I’m not sure how long it takes I could tell by the way that he looked at me that James Potter was head-over-heels in love. That is, if the empty space that was covered in particularly messy hair and abnormally nice skin for a teenage boy counted as a head. Despite that, there are a lot of “head” things that can be attributed to one of Gryffindor’s best quidditch players. Of course, he is Head Boy-not a particularly effective one as far as enforcing the rules goes, but Head Boy nonetheless. He has some sort of hair that spouts from his head that girls have called “sex hair”, though I find it especially untidy and unattractive. And, according to a rather significant portion of Gryffindor’s female population, there is a type of thinking that uses what they call ‘James’ “other” head’ that is quite pleasing to them in general. The notion makes my stomach flood with bile.
These were my thoughts during Professor Slughorn’s potions class this afternoon. There were only minutes until the final semester exams were to be passed out, and for once Potter had managed to make it to class on time. Unlike the rest of the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff mix who were bent over their notes and textbooks cramming last minute information into the forefront of their minds, Potter had drawn a semi-significant crowd of female students who stood huddled around his table, a few not-so subtly attempting to capture the empty seat in front of where he perched, his body atop the desk like a king lounging on a throne.
“Oh, James,” Sylvia Studder cooed, resting her palms on the edge of the desk as she leaned toward him, “We all just love your quidditch stories.” A few girls nodded in agreement, most of their faces flushed a ridiculous pink color.
As if any of them know anything about quiddich, I thought to myself. Well, not that I do. But I’m not interested in being Potter’s groupie.
I turned back to my last minute studies, reviewing information that I already knew by heart when Professor Slughorn whisked through the doorway, his strides as self-important as ever. Although I personally found Slughorn an alluring mind on the topic, there was something quite dramatic about him and the pretentious air that followed him around. But today that was the farthest thought from my mind when I noticed where Slughorn’s hawk-like eyes were narrowed. At Potter. His favorite victim. My lips curled into a satisfied smirk before a word even formed in Slughorn’s mouth.
“Mister Potter,” Slughorn droned, the contempt in his voice palpable, “If it isn’t too much trouble, let’s adjourn this meeting of “Mediocre Fanclub” until after the exam, hmm?” A few of the more jealous Gryffindor and Hufflepuff boys scoffed in agreement while I put my things away, an almost boastful feeling flitting through me.
“Unfortunately, Professor S, this isn’t one of Slytherin’s organizations.” James countered, relishing in the assortment of amused chuckles that dared to side with him. Even some of the more bold students had hidden their faces so they wouldn’t attract unwanted attention from the now offended Head of Slytherin house.
“Fifty points from Gryffindor.” Slughorn countered, a collective sigh rippling across the classroom while the Hufflepuff’s just grinned-they were last in house points and needed every deduction they could get.
Everyone’s attention turned to Slughorn then, listening as he flicked his wand and notes about the exam appeared on the dusty chalkboard in the center of the room. I readied my quill and, when the parchment scrolls with the exam appeared in the middle of the table, I quickly grabbed mine and neatly scripted my name on the top while, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Remus Lupin nudging Potter awake so he could most likely make up his own answers to another one of Slughorn’s tests.
The exam itself only took about an hour, easy by Professor Slughorn’s standards. After, the hallways flooded with students who talked animatedly about going home for the holidays. It was only two weeks until Christmas and all of Hogwarts was decked out in lavish décor; garlands wrapped around every surface they could coil themselves and it seemed that the tall evergreens in the Great Hall were dusted permanently with snow that never melted, the stars at the top of them blazing like miniature suns. Every table centerpiece was sprinkled with gold flecks, catching the candlelight that danced over the long dining tables almost romantically. It was true that Christmas at Hogwarts was unlike any holiday celebration in the world; it was as if the castle was built to come alive during the winter season.
Unlike most of the students at Hogwarts, I was set to stay at the castle over the holidays. My parents had taken Petunia, my bratty sister, on yet another holiday to appease her constant horrid behavior. She called me a freak whenever she saw me, but I know it was only for jealousy. Before I left for Hogwarts my first year, we were the closest sisters could be, but it was as if the letter of my acceptance erased every kind bone in my sister’s body. Thankfully, I don’t have to put up with her constant insults and whining anymore-my parents have taken her away every holiday since my first year and let me prepare for the next term’s studies, much to my appreciation. It’s not that I don’t miss my parents, of course I do…but one summer under their roof with Petunia is enough to last me an entire year.
