Just Like Acid Pops by SugarQuills
A/N: So, it's been a while. Inspiration struck, finally. Bear with me through all the jumps in time - these first few chapters are just some snippets leading up to 7th year that I wanted to include both as a way to build up to their final year, as well as in order to reveal certain events or relationships between characters - I promise this is the random summer snippet, and then, next chapter, Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts, here they come.
Earlier in the day, the day Sirius arrives at the Potters’ doorstep.
“Lily, there’s a boy at the door.”
Lily didn’t have to look up from her book to recognize Petunia’s shrill voice. She stood above Lily, who was splayed out on her stomach in the Evans’ small backyard, blades of grass tickling her toes and staining her bare knees, red hair glinting copper in the June sun.
“Lily, didn’t you hear me?” Petunia said, tapping her silver kitten heels impatiently next to Lily’s face.
“Yeah, there’s a boy at the door,” Lily replied, still immersed in her book.
“Yes, Lily, at the door.”
“Aren’t you going to get it?”
“Well, I’m not either.”
“But you might want to.”
“Lily, you really might want to get the door. Lily!”
Petunia kicked aside Lily’s book, narrowing her eyes when she saw the cover.
“You shouldn’t be reading that out here,” she said disapprovingly.
Lily grabbed it and clutched it protectively to her chest.
“And why not?” she asked, shielding her face from the sun with one hand as she squinted up at her sister.
“Because we’re in broad daylight and I don’t want the neighbors to know I’m related to a freak,” Petunia sneered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Lily, who by now was used to such snide insults, merely rolled her eyes.
“Whatever. Would you go away? If you stick around too much, my freakishness may rub off on you.”
“Always concerned for my welfare, aren’t you, Lily.”
“Anything for my dearest sister,” Lily replied with mock sweetness. “You should go inside. I’m sure the heat must be ruining your hair.”
“For your information, I’ve just sprayed it with my new humidity-resistant hairspray.”
“I don’t think it’s working.”
“It’s working fine, thank you.”
“I dunno…looking a bit poofy to me.”
“It’s called volume. Not all of us have thin carrot hair.”
Lily groaned. “Why not?”
“Because there’s a boy at the door!”
“I’m sure he’s gone by now.”
“I’m sure he’s not. He’s been there all morning.”
“In front of our house? Why?” Lily asked, suddenly interested.
“How am I supposed to know? He’s just sitting there.”
“So can you go out there and see what he wants?”
“Why can’t you?”
“Because he’s…you know…”
“No, I don’t.”
Petunia glanced around cautiously before leaning in as close as she dared, carefully avoiding the book in Lily’s hand.
“Because he’s like you.”
Lily snickered. “I suppose that explains why you won’t talk to him.”
“No,” Petunia said, shaking her head impatiently. “He’s like you.”
“Oh!” Lily said, pleasantly surprised as she understood, and also rather amused at Petunia’s avoidance of the word. “You mean he’s a wiz-”
“Shhh!” Petunia interrupted hastily, looking around to make sure all their neighbors were out of earshot. “Yes. He is.”
“How do you know?”
“I saw his, erm, y’know. His…thing.”
“You saw his thing?” Lily shrieked, sitting up and covering her mouth as she shook with gleeful laughter.
“No! No, no, not that thing!” Petunia cried, horrified.
“Well, that’s disappointing,” Lily said, amusement dancing in her eyes.
“Will you just talk to him now?”
“What did he look like?” Lily asked, wondering what wizard could possibly be at her doorstep.
“I don’t know. Black hair, tall…trouble, if you ask me.”
“Gee, thanks, Petunia. I know exactly who you’re talking about.”
“Stop being so difficult, Lily. I’m going out with Vernon. That boy better not still be here when I get back.”
Petunia’s heels clicked down the patio towards the gate at the side yard, which she swung open and disappeared through in an instant. A minute later, Lily heard a loud giggle and the squeal of tires, signaling the departure of her horse-faced sister and the corresponding pork-faced beau.
