A few days later, the Christmas Holidays ended and the rest of the students returned to Hogwarts. Lily and James had met Sirius, Remus, Peter, Ashley, and Aria at the station in Hogsmeade, and the seven had walked back to the castle together, filling each other in on what had happened during their time apart. Lily and James had decided not to tell their friends straight out that they were together. They wanted to see how long it took them to figure it out, and, to their surprise, it wasn't until a week after the five had returned that they were discovered. Aria had come down to the Common Room one night to retrieve a book she had forgotten, and found her two friends snogging quite passionately before the fire. For a few moments, the girl had merely stood in disbelief, but then shrieked delightedly when she came back to her senses. This startled Lily so much that she had accidentally bit the inside of James' lip.
"OW! Lily you've got really sharp teeth, did you know that?" James groaned.
"Aria what was that for?" Lily asked, annoyed and breathless.
Her friend simply looked at her with an enormous grin on her face.
"OY! Ash! Sirius! Remus! You guys! GUESS WHAT!" she screamed, and promptly ran back up the girl's staircase. A few seconds later, another squeal was heard, followed by Aria and Ashley stampeding down the girl's stairs and up the boy's. James looked at Lily in amusement.
"If Sirius and Remus scream or squeal I'll never let them live it down." Thankfully, the two boys did not screech as the girls had, but laughed so loud that it could be heard in the common room and a few seconds later, Remus, Sirius, Ashley, Peter, and Aria were standing in the common room, looking proudly at their two friends. Lily found all of the attention quite unnecessary and buried her face into James' chest, while he seemed to be a cross between amused and embarrassed.
"Why didn't you tell us?" asked Ashley, as the five settled down around the couple.
"It was funnier this way," Lily explained. "We wanted to see how long it would take before you guys figured this out, and I've got to say that it took you long enough!"
"How? When?" asked a grinning Sirius.
"Well, Lils here found it simply too hard to keep her feelings in any longer-" James was stopped by Lily hitting him.
"Yea right! That was you!"
"Ha! Prongs cracked first! You owe me ten galleons, Sirius," said Remus as he held his palm outstretched.
Sirius made a face and grudgingly handed his friend the money.
"Anyway, as you were saying?" said Remus after he had wrenched the galleons from Sirius' fist.
"We were talking about how he and Trewyn broke up and I asked him why and he told me it was because he was in love with someone else. He went on and on and on describing this girl. How was I supposed to know that it was me?"
James smiled sympathetically and patted her on the head.
"My slow little Tigger," he said, but quickly stopped because Lily was giving him a very withering look. "Er-I mean precious, beautiful, intelligent Lily!"
"Much better," said Lily as she resumed resting her head on his shoulder. "So�we told you guys our little secret. Anyone got one of their own to share?"
Aria cleared her throat self-consciously and quickly looked around the common room to make sure it was completely deserted.
"Aria! What have you been hiding up your sleeve from us?" asked Ashley.
Her friend smiled weakly.
"Well�I-I don't suppose you remember the first Quidditch match of the season? When I, um, disappeared?"
"Of course we remember. Everyone who was there remembers," said Sirius.
"Oh," Aria faltered, and then began again. "I did that because I'm an Alcantvus."
She was met with blank and utterly confused stares after her statement.
"You're a whatsits?" asked Lily.
"An Alcantvus," Aria explained. "The Alcantvi were-are-oh I don't know. All I know is that I'm a descendent of an ancient race of magical people that have some-er-different abilities than normal witches and wizards. Apparently, I didn't Apparate when I disappeared, but I Shimmered, and that's the sign of an Alcantvus."
Aria looked intently at Sirius while she said this, silently begging him with her eyes to understand and not thing that she was odd for who she was. To her amazement, he replied with:
"I have the coolest girlfriend ever!"
Clearly, she was confused.
"So-so you don't think that it's freaky? That I-I'm different?"
Sirius kissed her lovingly.
"Does that answer your question?"
Aria laughed happily along with the others, relieved. She had almost been scared that Sirius would think she was some sort of freak of nature or something like that, but she ought to have known that he never would.
