A/N: Welcome! Or, if you've been a long time reader and didn't know I was writing again, welcome back! I've been working hard to dust the chapters off and make much needed improvements—although the plot hasn't changed at all, some of the content had to be completely re-written and is like new. Whether you're a returning reader or a new one, I hope you enjoy what you're about to read.
"Know what to do about your conflicts, I do..."-Peeves
Chapter One: Not Your Typical Morning
A loud noise emitted from the Girls' Dorm followed immediately by shrill screams, interrupting the quiet Sunday afternoon and causing everyone to jump at the unexpected cacophony. That is, unexpected to everyone except for three boys who seemed to be making a great effort not to laugh. Within moments a putrid odor drifted down into the common room, and the students began to cover their noses as the highly offensive smell invaded their nostrils.
"Ugh! Sweet Salazar!" declared a disgusted fourth year. He lifted the collar of his shirt over his nose.
"I know," his friend replied. His voice became muffled as he followed suit. "I think that's the worst dungbomb I've ever smelled."
The murmuring of similar remarks around them was drowned out by a loud whoop from James Potter, a tall boy with glasses and untidy black hair as he slapped his companion a high-five.
"Brilliant! They work!" he crowed. "Looks like we can save a bunch of money from Zonko's, Sirius; ours work better than theirs by far!"
"I know, check out that range!"
Peter Pettigrew, the third boy sitting among them, hunched over and a bit twitchy, eagerly chimed in and clapped his hands together excitedly.
"That was amazing, you two!" He raised his flat palm high into the air and attempted to high-five James as well, but the boy's attention was trained on the door above, from where the boom sounded. After waiting a few moments unsuccessfully, Peter awkwardly dropped his hand behind his head, and scratched his scalp to cover up his gaffe.
Remus Lupin was the only one of his friends who didn't join the celebration. He sighed warily.
"Honestly, Prongs…." He shook his shaggy head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "As entertaining a friend as you can be, why must you always insist on doing this stuff when I'm around to see it happen? You know people already assume I play favorites as prefect—you're making it hard for me to hang onto my badge. I hate taking points away from my own house."
"Oh, worry not, Moony," James laughed. He clapped Remus' shoulder amiably. "I'm sure prefect Prissy Pants is about to enforce her badge more than enough for the two of you."
Remus tilted his head and fixed James with a look of dread. "Of all rooms, please tell me you didn't…"
"Oh, yes. Yes, I did."
At that moment the door to the dorm room flew open, and sixteen-year-old Lily Evans stormed out of her room with a faint waft of smoke visible behind her. Her elbow-length red hair was slightly puffed out, and her green eyes flashed dangerously as she searched the room for a guilty face. She walked to the balcony banister and leaned on it, staring down at the dorm occupants.
"Who did that?" she called out menacingly. "Who put that dungbomb in there?"
The only response Lily received was a snort of laughter and she whipped her head to toward the sound, then ran down the steps and stalked toward where James was seated.
"You!" she started angrily. "You did this, didn't you, Potter?"
."Might have," he answered casually. "I'm sorry, is there a problem?" James lazily stood from his chair and drew himself to his full height, squaring his shoulders back with authority. Lily was forced to tilt her head back to make eye contact but in no way did she shrink away as the boy towered over her
"Yes, there bloody-well is!" she shrieked. "I smell, Potter, and Merlin only knows how long this is supposed to last! Kate, Chloe, and Parker are up there, trying to air the room out, and everything still smells like rotten eggs and shit, including us! Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in? Knowing you, it's probably some extra long-lasting stench, and—argh! I have a date later this week and so help me, Potter, that stench had better be gone by then or—!"
"Or you'll what? What're you gonna do, cherry bomb?" James reached out and ruffled her hair as he taunted her. "You've already blown up, so the worst of it is over; I have nothing to be afraid of."
"The hell you don't!"
He raised his hands defensively and widened his eyes, donning his most innocent expression. "Look, Evans, I'm sorry. Really, I am, but you see, Sirius and I had no choice. We're testing something that will save us loads of galleons. We had no other option. We could either risk your wrath to see if they worked, or face almost certain financial ruin in the name of fun."
Sirius nodded solemnly and added, "We're learning fiscal responsibility, you should be proud."
"It was just a harmless stink bomb, that's all," James continued, shrugging his shoulders. "The smell will be gone in twenty minutes, maybe thirty. Although, you'll want to wash your hair. And your clothes. Probably your sheets, too. I'd say your face but let's be serious, that probably won't fix anything; you can scourgify a stinky room but you can't scourgify a permanent stink-face."
Sirius burst into a fit of laughter, and, although glancing apprehensively at the fuming ginger, and Peter joined in with a light chuckle. Even Remus had to duck his head to hide his mirth at the clever remark.
