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You Belong With Me by Cherry Bear
Chapter 4 : A Shortage of Answers
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 17


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A Shortage of Answers


"Who started the goblin rebellion of 1623?"

Mary glanced up from her Potions homework and unsurely replied, "It was either Nagnok or Nagnuk; I always get them confused..." I chewed thoughtfully on my quill, mulling over the two similar names.

"Wrong," Dorcas interrupted. "The correct answer is: who cares?" She was sprawled across her bed applying yet another obnoxiously bright color of nail polish to her toenails while Mary and I slaved over our schoolwork. Annoyed at her blatant lack of concern for the amount of homework we had received over the weekend, I picked up my worn-out copy of A History of Magic and lobbed it at her.

It fell just short of her bed and she laughed at my ineptitude. "Have you even started the essay for History of Magic yet?" I asked her disapprovingly. "It's due tomorrow, and we have those questions for Charms."

She waved away my concerns and wiggled her toes experimentally, satisfied when none of the polish smeared. "There's no point in doing homework before Sunday night," she insisted, not for the first time, and I exchanged an eye-roll with Mary; it was a miracle that Dorcas had ever managed to score seven O.W.L.s. She was incurably irresponsible.

Seized by the sudden desire to escape the confining walls of our dormitory, the blonde hopped off of her bed and marched across the room. "Let's go have lunch," she said abruptly, although it was more of a demand than a suggestion. When neither of us budged, she made an impatient noise, snatched the textbook from right under Mary's fingers, and tossed it carelessly across the room, ignoring the brunette's protests.

I obediently pulled myself up off of the floor before she could touch my neatly organized notes. Even though I still had three more goblin rebellions to write about, I was actually sort of relieved to be forced into taking a break. We hadn't left the stuffy dormitory since breakfast, and I was feeling rather hungry. But, more importantly, I hadn't seen James all day; it wasn't right for me to be deprived of a nice ogle for that long.

"When it's ten o' clock at night and you still haven't started, I'm not helping you," Mary grumbled as we exited the dormitory. Dorcas nodded as though she had expected this; we both knew that, no matter how much she protested, Mary would inevitably cave and help her anyway.

The common room was oddly full considering it was the weekend. It didn't take me long to figure out why; there was a new announcement pinned up on the bulletin board that was obviously generating quite a bit of excitement. Dorcas recklessly pushed a few helpless second years out of the way to reach it. Two seconds later she bounced back to us with the news that Quidditch tryouts had been scheduled for next weekend.

"Potter's captain this year," she explained - my heart gave an involuntary flutter at his name - as we left the buzzing crowd of Gryffindors behind. "With any hope, he'll be better than Briggs." In the two years Dorcas had played as a Beater on the Quidditch team, she had butted heads with the Captain, Bruce Briggs, countless times; his graduation would most likely mean a spot for her on the actual Quidditch team instead of just the reserves.

"Speak of the devil," Mary remarked quietly as the Fat Lady swung shut behind us. I glanced around hopefully and, sure enough, the four Gryffindor sixth years were just down the corridor, obviously returning from lunch.

And as we started walking towards them, I became keenly aware of everything about my appearance - the frizzy ends of my disheveled hair, the beginnings of a blemish on my forehead, my inner feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy that seemed to be pushing themselves to the surface of my skin. Something about being near James Potter made me incorrigibly self-conscious.

Pettigrew spotted us first; he waved timidly, immediately drawing the attention of the other three blokes to us. I reddened, remembering how I had so unabashedly hugged him just two nights ago. Honestly, I could be such an idiot sometimes.

"Afternoon, ladies," Sirius said, tipping an invisible hat to us chivalrously. Dorcas glared - evidently, she had not forgotten how rudely he had acted on Friday - and Mary giggled. I grinned and dipped into a wobbly curtsy, forcing myself to look only at Sirius; I thought I might tumble to the floor in a heap of nerves if I so much as glanced at James.

"Are you heading down to the Prefect meeting already, Lily?" Remus asked. His small smile played across tired lips and there was a slightly sickish hue to his pale skin. I felt a pang of sympathy for him - it seemed like he was always ill.

Struggling to remember if there had been a mention of another meeting on the train, I stammered sheepishly, "Actually, um, I..." I blushed, idly fingering the hem of my jumper to stop myself from even looking in James' direction, "well, I didn't even know we had one today."

