Chapter 3: The Book
It was late when Lily arrived home. Her mother remonstrated with her, but Lily pointed out she had no homework or chores to do, so what was the point in staying home?
"But where have you been all this time?'
'Down by the river, with a friend' She saw Petunia, who was having tea at the table, give a guilty glance at her mother.
Lily glared at her sister. 'Mum you let Petunia stay out all day – she finished school before I did, and she's always out with her friends looking at shop windows or listening to music in the park. I'd – I'd rather do something different, that's all!'
'Well, my friend and I are going to read some old books tomorrow. I like reading, and Petunia doesn't' she said defensively.
This was true, her mother reflected – Lily was somewhat of a bookworm, whereas Petunia couldn't care less about books. She sighed and gave up .She would have liked them to stay together, but there was no forcing it. Anyway, if they were reading, Lily should be Ok – better than the stuntman antics Petunia said she got up to in the playground.
As for the boy, for Petunia had told her who Lily's 'friend' was; he was the epitome of an abused and neglected child. The few times she had seen him, when he was much younger, the wild, hunted look in his eyes spoke more eloquently than the shabby clothes and dark bruises on his pale skin. If Lily befriended him, and had still sought his company after her forced confinement throughout the winter months, then he could not be as bad as Petunia tried to make out. She trusted her younger daughter's judgement more than that of her eldest. Lily had always been able to see the good in everyone, whereas Petunia gave a perfunctory glance and pronounced judgement based mainly on what the person was wearing.
Perhaps she would ask Lily to invite him over; maybe they could help him...
Reading old books... somehow that did not fit the image of a slum kid ... but then he was strange. She remembered what Petunia had said about him, and Lily, and magic. She shook her head – the things they came up with! But a niggling doubt remained at the back of her mind ... Lily was so strange sometimes too.
The two sisters had gone their separate ways since last summer- Petunia attended secondary school now, and had made new friends, had new interests. Some of her friends lived in the neighbourhood, and she was constantly phoning them, or meeting them in the park. She started to refer to Lily as 'my kid sister' when alone with her friends, because it made her feel more grown-up. She realised early on that she couldn't get Lily interested in her new friends, or in window shopping, and so turned the tables on her by telling her 'You're too young to come along'.
Lily did not seem to mind as much as Petunia had hoped – in fact; she seemed only interested in sneaking off to the river with that boy from Spinner's End. Petunia remembered what had happened last summer. She had been very offended when Lily forgave him. They had quarrelled. However, she was wary of confronting him again, so, although she guessed where Lily was going, she did not dare follow her again. Besides, she reminded herself, she had new friends now, - normal ones, not like that Snape freak,- she wouldn't be seen dead with someone who was so badly dressed.
She felt a twinge of curiosity however. Were they doing magic? She pushed the thought from her mind – they were just freaks, both of them!