Lily shoved her trunk into the luggage compartment of the Hogwarts Express, and looked around for an empty compartment. When she found one, she took out her muggle CD player and listened to music. She closed her eyes and tried to block out the awful memory of leaving Salem.
Lily had said good-bye to Megan, who had burst into tears and hugged her so hard that her ribs were still aching. She hadn't quite known how to react to Megan, except hug her back and tell her that she would be back at the end of the year, and that she would owl her. She was still shocked that Megan had cried when she had said good-bye. Lily hadn't thought that Megan had liked her that much. She had planned on not saying goodbye to Evan. It would make going to Hogwarts sound permanent, meaning that she would never see him again. She couldn't bring herself to do it, and was sure that Evan would understand.
Lily was walking across the Salem grounds for the last time, soaking in the beauty of the forest, the smell of the grass, and the familiarity of it all. In a few minutes, she'd be leaving here to go to a new place, with new people, new things, and new ways. All of a sudden, she saw a small figure running towards her, yelling her name. Shocked, she realized it was Evan. He finally reached her and glared at her while trying to catch his breath.
"You-you-you were-" he panted, trying to speak before he had breath to speak with. Lily looked at him surprised, having no clue why he was so angry. "You were going to leave without saying goodbye!" His voice cracked with emotion as he yelled at her. Lily felt completely stupid. Why didn't I say goodbye? Why didn't I realize I would have hurt his feelings? Smooth move, Evans, you sure are bright.
"Oh my god, Evan, I'm so sorry," she apologized, still angry at herself. "I-I didn't think that you would care if I said goodbye or not-"
"Whaddahaya mean 'you didn't think that I would care if you said goodbye or not'? Of course I cared! I thought you were my friend! I always thought of you as my sister, except cool!" She was, not for the first time, momentarily stunned, at how easily Evan could express his feelings. He was one of the few who could. He was now turned away from her, his mouth in a straight line, looking down at the ground. Lily squatted down in front of him.
"I am your friend, and I love you like a brother," she said softly, as he shifted his gaze to meet hers. "And don't you ever forget that. I am so sorry that I hurt your feelings. I-I just didn't want to say goodbye. That would be too permanent, like I'd never see you again, and I don't want that to happen." Shit. Damn him. I won't cry, I won't cry, I won't cry� Evan stared at her piercingly. She knew he was trying to read her, to figure out if what she had just said was true or if she was making it up. His blue-gray eyes softened, and she knew she was forgiven. Lily hugged him, and he hugged her back.
"Just remember," she said when they broke apart. "if you don't send me owls I swear I'll tell Amy that you were the one who sent her the note. And if Jackass's ego ever gets bigger than his brain again, you set him straight, I know you can." Evan grinned evilly. Lily bit her lip. She was going to miss him more than he knew. He always knew how to cheer her up when she was down, he was one of the few people who could tell when she was down, he knew about her past, and he was�different. In a good way. Lily hated people who went with the crowd, as if they had no brain. She caught herself quickly, and hid her sadness for another time, when she was alone.
"Y-you promise you'll be back next year?" he asked hopefully. She nodded. He looked her square in the eye. "I'm going to miss you, Lil."
"I'll miss you too," she whispered. More than you know. "I'll see you next year. I promise."
"See you!" Evan began to run back to the school.
"Evan!" He stopped and turned to her. "Don�t forget me." He smiled and ran back to school.
Lily had tried to use a muggle phone to say goodbye to Petunia, but Petunia wouldn't talk to her, so she had sent her a letter by muggle mail saying good bye. She had thought that saying goodbye to Evan had been the hardest thing she had ever done. That was before she had said goodbye to her teachers, and West.
Lily lived at Salem during the summer, because the foster family she had lived with before coming to Salem became convinced that she would poison there food or murder them in their sleep now that she was a witch, and disowned her. Salem was her home; she had no other. Nothing would ever take its place in her heart. Lily loved and knew every nook and cranny of her school almost as well as the person who had built it. In her second year, she had found a room during one of her wanderings, that was circular and had an entire wall covered with windows. There were bean bag chairs, comfy couches and armchairs, and lava lamps. She loved it because she could look outside, but no one could look in because it was invisible from the outside. She had spent a whole night walking outside of the school trying to find it, but she couldn't. Lily came there when she needed time alone, or when she wanted to think or read. It was her sanctuary, her haven, and her refuge when she couldn't handle the outside world.
