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Chapter 5 : Gutless Wonder
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I rested my chin on my arms, the grass gently tickling my skin as the warm breeze blew around me. The daisy lying on the grass in front of me shuddered slightly against the breeze; it’s white petals gleaming in the bright sunlight.
I knew I should be practicing for my Transfiguration practical tomorrow. But I honestly didn’t feel like it.
After yesterday all I could think about was… him.
He had come to my dorm last night. Mary McDonald had woken me up saying that he was threatening to sleep in the hall if I didn’t talk to him.
It had been a quick conversation. I wasn’t interested in his apologies. It was already done and he couldn’t take it back.
He said he didn’t mean it… he’d just gotten caught up in the moment, angry that Potter had made a laughing stock of him in front of the entire school.
But I was too hurt to even consider his excuses. What’s done was done.
I stared at the flower, watching the petals dance and sway and I reached out a finger to touch one of the petals. The petal blushed pink at my touch and continued to spread through all the other petals. In just a few seconds, the flower had been stained a dark crimson and I removed my finger, watching as the flower slowly returned to it’s natural white.
I sighed, tears pricking behind my eyes. The first time I’d met him, the first time he told me that what I could do was magic, I had been showing my older sister Petunia my trick with flowers.
That was the beginning of everything. When I started believing that maybe there was something more to me than plain old Lily Evans. It was the day Severus and I became friends… and it was the day that Petunia started hating me for it.
“How on earth do you do that?” Anna knelt down next to me and observed the changing flower with awe.
I shrugged, closing my hand around the flower, feeling the petals smush helplessly in my palm. I rolled over onto my back, staring upwards at the cloudless sky.
“Well, when you’re done playing Mother Nature, will you please help me with Transfiguration?” Anna griped, tossing her golden hair over her shoulder.
I grumbled something incoherent and draped an arm over my face, shielding my eyes from the sun.
“My, you’re in a charming mood today,” Scarlet commented from where she lay on the grass.
“Well, can you blame her?” Anna asked quietly and I grimaced.
“New subject, please,” I said flatly, not moving from where I lay.
“You still seeing Alex tonight?” Scarlet asked idly. She knew the absolute last thing I wanted to talk about was a certain Slytherin and I was grateful she hadn’t pressed the subject.
“Yes,” I said, the queasy feeling in my stomach subsiding slightly at the mention of my boyfriend.
“Are things still going well with you two?”
“I think so,” I said slowly. “I mean, we’ve been so busy with O.W.L.s that I haven’t gotten to see him much lately. We’ve both been stressed. But I’m sure it’s fine. Nothing’s changed has it?”
“True…” Scarlet mused, twirling her dark hair around her finger and she dropped her eyes back to her notes.
“Please help me with this spell, Lily,” Anna begged, kneeling beside me and nudging me slightly. “My parents are going to kill me if I fail my Transfiguration O.W.L.”
“Fine,” I sighed, hoisting myself off the grass and positioning myself next to Anna. “What do you need help with?”
“Avis…” Anna said, consulting her open Transfiguration book. “All that happens is an explosion of feathers out the end of my wand. That’s can’t be right…”
I tried not to laugh at that as I pulled my wand from my pocket and got to my feet.
I raised my wand, bringing it down with a flourish, repeating the incantation. A bang like a gun sounded and several small yellow birds shot out the end of my wand, circling high in the air before fluttering lightly to the ground around me.
“The wand movement needs to be really precise and forceful,” I offered, trying to think of anything else that might help Anna.
Anna raised her wand, copying my stance and cried the incantation as she brought her wand down. An enormous bang exploded out of her wand, obscuring us in smoke and knocking her off balance. My little yellow birds vanished into the smoke as Anna toppled into me, knocking us both to the ground.
“Oops,” Anna said quietly from on top of me as Scarlet roared with laughter.
“I don’t think you’ll pass your O.W.L. if you blow up your examiner,” A smug voice floated across the lawn to us and Anna scrambled off me as four figures approached our spot by the lake.
I let out an audible groan at the familiar voice. Just what I wanted today: an extra dose of Marauder.
“Go to hell, Potter,” I grumbled, as Anna helped me to my feet. I really should think of some better comebacks… my usual standbys were getting stale. Or maybe my brain was still full of smoke from Anna’s spell.
Scarlet giggled quietly next to me. Even after yesterday’s stunt, Scarlet still smiled warmly at Sirius and the other Marauders. I’d be a hypocrite though, if I said she should be just as angry with them as I was.
