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Chapter 1: Living
A/N Don’t own Harry Potter.
Alright, so I want to make something clear, New Readers- this is a partner story to my other story already up on HPFF. If you think you are even vaguely interested in it- the best friend mentioned in the summery? It’s her story- then DON’T READ ON. If you do, and then decide you want to read the other story, the ending will have been spoiled for you- the first five minutes of this should pretty much ruin it. BUT this is a perfectly good stand-alone fic as well.
The choice is yours.
Wincing as it snapped, I disdainfully threw the broken quill on the desk in front of me and repaired it for the third time in an hour.
I had to finish my potions essay on the effects of unicorn blood (eighteen inches), including the recent anonymous discovery made that it’s needed in the cure for the Draught of Living Death (I was the one person who understood the logic of it in my NEWT level class, and that’s only because I invented it), as well as several unfinished Ancient Runes questions I had to do these two because I had an extra Head Girl meeting that I hadn’t anticipated, and had immediately fallen behind. And, to cap it all, I had to start a ten inch Care of Magical Creatures essay on the life habits of a manticore.
Fortunately, Hagrid had decided to forgo the practical with that particular lesson. At least, that’s what he told us. I was more inclined to believe that the Ministry had managed to stop him importing the manticore.
Roxanne, the only Weasley left in Gryffindor besides myself, was laughing with her friends over a past OWL paper. For a moment, I watched her smile, then looked back to the parchment in front of me, stabbing my quill down on it with new venom. It was almost certain that what I was writing was repeating what I’d already put down, but I was not willing to stop or erase it when it was filling up the space so wonderfully.
“Roxy, I’m busy.”
“You’re always busy. Listen, I was wondering what you were doing on Saturday.”
“Catching up with work, probably.”
“But it’s Hogsmeade!”
I rolled my eyes and turned to her, pursing my lips. “Remind me- when was the last time I went to Hogsmeade?”
She paused. “I’m pretty sure two years ago.”
“Correct. Do you know why?”
“Ellie isn’t here.”
“Exactly,” I said, clapping sarcastically. “Now, can I get back to my essay? It was due last Monday and I had to get an extension from Professor Gardner.”
She leaned her chin into her hand and studied me for a moment. “Lily, you never stop working. Don’t you think a few hours-“
“I don’t have the time,” I cut short.
“No. Not without Ellie.”
She left me alone after that.
Ellie, up until fifth year, had been my best friend. Her parents had been killed at the end of her first year at Hogwarts and her aunt was named godmother, but she was so rarely at home my mum and dad took her in, so she lived with us. She became the sister I never had and my whole family loved her. She even half-dated my brother Al, for a short time, until the killer who’d murdered her parents came after her. To save her family, so she believed, she walked straight into the arms of the ex-Death Eater. Ellie was tortured, so much so the damage should have more than that of Frank and Alice Longbottom, and we don’t know what kept her, but she... sort of remained. Some days, she couldn’t remember who she was. Some she thought she was eleven years old and still had her parents. Some she knew her parents were dead. Some she was herself and knew everything. Some, she was just plain confused.
She could never come back to Hogwarts. But until she couldn’t, I didn’t realise how lonely Hogwarts can be.
The next day, I had to miss breakfast in favour of finding Gardner and giving her the essay, and then find Hagrid and actually hand something in early, for once.
“Tha’s mad, Lily,” he told me, staring at it as if it wasn’t real. “I on’y assed for it yesterday.”
I shrugged. “I like to keep on top of things. You know, a lot to do, not a lot of time.”
“Oh, yeh’ll be goin’ to Hogsmeade, won’t yeh?”
“Yeah,” I lied. “Visit Uncle George, probably go with Roxy...”
I did not, no matter what Roxy, Hugo and Lucy said, need the adults knowing quite how far behind I was in all my work. I had taken eight NEWTs: I was fully aware, when I took on the responsibility, that it would take a toll on my social life.
What wasn’t my decision was making me Head Girl- that was entirely Professor Thomas’ fault. And I could handle the patrols and rounds in my schedule, as being Head Girl meant I got to pick the hours I did, so I did all the late night ones. ‘Late night’ finished at a time when I’d normally be falling asleep at the tables in the Common Room anyway.
Frankly, I couldn’t believe it when I was made Head Girl. I thought, before fifth year, that Ellie would get it, and when she was taken out of school I assumed Samantha (still haven’t forgiven her) or that blonde one in Ravenclaw would get it. But, sure enough, I got the letter. Mum and dad told me that I must be really something, because neither of them got the badge, and James told me to stop being such a swot. He’s a charmer, he really is.
