Disclaimer: If you recognize it it belongs to JKR. Some dialogue taken directly from OOTP.
written for the Missing Moments challenge on HPFC.
"Five more minutes."
Lily scanned back through her parchment, checking to see that she hadn't missed anything. She added another sentence to her argument about proper usage of defensive spells in muggle areas, and set down her quill to stretch out her cramping fingers. At the desk beside her, Jennifer Vane was madly scribbling, while two rows ahead, Alice Smethwyk seemed to be stretching out her fingers too. Lily didn't risk turning around to see how her best friend Mary was doing, as Professor Flitwick wandered past her desk.
Closing her eyes, Lily rubbed her temples, reminding herself that there were only one and a half exams to go. Without a doubt, OWLs had been the most exhausting two weeks she could remember, and she couldn't wait for it to finish.
As Professor Flitwick called for quills down, and summoned their papers, Lily glanced upwards. The great hall ceiling showed a bright sunny sky, perfect for relaxing. A pity they only had an hour and a half before the practical. Jenny nudged her, bringing her out of her thoughts.
"We can practice just as well down by the lake. Come on, Lindy and Evanna and the rest of the Hufflepuff girls are heading down there too."
Lily smiled and joined in the chatter as they left the Hall. As they meandered out the front doors, she spotted Sev's awkward frame up ahead, his nose buried in the exam questions. Lily considered talking to him, but decided that she didn't really need to go over the exam a second time. Their easy friendship had drifted apart somewhat this year through a series of small spats, stories of him and his little Slytherin gang bullying people, and, of course, his defending what Mulciber had done to Mary, which was simply inexcusable.
Alice apparently noticed her brooding, and before Lily knew what was happening, she and Annabel Flourish-clearly the Ravenclaws had joined them at some point too-swept her up and hauled her to the lakeside, where the entire group removed shoes and stockings to dip their toes in the refreshingly cool water.
Lily unwound her braid and shook out her hair. She would have to re-do it before lunch, but for five minutes she could just relax and get a feeling for the summer to come. Closing her eyes, she laid back against the soft moss, enjoying the gentle sound of laughter and the lapping of the water against the bank.
The laughter took on a different tone as Lily sat up. She recognised Potter's arrogant tone, and Black's bark-like laugh. With a sinking feeling, she realised it was coming from where she had seen Sev sitting.
Forcing her way through the small crowd of onlookers, Lily reached the front just in time to see pink frothy bubbles pour from Sev's mouth as he fell to his knees choking.
"Leave him ALONE!"
Right now Lily didn't care that she and Sev had been arguing, this was just WRONG! A glance to her left showed Remus, her backup in theory, staring defiantly at his Transfiguration book under the old Beech tree. So much for her fellow prefect.
To further her disgust, she saw that Potter had his hand in his hair, ruffling it like he usually did to keep it messy, and was wearing that cocky grin made her fingers itch to slap him.
All right Evans?" he asked, seemingly ignoring her glare. He seemed to think it was cool to call girls by their surname, another trait Lily found infuriating.
"Leave him alone, what's he ever done to you?" She demanded, knowing that this was strictly not true. Sev and his little gang of Death Eaters as they had been calling themselves recently had started just as many of the fights as Potter and Black this year. In this case though, she was sure Potter had started it. Sev was a good Slytherin, and would never pick a fight without backup.
She realised Potter was talking, saying something about Sev's existence. Clearly it was supposed to be funny, as most of the group were laughing. She narrowed her eyes further, then decided that indifference would get her further than yelling, and informed him, "You think you're funny, but you're just an arrogant, bullying toe-rag, Potter. Leave him alone."
Behind her, she could hear Mary calling, "You tell him Lils."
But Potter's grin never wavered, and he said casually, "I will if you go out with me, Evans."
Behind him, Sev was starting to recover from the soap attack, though Potter didn't seem to notice. "Go on," he added with a wink, "go out with me and I'll never lay a wand on old Snivelly again."
Lily gave up on indifference, and switched into temper, her red hair dancing as she shook with anger at his flippant tone.
"I wouldn't go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant SQUID!"
Several of the onlookers laughed, including Black, who turned back to Sev. Lily had hoped she could keep their attention long enough for Sev to make his escape, but clearly he had a different idea in mind.
She didn't hear him call anything, but there was a flash of white, and Potter's cheek was bleeding. His Quidditch reflexes had seen him jerk clear of the worst of the spell, and he responded equally wordlessly, flipping Sev upside down.
Lily stepped back, uncertain. She really should help Sev, but cutting spells-ones that cut human flesh like that-were dark magic, and highly illegal. By using it nonverbally, no-one could accuse him of dark magic, since he could claim it was simply a misfired Diffindo, or something. Unlikely, but hard to prove, and not the first instance of the Slytherin gang pulling that trick.