On the first of February, Ashley tapped her wand frequently against the wooden table she shared with Lily in double Charms with the Slytherins. She was frustrated with herself and worried about something that she had never even cared about before. What in the name of Snitches was she going to do about the Formal? It wasn't the buying of her dress, or any other cosmetic matter that was bothering her, but the matter of a date. Ashley had never considered herself to be a stunning beauty that she thought of her best friends as. She was dead wrong however because she was quite a jaw-dropped, what with her large amber eyes and chestnut hair, yet this fact was not apparent to her. True, a few boys had already asked her, which had caught her rather off guard. She had said that she would think about it, but inside she knew that if he didn't ask her to the Formal, she wouldn't go with anyone. Ashley bit her lip in frustration, and smacked her wand so vigorously against the smooth, wooden table that red sparks shot out from the tip.
"Miss McKinnon, will you please stop tapping your wand? If you are eager to begin with the practical part of the lesson, then I assure you that the time will arrive sooner if you are patient," Professor Flitwick reprimanded, slightly annoyed.
Ashley's cheeks turned crimson and she muttered an apology. Lily raised an eyebrow at her, which she responded to by shrugging. She concentrated on listening to Flitwick. This made her miss the smile that was on Remus' face, which was there because of her. To her surprise, though, she discovered that Professor McGonagall was also in the classroom. ~Um�does McGongall know that she's in the wrong classroom or did she just drink a Forgetfulness Potion this morning along with her Pumpkin juice?~
"Now, I am certain that you all are very excited for the upcoming St. Valentine's Day Muggle Formal on the fourteenth of this month. As you know, Muggle attire is not required, and you are more than welcome to wear dress robes if you choose to. However, a point for good spirit in school festivities shall be given to each person that arrives dressed in Muggle clothing," the tiny professor squeaked excitedly.
~Nice try, but I doubt that any of the Slytherins would ever be caught dead in Muggle clothes, not even for House points.~
"Obviously, practically of you would need to buy these clothes. Seeing as there are no Muggle shops in Hogsmeade, they would have to be ordered by your parents and sent to you by owl mail. This would take a lot of time and cause confusion, so Professor Dumbledore has consented in allowing us to have a joint Charms-Transfiguration-Muggle Studies project in which you create your own gown or suit," said McGongall.
Ecstatic whispers flew across the room as the students expressed their delight-or in some poor souls' cases like Lily's, absolute horror- in the project. Ashley turned to grin at Lily, but stopped when she saw the expression on her friend's face.
"Lils, what's wrong?"
"I've already got my dress! What'll I do?" Lily wailed.
"Gee whiz, Lily, why are you complaining? You don't have to do any work!" Ashley reassured. "And, you know I love you and all, but it's probably a blessing in disguise this way because you can't transfigure something to save your life!"
"Well�I guess that is true," said Lily hesitantly. "Remember when I accidentally blew up the cauldron we were transfiguring yesterday? And poor Remus got soot all over his face!"
Ashley couldn't help but smile at the memory. The expression on his face had been absolutely priceless. ~And he looked delicious with soot all over his face. Heeheehee.~ She shook herself mentally after this thought. ~Good lord, I have got to stop doing that.~
"I remember, Tigger," Remus called out from behind them. "That soot took ages to get off!"
James, Sirius, Aria, Ashley, and Peter snickered. Lily wore a mischievous expression upon her face and turned to Ashley.
"Well of course you remember." Ashley simply smiled and turned away.
McGonagall and Flitwick were both trying to restore order, so the class slowly quieted down.
"Now, if you choose to wear wizarding dress robes or you have already purchased Muggle clothing, you are still required to create clothing. Madame Toula has been kind enough to offer to display them in her classroom, and some clothes shall be donated to the Understanding Muggles Wizarding Museum. You may either design your suit or gown yourself or copy a design. These must be completed by the eleventh of February so that Professor McGongall, Madame Toula, and I are able to evaluate them," Professor Flitwick announced.
"Now, although this will take quite a bit of time-" McGongall began, but she was interrupted by Snape.
"Why are we being made to learn dressmaking when there are more necessary skills to be taught? If Dark Wizards ever corner us, how on earth are we going to use our dressmaking abilities to save our lives? And for goodness sake, we have O.W.Ls this year!"
