The compartment door slid shut with a click, and the trolley witch's soft footsteps faded away. I eagerly tore open my Chocolate Frog - the only thing I ever bought on the Hogwarts Express - and chomped the head off before it could slip out of my hands.
Mary wrinkled her nose - she had a strange aversion to chocolate - and turned a page in her book, a trashy romance novel she had hardly put down since we'd boarded the train. From her strange position sprawled across the compartment floor, Dorcas stuck a Sugar Quill in her mouth and continued painting her nails an obnoxious maroon in true Gryffindor spirit.
"Okay," I began, addressing both of them, "Davy Gudgeon or Galvin Gudgeon?"
We were engaging in a childish game of 'who would you rather date?' - one of our favorite past-times on the Hogwarts Express. Miraculously, we hadn't run out of blokes yet, but the candidates were becoming rather repulsive and outrageous.
Dorcas made a dramatized gagging noise and idly twirled the nail-polish brush between her fingers. "Davy, I suppose; Galvin's nose is a bit piggish." I looked expectantly at Mary.
"Galvin," she answered plainly, not bothering to lift her brown eyes from her book. "He's not as dim-witted." Dorcas snorted in an unladylike manner, as though she had been expecting such an answer, and raised an eyebrow at me challengingly.
"Davy," I said, accompanying my answer with an oink. Dorcas immediately broke into helpless laughter; Mary made a disapproving noise at my shallowness, but I could see a small smile tugging at her lips.
After the last of her giggles had died away, Dorcas took a relaxing breath and fixed her bright blue eyes on me. "My turn," she began coyly, abandoning her nail-polish brush in favor of twirling a strand of her golden blonde hair around her fingers. "Davy Gudgeon or James Potter?"
My heart sped up - the reaction I had come to expect when I heard his name. "James Potter," I breathed automatically, "no question." Dorcas and Mary both laughed openly at my reply, but I ignored them; my mind was too busy conjuring an image of James as I had last seen him. It was at King's Cross, the end of fifth year, and he was leaning against a pillar wearing the same confident grin he always wore as he chatted with his best mate, Sirius Black.
I let out a content sigh. It wasn't just his appearance that attracted me to him, although he was bloody gorgeous; it was the intoxicatingly charming air of confidence that surrounded him. I sincerely doubted that any sane single girl would ever be able to resist him, a belief only supported by the fact that half the female Hogwarts population practically worshipped him.
"Earth to Lily," Dorcas said in a singsong voice, abruptly snapping her fingers in front of my face. "You alive in there?" she teased. I resisted the childish urge to stick my tongue out at her.
"D'you still fancy him then?" Mary asked bluntly, lowering her book into her lap to finally meet my eyes. "Even though you've never actually talked to him?" she pestered, her tone oozing with disapproval at my irrationality.
"We've talked!" I sputtered in protest, glancing helplessly between my two mates in a desperate attempt to get them to believe me.
Dorcas gave me a sympathetic look, but wittily responded, "Sorry, 'Pass the marmalade' doesn't count." She snickered to herself, and this time I couldn't stop the childish urge; I stuck my tongue out at her. She appropriately blew a raspberry back at me; Mary made an exasperated noise.
"Look," she said, impatiently disrupting our battle of immaturity, "you're gorgeous, Lily. You don't need to wait around for a bloke like James Potter to notice you; there are plenty of other blokes at Hogwarts who are more than interested in you."
I flushed crimson at her compliment, but by the time she had finished speaking, I was bouncing in my seat. "But that's just the thing!" I exclaimed, as soon as she had closed her mouth. "I'm not just going to wait around for him this year; I'm going to make him notice me." I nodded, completely confident and satisfied with the plan I had devised over summer.
Dorcas shook her head disbelievingly at my words. "Lily Evans," she said, finally plucking herself off of the floor to slide into the seat next to me, "you are a nutter."
"And that plan is never going to work," Mary pointed out straightforwardly, but she picked up her book again and didn't push the subject, for which I was grateful.
I liked my mates a lot, but sometimes they didn't seem to understand why I had bothered to fancy James for so long. I was always the first one to admit it was irrational and silly, but, even so, I could hardly help it; it's like asking a house elf not to do what they're told. Ever since that first day at Hogwarts, when James had slid into the seat across from me and immediately erupted into a flurry of chatter with the other first year Gryffindor blokes, I had felt some sort of strange pull towards him - like the powers of the universe had deemed it mandatory that we met.
