Disclaimer: It's not owned by me and I'm not making any money, please don't sue me.

Thank you, Char for supporting the twist this chapter presents in my story. I wasn't exactly sure what to make of it, but I just follow my writing wherever it takes me and this is it. Thanks for believing in me. You might want to read this chapter over, cause I added some stuff onto the end of it. Enjoy. Love you.

To my chapter 7 reviewers:

Chloe-Wagner- sorry, hun, but this chapter is a main focus on Lily. I will try to work on the slash for the next one, get you some action.

DARKMEW13- thank you, I'll try. Sorry about the wait on this chapter.

Eizoku- Yeah, I guess it is AU. Sorry about that, but see, I HATE the fifth book and its killing me! I try to forget I ever read it as much as possible. I've read the first four books about thirty times apiece over the many years, but I've only read the fifth one once. I just can't bear it. Therefore, some of the facts in this story will not be in line with book five. Forgive me.

TheSilverLady- I'm bummed that you dislike Lily so much, and now that I think about it, I kind of wish I hadn't done the nicknames thing, but oh well, its too late now. Let me know how I can make Lily better. Thank you for reviewing, I appreciate your opinion!

Silver Sparklze- my love, hope you read up top! Later dear!

Mercds- thank you for reviewing! I love it when people review just cause they liked it, and that you actually highlighted some of the things you liked made it even better! Now I know what I should stick with and what I should ditch.

madkornfan- I love your three word reviews. They always make me laugh!

The Demonic Duo- sorry it took me so long. Hope you like it.

sanami_morris- sorry it took me forever to update. Hopefully this will hold you over until I can write some more.

A.L. Lorraine- hmm…I dunno, I just see Lily and Remus (or at least, the Lily and Remus I picture in my head) as being very compatible people, acquaintance wise. They strike me as an almost "Will and Grace" type of friendship without the obscenity and shallowness and all that other raunchy, outrageous stuff that makes the show above so damn hilarious. And Sirius would definitely tell James and James only, no doubts there. Only here, he hasn't said anything to anyone! Anyways, that's just what I think. Enjoy this chapter.

Bronfelen- Please don't die. I really loved your review, it was very heartening and encouraging. I don't get many reviews like it. Thank you.

Monica-Chan- here you go. This one isn't as dramatic. Enjoy.

Freakyfairy- sorry it took me so long.

Flame Rhiannon- lol. Your reviews crack me up. You remind me of a bouncy person. Are you?

TO the Reviewers of my authors note-

Flame Rhiannon- again. Bouncy. And what do you mean, I ruined your social life? Explain this to me. I'm sure your clarification of the situation is going to be good, I can feel it.

Bronfelen- Yes, you have reviewed before, but I love it when you do. Please enjoy this chapter.

DARKMEW13- that sucks about your computer…I kinda had something like that, I went on vacation this summer and completely lost any and all computer access for three weeks solid. It was stupid.

A.L. Lorraine- forgive me!

Piper of Locksley- Thanks…btw, is your name in anyway involved with Robin of Locksley from Men in Tights?

Chapter 8: Gypsy Joro

"Damn it, I'm fucking bored," Lily wailed, irritable and lonely. She was sitting alone in her dorm room at ten o'clock at night, pouting as she flopped back onto her four poster bed. "Why is it that on a Saturday, of all nights, that moron has to go and get detention? Worse, he drags Remus down with him! Of all the dim-witted, idiotic-" She punctuated her frustration with an enraged growl, mixed with a bit of accidental wandless magic, and she couldn't help but giggle when the empty grate of the fireplace burst into violent flames.

"That's how I feel," Lily stated sourly, eyes dangerously dark. She threw herself off the bed, scowling as she recalled what had happened after her and Remus' talk in the Shack.

She'd tried to get near enough to James so that he could apologize to her and then she could forgive him, but that had been quite difficult seeing as one of her escorts was avoiding the messy haired boy, and the other was trying to find out what was wrong with the werewolf. When Remus had refused any and all coaxing, Sirius had decided that cheering up Remus by blowing up the Gryffindor portrait hole was a perfectly brilliant idea. The Fat Lady, thankfully, had been out visiting her friend Violet, and had not been harmed by the stunt. Thus, following the hazy explosion, Remus and Sirius had been sentenced to caldron cleaning by a very tight-lipped Professor McGonagall.

"Agh! Screw this shit," she decided, standing up purposefully. "I'm going out."

Dressed to kill in a plum, strapless mini dress, accentuated with her favorite, black dragon skin boots up to her thighs, and her lucky black fishnet tights, Lily snatched up her stash, a wad of cash as big as her fist that was close to ten thousand dollars, and tucked it in her boot. With a splash of perfume and a glance at her smoky black eyeliner and blood red lips, Lily picked up her wand and with a simple flick, changed her vivid red hair to a deep, warm chestnut. After performing an invisibility charm on herself, her wand joined her money in her right boot, and she swirled her favorite heavy black cloak around her shoulders, staring into the mirror as it became invisible as well. Hogs Head, here I come.

