Author's Notes: Written for ToxicRainfall's Diversity Competition on the HPFC forum.

For the next round, the theme is a Marauder's Era piece, with the genre as friendship :) The second genre can be anything you like, as long as friendship is the main theme :)
The word limit is 650 - 1200 words, and the due date is 20th April.

Enjoy a non-romance from Gamma!

)O(

People knew that Andromeda was close to Ted Tonks. They didn't know quite how close they were – that was something that Andromeda did everything in her power to hide – but they knew that the two of them were "friendly", and people with some sense of perception were able guess that there was a romance, though they couldn't prove it. Andromeda was careful enough to be sure that they could prove nothing.

People did not, however, know that Andromeda was close to Lily Evans.

It was much easier to hide a friendship than a romance, Andromeda thought, when she bothered considering such things. People were inclined to look for the scandal associated with romantic love, and often ignored even obvious signals of other sorts of relationships. And what she had with Lily was – she made sure – far from obvious.

It was easier to make people think that there was no real closeness between girls who – it seemed to the rest of the world – only shared a few words than that there was none between a boy and girl who had been seen more than once exchanging so-called "longing looks". People – gossips especially – were skilled at picking up the signs of a budding romance, but not so with even the closest of friendships.

Or perhaps the secrecy had to do with Andromeda's unwillingness to acknowledge Lily in public.

It seemed cruel to think of it that way, and yes, there were times – many times – when Andromeda did suffer the most horrible pangs of guilt for hurting Lily. She didn't like to see her face fall when Andromeda's eyes slipped over her as though she didn't see her, nor did she like the way Lily would look around for her, and how she would sigh and slink away when she saw that Andromeda was with her other friends.

Lily was not the sort who would complain about being neglected – she was stoic by nature, and had often said that she thought it odd enough that Andromeda even talked to her – but Andromeda did not enjoy having a guilty conscience over it.

"Lily?" she said to her, late one Saturday afternoon when the two of them were sitting in the back of the library together. It was one of the few places where they could speak – or just enjoy each other's silent company – without people noticing and thinking it suspicious that they were together. Few people bothered to come into the library on Saturdays except during exams in any case, and when they did, Lily and Andromeda could hide behind their books and pretend to be studying, as though it were mere coincidence that they were sitting at the same table. She set down her textbook and looked over at her.

"Yes?" asked Lily, setting her own book down, turning her head to Andromeda and brushing a lock of vibrant hair out of her eyes. An all too distinct sense of remorse twisted in Andromeda's stomach looking at her friend's innocent expression. Damnit, why do you have to be so nice?

She sighed. "Lily, I… I was wondering… I have to ask you…"

"Yes?" repeated Lily, smiling.

"Do you… don't you…" Andromeda was floundering, unable to find quite the words to ask what she meant, and Lily just kept smiling that infuriatingly bright, innocent smile at her. She wanted to hit her for being bright when Andromeda felt so self-loathing and dark.

"Don't you hate me?" she burst out at last.

Lily tilted her head and blinked, looking quite confused. "What? Why would I hate you?"

"Because." Andromeda would have thought the answer to be obvious. "Haven't you noticed? I'm bloody horrible to you."

"No, you aren't. Not horrible. Not half as bad as Severus, at any rate."

"Just because I'm not as bad as that little prat…" Andromeda's lip curled disdainfully.

"Don't," Lily said. "He's my friend too. Besides, I understand… I mean, you're a Black, after all. And you're not even like Sirius… you care what your family thinks." Lily's face clouded slightly, a dark shadow passing behind her usually bright eyes. "And a Black who cares about what her family thinks shouldn't ever be thought to be friends with a Mudblood."

)O(

Fin