However, those same powers of the universe had also deemed it mandatory for James to loathe me without reason - or, at least, without reason that I could figure out. His hatred wasn’t anything outright: he never publicly insulted me or spoke particularly rudely to me, but I could always detect a faint shadow of dislike in his eyes as they skimmed over me, a trace of contempt in his voice the few times he did say anything to me. It was devastatingly perplexing.
"We'd best put our robes on, now," Mary said suddenly, interrupting the companionable silence that had settled over our compartment and effectively disrupting my brooding. I shook my head hurriedly in attempt to clear the depressing fragments of thought and began to pull on my robes.
Reveling in the familiar sensation of wearing wizard clothing, I smiled; strangely enough, it was one of the things I missed most during the summer. Carefully pinning my Prefect badge to my clothing, I pondered aloud, "I wonder how Twilfitt's summer went."
Bidelia "Delia" Twilfitt was our fourth and final roommate. She was a short, tiny girl with curly brown hair, chestnut colored eyes, and caramel colored skin. Back in first year, we had mistakenly considered her to be sweet due to her petite size; after a week with her, the three of us were biting our tongues, and banding together as a sort of defense mechanism against her. She didn't seem to mind very much; in fact, she much preferred her "best friend forever", an equally tiny Hufflepuff named Thelma Tatting, over us.
Dorcas girlishly twirled a strand of her hair around her finger and adopted a clueless face. "Just fabulous, fabby fab, in fact. Filled with shopping, and more shopping, and then...more shopping!" she said in a high-pitched voice, giggling shrilly.
The train pulled to a halt. We filed into the corridor eagerly, greeting our acquaintances and exchanging imitations of the two girls we had cleverly dubbed the “Mindless Mates” under our breath. We still hadn't fully stopped laughing when we sat down at the Gryffindor table, nearly twenty minutes later.
I craned my neck to look at the vast ceiling - it never ceased to amaze me - and studiously watched the rest of the students pour into the Great Hall out of the corner of my eye. There was Peter Pettigrew, followed by Remus Lupin, and a sniggering Sirius Black, and - there he was, wearing that same signature grin that he always wore. I dropped my head back down and fixed my eyes on my empty plate, willing my face not to redden and my heart not to race.
This year is going to be it, I told myself. The year I finally get James to fancy me back.
“Remind me why I missed Hogwarts,” Dorcas groaned the next morning, her face lined with exhaustion and her blonde hair a mess of tangles.
“Well,” Mary began reasonably, “your best mates are here, the food is excellent, the classes can be interesting – with the exception of History of Magic, of course –”
Dorcas fixed our brown-haired friend with a glare, her usual exuberance spoiled by morning grumpiness. “I did not,” she practically hissed, “mean it literally.”
As I bent over to pull my socks up, I shared a knowing smile with Mary, who wasn’t the least bit affronted by Dorcas’ bad mood; after living with her for five years, we were basically used to it.
The three of us had always been something of a trio, and a cliché one at that: the blonde, the brunette, and the redhead. It had started in first year, when Twilfitt had purposefully knocked a plate of spaghetti into Mary’s lap; Dorcas and I had gone with her to the loo and helped her clean it off as best as we could, even though it meant we were horrendously late to Charms. The rest, as they say, is history.
But even though we were best mates, we each had our other mates as well. Dorcas had the Quidditch Team, Mary had some of the Ravenclaws she took Ancient Runes with, and I – well, I had Severus Snape.
My head snapped back up as I finished fiddling with my footwear; the thought of my friend had my stomach twisting itself into knots. “I’ll meet you both down at breakfast,” I said, grabbing my school things off the floor, “I want a chance to talk with Severus a bit.”
Severus and I had been friends since I was seven years old. By chance, we had both inhabited the same Muggle neighborhood, and, because we shared what the Muggle world viewed as “strange abilities”, we were somewhat of outcasts; it wasn’t long before we realized this wasn’t the only similarity between us. Although we were sorted into rival houses at Hogwarts, we still remained mates – not as good as we once had been, but mates nonetheless.
Over the summer, I had written him a few letters, but each response I received had been shorter and brisker than the last. He never wrote anything personal – just one-word sentences that seemed almost borderline rude; he had even addressed me as Evans in one of them. He had not sounded the least bit like the Severus I knew. It worried me immensely because, unlike me, Severus had not grown up in a loving family; he hated going home for summer. A part of me instinctively knew that something bad must’ve happened for him to act like that, and I almost didn’t want to know what it was.
