It's not mine; it's all J.K. Rowling's.

This is just a short Cinderella fic I've had for a while. It'll only be 3 chapters, so no big commitment. And for those readers easily confused, Lily is Cici, that's her nickname.

Chapter One: Secret Love

Cici threw the scrub brush into the water bucket with disgust. She hated cleaning, but it seemed that was all she ever did thanks to her no good evil step-mother. Words couldn't even describe how much she hated that woman. Why couldn't Francis just leave her alone? Why did she find it so fun to work her to the bone? It's not like she didn't have enough to do, what with school work and everything.

In case you haven't guessed, Francis is Cici's step-mother. She'd married her father four years ago, which was about a year before he'd been killed in a car accident. As soon as he'd died, her only blood sister, Petunia, had moved out and Lily hadn't heard from her since. So Lily was left here to slave away from her step-mom and step-sisters, Georgia and Halley.

She groaned and picked the scrub brush out of the dirty water; she had to finish the floors before Francis came home with Georgia and Halley or else she'd be in for it. It was almost time for the fall term at her school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to start. This year Cici wanted to go to the ball that would be held at the start of winter break. Unfortunately, that would require Francis' permission, so Cici needed to be on her best behavior in order to impress Francis.

Cici wasn't exactly one of the popular girls at school; she had a few good friends, but she didn't travel in the 'right' circles. Basically meaning she wasn't one of the girls who trailed flirtatiously after the Marauders. The Marauders, now that was a topic she didn't want to dwell on. Not because it was unpleasant though, but because she knew that she'd never, ever, in a hundred million years, no ... millennia, have a chance with any of them. Most particularly their leader, James Potter, who could have any girl in school he wanted. Being able to have any girl in school you wanted pretty much came down to having either Georgia or Halley. Honestly, Cici didn't know what anyone saw in them. They were so stupid and annoying. Men are so shallow, all they cared about was the fact that Georgia and Halley look good. Cici could look good too, maybe, with a little work, but she never bothered to try; it just wasn't worth it. She also liked her sleep. The extra 5 minutes it takes to do one's hair properly and the extra 10 for make-up are much better spent as 15 minutes in bed.

Cici was heard the door slam down the hall. The terrible trio was back from their shopping trip, oh goody. She looked up as they entered the room and clumsily got to her feet, smoothing her stained t-shirt. Francis surveyed the floor with her nose in the air. She looked at Cici and curtly nodded, waving her hand in dismissal. Cici picked up the bucket and scrub brush. Was she honestly so repulsive that she wasn't even worthy of having words wasted on her?

The school year started off well enough and kept on that pace. Except for the seemingly unending torture of her step-sisters, she didn't have anything to complain about. In fact, she had many things to burst into song about. Now that the winter break was nearing, she was more anxious than ever to go to the ball.

Cici hadn't miraculously become popular or anything, but she was hoping to meet someone at the ball. Someone being a person she'd 'met' through KYC (Know Your Classmates) at school. She and Night, her mysterious friend, had started exchanging short letters, but their correspondence had quickly grown into long, 5 page letters and notebook conversations at 4 in the morning.

Notebook conversations were the newest fad at school. They allowed someone to write notes using a magicked notepad and send them instantly to anyone else who also had their notepad open, as long as you knew their code name. Cici used Cinders01, it was her play on having an evil step family (Georgia and Halley had never quite gotten the joke, although they did call her Cinderella). Her friend Devin, (a girl in spite of her name) had told her to ask her 'mystery friend' to meet at the dance. Cici had kind of been planning to forget to ask him, so hadn't thought of how she would get permission to go, much less what she would wear. It was all Night's fault he was just so charming the words (letters) had popped out of her without even realizing it. And he just had to say yes, didn't he? She didn't really want to think about it since she still had no clue how she'd convince Francis to let her go. Hopefully all of that hard work she'd put in during the summer would pay off.