The room was completely silent, and all eyes were on the two professors at the front of the room. Lucius Malfoy and the other Slytherins were muttering encouragement to Severus for putting the teachers on the spot. Some were trying hard not to laugh. McGongall's eyes flashed angrily.
"If you had allowed me to continue, Mr. Snape," she said icily, "you would have learned the answer to your question. The creation of your Muggle formalwear is to be done only outside of class. This session and today's Transfiguration class is the only class time that shall be given to you as work time for the project. Your regular lessons shall be resumed for teaching tomorrow. You may come to Professor Flitwick, Madame Toula, or myself if you need help. Does that answer your question?"
Snape smirked and nodded. The Gryffindors were glaring daggers at the Slytherins for their impudence towards their head of House, and the latter only leered back. Though she was possibly the strictest teacher in the school, all of the Gryffindors had respect for McGongall because she was always fair.
"Splendid! Now get to work, for there is no time to diddle or daddle!" exclaimed Flitwick cheerily.
"Those slimy gits are going to pay for that," muttered Sirius angrily.
"I'm working on it," said Sirius, staring at a blank piece of parchment. "Remus?"
Remus was already wearing the trademark grin of a Marauder.
"Yup, I've got a plan."
The three other boys leaned in, along with the girls.
"If you lot are going to prank those jerks tonight then we're coming as well," said Ashley determinedly.
"We're not gonna miss a chance to put those snakes in their place," Lily added angrily. Suddenly, her face brightened. "Hey you guys, that rhymed! Snakes and place!"
Six faces clearly displaying that they thought she was completely insane met her delighted countenance. Lily scowled and slumped back in her chair.
"Don't give me that look, you know I'm right. Gee whiz, no one appreciates my brilliance around here."
"Yes�well, er, Remus, what's this plan you say you have?" asked Aria. "Psst, Ash, I think we need to get out the old straight jacket again for her. Do you remember the way to the room with the padded walls?"
"Indeed I do, fellow psychiatrist," Ashley replied solemnly. "We ought to escort this poor moron there as soon as possible."
"You guys are mean," Lily pouted, and she moved her chair closer to James. "At least he doesn't talk about me like I'm not here."
James inched away from the redhead.
"How's about you sit there and I'll sit here by the sane people? And when you three are done with your little fantasy, we'll think about associating ourselves with you in public again. What do you say, mates?"
"Agreed," said Remus, Sirius, and Peter.
"Now about my plan-" Remus began.
"We're done, we're done!" the three girls exclaimed, and all thoughts of straight jackets were dismissed while Remus explained his plan of revenge. While he talked, Ashley couldn't help but notice how dazzling his grey eyes were and how they sparkled when he talked. Or the way his silver and brown hair fell in his face. She longed to reach up (he was six foot three inches tall while she was but five foot eleven inches) and brush the stray strands away. She must have almost started to, but thankfully Lily caught her and kicked her-right in the shins. Ashley yowled in pain and earned five surprised and confused looks in return, but she didn't notice because she giving Lily a half-angry and half-thankful look.
"All right, is everyone clear then? We'll meet in the common room at eleven because it'll be slow going with all seven of us under the Cloak. And try to keep sane until then," said James pointedly.
Three innocent-looking faces met him.
"Messrs. Potter, Black, Lupin, Pettigrew, Miss Evans, Miss Gratzki, and Miss McKinnon, ten points from Gryffindor for not using your work time! The fourteenth is not far away, you know!" McGonagall scolded.
James turned back to his friends with a look of disbelief on his face.
"Remind me again why we are bothering to avenge her tonight?"
Ashley had been delighted when the professors had announced the dressmaking assignment in the morning, and after being told off for talking and not using time wisely, she set to work. She had been in a pensive mood all day long, trying to think of a dress design. Many of the fifth years, Lily and Aria included, chose to simply copy a design based off of a dress in one of the muggle catalogues Madame Toula had brought in for the students to look at, but Ashley refused to do so. Therefor, she had been chewing a particularly tough piece of a roll during dinner when the idea finally came to her. She had leapt from the table, (practically choking on the roll in the process), and had dashed out of the Great Hall, ignoring the strange looks she received from people. Once in the girls' dormitory, she had snatched her drawing pad and a pencil (quills were an artist's nightmare, they were dreadful when it came to drawing certain thickness' of lines) and ran back down to the common room to sketch.
