Summary: Lily Evans has always considered herself ordinary. But as she enters her 7th-Year, things start changing and Lily starts going a bit mad. Suddenly she's Head Girl, her friends are acting strangely, and there's a new James Potter that she can't seem to get rid of. Based on the writing style of Meg Cabot's "The Princess Diaries" series.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. This writing style belongs to Meg Cabot and all of the publishers and editors or the Princess Diaries series. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Greetings, once again. Here we are with chapter nine. Thanks for this chapter go out to Megan, the original beta of this chapter, and Dina, who fancies herself something she isn't but still caught some spelling mistakes. And of course, to all of you for reviewing. So, chapter nine. Intense stuff here. A whole lot of drama. Good times. I hope you enjoy –Bee
"Instead of studying for finals, what about just going to the Bahamas and catching some rays? Maybe you'll flunk, but you might have flunked anyway; that's my point."
Monday, September 22nd, 7th-Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 45
Just how exactly does one go about making nice with former enemies?
I mean, I reckon that before I go rushing down to breakfast—where he'll surely be—I should at least figure out how I'm supposed to be acting towards him now that I've decided not to hate him anymore, right? Him being James, I mean. James formerly known as Potter. James who I'm allowed to be nice to now. And also call James.
So what do I do?
Later, 7th-Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 46
I suppose I'll just say "hello" or something. You know, friendly, but not too friendly. Like not mately-friendly. Because James Potter is not my mate. We're just... friendly. Yes. That's it.
So I'll be friendly.
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 47
When I got down to the Great Hall, Marley was sitting alone at the Gryffindor table, eating her breakfast and reading The Prophet.
"Oh, hello, Lily!" she greeted me with a smile, looking up from her paper. "I didn't think you were coming. We missed you yesterday."
I smiled back at her, feeling a bit guilty for leading her on as I had the other morning—you know, by telling her that there was a chance I'd be coming to breakfast, when there obviously wasn't. It was really rather rude of me.
"I wasn't feeling very well," I lied, taking my seat across from her. Marley nodded understandingly and then turned back to reading her paper.
With those pleasantries over, I quietly settled into my seat and began to fill my plate. Loading on my usual waffles, the absence of a certain someone didn't go unnoticed by me. Pouring myself a glass of pumpkin juice, I secretly began scanning the Great Hall, searching for any sign of a familiar, messy-haired Head Boy. James didn't seem to be there yet, which struck me as a bit odd. As I began to eat my waffles, I silently kept an eye out for him, waiting for him to appear so I could officially try out my new 'friendly' routine. What a waste of time the whole friendly plan would be if he decided not to show. I would've been worrying relentlessly for no reason whatsoever. How unfair is that?
Taking another quick glance at Marley, something struck my attention out of the corner of my eye. For the first time, I suddenly noticed the rather conspicuously full plate residing beside her.
A plate containing eggs.
Eggs, with ketchup.
"Where's James?" I asked, nodding my head towards the plate, attempting to appear as nonchalant as possible. Marley looked up at me, then down at the plate beside hers.
"Oh, he dashed off a few minutes ago." She took a bite of her toast, still looking at me as she noisily turned her newspaper to the next page. "Said he had a Muggle Studies essay to finish and forgot his textbook." She gave me a small smile and rolled her eyes. "Boys," she muttered.
I smiled back and nodded. Yes, boys. But unbeknownst to Marley, this particular boy probably wouldn't have done that particularly boyish thing—leaving his assignment for the last minute, I mean—if I hadn't kept this particular boy up until half-past ten last night helping me with my Transfiguration assignment because I'm stupid (and I reckon now a bit selfish as well). She wasn't aware that it wasn't really his fault he was doing such a boy thing, but mine.
"Oh," I answered weakly, pushing my waffles around on my own plate. I bit my lip uncertainty. "So he'll be back, then?"
Marley shrugged her shoulders, her face once again disappearing behind the Prophet. "I suppose."
"Oh," I mumbled again. "Good. Very good."
I knew I must have sounded like a complete fool.
"Why? Would you miss me, Lily?"
My head whipped around at the amused voice that chimed from behind me. With a boyish grin plastered on his face and a large textbook being held securely under his arm, James regarded me with obvious laughter playing in his eyes.
"I—er...what?" I sputtered, blushing furiously for having been caught looking for him. That sort of thing is does not fit in with the Friendly Plan. In fact, that sort of thing most definitely fits in the OVERLY friendly category, or perhaps even bordering in on the stalkerish category. Which I'm neither. Overly friendly or a stalker, I mean.
James threw me a knowing grin as he slid into the seat next to mine. He reached over and pulled his full plate to his new location and dropped his textbook down onto the table with a loud thunk.
"Admit it, Evans," he teased, still grinning like a mischievous seven-year-old. "Your breakfast just wouldn't be complete without me. You'd miss me terribly if I wasn't here."
His haughty arrogance that I was so used to and usually so repulsed by didn't seem so bad as he sat there with that innocent grin of his, watching me closely, his amusement apparent. I fought to keep the smile off my face, then remembered my decision last night and gently let it escape. Friendly people are allowed to smile when other people tease them. I was allowed to be amused when he did things like that now. The concept seemed almost odd, but at the same time, slightly comforting.
"Oh, yes," I countered sarcastically, rolling my eyes and jabbing my fork into my waffles. "I'm sure I would be just desolate without you."
James grinned cheekily, before adding in a smug tone, "I knew it." Then he unceremoniously shoved a bunch of red-filled eggs into his mouth. I pretended to gag into my plate and he laughed again.
See? This being friendly stuff is such a piece of cake.
We continued chatting and eating a little while longer (me being totally friendly of course, and not at all mean and unfriendly as I had been, say, a few days ago, or overly-friendly and stalkerish as I had been, say, a few minutes ago) when James suddenly remembered his forgotten Muggle Studies essay, and reached down to pull a clean piece of parchment out of his bag.
"What's it on?" I asked, pulling his open textbook over to me as he searched through his bag for a spare quill. The top of the page read: The Automobile.
"Er, cars, I think." His voice was slightly muffled as he continued rummaging through his bag for a quill. "Where in the bloody hell—"
"Here," I said, grabbing a quill out of my own bag and handing it to him. He bent up from his crouched position, glanced at the proffered quill and then reached out his hand and took it from me.
"Thanks," he said with a smile. I smiled back and nodded, truly proud of myself for being so very friendly. As James began readying his writing implements, I flipped curiously through the pages of his textbook. Being Muggleborn, it's always so strange to read up on everyday objects like a microwave and a light bulb from a perspective that makes them seem like they're some sort of new and baffling technology. But that's what they are, I guess. To magical folk, I mean. But it's still weird.
"Hm?" I answered, still flipping through the pages.
"Can I have my textbook back now?"
"Oh!" My face burned red for the second time that morning as I slide the textbook back over to him. "Sorry."
He shrugged off my apology with a smile, and then proceeded to write his essay.
Operation Friendly: Complete.
Even Later, Double Charms
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 47
For some strange reason or another, June Mackey—resident 5th-year Gryffindor prefect, and total and complete slag—has suddenly decided she needs to talk to me. I don't know what about, and I don't know why, but I know she does. And the trouble is, she knows I know she does. I mean, how could I not know? I think the whole bloody school knows at this point, because as it turns out, she now seems to be following me around, and she's not exactly the quietest of followers. Like all of a sudden, she's waltzing down the Charms corridor, trying to get my attention.
I cringed...and pretended not to hear her.
Ducked into nearest doorway, which happened to be Professor Flitwick's office. I then proceeded to ask Flitwick about our weekend assignment, so that it would appear that I was momentarily unattainable to any certain slaggish 5th-years who might want to talk to me. Over Flitwick's shoulder, I saw June stick her head into the office. Then, thankfully, she left. My brilliant plan had worked.
I, however, had to then listen to Flitwick jabber on about the weekend assignment, which I could have completed with my eyes shut and my hands tied behind my back.
But in the end, I suppose it was worth it.
Even Later, Lunch in the Great Hall
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 48
Despite my elaborate attempts to avoid such an event, June cleverly ambushed me on my way out of Charms, practically pouncing on me the second I exited the classroom. There was absolutely no escaping her this time.
"Evans!" she cried, jumping in front of me as soon as I'd cleared through the doorway, Grace following closely behind. There was a large, eager smile plastered on her face. "I need to talk to you."
Uh, yeah, I sort of figured that one, Slaggy.
"Cool your heels there, Mackey," Grace laughed, throwing the younger girl an amused look and causally stepping in front of me, blocking June off from me with her body.
June rolled her eyes and gave Grace an impatient stare. "This is important, Reynolds. Move."
Grace let out a half-snort/half-laugh. "I think I'll leave this one to you, Headie," she told me with a smirk. I glared at her as I realised she meant she was abandoning me. "See you at lunch!" she called with a wave, and with one last snort at the fidgeting June, strode on down the corridor, leaving me alone.
"What do you want, June?" I asked impatiently, more than a bit ticked off that Grace had abandoned me in such a way. Some loyal mate she is. Psh.
"I need your help, Evans," June told me seriously, still fidgeting in her spot. I arched an eyebrow at her.
"Help?" I asked, instantly suspicious. "What sort of help?"
June let out a long, suffering sigh, as if my simple question had somehow suddenly made this unnecessarily difficult for her, even though it hadn't.
"It's really quite simple," she told me, flicking her hair casually behind her shoulder. I waited for her to continue. She didn't.
"And?" I prodded.
She sighed again, once more acting if I was the one who was prolonging this dreadful conversation. "And," she repeated, rolling her eyes. "I need your help."
I had to hold myself back from strangling the stupid brat.
"Get to the point, June or I'm leaving," I snapped, letting my annoyance with her be known. When she just rolled her eyes again, I started to walk off.
"Wait! Stop!" she cried, grabbing my wrist and dragging back to where we were standing. Glowering at her, I threw her a look that clearly stated I wasn't in the mood.
"Either say your bit or let me go," I told her curtly, finally just fed up with the whole thing.
Plus, I was really hungry.
"Fine," she bit back, glaring at me. "I...I..."
"I need you to switch patrols with me!"
"What did you say?" I asked, narrowing my eyes skeptically.
"I said," she repeated, her voice not losing its biting edge, "that I need you to switch patrols with me. Mine's Thursday. Yours is next week. Switch with me."
That was it. It wasn't, 'I need you to do my essay', or 'I need you to brew me a Contraceptive Potion,' or even, 'I need you to help me murder this one-or-another'. Just 'I need you to switch with me'. Now, I'm not stupid—I mean, I did have to work very hard to get my end-of-the-month round patrol spots and all, considering everyone knows that they are the best patrol days (I'm not sure why, but those are the days you just seem to be able to get out of it earlier. You know, like instead of patrolling until 12, you can get out at 11. Things like that)—but I hardly doubt that June Mackey would be humbling herself to me simply to get out of an hour of walking around the castle. It didn't make any sense.
"Why?" I asked warily.
June glared at me harder. "Does it matter?" she snapped.
I nodded my head. "No explanation, no switch," I told her firmly, crossing my arms over my chest. Her eyes narrowed dangerously, and I thought that perhaps she was going to turn on her heel and stalk away right then and there. Instead, she turned her head to the side and mumbled something into her shoulder.
"Speak up," I ordered, trying to get her back into eye contact. She tossed her head back to face me and glared some more. I gave her an annoyed look and she sighed heavily.
"Fine!" she seethed, crossing her own arms across her chest. "I—I…do you know who you're partnered with?"
I thought for a moment, and then shook my head. I had rushed to the timetable, signed my name in two days near the end of the month, and then sprinted off. I honestly hadn't even checked who was doing rounds with me yet. It didn't really matter.
"Well, you're doing it with...someone," June stated, readjusting her crossed arms in discomfort. "I need to—speak with this person."
I looked at the blonde disbelievingly. "Someone?" I questioned doubtfully. "Speak? Don't tell me you're actually going to try and seduce some poor, unsuspecting bloke while you do rounds!"
The look on June's face told me that that was exactly what she was intending to do.
"Merlin, Mackey!" I groaned, not even bothering to keep the disgusted look off my face. "That's a new low! Even for you!"
"Oh, sod off, Evans!" June fumed. "It's not as if I'm going to rape anyone! He wants it just as much as I do!"
I couldn't really contradict her on that one. I mean, there are very few gentlemen who willingly resist June's indecent advances. But still...
"Who is it?" I asked.
June shook her head furiously. "That's for me to know, Evans."
"I'll find out eventually," I insisted, shrugging my shoulders.
"Well then we'll wait until then," she countered determinedly, her face scrunched up with obvious distaste for what she'd just revealed. I thought about pressing the issue, but then decided to drop it. I wanted this confrontation over with as soon as possible.
"So do we have a deal, then?"
She held her tanned, manicured hand out to me, and I glanced at her cautiously. Should I be doing this? I mean, the poor unsuspecting bloke...even if he does want it...it's not fair...and I'll have to go on the extra hour...and the poor bloke...and the rounds…
June tapped her foot impatiently. "Come on, Evans. I don't have all day."
I bit my bottom lip uncertainly. "June...I'm really not—"
"You'd be doing rounds with Diggory."
I froze, my heart stopping in my chest as I regarded the younger girl with dumbfounded amazement.
"What?" Icroaked out, unable to believe that she had just told me that for the reason I thought she had.
June smiled coyly at my reaction, fixing me with a smug stare. "I'm doing rounds with Amos Diggory on Thursday," she clarified, keeping her voice an innocent monotone, though I knew exactly what she was doing. She was trying to hit my weak spot.
And she had.
And Merlin curse it all, the bloody slag knew it.
I didn't ask how she knew about Amos. I didn't even really care at that point. Forget about the morals of the unsuspecting bloke! Forget about June and her slaggish ways!
Almost without thinking, I stuck my hand into hers and shook.
"No," I said, my voice hard and determined. "I'm doing rounds with Amos Diggory on Thursday."
Later, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 50
Observation #50) Professor Abbott has either been completely slacking off or has unknowingly lost a rather important paper.