Sneaking out was no problem, and she scoffed at the simplicity of it as she made her way through the passage to the Shrieking Shack. It was only a short walk from the haunted house to the pub and, her blood tingling with excitement, Lily soon stepped in out of the gusty wind into the noisy tavern, her acid green gaze alight with the thrill of it all.

As the door slammed behind her, a few of the customers glanced her way, some of the regulars giving a wave or a shout of welcome. Smirking, she called out a response, and headed towards the back of the joint, sitting down at the bar. "Hey Ike, how about a tankard of mead?" she called.

"Well I'll be, look what the dog dragged in! If it isn't Gypsy Joro. I haven't seen you since last spring…been travelin?" Ike asked, giving her a toothy grin.

"Nah, not too much traveling, Ike. I spent the summer in France, you know, racking up a reputation," Lily replied, a smug look decorating her features.

"Not much action on the tables tonight," he said, filling up a mug and sliding it to her.

"That's okay, I'm not looking for anything serious. I'm out for a bit of fun tonight."

"In that case, try table five, Gyps, there's a new spitfire in town setting the cards ablazin'." The older man winked at her, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and a thump on the back. "Welcome back, lass."

"It's good to be back, Ike." After draining her tankard, she slowly made her way to table five, stopping regularly to chat with familiar faces. Finally reaching her destination, Lily scraped up a chair and straddled it, joining the table. Looking around, she spotted Dirk, Skinner, and Jack, all regulars and good friends.

"Gypsy! Shoot, sweetheart, where you been?" Skinner demanded, slapping his cards down and grabbing her in a bear hug.

"Around the block, sugar. It's a wonder you never come to see me. Why, I do believe your wife banned you from these here tables, Skin, if I'm not mistaken," she crowed, shooting him a lusty wink. "How is Ellen?"

"Good, good. Complains that you never come to dinner, but she'll live. I, ah, came into some money this summer, sos she said I could come on down here two nights a week."

"I knew she couldn't keep you away," Lily declared.

"You're damn well right," the bushy haired man, who was old enough to be her grandfather, agreed, blowing her a kiss. "I knew I could count on you to back me up, Gyps."

"Stop hogging her, Skinner! Je-sus, Miss Joro, where have you been? We been missing you round here," Jack said, his brilliant blue eyes glowing as he gave her a sloppy kiss on the mouth.

"Well, I don't see why doll-face. Don't you like to keep your money in your pockets?"

"Ouch! That was harsh, Joro." That was Dirk. "Who named you the queen of poker?"

"Ike did, at the end of the championship last year," Jack reminded his friend, shooting him a look that said, 'now you've gone and done it.'

"I don't think she's got it anymore," Dirk declared, a challenge gleaming playfully in his gray eyes. "Where you been all summer, if you coulda been soaking us through?"

"France."

"Hell, them French characters are a bunch of snobs, why'd you waste two months over there anyhow?"

"I just was waiting for you to get your paycheck, honey. I'm back now, and ready to kick your ass from here to Asia," Lily tossed back. "Prepare to lose."

"Wait a minute, hold up! We're still in the middle of a goddamn hand," Skinner proclaimed, causing the others to roll their eyes. "Besides, boys, we gotta check with the rest of the table to see if we can let her in on the pot." Three pairs of eyes turned to look across the table, and Lily got her first glimpse of the new gambler in town. Long blond hair flowed freely around the freckle-dusted face, hazel eyes quickly and smoothly taking in everything around her, intelligence flashing in them. She was slender, wearing all black and the tips of her hair echoed the theme, ebony in color. Young, Lily decided, probably my age. Very pretty.

A low, cultured voice replied to the questioning stares. "I don't mind if she joins in. I love a challenge."

Dirk made the introductions. "Joro, this is Figg. Figg, this is Gypsy Joro. Figg's been haunting the tables all summer long."

Lily held out her hand to shake, and the stranger returned the gesture disinterestedly, flicking her hair out of her way as she sized up the competition. "I'm ready when you are," Figg proclaimed.

"Hmm," Lily palmed the deck, shuffling one handedly, thinking hard. "How about five card draw, simple enough right? We don't want these boys loosing all their loose change before eleven, do we?" she smiled beguilingly as all the men at the table groaned.

Figg shot her an approving smirk. "I do believe this is going to be fun."

"Hey Ike, another round on me!" Lily called, dealing swiftly.

"Deuces wild?" Skinner asked hopefully.

"Not a chance," Lily and Figg chorused together.

"Nice going, D," Jack muttered, scooping up his hand.

~*~

Lily shot Figg a triumphant smirk as the two girls counted the outrageous amounts of coins cluttered sloppily at their sides. Three forlorn faces watched as the numbers climbed higher and higher. Jack kept shooting murderous glares at Dirk, who was looking rather depressed and sheepish as he fingered his empty pockets.

