A/N: Another boring first year chapter...don't worry, this is the second-to-last one, and the next one is really just a snippet. I just need these chapters to form the bases for the Lily/Severus relationship...
I probably won't be updating much this month because of NaNoWriMo...hope everyone who has read so far sticks around for the next chapter!
Lily slid into the first seat she found in the transfiguration classroom, setting down her books sadly by the chair. She put her head on her arms and gazed out the window, where the leaves were whirring through the air in bright autumn colors. She caught one with her eyes and followed it on its path towards earth, spiralling down, down…
"Crying over dear Snivellus, Evans?"
She lifted her head and turned it to face James, who was wearing an unmistakable smirk on his face. She glared at him with undisguised hatred.
"I’m not. And don't call him that."
"I really don't see why you care." James said, tilting his chair back cockily. "Everyone knows he's a greasy haired git that can't even read a potions book."
"That greasy haired git," hissed Lily between clenched teeth, "managed to create a potion better than you and Black's oh-so fabulous brains could even dream of."
"Oh, so you think we're fabulous too?" grinned James, unperturbed.
"Of course," said Lily, smiling sweetly, "It would take true genius to create a potion so exactly unlike what it was supposed to be. What colour was yours, Potter? A pale sort of lumpy green, I believe. Shame those glasses of yours can't help your terrible colour-blindness."
James's dark eyes narrowed. He opened his mouth to retort, but just then Professor McGonagall walked in and coolly transformed into a cat and back again, a feat which caught the majority of the first year's attention and left little time for talk.
Later, Evans, mouthed James, but Lily merely shifted her gaze uncaringly towards McGonagall, who was giving her standard first year lecture.
Outside, the wind died down and the leaves plummeted towards earth in a suicidal free-fall, leaving the canvass of sky a crisp, unsullied blue.
After classes Lily walked down the corridor, wondering if she should go and try to find Severus. He hadn't been in the Great Hall for lunch, and she imagined he was probably lurking in the library. She sighed. She shouldn't go looking for him. He would probably only get angry again…
"Where are you going, first year?"
She turned around slowly, swerving on her heels. She didn't like that voice. It scratched against her soft skin like sandpaper. It sounded yellow. Not a sunny yellow, but a dry, waxy ochre.
Lucius Malfoy, Caspian Crabbe, Antonin Dolhov and Rabistan Lestrange stood before her. She didn't know them. All she could think about was the way they stood together, yet were somehow without warmth, like a door of solid iron barring her path. Later, when she was older, she would remember this moment with confusion. How could she have been so perceptive? How could she have known?
"We asked you a question, first year."
Silence. Her mouth was filled with cottony silence. Where was she going? She wasn't sure, she hadn't decided yet. Did they really want to know?
"I said –"
"Leave it, Rabistan." This new voice was silky-smooth. Like lukewarm water, it trickled slowly down her spine. The boy, much older than she was, bore a prefect badge and a pair of penetrating grey eyes.
"What's your name, first year?" The eyes searched her face, and she glared back defiantly.
"I don't seem to recall hearing your surname anywhere…" the prefect's voice was suddenly much softer, yet intensely colder. "Who are your parents, Lily Evans?"
She couldn't have known that only the night before, Severus Snape had been asked the very same question. He had had a ready response. But Lily merely furrowed her brow slightly in confusion.
"Well, my mother's name is Charlotte…" she said hesitantly, but the tall, cold boy cut her off with a sneer.
"Not their names you silly girl, what are they? Pure-bloods, half-bloods…" he paused slightly, then spat out the last word... "muggles?"
There was something wrong, Lily could sense it. They were looking at her in half-anger, half-hunger, as if her answer was the key to some enormous puzzle that she couldn't quite see, couldn't quite piece together.
"Well…they're…" she stumbled over the words, still puzzled,"…muggles." She finally said tentatively. The word had a slight tilt to the end, questioning.
Instantly, all four wands were aimed at her.
"And you dared," hissed Dolhov, "sit at the Slytherin table? You're filth, you don't even deserve to come near a house who's blood is so pure…"
"But no one said it was against the rules!" protested Lily, bristling suddenly. "I have just as much right as you do to sit wherever I want!"
"Rights?" cut in Lucius Malfoy, ever smooth and menacing. "Did you really think you were the same as we were?" He looked at the others in mock despair, and then back at Lily, narrowing his glacier eyes until they were no more than slits. "Little Mudblood."