Lily had celebrated three birthdays there. Each year, the teachers would gather and sing her happy birthday, and give her small gifts. They were her family, she had no other since Petunia did not acknowledge her as her sister. Years past, she had always remained indifferent at these occasions, pretending not to appreciate what they did for her. She hadn't known how to express her appreciation, and she had told herself that if she did, it would make her vulnerable. This year, however, was different.
The day she was to leave Salem was her fifteenth birthday, and, as usual, the staff sang her happy birthday. Lily looked into their smiling faces. Why are they being so nice? I never did anything for them. I never worked in their classes, and I always blew them off when they tried to help me. But, they're still singing to me, like they care or something. And then it dawned on her.
They did care.
It all made sense. Why they tried to help her, why they were so kind, and why they hadn't given up on her. They cared about her. Tears began to fall down her cheeks halfway through the song.
"Lily, what's wrong?" asked West anxiously. "What happened? Someone get her a napkin or something." Lily looked up into the faces of the teachers surrounding her.
"You care," she whispered. West smiled.
"Th-thank you." Lily didn't know what else to say, and cried harder. West hugged her, and looked at his staff.
"Well," he said. "She's finally realized that not everyone in the world is out to get her, and that decent people exist." Everyone cheered.
Lily's heart broke more and more as West drove her to the airport. She had just realized how much the people at Salem cared about her, and now she was leaving. No. I'll be back next year. I can start over. Yea, that's what she'd do. But still�it hurt that she had been so cruel all those years. But that's the past. This is now. Yea, this was now. West helped her check in and fill out her papers. He checked her in at the gate, and then handed her an owl from seemingly out of nowhere. It was a beautiful, pure, white, snowy owl, with shocking, sparkingling, emerald, green eyes, just like Lily.
"This is why I didn't give you a birthday present at your shindig this year," he said as she mouthed wordlessly.
"Professor-oh my gosh-look at its eyes!" was all Lily could say. Mind your manners, Evans! "I mean, oh my god, thank you!" She hugged West. He had been the closest thing she had had to a father, after her own had been killed. He had always been there for her, tried to help her, and talked to her whenever she needed him to.
"Lily, what are we going to do without you?" he muttered.
"At least now I won't be bothering everyone, and you don't have to worry about me," she answered. He gave her a weird look.
"Whoever said you bothered us?"
"No one, I just figured-"
"You were never a bother," he told her, and she knew he meant it. "You were, um, difficult, at times, but we always loved you."
"But I always blew everyone off-"
"You were lost. And scared. And you've finally come home after the storm."
"And now I'm leaving again." Lily bit he lip. Don't you dare cry.
"Don't cry, Lils, you'll be back before you know it! Its only for a year. And you'll get to learn from Albus Dumbledore! He taught me everything I know!" Lily grinned.
"I guess I can't hope to learn much then," she said. West frowned.
"Oh, you're really funny. Keep it up and I might reconsider sending you." The flight attendant began to announce boarding.
"I don't want to go to Hogwarts," she said, suddenly scared. "I want to go back to Salem. Send someone else. I can't do this." She began to walk back the way she came. West grabbed her.
"Look at me Lily," and she obeyed. "You can do this. You can do this if you try to. You're going to have so much fun that by the time the year is over you're going to be begging me to let you go back." Lily laughed. "You will! You're going to experience a kind of learning like nothing before! Just give it a chance. If I didn't think you could do this, I wouldn't be letting you go. Can you give it a try? For me?" Lily took a deep breath and nodded. He smiled and hugged her one last time. "Knock their socks off, kiddo."
"I'll miss you," she whispered. "I promise I'll be back."
It seemed so long ago now. Lily tried not to think of what she was leaving behind, and tried to imagine what she would find at Hogwarts. When that turned out to be pointless, she decided to try to sleep. Just a few minutes before Lily was almost asleep, the compartment door slid open with a loud bang. Lily�s eyes flew open, and she saw four boys walk in, though they took no notice of her. One boy was small and looked like a rat, one boy had black hair that reminded her of a scrubbing-brush and wore glasses, one boy also had black hair, but looked insane, and one boy had different shades of brown hair with a few hints of silver.
"That was great!" exclaimed the insane-looking one, howling with laughter. The other three began to laugh as well. Lily turned her music up louder and stared out the window. She couldn�t wait to find out if there was a big pasture at Hogwarts filled with winged horses that students could ride whenever they wanted to like there was at Salem. Once again, the pangs of homesickness began to stab her heart. She wished she had kept her owl, Serenity. It would have been some comfort.