Gnawing my lip anxiously, I cast one last parting smile at Dorcas and Mary – Dorcas was still grumbling about the early hour, but Mary smiled back – and slipped out of the dorm. The common room was empty save a few students mulling around while they waited for their mates. Not recognizing any of them, I stepped out of the portrait hole and began my brisk walk to the Great Hall.
However, once I reached the great double doors, my haste proved to be pointless; Severus was not there. For a moment, I debated waltzing over to the Slytherin table and asking the other Slytherin sixth years – Rosier, Wilkes, Avery, and Macnair – where he was, but I didn’t feel very much like being insulted, openly or covertly.
Instead, I sighed pathetically and sauntered over to the Gryffindor table. I shared a smile with a few fifth years I recognized, failed to avoid an awkward moment with a seventh year – neither of us were sure if we knew each other well enough to wave, so we both settled for uncertainly fluttering our fingers – and absentmindedly listened to the mindless chatter of the sixth-year blokes sitting a little ways down from me.
“ – have you even seen them, Moony?” Black was hissing furiously, casting sly glances over his shoulder at the Ravenclaw table every few seconds. “There is no way ours will even compare!”
Lupin was shaking his head in clear disagreement. “I think you’re overestimating their power, mate. Absolutely nothing can compensate for their lack of skill and coordination.”
Pettigrew swallowed a disgustingly over-buttered bite of toast and nodded in agreement with Lupin. “Sorry, mate, have to side with Moony on this one,” he said apologetically to Black. “Even with the newest brooms on the market, Ravenclaw hasn’t got a chance at the Cup. Now, Hufflepuff is a different story,” he pointed out.
I nearly groaned aloud, but managed to stop myself just in time. Quidditch, they were talking about bloody Quidditch. Wasn’t it too early for this nonsense? Term had hardly even started!
When I tuned back in, James was talking. “ – even with Davies gone this year, they’ve still got a bloody decent team. Campbell is probably going to be their new seeker, unless they’re completely daft –"
“This is Hufflepuff we’re talking about,” Black interrupted; they all snickered. I could practically picture the mocking grin on his face as he said it, too.
The four blokes eagerly started chatting again, but I ignored their Quidditch babble in favor of greeting Mary and Dorcas, who had just slid into the seats across from me.
“How was Snape?” Mary politely asked as she scooped eggs onto her plate.
I frowned, and absentmindedly scanned the Slytherin table for him again; my mind was once again whirling with possibilities of where he could be. “I don’t know,” I answered resignedly, “he’s not here.”
“Odd,” Dorcas commented, before shoving an ungodly amount of pancake into her mouth. I gave her a disgusted look and was about to comment on her lack of table manners when McGonagall appeared behind her shoulder.
“Schedules,” she said tartly, casting a disapproving glance at Dorcas as she handed them out to us. I stifled a giggle and graciously accepted mine, scanning it quickly. As usual, we had double potions with the Slytherins right before dinner; Severus would never miss that class, so I would talk to him then.
As I decided this, I couldn’t help but glance apprehensively at the Slytherin table; he still wasn’t there. Don’t worry so much, my optimistic side nagged, everything’s fine. He probably just overslept.
Even as I thought it, though, I knew it wasn’t true. Severus didn’t just overslept; something was definitely wrong, and I needed to know what it was.
He was ignoring me. He was bloody ignoring me!
I sent withering glances across the Potions classroom at him, bitter and angry and curious because mates just don’t go and ignore mates for no reason at all. And, maybe this was just my paranoia, but mates also don’t dart down the corridor when they see another mate coming and pretend they didn’t hear said mate calling their name.
So what in Merlin’s beard was going on?
I stared furiously at Severus, willing his head to turn just a little, willing him to meet my eyes, willing his facial expression to change even the slightest bit. But none of that happened; he just kept staring straight ahead as Slughorn blathered on about some potions he had made.
I would have gone on glaring at him all class, except for the fact that Evan Rosier chose that exact moment to look away from his head of house and meet my eyes with a knowing smirk. Scowling, I turned back to Slughorn and attempted to pay attention to what he was talking about.
“This,” he boasted excitedly, motioning to a cauldron, “is Felix Felicis, otherwise known as liquid luck. Until the effects wear off, all the drinker’s endeavors will tend to succeed; if taken too often, however this potion induces giddiness, recklessness, and dangerous overconfidence.”
I stifled a yawn.