“Come on, Evans. Lighten up,” Potter said, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I shrugged his hand off my shoulder, crossing my arms to stop myself from hexing him. I was a Prefect after all, and couldn’t be seen hexing people for fun, unlike some people…
I glowered at him and opened my mouth to retort when I saw a dark figure advancing on us from the corner of my eyes.
I whipped my head to the side and then groaned again when I realized who it was. Wasn’t it bad enough that Potter was here right now? I didn’t want to deal with him too.
“Lily, I need to talk to you. Please,” a low, dark voice said. It took my eyes a second to adjust to the sudden shadow that Severus Snape’s body cast over my face.
“Ah! Snivellus!” Potter said gleefully, his face splitting into an even bigger smile. “Come back for more?”
“Hi, Snivelly!” Sirius called happily from where he had sat down with Scarlet, waving enthusiastically.
“I have nothing to say to you,” I said frostily to Severus, who had turned rigidly away from the Marauders to face me.
“Is he bothering you?” Severus asked me, his long dark hair falling into his face as his dark eyes flickered to Potter and back to me.
“Yes, but I don’t remember asking you for help. I’m perfectly capable of getting rid of him myself,” I said coldly.
“You don’t seem to be doing too good of a job,” Severus retorted darkly.
“Why, because I’m just a mudblood?” I said icily, and I heard a collective gasp from the group standing around us.
“No, that’s… that’s not what I meant!” Severus sputtered, getting flustered.
“Yeah, well you seemed to mean it yesterday,” I said angrily.
“I’ve tried to apologize for that! I was trying to apologize again!” Severus replied anxiously.
“Apologize all you want, it still doesn’t change the fact that you said it,” I stepped lightly away from him.
“Lily, just listen to me,” Severus pleaded. “I’m sorry I called you a… a you-know-what.”
“Sev, please,” I tried to make my voice forceful but it broke on the last word. I couldn’t deal with this right now. “Just leave me alone.”
Severus stared at me for a second, surprised at the venom in my voice. Finally, his shoulders slumped and he gave up. I closed my eyes, willing away the tears that I knew were coming. It was going to take me a long time to get over this, but it had to be done. I couldn’t be friends with him anymore.
“You know, I would never call you that,” Potter sidled up to me as Severus stalked away.
I rolled my eyes, taking a seat in the grass next to Anna.
“No, but you would turn my hair green before every Hogsmeade visit, hang my knickers from the chandeliers in the Great Hall, bewitch my books to sing loudly every time I open them, and pay everyone in our year five galleons to call me ‘Louise’ for a week,” I ticked his indiscretions off on my fingers, naming only the most recent of his attacks.
“Ha, I forgot about Louise…” Scarlet chuckled and I threw my Transfiguration book at her.
“Not to mention you humiliated my oldest friend in front of the entire school,” I stared angrily at Potter. “Didn’t you get enough yesterday? I thought that verbal thrashing would have been enough to keep you at bay for at least a week.”
“Nah, I know you didn’t mean it. Besides, I wouldn’t have to tease you so much if you’d go out with me,” Potter flashed a brilliant smile at me. It was the kind of smile that made every other girl around here spontaneously combust, but I glared back, immune to his seductive powers.
“Date the giant squid, I know,” Potter interrupted me, rolling his bright hazel eyes. “You should pick a more disgusting creature next time if you’re going to try and make a point. Because Reynaldo’s really quite lovely once you get to know him.”
“You named the giant squid Reynaldo?” I said, narrowing my eyes at him, momentarily distracted from my deep hatred of the boy.
“’Course we did,” Sirius shrugged like it was the most normal thing in the world to be on a first-name basis with the giant sea monster that inhabited the lake.
“I’ll make you a deal,” Potter said dropping onto the grass in front of me. “I’ll stop asking you out when you say yes.”
“Or you could just stop asking me out,” I said pointedly. “I have a boyfriend, anyways. “
“You what!?” All four of the Marauders yelped in unison, causing Scarlet to accidentally rip a page out of her notes. She whacked Sirius across the head and then went back to studying, completely uninterested in the current conversation.
“She and Alex Winchester have been official for a few weeks now,” Anna said like it was obvious. “I’m surprised you hadn’t heard…”
“I thought you didn’t date Hogwarts boys?” Remus asked, glancing quickly at Potter and then back to me.
“Just because I didn’t date before doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have. No one interesting enough ever asked before Alex,” I shrugged, watching with satisfaction as Potter winced slightly at that.