Sighing, Lily dragged herself to her feet, brushing grass from her clothes and placing Transfiguration for Squibs carefully on the patio table. She meandered through the family room, the kitchen, and the parlor, making a beeline for the large front windows. Sure enough, sitting on the porch steps was a very familiar face. Lily threw open the front door in surprise.
Sirius Black whipped around, and, spotting Lily and her bewildered expression, grinned widely.
“What’re you doing here?”
“Just in the neighborhood…thought I’d pop by.”
“There’s a doorbell, you know. You didn’t have to sit out on the porch all morning.”
Sirius looked sheepish. “I couldn’t decide if seeing you was a good idea or not,” he admitted.
“Why? What’s wrong with me?” Lily asked, slightly offended.
“No, no. Not you. It’s more about…well, never mind. Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
Lily opened the door a little wider and stood aside. Sirius picked up a dirty brown rucksack from the porch steps and swung it over his right shoulder before entering the Evans household. Lily’s nose crinkled at the cloud of dirt he brought in with him.
“Have you been living in a sewer? Honestly, Black, you smell like rat droppings.”
“Thanks, Evans. Always know how to cheer me up, you do.”
“You want a wash or something?”
“Don’t look so surprised, Black. I do know how to be a good hostess.”
“Thanks for the offer Evans, but I haven’t got a change of clothes.”
Lily surveyed his dirt-caked apparel: worn black combat boots, a ripped pair of jeans, and a baggy black t-shirt with the Puddlemere United logo emblazoned on the front.
She shrugged. “I’ve got one of Petunia’s old pink frocks, if you like.”
“That sounds swell, but I think I’ll settle for a cup of tea or something.”
“Suit yourself. But before you spread that delightful odor to the rest of the house…” Lily pointed her wand at Sirius and said firmly, “Tergeo!”
In an instant, the mud vanished from his clothes and face.
“Not bad,” Sirius said appreciatively.
Lily moved him to the kitchen and sat him down on a stool opposite the counter, where she poured him a cup of the tea that Petunia had made in the morning. He fiddled with the handle of the cup for a minute before finally taking a sip.
“Good tea, Evans,” he said.
“Ah, and where is this Petunia, the lovely sister I hear so little about?”
“Gone with her pig of a boyfriend, Vernon,” Lily replied, rolling her eyes.
“And your parents? They’re out as well?”
“Planning on murdering me, Black? Removing all witnesses?”
“You’re too sharp for me, Evans.”
Lily narrowed her eyes. “Sirius.”
He caught her gaze and sighed.
She softened her tone. “Sirius, what are you doing here?”
Sirius opened his mouth, hesitated, and closed it again. He abruptly set down his tea and pushed the stool back, beginning to stand.
“This was probably a mistake,” he said, shaking his head. “I should go.”
“Sirius, sit down.”
His jaw tightened slightly, but he didn’t move.
Lily tried again. “Look, you don’t have to tell me anything. Just sit. Eat something. You look starved. Bread and jam? Simple, but incredibly effective.” She waggled her eyebrows at him.
After a pause, Sirius reluctantly resumed his seat on the wicker stool.
“That’s what I thought,” Lily said smugly.
He rolled his eyes but accepted the plate she pushed over to him. As he ate, Lily turned on the television to a old re-run of Coronation Street, one of Petunia’s favorite soaps. Grunting in disapproval, Sirius snagged the remote from her and flipped through channels with the ease of a Muggle until he found a local news network.
“Dana Sherrington, 17, reported missing last Friday, was found dead this morning three miles from her home,” the newswoman said, as pictures of a smiling blond girl flashed across the screen. “Medical reports show serious head trauma, several slashes across the face, and two bizarre puncture wounds on the wrist. Local police claim the assault mirrors many recent attacks in and around London, but investigators remain unable to find the culprit of these serial murders.”
“Greyback,” Sirius muttered darkly.
He didn’t protest when Lily changed the channel back to the mindless soap network. They watched in silence as a Janet appeared at a Ken’s door, begging him to take her back.
“Muggles and their damn tellies,” Sirius said, shaking his head at the drama that was unfolding onscreen.
Lily snickered. “Tell Petunia that.”