"Jeremiah's only just told me," Remus replied, answering my unasked question and thankfully ignoring the fact that I was acting like a complete and total dunce. "He's running around the castle like mad trying to organize an impromptu meeting." We shared an exasperated sigh.

No one could quite figure out why Jeremiah Zeller had been chosen as Head Boy. I was privately inclined to believe that Dumbledore had a penchant for matchmaking; it was no secret that Jeremiah had fancied this year's Head Girl, Gwendolyn Clearwater, for years.

"Oh, well, um, thanks for letting me know." I smiled painfully at him, conscious of how much of an idiot James probably thought I was. I couldn't even form a coherent sentence around him, for Merlin's sake.

After a few uncomfortable seconds of silence and a few even more uncomfortable seconds of laughter when Peter asked if I was going to give him another hug, we parted from the boys. As soon as we had turned the corner, Dorcas started laughing like a maniac. "Could you be any more bloody awkward around him?" she said, punching me playfully on the shoulder. Reddening, I buried my face miserably in my hands.

"Was it that bad?" I moaned, peeking at them between my fingers.

Mary, as eager to please as she always was, shook her head just as Dorcas enthusiastically replied, "Yes!" She carefully peeled my hands away from my face and latched onto my arm, practically dragging me down a few staircases. "If you want him to fancy you back, you might actually try to get his attention," she suggested over her shoulder.

Her words, although no where near as harsh, eerily reminded me of what Sirius had said on Friday night: "No, I'm assuming that you want James to fancy you back, which means that you either have to become mates with me first or suddenly become interesting enough to actually get his attention."

Even though I knew that Dorcas and even Sirius were both right, I was growing tired of constantly listening to other people pick at the flaws in my fantasies. Yes, I knew that I would never marry a bloke if I didn't talk to him. Yes, I knew that it was unrealistic to expect him to talk to me first. Yes, I knew that I hadn't made any attempt to make him fancy me back yet even though I had declared my intentions to do so on the train-ride to Hogwarts. But it was much easier to know these flaws than it was to fix them, especially when I couldn't even manage to be around James without turning into jelly.

"Why do we always have to talk about my love life?" I complained, interrupting Dorcas' rant about the thirty-four proven ways of getting a bloke's attention; the advice she picked up from Witch Weekly was questionable at best.

"Because I'm in a blissfully happy relationship that has no problems whatsoever," Dorcas said happily, ignoring my disbelieving snort, "and I think Mary's going to end up as a nun." We both grinned impishly at Mary, whose cheeks had turned faintly pink.

While Dorcas and I chatted aimlessly about blokes on a daily basis, Mary hardly seemed to show any interest in them. "Actually," she huffed defensively, "there is someone I've had my eye on lately."

Dorcas let out an extremely high-pitched girly squeal, causing a few of the nearby portraits to clap their hands over their ears. "Oh, who is it?" she asked as we stepped inside the Great Hall, scanning the room for possible candidates. She started guessing random names in a furious whisper, "Lennox Campbell? Dedalus Diggle? Bertram Aubrey?"

Mary calmly sat down in her usual spot with a smug smile on her face, obviously pleased to have the upper hand. "Sorry, I'm not telling," she declared unapologetically. I sank into the seat next to her and clutched at my heart as though I had been physically wounded by her words.

"You are too cruel," I cried dramatically, my own curiosity piqued by Mary's confession. Either she wasn't particularly interested in any bloke at Hogwarts at the moment and she was just taking the mickey, or the bloke she was interested in was so unpleasant she didn't want to tell us who he was.

This same idea must have occurred to Dorcas because she suddenly exclaimed, "Oh! He must be completely hideous!" She stretched her neck higher to scan the students in the Great Hall. "It must be Aubrey - or perhaps it's Galvin Gudgeon. You did jump to defend his piggish nose rather quickly the other day," she pointed out.

"Jeremiah," I greeted the Head Boy as he slid to a halt in front of me.

Still inspecting the Ravenclaw table for possible blokes, Dorcas shook her head, mistaking my greeting for a suggestion. "No, he's much too..." she trailed off as she caught sight of the lanky blonde boy. "Oh! Yes! Hello, Zeller."

I cocked an eyebrow at her, maliciously disappointed that she hadn't finished her sentence even though I knew she wouldn't have been embarrassed even if she had. Sometimes, it was infuriating how untouchable Dorcas could be.

