Lily glared at the dress with the deepest loathing. Had she been allowed to do things her way, she would have torn it up, but instead she yanked it forcibly over her head and turned to face the mirror. She groaned in frustration.
When she had ordered the dress a week earlier, she had set the color as a periwinkle blue hoping it would class with her hair. To her deepest disappointment, she looked fine. As always, the color set off her eyes and made her skin look creamy.
"Remind me to get a red dress for the next dance" she told her maid.
"But miss!" protested the girl whose name Lily was having trouble remembering, "Red will clash horribly with your hair, if you'll pardon me for saying." Lily rolled her eyes. The girl had been hired a week ago.
"That's the point" she replied as she sat down on a chair and let the girl begin working on her hair.
"Pardon me for saying it miss, but…" the girl (Edith! That was her name!) began in her most polite voice. But for all its serenity, Lily thought she could detect a hint of resentment. She nodded, signaling that Edith might continue. Edith took a deep breath and spoke quickly, her words running into each other. "It seems wasteful miss. You have it all. Rich parents, good looks, a mother who organizes balls such as this… and yet you squander it all away. Why miss?" she asked, her fingers busy braiding already.
Lily sighed. "At the risk of sounding like a 'poor clichéd little rich girl'… well… it's not as fun as it seems really Edith. My life might seem glamorous to you. It even seems it to me… sometimes. But it's hard. Every year my mother picks a fad. Last year it was dinner parties in suits. Everyone in suits, acting utterly stiff and proper. That wasn't that bad though. But this year it's dances and balls. Men must wear tuxes, and it is imperative that women wear fancy ball gowns. I sit here watching my mother waste all our money on elegant parties when there are so many more things she could be doing! You've been here for a week. I've been here all summer. It's not as fun as it looks."
She twisted to face Edith, trying to see if her message had registered. For a moment, she saw a glimmer of understanding, but it soon faded.
"I'm afraid I don't understand." Admitted Edith, hanging her head. "It's all I ever wanted."
The line sparked a memory in Lily. Some where in the back of her mind was a story about a prince and a beggar. The Prince and the Pauper! Of course! She looked up, her eyes shining.
"Edith!" she almost squealed, "Let's switch places!" she waited for a reaction with bated breath, but was disappointed; Edith looked less than thrilled.
"I look nothing like you Miss," she pointed out, pushing a lock of light brown hair out of her face for emphasis.
Lily started to scoff before it dawned on her that Edith didn't know her secret. "My parents didn't tell you, did they?" she asked. Edith's confused look was enough. "I'm a witch!" she exclaimed, throwing the Ministry's rules to the wind. Her parents could pay any fine that might result from her confession.
Without pausing for explanations, Lily pulled out her wand and recited a quick spell.
"I'd brew up a polyjuice," she said as she started taking off her dress, "But I haven't the time, so that illusion will have to do. Hurry now! You'll have to fix your hair, because I sure can't"
Edith stood, stunned, a glassy expression on her face. Mentally, Lily berated herself for being so quick and not giving Edith enough time to adjust, but a glance at the grandfather clock kept her from pausing. She had half an hour.
"Don't try and think about it!" she scolded Edith, performing an illusion charm on herself. Edith looked at her in shock.
"You look just like me!" the maid exclaimed.
Lily sighed. "No." she explained slowly, "You look like that, see?" She turned Edith so she was facing her body length mirror. Edith stood silent for a second before laughing.
"Silly girl! You've got me mistaken for Mistress Lily! She the one right there, who just pointed at me while talking to a girl who…" her voice trailed off as she realized the truth.
"That's your reflection Edith," said Lily kindly. Edith breathed a small sigh and fainted.
"Damn it!" Lily swore, glaring at Edith's limp form. "I really don't need this right now." Quickly she bent over Edith's body and preformed a second illusion spell, trying in it to reconstruct make-up she had seen on her face before. As she did so, she thanked the heavens for magic. It made so many thinks so much easier.
Then she looked at Edith's hair gloomily. It was a mess of braids, but none of them were done properly, and she didn't know any hair spells. She considered calling a maid, but realized that they wouldn't help her. They thought she was Edith, and Edith was able to braid hair.
She tried shaking Edith lightly, and then not so lightly. Finally, Edith came to. Lily smiled, quickly throwing a nearby sweater over her body-length mirror. Edith was gazing up at her blurrily.
"Hey!" said Edith groggily, "You look just like me!"
