In Which Marlene's Beauty Rest is Disturbed

"Marlene!"

Why does everyone always yell my name? I wondered groggily. My hearing is quite acute.

"Marlene!"

I buried my head deeper under my blankets. By this point, I had recognized Mary McDonald's dulcet tones. Someday I'm going to ask Professor Dumbledore what I ever did to deserve sharing a dormitory with her. I swear, I was a good little first year. I didn't give Peeves Bertha Jorkins' password to the faculty staffroom until well into my third term.

"Marlene!"

"What?" I asked aggrievedly. I wouldn't have given in, but once Mary gets hold of something—especially gossip—she never lets it go. She's even worse than Bertha Jorkins.

With a whoosh, my bed-hangings flew back. Mary peered down upon my semi-conscious form with an avidness I couldn't pretend to appreciate.

"Marlene!" she yelled again. "That Snape boy is here—says he'll stay the night in front of the portrait hole!" she sounded far more excited than I felt the situation warranted.

"So?" I muttered.

"So! So should I tell Lily, that's so! Personally, I wouldn't want that creepy Snape boy as my stalker. Slytherins!" she sniffed.

"Yeah, whatever," I murmured, pulling my pillow over my head. Perhaps if I feigned sleep long enough, she'd go away.

"You heard what he called her today, right?" Mary was now speaking in hushed tones. Relieved, I tried to return to my dream. I wanted to remember the details, so I could recount it in Divination. I had a feeling it was important. Something about a sleeping baby and a flying motorbike…

"Marlene! Pay attention! It was just after the Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L., and that Snape boy got into a row with Potter and Black—you know how they get. Anyway, then Lily goes up to them—I still can't believe she thought that Snape boy was good friend material—and defends him. Against Potter! Honestly, that girl needs to sort out her priorities. Potter's really handsome, you know. Hey, Marlene, do you think if Lily remains adamant, Potter might fancy me?"

Mary's voice had turned suddenly hopeful. Giving up continued sleep as a bad job—perhaps it would take less time away from my beauty rest to deal with Mary now—I sat up, pushing my dark, tangled hair out of my eyes.

"No, Mary, you know how he feels about Lily," I said firmly. "If anything happened between you and Potter, you'd be betraying her."

"But if she doesn't want him—" Mary began.

I sighed. "I don't think she knows what she wants. But you don't get to decide for her."

Mary pouted. "Fine. What should we do about that Snape boy?"

"I suppose you'll have to wake Lily," I said, frowning. "That guy is her responsibility."

"Wake her? Marlene, don't be silly! Lily's not asleep!" Mary scoffed, laughing.

"What time is it?" I asked, reaching for my watch. "I hope you realize we've got our Transfiguration O.W.L. tomorrow—"

"Exactly so! Lily's studying—unlike some people," Mary added, looking at my loose, flyaway hair and nightdress scathingly. Mary doesn't believe in beauty sleep. Unfortunately, you can't tell by looking. She's blonde (Black's established preference) and curvier than Lily or I—though not as round-looking as Alice.

I made shooing motions at her so she'd give me some space, and reached for my dressing gown. If Lily was studying, she was probably downstairs in the common room. Mary and I weren't alone in our dormitory—Alice's curtains were drawn around her bed. I have no idea how she could have slept through Mary's 'dulcet tones,' but I could hear her gentle snoring. I wish she'd tell me her secret—what I wouldn't give to escape Mary McDonald, even in sleep.

At which point my blonde nemesis once more interrupted my thoughts. "Well, hurry up! We have to do something! That Snape boy said he would spend all night outside! That's so creepy!"

"Why?" I asked practically. "He can't get in."

"He knows the Dark Arts, though. That's what Black said yesterday—I think," Mary frowned.

Too busy gazing dreamily at James Potter? I wondered. Not that he'll ever look at Mary. He's a one-woman wizard. Black, on the other hand…

When we got to the common room, there was Lily, poring over her Transfiguration notes. Mary and I are both jealous of her handwriting—it's smooth and neat, while Mary's is unformed and erratic, and mine is a jagged, hurried scrawl. Lily's notes were even neater than Professor McGonagall's. I don't even know why she bothers to study so much—we all know she'll do well. Professor Slughorn says she's destined for greatness.

"What is it, Mary?" Lily snapped. She's got quite the temper.

"Well, um…" Mary darted a glance at me. "Marlene thinks I should tell you…that Snape boy's outside," she finished in a rush. I glared at her. She was the one who woke me up!

"Severus?" Lily whispered. Then she frowned. "What's he doing here?"

She was looking at me, but Mary answered. "Says he'll stay out there all night!"

"Tchah!" Lily made an impatient noise.

"Is it true he called you…?" Mary paused, apparently unwilling to continue.

"Mudblood?" Lily said coldly. "Of course it's true."

"What?" I asked, shocked. "You didn't mention that!"

"It's fine, I'm over it," said Lily in a voice that told me, without a shadow of a doubt, that she was far from over it.

"That Snape boy's a jerk," said Mary comfortably. "Is it exciting having a creepy stalker?" she asked Lily.

Lily and I looked at her with identical expressions of exasperation.

"Godric, Mary. Have you even heard of You-Know-Who?" I said, rolling my eyes expressively toward Lily. These days, anything creepy is dangerous.

Lily stomped toward the portrait hole. As she went through, I thought I caught a glimpse of Snape, looking truly miserable. My heart went out to him for a moment—but then I remembered. He called Lily "Mudblood." I thought he was supposed to be her friend. All right, so he's a Slytherin, but they've been close for years. I was willing to tolerate him as a friend of Lily's, but I've always wondered whether he plans on joining You-Know-Who. Avery and Mulciber do—I heard them talking about it on the Hogwarts Express last fall—and he's always hung at the fringes of that crowd.

I still couldn't believe Snape would do that to Lily. She always stands up for him—not just to Potter and Black—to everyone. I hope he doesn't join You-Know-Who. I suppose it will be a romantic sort of tragedy if he does. Or perhaps one must expect it, from a Slytherin. I know that's what Black says.

"So?" Mary asked shrilly.

I looked around—now what did she want?

"Are we going to listen in on Lily's conversation with that creep or not?" Mary asked, rolling her eyes at my ignorance.

"Of course not!" I exclaimed, shocked. Not that I should have been—that's Mary for you. "Snape is Lily's business, and that's called eavesdropping!"

"Bertha would do it," Mary cajoled. Godric, I hate Bertha Jorkins. Her and her big mouth. Someday, she's going to say the right thing to the wrong person.

Tired of this fruitless conversation, I started for the stairs.

"Where are you going?" Mary called belligerently.

I yawned. "Back to bed. You ungrateful wretch."

~fin~