I passed Professor Abbott in the corridor just now, and surprisingly enough, she was not glaring furiously at me. In fact, she didn't even acknowledge me. She just glanced my way, stared a bit with her usual coldness, then continued on down the corridor. She saw me—I know she did—but she wasn't glaring more than she usually does. This leads me to believe either one of two things:
a) by some miraculous, unlikely burst of luck, Abbott hasn't yet read The Assignment, or
b) she's read it, was absolutely appalled, and is now waiting until I have class tomorrow so that she can do something drastic (i.e.: humiliate me in front of the entire class)
Can she do that, though? Humiliate me publicly, I mean? Isn't that some sort of student abuse or something? Because I seriously doubt that she hasn't looked at The Assignment yet. She's one of those professors that always gets assignments back to you the next day. She's had all weekend, not to mention today, to grade papers. So she's totally read it. There's just no way she couldn't have.
Wait a minute. Unless…
What if it's lost?
What if, in the midst of all the chaos when everyone else was handing in their papers, mine was somehow accidentally knocked off the pile and onto the floor, never to be seen or heard from again? It's possible. I think it's happened before—not to me, of course, but it has happened—so that could totally be it.
And you know what? Maybe I'm better off with it lost. I mean, I'll still be receiving the same failing grade anyway, so what does it matter? And then Abbott would never have to know that I had practically insulted her with my excuse-for-an-essay. And I wouldn't even ever have to pay James the ten galleons either, because I did hand it in, it just happened to get lost.
Hm. Well. That worked out rather well, I think.
Very Late, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 7
Total Observations: 51
Even though it's incredibly late, I'm incredibly tired, and both Elisabeth and Emily have chosen this particular moment to loudly pick out their outfits for the Hogsmeade trip (which is at least a month away, by the way), I find myself in a rather happy disposition. I mean, apart from the whole 'Emma is being a prat' thing, my life is in relatively nice order compared to the havoc it has recently been.
So, at least for tonight, I think I can rest easy.
I like that.
Tuesday, September 23rd, Breakfast in the Great Hall
Observant Lily: Day 8
Total Observations: 51
Neither James nor Marley are here this morning, and I have to say, it feels rather strange.
I mean, yes, I've really only been eating with them this early for three days now, but it feels longer than that, which is probably why it feels so odd now. And I'm a bit lonely as well. Because no one else really is up this early. Everyone else is sane, and are therefore still sleeping. Which, you know, good for them, but not so much for me. I just wish—
"Hullo, Lily. Do you mind if I sit with you today?"
Oh, me. What do we have here?
"Er, sure, if you'd like, Thomas," I answer with a smile. Perhaps I won't be so lonely after all. Thomas smiles back and takes the seat across from me.
But why is he over here when he could be sitting with his mates over at the Hufflepuff table? I ask him.
"They were being annoying wankers," Thomas has just informed me. I nod my head and tell him that my mates tend to be annoying wankers sometimes as well. He grins at this.
"Like James Potter and his ketchup?" he has just asked. I grin back and nod my head, not bothering to correct his assumption that James and I are mates. I think it'd be just a little bit too complicated to explain to little, adorable Thomas Dunn that James Potter isn't exactly my mate, but just a person I happen to be friendly with. It far less complicated just to nod and continue looking at that gorgeous head of hair of his. Overall, not a bad way to spend a morning, I suppose.
Observation #51) I can tell this day is going to be a good one.
A Bit Later, Breakfast in the Great Hall
Observant Lily: Day 8
Total Observations: 52
Observation #52) I am totally and completely stupid.
Oh, bloody hell, I totally forgot what today was.
Meaning, Return of The Assignment Day.
Which means that even though this day has started so well, it will ultimately end up very very bad—because whether The Assignment has succeeded in losing itself or not, Professor Abbott is still going to kill me. I mean, even if it is lost, Abbott's not going to know that. She'll just think I that I didn't bother to hand it in at all. Which is, you know, better than her thinking (or knowing, rather) that I had willingly (albeit, under the peer pressure of a 10-galleon bet, which to an avaricious person like myself, is something that can't be resisted) written a rather insulting letter to her, but still.
I just can't get a break, can I?
Oh, blast it all. Not even Thomas Dunn's beautiful head of hair can cheer me up now.
Life is very sad indeed.
Observant Lily: Day 8
Total Observations: 52
Why am I worried? Why am I going crazy now? I knew when I handed it in that Abbott was going to fail me—THAT was when I had a right to be going mad, but not now. I should be happy now, right? I should have some sort of feeling of accomplishment, shouldn't I? I fought the system! I should feel free and liberated!
Ugh. Then why do I just feel really sick?
Free and liberated my arse. Madwomen are obviously just not ALLOWED to feel free. It must be against the Madwomen Code or something.
I think I just may throw up.
Merlin, I hope it's lost.
Observant Lily: Day 8
Total Observations: 53
You know, I have always considered myself a rather good judge of character. Like, generally I'm usually pretty good at picking out the prat from the pack. In fact, I've always rather prided myself on my brilliant judge of character.
But now I'm not so sure.
I walked into Potions class, my mind, body and soul all fully prepared for Abbott's very sound and very public verbal thrashing of me for completely insulting her teachings in my letter, or her equally sound and public thrashing for not bothering to hand in The Assignment at all (because she isn't aware that my classmates lost it). But even though I was prepared, and even though I was supposed to feel content and liberated, my head and stomach were both throbbing by the time I made it to my seat. I mean really throbbing. Like, 'I-think-I'm-going-to-pass-out' throbbing. Which just wouldn't be good. At all.
"Merlin and Agrippa, Lily!" Grace groaned as she took her seat next me. "What is it with you and bloody Potions class? You always look as if you've just eaten something poisonous."
I barely registered Grace's comment as my head continued to pound. There was something I could use right about now. Poison. Some quick, painless and completely effective poison. Like the poison Romeo got from the poor apothecary in Romeo and Juliet. That stuff was good. Very effective.
"I'm fine," I muttered, slowly massaging my aching temples. A sound of disgust escaped from Grace.
"Oh, sod it, Lily," she scoffed, giving me a dirty look. "What is going on?"
I opened my mouth to answer, then closed it after a moment's thought. Did it even matter if I told her now? I mean, would it even make a difference? She'd probably just get mad that I didn't mention it to her before. Or insulted that I hadn't shown it to her. Or some equally as stupid emotion for some equally as stupid reason.
"It's nothing," I told her dishonestly. "Leave it alone. Don't worry about it."
But she didn't leave it alone. In fact, she started to press the issue even farther, bombarding me with even more questions.
"Why aren't you telling me?" she demanded, her face conspicuously irritated. "What aren't you telling me? And why do you keep doing that? We've never kept secrets before, Lily." She looked rather annoyed. I didn't blame her. I think I'd be annoyed, too.
"Look," I started, the aching in my head slowly fading to a minor twinge, "it's...complicated. I'll tell you later."
Grace didn't seem to think this was any better then me keeping it from her entirely.
"I don't know what's up with you, Lily Christine Evans," she grumbled, glaring, "but you are driving me mad."
I sighed, letting my head drop dejectedly onto the desk, the coolness against my forehead soothing the pain a bit. The morning just seemed to be getting worse and worse and...
"All right there, Lily?"
I heard Grace turn in her chair, but I didn't bother moving from my pain-lessening—albeit not exactly the most comfortable—position.
I hate him. He's such a prat.
"Go away," I mumbled into the desk.
There was a light snort of laugh before I felt someone's hand gently swipe along my back in a comforting manner. I raised my head slightly from the desk. James was smiling down on me, his eyes holding that amused, knowing look. He leaned over slightly, moving so that his face was close to mine.
"Deep breaths, Slave," he whispered softly, his voice so quiet only I could hear him, his smile so wide and gleeful, I wanted to hit him.
Instead, I grabbed the nearest thing—a quill—and threw it at him.
I may be sick, and I may be going mad, and I may be only moments away from receiving my first failing grade—not to mention my first public thrashing—but I was NOT, in any WAY, SHAPE, or FORM, going to let James Potter think he won this stupid bet. No way, no how. Not after all this.
"You just wait, James Potter," I told him menacingly. "You're getting nothing from me."
James clutched at his chest in mock-distress. "Oh, Evans!" he cried with fake sincerity. "Tsk tsk tsk! Now is that how you treat your—"
Before he could make another comment about me being his slave, I grabbed the next nearest thing—another quill—and chucked it at him again. James laughed, even when the spare ink on the tip of the quill stained his pants. I grumbled at his amusement.
My eyes riveted over to Grace, and I slowly sat up in my seat, the movement doing little to help my headache. She was looking at James and me with carefully slit eyes. It was then I really regretted not telling her about the stupid bet. She must have felt like such an idiot then, completely out of the loop while James and I bickered.
James looked at Grace, her glares, and then at me. "You didn't tell her?" he asked, his eyebrows furrowing. I shook my head, hoping he wouldn't say anything. Grace continued glaring.
"Tell me what?" she demanded forcefully, crossing her arms over her chest.
James ignored her. He was still looking at me. "About any of it?"
I shook my head again. I didn't know why it mattered to him. Me not telling Grace about the bet, I mean. It's not as if I don't ever keep secrets from her, because I do...I think. But this all happened so fast, so I really didn't have time to tell her all about it. Even though I did sort of have time this weekend...and this morning...and Friday morning...and Thursday night for that matter...
Oh, bugger it.
I looked towards Grace with the words of an apology on the tip of my tongue, but stopped when I caught the look on her face. Instead of looking angry and annoyed as I originally thought she would, she was looking hard at James, her expression very thoughtful, as if she was mentally putting together the pieces of a puzzle. I stared at her and then looked up at James. He was staring at Grace with the same confused expression I'm sure I was donning.
"Er, Grace? You all right there?" James slowly waved his hand in front of her face in an attempt to break her trance. Grace's gaze snapped over to me, but before she could say anything, Professor Abbott entered the classroom.
"Seats!" she snapped, striding purposely towards her desk, a large pile of parchment held securely under her arm. I forgot all about Grace and her odd expression as I spotted the pile.
My stomach churned.
Here it was.
"Black!" Abbott shot curtly. "I said in your seat!"
I gulped. This wasn't good. It wasn't good at all. Professor Abbott never yells at Sirius. Never. She yells at James and she yells at Remus and she yells at Peter, but she never yells at Sirius. It's a known fact that he's a favourite of hers. The only other time I've ever heard her raise her voice to him was in 2nd-year, when he had purposely blown up his entire cauldron, succeeding in setting Penny O'Jean's robes on fire in the process. And even then—when Penny had to spend two days in the Hospital Wing and later confided in us Gryffindor girls that her breasts would just never be the same—Professor Abbott later apologized to him in front of the entire class, and the issue was soon forgotten. She had to be in only the most dreadful mood to snap at Sirius. There were quiet murmurs in the classroom as a shocked Sirius took his seat next to James. No one knew what could have put Abbott in this sort of mood.
Unfortunately, I did.
"Quiet!" Abbott bellowed, her voice a bit less edgy as the class ceased their talking. She scanned the class slowly from left to right. I stared down at my desk, not able to make eye contact. I heard the quiet rustle of papers, and when I finally looked up, Abbott was holding up the pile of essays high above her head for everyone in the classroom to see. "These," she said, scanning the room once more, "were not at all what I expected of NEWT level Potions students. They were bleak, shortened and repetitive. If these excuses-for-essays were what you chose to write on your NEWT examinations, then I'm pleased to inform you all now that most of you will fail." Groans and sighs filled the room as Abbott dropped her outstretched arm and began straightening the pile of papers, readying them for returning. My head pounded so hard I had to count slowly to ten to try to get the nauseous feeling out of my system.
"Mine was a load of rubbish," Grace whispered to me, her voice light and unconcerned. She'd obviously forgotten about the odd scene with James just before, because she didn't seem cross. I nodded, but didn't respond because I was positive that if I opened my mouth, I would vomit right then and there, which, you know, ew.
It seemed as if Abbott passed out the papers in slow motion, walking around the classroom at a snail's pace, deliberately driving me mad. I watched as she sluggishly returned each paper to their respective owners and listened for the periodical groan of distress or sigh of relief (more the former than the latter) as she did so. When Abbott handed Grace hers (full of red corrections, a dreadful mark naturally, but Grace didn't care), she didn't acknowledge my presence. Not with a glare, not with an insult...not at all. It made me worry more than if she had done something.
It seemed like forever when the pile had begun to dwindle and Abbott finally caught my eye, slowly making her way towards me from the opposite side of the room, where she had just handed a distressed Jervis Rennet back his paper. My heart froze in my chest and my breath quickened involuntarily, but I couldn't look away. Every second brought Abbott closer to me and another step closer to failing. She still wasn't glaring and she didn't look angry, but that was no consolation to me. My breath caught in my throat as she reached my desk and stood quietly in front of me, ever so slowly extracting the top piece of parchment—my parchment—from her pile. I finally managed to rip my gaze from Abbott's and instantly stared down at the hard wood of the desk, telling myself that it was no use crying now, in front of everybody, when everything was said and done.
One second I was staring at the desk, and the next I wasn't.
Instead, I was left staring at my letter.
My letter, that didn't include any red marks —not even one on the top of the page indicating my failing mark—but which did include something else.
Another letter, connected to the back of mine. One written in Abbott's precise, red cursive.
My gaze instantly flew up to Abbott, who was still standing in front of me, and I nearly had a heart attack when I caught sight of her. She wasn't glaring and she wasn't clenching her teeth—in fact, to my complete and utter astonishment, she wasn't angry at all.
She was smiling.
And this wasn't one of those evil smiles you might expect from a Professor such as Abbott, who takes joy in seeing her students fail. It was one of those smiles you see on Professor Flitwick when the first-years finally manage to get their Charms correct, or one of Professor Lundi's smiles when I don't yell at him for calling me Mily-va-Lily, or one of my smiles when I spot the five types of rice on the Gryffindor table at dinner. In fact, she was smiling so widely, I think that perhaps with a bit more encouragement, she could have been laughing.
And I had never—in all my years at Hogwarts, and all my classes with Professor Abbott—ever seen her laugh. But I think, just then, she might have been on the verge.
"Gulping gargoyles, Lily!" Grace gaped, completely awestruck, staring after Abbott as she left our desk. "What did you write in that thing?"
But I wasn't paying any attention to Grace. I was too engrossed in reading Professor Abbott's letter:
Dear Miss Evans, she wrote.
I'm quite sure that you were perfectly aware of the assignment, and I'm quite sure that—while I have no intention of doing so—if I were to look into your trunk in your dormitory, I would indeed find this half-finished essay you claim to have written.