Brushing my long reddish hair over my shoulder, I made my way to Gryffindor’s common room. As most students hadn’t taken to leaving until the next morning, the room was alive with energy that was contagious. Girls talked excitedly in thick clusters, sneaking covert glances at the boys who either roughhoused by the fireplace or lounged in a group of couches and chairs in a way they thought looked alluring. I shook my head, glad that I was beyond scoping out the immature children that called themselves “men”, and made my way to my dormitory, in much need of talking with my best friend and roommate, Docas Meadows.
“D!” I cried, bursting through the door and immediately flopping down on my bed. Dorcas looked up from her packing, startled by my loud entrance.
“Hiya, Lils.” She replied with a soft smile, folding a shirt and tucking it gently into the open trunk that rested on her four poster bed. Dorcas was dressed in her traditional “uniform” outside of her Hogwarts uniform; a long sleeved cardigan that she’d charmed bright pink, a white button down shirt, and conservative khaki pants. She was the daughter of a muggle father and witch, so, like me, she sported muggle clothes whenever the Hogwarts jumper and robes were not required.
“Getting ready to leave?” I couldn’t help but notice the slight sadness in my voice. Dorcas was one of the only reasons I stayed sane at Hogwarts; between keeping my perfect grades in line and picking up all of the slack that Potter left to me from his delinquency in Head Boy duties, I was a wreck by the end of most terms, but this once especially.
“I’ll only be gone a few weeks, Lily,” Dorcas said with an amused smile, shaking her head slightly, “Look in the bright side-Trinity will be here with you.” We both burst out in a quick bout of laughter, stifling it was our third roommate hustled through the door.
It wasn’t that we didn’t like Trinity-she was nice enough. But Trinity was nothing like Dorcas or me. She participated in every party that Hogwarts had to offer, occasionally sneaking to Hogsmede by way of a passage that I couldn’t figure out, returning with bottles of firewhiskey that I pretended not to see. Despite her rule-breaking, she was wickedly smart, especially at ancient runes, my worst subject. Since she tutored me, I couldn’t very well report her to McGonagall-she was a vital part of my perfect grade streak.
“Hey ladies,” Trinity called, floating in ballerina-like steps over to her four poster and sat on top of it, the springs bouncing with her agile flitting. The bottom of uniform jumper brushed midway over her thighs; it was obvious that she had charmed it shorter-the rest of our skirts sat conservatively at our knees. “Leaving us already, Dorcas?”
“Yep,” Dorcas replied cheerfully, putting her last sweater into her trunk and closing it with finality. An outfit for the next day hung lonely in her closet, pressed to perfection. She nudged her trunk into her closet and climbed on her bed, mimicking Trinity. “Ready to go back to Bath.”
“I’m sure your family will be thrilled to see you,” I offered with a grin. Dorcas’ family was enamored with their youngest daughter. Perhaps it was because she was the baby, but Dorcas did have a lot to offer-smart, kind, and civil. I still couldn’t figure out how I was made Head Girl over her.
“You’ll be missing out, D, going home. At least you’ll get to be a part of the farewell bash tonight. I heard Sirius in his crew got their hands on an entire keg of firewhiskey. It’s going to be wild!” She exclaimed, an excited flush crawling over her tanned skin. If Dorcas and I were pretty in a conventional way, Trinity was, well, attractive in a wizard’s magazine way. Sirius Black was the only male at Hogwarts who had more groupies hovering around him than Potter. The last couple of weeks he had made Trinity his object of his desires, much to her happiness. There hadn’t been a night in nearly a month that I hadn’t heard them whispering and laughing out in the common room after the rest of the Gryffindors had turned in for the night.
“Yeah, I guess.” Dorcas answered Trinity, but her eyes were on me, redness filling her cheeks as she noted the expression of shock on my face.
“What?” I blurted before I could stop myself. I noticed that Trinity looked amused. It wasn’t that Dorcas wasn’t social-she had plenty of friends from classes and various organizations and clubs at Hogwarts…but she’d never gone to any of the parties that Trinity had invited either of us to, and neither had I.
“I thought it would be fun, Lily. It’s our seventh year and we’ve never done anything even a little rebellious. Who knows what we’re missing out on?” Dorcas replied somewhat defensively.
“That’s right, D-you tell her.” Trinity urged, jumping from her bed to Dorcas’ playfully. Dorcas laughed as Trinity bounced into her, sending both girls flying into a heap on the floor. Despite myself, I laughed and shook my head.
“You’ll join us, won’t you Lily?” Dorcas asked, finally regaining her composure. She walked to the mirror that hung on the wall closest to the door and adjusted her ever-perfect wheat-colored ponytail.