'Here we go again' thought Lily mournfully, checking her watch. They had twenty minutes before they were supposed to go down and greet the guests, but Lily had skipped that particular duty enough, so it wouldn't raise any suspicion. Maids were praised for getting her to enter the ballroom, let alone answer the door. 'What are Butlers for anyway?' Lily thought rebelliously.
"Edith." She said, "This is just a dream. In this dream, you are Miss Lily, so get yourself ready for the upcoming party, okay?"
Edith sat there looking confused. Then she shook her head slightly and started braiding her hair mechanically.
"This isn't happening," she told Lily quietly.
"Of course not!" replied Lily, "Now what kind of shoes should I- I mean you wear?"
"Enjoy yourself!" Lily whispered in Edith's ear as she pushed her into the ballroom. Then she slumped into a chair.
"Remind me never to become a maid." She said to no one in particular. A kind waiter whose name Lily didn't know smiled at her as he passed.
"It's a little late for that now Edith. What'd Lily do this time? Throw a tantrum and rip up her dress?" Lily looked up in surprise. She was offended.
"Mistress Lily would never do a thing like that!" she said curtly. The waiter just smiled again.
"That's not what I heard," he said, grinning. "Come on Edith, to the kitchens with you. Now that your ordeal is over, I figure you can help with the food. An extra hand is always useful." And with that he swept an indignant Lily right out of her chair and down the hallway.
'It's going to be a long night' she thought gloomily as she entered the kitchens. The head cook, a woman Lily had always found intimidating even when she was of a higher status was even scarier now that she was a simple chambermaid. The woman looked her up and down twice before handing her a tray.
"I don't trust that she can cook a decent meal, let alone one fancy enough for the guests tonight. She can serve." The cook announced as though Lily wasn't there, and handed her a tray. Lily thanked her lucky stars. She was good at potions, but cooking she just didn't get. She burned salad for God's sake.
The waiter who had dragged her to the kitchens in the first place guided her back out into the hall.
"Come on Edith. It'll be just like last time when I showed you how to serve the guests." He said. Lily cringed internally, but stepped into the ballroom as though she knew exactly what she was doing. It couldn't be that hard, she decided. All she had to do was go offer food to people.
Then she saw James Potter and the tray went tumbling down. He was standing next to the buffet, chatting animatedly with… herself. Lily's heart sank right down into her toes.
'Who invited him???' her head screamed. Then, to her utmost shame, she realized that Lily/Edith was flirting with him. She buried her head in her hands. This is a nightmare. She told herself. There's absolutely no way that this could actually be happening.
"Edith?" said the waiter, snapping her out of her reverie, "Edith, are you okay?"
"I'm fine" she stammered, "Sorry about the mess."
The waiter assured her that it was fine and started to help her clean up. As she picked up the bowl of tapenade and the fancy crackers, Lily kept an eye on Edith and James. Edith was giggling at something he had said. Giggling! Lily wished she could become an ostrich and bury her head in some sand.
Then James spotted her. He said something to Edith and walked over alone.
"You must be Lily's maid." He said in way of greeting.
"Potter." Lily acknowledged as she straightened up, forgetting she was supposed to be a maid. He blinked at her attitude.
"Er… that's right." He mumbled, clearly not sure what to say, "Listen…" he began, "Can I talk to you about Lily for a minute? She's acting a little… differently. And this place! Can you believe it? I mean… who knew Lily was loaded?" He was babbling. Lily rolled her eyes.
"Alright." She allowed grudgingly, "But only for a minute, okay? And I want to know how in the world you got invited to this party in the first place."
That last got her a glare from her fellow waiter and she realized that being a little more polite might be a good idea. James, however, didn't notice. He just grinned.
"You sound more like Lily than she does." He joked. Lily stiffened.
"Ha. Ha." She muttered as she led him out of the ballroom into the hall.
"Okay," she ordered when she was sure no one was listening in, "Shoot."
James grinned nervously and the strangeness of the situation came home. Lily realized that she was standing in her own hallway disguised as one of her chambermaids, and talking to James Potter, who had gotten himself invited to one of her mother's parties and wanted to talk to her about herself. She started laughing.
"What a night!" she sighed, and then grinned at James as she flopped into a chair, "Now, where were we?"
"Before you started laughing for no apparent reason?" he asked. She rolled her eyes. Why did everyone have a passion for stating the obvious? James noticed the movement. "See! You act like Lily! She must have told you about me… and nothing pleasant. So isn't she acting like you?"
Lily panicked. He's guessed! She gasped. Why else would he have said 'Acting like you?' Too late she realized that the sentence could be interpreted in more than one way. James was staring at her intently.