You were quite correct in your assumption that there are very few, albeit very vital, effects to the Grentlis Potion, and that most of your classmates' essays were dismal and repetitive. Yours, surprisingly enough, was like a wand among the sticks. And while I am quite sure that were you to ask some poor woman who is suffering from Benedict's Fever—a magical malady where the body starts to shut down and the immune system is unable to help—if she found the Grentlis Potion—the only known cure for Benedict's—'useless', she would assure you that it was far from that. However, considering the fact that there have only been two known cases of Benedict's Fever in the last hundred years, I see where your opinions might surface in that case.
Seeing this, I will not be giving you a failing mark on this assignment, as you may or may not have already assumed. Instead I am assigning you another 3-foot long essay to be handed in tomorrow on the advantages and dangers of the Polyjuice Potion, something I'm sure you will run into in your days as an Auror.
I warn you however, Miss Evans, that if this essay is not promptly handed in by tomorrow, you will find me not so lenient.
On a closing mark, I'm finally glad to see you've shown some of the backbone we both know you have. I've been waiting to see it for quite some time. Women shouldn't cower and take in insults and unfair treatment, even from their Potions professors. Don't be afraid to strike back, Lily.
Now, shall I inform Mr. Potter of your win, or would you prefer to?
Professor Whitney M. Abbott
Potions Master, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Holy. Bloody. Fucking. Shit.
"Lily? What's wrong? What does it say?"
Before I could even think about what I was doing, I quickly grabbed a slab of empty parchment off my desk and copied Abbott's letter, much like I had with The Assignment on Friday, and as quietly as I could, began to crumple it into a ball. With the aim of a professional Quidditch player, I quickly turned in my seat, aimed, threw, and hit James (who was talking to Sirius at the time) square in the face. He jumped, his gaze going to the projectile parchment, then instantly, as if it was so obvious who had thrown it (which I suppose it was, considering I'm really the only one who tends to throw bits of parchment at his face), his gaze flickered to me. I mouthed 'Read it!', before turning back around.
A few minutes later, James burst out laughing and Abbott told him to be quiet.
The rest of class went by like a blur. I didn't copy down any notes or even listen to any of the lecture. All I could think about was that letter and how wrong I'd been about Professor Whitney M. Abbott.
I still couldn't believe it. Abbott hadn't failed me. I hadn't done the assignment, I had insulted her choice in topic—therefore insulting her—and she still hadn't failed me. No one could've blamed her if she had—I mean, it would've been perfectly acceptable and perfectly necessary—but she hadn't.
I thought she hated me. I thought she was a mean, rotten, frigid old bag, when all along she'd just been waiting for me to show some backbone. She had insulted me, glared at me, and yelled at me, not because I'd been doing anything wrong, but because she was waiting for me to strike back.
AND SHE KNEW ABOUT THE BET!! She knew!! And she hadn't even failed me because of that! Or given me detention for gambling underage, either! But how could she have known? I mean, I hadn't even told Grace about it, how could Professor Abbott have known? James wouldn't...would he? No. I don't think he would...
AND SHE CALLED ME LILY!!!!!
It's always been "Evans this" and "Evans that". I don't think I've ever heard her call me Lily. It's almost as weird as James...oh, wait. He calls me Lily now, too. But still.
I can't believe that all this time I've been wrong about Professor Abbott. Totally and completely wrong. It rather makes me wonder, you know? I mean, if I'm obviously not as talented at judging character as I previously thought, who else have I confused? Elisabeth Saunders? June Mackey? Possibly even my precious Amos?
I just don't know anymore.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a three-foot essay to write on the advantages and dangers of Polyjuice Potion.
I can't believe she called me Lily...
Observation #53) I think far too highly of myself. I'm a dreadful judge of character. Can probably blame this on my karma.
Later, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 8
Total Observations: 53
"I can't believe it. I can't bloody believe it!"
I raised my head from my almost completed essay, watching with a smile as James sauntered over to my table in the library, his books in one hand and a familiar piece of crumpled parchment in the other. With a look of complete disbelief on his face, he slid into the seat next to me, slapping the letter onto the table in front of him.
"You do realise," he started, his eyes narrowed, but more in humor than in actual anger, "that if anyone else—save maybe Sirius—did what you did, they not only would have failed miserably, but also most likely would've been sent to Dumbledore so quick, their head would be spinning?"
I laughed and nodded, not sure what to say because I'd been thinking the exact same thing this morning. James shook his head in obvious regret.
"I should have known better than to make any sort of bet with you," he said with a sigh. "Teacher's pets always get out of things."
I threw him a look and swatted at his arm. "Teacher's pet?" I cried indignantly. "Before today I was absolutely certain Abbott hated me!"
James smiled crookedly. "So did I," he told me flatly. "That's why I made the bet in the first place." He laughed then, an impish smile playing at his lips.
"Well, serves you right then!" I scoffed with a smug smile. He laughed again and I went to turn back to my essay, then stopped and turned back to him. "I still wonder how she knew though," I thought out loud. "About the bet, I mean."
James's eyes sparkled with mischief. "So did I."
My mouth dropped open.
"Did?" I stammered. "W-what do you mean 'did'?"
James turned his head to look at me, his smile wide. "Well you didn't expect me to just sit back and wonder did you?"
I stared at him in disbelief, gaping like a fish. "You mean you asked her?"
James nodded, his smile not fading.
Bloody effing hell. Have I actually found someone madder than me?
After a few moments of simple smiling and nodding on his part, but no elaboration, I let out a cry of amused frustration.
"Well?" I cried. "What did she say?"
James smiled smugly, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms haughtily over his chest. "She said, and I quote, 'The library is a public place, Potter, and you and Evans just happened to be sitting by the Potions section'."
My mouth fell open again. "She was...she was eavesdropping?!"
"Certainly not!" James cried in mock-horror. "Apparently, we don't seem to realise 'how well our voices carry'."
I rolled my eyes, but the absolute ludicrously of the whole thing made me laugh again. I couldn't believe she'd been eavesdropping! EAVESDROPPING!
"I can't believe it," I muttered humorously, shaking my head in disbelief.
"And I always thought Abbott a rather conservative bird, too," James added with a smirk.
I shook my head again, trying to clear it before remembering something. I turned my gaze back over to James, imitating his relaxed, confident position as I leaned back in my chair and crossed my own arms over my chest. "So," I drawled, throwing him a smirk of my own, "when do I get my ten galleons, then?"
James stood up from his chair, lightly grabbing his books before sweeping down into a mocking bow. "I am your personal slave, madam," he said. "Do with me as you wish."
I clunked him over the head with my Potions book and he went off laughing, leaving me alone to finish off my essay.
Even Later, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 8
Total Observations: 53
Grace has been acting really strangely. Stranger than usual, I mean.
I thought she would be upset or cross with me for not telling her about the bet (which I still haven't, by the way, but she seems to have forgotten all about it), but instead she's acting rather cheerful and nice. Not that she isn't cheerful or nice normally, she is...mostly...but now she's being extra nice and extra cheery. Overly cheery and nice. And not in a good way.
"Would you like my rice, Lily?" she offered me at dinner. Twice.
"More pumpkin juice?" she asked, two minutes later.
"Do you need help with that, Lily?" she asked a few minutes ago, because she thinks I'm doing my Transfiguration homework, even though I'm writing in here about her possible mental instabilities.
She's driving me mad. Really, she is. And when I asked her what was going on, she said nothing except that she was really really proud of me. I thought for a second she was talking about the bet, but then remembered that I had yet to tell her about that, so that couldn't be it. So I gave her a dirty look and asked her why.
"You are such a brilliant bird, Lily," she tells me instead of answering. "I'm sure you've made certain...people...very very happy recently."
I throw my pillow at her.
I think my madness may be rubbing off.
Wednesday, September 24th, Breakfast in the Great Hall
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 54
Even though I've been doing this for quite a few days now, and even though I have never had a problem with it before, my body apparently has just decided that it hasn't yet adjusted to the drastic change in my morning schedule, and was seriously objecting to getting up early this morning. This perhaps could be because I went to sleep rather late last night, as Grace kept me up telling me how "proud" she was of me (which she still won't elaborate on, by the way), or because of the large amount of turkey I had at dinner yesterday, which everyone knows makes you unbearably sleepy. Either way, I found I had to struggle to get up. And even as I was stepping out of the dormitory ten minutes later, my eyes kept fluttering shut involuntarily. This, I knew, was not safe and would eventually lead to someone (most likely me) breaking something (most likely my body parts), but I still kept on walking.
Unfortunately, this theory was almost proven solid, when as I was walking wearily down the stairs to the Great Hall, I clumsily tripped over my own two feet and nearly went tumbling down the stairs. Luckily, just as I was about to fall to my bleak and untimely death, I hit something hard and felt two strong arms wrap securely around me, breaking my fall.
"Whoa! You all right there, Lily?"
My head snapped up, my body still shaking from the near-death experience. Gazing down at me, filled with curiosity and a bit concern, were a pair of familiar bright blue eyes.
Very nice, bright blue eyes.
"Amos!" I cried hoarsely, blushingly detangling myself from his supporting embrace (though very reluctantly, I assure you). "I'm sorry! I...it's..." I sighed, shaking my head to clear it. "Early," I finished wearily. "It's really really early."
Oh, Merlin. Way to be articulate, there, Evans. Let's just dazzle him with my charms, eh?
Stupid idiot mouth...
I blushed even deeper when Amos nodded at my lame excuse. He flashed me one of his brilliant smiles. "Not a morning person, then?" he asked.
I shook my head and stammered on, "Well, it's, er...it's new."
"You'll get used to it," Amos laughed, as he turned and started walking towards the Great Hall. I watched after him, not sure if I was supposed to follow him or not, then decided to sit tight for a moment, even though my entire body was dying to follow. A few seconds later, he looked back at me, a dwindling smile on his handsome face. "You heading to breakfast?"
I nodded jerkily. He motioned his head towards the Hall.
"Well, come on, then," he said, then started walking again.
Needless to say, I didn't need to be told twice.
"Actually," he began, when I had caught up with him a few moments later, "I'm glad I ran into you." He stopped, then looked at me with a small smile that made my stomach flutter. "Or rather, I'm glad you fell into me."
I tried to cover my blush as I muttered another lame apology. He simply shrugged it off with another smile. Could the man possibly get more brilliant?
"Quit apologizing," he teased, shaking his head at me slightly, letting a few stray locks of hair fall neatly into his face. I fought back the urge to push them aside. This boy was driving me mad. "I told you, it was a good thing."
"How so?" I asked, hoping he would tell me it was because he was so desperately in love with me that any chance to see me or talk to me—nevertheless have me fall straight into his arms—was a slice of heaven.
"Because we needed to set up a meeting for that Runes project," he told me instead.
It was a bit anticlimactic to say the least.
"Oh," I answered flatly, trying not to look too disappointed. "Right. Of course. I'd forgotten about that."
Which, oddly enough, was the truth. It definitely says something when a girl is so wrapped up in other affairs that she completely forgets the fact that she has a valid excuse to sit and talk with the love of her life for hours on end. I obviously am just too stressed out.
"Well how about tonight?" Amos asked, snapping me from my thoughts.
"Tonight?" I repeated dumbly. Amos smiled, then nodded.
"Around eight, maybe?"
Wednesday. Eight. Tutoring. Damn.
"Er, how about seven?" I altered, praying that it would be all right and that he wouldn't ask me why it couldn't be eight.
My heart sank when he smiled and teasingly inquired, "Why? Have a date planned?"
"Not quite," I answered hesitantly, scanning my head for any sort of excuse other than the truth. "Tutoring," I heard myself say instead.
Damn stupid traitorous mouth. It can't even lie properly anymore.
Amos arched an eyebrow. "Tutoring?" he asked disbelievingly. "You?"
I shrugged my shoulders helplessly, hoping that maybe Amos went for that sort of thing. Like the not-perfect-in-every-class sort of thing, I mean. "Transfiguration seems to have it out for me," I answered hesitantly, the redness in my cheeks increasing tenfold. "I'm rather dreadful."
Realization dawned on him, as Amos nodded and then said, "Oh yeah. Something about a crazed chicken, right?"
Double bloody fucking hell!
He heard about that? Who the bloody hell told him?!
With my face so flushed I'm sure I blended right in with hair, I nodded dumbly. "Er...I...uh...yeah. Yeah, that was it."
Oh, Merlin. I can't believe what an extreme loser I am.
I can't even express how relieved I was when we reached the Great Hall a few seconds later. It was obvious my traitor-of-a-mouth just couldn't be trusted in situations like this. Amos was probably already laughing himself to death inside his head, thinking about how stupid and silly little Lily Evans was.
"So, seven?" he asked me as we were about to part our ways.
"Seven," I repeated with nod.
And with one last smile, Amos left me, heading confidently towards the Hufflepuff table. I miserably dragged myself over to the Gryffindor table, barely acknowledging Marley and James, who were both looking at me curiously. A bittersweet morning I was having indeed.
Observation #54) It's far too early to be failing life already. Why am I so unlucky?
Later, Ancient Runes
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 54
Penny O'Jene and The Human Hyena broke it off yesterday after what I'm told was a rather loud row concerning the Potions dungeons, a fruit basket and someone's pink knickers. So needless to say, Penny is back in her seat and I am back in mine. This means no more Amos, though thankfully not permanently, as I recently discovered when Penny and Timmy went to Lundi to plead their case and ask for a switch of partners. Lundi told them we would keep our original groups regardless of their feuds. This of course, is a good thing, because even though I made a complete fool of myself in front of Amos this morning, I would be devastated not to have the chance to make it better tonight. I swear, I'll make myself out to be the epitome of grace, serenity and perfection tonight. Amos will be sure to finally realise he loves me after that.
Plus, now I can stop trying to write left-handed so that Amos and I can "accidentally" brush hands. I know I had ambitions to be ambidextrous and all, but sometimes a girl just has to know when to give in. I am not left-handed. At all.
Could the day finally be starting to look up a bit?
I won't hold my breath.
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 58
Observation #55) Apparently, when someone is "really proud of you", even for reasons you are not yet sure of, they tend to do things for you, like transfigure your worm into a coffee maker when McGonagall has her back turned.
Observation #56) When McGonagall turns around and looks at your work and nods her head in approval, you start to get a rather funny feeling in your stomach, which oddly enough feels a lot like guilt.
