Chapter 3 : A missing invitation
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It was amazing how you could be back at school for less than a week, and feel like you’d never been away, thought Lily Evans, as she sat at her desk in the Ancient Runes classroom, on a cold, bright day in January. She was trying to focus on what Proffessor Letterman was saying about the rune ‘Algiz’, but the Wizard had a mono-tone, droning voice which threatened to lull his students to sleep. Lily was struggling to keep her eyes open.
“Hey - Lily!”
An urgent whisper from the row behind startled her out of her stupor. Attempting to turn herself around without attracting Letterman’s attention, Lily craned her neck to locate the source of the voice. It was Louisa Castles, a friend of her’s from Ravenclaw house.
“ You up for shopping on Saturday?” Louisa asked. “There’s a Hogsmeade trip, I saw the notice this morning”
“Sure” Lily replied “You going for anything specific?”
“Dress for Sirius’s party”
Louisa looked at her bemusedly.
“What do you mean what party? His seventeenth – everyone’s going – I thought you’d have been one of the first to be invited.”
Lily shook her head, trying to appear as if it made no difference to her, when really she was hurt. Why wasn’t she invited? She had thought Sirius quite liked her, at least since Christmas Eve, but obviously she was wrong if he was excluding her from his party.
“Well, technically I’m not invited either” Louisa continued “But Aimee got an invite as she’s his ex, and he said she could bring the rest of our dorm, - you should go anyway, he probably wouldn’t mind.”
Lily shrugged – “When is it?”
“Saturday night , it should be good. You’ll definitely come shopping though?”
“Yeah…” Lily started to say, before the accusing gaze of the Proffessor forced her to turn back to face the front.
The bell rang for the end of class, and the students got to their feet and started packing away their books and translations. Louisa walked beside Lily as everyone filed out of the room, and they were joined by Mary and Alice (who usually sat at the desks beside their friend, but had been moved that lesson, for talking).
“Maybe he just hasn’t got round to inviting you yet,” pondered Louisa, continuing their previous conversation. “Or he just forgot….”
“Is this about Sirius Black’s party?” Mary asked.
“Yeah, Lily didn’t know about it – have either of you been invited?”
The girls looked uncomfortable, and exchanged glances.
“Yeah,” Alice said, “Remus told us about it yesterday – me and Mary, and Rachel and Beth. He didn’t mention you Lily, but that must just have been because you weren’t there. He wouldn’t invite us and not you…”
“Don’t worry .” Louisa told Lily, confidently. “He’s probably just missed you out accidentally – you’re easy to forget about because you’re not one of a certain group…”
Lily bit back a sarcastic retort, but her face said as much. Tact was not Louisa’s strong point.
“I just meant because you’re friends with everyone” Louisa added, in her own defence. “See you later girlies.” and she disappeared off with the other Ravenclaws, her dark pony-tail swinging behind her.
“Honestly Lily, don’t worry about it” Mary assured her as they headed up towards Gryffindor tower. “You’ll almost defiantly be invited, it’ll just be a misunderstanding.”
“Doesn’t sound like it” Lily answered her, casually “But it doesn’t matter – have you two got your outfits sorted out then?”
They replied that they had both already decided on what they would be wearing, and - on being assured that Lily wasn’t upset by their talk of the party - they went on to discuss their plans in detail. They told her the party was going to be in the common room, Saturday night from nine, and how guests from other houses would have to sneak up earlier so that they didn’t get caught. The Maurauders were going to steal food from the kitchens, and they thought that people were going to be quite dressed up. Although she was interested in what they had to say, Lily was desperate for a bit of time on her own, so she left her friends at the portrait hole, assuring them that she was okay. She said she just needed to visit her owl, who she had been neglecting a bit lately.
“She’ll think I’ve abandoned her” Lily laughed “I’m just going to take her up a few treats - See you at lunch?”
“Yeah okay. You sure you’re alright?”
“Yeah I’m fine, don’t worry.”
They looked as if they would worry – Alice especially, who always felt she wasn’t doing enough to help people. Lily sighed.
As she walked along the corridor which led to the owlery, Lily let herself think about the party. It crossed her mind that she must be invited, as they couldn’t exactly bar her from the common room - but maybe Sirius just wanted to make it clear that she wasn’t welcome, whether she decided to come or not. It would be fair of him not to invite her, she conceded to herself, as it wasn’t as if she really knew him. Lately they had had a couple of brief conversations, but that was all – and she had always been less than civil to James, his closest friend. She was also a friend of Severus Snape, who Sirius hated – maybe that was the reason? Whatever it was, Lily felt a bit depressed- she’d felt that they’d made a connection recently, and that they might become friends, but obviously she was wrong. Strangely, she felt almost on the verge of tears.
