A/N: I came up with the concept of this story JUST before going to sleep one night. It's going to be long, so that's why the pacing might seem a bit slow at first. There will be a lot of Sirius/OC at the beginning, but this is a Severus/OC story. YOU'LL SEE. Things have to happen first. Enjoy!


She ran her fingers along the familiar edge of the picture frame, her fingertips numb to the sensation of the wood grains on her skin; she'd been doing it for so long.

Lily would be by soon. The Evans's were giving Lydia a ride to King's Cross again, for the fifth year in a row.

The picture was of Lydia, Lily, and Severus in their first year, the best of friends, the three students in their year from their part of their city. They didn't even live in a wizarding area.

The three of them had been so happy then, happy to have found each other and become such good friends, happy to have vowed to be friends forever.

But that had all changed just a few months ago when Severus had called Lily a Mudblood in front of the whole of their year and now Lydia didn't know where anything stood anymore. With a final sigh she tucked the picture carefully into a corner of her quite-full trunk and took one last look around her bedroom to make sure she wasn't leaving anything behind. Satisfied that everything important was packed, Lydia closed and latched her trunk, dragging it toward the door and pulling on her jacket.

Just as she was tucking her wand into her pocket, Lydia heard the Evans's car pull into the drive and she rushed down the stairs so that they didn't have to ring the doorbell.

"Mr. Evans, Lily," Lydia said with a smile. "My parents are sleeping again. Everything's ready, I just need some help with my trunk."

"Have you eaten breakfast today?" Mr. Evans asked, smiling but obviously concerned that her parents never got up to see her off.

"Yes," Lydia lied easily as she always did, leading Mr. Evans up to her room where he heaved up her trunk and carried it down to the car, the two girls following him, giggling as the climbed into the back seat together.

"Good morning, Lydia," Mrs. Evans said kindly. "How are you?"

"Very well, Mrs. Evans, thank you," Lydia lied, even easier than the last time she'd said it. "And you, Mrs. Evans?"

"Excellent, dear," the kindly woman beamed.

Mr. Evans then got into the car and started it up, driving away from Lydia's house, which she didn't look back at.

She never did.

"So," Lily said excitedly once they were on the motorway, "have you written any letters this summer?"

Of course Lily and Lydia didn't need to write to each other. They lived close enough that they could meet in the park, or at Lily's house when Petunia was out. But Lydia knew exactly what Lily was referring to and she blushed, shaking her head.

Lily clicked her tongue disappointedly.

"Lydia, dear, you know you ought to be more proactive!" the redhead said excitedly. "Would you like for me to mention you to him during the prefects meeting?"

"No," Lydia said quickly, blushing slightly. Lily would do it anyway, but she wanted to make her objection known. "It won't do any good, Lily."

"Nonsense," Lily protested. "This is your year!"

"You say that every year," Lydia grumbled slightly, turning to watch the countryside whiz by out of the window rather than face her friend's match-making brainstorm session all over again.

The truth of the matter was that, yes, Lydia Rowe was desperately in love with Remus Lupin. She had been for years. The other truth of the matter was that the last thing Lydia needed to do was be more proactive, because there wasn't a soul in all of Hogwarts who didn't know that Lydia had asked the bookish Marauder out dozens of times, and been turned down politely but consistently each time. Her failures at her love life were nearly as famous as James Potter frequently asking out Lily and being publically humiliated each time.

But Lydia was not James Potter. She was embarrassed that somehow everyone knew her failures and desperation, no matter how discrete she was. She also knew that it wasn't that Remus disliked her or even necessarily didn't have feelings for her: He was a werewolf.

To him that meant that dating would be putting someone in unnecessary danger, socially and physically, and putting them under constant undue stress. He couldn't seem to understand that Lydia didn't care that he was a werewolf or all of the things that would entail if she was with him. She just wanted to be with him.

Didn't he realize that she was broken too?

But of course he didn't, she chastised herself. No one knew. No one except...


Severus had been there, been at her house when it happened, and he was the only person who understood how painful going home each summer was. He usually visited, but he hadn't this past summer.

Perhaps he wouldn't speak to her now that he and Lily were not speaking, and hadn't been speaking for months.

Lydia wanted to ask where they all stood, but she was too afraid to bring him up. The last time Lily had talked about Severus, she'd gotten so angry that she started throwing things around their dormitory, and Lily hardly ever threw things.

It was always a long ride to London, but the girls scrambled out and waited while Mr. Evans fetched trolleys for their things and set them up to push their things to the barrier between platforms nine and ten. When they had gotten onto platform nine and three quarters, they said their fond goodbyes to Lily's parents and got their things onto the train.

"I'm going to the meeting, all right?" Lily said happily, giving her friend a quick hug. "Find us a compartment, will you?"

