "You underestimate Sirius."

"Oh, do I?"

"Sirius's nine-hundred-and-ninth argument with his mother was probably some time around when he was eleven."

She laughed again. But Remus's smile looked a little forced so she changed the subject quickly. She had nine-hundred-and-nine things to read and essays to write.

*

Lily had staked out her favorite library table for doing her Potions homework. She didn't think it was possible for every year to get harder, but it always did. She tried not to think about next year, her seventh year. She needed to concentrate on the despicably complicated assignment in front of her. If only Lorna or Anne had decided to take Potions, she wouldn't be sitting here alone. She rubbed her forehead and gave up.

Petunia had written her. It was the oddest thing. They'd had another summer of ignoring each other, another summer where Petunia made sure Lily felt even more out of place than she had the summers before. But this morning, there had been an owl and here in her hands was a two-page note written on notebook paper with a purple pen from her sister.

She read it for the fourth time, wondering why Petunia out of the blue decided to tell her sister about the boys she'd met, how school was going and the new neighbors. Naturally, when she wanted to be alone, James Potter sat down right across from her and tapped her abandoned parchment, saying, "Hullo, Evans."

"I'm studying." She didn't look up.

"No, you're taking a break." His quill tapped her letter again. "Letter from home?"

"From my sister." She was too confused to maintain her annoyance. He wasn't even provoking her. "She hasn't written me since first year and now she writes. It's so odd."

"Maybe she wants you to do something for her." James was slumped down in his chair, hands crossed over his waist.

"That's a cynical thought." Maybe it was true. She folded up the letter and put it back in her robe. "Now my break is over."

"Oh, you deserve a longer one. Let's talk about something else."

Lily pulled her homework closer. "Let's not." James seemed oddly deflated away from his friends, or maybe just in that quiet mood he'd been in all month. She couldn't maintain her annoyance and she couldn't think of reasons to keep up their usual arguments. So it was a weak rejoinder.

"Oh, come on. So, Remus tells me you like bugs." James leaned forward and grinned.

"Bugs?" She pressed her lips together so she didn't laugh. Madam Pince would kick them out if they got loud.

"Beetles?" He raised an eyebrow.

"They're a group. Not the bugs. I don't like bugs. I like the Beatles." She sighed and wrote it out on the top of her homework. "See? Beat as in the beat of a drum."

"They make music." James nodded. "Well, that's good, because a fondness for bugs would have been very odd. And you're many things, but I hadn't thought you were, er, odd."

She was trying to think of a reply to that when Sirius sat down next to James. She was sure she saw James flinch but she couldn't have. Sirius, too, looked deflated, almost sad. More than nine-hundred-and-nine arguments with his mother, she thought. Then, because she was just like that, she was singing in her head: 'mother, you had me, but I never had you.' She closed her eyes and counted to ten.

Sirius said, "You're doing that Potions essay?"

"Yes, and I'm almost done so there's no need to tell me how you already finished it."

Sirius shrugged and glanced at the parchment. "Fine." He crossed his arms and glanced at James, then back at Lily. "But if you switched that third and fourth step, you'd have a stronger solution."

She looked down and realized he was right. Now that was annoying. She made the switch and erased 'the Beatles' from the top of her parchment. She said, "So, I've been wondering, what do your parents do?"

"Do? Like for money?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

"Because I don't know what wizards and witches do. I remember all the career counseling, but it's still. It seems like you work for the ministry or you do, what, exactly?"

James cocked his head, still not looking at Sirius. He said, "My grandfather invented a charm for brooms, made a pot of money off it, selling it to the Quidditch broom makers and such. And my father, er, works for the Ministry."

"What does your mother do?"

"She teaches small children, or used to. Before that she worked for the Ministry. When she first got out of Hogwarts." James glanced at Sirius. "Really, my parents could lead the lives of the idle rich, but they say they'd both get bored."

Sirius didn't say anything. He was tracing some pattern on the table with his finger, over and over again. He looked sulky and young. She felt an odd burst of pity for him. She couldn't remember ever seeing the two of them like this, so awkward with each other. She turned to him and said, "What do your parents do?"

"Idle rich." Sirius frowned. "We made our money so long ago, I don't even know where it came from. It's just there, everywhere. My mother spends her day gossiping and punishing house-elves, my father spends his days meddling at the Ministry. It's not exactly a career."

"Not one I'll get with my N.E.W.T.s." She grinned. Sirius smiled back. "So, I guess it's the ministry or inventing things. You'd think there would be more variety. What do you two plan to do?"