What also wasn’t my choice was making me Gryffindor Quidditch Captain after Al left. I had to form an entirely new team from scratch (with the exception of Riley Cole and Louise Rowd, who remained to be the best Beaters in Gryffindor, and James’ replacement for last year, a tall fifth year called Stacey Fink who was excellent at trick shots and easy to communicate with on the pitch). The tryouts hadn’t lasted very long, because I’d already been watching for people who were practicing in the run up to them and I had a clear idea of who was good and who wasn’t.
Anyway, I rushed into the Great Hall to find Roxy with all my mail; I kissed her on the cheek and told her to have a good time. I may be a total bitch, but Roxy puts up with that bitch and she occasionally deserves to hear something nice.
I then went to the library (I already had all my books in my bag, which now proudly held an Undetectable Extension charm due to all the crap I had to carry around all day) and sat in the far right hand corner, my normal seat.
It had shelves all around it, felt private, and dulled the noise of the first years on the opposite side of the room. I felt as though this private space was one of the few consistent things in my life.
Carefully, I unsealed my letters and read.
Today’s a good day. I think. At least, according to Al is. I don’t really know what a good day is. I remember stuff, enough to know you’re in your seventh year now, right? You’re doing your NEWTs. Oh, that’s weird. We were always going to do them together.
So I found this other letter- you’re telling me what you’re studying. Why are you taking Care of Magical Creatures? You hate animals, and you hate things that bite back. That’s two things combined in one. You’re confusing; you always said it was a waste of my time at when we were taking our OWLs. And also- aren’t eight NEWTs quite a lot? Oh, no, you’ve mentioned that too. You say it’s going to be difficult, but you’ll cope. I think you’re lying.
I hope you’re having fun. Who do you hang out with? You don’t really mention anyone else besides Roxanne. Are you okay? Who do you talk to?
Love, Elia- Ellie
I smiled faintly at her small mistake, then set it aside, and moved on to Al’s.
Work’s great, thanks! It’s a bit weird, working under dad, but we have this entirely professional ‘we’re-at-work-so-we’re-not-going-to-give-special-treatment-or-even-acknowledge-each-other’s-existence’ thing going on. It’s hilarious. When we see each other, we do this weird nod that only we would do, and then the second we get home we make a joke about it. I think dad’s actually trying to make me laugh in the corridors now- his nod is steadily getting stiffer and smaller every day.
Mum’s fine- I think she’s sent you a letter- and we heard from James yesterday. He asked me to tell you- he proposed to Chelsea on a beach in Mexico last week! How cool is that?! We’re gonna have another sister (Ellie will remain unofficially so) pretty soon! According to Chelsea’s comment at the bottom, it was an entirely sweet and romantic proposal, whilst James claims it was filled with sharks and motorbike racing.
I know who I believe.
And yeah, Ellie’s alright. I mean, she’s been better, but recently she’s been more constant. She’s having less ‘remembering nothing’ days and having more ‘confused’ days, which I like to think is progress. Mum isn’t so optimistic, particularly because of what happened last week. I can’t think how Ellie got her hands on any length of rope, but thank Merlin dad wanted to see her, or I can’t imagine what would have happened.
Me? Eh, same old same old. I’ll be okay, but I’m just finding it... difficult at the moment. Fred pointed out to me that she’s not really her most of the time and I’m finding it difficult to love someone who isn’t really there. Do you know what I mean?
Love you like I love Quidditch,
I giggled, but found I had yet another letter I didn’t know how to respond to. I turned to the last of the three, which had my mother’s signature cursive handwriting whipped across the envelope.
Lily, I’ve been hearing a lot about you lately, and frankly, I’m worried. In writing, you seem perfectly normal and even happy- but then I got an owl from Hermione this morning. She’d been told by Rose who’d heard from Hugo that you’re skipping meals, barely sleeping, and are more obsessive over your work than Luna over Nargles. Immediately, I asked George and Percy, the first of whom telling me he hadn’t received a letter from his daughter in months and wasn’t entirely sure she was alive and the second saying he’d heard the same about you from Lucy, but had been sworn to secrecy because she worried you’d kill her if she told.
The only information Percy added was that you do the midnight to two shift on Head Girl rounds, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays! How much sleep are you averaging a night? Surely, as Head Girl, it’s your right to give the crap rounds to the fifth years? Take advantage of your status.
This paper is charmed, and I have a twin back home, so anything you write will appear there and vice versa. I will this will arrive with the Saturday morning post, so if I don’t have a response by 10am I will come in and get an explanation from you personally.
I rolled my eyes at the lack of manners in it, and realised I had about eight minutes to respond. Taking out my quill, I tried to write as sarcastically as possible.
Hi, mum! Yes, yes, school has been great, thanks for asking! And I’m fine, yeah! I’m having so much fun! It’s been way too long! How are you? Really, mother, it’s spiffing to hear from you too!
Stop bullshitting me and answer the questions, Lily.