Lily climbed the spiral staircase up to the tower where all the owls of Hogwarts were housed, and emerged into the high- ceilingd, stone room. She spotted her own barn owl, Ophelia, over on a perch by the window.
“Hello” she said softly, stroking the animal’s head - who hooted contentedly and nibbled the owl treats Lily held out to her. The mid-morning sun shone in through the arched window, and Lily gazed thoughtfully over the grounds, as a cold breeze wafted in from outside, blowing her shining hair out around her.
“There you are.”
Lily turned to face the voice, which sounded deep and amused. Sirius Black was standing in the doorway leaning casually against the stone arch. He was grinning.
“Hi” she answered him. He walked over to stand beside her at the window.
“I came to invite you to my party.” He said, smiling down at her. “James wanted me to invite you personally to make sure you come, I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“Oh, okay,” Lily replied, feeling sheepish. “My friends are all going, so I’ll be there.” She smiled at him, then looked quickly out of the window.
“Wait …” there was amusement in Sirius’s voice. “You thought you weren’t invited didn’t you? Look at me…”
She turned to face him, grinning awkwardly.
“You did!” he laughed wickedly, and the sound, which was loud enough usually, was magnified as it echoed off the stone walls. “Don’t worry Evans, I don’t hate you, and anyway, there'll probably be plenty of people i hate there on saturday.”
He looked at her , the expression in his grey eyes slightly mocking, but captivating all the same. Lily racked her brain for something to say –
“Good, because I don’t hate you either.” She settled for, with a careless laugh. He smiled, and reached across her to stroke her owl’s head.
“What’s her name?” he asked.
“Ophelia.” Lily told him defensively - she thought it was a good name for an owl.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s a grey owl’s name.” He pronounced, as if it was obvious.
“It is! And your owl’s brown, it should be called something like Chocolate, or Mud, or…”
“Don’t even go there.”
He grinned at her.
“Okay then… I suppose Ophelia suits her, in a weird way.”
Lily smiled. She was thinking how much nicer he was than she had imagined. Before the Christmas holidays she had assumed that he was just Potter’s better looking, but less likeable, sidekick - she had suspected him of possessing a cruel sense of humour and a very high opinion of himself – but neither of these traits were apparent in the way he was talking to her now.
“Thanks.” She told him. “So, what’s you’re owl called?”
“I only came up here to find you – how do you know I’ve got an owl?”
Her heart sped up at this, but she answered
“because otherwise you probably wouldn’t know where the owlery is…and because I can tell from your face that you’re just winding me up.”
He laughed again.
“You’ve got me. He’s up there…” he gestured behind him, and Lily glanced over her shoulder.
“What’s his name then?”
“Godric , after Gryffindor. I know it’s a bit gay, but I only called him that to annoy my parents – and it worked.”
“Er… they sound a bit…”
“Yeah.” Sirius looked irritated at the thought of his mum and dad, there was an awkward silence, and Lily felt stupid for creating it. Sirius spoke first.
“They’ve got this pure blood mania thing – it does my head in. Everyone in my family has been in Slytherin.”
“Yeah I’d heard that. So do they hate poor Godric, on principal?”
Sirius smiled bitterly, although what she’d said wasn’t really very funny.
“Yeah, it’s a shame – he’s a good-looking owl. I’ll show you him properly…”
They both turned round fully this time, to look for the owl, and as they did so, Sirius’s arm brushed against Lily’s. Not expecting physical contact, she involuntarily took a sharp intake of breath, and he noticed. He turned so that they were facing each other, and his eyes fixed themselves on hers, steely grey and intense. She could barely breathe, what with the expression in his eyes, and the closeness of his body to hers, but she held his gaze.
“Which one is he again?” she said.
“The grey one…”he replied slowly, his eyes still focused on her face. Lily finally looked away, and turned to look up into the rafters after Godric, feeling flustered.
“That one?” she said.
“Yeah,” Sirius replied “but he won’t come down. He hates me because I never bring him treats.”
“I’ve got some left over,” she said – fishing the packet out of her robes. At the sight of the bag, the Owl alighted from it’s perch and flew towards them.
“Traiter.” Sirius muttered, as Godric greedily gobbled the treats out of Lily’s hand.
“Here,” said Lily hurridly, shoving the rest of the food into Sirius’s palm. “You can give him them if you like.”
“Thanks,” he said, slightly confused, as Lily had used his distraction with the owl, to escape down the stone staircase.
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