"You and Trewyn were practically eating each other in there," said the brown haired boy.
"I ought to do that more often," said the one with unkempt hair. He looked lovesick. "She's good." The same boy, who still hadn�t noticed Lily, was about to sit on her. Lily cleared her throat loudly, and the boy jumped up.
"Sorry, I didn�t see you there," said the boy.
"Maybe you should try looking at the area in which you're about to place your ass before you actually place it there," suggested Lily sarcastically, but in a sweet voice. The boy grinned.
"Maybe I should," he said. "But if I looked at the area in which I�m about to place my ass in before I actually place it there, I wouldn�t meet as many hot girls."
"You must be very antisocial if you have to sit on people to meet them."
"At least I don�t have to have people sit on me to let them know that I�m in a room. Everyone knows when I'm in a room."
"Maybe I was hoping that if I didn�t say anything you�d leave," she snapped back, annoyed. She didn't want to talk to anyone, she was too busy pining. The boy, however, seemed to want to carry on, but was at a temporary loss for words. Ha! she thought. One me, zero Scrubbing-brush Head! Lily took advantage at this silence to return to her music, hoping that the four intruders would understand that she was done with them and she wanted them to leave. Unfortunately, they didn't.
"So who are you?"
"You don't pick up on hints very well, do you?" asked Lily, pissed. The four boys glanced at each other.
"Huh?" they answered in unison. I'll count to ten. One, two, three, fourfivesixseveneightnineten.
"I'm Lily. Will you go now?"
"Lily what?" asked the brown haired boy. What IS this, first grade?
"Lily EVANS, happy now?"
"Very much so, thank you!" Lily rolled her eyes and went back to her music. The boys still sat, staring at her.
"What now?" she asked angrily.
"What year are you going to be in?" asked the boy who seemed insane.
"Fifth," she snapped, and the boys looked as if Christmas had come early.
"That means you'll be in our year!" exclaimed the insane boy.
"Words can't express how thrilled I am."
"Nor I, milady."
"Don't call me that." Lily could see that the boys were not going to go away. "Why'd you come in this compartment? I'm sure there were plenty of other good compartments!"
"Because James here had a hard time keeping his hands off of his girlfriend Trewyn, who was having difficulties keeping her hands off of him, and we were cheering them on. Then the witch with the cart of food sent us a way because we were acting inappropriately," explained the brown haired boy in a rush.
"And James would be�which of you?" asked Lily. Scrubbing-brush head stuck out his hand.
"James Potter, nice to meet you."
"Charmed. I'd rather not have your hands anywhere on mine," replied Lily. There is no way I'm EVER going to let HIM kiss me. What a jerk, 'having a hard time keeping his hands off what's-her-face'. Men are all the same, just like Jackass. James smiled mischievously.
"Are you sure?" he asked, winking. "I'm pretty good with my hands." Lily fought the urge to set the boy straight. She had promised to try to stop fighting, but the boy was making it very difficult not to break her promise.
"Oh, I'm very sure," she said. He seemed disappointed.
"Oh. Ok." Lily wanted more than anything else for the boys to go away, but then a part of her�wanted them to stay? Good Lord. Yes, a part of her wanted them to stay. She couldn't believe herself. She actually liked them. As annoying and as perverted as they were, they were kind, and funny. Plus, they were keeping her mind off of Salem, and almost making her look forward to school.
"If he's James then who the hell are the rest of you?" she asked. The brown haired boy raised an eyebrow at her.
"Um, is that how all Americans greet each other?"
"Nope, just this one."
"I see," he said slowly. "Well, I'm Remus Lupin."
"Sirius Black," said the insane boy, and he bowed, which looked weird because he was still sitting.
"Peter Pettigrew," said the rat-faced boy. Lily nodded. The train had slowed down to a stop by then, and students were getting off. Lily still hadn't changed into her Hogwarts uniform; she was wearing muggle clothes consisting of a tank top and jeans.
"You'd better change into your robes before you get off the train," said Peter, noticing her apparel. Lily pretended to be shocked.
"Really? I thought we could wear this in school!" Peter shook his head.
"No, you have to wear-"
"I was being sarcastic," said Lily, and she and the three other boys laughed. "Everyone out, I need to change." James, Sirius, and Remus looked at each other with identical evil grins.
"Are you sure you want us out?" asked James. "I think you might find changing a lot more interesting and fun if we were here."
"OUT!" Lily yelled. They finally took her hint and left. As soon as they were gone, Lily bent over, laughing.
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