Language, mother. I’m averaging seven hours a night when I’m on patrol, and eight normally. Taking advantage isn’t easy when you have a stuck-up, stubborn Head Boy to compete with, either, so that’s a no-go, and they’re your only questions. Can I go now?
The entirety of that was a lie.
No. Who do you talk to? Who are your friends?
In class, it’s Sammy and
I stopped, paused, and thought of a random name.
Willow. You know, that girl I tutored? Turns out she’s quite fun. And out of class, it’s just Roxy.
That lie was perfect for me to make, but I’d have to ask her to cover for me later.
You’re a hideous liar, Lily. I’m a good liar- that’s one of the few differences between you and me. George had heard from Roxy, but the letter was filled with worries about you. You never talk to her.
And you never forgave Sammy for what she did to Ellie, and you hate Willow Moon.
Fine. So I don’t have a social life. What’s the big deal? I’m keeping up with my classes.
Lily, there’s more to life than schoolwork and you know it. Make some friends- at least try- and stop writing your daily letters to Ellie, and make it every other day. That might free up some time. Drop Magical Creatures or Ancient Runes, or maybe even both, and give up being Captain. You, Lily, your health and your wellbeing are far more important than any of that. Go out, have fun, go shopping and do all the girly stuff Ellie wants you to do. All she wants is you to be happy- she told me so this morning.
I’m not giving up anything- it’s all important.
Lily, you’ve taken a NEWT more than Hermione did.
Eight NEWTs sounds like the equivalent to her third year where it was common to find her asleep with her head in a book.
I haven’t done that, though.
That’s not the point, you need to be healthy, Lily.
I am healthy. I’m also leaving. Bye, mum!
Lily, don’t you dare go. Lily. Lily? I’m not finished yet. Lily?
Shaking my head at her and dropping it aside, I idly picked up Ellie’s letter, an answer of quiet reassurance already forming in my mind.
I winced, rubbing my neck gently in an attempt to calm the strain I could feel, but it wouldn’t ease. Sighing, I picked up my broom and swept out of the Gryffindor changing rooms and to my team, who were waiting with vacant expressions.
“Right, get in the air you miserable lot!” I yelled, and some reacted instantly and others stared for a moment, but all of them were waiting for me in the air when I reached it myself.
“Lily, are you alright?” Louise asked me quietly.
“I’m fine,” I said shortly.
“You look like shit.”
“I always look like shit.” I turned to the rest of the team. “Now, I want to see a perfect Porskoff Ploy today- you hear me? No fucking near misses, no looking at the sexy Hufflepuff and definitely no excuses. Got it?”
Stacey and Callum nodded; she dived down to get the Quaffle and they shot off.
“Beaters- do your goddamn best to give them concussion.”
They grinned, nodded, and whooshed away.
“Rachel, you have five minutes to find the Snitch. I let it out before. Go!”
“Nathan, go stop us scoring.”
He saluted and left.
Being Head Girl was actually kind of dull as hell. Every Saturday, Trent Harrison, the Head Boy, insisted we had a meeting from 9pm usually until midnight, discussing prefects and upcoming events that we’d already talked about a thousand times.
For once, however, we actually had something new to talk about.
“I can’t believe the Christmas Feast is organised by the Head Boy and Girl. I didn’t even know that,” I groaned as he began to draw up a map of things to do. It looked incredibly extensive.
“Me neither,” he said promptly.
The reason I was behind on my homework was because Professor Thomas called us to his office a week ago on Friday to tell us about it, and all my responsibilities had snowballed from there.
“Now, what themes were you thinking about for this year?”
Oh holy Merlin, I need sleep.
The next day, Sunday, I didn’t wake up at all. I slept right though to seven o’clock on Monday morning.
I pulled myself out of bed, grimacing at Sammy’s excited squeals over new mascara, and heaved my uniform on to trail down to the Great Hall. I sat next to Roxy, who looked surprised but pleased.
“Hey, Lily,” she smiled. “What’s up?”
“Mum,” I shrugged, rolling my eyes. There was no point fighting with her; she did believe she was doing the right thing, even if she was completely misguided.
She shoved some pancakes on my plate.
“Eat. You look famished, and the post hasn’t arrived.”
I nodded, hungrily wolfing down them without bothering to make conversation. Within seconds, she had turned back to her friends who never entirely knew what to make of me; I could see it in their eyes. I wasn’t bothered enough to be nice to them.
A few minutes later, Amata swooped down to me.
Stroking her feathers absently, I opened the letter and read.
Quickly stuffing it into a roll, I allowed my Transfiguration essay to float to Professor McGonagall at the front of the class, whilst an invisible hand passed the last one we handed in back to us.
In vivid green ink, it stated, ‘Exceeds Expectations’ and ‘please see me’.
