A/N- This took way too long to update. Sorry about that all. I was just uberly busy and such. Plus I;m essentially a lazy bum. Oh, and add to that that the server didn't accept my document on the one day I was ready to submit, which led to me adding little odds and ends on to the chapter… and then I kind of got carried away… made up a character just because I kind of wanted to… you know the drill. And then I had to think up a suitably pitiful excuse to feed you all, which is where I am now.


Yaaay! Special notes of specialness for my UBERLY UNBELIEVABLY SPECIAL reviewers of wonderful DOOM! (Hmm… wonderful doom…). –ahem-

Prongsxlilyflower: Yay! Gold star for being the only person to review both my chapters! –hugs- And I guess your dreams came true! Yay! Though things may get worse before they get better… Oops. Anyway… I'm glad you liked that line… I'm afraid this chapter's not quite as funny. Ah well.

Caramel: -hides- Please forgive me! I didn't mean to lie! Don't hurt the author! Don't hurt the author! Hurt James! You said yourself that he's a monkey!

I have to keep 'Holy Sweet mother of all beans' in my head as my exclamative phrase of the week. Because of your uber shiny phrase and your amoosing review, I dedicated this chapter to you. Yayness! –dedicates-

Emuroo: I found train scenes a little too short… so I figured I'd just write a fic about train scenes. It where all the important stuff happens, right? And… to tell the truth… I was very bored and had (emphasis on the past tense) to much free time. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks a truckload for the review!

OntheVergeofExtinction: Glad you liked it! I'm sorry it took so long for said update to appear.

Ckontowderon32: Aaaw… sorry… I'll shoot James at the first opportunity for his cruelty (Or just get Voldie to finish him off… and his little wife too! –cackle-). Meanwhile… hope you enjoy the chappie!

There is less 'humor' in this chapter than there was in the last two. I can't write humor under pressure, so I deleted my stupid and badly written attempts. I hope you enjoy all the same.

And, before I forget:

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Muahaha! Foiled again you stupid lawyers!

Now, without further ado (Is that the coolest phrase, or that the coolest phrase?)

Rhythm of the Rails- Chapter 3

For the first time ever, Lily was regretting the end of summer vacation. Everything had been different this summer. The location was the same– a boring Muggle home where she was forced to spend time with Petunia– but the atmosphere had somehow changed. The boys in her neighborhood, usually cold and indifferent, had started spending time with her. She had finally been freed of the younger girls that plagued her community and allowed to be with the guys, who were her own age. Lily put it down to the amount of time she spent with Ethan, Jacob and Alex. The summer had been glorious.

Her qualms quickly faded when she passed through the barrier. The glory of the Hogwarts Express enchanted her as it had each time she had boarded it. What was not to like about a purple train? After moving out of the way of the barrier, Lily paused to admire it briefly.

"Are you lost?" came a boy's voice behind her. She grinned and turned around.

"Ethan!" She replied, throwing her arms around him in a friendly hug, "My sense of direction isn't that bad. I can find a train when it's right in front of my face."

Ethan's eyes widened in shock as he took a closer look at her. "Lily?" he gasped. Then he shook his head and pulled himself together, "You look… different." Lily didn't miss his attempt at nonchalance. She rolled her eyes.

"Damn. What has Potter done to me this time?" she demanded, pulling out her wand to set her hair right. Or her eyes. Or her nose. Or to remove any extra limbs Potter might have added to her person. But Ethan shook his head again.

"Not Potter," he reassured her, "You've just changed a little. Come on… let's find Jacob and Alex."

Lily didn't notice the jealous looks several boys gave Ethan as they passed. She just chatted away happily, totally oblivious. Ethan hardly noticed them either. He was too busy trying to keep his head. The girl who had been one of his best friends for the past two years had suddenly become…beautiful. Her body had finally evened out and become properly proportioned, her hair had decided that suiting her face was in its best interest, her face had lost its baby fat and actually managed fit her already stunning eyes, her braces were gone, leaving perfectly straight teeth in their wake… there was no doubt about it. Lily Evans was one of the better-looking girls Ethan had ever had the good fortune to meet. And she didn't even know it.