Lydia dutifully found an empty compartment, settling down near the window with a potions book Severus had given her three years ago for her birthday, with various tips and notations in the margins for her. She'd never had the natural facility in Potions that Severus and Lily had, but with diligence and Severus's tips she'd managed to be near the top of the class consistently. She'd just begun to read a section on Healing Potions when the compartment door slid open to reveal the faces of three Marauders looking in at her.

"Hey, Rowe," James Potter said, grinning broadly. "We're going to join you."

She scowled up at him.

"Lily won't like it," she pointed out as the boys came in and sat down anyway, Sirius sitting beside her, James and Peter sitting on the opposite part of the compartment. "She's going to be cross with you, and you know how tense she already is when she has to patrol the train."

James just laughed, winking at her.

"Relax, we know you don't really want us to go. Remus goes where we go, after all."

Lydia was too busy trying to hide her blush behind her book that she barely noticed that Sirius tensed at the reminder of her continued embarrassment.

"What are you reading, Rowe?" Sirius said, but he never said her surname with the same harshness James did. James was her Quidditch captain, and therefore he was so used to yelling her name from across the pitch that he couldn't seem to speak to her as if she were a normal person.

She tried not to take it personally.

"Potions book," she muttered, not looking up at Sirius.

Lydia, like many other females, found it difficult to look at Sirius, and at the same time incredibly difficult not to look at him. He was one of those people, like Lily, who was far too good looking for it to be humanly possible, and yet there he was. He had always been especially strange to Lydia because she always thought of herself as plain at best, especially compared with Lily. Lily had beautiful auburn hair; Lydia had limp sand-colored strands. Lily's bright green eyes were always alight with some passionate emotion; Lydia's grayish-brown eyes were dull unless the light was just right, and she was convinced that it hardly ever was.

Sirius lowered the book to see what she was reading over her shoulder and she let him, entirely sure what to say or do in that situation. Sirius Black pretty much did whatever he wanted, and Lydia didn't feel like he was being so intruding that she had a right to be the person who told him not to do what he pleased. He frowned deeply, though, when he looked at the pages she was on.

"That handwriting seems familiar... Really familiar... Whose is it? It's not yours, I know that much."

Why would he know her handwriting?

But then Lydia realized that the Marauders shared everything. He must have read the notes and letters she'd given to Remus and shared in a laugh with James over them. She blushed again, but didn't answer the question, merely shifting her book to its previous position.

After all, it was debatable whether James or Sirius hated Severus most, or whether Severus hated James and Sirius most. Lydia knew they all had ample reason to hate each other, but she liked them all well enough and desperately didn't want to get in the middle of it.

Thankfully, before Sirius insisted on an answer, Lily and Remus opened the compartment door.

"Potter, what are you doing in here, bugging Lydia?" Lily growled.

"She let us in," James said, trying to defend himself. "She wanted us here."

"Likely," Lily said dryly, motioning for Remus to take the seat across from Lydia in a not so sly way, taking the spot next to Sirius in order to force Remus closer to her best friend. Lydia blushed even brighter, pretending not to notice as her eyes scanned Severus's notes unseeing.

"How was the meeting, Remus?" Sirius said lazily, stretching out a bit and shifting slightly closer to Lydia in this motion.

"Exactly the same as always," Remus said softly, watching Lydia as best he could over the top of her book. She knew all he could see was the very top of her bright-red forehead, but it did please her to know he was looking, nonetheless.

James tried regularly throughout the train ride to talk to Lily, but he was utterly unsuccessful. She did little more in regards to him than ignore his very presence, which Lydia thought was actually very kind of her compared with what Lydia had been expecting. Sirius, James, and Remus carried the conversation, and Sirius kept trying to involve Lydia in everything they were discussing.

"What do you think, Lydia?" Sirius asked when she'd nearly finished the section on Healing Potions and the world outside the train was quite dark and wild country. She was so surprised to have been addressed again that she put her book down, blinking up at him, confused.

"What?" she asked, but whatever they were drawing her into, she would never know, because Peter suddenly spoke up for the first time all day.

"It's Snape's! The handwriting is Snivellus's!"

Lydia's eyes grew wide and she looked up at Sirius apologetically as he turned a brilliant shade of red, a vein in his neck seeming ready to burst out.

"Why is Snivellus's handwriting in your book?" he demanded, and Lydia backed away, a bit worried he might actually hurt her, but there wasn't a lot of space to move away from him.

"Sirius," Remus said in a warning voice, but Sirius didn't appear able to hear him.

"He gave it to me," Lydia said softly. "As a present. I... He... It was a long time ago."

Sirius flexed and unflexed his fingers repeatedly, staring at Lydia with wild gray eyes, apparently looking through her.

"Get rid of it," he said, almost viciously.