I stared at it, felt tears well up in my eyes, then turned away and blinked at the wall. I’d tried so particularly hard on that essay- McGonagall had told the class that she was expecting great things from us, that she felt she was tutoring a class of potentially 100% pass rate. I knew an E was more than good on the grand scale of it, but it was still terrifying- that essay was borderline. If I got any lower, I wouldn’t be able to go on and do what I wanted.
My dream job wasn’t just a fantasy. It was the only thing keeping me sane.
Throughout the class, despite my reluctance to even listen to McGonagall’s sharp voice, I managed to pay attention and grasp how to conjure objects from smoke: I noted how that was quite an accomplishment as many of my classmates had succeeded in making anything more than translucent, vague shapes.
When McGonagall’s pursed lips called for all items to be deposited on her desk I took an unsolicited amount of time to traipse to the front, place the dagger in front of her, and dawdle back to my bag to pack up. By the time I had finished, only one student remained, who was already talking- well, arguing- about her grade.
I was almost certain her name was Jenna, but I couldn’t have been sure.
“-it’s unfair! I tried so hard-“
“But,” the narrow-eyed teacher said firmly, “Miss Waters, you completely missed the point of the essay. I’m asking that you rewrite it so that you get your E, of which I’m sure you’re capable of.”
Jenna (?) Waters sighed lightly, defeated.
“I understand what your intentions were with your train of thought- it simply isn’t applicable to Vanishing, particularly animals,” McGonagall told her more gently, and the lines on her face were slightly relaxed.
“Okay, Professor. When-“
“I ask that you hand it in next lesson, or as soon after as possible,” she concluded, flicking her wand at the desks. The chairs snapped to attention and the desks straightened themselves, as if scorned.
Waters nodded and turned away, grimacing at me- her tie showed her to be Hufflepuff, and I assumed I was supposed to be on good terms with her- so I rolled my eyes back and waved my paper slightly at her. She winced, then mouthed ‘good luck’.
“Now, Miss Potter...”
I slapped the paper lightly down on the desk. “What was wrong with it?” I flatly asked.
If any teacher were to be the best to specify exactly where a student had gone wrong, McGonagall is the one you turn to. It was both helpful and painful.
She shook her head slightly, picking it up and scanning over her own comments. “You made several very basic mistakes in this: I certainly didn’t expect them from you. However, you did, as always, hit exactly on the head the essay’s main points and were very intuitive with creating your own ideas, but...”
Cue my rapid exit.
“My grades are consistent-“ I tried to dispute, but she was as quick to cut me off as I was to cut her off.
“We both know they’re not why Professor Thomas has had several letters of worry from your parents over your time here, the most recent of which was this afternoon.”
“Look, I’m fine-“
She didn’t take even an inkling of notice to my defence. “You’re exhausted near all of the time.”
“Not tired enough to stop me having an argument, so I think you’ll find I have plenty of energy.”
“I’m not debating this with you, Miss Potter, I am simply stating fact,” she said sharply, and I dropped my gaze to the floor. “You’re tired, irritable- I’m sure you couldn’t name five people in each of your classes-“ touché “-and you blatantly are not happy. It is, despite many allegations made over the years, a teacher’s job is to care for your wellbeing as well as your marks, of which I have no worries about. I do think you should drop something.”
“But I love all my classes!” I told her, stunned at the thought of doing something so potentially crippling.
“I’m not suggesting you leave any of your classes: I am sure you are as focussed in all of your classes as you are in mine,” she said. I felt a little superficially warmer when I realised she had noticed all the work I do. “However, I do think you should speak to Professor Longbottom about perhaps being relieved of your heavier duties- Head Girl, for instance. I can’t imagine Mr Harrison is your idea of inspiring company.”
I couldn’t imagine giving it up, no matter how little I liked it.
“No,” I said, scooping up my essay.
“No. I love being Head Girl-“ lie “-and don’t even think about mentioning my captaincy, Professor, because Quidditch is brilliant fun.”
...and the only thing I could honestly say I enjoyed, even though it had become more and more of a chore as of late.
I was halfway to the door when I had finally shoved the damn essay into my bag, and she tried to call me back but I ignored her and slammed the door behind me, several students waiting for the next class of Transfiguration giving me looks of alarm at the abrupt noise. Shrugging off their reproachful stares, I marched past them and glanced at the clock in the corridor. I cursed, yanking my bag strap higher and beginning to run.
Several floors below, I knew Charms was starting. I wondered if ‘talking to McGonagall’ would get me out of detention.
A/N I’M BACKKK! ( apologies for the delay. There have been formatting/disclaimering/myownfault issues :) )
Hope you like the beginnings of my lovely, fluffy little partner fic! It’s not AT ALL angsty! *rolls eyes*
PS. Can't guarentee I'm going to be very good at updating, but I'll try my best :)