She had, of course, no idea what he meant, but the hatred with which the words were pronounced almost sent her reeling back. Mudblood. It was a hated word. Mudblood. A disgusting word, like rat or maggot or cockroach…She bit her lip so hard a bead of blood appeared, fighting back tears like a tigress.
"What's going on here?"
The four boys recoiled instantly, and Professor McGonagall stepped into view.
"We were just helping a first year find her way around, Professor –" began Malfoy silkily.
But McGonagall ignored him, turning instead to Lily, who had her head bowed. Her eyes roamed suspiciously over her cut lip.
"Explain please, Miss Evans."
Lily looked up abruptly, her eyes perfectly dry. "He's telling the truth, " she said, her voice clear and her chin held high, "I was just looking for the Library, these halls are so confusing…" her voice trailed off, but her gaze remained perfectly steady.
"In that case Miss Evans, you should simply go up the staircase at the end of this hall, and turn left. From there it should be quite straight forward." She gave Lily one last, piercing look before rounding on the Slytherins, her eyebrow raised to a perfect point.
"As for you, I believe you should be getting to your common room. If I recall correctly, Mr. Crabbe, you made absolutely no difference to your badger this morning. I highly suggest you spend a good evening's study, provided you don't wish to fail the very probable surprise exam tomorrow…"
She watched unwavering as they slowly retreated. Lestrange ducked his head slightly, but Malfoy gave both Lily and McGonagall a single icy glare before disappearing around the corner.
McGonagall looked at Lily. She seemed on the verge of saying something, but instead turned abruptly and walked off in the same direction as the Slytherins had, her steps firm and brisk. Meanwhile, Lily examined the stone floor of the hallway, its twisting veins of grey. She didn’t need to say anything. She didn't want to say anything.
Someone was calling him through the mist of concentration he had created around himself and the Defence Against the Dark Arts book. He looked up, annoyed, thinking of the third years girls who had sat at the table across from him, whispering and staring and giggling. What did they want? Why wouldn't they just leave him alone?
But as his vision cleared, he saw it was only Lily, who had just slid into the chair facing him, eyes distraught.
"Severus, I just wanted to talk about-"
"Your lip is bleeding." he said rather blankly. His mind was having trouble registering all of this: it was all so vivid, so alive after the dark recesses of his book.
"Yes…I know…" she pushed her hair out of her face "…it was some Sly - some fifth years, I think…I was just walking down the hall and…Severus, what's a mudblood?"
The question hung in the air like a knife.
"They hurt you?" asked Severus, not angry, not quite, but feeling panic rising quickly in him. They wouldn't hurt her, not Lily, not Lily…
"No, no…but answer the question."
He was so relieved he replied quickly, without thinking.
"It means dirty blood. You know, like muggleborns…" he trailed off, suddenly realising what he was saying. Lily had gone very white.
"They said I was one. " she whispered, eyes distant. "They said I shouldn't sit at their – the Slytherin's table, because I wasn't a… a…" Severus could see she was trying very hard not to cry. She bit her lip again, grimacing in her efforts, and he reached out a hand to stop her.
"No! Don't do that…it'll only make it worse. Look, they don't know what they're talking about. You saw your potion this morning, it was brilliant. It doesn't have anything to do with blood."
"But you said..." her voice was accusing now, "…you said it wouldn't matter."
Perhaps he had meant to avoid this, perhaps he hadn't. Or perhaps it was both, an unconscious reaction, a mental blotting out of the truth.
"Look, we don't have to sit together at meals-" he suddenly stopped, an idea rising giddily like butterbeer bubbles in his stomach.
"I'll tell you what we'll do." He said very quickly, the words spilling out of his lips in a rush, "We'll go to breakfast early, that way no one will be there to care. And for lunch we can just grab something and eat it here-"
"Madam Pince would have a fit." Lily said, but a small half-smile had crept over her face.
"We'll eat outside then. On the grounds. I'm sure no one will care…"
She grinned at him, eyes shining. Her lip was still bleeding a ripe berry-red, making his stomach churn. He swallowed hard
"Let me fix that for you…Episkey!"
The cut wasn't altogether healed, but at least it had stopped bleeding. Lily looked at him in fascination.
"How did you learn how to do that?"
"You know…with my parents the way they are…" he started, slightly abashed, but quickly changed the subject. "I didn't do a very good job on it. As soon as I finish up with my homework, we should go visit Madame Pomfrey."
She nodded, and they sat in silence for a few moments, with only the books and the scratch of quill on parchment for company.
"I'm sorry about Potions this morning…I didn't mean to –"
"It doesn’t matter."
What had he been angry about? Something small, insignificant. He hardly remembered now.
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