For Lily, however, James' snarky attitude only made her fury more intense. Her nostrils flared and she reached her hands out toward him, clenching and releasing her fingers into clawed formations as though battling the urge to wring his neck. "I swear, Potter, one of these days I'm…I'm so-you—oooh! YOU ARE IMPOSSIBLE!" she raged furiously.
Lily pivoted on her heel and pounded up the staircase, battering her anger into each step with her footfalls up the steps to the second floor until she reached her door. She flung it closed behind her with a ferocious finality that echoed like a boom of thunder.
Satisfied that the altercation ended so clearly in his favor, James returned to his seat among his comrades, leaning back into the plush chair and kicking his feet up onto the table in front of him. "Well, that reaction from her was far beyond what I had hoped for," he commented lightly, an amusing juxtaposition to the explosive display he was referring to.
Sirius laughed heartily and shook his head, running a hand through is hair as he marveled at what had just taken place. "Well done, Prongs, well done. Every time I think that I've never seen Lily more upset, you go and accomplish the impossible."
"You know she's gonna get you back James," Remus warned. "She always does eventually. And, somehow she manages to do it mostly under the radar. If she weren't so wound up and so obsessed with following the rules she'd probably be a rival for us."
"Rival?" Sirius snorted. "Screw that, I'd ask the girl the join us. Don't know why she gets all bent out of shape with what we do when she is capable of the same level of mayhem that we are."
"Bite your tongue!" James cried indignantly. "She's a complete amateur, on a good day."
"Yes," Remus replied wryly. "Very amateur of a girl to hex your book bag to chomp onto your hand like a damn piranha every time you tried to reach into it."
"Psh. Child's play, Moony."
"Oh, my mistake—I forgot to fully refresh your memory and add that she was just a first year at the time. So, yes, child's play, indeed."
James waved his hand dismissively, looking bored. "Agree to disagree, Remus."
Remus just rolled his eyes and mouthed "okay", nodding mockingly, letting James delude himself from the truth instead of listing a number of additional examples that proved his point. He wasn't one to waste his breath for a pointless cause.
"So, full moon on Wednesday night, lads," James announced, effectively changing the subject. "What should we do?"
Much later that night, Lily lay awake in bed finishing up last minute homework. Glancing at the clock, she noted that it was about ten minutes to midnight.
That History of Magic paper was brutal,she thought. Tucking the roll of parchment carefully into her bag, she groaned when she remembered that she still had to do her Transfiguration essay.
"Damn," she murmured to herself. "Of all the subjects to do late at night when I'm half asleep, I have to do the one that takes most of my attention." She sighed and reached into her bag again, pulling out a fresh roll of parchment, but she couldn't find her text book.
Oh no. This thing is due first thing in the morning! Where did I leave that bloody book?Lily mentally retraced her steps, and remembered that she had left it on the table in the library.
"Oh, bollocks," she whispered irritably. She reluctantly got to her feet and put on her slippers, trying to stifle a yawn and failing miserably. Swearing under breath, she crept quietly out of her room, down the stairs and out of the Common Room, praying that she didn't run into Mrs. Norris in the hallway.
Luck seemed to be on her side and she reached the library without incident.
"Alohamora," she intoned quietly. The giant doors clicked open with ease. After a few tense moments scanning nearby tables, Lily spotted her book not too far from the entrance. She hurriedly ran to snatch it up, and quickly exited the library, praying that her good fortune held up during her return to Gryffindor Tower. As she finally neared the portrait Lily breathed a sigh of relief, but when she got closer it became clear that she had done so too soon.
The Fat Lady, the large woman who thought she could sing, was the painting who stood guard over the Gryffindor house, and was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh no," moaned Lily, dropping her head back. "Not this, not now." Checking down the corridors to make sure nobody was behind her, she called softly for the large woman. "Fat Lady…Fat Lady! C'mon Fat Lady, come back! Please?" She waited a few moments in hope, but heard nothing that would signify her arrival. Lily slid down the wall into a sitting position and dropped her head into her hands, pressing her palms over her eyes. "I am so dead…"
"Can I have the honors of burying you?"
Lily started and jerked her head up, her hand flying to her wand instinctively. She found herself staring into the eyes of the last person she wanted to see, and it wasn't Filch.
She groaned and covered her eyes again, wondering why her luck had to go from bad to worse in such a steep incline. "Why of all the people? What the hell do you want?"
James clucked his tongue and tucked a rolled up cloth under his arm. "Rudeness gets you nowhere life, Evans," he said, pointing at her.
Lily prayed for patience as she uncovered her face and looked up at the current bane of her existence.
"Potter," she stated. "I am locked outside of the common room, and it's past midnight. I still have to finish my essay, and I am tired. Please, for once in your life, do not mess with me. And wipe that smirk off your face before I do it for you!"