But maybe she didn't even want to meet her 'mystery friend'. She'd built a picture of him in her mind and it was sure to be shattered. After all, the picture in her mind rather resembled the hottest guy in school, the darkly handsome James Potter, and her 'mystery friend' definitely wasn't him. And even if it was him, which it wasn't, James would take one look at her and run in the opposite direction. After all, her home made dress was nothing to cheer about, one sleeve was even slightly longer than the other. She was just hoping no one would notice.

In fact, Cici was sure, with her luck, her friend would turn out to be someone awful. It would probably be Peter Pettigrew. Cici swore that if he went any slower, he'd be walking backwards. 'Stop being so pessimistic,' she told herself, 'After all, whoever he is certainly doesn't write like a dunce.'

Drowning in thought, Cici walked up the stairs to the Head Girl dorm (yes, she'd made Head Girl to James Potter's Head Boy). The dorm was literally 3 times the size of her shoe box room at home and that was saying something. She blessed all her lucky stars that she'd been able to convince Francis to give her her step-sisters' old notebook when they'd gotten a new one. It made it so much easier to stay in contact with her friends (especially her secret one) since she now lived in a different dorm than them. Opening it up she saw that Devin had her notebook open as well.

Cici smiled, Devin had been completely up in the clouds lately. Cici herself couldn't believe Devin's luck, but some how Dev had contrived to catch Sirius Black's attention (Yes, THE Sirius Black). The whole school had gone pretty much nutters after he asked out a self named 'loser', but they calmed down when they realized it wasn't going to change things too much. Sirius would still sit with the Marauders at meals, he would still prank the losers, and he was still ultra cool. Cici figured that Sirius was the only guy in school who could manage to pull that off.

Sometimes Cici just didn't understand it though. It was as if Sirius and Devin were only dating during the hour they saw each other alone every day. They never even hung out except by the themselves, so Cici had only talked to Sirius once and Devin had never even met any of his friends, the infamous marauders.

But still Devin was in bliss so Cici was happy for her, even if her relationship was a bit abnormal. Cici had also discovered (in her one conversation with Sirius) that in spite of what she'd always thought of him, Sirius was an ok guy and honestly liked Devin (This she knew because she'd cornered him and demanded that he tell her his intentions toward her best friend. She'd been very impressed with his frankness on how he did think Devin was pretty (part of the reason he wanted to go out with her), but also his obvious interest in her personality).

Cici picked up her quill and wrote a hello to Devin.

Cinders01: Hey Dev!

ShortnCrazy: Hey Lily!

Cinders01: Don't call me that!

ShortnCrazy: Why not? It's your name.

Cinders01: No one calls me that.

ShortnCrazy: Your dad did.

Cinders01: Yeah, well he's dead isn't he?

ShortnCrazy: Cici...

Cinders01: I'm sorry Dev, I'm just in a bad mood. Maybe I should just skip the ball.

ShortnCrazy: What? Are you crazy? You can't skip the ball. We worked on that dress forever. All that hard work ... you have to go!

Cinders01: Who ever this guy is, he's going to laugh at me.

ShortnCrazy: No, he's not. You're perfect; there's nothing to laugh at.

Cinders01: I'm nowhere near perfect.

ShortnCrazy: Oh, my bad. You only get perfect grades, have a perfect complexion, have perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect eyes, a perfect figure ... Do I have to continue?

Cinders01: Please don't. I don't think I could stand anymore.

ShortnCrazy: So you're going, right?

Cinders01: I'm considering it.

ShortnCrazy: evil glare

Cinders01: OMG!

ShortnCrazy: What?

Cinders01: He's on.

ShortnCrazy: Talk to him!

Cinders01: You think I should?

ShortnCrazy: Yes! I order you to talk to him or I'll ... I'll drown you in scrambled eggs.

Cinders01: Wow, that's a great incentive.

ShortnCrazy: I know.

Cinders01: Hey.

NightRider: Right back at ya, beautiful

Cinders01: You've never seen me.

NightRider: So...

Cinders01: What if I'm a hag or something?

NightRider: Damn

Cinders01: What?

NightRider: You're having second thoughts, aren't you?