He absentmindedly nodded at her. "Just wanted to let you know we're having a Prefect meeting in about fifteen minutes," he told me in between his gasps for air. It was obvious that what Remus had told me was true: Jeremiah had literally been running all over the castle trying to organize this. I was too amused by his antics to pity him.

"Thanks for the short notice," I said sarcastically.

He reached over and mussed up my hair - I felt a twinge of irritation that everyone always seemed to have to touch my hair - with a rakish grin. "If you see Snape, could you let him know? I haven't been able to find him anywhere," he said. And before I even had the chance to respond, he thanked me and hurriedly dashed away, mumbling something about unreliable Slytherins under his breath.

I glared at his retreating back. "No, I will not bloody tell him," I seethed, stabbing at the roast chicken on my plate. Despite the fact that the end of my friendship with the Slytherin was painfully obvious to me, it seemed like no one else had really noticed.

A part of me hadn't honestly expected them to - I sincerely doubted anyone paid that close of attention to me - but a part of me also felt irrationally annoyed about the way Jeremiah just assumed Severus and I were still chummy mates.

"What'd your lunch ever do to you?" Mary joked quietly. Her mouth was twisted into an amused smile as she studied the mutilated food on my plate.

I laid my fork on the table with a sigh. "Nothing. I guess I'm just sick of being defined in terms of my relationship with Severus; I've spent the last five years at Hogwarts that way and now I wish people would see me as something other than Severus' Gryffindor mate - something other than the girl who betrayed her house by befriending a Slytherin."

Mary squeezed my shoulder and frowned sympathetically. "You know we don't see you that way at all," she said honestly, "and I doubt that anyone who really knows you does either."

But that was the problem; no one who really knew me saw me that way, but what about everyone else - the people who didn't know me at all?

There was something awfully comforting about being wrapped in a cocoon of self-pity, so I ignored her attempts to reassure me and opted for a subject change. "Why don't we talk about your life for once?" I asked Dorcas. "Your relationship with Seby can't be all that perfect." But before she even opened her mouth to respond, the seventh year Gryffindor himself appeared, swooping in to slide into the seat next to the blonde.

"Hardly," he said to me with a smirk, obviously having overheard my bold statement. Then he turned away from me and fixed his attention - and his lips - firmly on his girlfriend.

I wrinkled my nose and stood up abruptly, suddenly eager to go to the Prefect meeting. I'd never had a very high tolerance for how Dorcas and Sebastian acted around each other. It wasn't that I was jealous - although, okay, maybe I was - it was more that their relationship seemed to be based purely on snogging.

Every time I saw them together, I inwardly vowed that I would never act like that when I had a serious boyfriend, although a part of me wondered if I would actually be able to hold to that promise when the time came. If I ever snagged James, I doubt I'd be able to stop myself from at least a little public snogging.

Waving to the three of them - only Mary seemed to have realized that I was leaving - I slipped out of the Great Hall.

After huffing up five sets of stairs to reach the classroom where we usually held prefect meetings, I was surprised to find that I wasn't the first one to arrive. Considering Jeremiah was probably still hunting down the last of the Prefects to let them know there even was a meeting, I hadn't honestly expected to find anyone there yet. My bewilderment eased slightly when I realized that the tall, slender girl perched on top of a desk at the front of the room was the always punctual Head Girl.

I couldn't see her face, but the veil of sleek chestnut hair blocking it from my view easily gave away her identity. Her attention appeared to be fixated on her wrists, which she was examining with unnatural concentration; I debated waiting in the corridor for the other Prefects to arrive so I wouldn't be the one to disturb her, but before I could turn around and quietly creep outside, her head snapped up. Her brown eyes widened as they met mine.

"Lily!" she squeaked, her hands dropping back down to her sides as she smiled uneasily at me.

I smiled back at her, perplexed by how agitated she obviously was. She was almost always completely calm and unruffled, even when Jeremiah was hurling compliments, Hogsmeade invitations, and pick-up lines at her nonstop, and it was unsettling to see this other side of her.

I trudged into the classroom. "How's it going, Gwen?" I said casually, hopping on top of a desk behind her. My eyes traveled to her wrists, which looked perfectly normal to me.

She followed my gaze and a blush crept up her cheeks. "F-fine," she stammered defensively. I cocked an eyebrow at her and swung my legs back and forth childishly, waiting for her to give an honest answer to my question.