Jacob and Alex noticed her change too.

"Who's the new kid?" asked Alex after giving Lily the briefest of glances. Then he did a double take.

"Lily?" asked Alex and Jacob simultaneously.

"What is this? Some kind of group joke?" demanded Lily, sitting herself down huffily. The boys sat in shocked silence for a moment.

"Did you know about this?" Jacob asked Ethan, who shook his head.

Lily decided not even to ask. 'Must just be one of those stupid boy things.' She decided. That was the price she had to pay for not making any real girl friends. 'It's a small price really.' She reminded herself firmly.

"So… uh… how were your summers?" she asked tentatively. The tension in the air disappeared suddenly as the boys all started talking at once. Lily leaned back and breathed a sigh of relief. It was fine with her if her life at home rearranged itself, but she liked her life at Hogwarts just exactly the way it was. Though there was one aspect of Hogwartian life that she would have changed: James Potter.

Be careful what you wish for.

"I'll be right back," said Lily, getting up to go to the bathroom. Jacob and Alex just nodded, but Ethan could not resist a quick joke.

"Mistress Lily has to freshen up and apply makeup!" he simpered, fluttering his eyelashes. Lily stuck her tongue out at him and left the compartment.

"Aaaw. Is poor little Eleanor jealous?" she called back, "Don't worry Ellie dearest. I'll get you a makeup kit for Christmas."

Ethan stuck his head out to reply, but quickly ducked back in when he saw the number of people who were looking out of their compartments to see what was going on. Lily grinned to herself and kept walking. Then she realized that she had as good as admitted to having makeup.

"Drat." She muttered. If there was one thing Lily hated, it was being accused of something she hadn't done… and accidentally going along with that accusation.

Deep in thought as she was, she pulled a typical Lily stunt: She crashed into a door. Annoyed, she got up to brush herself off. Then she heard the voices.

"What'll we do to Evans this year?" the first voice drawled. It was a voice Lily knew all too well. Potter. She pressed her ear to the door curiously. It would be nice to be able to anticipate a prank for once.

"Give her a break Prongs! The girl's not that bad. What's your problem with her anyway?" Lily was pretty sure that the second voice belonged to Remus Lupin. He had always been a decent sort, though she knew that he masterminded many of the Marauderer pranks.

"No, Prongs is right Moony," came a watery voice Lily figured must be that of Peter Pettigrew. She had always pitied the boy, for though her was fairly intelligent, he had nothing on his friends.

"Hey! I though you were kissing up to me today Pete," protested Remus. Lily bit back a laugh as she listened to Peter's indignant squeals.

"Silly Moony!" James laughed, "Look more closely at his agenda!" He then continued in a high falsetto voice, "Monday- Bother Remus. Tuesday… that's today Moony… Kiss up to James. Wednesday- Pat self on the back for being in the coolest club in school…" Lily rolled her eyes.

"You forgot Sirius," Remus noted quietly. He was obviously trying not to laugh for Peter's sake.

"Why would anyone bother kissing up to Sirius?" joked James.

"Oi! I resent that!" came a voice from behind Lily. She wheeled around and scuttled out of Sirius Black's way as he entered the compartment, "Peter's supposed to brush my hair on Thursday! If that's not kissing up, I don't know what is." For one glorious moment Lily thought she was going to get away without a remark from the boy. Maybe, just maybe, he was going to pass up a chance to humiliate her.

"Oh, and by the way Evans… it's not polite to eavesdrop," added Sirius as an afterthought, poking his head out of the door. Lily dashed away, mortified, but not before she heard Peter read one of James's letters from his mother at the top of his voice.

The kid wasn't so stupid after all, though she was fairly sure that the amplifying spell was Remus's. The last thing she heard was 'Ooh! Gee James! I didn't know you were into having that kind of thing on your agenda!' She sniggered despite herself.