Cinders01: About what?

Cinders01: Help!

ShortnCrazy: What happened?

Cinders01: We're only 7 lines into the conversation and he's already figured out that I'm having second thoughts about the ball.

ShortnCrazy: That's because he can read your mind. Further proof you two are perfect for each other; now go talk to him!

NightRider: About meeting me at the ball

NightRider: Cinders? Are you there?

Cinders01: Yeah, I'm here. Sorry, but you kind of surprised me since I am having second thoughts.

NightRider: Ok, well I'm glad you told me. Any particular reason for the cold feet? You aren't seriously worried I'll think your ugly, are you? I hope you realize I don't care about that. Besides, I'm sure your gorgeous. Anyone with writing skills like yours must be beautiful. And don't even get me started on your handwriting, my best friend threatened death on me last night if I spent one more minute discussing the beautiful way you cross your T's.

Cinders01: I guess I'm kind of worried about what you'll think, but ...

NightRider: But...

Cinders01: It's my dress.

NightRider: Did it get torn or something?

Cinders01: I made it myself.

NightRider: Not only do you have excellent writing skills, but you can sew. I don't suppose you could sew this button that fell off my favorite shirt back on, could you?

Cinders01: That's the thing, I'm not very good at sewing.

NightRider: I'm sure you're better than you think

Cinders01: I'm not.

NightRider: Is the hem off or something?

Cinders01: It's more the sleeves.

NightRider: I see...

Cinders01: So we can't go because I can't wear my dress. I'm sorry, maybe we can meet up some other time.

NightRider: Wear gloves.

Cinders01: What?

NightRider: Wear gloves. They'll cover up your sleeves

Cinders01: I guess that would work.

NightRider: Of course it will, I came up with it :)

Cinders01: ...

NightRider: This isn't really about the dress, is it?

Cinders01: No.

NightRider: Did you meet someone else? You can just tell me if you did; I won't get mad.

Cinders01: No! It's not that. I guess I'm just worried that you'll be disappointed.

NightRider: Or maybe you're more more worried that you'll be disappointed

Cinders01: That too.

NightRider: I'm not going to be disappointed, Cinders

Cinders01: I wouldn't be too sure, Night.

NightRider: I've never met anyone like you. You're the only person I know who I can talk (write) to and not be afraid. I just know that you understand. I love the way I can tell what's going through your mind and you can tell what's going through mine. I've asked you to be my girlfriend before, but you always decline, saying you want to wait until we meet. Please meet me at the ball Friday night. I'll be in the middle of the dance floor at 9:00. I'll be looking for a girl with gloves. Love ya, Night.

NightRider has signed off

Cinders01: I need a vacation.

ShortnCrazy: What happened.

Cinders01: He gave me a lecture about how much he wants to meet me and go out with me.

ShortnCrazy: That doesn't sound so bad.

Cinders01: How can he be so darn sure of himself all of the time? I don't understand how any one person can be so intuitive and always say the right things at the right time. He's just so perfect.

ShortnCrazy: So you're complaining because the man who wants to date you is too perfect? I hate to break it to you, but most girls (me included) complain when their boyfriend is an idiot, not when he's perfect.

Cinders01: Speaking of which, how is Sirius?

ShortnCrazy: He's dandy. Now stop trying to change the subject.

Cinders01: I wasn't.

ShortnCrazy: Yes, you were. What's really bothering you?

Cinders01: I want him to be James Potter and I know he isn't. It's not fair to Night that I'll be let down when we meet.

ShortnCrazy: Maybe it is James.

Cinders01: lol and maybe the moon is made of cheese. James wouldn't be as kind as Night is.

ShortnCrazy: Sounds to me like you might like your Night better than James.

Cinders01: Personality wise, yes, but he won't be as cute. Ugh. I feel so sick. Night is always expounding to me about how he doesn't care what I look like, that he likes me for what's inside and I'm not even returning the favor. With my luck Night will be Peter.

ShortnCrazy: Wow, I hope it's not Peter for everyone's sake. I can just imagine your scream when you find out it's him. I think my ear drums are breaking.