I had known Gwen for almost three years and not once had I ever seen her so visibly anxious; even though it was none of my business, the shamelessly curious side of me couldn't help but want to know why.

I didn't have to wait very long to find out. Obviously unaccustomed to keeping quiet about her problems, the dark-skinned brunette glanced up at me sorrowfully mere seconds later; I noticed with a growing sense of trepidation that her eyes looked slightly puffy, as though she had been crying. "Do you ever get worried, Lily?" she asked, her voice distressed.

It took a great deal of self-restraint for me to smother the jokes that I could feel crawling up my throat - the desperate desire to turn this spontaneously serious conversation into something lighter. Somehow, I doubted the uppity Ravenclaw would be very happy if I made a joke about her very legitimate concerns.

With that in mind, I bit my lip and tore my gaze away from hers, picking idly at a loose thread on my skirt. After a few moments of pulling and twisting and ripping, the thread snapped off of my clothes and I finally replied, "Because we're Muggleborns, you mean?"

Gwen nodded. "At least one-fourth of the school wants to kill us," she informed me, adopting the same know-it-all tone of voice she liked to pompously brandish during meetings.

She was obviously talking about the Slytherins, and even though I knew she was exaggerating and unfairly stereotyping them - not all of them were bad - I couldn't be bothered to defend them. I knew I couldn't change her opinion and I still felt entirely too bitter over the whole Severus thing to try.

While I was still trying to come up with a response to her blunt statement - somehow, I doubted she would react very well to, "Hopefully they'll get you before me," or "Life sucks, get over it," - she grabbed my hand and turned it over. For a split second, I thought she was going to try to read my palm, but then she laid her own arm parallel to mine.

My skin was ghostly pale compared to hers, but we both had the same partially visible web of blue veins decorating our arms; she lightly traced them with her finger. "It doesn't look different," she whispered bitterly. "It doesn't look like mud."

"No," I said, just as softly, "it doesn't."

Sometimes, it was so easy to get caught up in the simplicity of schoolwork and friends that I forgot just how complicated reality was. But sitting there, staring at those twisting blue lines on my flesh, all I could think about was how something so insignificant meant so much to some people. This wasn't news to me - despite what Severus had told me on our first day at Hogwarts, blood purity had always mattered - but that didn't make it any less devastating.

There wasn't much more either of us could say after that. I could only assume Gwen was upset over some recent insult or attack, but there was nothing I could do to comfort her. I couldn't even offer the most basic of comforting words - that it would all be okay - because, in all likelihood, it probably wouldn't. In fact, it would probably happen again, and it might even keep happening for the rest of her life. And I had no way or any idea of how to stop it.

The Prefects started trickling into the classroom seconds later, and Gwen dropped her arm to her side and pasted a pleasant smile on her face, not quite meeting my eyes.

Jeremiah was the last one to arrive. He skidded to a halt just inside the doorway, his gaze sweeping across the twenty-two Prefects seated in various clusters around the classroom; when he had finished his mental head count, he visibly relaxed. Squeezing himself on to the same desk as Gwen, he threw his arm around her shoulder flirtatiously, and the battle began.

"Glad you could all make it," he called out cheerily, even as the Head Girl roughly pushed him away from her and practically sent him toppling to the classroom floor. He regained his balance and grinned, patting her on the shoulder. "As you all know, this is the lovely Gwen Clearwater - much too lovely for you, Applebee, so you can stop looking at her like that." There was a chorus of laughter as a fifth year Hufflepuff turned bright red.

Gwen's face remained completely emotionless as she slid delicately off of the desk and began reading reminders and announcements off of a crisp piece of parchment. It was the same one the Heads were required to read every year, so I tuned her out, choosing instead to marvel at how easily she could ignore the antics of Jeremiah.

He twisted his face up into comical expressions every other second, made inappropriate comments under his breath just loudly enough for everyone to hear, and even tried to touch her multiple times. The only sign that she noticed him was the way she politely yet firmly stepped away from him whenever he got too close.

It was bizarre to think that this was the same girl who had been brooding over Muggleborn discrimination not five minutes ago.

When she had finished reading the parchment, she clapped her hands together. "And lastly, patrols! Once you've signed up on the schedule with your partner, you're free to go."

A swarm of Prefects rushed towards the sign-up sheet, eager to snag the best time-slots. I sat unmoving in my chair, staring forward with a growing sense of despair. How could I have forgotten about patrol partners?