“Well, it’s not it’s going to last,” Potter sneered, regaining himself.
“And why not?” I asked, my fingers curling tightly around my wand.
“He’s a Hufflepuff, Evans,” Potter said. “Everyone knows they’re gutless prats.”
“Alex isn’t gutless,” I said through clenched teeth.
“In Care of Magical Creatures last year a bowtruckle took a swipe at him and he fainted. Like actually fainted…” Sirius laughed and Peter dissolved into giggles. Remus, who had settled himself under a tree, was eyeing his friends warily.
“And the cockatrice? He was so scared of it he was almost crying,” Potter said, a smile spreading across his face. “Come to think of it, they were all crying…”
Peter laughed even harder, and Remus remained unmoved beneath his tree, his face now hidden completely behind his Transfiguration book.
My fingers tightened around my wand as I uncrossed my arms and aimed it directly at Potter.
“How about I turn you into a cockatrice, Potter,” I said angrily, watching with satisfaction as a hint of intimidation flashed across Potter’s face. “Wouldn’t be laughing so hard then, would you?”
“Going to hex me, Evans?” Potter asked calmly, his eyes locked on mine.
For a moment, I seriously considered it; the image of Potter’s head attached to the top of the chicken-like creature was very tempting. I was still harboring some major animosity from yesterday, but out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure walking towards us. A tall, brown haired figure with a gold badge pinned to his robes…Alex.
“No,” I said lowering my wand, and pushing myself off the ground. “Not today…”
Alex closed the distance between us and I threw my arms around him, my happiness at the sight of him overwhelming.
“Alex, it’s been ages. I’m so glad you’re here,” I sighed, leaving my arms draped around his neck. “I haven’t seen you since Tuesday. I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve just been studying,” Alex shrugged, eyeing the Marauders warily.
“Let’s go for a walk,” I suggested, noticing Potter’s and Black’s eyes on us.
“So…how are your exams going?” I asked, trying to strike up conversation. We were still at that wtf-do-we-talk-about stage in the relationship where conversation didn’t quite come easily yet, despite my best efforts. “I’m so glad they’re almost done. I should have studied more though… I felt totally unprepared for History of Magic.”
Alex didn’t respond and I glanced around us, making sure we were alone. I didn’t understand why he still had that impassive expression on his face. It made me uncomfortable to see him looking so serious. He wasn’t normally like this… His exams must really be stressing him out.
We had stopped along a low stone wall that joined with the owlery, the same spot where we had first decided to be official.
I sat down on the wall, my eyes following his every move. Why wasn’t he looking at me?
“I think we need to talk,” Alex said, sitting on the low stonewall next to me. My heart thudded loudly.
“Erm…” Alex shook his head, as if he were trying to get his thoughts straight. I kept my eyes down, not wanting to see his face anymore.
“Just say it, Alex,” I said quietly, forcing myself to speak. I didn’t want to believe what he was about to do, but it was hard to misread his body language anymore. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized it sooner. He hadn’t been studying the past couple days… he’d been avoiding me.
I mean, come on universe. What else can you throw at me?
“Look,” Alex said, and I could feel his eyes on me, though I didn’t return his gaze. “I don’t think… I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
It felt like ice had flooded through my body and a sick feeling wound its way into my stomach. This feeling was familiar… I’d felt it yesterday with Severus. Why was this happening?
I would never hear the end of this from the Marauders… dumped. By a Hufflepuff, no less. And single once again. But wait… was I seriously thinking about the Marauders right now? Alex was breaking up with me.
“Oh,” was all I could manage.
“It’s just….not working out,” Alex said letting out a deep sigh.
“That’s it?” I said angrily, my temper rising. “I mean…just a few weeks ago you said you wanted me to be your girlfriend…”
“That’s not really—“ Alex started but I cut him off.
“Alex,” I said staring at him furiously. “You owe me more explanation than that.”
“I don’t know what to say,” he said, breaking eye contact.
“Merlin, Potter was right, you lot are gutless,” I burst angrily, shoving myself off the wall and starting to walk away.
“I slept with Katie Bishop,” I heard Alex say quietly and I stopped dead in my tracks.
I heard him wrong… I must have heard him wrong!
I pressed a hand over my mouth, as if that would stop the tears that I knew were coming.
“You what?” I whispered, slowly turning back towards him, tears welling up in the corners of my eyes. My head was suddenly swimming with images of the Katie Bishop, the sixth year Hufflepuff with her tall slim figure and dark hair.