Sirius shrugged. James looked at the table. Lily could feel the letter from Petunia in her pocket, the corner of it against her thigh. She had another burst of something in her chest, not pity but empathy. She could almost see herself floating above the table, looking down at the three of them, everyone tied in knots over things she would never know, things she wouldn't understand. She felt self-centered and small. Sixteen years it took her to realize that there were entire worlds, other people, she'd never understand completely. She touched Petunia's letter and found herself about to start humming "Eleanor Rigby."

She shook her head and said, "So. No career plans, then?"

Sirius said, "I was thinking of being headmaster. Here at Hogwarts." He smirked. "I have a great-great-grandfather who did that. I'd be quite good, I think." Lily thought it was a pretty weak joke and she saw James wince almost. So she laughed like it was funny.

Sirius looked over his shoulder and then down at the table. He nudged James and said, "Should we go?"

James shrugged for the nine-hundred-and-ninth time and then took a deep breath. He stood up. "Okay, then. We should go." He tapped the table and didn't look at either of them. Entire dramas, Lily though, happening all around her and she never noticed. Never really looked for them.

The two of them walked away quickly and she turned around to watch them leave. James had looked back for just a moment and she thought, just maybe, he did look a little like John Lennon.

She scrounged notebook paper and wrote Petunia back. Nice and long. Petunia didn't answer and she seemed a little put off that summer when Lily tried to bring up the boys she'd mentioned back then.

*

Towards the end of summer, she got the letter telling her she'd been named Head Girl. She wasn't surprised again, and she didn't intend to tell anyone that either.

The next day brought a gray owl to her window, tapping until she pushed it open. It wasn't from Hogwarts, and it wasn't any of her friends, she knew all those owls. The owl held out its leg and she took the parchment. From James Potter, of all people.

Petunia poked her head in through the open door. "Is that an owl? Who's that from? One of your friends from school?"

"Hardly a friend," Lily said and went back to reading the letter. "They've named him Head Boy. Unbelievable."

"Who's Head Boy?" Petunia still hadn't stepped all the way into the room.

"James Potter. He's completely wrong for the job. All about mischief and pranks and he's hardly, well. I wouldn't have chosen him."

"Mental, is he?" Petunia was now standing in the doorway.

"Well, yes. Brilliant, but mental is a good description. I can't believe he'll be a good Head Boy." She sighed. "And he wants to have lunch. In London, before school starts."

Petunia sniffed. "He fancies you."

Lily shrugged. "Well, yes. I've gotten that impression." She looked up and Petunia was gone.

She wrote James back and they agreed to meet a three days before school started. She chose the restaurant.

He was late. She sat at the little cafe and checked her watch for the tenth time. Just when she was about to decide the whole thing had been a prank, James walked up, looking flustered and lost. She waved and didn't let herself smile. James grinned and walked faster towards her.

"I got lost. All those Muggle trains and paying things." He opened the menu. "What's good here?"

"It's all fine." She only knew the place because her father had taken her there once when he was trying to buy tickets to see Wings. She'd missed the concert, she was back at Hogwarts by then. He'd written her a long letter about how wonderful it had been. Lily didn't think she really liked Wings at all. Silly love songs, indeed.

James was quiet until their food arrived. He took out his wallet and said, "Right, I'm sorry, but if you could figure out how much I owe and just take it? Muggle money, you know." He shrugged and smiled, trying to look charming.

She was afraid it was working. She said, "So you wanted to talk about this year. And our responsibilities."

James nodded. "Yes. Because it's serious and important."

"Are you joking?" She pushed at her chips.

"Not at all." He blinked and looked up from his food. He always kept his hair so unkempt.

"Well, then, let's talk." She pulled his wallet closer and pulled out the pound notes to pay for his portion. They had a good talk and she was surprised. He had actually thought about things at the school and the other prefects. He even had good ideas.

After two hours, he reached across the table and held her wrist for a moment. He turned her watch towards him. "Oh, I need to go. I have to meet Sirius. At some place which I've written down, but will surely get lost trying to find."

"Does Sirius live in London?"

James grinned. "When he lived at home with his family, yes, it was around here somewhere, then he lived with us and now he has a lovely place of his own. Which he says is the suburbs and not London proper, but that's Sirius."

Lily stood up and added another few pounds to the tip for all the time they'd been sitting there. She held her purse and thought, 'she's leaving home.' She had to stop thinking of everything like Beatles' songs. It felt childish, after all their talk. She said, "Sirius left home? I didn't know that."