Observation #57) When you insist for a certain someone to turn your worm back into a worm so that you can get rid of that guilt-like feeling in your stomach and actually do some work for yourself, she does so, but also adds in the fact that she's proud of you.
Observation #58) Even when you manage to create the world's first ever worm-maker rather than a proper coffee-maker, a certain someone insists she is still proud of you.
Even Later, 7th-year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 58
Thirty minutes until I have to meet Amos. I shouldn't be nervous, right? I mean, all I have to do is act perfect and wonderful and everything will go fine. It'll be all right.
Oh, Merlin, I think I'm going to heave.
Even Later, Library
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 58
I shouldn't be nervous! It'll be fine. I'll just act nice, cool and collected, just like I act around everyone else. I'll pretend he's Grace...just, you know, better looking and, yeah, a man.
A brilliant man.
A brilliant, intelligent, gorgeous man.
Oh, Merlin, my palms are sweating. That is so gross. Amos is going to take one look at my disgustingly sweating palms and turn right back around and leave. He's so going to think I have some sort of hygienic problem. He's going to hate me. He's going to refuse to work with me, I just know it. And then, not only will I be without a future husband, I'll also fail Ancient Runes.
Okay. I have to stay calm. Calm, Lily, calm. Breathe. In and out, in and out...
Oh, but why is he late?? I mean, he did say seven, right? And now it's...seven ten. Ten minutes. He's definitely not coming. Or maybe he came, saw me sitting here with my severe sweating problems and then left. That's it. That's definitely—
Oh, bloody shit. Here he comes.
Even Later, 7th-Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 58
Oh, Merlin. There he was. I seriously thought I was about to melt.
"Er...hi," I responded lamely, a nervous smile on my face. Amos smiled back, his grin not conveying any nerves whatsoever. I self-consciously slipped my hands under the table. By that time, I had practically perspired a river, which was the last thing I needed Amos seeing. He took the seat across from me, his unsweaty hands calmly placing his textbooks upon the table.
"Have you been waiting for me long?" he asked simply.
Er, only four years or so, love.
"No," I answered. "Not too long."
He smiled at me again. My stomach flopped.
"Good." He opened his textbook with a still non-sweating hand. "Quidditch ran a bit long and I was afraid you'd been waiting."
Aw. Now how sweet is that?
"No worries," I said with a smile of my own, trying not to sound or look too obviously flirty, while also simultaneously trying to wipe the ridiculous amount of moisture off my hands beneath the table. I cautiously lifted my hands into view and opened my own textbook to the back pages where several complicated passages were held. "So," I started slowly, looking up. "Do you have any ideas of what you'd like to translate?"
Amos started carefully flipping through the pages and I followed suite, slowly skimming the different passages, looking for the one that struck my fancy. The fifth was the easiest, and the seventh was the hardest, so I thought that perhaps we could do the eleventh, seeing how that was right in the middle. Yeah, the eleventh would do.
"Well," Amos drawled a few seconds later, "how about the fifth? It looks like it's the easiest."
Or, you know, the fifth. That'll work too.
"Sure," I agreed readily, though I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed. I would have rather liked to try something a bit harder than the child's play fifth. Oh, well. I suppose it's like what my Aunt Mae always says—you get what you get and you don't get upset.
And honestly, who could get upset with Amos Diggory, anyway?
"All right, then," Amos grinned. "Let's get started, shall we?"
I nodded, then slid my hands back under the table. Just in case.
Working with Amos wasn't at all what I thought it would be, but everything I hoped it would be. He was funny and he was nice and best of all, I didn't have to try too hard to be perfect for him to be that way. I mean, even when I said or did something stupid (which, you know, being me, couldn't be avoided), he would just laugh it off and smile at me like he thought being stupid meant being adorable or something. And do you know what else? I think maybe, just maybe, he might have even been flirting with me a bit! I mean, I was blatantly flirting with him the entire time, but somewhere over the course of the forty minutes we sat there, he started responding. It was as if Christmas had come early, right then and there in the library, at the table by the Potions section. It was bliss. It was paradise.
It was Amos.
As our work began drawing to a close and the time became closer and closer to eight, Amos and I carefully started clearing our things and putting our work in its proper place. We'd actually gotten a rather large amount done, but considering how easy the work was and how lovely he and I worked together (!), it wasn't that difficult to figure out why.
"I figure that we can do this once more, and then it should be done, right?" Amos asked me as he stood, straightening his papers. I nodded my head.
"That sounds about right," I grinned, extremely happy with how this whole evening had turned out. I was about to ask Amos just when he wanted to get together again, when a loud, curt calling of my name had me swing around towards the library entrance.
There, striding purposely towards the table where Amos and I were sitting, with an extremely annoyed look on his face, was James Potter.
(Followed closely by Madame Pince, who was shushing and scolding James in rapid French and looked possibly as annoyed as he did. James, of course, ignored her)
"What did you do?" Amos muttered to me, watching as James neared closer and closer to our table. The decreased distance showed his obvious anger even more. I shrugged my shoulders helplessly. What had I done? I didn't even know!
When James finally reached our table, he was breathing deeply and was motioning frantically with his hands. "Y-you...I—you..." he stammered, glaring at me furiously as he pointed an accusing finger in my direction. "You fed me to the wolves, Evans!"
I stared at him blankly, not exactly knowing how to respond to an accusation like that. What was he talking about? Throwing him to wolves? Do I look like I know any wolves?
"What are you playing at, Potter?" Amos asked from beside me, his tone curious and slightly accusatory. James completely ignored him and kept his eyes on me instead.
"You threw me to the wolves!" he repeated in the same loud, exasperated tone. Madame Pince shushed him again and muttered something else in French. James threw her a glare over his shoulder and then turned back to me, leaning threateningly against the table and lowering his voice to a harsh, curt whisper. "You threw me in and watched them rip my flesh and bones, piece by piece!"
I gave him a disgusted look.
Um, ew, no I didn't.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, James," I snapped back at him, leaning over the table as well, "but I assure you that I have not in any way thrown you to any wolves!"
James glowered angrily at me. I threw him a glare right back.
"Oh, yeah?" he countered, still glaring at me as he began fumbling through his things. He retracted a piece of parchment out of the pile and slapped it on the table in front of me. "Explain this then!"
With one last glare at James, I pulled the sheet over to me and looked down.
It was the Prefects' rounds calendar.
Oh, yes. Wolves.
I was about to tell James off for being an utter prat when something towards the end of the paper caught my eye. I leaned in closer, my eyes opening wide as I realised just what he was showing me. There, at the very bottom, in a nice, curvy print, my name had been carefully crossed out and had been replaced by June's. And just under that, the name of the other person assigned to rounds that night, and June's newest seducee...
Oh, bloody hell.
"Explain that!" he snapped again.
Oh, shit. Oh, fuck. Oh, Merlin.
It was James! The bloke who June wanted to seduce was James! Of course! How could I have been so stupid not to figure that one out? But apparently—I winced—he wasn't as eager to be seduced as June had let on. I was throwing him to the wolves—no, June was worse than the wolves. She was like...whatever is worse than wolves!
"Oh, James, I'm sorry," I said, cringing. "I...well, she asked me to switch and I—I...she told me the bloke wanted to me to switch with her, so I..." I sighed in defeat, giving him a pleading look as I quietly added, "I didn't know it was you."
He looked so annoyed, so distressed, that the guilt began to creep up on me in full force and I had to look down. I knew when June had asked that I should have said no. I knew that it was a stupid plan and that I had no right to do that to some poor, unsuspecting bloke. But what could I do? She had me cornered! She bribed me! I couldn't...I mean, there was just no way...I didn't even get a chance...
"I'm really really sorry," I pleaded again, glancing back down at the edited calendar. "Maybe we could switch someone around or you could always fake sick or something..."
James didn't say anything and I was too ashamed to look up at him. Why oh why did I have to agree to stupid June Mackey's plan anyway?! I am so so stupid!
"Wait a second."
Amos's comment jarred me from my self-guilt pity party. I had almost forgotten he was standing there.
"Look." He pointed down to tomorrow's slot, where June's name had been crossed out and mine had been replaced. Amos's resided under it.
"What?" I asked.
"Well, Potter could just switch back with me, couldn't he?"
My heart sunk.
"Yeah," I muttered, looking up at Amos, then up at James, both of whom were looking at me. "That could—that would work."
"Wait a second," James intervened, just as Amos was about to change it on the calendar. I prayed he'd come up with an excuse. I really really wanted these rounds with Amos. "What about you?" he asked. "June's not stupid. If we switched, she'd just attack you."
Oh. Well that was rather considerate of James to think of. After all, the last thing I needed was an abused and sexually assaulted future-husband. Especially when I had been the one to indirectly cause the said abuse. Lord only knows how much therapy something like that would invoke. Probably more than I could afford. Aurors don't really make all that much money when they first start out.
"She won't," Amos answered flatly. "We're cousins."
"I'm sorry," I muttered without thinking. When I realised I'd said it out loud, I wanted to slap myself in the head. Oh great. Now I've insulted the in-laws. But instead of being rightfully incredibly insulted, Amos simply flashed me a grin.
"It has its perks," he answered with a shrug, then proceeded to change the names on the calendar. None of us spoke as Amos and I finished straightening out our papers. A few minutes later, everything was in order and Amos was about to depart.
"Thank you for switching," I told him gratefully, trying to hide the large disappointment that had settled over me. So close. So bloody close. Amos nodded with a smile.
"You're welcome," he said. Then he quirked an eyebrow and added, "But I am sorry I won't be able to do rounds with you. It's sort of a disappointment, actually."
"Oh!" I croaked, completely dumbfounded. "Yeah…yeah, me too."
HE WAS DISAPPOINTED!!!!!
"Better head out, then," Amos said with one last smile. He turned to James. "You coming, Potter? Lily has tutoring."
James's face showed no expression as he slowly raised his hand. "Tutor," he told Amos flatly.
Amos didn't seem too happy with that minor revelation. Probably due to the fact that James is such a good-looking bloke and all and Amos feels threatened by him. He obviously doesn't want to lose me.
Or, you know, doesn't want to be blamed for my murder because he left me with a homicidal maniac whom I accidentally threw to the wolves.
I think the first one as well.
Despite his (obviously jealousy-driven) reluctance, Amos nodded his head and accepted the tutoring arrangements. He looked a moment more at James (probably shooting one of those 'She's mine. Don't touch her.' looks that males give each other but females can't see. But just because I couldn't see it doesn't mean I didn't know it was there) before giving me one last smile and then turning around and leaving. I let out a huge sigh and watched as James emotionlessly took the seat Amos had vacated.
"Well," I started uncertainly, unable to tell whether or not James was still annoyed. "It's a good thing Amos was here to help with that whole mess, wasn't it?" James still sat silent, watching me carefully, his face still emotionless as if I hadn't even said anything at all. Hesitantly, I tried again, putting on an extra bright smile as I shook my head ruefully. "Could you even imagine the two of them being cousins? Poor Amos! I mean, imagine having to see June Mackey at every single family function—"
"It rather puts a damper on marrying into the family now, doesn't it?"
I froze, shocked. My fixed smile quickly faded into a frown as I regarded James with curiosity.
"What are you—" I started, eyeing him warily. "I mean, I don't know—"
"What I'm talking about?" James finished bitterly, his eyes blaring into mine. It was quite easy then to tell exactly what he was feeling. The obvious annoyance and blatant frustration shone clear across his face. "Don't you, Lily?"
I shook my head slowly, not sure exactly what he was getting at. He didn't know... about Amos? I mean, about me and Amos... about my feelings for Amos. He couldn't. He just couldn't.
"I really don't know what you're trying to get at, James, but let's just drop it and—"
"Oh, come off it, Lily!" James interrupted with a snarl. "You know exactly what I'm talking about! You all but threw yourself at the bloody prat!"
"Bloody prat?" I cried, my outrage, shock and pure embarrassment at the fact that he did indeed know my secret was momentarily pushed aside by my own frustration. "That bloody prat just got you out of a rather sticky situation, if you even care to remember!"
"Only because he wanted to impress you!" James shot back furiously, slamming his palms loudly against the table and leaning menacingly over towards me. "He only did it to play your knight-in-bloody-shining-armour!"
"My knight-in-shining-armour?!" I glared furiously at him. "By sticking me with you? An annoying, stuck-up, stupid git? Oh, yes! Some bloody fabulous saving he did there!"
The moment I'd said it, I wished I hadn't. I wished I could just shove the words back in my mouth and swallow them down. I'd let my mouth run away from me again. I'd let my temper run away from me again. I hadn't meant the words, but I was so frustrated that they had just come tumbling out out of habit. The truth was that James hadn't been annoying or stuck-up—a git, yes, sometimes, but all blokes are—the entire year, and only compared to Amos was doing rounds with him a let down. I liked spending time with him, I think.
But because of those stupid, anger-filled words, I don't think it mattered anymore.
James let out a loud, strangled noise before furiously swiping up his books and rising from his seat with such a jolt, the chair tipped backwards and toppled over to the floor with a crash.
"Where are you going?" I snapped at him.
"I'm leaving," he answered curtly, already starting to walk away.
"But what about—"
"Study by your fucking self, Lily!" he thundered back, continuing on his way out, stopping only for a mere moment to turn around and caustically add in a slightly bitter tone, "This way you won't have to be stuck with me for the next hour!"
And with that last scathing remark, he furiously made his way out of the library, leaving me all alone to deal with an equally furious Madame Prince who didn't seem to care one bit that I couldn't understand a word of French.
Really Late, 7th-Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 9
Total Observations: 59
I suppose that maybe I hurt his feelings.
I mean, I probably would have been hurt too if he had told me that someone had 'stuck' me with him and that I was an annoying, pompous git. But he started it! I mean, what was with the sudden whiplash on Amos? And what does he care if I throw myself at Amos or not? It's none of his bloody business, anyway!
And I can't believe he knew. About how I was throwing myself at Amos, I mean. I barely told anyone besides Grace and Emma about my infatuation with him, and now all of a sudden all these people—June, James—seem to know exactly how I feel. Am I that obvious? And if I am, does that mean—oh, Merlin—that Amos may know too?
Oh, I just can't think about this any more. It's making my head pound like mad and I have to go to sleep. Everything will be better in the morning. I'll just talk to James tomorrow and we'll reinstate our previous 'friendly' status.
There. Simple. I'll sleep now.