“It just kind of…happened,” he said, not meeting my eyes. I felt the tears trail down my blazing cheeks now but I didn’t bother stopping them.
“How could you do something like that?” I whispered, unable to banish the unwanted images from my head.
“I don’t know…it was just….she was there and you… weren’t. And she was… different,” Alex muttered lamely, still staring at his hands.
“Different?” I repeated incredulously. “Different than what?”
“Well…. You,” Alex said slowly, still not meeting my bloodshot eyes. “This thing, you and I, well….You’re not really what I expected, I guess.”
“What did you expect?” I asked in a hurt, shaky voice. I kept waiting for this nightmare to end. Why wasn’t I waking up? This had to be a nightmare! First Severus, now this? What could I possibly have done to deserve this? Wasn’t losing my oldest friend bad enough for now?
But sure, go ahead and throw in a cheating boyfriend. No big deal.
“I dunno… I guess I didn’t expect you to be so… serious about everything. School, Prefect duties… you take it all so seriously. We’re only barely sixteen, Lily,” Alex said quietly, avoiding my gaze. “You’re smart, and that’s one of the reasons I liked you to begin with but you can be really… intense about it sometimes, and kind of a know-it-all.”
A know-it-all? Well, I’d definitely heard that before. The Marauders called me that and a thousand other names on a regular basis but for some reason it hurt a lot more hearing Alex use it as a reason to not be with me…
“And I thought maybe once we started dating that… I dunno,” Alex broke off shaking his head. “I mean, I know we’ve all been stressed with exams, but it’s like even so, you never put any effort into your appearance. You don’t even try. I need someone I’m not embarrassed to be seen with.”
“Excuse me?” I blinked, completely dumfounded by his words. So I wasn’t pretty enough too? He was actually embarrassed to be seen with me.
“I’m sorry,” Alex said slowly, and I couldn’t help doubting whether he meant it. “She was there and she was interested, and you just never seemed to be interested, you know, like that anymore – you’re always studying.”
“So its my fault then,” I said, my voice shaking with anger. “Because I’d rather spend my time studying than shagging you in a broom closet or slathering on makeup like some filthy slag?”
Alex said nothing. He sat there, staring at his hands for a moment until he stood up and looked at me sadly.
“I’m sorry,” he said, dropping his eyes. “It wasn’t working out anyways, whether I slept with her or not. I am really sorry that it had to end like this though…”
When I didn’t say anything, he shoved his hands into his pockets and walked away, leaving me standing there alone.
I stared after him until he was out of sight. I was speechless. My heart was thumping wildly in my chest. I could hardly believe that just happened. Alex… saying all those things. My Alex…well, not anymore. He had barely been my Alex and yet somehow this hurt more than anything else I’d ever experienced.
If someone had told me a week ago that Alex was going to cheat on me, I would have hexed them into oblivion. Now I didn’t know what to believe.
Everything was being turned upside down. I felt like I was losing my grip on reality. I had been wrong about Severus, I had been wrong about Alex… what else was I wrong about?
Alex’s words kept running through my head… a know-it-all, too perfect, too intense, not pretty enough. The words stung as they repeated over and over in my head.
Not pretty enough… of all the things he’d said, that hurt the most. I’d heard everything before, mostly from the Marauders. But I’d always thought that I was at least interesting looking. I mean I didn’t spend hours brushing my hair; I usually kept it pulled back in a ponytail. It was just easier that way. And I’d never felt like I needed makeup. I knew I shouldn’t dwell on it… if he didn’t want me, then fine.
I wiped the stale tears from my cheeks and willed my bloodshot eyes to return to their normal bottle green.
I walked slowly back towards my friends. I felt like I was in someone else’s body. I couldn’t feel anything…
I’d hoped the Marauders had left by now, but my hopes sank when I saw that Scarlet and Anna weren’t alone. Well, I wasn’t about to tell them what happened with Alex in front of the Marauders.
Anna and Scarlet looked up expectantly as I approached them and I saw them exchange worried looks at my obviously still bloodshot eyes.
“Are you ok, Lily?” Anna asked as I sat stiffly on the ground next to Scarlet.
“I’ll tell you later,” I muttered so only they could hear.
“How’s pretty-boy Hufflepuff?” Potter sniffed as he continued twirling his wand around his fingers.
I ignored him and instead held out my hand letting one of my remaining yellow birds hop carefully into my open palm.