"Last year. He hates his family, you know, the whole lot of them. So, he ran away to my house. And then he got a pot of money from his uncle and bought his own." James awkwardly patted Lily's arm. He stepped back. "Anyway, I'll see you on the Express, right?"

She smiled. She couldn't help herself. "Yes."

"You're looking forward to it, aren't you?" James leaned forward and winked at her.

She meant to say "no," and perhaps, "Not at all, you arrogant prat," but instead she just kept smiling and waved as he walked away.

School was wonderful in the most horrible way. She kept thinking she didn't know what she'd do when she didn't have Hogwarts. She was grateful that after the first two days she was buried in schoolwork and Head Girl duties and didn't have time to think.

She still studied in the library with Anne and Lorna. She was looking up something for a charms essay when Peter walked by the three of them, saying "Hey, Lorna," quickly before ducking his head and walking faster.

Lorna said, "He keeps asking you out, you know?"

Lily didn't look up. "Peter's never asked me out."

"I mean James." Lorna reached over and pulled Lily's book away. Lily glared.

Anne twirled her quill. "You should, you know. He's very attractive, he really seems have to grown up, too."

Lily said, "He hasn't grown up enough. Maybe when he's thirty." She pulled her book back. "Maybe when he's forty."

"You like him," Lorna said smugly.

Lily thought she did not. And it was distracting so she counted to ten. She still couldn't think about her charms essay properly, especially with Lorna singing "Lily loves James, yeah, yeah, yeah," under her breath. Lily much preferred the original words. After two minutes, she gathered up her books and left. She smirked at both of them as she left and couldn't stop humming that damnable song.

Two days later, James sat down next to her while she was studying in the common room. She liked to study there sometimes, to make sure that the prefects weren't riding roughshod over the first-years. James was humming, but she didn't recognize the song. She made no sign that she'd noticed him.

James said, "I was thinking of making an aging potion."

"I think that would be a fabulous idea." Lily glanced over at him. He really was almost attractive. She liked his glasses. And he hadn't hexed anyone recently that she'd seen. She thought suddenly of his fingers on her wrist at the café in London. She looked back at her book.

"Because then I'd be thirty. I hear that's the magic number."

"Well, how wonderful to know my friends are reporting to you behind my back." Lily frowned.

"No, no, I was eavesdropping. Well, not me, actually, but one of my, er, spies." James laid his head on her book and smiled. It shouldn't have been winning. She tried to be annoyed.

"You're spying on me? That's just wrong."

"Well, make it right. Go out with me. Come with me somewhere, let me take you for a ride on my broom, or we can just study quietly in a tiny alcove. Honestly, I think you're wonderful." He sat up and clasped his hands in his lap. "I've always thought you were pretty wonderful."

He was making a visible effort to sit still. It was almost funny. She blinked and said, "I really dislike flying on brooms."

He twitched and then he smiled. "But something else?"

"Alright." She closed her books. "Should we do it now?"

"Yes, yes, right now." He sprang up and grabbed her hand. "Let's go somewhere." She was laughing as he pulled her through the portrait hole.


Dating James meant dating his friends. Which was mostly fine with Lily, they weren't bad people at all. But they talked in code and had stupid nicknames for each other and kept secrets from her. She hated the secrets the most. It wasn't just the jokes and looks she didn't get, it was knowing that it was more than years and years of stories she had missed. She didn't regret not being there for the much referred to 'incident where Snape discovered how the table really felt.' It was the incidents they didn't even name and the times they just disappeared.

She wanted to complain to Lorna and Anne, but she didn't feel comfortable talking about secrets to anyone. It wasn't a good time for it. She was sure that James's secrets weren't like that.

Part of being Head Girl was sitting with students when they got bad news. She hadn't thought about that when she was making her plans for what she would do for the school. She patted their hands and got their things and talked to their professors about getting homework. She felt mostly useless.

She hated herself for sometimes liking that those times were the ones that James didn't talk about to anyone but her. It was her secret, the part of him she had and not Sirius, Remus and Peter. She was pretty sure he talked to them about everything else they did.

One night after a day they sat with three brothers who had lost a sister, both parents and their uncle, they were sitting in some forgotten corridor that James had taken her to on her first date, and he was playing with her hair. They hadn't said anything since after dinner. James sighed and said, "What's your favorite color?"

"My favorite color?" She rested her head on her knees. They should patrol or check on the lower years or do something. They had classwork. "My favorite color is green. What's yours?"

"Green. We're perfectly matched." He stroked her hair and then kissed the back of her head.

Which was silly to say. She shouldn't let him get away with it. She stood up and pulled him up to stand next to her. "We have things to do."