Observation #59) I think I might have a bit of apologizing to do tomorrow.
Thursday, September 25th, Breakfast in the Great Hall
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 60
You know, it's awfully hard to reinstate yourself into 'friendly' terms with someone when they refuse to talk to you.
Or look at you.
Or generally acknowledge your presence.
Why does he keep looking at his bleeding plate? What could possibly be so interesting that he refuses to look up? Is it an egg circus? A bacon Quidditch match? Or is it possible that his pancakes and waffles have engaged themselves in some sort of magnifying duel?
Well, I don't care—even if his pancakes and waffles are dueling!
Earth to James Potter! Hello, James Potter! I CAN'T BLOODY APOLOGIZE IF YOU WON'T EVEN LOOK AT ME!!!
Marley has tried several times to engage him in conversation as well, but he simply answers in single-word, monotonic statements.
And you know what? He doesn't look at all mad like he did last night, either. He just looks kind of...blah. Like nothing even matters anymore. I've never seen James Potter look blah before. I mean, my simple comments couldn't have hurt him so much that he's like this. I've called him and said worse things to him before, and he never acted like this. So my insults can't be the reason.
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 61
Why is he being such a bloody prat? I mean, is he trying to make me feel perfectly dreadful, because if he is, congratu-bloody-lations, he's done it! Does he honestly have to keep ignoring me like this? I was angry and distressed when I said all those things last night! He shouldn't be holding that against me!
Stupid bloody prat. He will talk to me. I'll make him talk to me.
Bit Later, Still in Charms
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 63
Why won't you look at me? -LE
I said I was sorry about the June thing last night.
And I'm sorry about what I said afterwards. Calling you those names and about being stuck with you, I mean.
Come on. Please just talk to me.
I don't like when people are mad at me, remember??
Ah! FINALLY! RESPONSE!
The last time you were cross with me it was reason enough to forgive me.
I'm not cross with you.
Ha. Silly boy. Do you honestly think I'm that stupid?
Yes, you are. But that's okay—I would be angry too if I were you. So I think it would be a bit hypocritical of me not to understand that you're angry, don't you think?
And I am sorry. I was...embarrassed, so I got angry and lashed out at you.
So I'm sorry. Really sorry.
You said that already.
I know, but you keep avoiding answering.
Answering what? What do you want me to say?
That you forgive me.
For what? I told you, I'm not angry.
Then why won't you look at me? And why wouldn't you talk to me this morning?
Why do you care?
Well when you figure it out, let me know.
Later, Still in Charms
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 64
I care because I can't pass Transfiguration without him.
I care because I don't like when people are mad at me.
I care because were supposed to be 'friendly'.
I care because I like it better when he's nice and likes me, than when he's cross and doesn't.
I care because I'm just starting to realise that maybe being mates with James Potter isn't the worst thing that could ever happen to me.
Even Later, Still Charms
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 64
The Pros and Cons to Being Mates with James Potter
Con #1) It's entirely possible that James won't be nice to me forever.
Pro #1) It's entirely possible that James will continue to be nice to me, as he has been, forever.
Con #2) Though he seems to have gotten rid of it, there is a strong possibility that his overlarge head can return.
Pro #2) People who can single-handedly deflate their own head from the gigantic size it previously was have got to have a lot of potential.
Con #3) Anyone who willing dates Elisabeth Saunders may have a bit of insanity in the family.
Pro #3) Anyone who breaks up with Elisabeth Saunders has brains.
Con #4) Pranks. So totally immature and occasionally harmful.
Pro #4) Being friends with all the Marauders automatically means you aren't pranked. Or, if you are, you can hex them all very badly and then laugh about it the next day without having to worry about retaliation.
Con #5) It might not be possible for two people with so much bad history to be mates. Trust would be a major factor.
Pro #5) James has three very good friends that trust him completely and a bushel load of other friends who trust him. I can learn to as well.
Con #6) We fight like no one I've ever known.
Pro #6) When we're not fighting, he's fun to talk to.
Pro #7) I'll have a permanent Transfiguration tutor.
Pro #8) Head duties will be so much easier.
Pro #9) I think that maybe I want to be mates with him.
Even Later, Still still in Charms
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 65
Being mates with James Potter.
A year ago, a month ago, even a week ago, the idea of such a thing would have seemed like a joke. But it's not. A joke, I mean. Because I think that the reason I'm so bothered with James being cross with me is the same reason why it bothers me when Grace and Emma are cross with me.
And I like talking to him. He's actually a rather funny bloke. I learned that the night he helped me with my homework and I kept him up until ten talking more than helping. Perhaps he's always been like that—funny and easy to talk to, I mean. Maybe that's why Grace and Emma have always been mates with him. But I've never seen that side of him before this year. To me, he was always that stupid, cocky bastard who would ask me out as a cruel joke because he knew no one else would and enjoyed rubbing it in my face. I really didn't fancy being mates with a bloke like that. But he's different now—grown up, I guess. I mean, I haven't even seen him hex Snape yet this year, and if nothing else, that certainly says something.
And I have fun with him. That whole bet thing was definitely one of the most brilliant things I've ever done (albeit, also one of the most rebellious, which I suppose is okay once in a while for a ninny like me). And you know what else? I think that if it had been anyone else who had challenged me, I wouldn't have done it. He just...knows how to push my buttons. Not in a bad way, per say, but...I don't know. It used to drive me absolutely mad before—and I suppose it still does a bit—but now I know he's not doing it maliciously. Now he just does it and starts to laugh, and somehow, I find myself laughing too.
Mates with James Potter.
Ha. Merlin knows we'd give the entire Hogwarts population heart attacks. I hear our brilliant rows are actually quite a sight to see. Hogwarts will have to arrange for some other forms of amusement, I suppose. Perhaps a parakeet and a few dancing bears. Now there's entertainment.
Mates with James Potter.
Yeah, that'll do.
Now all I have to do is convince him of it.
Even Later, Potions
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 66
Can I see your notes? -GR
My notes? Abbott said we didn't need to take any of this down, she's just talking. -LE
Not the Potion's notes, you twit. The notes you were passing with James in Charms this morning.
Because they're not yours, that's why!
So? You always let me read your notes.
Well not these. Go away and pay attention, Grace.
Fine, but I'll just keep badgering you until you let up. You'll fall asleep tonight listening to my badgering.
I'm not going to be in the dormitory tonight, so there.
What? Where are you going?
I have rounds.
Rounds? I thought you signed up at the way end of the month so that you could skivvy off early?
I did, but...it got...complicated. I had to switch.
So you have them tonight? With who?
Oh. I see now.
Nothing. Have fun on your rounds.
Grace? Grace, what? What do you 'see'?
Go away and pay attention, Lily.
Even Later, Divination
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 67
I'll do it when we have rounds tonight. Convince James we should be mates, I mean. First I'll have to see if he's still cross with me, though. Maybe I'll bribe him with some chocolate or something. No person can resist a good bit of chocolate. I think I still have a bit of fudge left that Mum sent along...
You know what? I suppose the whole "switch" thing worked out to my advantage after all. I'll have to remember to thank Slaggy and her slaggish ways when I see her.
Still Later, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 67
I was finishing up my Divination homework after classes in the dormitory when Grace and Emma walked in, chattering together quietly. As soon as she saw me sitting on my bed, Grace turned to Emma and inquired very loudly, "Hey, Em, do you know what Lily's doing tonight?"
Oh, bugger. Not this 'see' thing again.
Emma's eyes were wide (surprisingly, not glaring) as she looked from Grace to me.
"What?" she asked.
"She has rounds," Grace answered, emphasizing the last word.
Um, so? What is she on about now?
"Rounds?" Emma asked, her voice not cold and/or hostile for the first time in quite a while. "But I thought you signed up for next week. You said before..."
I shook my head and was about to explain when Grace cut in, smiling pointedly at Emma. "She had to switch. Now she has her rounds with James."
I rolled my eyes at Grace's emphasis again. What exactly was she doing? And what was the big deal about me switching my rounds? And what did it have to do with James? Did they know about my plan to convince him to being my mate? I didn't get it.
"She..." Emmeline muttered, her wide-eyed gaze falling to the ground. Then suddenly, without warning, she grabbed Grace's arm and forcefully tugged her back out of the dormitory. "I need to talk to you," was all she said as they left.
I watched them go and cringed as Grace loudly slammed the door shut on their way out.
Those two just get loonier everyday.
"You're doing rounds with James Potter tonight?"
I jumped, turning in my spot towards a bed on the other side of the room. Elisabeth had just pulled back the hangings on her bed and was regarding me with narrowed eyes. I hadn't even known she was there.
"Er...yeah," I answered hesitantly, eyeing her narrowed eyes warily.
Elisabeth froze, her mouth slowly falling opening, before she let out a soft, "Oh...Merlin!"
Then she grabbed her robes, threw them on and dashed off out the door just like Grace and Emma.
It's obvious that my madness is contagious. The whole dormitory has caught it. No wonder they lock madwomen up. We aren't safe in the least.
Still Even Later, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 10
Total Observations: 67
I'm going to leave to collect James in a bit for our rounds. He wasn't at dinner, so I couldn't gauge his anger-meter then, so I'll just have to wing it tonight. I am, however, fully armed with sugar tarts, sucking sweets and my mum's famous fudge to change his mind if he happens to decide he's still cross with me. And if that doesn't work, I'll just have to take out the big guns and lock him in a broom cupboard until he's no longer cross with me. Rounds are rather long. I can have him locked up in there for at least a couple of hours.
"What is that for?" Grace has just asked me, pointing to my bag, which I have filled with my ammo (tarts, sweets and fudge).
"I need it for rounds," I tell her simply.
"What for?" she's asks. "Planning on sacking the rule-breaker's over their heads, then? I'm sure knocking them unconscious will sure teach them a lesson."
Psh. Um, no, Grace. This is for sacking my partner over the head...if it comes to that, that is.
"Most definitely," I tell her instead.
She snorts. I snort back.
"Hey," she's just said. "You can lie all you want. You'll tell me eventually, I figure."
Tell her? What?
"Tell you what?" I ask.
Grace just smiles and rumples my hair. "I'm just so proud of you, Lily."
Oh, bloody hell. Not this again.
Very Very Late, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 10 (Possibly 11?)
Total Observations: 69
I am most definitely the greatest, most compassionate girl who ever walked the planet. I'm serious. Not many girls would do what I just did without pay. In fact, some girls probably wouldn't even do it with pay. That's how bloody sympathetic I am. Sickeningly sympathetic.
Oh, Merlin, I'm exhausted.
And I smell so so bad.
I suppose we should start from the beginning then, shouldn't we?
At precisely nine o' clock (or around there, anyway. I had intended to go down at nine, but then I saw this bit of something on my skirt that just wouldn't come off, so I had to change it), I headed down to the Common Room—armed with my bribe bag, of course—in search of James so that we could start our rounds. As soon as I got down there, I spotted him at a table by the fire, sitting with the rest of the Marauders. Remus and Peter were playing a round of chess, while James and Sirius were huddled over a book, writing things down on pieces of parchment as they went along.
"According to this," Sirius was announcing loudly to the group as I approached the table, "I'm going to be having a very good week."
"Again?" Peter asked flatly, moving his bishop up a few squares.
"Last week was a fluke," Sirius explained, throwing a look at the chess-player beside him. "This week I've apparently got the letter 'E', a bunch of knickers and Charity Rivers in my immediate future." He grinned devilishly and looked expectantly towards his mates.
"Charity Rivers?" Remus cocked an eyebrow. "You mean the Charity Rivers who plays keeper for the Harpies?"
Sirius nodded, a smug smile on his face. "The very same, mate."
Remus glanced at James, then at Peter, both of which whom were sporting similar disbelieving looks, and then pulled the open Divination book towards him, searching its contents. "Now where exactly did you get that rubbish?" he asked, flipping through the pages.
Sirius pointed to something in the book. The three other Marauders huddled over to see what it was.
"'The river of charity will flow through your veins'?" James quoted with a snort. "You read that and come out with Charity Rivers and knickers?"
Sirius leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms defiantly over his chest. "You lot are just jealous because you're not as creative as I am."
"Or as mad," James muttered, shaking his head. They all started to laugh, except for Sirius, who grabbed the textbook from Remus and smacked James over the head with it. Then Sirius was laughing too.
"Oh!" Peter said a few seconds later. "Hullo, Lily!"
I smiled slightly, stepping closer to the table as my presence was noticed. "Hello," I greeted amicably.
"Need something, then?" Sirius asked, his eyes twinkling mischievously. "Perhaps some homework help, or a book of some sort, or possibly a nice, thorough snogging from yours truly?"
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "James, actually," I told him.
Sirius's eyes bulged out. "You want a nice, thorough snogging from Prongs?"
"No," I corrected sternly, throwing him a glare.
"A nice, thorough shagging then—?"
I hit him.
"Oy!" he cried, rubbing at his head. "I liked you better that day you weren't a prude!"
"I'm not a..." I started, then stopped and rolled my eyes again, throwing a fierce look his way. "Oh, just fuck off, Black," I said, purposely making myself swear. Sirius grinned.
"That 'a girl!" he cried gleefully, patting my arm approvingly. I pulled out of his grasp and then turned to James.
"Ready?" I asked.
"Ready for a sh—" Sirius started, but James cut him off with a stern, "Shut it, Padfoot." Sirius looked surprised for a moment at James's harsh tone, but then seemed to shrug it off rather quickly.
"We have rounds," I explained, shifting uncomfortably. Oh, Merlin, I really am a prude.
"There are a lot of broom cupboards on those rounds..." Peter added cheekily, nudging Sirius in the ribs as the two of them began howling with laughter. I ignored them. James turned and glared at the pair, but Remus was looking at me, even though he seemed to be talking to James.
"Rounds?" Remus questioned, also ignoring the laughter of the two twits next to him. "I thought you had rounds next week, Prongs?"
James shook his head, but didn't elaborate. He just stood and began pushing together and sorting through the papers he'd just been writing on. Remus looked to me again.
"It's...er...complicated," I told him slowly, giving him the same excuse I'd given out before. Remus cocked an eyebrow, but didn't say anything else as he turned back to the chess game, thankfully letting the subject drop.
I was itching to get away from there and out of the Common Room, but James seemed to be moving in extra slow motion, not catching on to the fact that I wanted to leave.