"Black," Lily said sharply. "You're being cruel."

Sirius didn't seem to be able to hear anything but what Lydia said in direct response to him.

"No!" she said anxiously. "It's my best potions book!"

"Then get rid of his writing!"

"No!" Lydia said roughly. "What's it to you, anyway? It's not your book, it's mine!"

He opened his mouth forcefully as if to shout something at her, but then he closed it again, the redness in his face not dying down, but he seemed to have realized that there wasn't a proper, logical outlet for whatever was going on in his head, so he got up, stormed out of the compartment, and left the remaining five teenagers looking at the slammed compartment door, confused.

"What was that about?" Lydia asked, bewildered and a bit frightened.

"You ought to know," James said accusingly. "But since you don't I suppose I've got a mess to clean up. Excuse me. I need to calm him down before he kills somebody."

James then stood up calmly and marched out of the compartment, closing the door much more gently behind him.

"What just happened?" Lily asked, bewildered.

"I shouldn't have said anything," Peter said, frowning slightly. "I was just so excited that I knew the answer that I didn't stop and think..."

"Stop and think about what?" Lydia pressed, thinking that between Peter and Remus one of them would have to tell the girls what was going on with Sirius. This was far worse than anything she'd ever seen when Sirius and Severus were fighting.

"Nothing," Peter squeaked, blushing and tapping his fingers on the seat nervously. Remus just shook his head and sighed.

"What was James being so cryptic about?" Lydia pressed Remus.

Remus looked at her with a small thoughtful frown for a moment and then said, "Do you remember when we talked about secrets?"

How could Lydia forget? Finding out that Remus was a werewolf, telling him that she had secrets of her own and understood, secrets she couldn't begin to speak out loud for fear she'd have to face them... It was a conversation that haunted her every time she thought of asking him out again, because what if her unwillingness to come forward with her own secrets was part of the reason he was turning her away?

"Yes," Lydia said softly, watching his face carefully for some sort of sign, some sort of anything that would make her feel he might be capable of loving her after all.

Not that she needed a sign. It was the lie she told herself every morning when she woke up.

"Well this isn't my secret to tell," he said gently. "If you really want to know, Sirius is going to have to be the one to tell you. When he's ready."

Lily sighed, slightly annoyed, but she understood secrets, too. Not as well as Lydia, but she had been keeping Remus's secret about his being a werewolf for just as long.

What Lily didn't know, though, was the other Marauder secret, that all of the other three were illegal Animagi and spent the full moon with Remus. Sirius and Remus had told her this, with permission of the others, in order for her to understand just how difficult and really impossible it would be for her to really be with Remus.

They meant to scare her, she supposed, because she was terrible at Transfiguration that involved humans in any way, so the likelihood she could even come close to being an Animagus was very near to zero. But it took more than that to scare away Lydia Rowe.

In a strange way, Lydia was especially proud of herself that she knew the secret and Lily did not, and even more so for having kept it so well from her best friend. No doubt James wanted Lily to know, thought it would impress her into wanting to be with him, and maybe it would, if Lily could get over the part that it was illegal and focus on how it was amazing magic and wonderfully loyal friendship. But the other Marauder likely continued to overturn James on that matter, because after all, Lily turned them in for their shenanigans frequently, and it wasn't even illegal.

Sirius and James did not return for the rest of the train ride, so it was a very silent compartment, Lily, Lydia, and Remus all reading and Peter sitting there, watching them read. Lydia briefly thought about telling Peter that he was bothering her, but as they were nearly to the school and he was already so embarrassed she decided not to be cruel and stuck to her book, trying to ignore him.

The train stopped and the teenagers filed out onto the platform. Lily and Remus were helping direct first years toward Hagrid, so Peter and Lydia walked up to where the carriages were in silence. When they reached them, Lydia heard a voice calling her name. She turned to see two of her roommates standing there, waving at her.

"Lydia!" Artemis Rutgers said happily. "Peter! Come on, we've got a carriage!"

Peter looked as though he might object to sitting on a carriage with Mary MacDonald, Artemis, and Lydia, being a bit uncomfortable around so many girls at once, but he climbed in after Mary and the carriage took off toward the school.

"Good summer, then?" Mary asked politely.

"Great," Lydia lied without a second thought. "Yours?"

"We had a wicked time," Artemis said excitedly. "I threw that party I've been planning for years. I invited you, you know. You didn't come."

"My parents said I couldn't," Lydia lied, and Artemis gave her a sympathetic look.

"Anyway, it was great," Artemis said excitedly. "Sirius got Remus drunk and he started going on about how pretty you are. I thought Sirius regretted it a bit, but once he got him going there was no stopping him."

Lydia blushed, looked down, and suddenly wished she'd decided to go to the party after all.

Maybe Lily was right. Maybe this was her year.