"You always say that." James sighed and straightened his robes.

"I do, because it's true." She walked down towards the stairs. He reached for her hand and she clasped his hand tight.


She brought James home over the Christmas holidays in her seventh year. It was just for a day because James had his family to see, too. He came in the morning and she took him back to her bedroom. He flopped on the bed and waved his wand to lock the door. "Why do that? It has a lock, you know."

"I don't trust your sister." He sat up and looked around. "So those're your Beatles, I take it?"

She ran her fingers over the posters she hadn't changed since she was eleven. "Yes."

"So, play some for me. I really want to hear them." He looked at the posters like they might start singing with a wave of her wand. She almost rolled her eyes.

She bent down to look through her albums. She was pretty sure that nothing with Yoko Ono singing would be an appropriate introduction. After a few minutes, she went with the Red album. Start with the hits, she thought. She stood up and took the cover off the record player. "So this is a record player. There's a needle and the point is, you can't jump around because the needle will skip and scratch my record and it won't play. So don't jump or throw things or drop heavy things on the floor or even bounce too much on the bed, okay?"

James nodded like he'd been scolded. He watched her put the album down and then placed the needle on the edge. She turned the music up and then sat down next to him on her bed. He turned his head towards the speakers. "So, which one is your favorite?"

She pointed at the poster taped to the ceiling. "Okay, the one with glasses? That's John Lennon. He's my favorite. And the one next to him is called Paul McCartney, they wrote most of the songs. And that one, that's George Harrison and that one is called Ringo Starr."

"Were they all mates? Did they meet at school?" James was looking at her now, his hand on her stomach.

"Sort of. They were all good friends until they weren't. They broke up."

James slipped his hand under her jumper. "Why did they break up? When was that?"

"Before I even came to Hogwarts, silly." She grinned. "They broke up, well, they were insanely famous. They couldn't go anywhere without being chased by loads of screaming girls. They stopped performing live at all, because no one could hear them over the screams. And really, okay, Petunia would say it was all Yoko's fault --"

"Who's Yoko?"

"John's second wife. I can show you a picture --" She started to get up but James tugged her down. He kissed her neck.

"Stay. I don't need pictures." He was trying to get under her bra. She held his wrist so he stopped.

"Are you listening?"

"To the music and to you." He nodded again. "So it wasn't Yoko's fault because Petunia is never right."

"It wasn't. I think, it was all so crazy, they were just mental from the pressure, all four of them. And it's really sad, when you think about it, because the four of them they lived through this experience, they were more famous than Jesus." She laughed. "But they were all rich and famous and nuts. So they broke up and weren't really friends anymore. I think it's sad."

James shuffled closer, moved his leg over hers. "It is sad." He rested his head on her shoulder. "I like your Beatles. It's nice."

"Hmmmmm, these are the early hits. They got even better, you know."

James was the third man she ever saw naked, after John Lennon on the album cover and Severus Snape in their fourth year after some prank of James and Sirius's. She liked James best of the three.

He stayed for dinner. Petunia kept sniffing when James didn't know things like shows on television and movies she liked. Lily thought Petunia was being completely rude, but she was just tired of fighting about it. Her parents liked James, thought he was nice, that was what was important.

Before she could blink it seemed, the year was over, her N.E.W.T.s done and she was back on the Express for the last time. Her last time, going away from home, going home.

When she stepped on, she was singing "and in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take." A cliche, she was sure, but it seemed right. So she walked up and down the carriages, with no authority to give out detention, but her hand on her wand, just in case. Head Girl to the end, she thought, and laughed.

Next week, she would owl Lorna and Anne and they would all meet for lunch. They had to keep in touch. She walked past some first-year complaining to his friend about his mother having another baby. Lily touched her belly and thought, someday, she'd have a baby, too, drop her off at the Express. Someday.

She walked to the end and saw Sirius and Remus, smiled, the song in her head shifted to "boy, you're gonna carry that weight a long time." She walked faster until James grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into their compartment.

*

When they'd had their own place for a month, Lily invited James's "awful friends" who she actually really liked over for dinner. She cooked and used the plates her parents had given them. After, sitting in the tiny living room, Remus said, "You have a stereo, you could play your music."

She was sitting on James's lap because they didn't have enough chairs. James could have afforded better, but they'd settled for small. She said, "You don't want to listen, you'll all talk over it. You should truly listen."

Peter said, "You don't mean that at all. You want to play it. You know you want to."