Cinders01: Very funny, Dev, I'm not joking.

ShortnCrazy: I know, but I think this will turn out better than you expect.

Cinders01: I suppose anyone is better than Peter.

ShortnCrazy: No kidding! If I were you, I'd hope it's Remus Lupin. I bet it's him! I just saw him get off of his notebook a second ago.

Cinders01: Really?

ShortnCrazy: Seriously (No pun, on the ultra hot Sirius, intended).

Cinders01: I guess Remus wouldn't be too bad.

ShortnCrazy: Too bad? Cici, have you seen this man? We're talking gorgeous and soulful. He's a burning hunk of love.

Cinders01: A burning hunk of love? Excuse me while I go split my spleen having a laughing fit.

ShortnCrazy: I'm serious (not the delectably sexy one though) and if I were single I would say yes to him in a heartbeat. Hell, I'd say yes to him even if I wasn't single.

Cinders01: So what does Sirius say about that?

ShortnCrazy: Well, seeing as Remus Lupin will never know I exist (speaking of which, I still have no clue how the King of Hotness Sirius Black figured out I existed), it really doesn't matter, does it?

Cinders01: If you talked to Remus he'd noticed you. Besides you are dating one of his fellow Marauders, I'm sure he knows you exist.

ShortnCrazy: Yeah, and if you talked to James he'd notice you.

Cinders01: I do talk to James!

ShortnCrazy: Yeah, 5 words per head meeting.

ShortnCrazy: I've g2g Cici, but I'm sure things will work out for you. I bet Night turns out to be even better looking than James.

Cinders01: Thanks Dev. I'll ttyl.

ShortnCrazy has signed off

"Cinderella!" Georgia and Halley screamed up the stairs. They got a kick out of calling her that even though they didn't quite understand why it was clever. They were such dimwits. Cinderella was where her nick name, Cici, came from. Her real name was Lillian, Lily for short, but no one called her that anymore, not since her father passed away three years ago.

"I'm coming!" She yelled back. Getting up from her chair, she headed downstairs to do their homework for them because if she didn't they would write Francis and tell her, and then Cici would have no where to live. Cici still couldn't figure out how they'd gotten the password to the Head's rooms. It was probably from James. He probably invited them over so he could sleep with them.

At that thought she groaned, she was being a bit uncharitable. The James Potter she saw in Head meetings wouldn't do that. It was more likely Georgia or Halley had simply overheard him saying the password. The fact that they practically stalked him definitely added credibility to that idea.

Getting into bed that night, she couldn't help but think it was only 2 days until the ball now.

Cici slogged through classes on Thursday. barely managing to stay awake. She fought the urge to kill herself as Professor Heubert repeated for the thousandth time the story of how he'd nearly gotten run over by a wild broom rider in the hallway on the way to class.

"Pity they didn't manage it," she mumbled under her breath, thinking evil thoughts about different gory demises he could have met.

"No kidding," someone whispered back. Cici whipped around to see James Potter smiling at her. You could have knocked her off her chair with your pinky finger, she was so surprised. James Potter had spoken to her. She didn't know what to say, so she grinned back.

Right then Professor Heubert said, "Alright, everyone pair up." Cici hated 'pairing up'. No one ever wanted to be her partner since Devin wasn't in this class. She always ended up stuck with one of those kids who never does any work, so she ended up having to do everything.

"Be my partner?" James asked, like he did so everyday.

"Sure," she replied automatically.

They were only half way through class and nearly done. It was amazing how much faster things went when your partner actually worked with you. She couldn't help being surprised though; she'd always thought James was just a pretty face, but as it turned out he was pretty darn smart too. As she scribbled the last answer on to the parchment, James leaned back in his chair.

"That was fun," he said, stretching his arms over his head. Cici nodded in agreement.

"We should partner more often. Normally I get stuck with girls who have garbage for brains and I have to do everything. It gets on your nerves after a while," he told her. Did this mean he thought she was smart? Well, at the very least he didn't think she was stupid.