"What's in the bag, then?" Peter asked, nodding his head towards the Bribe Bag after he and Sirius had finally calmed down.
I let out a frustrated sigh, glaring at him. "It's to hit unsuspecting rule-breakers with," I told him quickly, repeating Grace's joking statement from before. I turned to James, who was still lingering with his papers. "Let's go," I commanded, not leaving any room for argument. Then I turned on my heel and strode from the Common Room, hoping that James would follow.
I only risked looking back when I was clear out of the Common Room and halfway down the corridor. As I hoped, James was trailing quietly behind me, his hands shoved in his pockets, his eyes looking ahead, but not really focused. I stopped and waited for him to catch up.
"Sorry," I told him quietly when he'd finally reached me. "I just wanted to get out of there."
He shrugged, then looked away. I sighed. He was obviously still cross with me.
We walked around for about forty minutes or so, running into only a few strangling sixth-year Ravenclaws down by the Great Hall, but since it wasn't that late yet, the actual disciplining part involved with the rounds hadn't occurred yet. Like this morning, I tried to engage James in conversation, talking about everything and anything that came to mind, but he either answered very simply or didn't bother to answer at all. When we struck the one-hour mark and James's silence was really starting to get to me, I glanced down to the Bribe Bag and decided it was time to take out the big guns.
"Do you want some fudge?" I offered with a smile. James's gaze snapped to me for the first time in ten minutes.
"What?" he asked, confused.
"Fudge," I repeated, reaching into my bag and pulling out the tin of fudge. I shook it in front of him in a coaxing fashion, the fudge rumbling inside the container as I did so.
"That's what was inside the bag?" he asked flatly, completely ignoring my tempting shaking. It was disappointingly enough, the longest string of words he had spoken to me all night.
"And a few other things," I told him offhand, then resumed waving the tin in front of his face, determined to get some sort of rise out of him. "It's really brilliant fudge," I continued. "Ask anyone."
He ignored my comment again. "What else?" he asked.
"What else, what?"
"What else is in the bag?"
"Oh. That." I reached into the bag and started shifting through the various bribery items resting within, encouraged that he was at least interested enough in the bag to speak a few full sentences. "Well," I started, "there are some sweets and...er...some tarts and such..."
A sudden, strangled noise made me snap my head and look towards James. When I did, I nearly shrank with relief.
He was laughing.
Really, truly laughing.
"W-were you... were you trying to bribe me with food so—so that I wouldn't be cross with you?" he stammered out through his laughter, shaking his head at me disbelievingly. I bit my lip, hesitated, then nodded. James burst out laughing again, slumping against the wall in glee.
"You're one odd, bird, Lily Evans," he told me through chuckles, wiping away the tears of mirth from his eyes. "Smart, but odd."
"Er, thanks, I guess," I muttered, my gaze dropping uncertainly to the floor. I wasn't sure what exactly to say to that, and I was even more unsure of what I should be doing now that he no longer seemed cross with me. Though you could never really be sure with James. He seemed to have the emotional stability rate of a pea.
There was a moment of silence before James promptly spoke up. "Well?"
My gaze flew to his once more. "Well, what?"
Slowly, a crooked smile crept across James's face, his eyes twinkling merrily. It was such a drastic change from his expression just moments before that it almost startled me. "Well, hand over the fudge, woman!" he commanded with a grin. "Let's see if it's as brilliant as you claim it to be, yeah?"
With a smile of my own, I gladly did as ordered.
And from then on out, everything was pretty peaceful.
It didn't take long for James to completely throw off his previously cross disposition, and before I knew it, we were talking and laughing like the night before had never happened. I told him that my mum had made the fudge and was known all over Surrey for it. He told me his mum couldn't even find the spoons in the kitchen, much less use it to make something. He asked about my summer, and I told him about how I had mostly lounged around my house all summer long. He'd gone to France with his family. Sirius had gone with him. Then he'd apparently lounged about as well. At first it was a relief to actually have him speaking to me again, but as we began moving easily from one subject to another and time was quickly flying by, the fact that I hadn't yet brought up the 'being mates' subject was getting to be a problem. But how was I supposed to bring it up? I mean, how exactly did one go about getting on a subject like that? When we were talking about Charms ("I would really like to get those Charms papers back already. Do you know what else I would really like? For us to be mates.")? When we were talking about Quidditch ("I really detest Quidditch. I detest this too. 'This' being us not really being mates, I mean.")? There didn't seem to be a possible way to breech the subject.
And the fact that I had given him the last of my mum's fudge and all of my sugar tarts didn't seem to get the message across either.
Our rounds were dwindling down to a close at around midnight and we were heading back to Gryffindor Tower. The night had passed without much drama on the disciplining front (Penny O'Jene and Timmy Ricks, who are apparently back together, in the fifth floor corridor, snogging). I was still at a loss where the whole 'mates' thing was concerned.
"...and I told him not to do it, but you know Sirius," James continued on, completely unaware of my internal battle on how to bring the subject up. "He just went on in and threw it, and before we knew it, we were down in McGonagall's office, being told off again."
I laughed hollowly as he concluded the story, my worries making it impossible for me to fully concentrate on what he was saying. Perhaps I could just do it tomorrow. I mean, what was one day anyway? And why did it matter so much? Did I really have to go and put a label on the steadiness we seemed to be able to have together? What was the difference between leaving it as it was now and calling each other friends? Was I turning this into something it didn't need to be?
Lost in my thoughts, I wasn't aware that we'd practically reached Gryffindor Tower until I slammed full-force into James's back with a soft oomph! He'd stopped short and was staring at something in front of the portrait hole.
"James, what—" I started. Then I caught sight of what he was staring at. My eyes bulged out. "Oh my..."
There, with her clothes crumpled, her hair a mess and the strong scent of alcohol in the air, laid Elisabeth Saunders, curled up in a ball in front of the portrait hole.
She wasn't moving, but I could see the uneven falls of her chest, so I knew that at least she wasn't dead. I stood frozen in my spot behind James, watching Elisabeth's curled up form from behind his shoulder. For a few seconds, James seemed too stunned to move, as well. Then I heard him sigh deeply and he strode towards her fallen form. Not knowing what else to do, I followed.
"Holy shit, Lizzie," James was murmuring as I slowly approached, wiping a few stray blonde locks from her face.
I'd never heard anyone call her that before—not even Carrie. Then again, it's not as if I spend that much time with her that I would. But it was such a childish, girlish, innocent name...so not Elisabeth Saunders. At least so not the Elisabeth I knew. James had dated her, so I suppose that constituted the use of a nickname.
But even so—Lizzie?
"Is she..." I started, finally finding my voice as James gently tried to wake her up. "Do you think she's all right?"
For a moment, James didn't answer; he just continued shaking Elisabeth gently, quietly telling "Lizzie" she had to get up. "Just passed out, I think," he mumbled a few seconds later. I nodded, trying not to gag as the strong stench continued sailing through my nose. It was making me sick. Quickly remembering my wand, I pulled it out and cast a Cleansing Charm, sighing with relief when the smell finally began to disappear.
"Good thinking," James said, obviously thinking I'd done it for Elisabeth's sake. Then it hit me— we'd just found a girl, passed out and obviously drunk, outside the common room after curfew. That alone left only about a million rules broken. And McGonagall was extremely strict about drinking, too. When I was in fifth-year, there was this huge victory party after a particularly grueling Gryffindor vs. Slytherin match and someone had somehow smuggled a bushel load of Firewhisky and strong ale into the party. By the end of the night, everyone from tiny third-years to experienced seven-years were more than a bit tipsy. When McGonagall came in later that night to find a group of fourth-years playing a game they liked to call "Duck, Duck, Drink", all hell broke loose. I'd never seen McGonagall so angry in all my life. Ever since then, any drinking done in Gryffindor Tower had to be kept completely hush-hush. Last year, when one seventh-year got plastered after a rather bad row with his girlfriend and McGonagall caught him, he was sent home and suspended for a week.
If McGonagall heard about this, I had no doubt the same, if not worse, would be done to Elisabeth.
The question was, what was I going to do about that?
James's thoughts seemed to have drifted to the same place as mine, for when I looked back down at him and Elisabeth, he was looking straight at me, his face impassive. He stood slowly, his gaze never leaving mine.
"I...I know you don't get along well with Elisabeth," he started, his voice uncertain. "But... McGonagall will go mad, Lily. She'll go mad." His voice trailed off as his eyes strayed back down to Elisabeth. "She...Elisabeth has been warned for this sort of thing before. Many times before." His gaze flickered back to mine. "They'll kick her out, Lily," he told me quietly. "They won't just suspend her like they did to Tony last year. They'll kick her out of school."
I didn't know what to do. To say Elisabeth and I don't get along was like saying Voldemort was just a bloke gone a bit astray. She hated me. She made my life miserable. And I did my very best to reciprocate the favour. When I tried to imagine what Elisabeth would do had our rolls been reversed, I could only see her laughing gleefully and rushing off to McGonagall with an extra jilt in her step. Could I do that? I knew I wanted to, but...
I shook my head solemnly, knowing that regardless of what I wanted to do, I knew what I had to do.
"She won't get kicked out," I sighed, defeated, running my hands tiredly over my face. "At least not this time."
James looked so thankful, I thought he was about to hug me, but a sudden moan from the floor stopped him and he turned back around to Elisabeth. I kneeled down beside him, annoyed.
"Lizzie?" he called gently, placing a comforting hand on Elisabeth's shoulder. "Come on, Lizzie, wake up."
A few seconds later, ever so slowly, Elisabeth's eyes flickered open.
"James?" she asked groggily, stirring quietly.
"Shhh," James quieted her, watching as she crookedly sat up. With a gentle ease, James slipped his arm around Elisabeth's waist and helped the staggering girl to her feet. She leaned weakly against him, blinking rapidly and looking at James with unfocused eyes. She didn't seem to notice I was there beside him. As Elisabeth slowly got back into her own, I stole a look over at James and was surprised to see that his face had changed drastically. He was angry. He was very very angry.
"James, I—" Elisabeth started helplessly, seeing his face as well and swallowing nervously. James cut her off, his tone quiet, but harsh.
"Are you mad, Elisabeth?" he snapped softly, glaring daggers at her. "Are you bloody fucking mad?" Elisabeth tried to talk again, but James interrupted her once more. "You know what Dumbledore said, Lizzie! You know what he said would happen if this happened again! Do you want to be kicked out of Hogwarts? Do you?"
"No!" Elisabeth cried, shaking her head, then moaned obvious in pain. James shushed her again.
"I didn't mean to," Elisabeth defended quietly, looking feebly at James.
"And you think that matters?" he countered furiously, the rage still evident in his voice. "What if someone else had found you, Elisabeth? What if it had been someone else? Do you think it would've mattered to them whether or not you meant it?"
"But it wasn't someone—" She stopped. Slowly, her head turned. Her gaze finally reached me.
"Oh my god," she cried brokenly, her mouth dropping open. Suddenly, her eyes that had been so unfocused only moments before filled with such a fiery hate, I took a step back. "What are you two doing out here?" she fumed, glaring at me with blatantly obvious anger, not unlike James had been doing to her a few seconds before.
"That doesn't matter," James snapped back. Elisabeth ignored him and continued glaring at me with an even more burning velocity. "Stop that!" he commanded heatedly, causing Elisabeth's gaze to snap away from me and onto him. "She could easily get your sorry arse kicked out of here! But I asked her not to, and she's not going to, so I'd be groveling with thanks rather than glaring if I were you!"
Rather than pacifying her as both James and I had obviously thought, James's comment seemed to enrage her even more, and without any sort of warning, Elisabeth completely lashed out.
I tumbled down to the hard floor with a loud thump as the wind was knocked instantly from my chest as one of Elisabeth's limbs plummeted into my stomach. I took a deep breath, ignoring the strong twinge in both my back and my previously injured ankle as I tried to fill my lungs. James was restraining Elisabeth tightly around her waist, pulling her kicking and fighting form away from me.
"You don't even like him!" Elisabeth was shouting hysterically, thrashing wildly in James's arms. I was shocked to see there were actually tears streaming down from her eyes. "I hate you! I hate you! Stupid, dirty Mudblood slut! You don't even—"
James's voice cracked through the air followed quickly by a burst of red light as Elisabeth fell limp in his arms. I hadn't been aware I'd stopped breathing again until I let out a long, suffered breath.
"You all right?" James asked quickly, placing Elisabeth's fallen floor to the ground and rushing over to me. I nodded, shaking, wondering why he was eyeing me so oddly.
That was until I felt the wetness on my cheeks.
I was crying.
"I'm fine," I muttered, wiping furiously at my eyes. I was actually crying. I mean, it'd hurt, and I was surprised, and my stupid ankle was hurting a lot more than it should have been, but...
"You're not fine," James insisted forcefully, nodding towards my wet cheeks.
I let out a small smile as I finished wiping at all the stray tears. "I was just...shaken up," I explained quietly, shrugging my shoulders. James hesitated, and then nodded, holding out a hand to help me up. My ankle burned in pain as James lifted me to my feet, but I didn't say anything.
"We'd better get inside," James said a few seconds later, still eyeing me carefully. "Merlin only knows if Filch heard all the commotion." I nodded, then looked down at Elisabeth's stunned form. With a rugged sigh, James bent over and lifted Elisabeth in his arms.
"Let's go," he muttered quietly. We turned to the Fat Lady, who was watching us with a very disgruntled face. "Locus Loft."
With an annoyed humph! the Fat Lady swung open and we climbed inside.
The common room was empty save a stray pet or two. Fire still burned in the fireplace, but it was obvious a house elf would be along shortly to rekindle it some more. I followed James silently to the girl's staircase.
"I'll have to levitate her up," I whispered tiredly, pulling out my wand from out of my bag. "The alarms will go off if you try to go up."
"Er, yeah," James answered in an equally soft tone. Gently, he placed her on the floor in front of him.
I pointed my wand at Elisabeth. "Wingardium Leviosa."
Her body slowly lifted from the floor, hovering a few feet from the ground. Silently, I motioned towards the staircase, watching as Elisabeth's body followed my command and little by little made its way up the staircase, waiting for me halfway up. I sighed wearily, then turned back to James.
"Do you reckon I should 'ennervate' her?" I asked him.
James shook his head. "Don't bother," he told me. "She'll sleep it off. She'll have a headache from it tomorrow morning, but I figure she'll have one anyway."