When she reached the sanctuary of the girls' toilets, Lily sank against the wall. She was completely confused. She wanted to cry about her brief embarrassment, but it hadn't been so bad, especially compared to some of the other comments she had received from Potter's gang. But that embarrassing her was only an afterthought for Sirius was even more annoying. At the same time, Lily wanted to laugh at herself for caring.

She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she never even paused to look at her surroundings, so when someone put a hand on her shoulder, she almost leaped straight out of her skin.

"Oops! Sorry if I scared you!" stammered a girl apologetically, "You looked kind of depressed so I figured I'd come talk. I can leave if you want."

Lily smiled slightly, realizing that she looked slightly insane. She stuck out her hand.

"Lily Evans," she stated, "Gryffindor." The girl stared at Lily's hand for a moment before sticking out her own.

"Kitty Stikes," the girl replied with equal formality, "Hufflepuff." After a brief pause she started to giggle, "Now that was weird. The shaking hands." Lily spent a few seconds wondering if she ought to be insulted before laughing along. It felt good to laugh with someone who wasn't a boy. Maybe it was this sense of female companionship that drove her to do what she did next. Or maybe it was just the fact that Jacob, Ethan and Alex were sick of her tirades. Whatever the reason, Lily found herself spilling her whole story to this stranger. Kitty made an exceptional audience. She was attentive, sympathetic and incredulous in all the right places.

The two girls sat with their backs pressed against the door for a long time. Lily learned that Kitty was a fairly unpopular girl with a major crush on Amos Diggory. The two gossiped and giggled until Lily happened to glance at her watch.

"Oh no!" she gasped, "I'll miss the candy cart!" She grabbed Kitty's hand and burst out of the bathroom, explaining as she ran, "Something pivotal always happens right after the candy cart arrives. It's a JALE tradition!"

Together the two girls entered the compartment. They were just ahead of the kindly woman pushing the trolley. The boys looked up with a mixture of surprise and relief.

"There you are Lily!" said Ethan, "We though you had gone and drowned yourself or something. Or that Potter had done something to you." Ethan was hanging off the ceiling from his feet. Lily decided not to ask.

"Who's your friend?" asked Alex curiously, looking Kitty up and down in mild confusion.

"This is Kitty Stykes," announced Lily by way of introduction, "We spent a while talking. Kitty, the abnormally tall one is Alex, the… er… upside-down one is Ethan and the one who looks normal is Jacob. Trust me, in his case appearances can be deceiving.

Kitty smiled politely, if a tad nervously. Lily couldn't blame the girl. Her friends were a little strange.

The candy cart came in. Kitty reminded Lily of herself in years passed. Not long ago, the number of sweets the boys purchased had horrified her too. Now she was used to it, though she had to admit that creating 'The Ultimate List of Candied Confections That One Must At All Costs Buy From The Hogwarts Express Candy Cart' was going a little far.

"So." Began Alex awkwardly as the cart tender unloaded another box of chocolate frogs, "What house are you from?"

"Hufflepuff. I'm in third year," Kitty informed him.

"Hufflepuff? Really?" commented Ethan dryly from the ceiling, "What language do they speak in Hufflepuff?"

Kitty giggled.

Finally, Lily could contain herself no longer.

"Ethan! Why are you on the ceiling?" she demanded, "And why do you, Jacob and Alex, seem all… normal?" Kitty looked at her questioningly. Lily, noticing this, sighed and said, "You've got a lot to learn Kitty. First rule: These guys are always up to something. Especially Alex. When he looks normal, you're in for it."

She was about to start explaining herself when the compartment door slid open. James Potter stepped in.

"As usual Potter, your timing is awful," Lily snapped. She didn't bother to turn to face him.

"When isn't it?" quipped Jacob, "I can't think of a time in which seeing Potter would be agreeable."

