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Chapter 4 : One Little Word
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Disclaimer: As much as I'd love to be, I'm not JKR. The sentences in bold come from “Snape’s Worst Memory”, Order of the Phoenix, US Paperback Edition p. 648.
I twirled my quill around my fingers, biting my bottom lip and trying to think of anything else I could possibly mention about the distinguishing characteristics of a werewolf. I was almost positive I’d gotten everything.
I glanced up at the giant hourglass at the front of the room. I still had plenty of time left if I thought of anything else. I set my quill on my desk and flipped through the pages of my Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. exam to the front so I could go over all my answers one last time.
I looked up again, noticing that Severus was sitting a few rows ahead of me. His face was bent low over his parchment and he was writing furiously.
I let out a deep sigh and rested my chin on my propped up hand. Severus had been acting strange since I told him about Alex. He was avoiding me. When I would see him in the halls he would abruptly turn the other way and even when I called out to him, he pretended like he didn’t hear.
He couldn’t really be that upset that I’d started dating someone, right? I mean, he knew it had to happen eventually… right?
Or was it those “friends” of his? Maybe they had finally gotten to him. I mean, I heard what happened to Mary McDonald the other day…
That gorilla Mulciber had hit her with a knee-reversing hex while she was on the grand staircase and she fell down three flights before Remus Lupin caught her. She was still in the hospital wing but Margaux Littleton had told us that she had broken both her arms, three ribs, and her ankle.
I sighed and looked back down at my parchment, adding a few lines to my description of a patronus. Why on earth was Severus friends with those people? And the way they talked about muggle-borns; As if they didn’t deserve to be here…
As if I didn’t deserve to be here...
After the exams had been collected I waited for Anna and Scarlet outside the Great Hall.
“I’m going to be so bloody happy when all this is over,” Scarlet grumbled as we walked down the front steps towards the lake. Spring had turned to summer quickly and a warm breeze blew around us. It was perfect weather out and all we had left to study for was Transfiguration.
“Me too,” Anna said as we traipsed across the grass. “I’m pretty sure I got the question about how to spot a Hinkypunk wrong…”
“Annie, we did those in like, third year,” I said, dropping down onto the warm grass.
“Yes, well not everyone has the memory of an elephant like you,” Anna grumbled and I laughed quietly at her.
“Come on, at least it’s done with now,” I said, pulling my Transfiguration book out of my bag to start studying.
“And apparently you’re not going to give yourself any kind of break,” Scarlet rolled her eyes at my hefty book.
“The written exam is tomorrow, Scar,” I said reasonably. “And the practical is the day after that. I’ll take a break when everything is over with.”
“You study too much,” Anna shook her head at me as I pulled out all of my notes from the year.
“I do not,” I huffed, glaring up at her.
“When was the last time you saw Alex?” Scarlet raised her eyebrows at me and I frowned at her.
“A few days ago,” I shrugged. “He knows that grades are important to me. He understands…”
“He must be a freaking saint,” Anna muttered and I ignored her, looking back down at my notes.
“Uh oh…” Scarlet mumbled and I looked up at her confused. She was looking behind Anna and I at something and we both turned to follow her gaze.
“Oh dear…” Anna whispered when she realized what Scarlet was talking about.
Across the grounds by the lake, a crowd was gathering around a smaller group of people. I recognized them instantly, it was hard not to after five years. Three of the Marauders stood haughtily in front of a fourth figure, a tall, lanky person with a curtain of dark hair—Severus.
Remus Lupin had apparently chosen to ignore his friends, sitting instead under a tree reading.
They were all laughing about something... I narrowed my eyes, trying to see what they were laughing at and suddenly it became very clear.
Oh, hell no. Shit’s about to go down.
A bang sounded and I gasped as Severus was lifted off his feet, crumpling to the ground and remaining motionless.
I scrambled to my feet and felt something tug on my robes.
“Lily, don’t—“ Scarlet said hurriedly, but I wrenched my robes out of her grip.
“Let go, Scar,” I said forcefully. “I have to help him.”
“Lily, you’re going to get yourself hexed,” Scarlet said, her eyes flitting back to the group of boys. “Besides… it’s just Snape.”
“I’m a Prefect, I have to put a stop to this,” I growled, angry that Scarlet was ok with her friends hexing mine. “Besides, if it were Sirius over there getting cursed, you’d want to stop it, too.”
“That’s different…” Scarlet muttered. “Sirius isn’t in Slytherin.”
“Well, he’s not much better than them, is he?” I snapped angrily. “I don’t see Severus fighting back while Sirius hexes him for no good reason.”