The other Gryffindors returned from dinner a while later, and Lily and Aria had brought her some food from the kitchens to keep her from being hungry while she was working. Her friends left her alone, knowing from experience that she did not want to be disturbed while on a roll. For hours Ashley sat, not moving a muscle except to move the pencil. There was a sea of crumpled up pieces of parchment on the floor beneath her when she was finally finished. She threw down her pencil and stretched, for her muscles were completely cramped after sitting in one position for so long. As she studied her work, Ashley had to admit that she had done a wonderful job.
The gown would be long, down to her feet, and it would be a sort of golden color that would go nicely with her hair and eyes. It would not flare out at the bottom, and would have roses the same color as the dress itself on it going down diagonally, with dark gold lines separating the rows of roses. It would have spaghetti straps, and the neckline would be pulled and held down at the middle by a ring of the same fabric as the dress, causing it to bunch up. (A/N: I'm sorry if this dress sounds like the ugliest thing that hit the planet, but I saw it in a magazine and I'm trying my best to describe it so�just trust me its not as hideous as it seems!)
Someone very close behind her laughed, and she whirled around, startled. To her relief, she found Remus leaning over the sofa. She smiled, and he sat down next to her.
"Have you finished your gown already?" he asked.
"Yup," she said eloquently.
"Can I see it?"
Ashley smiled secretively.
"No. You'll just have to wait until the Formal and see, like everyone else!"
Remus smiled nervously. *Come on! If you don't ask her soon, some shmuck will ask her and then you'll lose her!* He took a deep breath and looked into her eyes, those beautiful eyes that he could get lost in for hours if he ever had the chance to.
"Er, Ashley, about the Formal, um, I was, uh, wondering-"
Ashley couldn't believe her luck. As Remus fumbled on, her heart beat quickly with anticipation, and she hoped with all her heart that he was about to ask her what she thought he was about to ask her.
"-if, I mean, if you're not-"
"Hello, Moony and Ashley!" Sirius' voice came out of nowhere.
Remus stopped talking, and Ashley felt sick with disappointment. ~Damn Sirius and his bad timing!~ *Brilliant, Remus. Why didn't you just ask her straight out? Who knows when you'll get the chance to ask again? However, it could be a sign that I shouldn't bother. She deserves the best date to Formal that there is. I highly doubt that would be a werewolf.*
"Did you finish?" asked Aria.
"Oooh, can we see?" Lily asked, bounding over the couch and wedging herself between Remus and Ashley.
"No, wait till Formal like everyone else," Ashley responded dully.
"Are you all right? You seem very quiet and lifeless and�not Ashley-ish," James asked.
"I'm fine. We'd better get going. Not much time, you know," said Ashley, and she began to check off the supplies.
"Sleeping pills in case we run into Mrs. Norris?"
"Ok, I think we're all set then," said Ashley.
As soon as they had left the common room, Lily cast an Expanding Charm upon the cloak and James flung it over the seven teens. Slowly, they began a tedious trek to the dungeons, where the Slytherins stayed. Although it was difficult going since it was completely dark, they knew the way to their destination like the back of their hands and eventually after an hour of stepping on toes and running into each other (and walls), the Gryffindors made it to the dungeons. Sirius said the password to a statue of a large snake poised to strike. Its jaw dropped to admit the group in, and they stepped inside the freezing stone room.
With expert and practiced ease the seven silently ran up the stone staircase till they came to a door marked Fifth Year Slytherin Boys' Dormitory. They found Snape, Malfoy, Lestrange, Avery, Nott, Rosier, and Travers sleeping -snoring, rather- peacefully. Remus carefully distributed the potion evenly into seven six other vials, and each Marauder or girl poured it onto one of the sleeping boys, muttering spells in the process. Holding back laughter, they dove under the cloak and went back to Gryffindor Tower.