"Lily?" He asked tentatively. She groaned and put her head in her hands.
"I really hate you sometimes Potter," she informed him. He perked up.
"Sometimes?" he asked, grinning mischievously, "That means there must be times where you don't hate me."
"Oh Potter,' Lily cooed, her voiced laced with heavy sarcasm, "You're so witty!" He stuck his tongue out at her. She grinned. "Another deviously cunning blow wielded by the one and only James Potter. How can anyone hope to beat the epitome of all things sophisticated: Sticking one's tongue out? Impressive James, truly impressive."
James let his face twist into a smile and leaned in. "I happen to know that a certain someone got out of tonight's party by putting her maid in her place," he reminded her, trying to keep from laughing, "You may want to be a little nicer to me."
"So that's how it is?" she demanded playfully, "Blackmail?"
He smiled a vampirical smile Lily had never seen before. "Blackmail." He replied.
Lily found herself laughing. She knew it was wrong and that she shouldn't laugh at James Potter's antics, and yet it seemed… normal that night. James laughed with her, a deep laugh.
"Quit pretending your voice has changed you faker," she teased, "Your laugh isn't that low!"
James acted offended, "Are you suggesting that my voice is not as manly as I make it around you?"
"No, I'm saying it," she replied airily, and then, at an impish thought, she added, "Your voice is nothing like that dreamboat Sirius's"
"Oh now that's going too far!" he cried.
The next moments seemed to move very slowly. Fate gave Lily time to wonder what was going on, and how in the world she had moved from sarcasm to flirty banter in the first place. It gave her time to wonder why she was sitting in a hallway with James Potter anyway. But it didn't give her time to back out. As James moved in to attack her for her comment, she moved up…
And she kissed him.
And she blushed.
And she ran.
And all the while James stood like a statue.
Lily rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she sat on her favorite chair waiting for Edith to come back. Finally the maid came waltzing into her room and fell onto her bed. Lily moved to wake her, but decided against it. Instead she used a spell to dress Edith in her normal clothes and removed the illusion spells on both of them.
She then tried to lift Edith off her bed. It wouldn't do for the maid to wake and find herself lying her mistress's bed. Unfortunately, Edith weighed a lot more than her size might have suggested. Lily pulled and strained, but only just managed to roll her off the bed.
"Need some help?"
Lily screamed quietly, before whirling, her wand brandished. Her eyes widened when she saw James Potter leaning against her cupboard door lazily, as if he hadn't a care in the world.
"James. Whatever Your Middle Name Is. Potter. What the HELL are you doing in my room?" she interrogated. She'd hoped she'd sounded upset to see him, even angry. But despite her best efforts he still had that incorrigible grin plastered across his face.
"I was hoping to kiss you instead of your maid." He told her easily as he walked over and bent to pick Edith up off the floor, "But now that I see how you treat your servants…"
She glared at him, unable to thing of the right words. Finally, she said the only thing that came to her head. "What is your middle name anyway?"
"Wow Lily," James answered, mimicking her early behavior, "What a brilliant comeback. 'What's your middle name?' Now why didn't I think of that?"
"Shut up," she retorted.
"Oh, the epitome of sophistication! Shut up!"
"So how did you get in? To the party I mean. And to my room to I guess." Lily finally asked as James deposited Edith onto her own bed in the maid's quarters.
"I came to see you," he began. Lily rolled her eyes, and he poked her, "Quit doing that. Your mother said you were busy, but that I could see you at the party, and she just handed me an invitation."
Lily smacked her forehead. "And my room?" She asked.
"Apparition tests over the summer."
"I still can't believe you came. Persistent much?"
As the narrator, I'm can safely say that James would have uttered some brilliant phrase along the lines of 'Duh' had he had the chance. Unfortunately, that was the moment that he chose to kiss Lily.
It's kind of hard to talk when you're kissing the love of your life. Especially since you don't really want to.
A/N- Sorry... just a fluffy oneshot that just came to me one night before I went to sleep. The ending's weird, I know. The whole story is kind of weird. I know that too. I just like writing stories that are sort of loosely linked to fairy tales, ok?
you know what to do: review! (That RHYMED! I'm making POETRY for
you guys… the least you could do is give me a nice little review.)
As can be seen in all my stories, my spelling and grammar is horrible. If you should see a misplaced comma or a misspelled word… PLEASE tell me. I will be your best friend. (Ok… fine. I'll just give you a cookie. Same thing.)