In the end, she decided as a Prefect, she would have to stop them. Taking a deep breath, she told Potter calmly and authoritatively, "Let him down."
Potter's grin widened, and he gave her a little bow as he said "Certainly."
And brought Sev crashing painfully to the ground.
Lily gritted her teeth; she should have expected that. She opened her mouth to suggest that they all go inside for lunch, when Black hexed Sev again.
Furious, Lily, rounded on him, sick of repeating herself. Sick of standing in-between Sev and his malicious gang, and the pack of immature Gryffindor boys who hexed anyone who walked by to prove they were cool. "LEAVE HIM ALONE!" she yelled, drawing her wand. She hated having to resort to force, but they clearly weren't going to stop otherwise.
She was gratified to see that Black and Potter were eyeing her wand nervously. The last time she had drawn on them, after Potter had hexed a third-year who ran into him on the way to breakfast, she had transfigured his shoes into roller-blades, and sent him crashing into the wall in front of half the school. Black too was cautious, having been on the receiving end of a silencing charm that took the entire weekend to wear off, following a prolonged shouting match with his brother in the library. Madam Pince, the new Librarian whom had taken over from Mister Delaney this year had seemed grateful for that one too.
Potter swallowed, then said calmly, "Ah Evans, don't make me hex you," raising his hands in a warding gesture, as if implying that Lily was being the unreasonably childish one. She restrained herself from rolling her eyes, and told him "Take the curse off him then," channelling as much of McGonagall's tone as she could muster. She watched with satisfaction as Potter glanced between her hovering wand tip and her face, set in as determined a pose as she could manage. With a sigh, and a glance at the still mutinous looking Black, he turned and muttered "Finite Incantatem."
Sev glowered at all of them as he regained his feet, stowing his wand in a pocket, and brushing himself clean. He opened his mouth to say something, then shook his head and spat, glaring at Potter, and proceeded to trip over his hem. Potter, determined to have the last word, said in a patronizing tone as Sev righted himself again, "There you go, you're lucky Evans was here Snivellus-"
With a sigh, and a wince for the provocative nickname, Lily raised her wand, planning on hexing Potter's tongue to the roof of his mouth, or something similar, when Sev snarled "I don't need help from filthy mudbloods like her!"
Lily felt herself freeze, staring at Sev, who seemed to have realized his mistake, but couldn't bring himself to take it back publicly. It was not the first time Lily had been called that, and not the first time she had heard of Sev using the word, but he had never uttered it in her presence before, and certainly never at her. In fact, he had always assured her that, unlike most of his housemates, he couldn't care less about her parentage.
A year worth of stories and whispered arguments seemed to drift through her mind in an instant. Every occasion where she had defended Sev, her oldest friend, against her housemates, her friends, the other prefects. Only now he had shown his true face, the one everyone else saw. His Slytherin mask had slipped, though on or off, she wasn't sure.
She could feel a dull throb pounding behind her temples, and she blinked away tears, from the headache, she told herself, not for the betrayal of friendship. She couldn't deal with this right now. Taking a deep breath, she said cooly, "Fine."
Looking Sev squarely in the eyes, "I won't bother in the future." He looked away, and she saw his lip curl into that sneer that she had seen directed at others, Potter, Black, Remus, even Mary, who flaunted her muggle heritage at every opportunity. Time to draw the lines, she thought, and delivered the final blow. "And I'd wash your pants if I were you Snivellus."
His head jerked at hearing the hated nickname from her lips-an eye for an eye, she thought savagely-hoping that her derision would deter Potter and Black from further action.
Potter, however seemed to decide that Lily was on his side now, and that he needed to prove his superiority by continuing the humiliation.
Seeing him draw his wand again, Lily, her head positively pounding now with frustration, anger, and sheer exhaustion, turned on him, yelling more to abate the pain than anything else, "I don't want you to make him apologise. You're as bad as he is."
"What? I'd never call you a…you-know-what." Potter's voice cracked as he tried to backtrack. Lily couldn't take any more of his blind arrogance. She was sick to death of his high and mighty attitude, his-and Black too-belief that it wasn't cruel or wrong if they were the ones doing it. And she was absolutely sick of his attempts at asking her out, as though being the almighty Quidditch star with the rumpled hair meant that she should fall at his feet while he brushed her off to go chase another skirt walking by.
She unleashed at him, a torrent of anger built on the hurt of Sev's betrayal, watching his eyes flicker in surprise at each barb she delivered. "YOU MAKE ME SICK!" she screamed at him finally, and turned on her heel, back towards the castle, barely noticing Mary's comforting arm, or Alice holding her shoes. She could hear Potter calling her back, but she didn't care. She hurried to the bathroom, her friends in her wake, hoping that she could get rid of the headache and the burning in her throat before their practical exams started.