The next morning in the Great Hall, James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Lily, Ashley, and Aria were almost bursting with anticipation for the Slytherin boys to arrive. When they did, the seven Gryffindors fairly leapt out of their seats to talk to the unpleasant looking group.
"Good morning, Snape, isn't it a lovely day?" asked James with laughter in his voice.
"Professor McGonagall is the best teacher ever!" Snape sneered.
As soon as the words left his mouth, he looked horrified, as did his friends.
"Gryffindors are the best?" asked Malfoy.
"Why thank you, Lucius," said Sirius, who was practically shaking with laughter.
Lestrange lunged at him while shouting.
"Gryffindor will win the House Cup!"
"Slytherins are scum?"
"Professor McGongall is the greatest!"
"Lions for the Quidditch Cup!"
"We apologize for our stupidity yesterday!"
By this time, the Great Hall had noticed the assembly of the Gryffindors and Slytherins and were crowding around to see what the ruckus was. The seven Slytherins were also beginning to realize that they could not say anything except what they had said before. McGongall also made her way over.
"POTTER, BLACK, LUPIN, PETTIGREW, EVANS, GRATZKI, AND MCKINNON!"
"Yes, Professor?" asked the friends answered innocently.
McGonagall sighed inwardly and turned to the Slytherins, who were jabbering the same things over and over quite loudly. Then she looked back at the guilty party.
"I see that you have given these boys a potion to make them repeat only one sentence. Well undo it!"
"We can't, Professor, it�s a twenty-four hour potion. They're�well, stuck like that until tomorrow!" said Peter.
The professor simply looked at the seven in disbelief.
"Fifteen points from Gryffindor and detention."
The days leading up to the ball began to pass away quicker, and Lily and Aria noticed that Ashley seemed to become more and more downhearted each passing day. Finally, on the day that their friend had said that she would rather do homework then play Quidditch, the two girls decided to take action. They had left Ashley in the dorm room under the care of a fellow fifth year and had bolted into the boys' room. Needless to say, the four were quite surprised.
"Er, not that I mind, but what are you two doing here?" asked Sirius.
Lily and Aria ignored him and instead sat down in front of Remus.
"Good lord, can you be any more blind?" asked Lily.
Remus shot a questioning look at his male friends, who shrugged in confusion.
"Seriously, Remus, if you can't see what's right in front of you then I'm worried about you," said Aria.
Remus fought to keep a blank look on his face, though he knew what they were talking about. Unfortunately, he went pale instead.
"There ya go," said Lily, as if she were talking to a three-year-old.
"No buts!" Sirius exclaimed. "We all know that you like her."
"What's stopping you?" asked James.
"You wont' want to hear."
"May I ask why?" Lily prodded.
Remus simply walked to the window and gazed across the grounds. He stood there for a while, and the other four waited patiently until James finally spoke.
"Come off it, Remus, that's biggest pile of shit that's ever left your mouth."
Lily gave her boyfriend a questioning look, and when she received no response, she turned to Aria, who seemed to be more informed than she.
"Maybe it's just me, but I don't remember Remus saying anything," Lily whispered.
Aria smiled sadly and whispered back.
"He doesn't think he deserves her."
"Oh good lord, Remus! It doesn't matter if you don't think you're good enough for her; she thinks you're an ice cream sundae with TWO cherries on top, and Ash doesn't think that of just anyone," Lily exclaimed earnestly.
Five heads did a double take at her, and ten eyes gave her befuddled looks, which she ignored.
"Er�I-I might have worded it differently, but Lily basically just said the truth there," said Sirius, edging away from the red-haired girl.
"I told you that you wouldn't want to hear it," said Remus, irritated.
"Moony, she, of all people, doesn't give a rat's ass-no offense, Pete- about the fact that you happen to transform into a wolf once a month! None of us do!" James said.
"Can't you see that she likes you besides all of that?" Aria asked softly.
"If that's true, then why isn't she telling me this instead of you lot?" asked Remus.
"Remus, you stubborn imbecile, do you know our Ashley at all?" Sirius roared. "She's always been terrified of confessing her feelings to the boys she likes!"