Severus had been my partner last year, but obviously that wasn't going to work anymore. I looked over at him furtively, wondering if he was facing the same indecision and anxiety as me; I inadvertently winced when I saw that he had already partnered with the other sixth year Slytherin Prefect, Callidora Yaxley. If only it were that simple for me.

The only other Prefect I really knew was Remus and one quick glance confirmed that he had already paired up with his usual patrol partner, Reginald Cattermole. My cheeks reddened as more and more students found partners while I was left standing alone in the middle of the room, desperately glancing from person to person to find anyone who would be my partner.

Of course, when I said 'anyone', I didn't exactly mean just anyone, but, evidently, God has a cruel sense of humor.

"Lily!" a shrill voice cried in my ear, and I whirled around to face one of the sixth year Hufflepuff Prefects, Gladys Gudgeon. "Do you wanna be my partner?"

"Errr...ummm..." I stuttered, peering over her frizzy blonde hair to try and find an escape route. But it was no use; literally everyone else had already paired up. Resigned to my fate, I miserably nodded back at her. She squealed and dragged me to the front of the classroom to sign us up for patrols.

Gladys wasn't the worst person to have as a patrol partner, but she was no where near the best. At first glance, she seemed normal; her nose was much less piggish than her two brothers and, in fact, she was quite pretty.

Close up, it was impossible to ignore the fact that she never stopped talking. At Hogwarts, she was notorious for her gossip, and as we filled in our names on the time chart she filled me in on the Hufflepuff love triangle.

"Galvin has adored her ever since last year, when he knocked his cauldron over in Potions and she helped him clean it up, but she's never fancied him back. And now Dedalus asked her to Hogsmeade and poor Galvin is just devastated - especially since Dedalus knew that he fancied Netty and asked her out anyway. Zamira told me that Greta told her that Netty doesn't even like Dedalus. Apparently she fancies Reggie, but I know for a fact that Reggie - "

"Well, goodbye Gladys!" I exclaimed, cutting her off before she could tell me exactly what she knew for a fact, which I was beginning to think was absolutely nothing. I had a strong suspicion that she was inventing half, if not all, of what she was telling me.

She blinked, as though only now realizing I was standing in front of her. "Oh, goodbye Lily!" she called.

I rushed away from her, unable to suppress my laughter when I heard her start babbling to Jeremiah. I was so wrapped up in imagining the expression on his face as she explained the woes of Dedalus that I almost didn't see James.

He was casually leaning against the opposite wall in the corridor, fiddling with the sleeves of his shirt with a bored expression on his face, obviously waiting for Remus. I immediately slowed when I caught sight of him, praying that he hadn't seen me running like a complete loon.

When he looked up at me, I swear my heart literally skipped a beat. I felt ridiculously similar to the heroine of Mary's current piece of trashy literature, Imperio'd By Love, who, on the cover of the novel, cowers under the smoldering gaze of a bare-chested wizard/Greek God.

And because I could hear Dorcas' voice in my head telling me to get his attention and because I was still sort of laughing about the ridiculous patrol partner I had nabbed for myself and because Merlin did James look like a Greek God, I grinned at him.

I grinned at him and I stood there like a fool, waiting for him to grin back. And you know what? He didn't. He stood there and he stared at me, and Dorcas can claim it was my imagination all she wants, but in that moment I could feel how much he hated me. His contempt was practically radiating off of him in waves as he pointedly glanced away from me.

And even though I should've expected it - even though I had casually mentioned how much James loathed me countless times in the past five years - it hurt. This wasn't something that could be explained or forgotten or even anything that I could have imagined; it was a blatant snub, and it erased any doubts I may have been harboring about his feelings for me.

I half-ran half-walked down the corridor, my face burning in humiliation, but I was more angry than anything. I hurtled around corners and stomped up staircases to reach Gryffindor tower, my blood boiling more and more with each passing second as I replayed what had happened over and over again.

For some reason, I couldn't let go of that vacant expression on his face - how he looked like he didn't even care that he was breaking my heart into a million pieces just by not smiling back.

It wasn't fair that he didn't care; he had no right to not care. I had never done anything to make him dislike me and, if he did and if I had, I wanted to know why and what. I wanted answers.

By the time I reached the Fat Lady, I had discarded the idea of burrowing under my covers and crying till my eyes hurt and instead had resolved to hunt down Sirius and ask him about his best mate's unfair actions.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of him in the still crowded common room, so I sprinted up the stairs to my dormitory to see if Mary or Dorcas knew where he was.