“Lily, listen to me,” Scarlet hissed furiously, her blue eyes flashing angrily. “Snape’s a slimy git. Everyone knows it. It’s time you realized it too. And in case you didn’t notice, it was Potter who just hexed him, so leave Sirius out of this.”
“Look, I don’t understand your friendship with him, or any of the Marauders for that matter,” I said hurriedly, cringing as I watched pink soap bubbles issuing from Severus’s mouth. “Just like you don’t understand mine with Severus. But I would understand if you went to Sirius’s defense…”
“Lily,” Scarlet shoved herself off the ground, her hand gripping my arm tightly. Her face was deadly serious, all of her normal playfulness gone. “You heard what happened to Mary. His lot… they hate people like you—muggle-borns. You’re going to get hurt.”
“Sev’s different,” I ignored her, grabbing my wand off the ground.
“Just let her go, Scar,” Anna said putting a soothing hand on Scarlet’s shoulder as I marched away from them towards the Marauders, thankful that Anna, at least could see that what was happening was wrong.
"POTTER!" I screamed at the top of my voice and everyone watching turned towards me. Anger flashed through me as Potter glanced towards me, his free hand casually ruffling his untidy hair. Stupid, egotistical arse. "Lower your wand right now, or i swear to Godric i'll blast your hands off."
Potter greeted me with a smirk, but I wasn’t paying attention to him anymore. I was staring at Severus who was wiping away the pink soap bubbles from his mouth, gasping for air.
I wanted desperately to help him, to kneel down next to him and make sure he was all right. Severus looked up at me, furry contorting his face and I realized absently that Potter was still talking to me…
Wait…Did Potter just ask me out? He had just asked me out… for real, the git just asked me to go out with him.
Here he was, hexing my oldest friend and he was literally asking me on a date. REALLY?!
"Ugh, I'd rather date the giant squid," I growled at him and Sirius laughed loudly behind him. I didn’t care that Potter’s face fell noticeably as I turned him down yet again. He deserved it. As if I’d ever go out with him.
I turned my gaze quickly back to Severus and my breath caught in my throat. He had his wand gripped in his hand and pointed it at Potter while his back was turned.
Before I could stop him there was a flash of light and the grass was splattered with blood. I looked up, horrified to see a long gash on the side of Potter’s face.
I had forgotten how to breathe as I looked back at Severus, who had a satisfied smile on his face.
What the hell kind of spell was that? Where had he even learned that? I suddenly felt afraid—afraid of whatever it was that possessed Sev to use a spell like that on Potter, as much as he may have deserved it.
Before I could say anything though, Severus was swept off the ground and lifted into the air. I heard Potter laugh bitterly as Severus’s robes fell over his head.
I looked up at Severus, trying very hard not to smile as his graying underpants gave the entire student body a show.
Oh come on, don’t judge me. You’d laugh too. Don’t deny it.
Severus’s body turned slightly towards me and I dropped the smile from my face immediately, but he had already seen. His dark eyes flashed angrily at me as he hung helplessly and I turned towards Potter who was still enjoying Snape’s humiliation.
"Can't you go one day without hexing someone who doesn't deserve it? Leave him alone," I demanded, trying to insert a tone of authority into my voice. I desperately hoped that Severus would be thankful that I was helping him rather than angry that I had almost laughed.
Potter shrugged and flicked his wand, watching as Severus crumpled to the ground. I let out a deep sigh, sure that this whole ordeal was over, but as soon as Severus gathered himself, he was knocked to the ground as Sirius cast a full body bind on him.
“For Merlin’s sake, STOP!!!” I screamed, my insides constricting as I watched Severus’s eyes dart angrily towards me, silently blaming me for letting this happen.
I raised my hand, still clenched around my wand towards Potter and Black who glanced warily at it then back to Snape.
Behind them, the crowd of students watched us intently and I spotted a group of Slytherins including Mulciber and Avery strutting towards us quickly. The last thing I wanted right now was to get more people involved. This needed to end now.
“Let him go,” I said, my voice breaking slightly from the stress of the situation.
“Fine,” Potter said carelessly, dropping his hand and watching as Severus struggled to his feet. “You’re lucky Evans was here, Snivellus…” (OOTP, 648).
I winced inwardly at the insulting nickname, but the Slytherins were within earshot now and I saw them slip their wands from their robes. Severus glanced back at them quickly and then turned back towards Potter and Black, his face murderously angry.
“I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her (OOTP, 648).”
I froze, my breath escaping me in a whoosh. It felt like I’d been punched in the stomach and had the wind knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t take my eyes off of Severus, who stared coldly at me.