“Well, I-“ I choked.
“Of course she will. She has that delicious James Potter trailing her like a lovesick puppy…what’s she going to do, turn him down?” Trinity cut in, climbing off her own bed to rummage through the dense clothing of her closet. She tossed a few things toward Dorcas. “Alright, D-time to get rid of the Stepford Wife look and mix it up.”
I rolled my eyes, the feeling more of an impulse than a calculated action. “Potter has a history of doing things he shouldn’t. Liking me is just like that…he does it because he knows that it’ll never happen.”
“Only because you won’t let it,” Trinity countered, shaking her head as Dorcas protested the clothing she’d lended her.
“It’s too skimpy!” Dorcas laughed, the sound one of both curious and embarrassed nature.
“Because he’s vile!” I protested enthusiastically, standing as irritation rolled off me like waves.
“He’s perfect,” Trinity cooed, much like the girls had during potions that afternoon. “And so is that outfit, Dorcas Meadows, so put it on and stop complaining.”
I shook my head and laughed despite myself, standing to rifle through my own closet for something that Trinity would approve of. Maybe she was right…maybe Potter wasn’t exactly vile. But he wasn’t perfect, no, not even close.
It was nearly ten o’clock when Dorcas, Trinity, and I finally finished primping and were somewhat ready to go down to the party that had been in full swing, or at least what sounded like full swing from the top of the stairs. Trinity had made sure that Dorcas and I had made our way outside of our comfort zones tonight, dressing each of us like we were her own life-size dolls and applying makeup and hairspray like she was a stylist.
According to her, with Dorcas’ fair skin and nearly curve-less body, it was a sin to put her in anything than a shocking royal blue cocktail dress that hugged her frame like a second skin. With her hair pulled back in a sleek twist on the back of her head, Dorcas easily looked like she could be going to some important charity event at the ministry instead of a seventh-year keg party at Hogwarts. But, according to Trinity, everyone would be dressed their best tonight in a last-ditch attempt to get laid. We’d all laughed at that, Dorcas and I a little less than our bolder roommate.
And me, well, Trinity went to town on me. She spent a few minutes curling my blood-red hair into soft and gentle spirals, going on and on about how jealous she was that my hair was pin straight. The makeup around my eyes was brown and smokey which she swore made my green eyes look like they were glowing, though personally I thought I looked a little silly. Then, there was the dress.
I’d worn plenty of dresses before, but none of them like this. This one looped around the back of my neck and around the front, leaving my shoulder blades and the skin under them bare until the small of my back, where the dark gold fabric gathered and trailed down to the back of my knees. The front was the same in length but the dress left my neck and chest nearly bare, coming down in a deep v that stopped a few inches before my bra was exposed. Looking in the mirror, I realized my curves pushed out and cinched in in ways that made me look, well…hot. Like a girl on the cover of a magazine. Almost like Trinity. Sure, this dress wasn’t really me and yes, I felt extremely exposed…but for the first time in my seven years at Hogwarts, I felt absolutely positively beautiful.
“Lily,” Dorcas squealed as I walked out of the bathroom. She shuffled toward me, obviously not entirely used to the dress. “You look awesome!”
I managed a laugh, feeling a flush creep across my face. I willed it away, clearing my throat before I spoke, “You’re beautiful, D!” I turned to Trinity who was in a tight, black number that could only be described as sexy. “Thank you, Trinity. You look gorgeous.”
Trinity laughed in a knowing way-she’d been putting herself together like this since she was a fifth year. She nodded her shiny haired head toward the door, “Okay girls, let’s do this.”
Nervous butterflies floated in my stomach as I made my way out of the dormitory and around the corner where the hallway opened up into a staircase that made its’ way from the upper floor to the Common Room, the centerpiece of the room. As I rounded the corner, I felt all of the air rush out of me. I wasn’t the kind of girl who bothered with make up or fancy dresses. I was the Head Girl, a sensible student who wore flats instead of the tall heels that were strapped to my feet now. Sure, they made Trinity’s platforms look conservative, but they weren’t the kind of shoes that I owned.
“Lily!” I snapped out of my internal monologue at the sound of Dorcas calling my name. She’d rounded the corner of the hallway, one step down the stairs. I must’ve stopped. “Let’s go!” She called, her face bright and excited. It was very rare to see Dorcas interested in much of anything outside of charms class and I knew that I’d regret not being a part of her first real social evening.
“Okay,” I answered, mustering up all the courage I could and strode, in my tall heels, toward the staircase.