Sirius took another sip of tea.
“I left home,” he offered quite suddenly.
Lily quickly muted the TV with a raised eyebrow. “You mean you ran away?”
“’Bout two weeks ago.”
“So you have been living in sewers, then,” she exclaimed, horrified.
Sirius grinned a little. “Hardly, Evans. I’ve been staying with my Uncle Alphard, the only sane one in my family…although the rest don’t set the bar very high.”
“He lives nearby?” Lily inquired.
“About a twenty minute walk from your place, I reckon,” Sirius replied. Then, after a moment, “Almost as close as Snape’s.”
Lily’s eyes snapped to his with disapproval. “What did you do, Black?”
“As if I would ever, Evans!” Sirius grinned. He looked around, fiddled with the lazy frill of the nearby window curtain, then said, “You know, I can’t imagine Snape growing up in a place like this.”
Lily stared at the same frilly fabric. “He didn’t.”
Spinner’s End, though nearby, was like a different world. Lily remembered noting, whenever she had met Sev at their childhood playground, that her wiry friend always had a touch of soot on him, as if the industrial air of his neighborhood clung to him in rebellion when he neared Lily’s suburban hamlet.
“So…why’d you do it? Run away, I mean,” Lily asked cautiously, aware that she was pushing the bounds of their newly-formed friendship.
Sirius, also very aware of this fact, regarded her with a ponderous expression. “You know, Evans,” he finally said, “sometimes you ask too many questions.”
Lily understood that this meant he didn’t want to tell her, so she refrained from pressing the matter. Instead, she refilled his tea.
“So why are you so bloody dirty, anyway?”
“Most girls don’t complain about that.” Sirius winked.
“Yuck, Black. You’re jeopardizing our blossoming friendship with vulgarity. But seriously, doesn’t your uncle have a bathroom?”
“I actually left his place two days ago,” Sirius admitted. Then, anticipating her question, “He had things to take care of.”
Lily raised an eyebrow at his evasiveness.
“So then you lived in a gutter, till today, when you decided to pop by the Evans’ for some tea.” Lily’s brow was furrowed with genuine confusion, and she hoped Sirius would understand that she wasn’t trying to be too unfriendly.
“Merlin, it sounds right bizarre when you put it like that.”
“I don’t mind,” Lily said quickly. “It’s actually quite nice to see a familiar face. I’ve been around strictly Muggles for long enough that I was beginning to think that I had just dreamed up the whole magic thing. I’m just surprised to see you, is all.”
“I wasn’t living in a gutter,” Sirius finally explained. “I was just bumming around that park a few streets over, when I remembered that you live here. And who could pass that up, eh, Evans?”
Lily let out a half-exasperated, half-amused snort, then, regarding him almost fondly, said, “I’m glad you came. But now what?”
“I’m actually heading to the Potters’ today.” Sirius’s eyebrows rose slightly, as if judging her reaction.
“Want me to pass along a love letter?”
Lily rolled her eyes. “I see your arsenal of jibes has greatly expanded, Black.”
“Why fix what ain’t broke, Evans?”
“Why didn’t you go there straight from your uncle’s? From what I gather, the Potters love you…the poor chaps.”
“I suppose I was sulking a bit. James’s family is right wonderful, the lucky bastard. Mine, not so much.”
It was this spontaneous candor that reminded Lily why she’d always wanted to be friends with Sirius Black. Then, his eyes were quickly back on Janet and Ken on Coronation Street. Lily mimicked him, and they spent the afternoon just like that.
Finally, when dusk began to settle, Sirius thanked Lily by aggressively tousling her hair (much to her chagrin) and promising he would give James a “wet, sloppy one” for her; he then picked up his rucksack, gave her a wink, turned on his heel, and disappeared instantly into thin air.
Lily was left to look around the room, still flabbergasted by the events of the day. Later that night, as she lay splayed out on her stomach in her small bed, moonlight filtering through her window to illuminate the pages of Transfiguration for Squibs, it quite suddenly occurred to her that giving James Potter a “wet, sloppy one” might not be the worst thing in the world.