"Its up to you," said Lily.
Remus was quiet for a few minutes and held his head in his hands. He wanted nothing more than to be with Ashley, to hold her and to kiss her. She had always made his heart skip a beat, and he cherished every smile she sent his way. The only problem was that he still wasn't sure of how she felt about him. *The only way to find out is to ask her.* He looked back up at his friends, who were waiting patiently for him to speak.
"Where is she?"
Remus stood in the middle of the Quidditch Pitch, watching her soar higher and higher into the air. The weather outside was pleasant, but it was still quite cold. It was twilight, and the sky was a mysterious navy blue color. She was chasing a tennis ball charmed to act like a Snitch; probably practicing for the next big game, which was against Slytherin a week after the Formal. He had no broom, or else he would have gone up after her, so he opted for shouting instead.
Ashley stopped in mid air when she heard her name being called and scanned the ground below for the person the voice belonged to. She dove down and landed gracefully, but when she saw him standing there, her heart dropped into her stomach and she wished she had stayed in the air. ~SHIT, what am I going to tell him?~
"Hi," she said shakily.
He smiled at her, and she felt her legs turn to jelly. ~Please, please, please don't make this harder, Remus.~
"Ashley, I-I was wondering, um, if you're not already going with someone, er, w-would you like to go to the Formal with me?"
Her heart felt as if it would shatter into a million pieces when he asked her the question, the one question she had longed to hear but stupidly had been too impatient to wait for. She couldn't bear to look into his eyes, those lovely eyes that she adored so much.
"Remus," she whispered, barely audibly. "I-I'm so happy that you asked me, but-but I've already agreed to-to go with Rhys Davies."
The words echoed throughout Remus' head and pierced his heart as if each were a dagger. The cold air seemed to grow chillier every second. She would not go to the Formal with him. Ashley, his beloved Ashley, was going to the Formal with the Ravenclaw Prefect Rhys Davies. He had been too late. She finally looked up at him, and was clearly fighting back tears that she did not want him to see, so he quickly forced a smile onto his face, even though it took enormous effort to do so.
"Oh," was all that he could utter at first.
"I-I-I'm really sorry-" she began, but Remus cut her off.
"No, Ash, no, don't be sorry, I was just-just wondering, that's all."
Ashley bit her lip and nodded furiously. ~HOW COULD I SAY YES TO DAVIES? What possessed me to do that? Now he'll never know how I feel�he'll never care to know! And who blames him?~ Remus could tell that she was obviously distressed, so he hugged her tightly. Ashley relaxed in his arms and longed to rest her head on his shoulder, and she longed to be able to stay there forever. But, she knew that was not an option. She pulled away and put on a smile for him. He returned the smile, and began to walk back to the castle, but then stopped and came back.
He looked at her for a moment before speaking again. Her brown hair was tied back in a loose ponytail, and some loose strands were framing her heart-shaped face. Fat snowflakes were settling on the top of her head, and she was wearing her school robes, a black cloak, and, for some reason, a pink, yellow, green, and blue striped scarf, which was also being blown by the wind.
"Will you save a dance for me?"
The tears she had been fighting to hold inside almost spilled out of her amber orbs, but she forced them to stay in. She smiled a false and bright smile, and because she feared that if she opened her mouth she might spill the secrets her heart had been hiding from him for five years, she simply nodded. He nodded back, and returned to the castle. And, after she was sure that he was inside and that she would not run into him, she trudged back to the castle through the snow.
Remus stormed into the common room to find James, Sirius, and Peter huddled over something before the fire. Lily and Aria were practically hidden behind a mountain of books, and were writing essays for some class or the other. When the boys looked up to find that Remus had returned, they smiled and looked at him expectantly.
"Well?" Sirius demanded.
"Did you ask her?" James asked.
"What did she say?" Peter inquired.
Remus was practically seething with anger, and his heart was in torment and agony. He fought to keep his voice calm when he replied, but it still shook, despite his efforts.
"The next time that you genius' have the urge to tell me to do something, save your breath!"