“And this,” Slughorn continued, holding up a miniscule bottle of the golden potion for everyone to see, “is what I will be awarding the person who succeeds the most in today’s lesson. It will give roughly twelve hours of blissful luck,” he smiled nostalgically, before his expression turned stern. “However, Felix Felicis is illegal in any organized competitions, such as exams or Quidditch. Do I make myself clear?”
The room exploded into a flurry of chatter.
Dorcas turned to me with a big grin on her face. “Liquid luck, Lily!” she gushed, her eyes alight with the same excitement and determination she got before Quidditch games. “Can you imagine?”
I shrugged apathetically. While the idea was rather thrilling, there was no way I would win the potion; I was good at Potions, but I wasn’t anywhere near as good as Severus. “I don’t know,” I replied practically, “doesn’t it seem a bit like cheating life?”
Rolling her eyes, Dorcas opened her mouth – probably to comment on my lack of sanity again – but was interrupted by Slughorn’s abrupt silencing of the class.
“As I was saying,” he said, adopting an annoyed expression but obviously pleased by the animation his words had caused, “the student who concocts the best Draught of the Living Death will win this special prize. Instructions can be found on page ten of Advanced Potion-Making. Begin.”
The class settled into a determined silence; even Dorcas had abandoned teasing me in favor of working on her potion. She did, however, eye me speculatively when I began crushing the sopophorous beans with the side of the dagger rather than cutting them.
“What are you doing?” she whispered, even though Slughorn never minded if we chatted while we worked. The silence that had engulfed the room seemed too tense to break.
I shrugged unsurely, and whispered back, “It wasn’t working very well the other way.” Studying me curiously for a few more moments, Dorcas suddenly nodded and began copying my actions; I smiled slightly and started dropping the beans into my cauldron.
When Slughorn finally told us it was time to stop, nearly three fourths of the class was looking defeated. Mary was staring grumpily at Dorcas and me; both of our potions had turned out only slightly differing shades of lilac, while hers was a revolting green When Slughorn reached it, he simply wrinkled his nose and walked past.
He nodded when he reached Dorcas, and smiled approvingly at the purple potion in my cauldron. When he reached the front of the classroom again, however, it wasn’t either of our names he called.
“Severus Snape!” he boomed, smiling jovially. “Although there were some magnificent potions out there,” he looked pointedly in my direction, “yours proved to be the best. Congratulations!” he handed him the small golden vial.
No one applauded. Dorcas glanced enviously at him and muttered something; all the other students were acting similarly, grumbling about the unfairness of Slytherin favoritism and how the textbook instructions had been unclear. They filed out of the room with frowns and scowls on their faces.
“Coming, Lily?” Mary asked, impatiently waiting for me to finish packing up my things. I moved deliberately slow, lifting the scales into my bag with exaggerated care.
“You two go ahead,” I said, smiling encouragingly at them, “I’ll meet you at dinner. I have to take care of something first.”
They nodded uninterestedly, their moods still dampened by failure, and followed the throng of students who were spilling into the corridor and moving towards the Great Hall for dinner. I pretended to be packing up my things for a few more moments, until I saw Macnair and Avery disappear into the corridor as well.
Then, I turned around and strode over to confront the only other person left in the room – even Slughorn had rushed off to dinner without bothering to lock everything up.
Severus tensed as I reached him, but he kept packing away his Potions ingredients with the same precision and delicacy he always had; he refused to let them get disorganized.
“Congratulations,” I began timidly, watching him slip the small golden vial into his pocket. He didn’t respond. “Can we talk now?” I pressed softly, surprised at how quiet my voice came out. I was angry, maybe even furious, at him for ignoring me, but, more than that, I was worried. I couldn’t yell at him, not now.
His expression shifted for a second – so quickly that, even with my years of experience with reading him, I couldn’t decipher anything. But when he turned to face me, his eyes were cold, black beetles; I resisted the urge to look away.
“About?” he responded impassively, his voice surprisingly similar to Professor Binns.
Growing slightly irritated with his apathetic mood, I retorted, “How about how you hardly wrote to me over summer? Or how you weren’t at breakfast this morning? Or how you wouldn’t even look at me during class?”
His hands visibly clenched, and his eyes flashed with an emotion I could easily recognize: fury. “I’m sorry,” he bit back sarcastically, his voice dripping with contempt, “I wasn’t aware that I was required to constantly interact with you.”
I stared at him, my mind working furiously to match this cold, angry Slytherin in front of me with the attentive, compassionate bloke I had once considered one of my best mates. They were absolutely nothing alike.