Lily chuckled huskily as she came across a slip of paper. "Alright, which one of you simpletons gambled away your house?"

Skinner looked up pathetically. "My old lady is going to skin me alive," he moaned, face pale. He looked like he was about to keel over from mere fright and his tough leathery face had an almost green tinge to it.


Lily sighed, laugher in her sharp gaze as she tossed the papers at her old friend, and a few coins as well. "So you can come back," she explained with a wink when he gave her a dazed look.

Watery puppy dog eyes caught her gaze as she returned to counting her coins. "Are you going to tell her I lost the house again Joro?" Skinner wondered pitifully.

"What?" she shot him a confused glance. "Honey, you didn't lose the house. The slip's right in your hand. You won it back the last round, didn't you?" Lily gave him a wink. "Of course I won't tell Ellen you almost gambled her home away. Then I'd never see you, doll, and that'd be a real shame." Her eyes softened to the color of moss, and she gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Now go on outside. You're completely smashed, and the cold air should sharpen your senses a bit. I'll be ready to walk you home in a jiff; you know how Ellie gets when you come home late."

"I'm sure glad you're home Gyps," the old man said fondly, ruffling her hair as he headed out. "I missed you."

"I missed you too," she replied, throat tight.

"See you in a few," he called, effectively stumbling his way out the door. A crash and curses followed his exit.

Lily shook her head, listening as Figg continued to count. Turning, she gazed at the other two men seated at the table. "Alright, boys, here you go, twenty five gallons apiece."

Dirk blinked, surprised, and Jack shook his head.

"It ain't right, Miss Joro," he mumbled. "We can't take that."

"The hell we can't!" Dirk shouted, staring at Jack like he'd lost his mind.

"Take it," she pressed, pushing the coins at them. "I'm going to be back within the month and I want to see you two here."

Jack stared at her, trying to understand, as Dirk happily counted out twenty five coins from one of the piles. "If you don't want it," he said as he pocketed his amount, "I'll take yours too."

"No!" Lily said sternly, giving Dirk a look. "Jack's is his own. Go on home, Dirk, before you gamble away next weeks pay."

The other looked slightly embarrassed. "Okay, Gypsy, okay. Sheesh, don't get your panties in a twist." Dirk lumbered out of the pub, calling a goodnight to everyone in general, with replies scattered and slurred.

After giving Jack his promised share and then slipping him five extra one hundred dollar bills, she sent him on his way. Finished, she decided to count the rest later and scraped her loot into the black bag at her side, soon bulging with coins. Lily surveyed the bulky change bag which was too full for a successful voyage back to the Gryffindor common room, so she decided to shrink the bag, and shoved into one of the secret pockets of her cloak draped on the back of her chair.

Tucking her augmented wad of cash into her boot, Lily stood up, eyes going immediately to the quietly counting Figg. "Beautiful game, Figg. I'm honored to have met you and played at the same table." With a small grin, Lily reached out to shake the other girl's hand one more time, but the blonde stared blankly at her, confusion written all over her face.

"That was a good thing that you did for those men, even the arrogant one who didn't deserve it.

You were cutthroat at the table tonight, as dangerous as a shark. Why did you do it?"

"You mean give them the money?" she asked. Figg nodded. "It's just who I am. They're good boys. A bit misguided, and definitely without the common sense to quit before completely broke, but good and deserving of their hard earned money." Lily sat back down, returning Figg's intense gaze.

"Skinner? He's just a harmless old softie who has a penchant for gambling, which he is sometimes killer at, and sometimes downright terrible. Dirk, as arrogant as he is, is hardworking and honest. He just has a few things to learn. And Jack. My little angel. He is the sweetest boy I've ever met. He volunteers down at the shelter four nights a week and works the streets every weekend with his act."

"His act?" the blonde enquired, interested.

"He dances in the streets for coins. Half of the proceeds he donates to the orphanage down the road."

"Wow."

"I may be heartless when I play, but I remember who I played when I'm done." Lily grabbed her cloak, wrapping it around her chilled shoulders. "Will you be around?"

The other girl's lips curved slightly. "Yeah, I'll be around," she replied softly.


"Good," Lily replied with a wink. "See you, then."

With a wave to Ike, Lily stepped out into the snow, searching the darkness for Skinner, who was sitting in the snow with an empty expression. With a heavy sigh, she helped the staggering man up and half carried, half dragged him down the road. Looking down into his muddled brown eyes, she gave a breathless chuckle. "Ellen is not going to be happy with you," she muttered, eyes laughing. "She sure as hell won't be happy at all."

~*~

Thank you, thank you. This is the real chapter eight, and I'm excited as to how it turned out. Let me know what you think about this new twist. Good, bad, overused, new, etc etc.


Love to all,

Crys