The entire common room fell silent, for no one had ever seen Remus loose his temper. He was always the calm one, who kept James and Sirius in line when they became too wild or too angry. More importantly, no one had ever seen a Marauder become angry with one of their fellow comrades. Remus raged up the stairs and slammed the dormitory room door.
Lily and Aria looked at each other, and both could have been knocked over with a feather. They walked over to the fire, and found James mouthing wordlessly and Sirius staring sadly at the staircase. Just then, Ashley came in quietly through the portrait hole, brushing away tears from her already stained face.
"Ash?" Aria said softly. "What happened?"
Ashley collapsed onto the couch. She buried her face into a pillow and began to sob.
"Oh, Ash, come on, don't cry, come on let's go to the room and we'll talk ok?" Lily soothed the hysterical girl.
Ashley nodded and allowed her two friends to lead her up the stairs and into the dormitory room, with James, Sirius, and Peter at their heels. The girls arrived first to find Trewyn and Ebony already there. Ashley curled up on her bed while Aria smoothed her hair, and Lily faced the two girls.
"Well, well, well, if it's not the three dregs of society: the freak who actually thought she had a chance with Amos, who is now, by the way, happily satisfied by me these days, and the poor little bookworm who can't keep a man for more than a week. And then there is the wench who stole my last boyfriend because she would never have been able to get her filthy hands on Potter any other way," said Trewyn icily.
The three boys had entered the room while Trewyn was making her speech, but she did not notice them until James stepped forward, put his arms around Lily, and kissed the top of her head.
"Would you care to repeat that, Trewyn?" James asked politely.
The girl froze at the sight of James, Sirius, and Peter.
Lily gently unwrapped James' arms from around her waist and walked up to her enemy.
"You know, Trewyn, I bet Amos wouldn't be so eager to be "satisfied" by you if you had a broken nose and two black eyes."
Trewyn gave Lily a look of pure venom, but she and Ebony left the room. As soon as they were gone, Lily returned to her heartbroken friend, who was only sobbing every so often now. She, Sirius, James, and Peter sat around her on the bed.
"Ash, what happened?" Aria questioned in a soothing voice. "You can tell us now, there's no one here."
"I'm the biggest idiot that ever walked the earth, that's what!" Ashley wailed. "I was waiting for Remus to ask me to the Formal for the longest time, waiting and waiting. I was being so patient, I kept telling myself that any day now, he would ask me. But the days kept going by and he didn't ask, so I began to think that-that he didn't feel the same way about me. So when Rhys Davies asked me to the Formal after dinner, I-I-I said yes because I didn't think that R-Remus would ever ask me! And then today, when I was practicing Quidditch, for goodness sake, he asked me to the Formal! I had been waiting for so long�and then I had to t-t-tell him I couldn't go with him! God, did you see his eyes? I couldn't even look at him until the end!"
Ashley was now hugging her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth, and sobbing once more. Aria hugged her, and Lily rubbed her back.
"Its ok, Ash, its ok. You're all right," Lily said softly, trying to soothe her poor friend.
"Ashley, its not your fault," said Sirius.
"You couldn't have known," James comforted.
"Thanks, you guys," she whispered.
"Don't worry, leave everything to us. You're Formal isn't ruined yet, not while Sirius Black, James Potter, and Peter Pettigrew are alive and flying high," said Sirius, springing up from the bed. "Come along, Prongs and Wormtail!"
Sirius kissed the top of her head quickly, as did James, and then the three boys left Lily and Aria to console the now silently weeping girl. They ran into their own dormitory room, where Remus was lying on his back on his bed.
"Remus, we-" Sirius began, but Remus got up and stopped him.
"I'm sorry I blamed you guys for what happened. It's not your fault, its mine."
His eyes were red, and it was obvious that he had been crying. James patted him on the back.
"Cheer up, mate! There's still a chance! You can sweep her off of her feet at the Formal!"
"Wake up, James," Remus snapped. "She's going with someone else. She didn't want to go with me."
"Moony, for God's sake! She doesn't love Rhys Davies, she loves you! And if you need proof of that, well, just go up to her room and you'll find her crying her eyes out over you!" Sirius shouted.
This stunned Remus for a moment.
"You see? There's still time! Now stop moping about!"
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