I mentally prayed that all the teachers and students were already in the Great Hall, and therefore wouldn’t hear whatever argument was about to occur.
“You’re not required,” I said angrily, my voice increasing in volume, “I just thought that, as mates, you might want to actually communicate.”
“So that’s what we are, huh?” he practically sneered, his voice rising too. His face was paler than usual, and there was an unpleasant smile twisting his lips, one that I had seen many times before on his Slytherin friends – but never on him. “Just mates?” he continued, emphasizing the word bitterly.
My anger became muddled with confusion. I stared at him, dumbfounded, “Of course we’re mates, Sev. We’ve always been mates,” I said, eyeing him unsurely. Was that honestly what this was about? He thought I didn’t want to be mates with him anymore? I knew he was insecure, but I didn’t know it was this bad.
Severus laughed cruelly, shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe what I was saying. “You are so blind,” he said scornfully, emphasizing each word. His fists clenched and unclenched, and his narrowed eyes remained fixed on me.
“What are you talking about?” I finally replied, my bewilderment increasing with each second. Instead of calming him down, my placid tone seemed to infuriate him further.
His expression turned livid, and suddenly he was angry - angrier than that time Rosier had hexed me in the corridors, angrier than that time Petunia had made me cry, angrier than I could recall ever seeing him before. “You don’t see anything!” he shot at me accusingly, taking a few steps backward as if he thought my presence was somehow affecting him.
“What?” I croaked out unintelligibly, struggling to comprehend what he was saying; he wasn't making any sense. I was starting to feel more than a little dizzy, because I knew, I just knew that whatever was going to happen next, I wasn’t going to like it.
“Do you think that I’ve spent the last five years of my life being teased and bullied about my best mate being Muggleborn because I just wanted to be your mate?” he snapped, ignoring my incoherent stutters. “Do you think that I enjoyed watching you throw yourself at sodding Potter, “ he spat the name out like it was a disease, “when I was standing right next to you, blatantly in love with you?!”
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My throat was constricting and my heart was pounding and I couldn’t handle this; it just didn’t add up. This was Severus – Sevvy, the bloke I had known since I was seven. He sends me green ink for Christmas every year and he gets me Chocolate Frogs when I'm sick and he knows about Petunia and how much she hates me and he's one of my best mates. He couldn’t be in love with me; it didn’t make sense.
On the verge of hysteria, I stared at him with wide fearful eyes, not knowing what I could possibly say to make this situation any better.
"I'm sorry," I managed to choke out, knowing that it wasn’t the right thing to say and knowing that he didn’t want to hear it and knowing that it wouldn’t ease my guilt in the slightest. I studied his face carefully, looking for any sign that that horrible disgusted expression on his face would ever disappear. I didn't find anything. "You've always been my best mate, and I never thought of you like that, and I - I just - I'm so sorry," I finished finally, my eyes pleading with him.
I had never felt more helpless. This wasn’t some Potion spill I could just clean up or a Charm I could just reverse; this wasn’t something that could be fixed. I couldn’t change what had already happened, and, even if I could, even if I could back in time, what could I do? Tell Severus to not love me? There wasn’t a chance that we’d ever last as a couple – I knew it; why didn’t he? Why did he have to ruin our friendship over this?
Severus shook his head, ignoring my pathetic attempts at salvaging the broken remains of our friendship. "I don't care; I'm done with this friendship," he sneered at the word. "I should have listened to Rosier and Avery years ago; you're nothing but a worthless Mudblood. Stay away from me."
The words felt like a knife to my heart; I could feel tears beginning to sting at the back of my eyelids, and I willed them not to come. Not now, please, not now, I begged. I don't need to give him any more ammo to torment me with.
I was shaking. All I could feel was confusion and anger and panic and frustration and sympathy, and all I could think was that I didn't want to be there anymore. I didn't want to stare into his dark cold eyes anymore, and think of all the times they had twinkled at me before and might never again. I didn't want to stand in the same room with him, and think of all the times we had laughed and talked as Potions partners in this same room and might never again. I didn't want to do anything but curl up into a ball and cry. So I did the only thing that made sense.
A/N: Inspiration for this hit me just the other day, when I was thinking about how odd it would be if Lily and James switched roles - by which I mean if Lily fancied James, and James hated Lily. I've never read anything like that, so I figured I might as well try it. The title of this story comes from the Taylor Swift song with the same name. Review? (:
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