Severus—my Severus—had just called me a… a… Oh Merlin, I couldn’t even think the word.
The boy who had to convince me when I was nine years old that Hogwarts was a real place, the boy who had told me everything about the magical world, who was so excited to show me how wonderful magic could be…
Maybe it was true… everything Scarlet said about him. I had spent so much time trying to understand why he hung around people like Mulciber and Avery, why he snuck around the castle at night, how he would know such foul spells like the one he cast on Potter…. And now it made sense.
He was one of them.
How could I not have seen that? Or maybe I had known deep down and just ignored it.
Well I couldn’t exactly ignore it anymore. If that’s the way he felt, I couldn’t change him. He’d chosen his path…
“Fine,” I answered calmly, my voice sounding like someone else’s. “I won’t bother in the future. And I’d wash your pants if I were you, Snivellus (OOTP, 648).”
Snape barely winced as I used Potter’s degrading nickname for him, something I’d never done before. I saw Potter’s eyes widen in surprise at the venom in my voice and then I was vaguely aware that Potter was bellowing at Snape to apologize to me.
But I was done. With both of them.
If that was how Severus saw me, as just some stupid, filthy mudblood, then so be it.
But Potter had done his damage, too. How he still managed to get under my skin at a time like this was beyond me, but I turned on him with a vengeance.
It was as if a demon had taken over my body. Before I could stop myself I was shouting at Potter, claiming he was just as bad as Severus. All the things I’d longed to say to him for the past five years came spilling out of my mouth. It felt good to yell, even though I knew the person I was really mad at was standing just a few feet to the left.
And somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that yelling at Potter wasn’t going to change anything.
Severus had called me a mudblood, cementing in my mind that I could no longer be friends with him. All those times I’d stuck up for him through the years had been in vain. What had been the point, when he would only come to think of me as just some mudblood?
I don’t remember what Potter responded after I had exhausted my list of grievances against him. I didn’t care. The giant squid itself could have risen out of the lake and eaten him and I don’t think I would have batted an eye. I just wanted to get as far away as possible from everything that had just happened.
Before I was aware of it, I was stomping away across the grounds back towards Scarlet and Anna.
“Lily?” Anna asked, her eyebrows knitting together in concern when I got close.
“Lily, are you alright?” Scarlet sat up on her knees as I approached. Her face was colored with concern and regret.
Oh, god. They heard. They heard everything… and how could they not have? Everyone within a kilometer must have heard. I had screamed at James Potter and Severus Snape had called me a… a…
“You were right,” I said stiffly and Scarlet blinked at me.
“Er…” Scarlet glanced over as Anna who shrugged, unsure of what to do. “Maybe we should go inside…”
“You were right about him, Scar. About everything…” I sank down onto the grass and before I knew it, hot tears were spilling down my cheeks.
“Oh, shit,” Scarlet scrambled to my side and wrapped her arms around me, pressing me tightly against her small frame.
Despite my best efforts to stop, Scarlet’s dark hair was soon sleek with my tears but she just kept holding me.
“Lily,” Scarlet said quietly in my ear. “Just forget about him, alright? He’s not worth it.”
“How could he say that…” I sobbed quietly into her shoulder. “How could he say that to me…”
I felt Anna kneel down in the grass next us.
“It was really awful, what he said,” Anna said quietly. “And I'm not defending him...But, he was being humiliated in front of the entire school -- by his sworn enemy, no less. Anyone would snap in that situation. You yourself took quite a few shots at Potter.”
“I did, didn’t I,” I hiccoughed, lifting my head off Scarlet’s shoulder.
“I particularly liked the bit about his head being too fat for his broomstick,” Scarlet giggled and Anna let out a laugh.
“I can’t believe I said that,” I muttered, wiping the back of my hand across my check.
“His face was priceless,” Scarlet smiled. “He looked like he’d just been castrated.”
I smiled halfheartedly as she and Anna continued to describe the verbal thrashing I’d given Potter in front of the entire school but I wasn’t listening.
That one little word had come ripping through my mind and was echoing over and over in my head.
Mudblood, mudblood, mudblood.
A/N: Ugh, ok so, sorry this chapter took a bit longer to go up... I had to figure out how citing worked and then i had to edit my chapter because I had too many quotes from the book (oopsy). So it's not exactly the way I wanted it, but close enough. And sorry it's a bit shorter than the other chapters, the rest will be longer :)
Anyways, what'd you think? Love it? Hate it? Want to shove Snape's head through a wall? (And James's for that matter)...
Thanks to everyone who's read so far! Your reviews make me do a happy dance :)
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