I nodded, then turned my head to look back up at Elisabeth. Her body was still hovering, unmoving in the same place.
"She may kill me in my sleep," I muttered flatly, a wiry grin spreading across my face. When James didn't say anything, I turned back to face him. He was looking at me in the oddest way, his eyes bright behind his glasses, the firelight playing softly on his face and hair. He really is very good-looking. I suppose when your almost-mates and not enemies, it's easier to see things like that.
"You really are brilliant," he whispered quietly, his voice strangely heavy. "You know that, don't you?"
I stared at him blankly, not sure what to say to that. "I'm...I mean, I'm not..."
"You are," he insisted vigorously. For a few seconds he didn't do anything, and then, hesitantly, as if he wasn't quite sure of what he was doing, he leaned over and kissed my cheek.
Maybe it was the whole crazy events of the night, or because I was so tired, or perhaps because I had just recently decided he was actually as good-looking as everyone claimed, but for whatever reason, I started blushing furiously.
"I...yeah, um—thanks, then," I stammered, my blush deepening. "Er, g'night, James."
Then I turned around, still blushing, and made my way upstairs, levitating Elisabeth's body in front of me.
And now here I am, the only one awake, smelling like alcohol, with no fudge, no sugar tarts and no James Potter for a mate—or at least, not as an official mate, anyway. And if that's not compassion, if that's not all-giving and no receiving, I just don't know what is.
Mother Teresa has nothing on Lily Evans.
Well, at least for tonight, anyway.
Friday, September 26th, 7th Year Girls' Dormitory
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 70
That is the last time I'm ever compassionate again. Seriously. The last time ever. There will be no more good-heartedness for Lily Evans. From now on, I'll be a bloody Scrooge if that's what it takes to feel like a normal person again.
And my ankle? It totally feels like it's about to fall off again. This means that sometime today, I'm going to have to visit Madam Pomfrey, who will yell at me again for not taking better care of myself, though I'd like to see how good she would fair after having a tall, drunk, wild girl lash herself at her.
Not too well, I think.
Mother Teresa can have her title back. Being compassionate is for tired, smelly, bitter old fools.
Later, Breakfast in the Great Hall
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 71
Observation #71) No matter how many times you shower, or how well you wash yourself, the stench of alcohol never seems to leave. Even if you weren't the one drinking it.
I can't stand this much longer. I'm making myself sick. And I'm tired...just so tired.
Maybe I should go up to bed. James stayed in bed. He's not here at breakfast. What's food when you smell and you're bitter and you're tired?
"All right there, Lily?" Marley asked me when I sat (or fell) into my chair. I nodded, but didn't answer, because I've discovered that I'm only capable of saying bitter things this morning, and Marley really doesn't deserve my bitterness. It's not her fault that Elisabeth Saunders is a fall-down drunk and I'm stupid enough to help her.
Even Later, Defense
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 71
James and Elisabeth are passing notes.
They've been at it for the past ten minutes or so.
It bothers me. I'm too tired to wonder why.
Still Later, Still in Defense
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 71
What do you reckon they're talking about? -GR
What? Who? -LE
Saunders and James. You've been glaring in that general direction for the past twenty minutes, by the way.
Hm, nothing. Pay attention.
Are you all right? You look completely buggered out.
Why? What time did you and James get back last night?
Late. Very, very late.
I guess you had fun then.
You know, if you don't quit glaring at Elisabeth like that, you might just burn a hole in her head—not that I'm complaining or anything, go right ahead, but just a warning.
He calls her Lizzie.
I know. He used to call her that all the time when they were dating. Don't you remember?
Does that bother you?
I just said it did, didn't I?
I know, it's just I can't believe you admitted it.
Bugger off, Grace. I'm knackered.
Even Later, Charms
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 71
They're still at it.
What's the matter with them, anyway? Can't they see that Flitwick is trying to teach us an especially difficult charm? They can't possibly be writing their notes and his. It has to be one or the other. And really, I think we all know which one of the two is more important.
And what are they talking about anyway? I mean, if it's about last night, don't they think I should be included too? I was there after all. I saved Elisabeth's sorry arse, remember? I have the really screwed-up ankle to prove it.
Even Later, Potions
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 71
I'm sleep deprived. Maybe it's a mirage.
Uh, no. It really is Emma.
"Hmm?" I mumble, laying my head against the cool surface of my Potion's desk. I really just wasn't in the mood to be yelled at right about then.
"I want to talk to you," Emma says, her voice very commanding. "Could you please just lift your head, at least?"
I do as she asks, but do not intend to actually listen to her.
"Listen, Em," I say, cutting her off from whatever subject she was about to dive into. "I'm really, really tired and not at all up to whatever Lily-bashing thing you might have in mind right now, so could we please just do this a bit later?"
At first, she just looked shocked, then slightly disappointed. She must have really been looking forward to her Lily-bashing. With a quick nod, she turned around and went off to her seat next to Mac.
Even Later, Library
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 73
I passed Elisabeth and James in the corridor as I was walking to the library, and neither one of them even bothered to acknowledge my presence. At all. And, yeah, so what if they were sort of in deep conversation? Have they forgotten what I did last tonight? Has my compassion disappeared completely from their minds? James has obviously forgotten about my complete brilliance that he'd insisted of last night. Or else he just thinks Elisabeth is even more so. Even more so brilliant, I mean. Or Lizzie is in any event.
Don't I even deserve a thanks or something? Is this how Mother Teresa works? All giving and not a single thanks? Maybe Mother Teresa can live like that, but Lily Evans can't. At least an acknowledgement of my presence is all I'm asking for. Is that so hard?
No, I don't think it is.
Still Later, Library
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 74
I fell asleep while trying to do my Potions homework. A disgruntled-looking Ravenclaw third-year woke me up, insisting that he could no longer concentrate on his work because—in an unsuccessful attempt to try and wake me up—Madame Pince had been stomping continuingly up and down the rows of bookshelves, making loud noises with her feet and practically throwing the books noisily against the shelves.
I apologized to the boy and told him I was having a stressful day. He told me he didn't care; he just wanted me to get up so that he could finally finish his History of Magic assignment without having to hear Madame Pince's stomping about and swearing in French under her breath. I asked him if he'd at least picked up some new French swear words out of it. He said yes, but no one would understand him if he went around saying them, anyway. I said I was sorry for that too, and then asked him what time it was. He said it was nearly curfew. I thanked him, and then he left.
Oh, bugger. Just before curfew. Now I'll have to rush my exhausted self all the way up to Gryffindor Tower without running into anyone who might not like the fact that I'm up and about.
Even Even Later, Somewhere Near the North Tower
Observant Lily: Day 11
Total Observations: 74
When I walked into the dormitory, very tired, very irritable and a bit put out (because, looking back on it, I had just been soundly and thoroughly told off by a puny third-year), I knew that the only thing that was really going to help this post-compassionate Lily Evans was a long, overdue and rather well-deserved lie-in. So that's what I planned—just stop worrying about stupid things like Elisabeth Saunders and James Potter and tiny Ravenclaw third-years who have the nerve to tell off a very tired and very stressed out Head Girl—and just sleep it all off.
At least, that's what I'd planned until I stepped into the dormitory, only to find Grace and Emma sitting on my bed (yes, the very one I intended to "sleep it off" in), engrossed in what seemed to be a rather serious conversation. In fact, at a closer glance, I could see that Emma's eyes appeared to be rather red and blotchy, and Grace's face held a noticeably solemn look—a red flag sign that something was amiss. I took a few cautious steps forward before stopping, eyeing the pair warily. I wasn't exactly sure whether or not I was welcomed into the conversation.
Even though, you know, they were sort of sitting on my bed and all.
"I can...er...leave, if you want me to." I motioned towards the door, retreating back the few steps I had taken. At my suggestion, Emmeline's eyes grew wide and Grace began to shake her head.
"Come sit, Lil," Grace said, patting the empty space between her and Emma. I looked towards Emmeline for consent on this, figuring that with the way she's recently been, the last thing she'd want is for me to be in her presence, much less intruding on her conversations. When Emma failed to give any response to my silent question, I uncertainly made the familiar trek to my bed, taking my place at the previously designated spot.
"Is everything...all right?" I asked slowly, my gaze flickering from Grace to Emma nervously. What was going on? What was this all about? I didn't like the fact that Grace wasn't her normal-smiley self, and I would've taken even angry-glaring-Emma over this red-faced, swollen-eyed stranger. I couldn't even remember the last time I saw the cool-headed Emma cry.
"Well?" I questioned, my voice getting a bit frantic—possibly from the nerves or from the stress or maybe just from my exhaustion. "Isn't anyone going to tell me what's going on here?"
Grace glanced at Emma. Emma glanced back. Then they both looked towards me. Grace gave Emma an encouraging nod and Emma's eyes became a bit wild. Silently, I just hoped she wasn't going to go lash out at me à la Elisabeth Saunders.
Instead, to my shock, Emma threw herself at me and bust into tears.
"Oh, Lily!" she cried, sobbing heavily into my shoulder. She babbled on some more, but I couldn't make out a single word she was saying through her tears and the muffling of her face in my shirt. Suddenly, I had completely forgotten the fact that he'd been ignoring me all day and—possibly for the first time—I began to feel really really bad for James Potter. Had this been what it was like for him when I had attacked him in the Transfiguration classroom with my tears? Had he been this uncomfortable when my traitor-of-a-mouth had gone off and spilt my entire life-story to him? And what about yesterday when I had started to cry? Did he feel this way then, as well?
Oh, that poor poor boy.
He totally deserved all of that fudge. And more. I will definitely tell Mum to make him more.
"Shhhh," I murmured softly, rubbing Emma's back as she continued crying into my shirt. I hoped, for her sake, that my shirt was at least a comfortable shirt to be crying in, as James's had been for me. It was really the least I could've done for the poor bird.
"I'm sorry!" Emma blubbered, her speech finally slightly coherent. "I'm so so sorry, Lily! I've been dreadful! Totally and inexcusably dreadful and I—"
Then her voice became incoherent again.
"It's okay," I told her, still rubbing her back as her tears began to slowly subside. If I hadn't been so exhausted—and Emma's waterfall of tears hasn't shaken me up so bad—this simply apology probably wouldn't have been enough for anti-compassionate Lily Evans after the hell Emmeline's put me through this past week. However, you know, since I was exhausted and she was crying, the apology would have to do.
"But it's not okay," Emma insisted, finally lifting her head from my shoulder. "I had no reason... it was just so stupid and I...I..."
She flung herself back at me and starting crying again.
"Em," I started, my voice holding a bit of a desperate tone. "Just...stop. Stop worrying about it. It's all over, right? Just stop—"
"But it wouldn't have been over!" Emma countered feverishly, looking at me pleadingly. "If you and...hadn't started..."
And there she went again.
I looked helplessly at Grace over Emma's shaking shoulder. Grace's hand had joined mine as we continued rubbing Emma's back soothingly in an attempt to calm her down.
"Deep breaths," Grace coached her softly, still rubbing her back. "You're not making a single bit of sense, blubbering on like that. Just tell Lily exactly what you told me, all right?"
After a few seconds, Emma finally lifted her head from my shoulder, her eyes and cheeks still wet, but her face determined.
It took a few more moments for her to completely regain her composure and her ability to speak again. "Well," she started with a short, nasally laugh. "I suppose you want to know why I've been acting like such a prat all this time, don't you?"
Er, no, actually. I just sort of wanted to go to bed.
"I guess," I replied, fidgeting uncomfortably in my spot. "I mean, unless you're not up for it or something, because I'll honestly understand if you want to put it off until tomorrow..."
Please, please say yes. Please let me go to bed.
Emma shook her head defiantly. "No," she answered. "I've...I've let this go on far enough already. I won't make you wait any longer."
Bloody fucking double damn.
Emma took a long, deep breath, her eyes slowly beginning to dry and the redness and blotchiness returning to her skin, but her face never losing its determined resolve.
"Do you remember," she started, her voice hoarse as she had difficultly getting out the words. "Do you remember...well..."
Oh, Merlin. At this rate, I wouldn't be getting to sleep until tomorrow night.
"Remember what?" I prodded, trying to sound interested as I stifled a yawn. Emma took another deep breath.
"Do you remember," she repeated, pausing slightly before going on, "when you first became a prefect?"
A prefect? As in, three years ago 'just became a prefect'?
Oh yeah. Totally going to be here all night.
"I—yeah," I answered, confused. "But what does that have to do with this? That was three years ago, Em."
"I know," Emma replied. "But do you remember how we—how I—reacted when you told Grace and I?"
She didn't seem to realise that she was rather lucky I was remembering my own name I was so tired, much less something rather trivial from three years ago.
"Not presently," I answered honestly, rubbing furiously at my eyes. Emma's face fell. She was obviously disappointed I hadn't remembered.
"Well, Grace was ecstatic," Emma started to explain, motioning towards the silent Grace next to her. "And I...I told you that it was brilliant and that I was really glad for you."
I nodded, her descriptions not really setting off any memories, but taking her word for it nevertheless.
Another deep breath later, Emma turned to me and said flatly, "I lied."
Er, all right then.
"I...don't know what to say to that," I answered honestly, a bit stunned. Slowly, Emma went on.
"I got cross with you later that day," she told me with a sad sort of smile. "You thought it was because you were teasing me about my emerald shawl again." I stared at her blankly. Emma sighed. "It wasn't," she added.
As Emma stopped talking, I tried to understand just what she was trying to tell me. She'd been cross. I rather remembered that actually, because Emma has never been one to get cross easily, so I figured that I had really blotched it up with my teasing. But apparently she wasn't cross for the reason I'd assumed.
"I don't understand," I responded quietly. "What...why were you angry then?"
Emma bit her lip and waited a few moments before she told me exactly why she was so cross.
"I was jealous, Lily," she told me bluntly. "Completely and totally jealous."
I froze, stunned, my eyes opening wide for possibly the first time today. Thinking I'd heard her wrong, I asked her to repeat herself... and she said it again. Jealous. Jealous. The thought seemed so inconceivable, so absolutely mad...it just didn't seem possible.
"And then this year," Emma continued, her voice cracking and her eyes starting to fill again, "I knew you were going to get Head Girl—I knew it—but then when James got Head Boy, and he's never been prefect either...well, I suppose I just started to hope...but it was stupid! And I knew it was stupid because you deserved it! But I couldn't help hoping. And then when you told us..."