"I know what you mean, but I always get stuck with the kids who don't even pretend to work." James laughed.

"I suppose you're right, having garbage for brains is much better than nothing." Cici laughed with him, enjoying the feeling that she wasn't invisible, at least not at the moment.

"You're missing a button," she said, breaking the awkward silence that had settled over them.

"I know," he said glumly, "But this is my favorite shirt, so I couldn't stop wearing it." His favorite shirt! Night had said the exact same thing. It couldn't be. They just couldn't be the same person, but what if they were?

"You should get someone to sew another button on," she said, trying not to let her anxiety at talking to someone who could be Night show through.

"I already have someone lined up," he said, giving her a smile that said he was letting her in on a secret, "My girlfriend claims she can sew, so I'm going to let her have a go at it." Cici felt her heart sink; a girlfriend. Night didn't have a girlfriend; at least she hoped he didn't since he'd asked her out 3 times.

"I wish you'd tell me who this mysterious girlfriend of yours is, James," Georgia said, slinking up to James and running her hands over his shoulder.

"Hey Georgia," he said, clearly uncomfortable, if his desperate attempts to shift away from her touch were any indication. "And as I already told you, you don't know her, she goes to a Beauxbatons."

"She's no good for you, James," Halley said, slipping up behind him and resting her elbows on his other shoulder. Cici looked away, completely disgusted.

"Ladies, I would love to talk, but my partner and I haven't finished the assignment yet and I need a good grade on this." It was a lie and Cici knew it, but she didn't say anything, she just kept her eyes on the textbook.

Her step-sisters both laughed, "Just let Cinders do it. She's always saying she's so smart, so she shouldn't have a problem with it." Cici looked up and was about to retort something rude to Halley when she saw James's face; he was looking like he'd seen a ghost. Had she gotten ink on her chin? Oh no ... oh no ... Halley had called her Cinders ... but wait, that would only affect him if he was Night ... or if he knew Night. That was it, he must know Night, after all, James knew nearly everyone and apparently was a great guy to confide in.

"No, Halley," he said forcefully, "I'm going to help. Why don't you go see if your partner needs any help?"

"I doubt it," she said, looking thoughtful, "I think he's some kind of brainiac or something." Still, she wandered off. James then looked at Georgia.

"If you want to spend time with little Miss Ugly, go ahead," Georgia said, then walked away, flipping her hair.

"I'm sorry about them," James said, looking genuinely concerned that they might have hurt her feelings.

"No worries, I deal with them at home all of the time, anyway."

"You live with them?" He said, his voice filled with disbelief.

"They're my step-sisters."

"That's got to be hell." Cici giggled. So he didn't like them. There were constant rumors going around that he did in fact like them and was only playing hard to get because he wanted to get the better twin, so he was letting them compete for his affections.

"It's something close," Cici said, sighing. James sighed as well, then looked at her piercingly.

"Halley called you Cinders; why?"

"Oh, no reason," she said, quickly coming up with an excuse, "It's sort of a play on the story Cinderella since I have two step-sisters and a step-mother, but no father."

"Oh," he said, still looking at her as though he was trying to divine her secrets.

"Are you going to the ball tomorrow?"

"Maybe," she said, not meeting his eyes.

"Well if you do, will you save me a dance?"

Cici laughed at that. "I don't think you have to worry about me saving one. No one's going to dance with me if I do go, so I'll have plenty of dances to give away."

"Well, I'll be dancing with you," he said, winking, "Since you're saving me a

dance."

"Your girlfriend probably wouldn't like that," she told him. The silly grin on his face widened.

"I don't think she'll mind." Then the bell rang, cutting off any further conversation. By the time Cici had finished packing up her bag, he was already gone.

Thanks for reading! Review if you feel like it. Remember stress really isn't the answer. I mean look at me, I have so many things to do, but am I doing them ... NO! And I feel great.

Daystar - This is a surprise b-day present for 'us'. Do you like it? Are you surprised? Huh Huh? So ... what'd you get me?