She shrugged and pushed herself up. While she was looking for the right album, James was going on at length about the delicacy required to make sure the record player didn't skip. Sirius was looking skeptical. "He's not kidding," she said. "If you start jumping up and down, it will skip and my records might get scratched and I'll be very annoyed at you."

Once the record started playing, James pulled her back on his lap. He whispered in her ear, "They'd be amazed what you can do while a record is playing if you're just very careful."

After a few songs, Sirius had fallen asleep, his head on Remus's shoulder. Remus said, "Well, Sirius doesn't like it, but I think you sing nicer than them, Lily."

*

Petunia called her out of the blue when John Lennon was shot. Lily was home, Harry in her arms while she watched the television, stunned. Petunia said, "Oh, Lily, Lily. I can't believe it."

"Oh, Petunia, I know. I can't believe he's dead. Someone shot him." Lily dabbed at her eyes and rested Harry in her lap. He was almost asleep but Lily had been crying and he was being fussy. She said, "I just can't believe it."

"Vernon says all Americans have guns and just shoot and shoot. But, John Lennon!"

Vernon, Lily thought. Petunia's husband. They hadn't been invited to the wedding. They'd just received an announcement. And her nephew, the one she'd never seen. "Oh, Petunia, it's impossible. It just can't be happening." Lily blew her nose in a tissue. "How's, how's Dudley?"

"Oh." Petunia made a wet noise. "He's wonderful. He's adorable and smart." Petunia paused. "How's Harry?"

"Perfect, of course." Lily wanted to laugh but on the television screen there was a picture of John Lennon with Yoko and Sean. "Oh, Petunia, his little boy. And he was just shot. Just, why would anyone kill John Lennon?"

"It's insane." Lily heard a baby crying in the background. Dudley. Dudley wasn't the name Lily would have chosen for her son if her last name were Dursley. But she tried to think of something to say, something besides just crying because she hadn't talked to Petunia in so long.

Then James came in and saw her crying. He sunk down next to her and said, "Are you okay? What's happened?"

She said to Petunia, "James is home, I have to go. I love you, dear, I'll call soon!" Petunia mumbled something like of course and hung up. Lily picked up Harry and held him tight. She said to James, "John Lennon was shot and killed. He's dead."

James frowned. She hated him. "The Beatle fellow? He was shot." James looked at the television. "Oh, that's awful." He didn't sound very upset.

She pushed him off the couch with her leg. "Oh, just go. Make yourself dinner and leave me alone." He got up quickly but she would have sworn she saw him roll his eyes.

After he'd left, she lifted Harry up and kissed his nose. She turned him around so he could see the television. She said, "Your stupid father. He'd be sobbing into his jacket if it were some Quidditch player. That's John Lennon, Harry. He was just amazing." It was stupid, but she wished she could just Apparate to New York City, leave flowers at the park like all the people on television. She wanted people to cry with. John Lennon, he was so young.

She put Harry to sleep and forgot the next day to call Petunia.

She didn't know it would be the last time they talked.

She knew she lived in dark times. Peter had once told her of something Dumbledore said: "Every generation thinks they live in the end of days. That times are so dark and no one will survive. Your generation, though, you just might be correct." But Lily didn't believe that. She knew dark times. Her mother had been the third of four children before the War, and an only child after. Two brothers dead in France, her younger sister dead in the Blitz. But Lily's mother survived. She lived to have children of her own, see her grandchildren, even if only briefly.

Lily knew about the prophecy. But she didn't believe she'd die. Prophecies reduced people to womb, egg and sperm. She wasn't some chess piece.

She screamed her throat raw when she was eight at a football match and was hoarse for a week. She could identify which Beatle was singing on every single song. She hated peas and once threw up when she accidentally ate some mixed in with her mashed potatoes. She pushed James away the third time they had sex and told him this time he had to make sure she enjoyed it, too. She regretted that she'd only had sex with James before she got married. She once had a very improper and erotic dream about Sirius. She was lazy about washing up. She liked soap that smelled like jasmine and hated soap that smelled like lavender.

She wasn't some mother in a prophecy; she was a person, too much to be just the mother of someone.

She didn't think she would die. She thought she'd have more children, maybe two little girls. She imagined herself telling Harry to be nice to his sisters. She pictured herself as a grandmother, with little kids who looked like James and her, coming home from Hogwarts, making mischief. She thought she'd live longer than John Lennon until ten minutes before she died.

The last time she sang to Harry, she didn't know it was the last time. James couldn't get Harry to go to sleep and he handed her their squirming son saying, "He always goes to sleep when you do it."

She kissed Harry's forehead and sang the first song that came into her head. "Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise."

THE END

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