“Come on, then,” Potter goaded me as I tapped the bird with my wand, turning it to stone. “Didn’t he want to come back and study with us? Or is he still sore about the Quidditch finals? Honestly, it was a pretty embarrassing loss. I think that was the shortest match in Hogwarts history.”
“Maybe saw a flobberworm and died of fright,” Sirius said, warranting a snort of laughter from Peter.
I clenched my teeth, muttering “Piertotum Locomotor”. The little stone bird fluttered its granite wings, turning its small head this way and that.
Ignore them, Lily, just ignore them, I thought, concentrating very hard on the bird.
“Well, flobberworms are pretty fearsome,” Potter said gravely, watching my little stone bird wander curiously through the grass. “Their lack of teeth and general slimy-ness are enough to make even the strongest man tremble in fear.”
“Shut up, will you?” Anna hissed, noticing that my knuckles had turned white from gripping my wand so hard.
“Finite,” I muttered, and the little stone bird stopped moving, frozen with its wings stretched out, about to take flight.
“Why? It’s not like we’re insulting him to his face,” Sirius said innocently, his silver eyes sparkling in the sun.
“Oh, you say that like you haven’t insulted him to his face,” Scarlet rolled her eyes at him.
“Hey, its not our fault if he overheard us talking about him that one time,” Potter said shrugging.
“Nosy git couldn’t help it with those big ears,” Sirius muttered, and Potter let out a laugh.
I flicked my wand, meaning to vanish the little stone bird but instead the statue exploded into a thousand pieces.
“Hey, watch it, Evans,” Potter hissed, shielding his face against the debris. “I don’t think your examiner will be too pleased if you embed shards of stone in his brain.”
“Ah, I think she’s just mad ‘cos we’re having a go at her boyfriend,” Sirius smirked.
“He’s not my boyfriend anymore, all right?” I said sharply, flicked my wand again, vanishing the shards of stone. “We just broke up.”
“What?!” Scarlet and Anna both shrieked, making me jump.
“Doth mine ears deceive me?” Sirius said theatrically, holding a hand up to his ear. “Did you really say that you’ve split up with the gutless wonder? Well, that was fast.”
“Sirius this isn’t funny,” Scarlet snapped angrily, punching his arm.
“Well it’s a little funny,” Potter said, shrugging playfully, his voice considerably more cheerful. “Say, Evans. Since you’re single now…“
“I swear to Godric, Potter, if you ask me out I will hex you,” I growled, my hand gripping my wand tightly in the pocket of my robes.
I was on my feet now, anger suddenly coursing through me... Anger at Alex for what he’d done, anger at Potter for existing, anger at Severus for betraying me, anger at this whole damn situation and this whole damn week…
I became aware that Anna was tugging at my robes, trying to pull me away from Potter.
“Come on, Lily, let’s go inside,” she whispered urgently at me.
I stared murderously at Potter for a minute before loosening my grip on my wand. Finally I gave in and let her steer me across the sloping lawn towards the castle, with Scarlet close behind.
“You really need to loosen up, Evans. Have a little fun,” I heard Potter call after me. “I could show you a good time…”
Before Anna or Scarlet could stop me, I had whipped out my wand and with a bang, Potter was sprawled on his back. Dark grey tentacles had replaced his legs and he clutched at them frantically as little suctions sprung up all over the underside.
“If you love the giant squid so much, why don’t you go join him?” I shrieked at him, while Anna tried with no success to pull me towards the castle.
“Well, seeing as I’m practically am a squid now, will you go out with me?” Potter yelled back at me. Sirius roared with laughter and Remus glanced warily over his book at the scene in front of him before lowering his eyes and pretending that one of his best mates wasn’t slowly turning into a cephalopod.
I growled in anger and flicked my wand again, watching in delight as Potter started spewing thick, black ink everywhere.
“James! You inked on me!” Sirius yelped, leaping away from his friend and then howling in laughter as Peter got a face-full of ink. I could have sworn I saw Remus laughing silently as he held up his enormous book to shield himself from the onslaught of ink.
With a satisfied smile, I turned back towards the castle. Maybe I was an uptight know-it-all but on the plus side, I’d mastered human transfiguration better than anyone else in the entire school.
A/N: Hey everyone! Sorry it took so long for a new chapter! I got totally swamped with stuff, but anyways, here's a new chapter! Hooray! Poor Lily... she just can't catch a break.
Thanks so much to everyone who has reviewed so far! They make me so happy!
Anyways, I'd love to hear what you though! Leave a review!
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