James chuckled and sat down on the across from her, propping himself against the wall.
"It isn't funny!" Lily snapped. "I am never going to get this homework done."
"So what?" he said carelessly. "It's not like the end of the world. So you miss one assignment, big deal."
Lily bit the inside of her cheek, burying into it the yell of frustration she wanted to release, and quickly changed the subject. "What are you doing up, anyway?"
"I was hungry," said James simply. He pulled out an apple from his coat pockets and took a large bite, crunching on it loudly.
"Where'd you get that?"
"From the shop on the fifth floor," he answered sarcastically. "I got it from the kitchens, Evans."
"You know how to get to the kitchens?"
"Isn't that what I just said?"
"Are you saying," said Lily slowly. "That you nick food from the kitchens whenever you're hungry?"
"Yeah, that's about right."
"Are you out of your mind?" she hissed. "Do you know how many points we could get taken away if a professor catches you?"
"Well they won't," retorted James. "Not that it's any of your business, but I happen to have a fool proof way of not getting caught."
Lily snorted. "You can't have a fool proof plan if the person who is executing it is a fool," she said coolly.
"Are you calling me a fool, Evans?"
"Wow, what a revelation."
James raised one eyebrow. "You're calling me a fool when I'm one of the top students in most of my classes, and you're sitting here because you haven't finished an essay?"
"People who are at the top of the class don't need tutoring in Charms!"
"Oh please!" James shot back, his voice getting louder. "Do you know how many times McGonagall has made me help you in Transfiguration?"
Lily angrily rose to her feet. "Probably a lot less than I've had to help you!"
"It's not like it's an easy class, Evans!"
"What, you think Transfiguration is a picnic for me?" She stepped closer to him and leaned down, poking him roughly in the chest. "Do you think I enjoy having to explain to McGonagall why I shouldn't have to take extra classes in what would basically be a remedial level? Oh, wait! Here's the best part—two nights a week, I have to spend an hour with you getting help. It shouldn't even be called help! All you do is spend the entire time criticizing my transfiguration skills!"
"Rather, lack of," James corrected snidely. "Besides, you don't actually encourage me either, Evans!"
"The only reason you're terrible in that subject is because you and Sirius spend class time making eyes at girls!"
"Like you're not distracted in Transfiguration?" James shot back. "Please! You just pass notes with Kate and Chloe throughout the whole lesson!"
"What I do is none of your business, Potter!"
"Well then stay out of mine!"
Lily was inhaling to yell back, when they were interrupted by a high-pitched cackle followed by a clucking tongue.
"Students out of bed?" a voice above asked silkily.
Dreading what they would see, James and Lily looked up to see Peeves floating upside down as he observed them with a sharp eye.
"Hello, Peeves," said Lily cautiously. She straightened up and did her best to calm herself. The last thing she needed now was to provoke the poltergeist. "What are you doing up here?"
Instead of answering her question Peeves just cocked his head and lifted the side of his mouth in a sinister grin. "Students not allowed to be out of bed…should tell Filch, I should. 'Tis my duty, after all."
"Peeves, please don't get Filch!" begged Lily.
Peeves just ignored her and turned to James. "Heard you yelling all the way down the corridor, I did," he continued. "Shouldn't be yelling at midnight whilst the castle sleeps; very disruptive."
James was in a bad mood after quarreling with Lily, and not at all up to dealing with the ghost's taunting. "So what?" he snapped. "Look, Peeves. Evans and I just had a simple row. It isn't unusual. Now could you please just get the Fat Lady and tell her to let us in?"
Peeves flipped right-side up and smirked at the cranky teenagers, rubbing his hands together gleefully. "Know what to do about your conflicts, I do."
"Look," said Lily slowly, trying not to upset him. "Nothing stops them, so you shouldn't even try."
Once again, Peeves ignored her and began to sing, bobbing his head in time to the slow melody.
"Take these two souls who now loath, who detest,
A walk in the other's own boots they shall test;
On a path unfamiliar, yet judged, let them stride
Until true peace calms their hearts
These switched spirits abide."
When he finished the song he laughed loudly again and sped away backwards down the corridors, no doubt going to get Filch. Lily and James just gaped after him quietly for a few moments, trying to process what they just heard.
"Translucent little shit," James said with a deep sigh.
"But what did it mean?" muttered Lily, more to herself. "'These switched spirits abide…' What the hell is that?"
"Who cares? It was probably just some crap Peeves came up with to creep us out. The important thing is that the Fat Lady's back."
Indeed, the Fat Lady was back in her painting, looking disinterested with the fact they were out of bed, after hours. She'd obviously done enough gossiping for today and needed no more fodder to spread.
