A dark-haired girl looked up from her position crouching beside the floor-length mirror. Her expression was almost too innocent to be believable.
"You've pinned this entire side all wrong," said the robust blonde sternly.
"This is much more interesting than that dull, symmetrical fringe," explained the brunette, Marlene. "I thought of it myself," she added with simple pride.
"I'll fix it, Mary," another girl, with a pretty round face, put in. Reaching up one sleeve, she pulled out her wand and pointed it at the dress. "I don't know why we didn't just use magic in the first place," she complained prosaically.
"No need, Alice, I'll take care of it," the blonde, Mary, said importantly. Marlene looked upset.
"Don't you dare, Mary McDonald!" she nearly shrieked, pulling out her wand. "I did it right—"
"No, you silly girl—" Mary began.
"Wait, don't—" Alice started.
There was a bang, and a flash of light. From their corner of the dress shop came the stench of singed hair and fabric.
"What's going on?" asked a new voice. The red-haired girl gazing absently at her reflection seemed to have been awakened from her reverie. As she turned around sharply, her singed dress rustled.
"Sorry, Lily. Small mishap," explained Alice calmly.
"It's all her fault!" complained Mary, glaring at Marlene.
"Girls, when I said I wanted an unusual wedding dress, I did not mean I wanted to walk down the aisle in burnt silken rags," Lily said acidly.
"Marlene wanted you to have 'asymmetrical fringe,'" said Mary scathingly.
"I don't think James would mind," commented Alice fairly.
"If you can't even adjust Lily's ruffles properly, Marlene, I shudder to think of you battling those terrible Death Eaters," said Mary. Her voice remained cold.
Marlene scowled. "I know what I'm doing. You're so uncreative, Mary."
"I'm not creative because I don't want to take chances with my best friend's wedding dress?" demanded Mary.
"Best friend!" Marlene laughed scathingly. "Who do you think you are, Mary? Lily doesn't need you!"
"She doesn't need asymmetrical fringe!"
Meanwhile, Alice helped Lily climb down from the short platform.
"Thanks. These heels will be the death of me," said Lily ruefully.
Alice nodded. "So, Lily, what were you thinking about before Mary and Marlene went in for the kill?"
Lily smiled. "As long as they both survive the wedding, they can duel on their own time."
"Or should I ask, who were you thinking about?" Alice asked slyly.
Lily glanced at her friend, as though wondering if the moment was right for confidences. There was a faint frown line between her brows. "I…I miss S—" she began.
Crash! Both Alice and Lily whipped around in time to see a wrack of dress robes fall to the floor, only missing Marlene by a centimeter. Across the room, Mary raised her wand threateningly, her eyes narrowed in rage.
Alice gave Lily an apologetic look. "Hold that thought." She hurried toward the combatants.
Lily walked slowly back to the mirror, holding her burned skirts. When she reached it, she gave her vibrant red curls a habitual scrutiny, and then gazed into her own reflected green eyes.
Sometimes they reminded her of the Dark Mark, but James said she was just being foolish. She wondered if he had the Mark yet. He would have joined the Death Eaters…You-Know-Who's followers—the enemy. He was an enemy now.
"I…I miss you, Sev," she whispered. Her breath misted the glass, and for a moment, she saw dark eyes reflected back at her.