A lot of significant stories have significant settings. It was a significantly dirty room, a significantly rainy morning, a significantly beautiful day, a significantly owl-covered house, et cetera. But tonight was not at all significant to begin with—and not so much to end with, either. It was a perfectly normal fall night, not beautiful, not ugly, not cold, not hot. It was a perfectly normal school (and although very few people consider it to be a perfectly normal school, it really was). And the girl to whom all this happened was a perfectly normal girl by the name of Lily Evans.
Lily Evans was a perfectly normal fifteen-year-old girl simply because she was anxious. All teenage girls are anxious, and I know this from experience. Whether they admit it or not, reveal it or not, have a personality which reflects this or not, they are as full of anxiety and despair as the Atlantic Ocean is full of a liquidy substance called water.
Miss Evans, like a fair number of fifteen-year-old girls, could not sleep, having had a particularly anxiety-filled month. She climbed down the stairwell into the common room of Gyffindor House, the House in which she resided during the school year. The Gryffindor colors of crimson and gold shot themselves into her sleepy, sad, emerald eyes, and she plopped herself onto one of the scarlet sofas that were placed near the hissing fireplace.
It took Lily a rather long time to realize that it was two in the morning, and even longer to realize that she was not alone in the common room. It was not as if the other inhabitant of the room was hiding, or invisible, or even camouflaged, it was simply that Lily’s fatigued mind was taking a while to work properly—after all, when was the last time she’d had a proper night’s sleep?
The couch directly across from Lily held a dog. This alone came as a surprise to the girl, because she hadn’t even known that dogs were allowed on school grounds; she was certain that they weren’t. Nevertheless, there he was, his shiny eyes radiating guilt, his black body stretched comfortably across the red, his muzzle wedged between his paws. He looked like a ten-year-old boy after a good scolding. He was quite a handsome dog, with a narrow head and a lean, hairy body. He looked very soft and very cuddly, and a good cuddle was exactly was Lily Evans needed.
She gently rose from the sofa and squeezed in next to the dog. His eyes followed her carefully and he tucked his feet under him more closely, but otherwise did not move. She began to stroke his back. He was indeed quite soft.
The dog seemed to like Lily because it was not long before he got up and turned around, so his head was in her lap. His tail was thrashing itself about wildly and his eyes were clamped shut with content.
Lily's thoughts were pressing against the sides of her head. She had so much homework. She had teen stress. She needed someone to talk to.
Lily looked down at the dog.
The dog looked up at Lily.
"Can I talk to you?" she asked her newfound canine companion.
He stuck his tongue out and panted, almost in reply.
"That's good," she said. "Just don't tell anyone. There's a couple of things I'm harbouring that no one can know except you, understand?"
He closed his mouth and looked very serious. She imagined him saying, "My lips are sealed, milady.”
Lily shivered. She couldn't stop thinking about how absurd this was. How did she know this dog wasn't just an animagus? No, she decided, that's impossible. He's too doggy-like to be a wizard. But then, who did he belong to? How did he get here? Perhaps he was a student who had been hexed? Whatever he was, it wouldn't hurt to vent her feelings to him, would it?
No. Probably not.
"So," she said, "I have a lot of homework this week?"
He gazed up at her with a Go On expression.
"Uh...Potions is hard?"
Lily inhaled deeply. "My sister is so difficult!"
Now we're getting somewhere, said the dog's expression.
"She's a Muggle, you see, and she just doesn't understand the whole 'witch' thing. She thinks I'm trying to be better than her, but she's obviously just jealous. She'll probably grow up and lead a revoltingly boring life with a husband who helps her ignore the magic world and a son who's pampered and pompous. I mean, most people think all Muggles are boring, but they aren't any more boring than us! You know? There's Muggle, and then there's boring, and they're both very different concepts, except with Petunia, of course— that my sister, of course, and—oh my, I haven't talked this much in quite a while, have I?"
She took another deep breath.
The dog was staring at her with a Wow face. His eyes reminded her of someone, and she sighed a teen-girl-with-a-crush sigh.
For a moment the dog looked like a teenage girl, encroaching into her best friend's breathing space, urging the friend to divulge every single dirty detail about her love life.
Lily gave in. "So there's this boy," she said.
Uh huh, said the dog's eyes.
"And I think I like him," she said.
Uh huh, said the dog's eyes again. And his naaaame? Lily began to blush violently. "Severus Snape," she said.
The dog's reaction was to turn around with his rear facing Lily and his head squeezed between his paws once more.
"Hey!" scolded the girl, "That's no fair! He's very nice and obviously likes me back. He... just doesn't like to show it in public..."
The dog did not move.
"Then there's James."
The dog turned around again.
"I don't like him," continued an embarrassed Lily, not noticing the dog's dubious expression, "but I don't mind him. Or I wouldn't if he wasn't such a jerk to Severus."
What do you like about him?
"I, uh...I think he's cute."
The dog wagged his tail.
"He's smart, too, and very talented, but so full of himself!" Did the dog just nod? No, that's silly. Dogs don't nod. "And his friends...Sirius I wouldn't mind at all, if he weren't so...so..."
So...? the dog pressed, panting merrily.
"So like James! He's smart and... funny sometimes, but both he and James can’t seem to make a joke that isn't somehow related to Severus."
The dog looked rather proud of himself.
"But he's smart," Lily continued. "I'll give him that. He's pretty smart."
The dog looked quite flattered.
"And Remus I absolutely don't mind at all. He's nice. Peter scares me though." There it was again, she could swear that dog was nodding!
Lily was becoming more tired than ever. It was time for bed, and she felt that she would actually be able to sleep this time. "Good night, dog," she said. "But before I go, you have to promise not to tell anyone what I told you. Especially not Severus and especially not James!" He smiled. "Good. Thank you." She gave him a last hug and a last pat, then slipped up the stairs and floated into her dorm.
The door clicked shut, and the school was quite asleep.
Well, thought Sirius Black as he climbed up the stairs to bed, If I'm not going to tell James then I should at very LEAST tell Remus.
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