"Finally!" cried Lily. "Lion's Den!"
The Fat Lady swung open without a word, and Lily and James climbed into the room. Lily bit her lip and glanced at her watch. It was now twelve-fifteen. She would be up until at least one-thirty writing the essay. Without even saying good night to James, she ran up to her dorm room and shut the door. Forgetting to tiptoe she ran across the room and flopped onto her bed, ready to finally start her last assignment.
This won't be too hard, she tried to convince herself as she scanned her book. The upside of arguing with James was that her ire had given her a mild burst of adrenaline that replaced her fatigue. Lily felt wide awake, and felt she could go on for hours.
But adrenaline fades swiftly and twenty minutes later she fell asleep with her head drooped down toward her chest. The last word of her incomplete sentence morphed into an uneven descending trail of ink that moved to the bottom edge of her parchment until her hand stilled and halted to a stop, fingers poised loosely around the quill.
Lily slowly opened her eyes and languidly reached her arms over her head, arching her back in a satisfying stretch. She rolled over to read the clock on the nightstand but her vision blurred the sight in front of her. She pressed the heels of her palms into her eyelids and rubbed vigorously before trying to read it again, yet the numbers still appeared to blend together obscuring the time. Thinking it was just sleep in her eyes, Lily picked up the clock and brought it closer to her face until the individual digits slid apart and into focus.
Seven o'clock...I don't want to get up! I don't want to go to transfiguration…
Suddenly she sat up with a start, remembering the essay that she was supposed to have finished the previous night. Frantically she pat and parted the covers as she searched the bed for her work, but she couldn't find her books and parchment. She looked over the side of the table, but didn't find her book bag. At least, she didn't think she could spot a blob that resembled her book bag. She still couldn't see properly
"What is going on?" she muttered to herself. At the sound of her voice a hand shot to her throat, and Lily wondered why it sounded so different.
Why is my voice so deep?"Hello?" she tested softly. That wasn't normal. I must have caught something going around…I'll have to have some tea and honey for that before it gets worse.
She groaned and swung her legs out, easing her body out of bed. Must have gotten into my pajamas before I got to work,she thought dazedly, looking down at her crumpled bedclothes.
Lily rolled her head and lightly slapped her face to shake off the sleepy remnants that slowed down her mind. She turned toward the wardrobe to get ready for her day, but stopped her tracks when she glimpsed a very male head poking out of the covers of the bed next to her.
Wait…who's that in bed with Kate?!
She yanked the cover back and it revealed just one occupant, and Lily leaned closer to identify the boy. "Sirius!" she exclaimed in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
Sirius moaned in his sleep and rolled over, groping blindly until he pulled the blankets back over his head.
Lily ran over to the next bed to ask Chloe why Sirius was in their dorm, but found Remus sound asleep instead. "What…?" Lily ran over to the next bed, and the next, and only to find boys instead of girls. She looked around the room and saw trousers, ties, and shoes.
This is the boys' dorm,she thought in horror. What am I doing here?! Did the spell on the stairs malfunction? I'm so confused!
She hurriedly rushed out of the room as quietly as possible, hoping earnestly that no one would see her exiting the boys' room.
Unfortunately for her there were a few early birds milling around the common room as they started their mornings. Cursing inwardly, Lily saw no other way out of this but to don her best and authoritative prefect face, set her shoulders and walk on as though nothing was out of the ordinary. She figured it worked well enough because no one gave her so much of a second glance as she descended the staircase. She tried to take steady, measured steps across the room and avoided looking too closely at anyone, but as she drew closer to the staircase on the other side her pace increased.
I just have to get to the girls' stairs before anyone looks too closely…almost there…
Lily still kept her eyes firmly on the ground instead of in front of her, and didn't see the oncoming girl zooming down the stairs and directly into her path until they careened together forcefully. Lily's chest took a brunt of the contact with a dull thudand the two students simultaneously puffed out, "Oof!" as they bounced back off of each other.
"I'm so sorry, I wasn't looking—" the girl started apologetically.
"No, no," Lily interjected. "It was my fault, neither was I."
She finally looked down at the girl's face in front of her and froze. The image that stared back at her unnerved her to the core; it didn't matter that her vision was still slightly impaired because she would know that face and hair absolutely anywhere.
They were her own.
*Very important note before you continuing on:
I started this story when I was an over-excited 15-year-old, before I was more grammatically aware and experienced with life. A lot of things changed during my hiatus, so I've been doing some very heavy editing between new chapters to make them much better (I need to do it up to about chapter 15). There are some parts and language that are really making me cringe and I'm doing my best to make sure to remove what needs to be gone so you can enjoy it to the fullest. I wanted to put this out there as a heads up and explanation and I can't wait to dust this thing up completely.
Until next time,