"I just came to tell Evans that I'd appreciate it if she didn't listen in on our conversations in the future," James said lazily. Lily wheeled to face him in fury, for once at a temporary loss for words. She was, however, not the only one. James stared at her, completely and utterly transfixed, taking in every detail of her now beautiful face for several minutes. Finally, Lily decided that it was time to react.

"Er… Potter," she ventured, "Any particular reason you're staring at me?"

"E-Evans," he stuttered helplessly. His mouth was forming words without his consent, "Will you… will you go out with me?" Lily rolled her eyes in annoyance.

"Very funny Potter," she sighed, "But I believe you are already well acquainted with the sliding door. You should be able to find it easily enough."

"Is that a yes?" he asked eagerly.

"Nope. That's about as far away from 'yes' as you can get," Lily informed him coldly. James seemed to enter a state of deep thought.

"So it's an 'okay'?" he said carefully.

"No you idiot! It's an emphatic 'NO'," she stated mercilessly. James gaped at her.

"Y-you're r-rejecting me?" he demanded incredulously.

"Could you quit stammering?" asked Lily, "It doesn't add anything to your act." She turned around again, determined to ignore James. Instead, she focused her attention on getting Ethan off the ceiling. James just stood at the door, his openmouthed expression matching that of every other person in the compartment.

When Ethan had finally been detached and come crashing to the floor, Lily turned and smiled sweetly at James.

"Are you still here? Leave," she ordered. James left the compartment automatically, still completely shell shocked. Only then did Lily let herself turn to the others. The boys were trying to stifle their laughter until James was out of earshot. They were failing miserably. Only Kitty looked upset.

"Weren't you… I don't know… a little harsh Lily?" she began tentatively. At this the boys burst into loud guffaws. Lily merely rolled her eyes.

"Kitty, do you have any idea what would have happened if I had actually said something as stupid as yes? First of all, it was a prank, so he would have thrown it into my face. Second, even if it hadn't been a prank, Potter has been trying to make my life at Hogwarts a living hell ever since he first met me on the train. I would die if I went out with him. He is the most insufferably horrible brat I have ever met. And third… nothing is too harsh for Potter. I'll pay him back for every little injustice in any way I can. He deserves to be stomped on! He deserves to be crushed! He deserves to have his over-inflated balloon of a head pricked by a needle so that he might take a look around and realize that, contrary to his own belief, the world does not revolve around him and his stupid, self-centered, ego boosting pranks that only serve to ruin the lives of other children and squash any self confidence that they might have had out of them, never to return again! " Finally, Lily ended up having to pause for air. The boys blinked at her a few times. Kitty took it all in calmly, though she was still slightly confused, and maybe a little afraid of Lily.

There was an awkward silence.

"I can elaborate," Lily offered.

"Hey! I know what we should do," Jacob interrupted quickly, "Let's go eavesdrop on Potter. See how his cronies take it when they find out his prank backfired." The others agreed quickly. Anything to avoid another one of the 'I Despise Potter' rants that Lily was famous… or infamous… for.

They all filed out except for Lily Ethan poked his head back into the compartment.

"Come on Lily. According to Potter, eavesdropping is your field of expertise," he teased. Lily stuck her tongue out at him.

"Are you telling me that after that lengthy distraction you still remember that?" she demanded jokingly, "I wore myself out for nothing!" She got up all the same though. It would be nice to hear Potter admit defeat, though she wasn't quite so sure if it was worth going down the hallway on her stomach; Ethan had spent the summer watching corny spy movies and insisted that traveling penguin style was the only way one could travel if one did not want to attract attention.

'I have to hand it to Potter,' she thought, following the group as they crawled down the hallways 'secret agent' style, 'He is a fairly good actor.' But all she said was "Wow. One has to wonder how the secret agents do this without getting dirt all down their tuxes. Maybe the mop the floors before they go sliding all over them."

"Do you have a mop? Because if you want to mop the floors, it's your call." Alex retorted.

"It's call 'magic' bozo,"she answered, "You know, that thing we learn at our magical boarding school."