My sense of urgency melted away when I heard voices shouting. Burning with curiosity and confusion, I ran even faster up the staircases and all but kicked the door to my dormitory open. But if I had expected to find answers, I was sorely mistaken; in fact, what I found only puzzled me further.

Dorcas was towering over our fourth roommate with a menacing glint in her eyes; there was no trace of the happy-go-lucky girl that I was used to in the cold hard lines of her face.

Twilfitt was staring up at her with such a smug expression twisting her foxlike features that I could almost believe she hadn't yet realized the taller girl had her wand pointed straight at her.

"Take it back!" Dorcas demanded furiously; when the smaller girl just laughed, she shouted, "Vermillious!" A jet of red light shot out of her wand and hurled itself across the room.

"Stop!" I cried, rushing towards them and clumsily grappling for my wand, but neither of the two girls paid any attention to me. Twilfitt cast a shield right before the hex hit her, and took a few careful steps backwards, not once glancing away from her opponent.

Still cackling, she taunted, "Frankly, I can't understand how you're surprised. Why would anyone ever want you? You're nothing but a worthless, pathetic little slag who can't even - "

"Shut up!" Dorcas screamed, and I was surprised to see that there were tears streaming down her cheeks. "Just shut up! You have no idea what you're talking about, and...and..." she hiccuped, strikingly vulnerable for a few seconds before she regained her resolve and raised her wand again.

I jumped in front of her before she could manage to cast another spell.

Her eyes widened as they landed on me, as though she hadn't even realized I was there. In the few seconds that Dorcas was distracted, Twilfitt managed to dart quickly away, pausing in the doorway to glance back at us. "See?" she sneered. "You can't even fight your own battles; you need your precious Evans to protect you. No wonder nobody wants you." And then she slammed the door behind her.

Dorcas whirled on me angrily, her fingers still tightly wrapped around her wand. "Why did you do that?"

"Are you okay?" I responded, gently placing my hand on her arm to try and calm her down; that always seemed to work when Mary did it, anyway.

She wrenched her arm out of my grasp and glared down at me. "I'm fine," she snapped, her words blatantly inconsistent with the still visible tear-tracks on her cheeks. "Or, at least, I was fine until you interrupted us."

It only took me a few seconds to recover from my shock, and then I was overwhelmed by anger. All I did was try to stop my best mate from getting expelled, and here she was biting my head off about it. I strained to picture what Mary might do in this situation: probably remain irritatingly rational to contradict Dorcas' irrationality.

After taking a deep breath, I said, "Dorcas, I was just trying to stop you from getting into trouble." It felt like trying to explain how to make a Polyjuice Potion to a three-year old.

The way she responded was certainly fitting for a three-year old, at least. "Well, maybe I didn't want your help. Did you ever think about that?" she bit back at me. "Maybe I'm just sick and tired of everyone trying to help me." She stormed out of the room without so much as a backward glance, not caring that I had no idea what she was talking about.

I stared after her, my fingers involuntarily curling into fists. In the five years of our friendship, I had seen Dorcas get angry over stupid things more times than I could possibly remember.

But it wasn't often that she got truly angry with me - usually Mary was there to mediate - so it felt more than a little odd to have her cross with me, especially when I hadn't done anything wrong.

Regardless of whether Twilfitt upsetting her was the cause of it or not, the fact that she had blown up at me made me a little peeved. My day had been crappy enough already; first, that awkward run-in with the sixth year Gryffindors, then Gwen's seriously depressing remarks about blood purity, and finally how James Potter couldn't be bothered to smile back at me, much less talk to me and find out I'm actually a pretty decent person. And if he couldn't even do that, how in God's name was he ever going to snog me?

I sighed and stretched myself across my bed, wondering if I had possibly been an evil dictator in a past life; that was the only explanation I could think of for why everything was going so wrong all of a sudden.

----

A/N: I'm a little iffy about this chapter; it feels like so much of a filler, and it turned out so much shorter than the last two chapters. I did really try to give you guys at least a little dose of James, but he still hasn't spoken yet and their interaction didn't turn out at all like I planned. What did you think of it? As always, I'd love to hear your opinions. And, finally, thank you so much for all the reviews and for all the ones that I know you're going to give for this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it!

Next chapter: Sirius has a plan.



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