"But you only got cross with me a few weeks into term!" I protested franticly, still trying to comprehend that Emma—perfect Emmeline Vance— was somehow jealous of me. "I told you I got Head Girl over the summer. Why weren't you cross then?"
"I'm getting to that," Emma insisted, rubbing at her now dampening eyes. "It was only until later in term, when I was talking to Mac—"
The second she said 'Mac', my guard was instantly up. I'd known from the second I'd met that stupid old twit that there was something off about him. It seems as if he has some sort of personal disgust for me, and I hadn't even met the bloke before this year. Had he been the one to set Emma on this path of Lily-hatred? Somehow, I didn't doubt it.
"—before everything just kind of...hit the fan, I suppose."
I stared at Emma suspiciously, not liking the idea at all that Mac had been the one to instigate this entire thing. What ever happened to mates before blokes? "What exactly did you and Mac talk about that made you—that made it all hit the fan?" I questioned slowly, not exactly certain I was prepared to hear the answer after the Great Jealousy Shock of moments before.
Emma stared at me silently for a few seconds before finally sighing softly, and looking at me pointedly. "Do you...you don't remember Mac from when you were prefects before, right?"
I shook my head. "I don't think we ever crossed paths," I told her truthfully.
Emma gave me a small smile before telling softly, "You did."
I looked at her blankly. "Er, what?"
"Your paths crossed," Emma repeated again. "In fact, they crossed often—or often enough for Mac to fancy you quite a bit, anyway."
"What?" I choked out. "That's—Em, he hates me! That day you introduced us he practically screamed it with those looks he was giving me! How...I..."
I was speechless. This couldn't be right. All this was a dream. That whole third-year-waking-me-up-in-the-library thing? Totally didn't happen. I'm still sleeping at my table in the library. I pinched myself.
Oh, Merlin. I wasn't dreaming.
But it didn't make any sense. I'd never even heard of him before this year! And if he'd fancied me as Emma claimed, wouldn't he have at least attempted to talk to me? And you would think a bloke that fancied me would be a little more courteous! And why in the name of all that's magical would someone fancy me? Especially back then! I wasn't even mildly interesting then! I was tempery and bookish and a total anorak if I've ever seen one! No one asked me out (well, except for James, but he didn't do it seriously). No one fancied me. It just wasn't possible. Emma must have gotten something wrong.
"He did," Emma persisted quietly. "For all of fifth year. And when he told me after that day I introduced you...well, I guess it was all my jealous side could take. I just...blew up."
"But that wasn't my fault!" I insisted indignantly. "I didn't ask for Mac to fancy me! I didn't ask to be Head Girl!"
"I know that," Emma replied simply. "And I knew that then, too."
"Then WHAT have you been doing all this bloody time?" I demanded angrily, the stress of the day, my exhaustion and this completely unbelievable conversation finally pushing me over the edge. "Testing my temper rate? Seeing how long it took before I finally started groveling for you to forgive me?'
"No!" Emma answered quickly, shaking her head frantically. "It's not like that! I wouldn't have even let it go any farther than that if I hadn't seen you walking past just as Mac and I finished our conversation! And then the very next day, you come out doing exactly what he said you weren't—"
"What are you talking about?" I cried furiously, glaring at Emma. "I didn't hear any of your bloody conversation! And what do you mean 'exactly what he said I wasn't'? What exactly were you and Mac saying about me, Emmeline?"
"All he said was that you hadn't changed!" Emma told me, her voice a bit panicked as she saw me begin to get angry. "All he said was that you were still the same conservative, slightly odd girl he'd fancied fifth-year and that's why he didn't anymore!"
"And he knew this from one conversation?" I countered with a snort. Emma shook her and head and began to defend him again, but I cut her off. "And what about the 'me doing exactly what he said'?" I asked. "What exactly did I do?"
"I woke up the next morning and there you were, make-up on, hair-down, skirt-shortened—what was I supposed to think, Lily? I thought you were trying to prove him wrong! I thought you were trying to show him he could still fancy you!"
My mouth dropped open and I stared at Emmeline with disbelief. "You—you what?"
"Because you could've, Lily!" Emma screamed, her voice quivering with her own anger. "I thought that in the process of trying to prove your point, you were going to take Mac away from me! And you would've succeeded, Lily—especially looking like you did that day—all dolled up like some sort of common slag ready to drag in the kill!"
As soon as the words tumbled out of her mouth, Emma stopped, instantly throwing her hand over her mouth. I froze as well, my heart stopping clear in my chest. Is that...I mean, that had been the point of the whole de-pruding thing—to prove I wasn't a conservative prude—but not because of Mac. Not because of my best mate's boyfriend. Did Emma—did anyone—really think that dreadfully of me? Did she honestly think I was so terrible as to steal her boyfriend from her? Is that the sort of friend Emmeline thought me to be?
A few moments later, Emma removed her hand from her mouth, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I...I'm so sorry, Lily," she choked out. "I—"
"I can't believe you!" I growled furiously, not even wanted to hear her go on. "I can't—you actually thought I'd do that to you, Emmeline? You actually thought after seven years, I'd retort so low as to steal you bloody boyfriend from you? Is that honestly how you think of me, Em? Like some 'common slag'? I...I..."
I couldn't go on, my own tears making it impossible to continue. I just couldn't believe it. Emma—my best mate Emmeline— thought I was some dreadful, stupid, self-centered slag. And not just your normal, everyday slag either, but one that would go on and actually STEAL her boyfriend, just for the sport of it. My heart was pounding in my chest, a burning sensation floating through my stomach and I began to feel sick. Feeling as if I was about to gag up everything I'd ever eaten, I wiped furiously at my eyes, but the tears wouldn't stop falling.
"Please, Lily," Emma begged. "Please. I was stupid. I knew I was stupid. I didn't mean any of those things. I know you would never do that—that that was never your intention. Especially now—"
"What do you mean 'especially now'?" I croaked, glaring openly at her. "What makes last week different from this one? Was I less of a boyfriend-stealing whore this week, then?"
"No!" Emma cried. "I just meant, that with you and—"
Grace's voice shot through the air, cutting off Emmeline's explanation. Up until then, I'd almost forgotten that the silent Grace was still there.
"Don't, Emma." Grace stared at her, trying to convey something to Emma without out-right saying it.
Without saying it in front of me, that is.
"No!" I snapped, turning my glare on to Grace. "What's going on? What was it, Emmeline? Someone had better tell me!" When all they did was look at each other, I started to get hysterical. "Tell me!" I screamed.
A few seconds of silence passed before Grace sighed heavily, shaking her head. "We...know you didn't want us to know," was all she said.
I stared at her, confused. "Didn't want you to know what?" I asked, my voice wavering with pent-up emotion. My head was bursting and my stomach was cramping up. Something was wrong, and I was going to find out exactly what it was. The only question was, would I still want to know?
"Sirius and I were talking and we discovered it," Grace continued quietly, without actually saying what 'it' was. "At first I thought maybe it was just me—that I was just imagining it all—but then we were talking to Remus and to Peter and to McKinnon—"
"McKinnon," Grace repeated. "Marlene McKinnon."
At my confused look, Grace rolled her eyes. "Spunky little sixth-year Gryffindor? Chaser for the Quidditch team? You eat breakfast with her every morning—"
My eyes opened wide. "You mean Marley?"
Grace nodded. I threw her a confused look. What on earth could Marley have to do with any of this? And I hadn't known she was on the Quidditch team! Granted, I didn't even know her last name—or her entire first name, for that matter—but still. How was she involved in all this?
"And then we talked with Emma yesterday," Grace continued. "Everything just started to fit together, I guess."
"I don't know what you're talking about," I whispered, shaking my head in confusion. I watched them both warily—well, watching them watching me warily is more like it. Whatever the group appeared to have concluded, it was something to be treaded easily on.
"We know," Emma started, pursing her lips, before continuing, "about you and James."
"You know what?" I asked, the possibilities endless. What could they know? Did they know about the bet? Did they know about the fight? Did they know about me wanting to be his mate? Did they know about me saving Elisabeth's arse for him last night? Did they know he thought I was brilliant—or at least, brilliant enough to deserve a kiss?
As it turned out, they didn't know any of that.
What they did know, apparently, was this:
"We know you and James are dating."
"We know you're dating," Grace repeated matter-of-factly, nodding her head. "It all made so much sense once we figured it out. I mean, that day you left your textbook in the library and wouldn't go get it from him—you said something happened and that it was complicated and that's why you couldn't—he'd kissed you then, hadn't he? Then you both started smiling at each other all the time and passing notes—Sirius says you even gave James a love letter one day after Potions! Then Marley told us how you both teased each other constantly at breakfast and how James got you to eat eggs. Last night? That must have been the first date, because Merlin only knows that rounds don't last until two o'clock in the morning—which, according to Remus, is the time James got back into the dormitory last night, which would explain why you were so tired all day. Then this morning, with all the glaring at Elisabeth—an ex-girlfriend—when they were passing notes." She paused, waiting for something. "I know you didn't want to tell us yet, but, I guess it's all right now that we know, right?"
I couldn't answer. I was speechless. Absolutely bloody speechless.
Oh. My. God.
Oh my God!
THEY THOUGHT I WAS DATING JAMES POTTER!!!
It SOUNDED like I was dating James Potter!!!
OH MY GOD!!!!
"I can't believe this!" I cried, finally finding my voice a few seconds later. "That's...it's...oh, bloody Merlin!"
"It's okay, Lil," Emma insisted. "We're not cross you didn't tell us—well, actually, Sirius is a bit cross, but I suppose he'll get over it."
"Yeah," Grace agreed, nodding her head. "I mean, we would've liked to know, of course, but if you and James wanted to keep to yourselves for a bit, we can understand that."
"After all," Emma added. "I didn't tell you lot about Mac until nearly a month after we started dating."
So lost in my own thoughts, I barely heard the conversation that transpired after that. I couldn't believe it. I honestly had no idea what to say to any of this. James Potter—JAMES POTTER—my boyfriend? Were they mad? They had taken a whole bunch of random events and twisted them and turned them into something straight out of a romance novel. Except they had gotten everything wrong. They had gotten everything so totally and completely wrong, it was almost laughable. The day I left my textbook in the library, they thought he'd kissed me, when really, all I did was insist that he joined societies obsessed with hating me. As for the smiling and passing the notes—well, that was because of the supposed "love letter" I gave him after Potions, and not because we were intent on writing sweet nothings to each other during class. And breakfast? Had Marley been blind? He'd threatened to shove the eggs down my throat! What was I supposed to do— let him? As for our "first date"—I don't know what James was doing until two in the morning, but I was tucked up in my bed by one the latest. As for the ex-girlfriend glaring...well, I was tried, and it's Elisabeth Saunders. I'm always glaring at her. Since when do I need a prerogative? But do you know what the worst part was?
I didn't even know how to properly defend myself to them.
I mean, honestly, trying to explain what really happened would take far too long and would probably sound just so ludicrous to them that they would think I was making it all up. Because, really, it did honestly sound as if I was dating him. Moreover, you know what else? My awful, bad-karma had come to bite me in the arse again, because as it turns out, I couldn't even use the universal excuse that any girl uses when she's accused of dating or snogging someone she's not.
The "we're just mates" excuse.
Because me and James, we're not.
Mates, I mean. At least, not officially anyway.
So, really, what was I supposed to do then? I couldn't explain, I couldn't lie, I couldn't even use the bloody fucking universal excuse. What was a girl to do in my position except just sit there and cry (which I was doing both, by the way)?
So I sat there, crying and thinking, staying silent except for the few soft sobs that I let escape, ignoring whatever it was Grace and Emma were going on about just then, when suddenly, something made me stop. It made me stop, freeze, and think...but not about defending myself anymore. Instead, I was thinking about something Emmeline had said before. Something that hadn't made sense then, but now…oh, now it did.
"But it wouldn't have been over! If you and... hadn't started..."
Still frozen, I looked up at Emma in shock.
"Dear, Merlin," I mumbled, my eyes opening wide. Emma looked back, her face a mask of confusion.
"What?" she asked, her voice concerned. "What is it, Lily?"
I stared at her opened eyed, before suddenly, some wild streak passed through me, and I found my eyes narrowing and my temper flaring up again.
"Dear, Merlin!" I repeated, this time furiously. I stood up from my bed, glaring fiercely at Emma. "You—you wouldn't even have done this!" I cried hysterically. "If you hadn't thought I was dating James, you would have thought I had been trying to take Mac away from you forever, wouldn't you?"
Emma's eyes instantly widened. She didn't have time to lie. The truth was blaring out at me through her guilt-stricken eyes.
"I can't..." I choked out, shaking my head in disbelief.
"That's not it, Lily!" Emma protested, though we both knew it was. "I...please, Lily! It's over now. Does it even matter anymore?"
"Of course it matters!" I snapped back, glaring daggers at her. "If you hadn't thought I was dating him, you would have gone on thinking I was some sort of boyfriend-stealing, stupid, self-centered whore for the rest of our lives!"
"But I wouldn't—"
"Wait a minute!" Grace interrupted, her voice stunned. "Thought?" The word hung in the air. "If we hadn't thought you were dating James? You're...you're not?"
My gaze snapped to hers, but my fury was unquenchable at that point. Making a quick decision without really thinking it through, I strode quickly to the door of the dormitory, only turning back once to icily add, "Why don't you ask my boyfriend about that one?"
Then I threw the door open and flew out of the room, not turning back again.
And that's how I ended up here, stuck in some cold, narrow stairwell somewhere near the North Tower, after running blindly through Hogwarts castle, after curfew, crying hysterically and having no concern whatsoever for anything. I don't even care if I'm caught now. In fact, I might just go and search for Filch a bit later if I'm up to it. But as of right now, I'm just...angry.
And so unbelievably hurt it's making me physically sick.
She wouldn't have even bothered with this whole conversation if she hadn't thought I was dating James. She would have gone being cross with me forever—and she really didn't even have a reason to be in the first place.
And I can't believe she thought I would do something like that. Steal away Mac from her, I mean. Even if I was trying to prove a point, I never would have done something so cruel. I'm not stupid. I know that's not the way to do things. I can't believe she thinks I'm just some stupid, silly whore who goes around trying to steal her best mates' boyfriends. I can't believe—
I think someone's coming—