"I wasn't aware that Hogwarts offered Home Ec," whispered Ethan from the front of their line. Then he realized that the only other person in the group who would understand him was Lily. The others were purebloods. She grinned at him.

"Care to show us which compartment is the Marauderers' Lily?" Jacob said in a mildly taunting voice, "After all, none of us have been there yet."

"Ethan already used that one," Lily protested, "You two should compare notes before teasing me." Lily would have kicked him for good measure, but they were interrupted.

Bellatrix had just stepped out of her compartment and was regarding their group with the utmost scorn. Her lips curled into an all too familiar contemptuous sneer.

"What are you worms doing on the floor?" she jeered, "Or have you finally realized that that's your natural habitat?" The group stood up together, brushing themselves off self-consciously. Bellatrix spotted Kitty. Her smile grew even wider.

"Why if it isn't my favorite little test subject," she began sweetly, "How would you like to try out a few more jinxes, dearest?" Her eyes bore into Kitty's, hypnotizing her just as a snake might.

"Leave her alone," said Alex, stepping between the two. He glared menacingly at Bellatrix. She spent a moment sizing him up before rolling her eyes mockingly.

"Oh, what's an overgrown bookworm going to do to me? Beat me up along with his two wimpy little friends. Or maybe your precious Lily will help you. If she didn't look fragile enough to snap in half with a single spell, I might be a little more afraid. Or maybe Kitty here is going to-" Bellatrix never got to finish her sentence. She had been hit with four hexes simultaneously. Only Kitty had held back, though she joined in the group's cheerful assessment of the damage with great enjoyment.

"What's going on out here?" demanded Remus, having come out of the Marauderer compartment when he had heard the noise. He started laughing when he saw the sorry state Bellatrix was in.

"Guys," he called back to is fellow Marauderers, "You have to come and see this!"

"I think this is when we make our subtle but speedy escape," decided Lily, "And this time we'll walk instead of listening to Ethan's spy movie talk."

Back in their carriage, no one mentioned Bellatrix's comment about Kitty. They sat in silence for a moment before Alex suddenly sat up.

"Hey!" he exclaimed, "I just realized! Now that Kitty's hanging out with us, we could actually conceivably call our group KALE!"

"You're right," said Ethan, "All we have to do is kick Jacob out in order to get rid of that useless 'J'."

"You mean Lily was serious when she said your group name was JALE?" Kitty asked incredulously, "I thought she was kidding!"

"Hey, you try and make a word with the letters J, A, L and E. Or J, A, L, E and K for that matter," Jacob answered.

"If we stopped hanging out with Jacob we could call ourselves LAKE too!" stated Alex. He was ignored as each member put forth his or her own idea:

'Kick Lily out! JAKE!' 'Forget Alex and we get KELJ… er… JELK! Yeah… JELK! That's a Muggle deer thing, isn't it?' 'That's 'elk' idiot.' 'Fine! Kick out Jacob AND Alex!' 'JAKE!' "LAKE!' 'JALE' 'KALE' 'ELK!'

"Did it ever occur to you guys that your name doesn't necessarily have to be an acronym of all your initials?" asked Kitty after a moments thought. Everyone stared at her.

"Naw, it's much more fun to excluded people."

A/N- Yay! Year three is finished! James will be more calm an collected in the next chapter… it was justhim seeing Lily looking all pretty that kinda blew what brains he had… temporally. I'm afraid things may get A LOT worse before they get better. Anymoo… Er… I hope you guys don't mind Kitty. I felt Liyl needed some female companionship, but that having her be in Gryffindor would be a tad unrealistic (why would they not have met before, right?). She has history with Bellatrix though(expect to see more of her too as lily becomes more popular. (Muahahaha)

Anymoo… that aboot it for this chapter. Again, reviews in which wonderful champions of specialness tell me about my mistakes will be rewarded with shiny cookies of delicious yumminess. Come on now- you can't resist a yummy cookie of delicious yumminess! It's yummy… and delicious… and SHINY… all in ONE cookie! Yeah.

Muchos Luff to all of you!