The morning after the night before. A companion piece to this fic is up on my Author's Page, so check that out if you feel like it :)
gorgeous chapter image by !obsessed@TDA
When I’d told the girls about the Halloween party antics the next day at breakfast, they’d been shocked and horrified on my behalf. Obviously.
The Gryffindor table was set out with a veritable plethora of autumn themed breakfast foods, and I’m sure that some of the food from the feast last night had been recycled into this latest meal. I’m not cynical, but we’d never had so many hash browns at breakfast before, and there was a distinct aftertaste of pumpkin in the fruit salad.
“He kissed you?!” Kim screeched excitedly through a mouthful of buttery toast. Kim ate the most but stayed the skinniest: something that was becoming more and more enviable as I spooned muesli with low-fat milk into my mouth. Kim had missed everything last night: she’d been too preoccupied with Marcus Heathcoat on the dance floor.
“James punched him?” Isa scoffed. “Good.” She’d never liked Severus, or anybody that hated Muggles, especially because for the last two years she’d had a massive crush on the Muggle-boy next door. Isa, totalling at a tiny five foot nothing, was the most outspoken of our group, even more so than Sirius and James.
“He called you perfect?” Alice sighed dreamily. She was the most rational and level-headed of the group, but when it came to romance she was a hopeless optimist.
“Can we not talk about this here?” I grimaced, looking around at the busy great hall. Remus and Sirius sat tenderly in a corner near the exit, where it tended to be quieter and mellower. Peter had resurfaced only to swiftly leave at the sight of porridge, and James hadn’t even turned up. Despite the distinct lack of the boys, I still didn’t want to risk our gossip being overheard and misconstrued. “You could come to my dorm later.” I suggested hopefully.
“Won’t James be there?” Isa asked curiously, dipping her spoon in her second bowl of muesli. Isa didn’t get hangovers, she got hungry. I shook my head.
“We can talk in my room. Meet there after last period?” I finished my water and stood to leave for Herbology.
“See you there.” Isa and Kim waved as Alice followed me to the decrepit old greenhouse.
“He loves you, Lily.” Alice told me as we walked. I laughed humourlessly at her benign assumption.
“Oh dream on Alice, he doesn’t love me. He only wants to date me because I don’t want to date him!” I told her adamantly. I was confident that James Potter didn’t really love me, but I did have to admit that the way that he was acting recently was markedly different from the bullying toe rag I used to know. She shrugged as we entered the cold grounds.
“I don’t know Lily, when was the last time he dated somebody else?” I paused for a moment. It was true; I hadn’t heard rumours about him and anybody else for almost half a year.
“He’s probably just busy with Quidditch and the Order. I’m sure...” I trailed off as we entered the greenhouse, where James and Sirius already sat. I shook my head at Alice. “We’ll talk about this later.”
James had ignored me all lesson, not that I’d tried to speak to him either. Alice and Sirius had done enough talking for the both of us though, as they began to argue the merits of daisies over nettles. I’m sure that Sirius was only arguing for the sake of it: he knew nothing about daisies or nettles and I didn’t imagine that he knew very much about Herbology at all. All my lessons that day were with James, but our uneasy silence lasted throughout.
After Herbology was Potions with the Slytherins. Jenna Iles and her vindictive posse were there, and today they had a renewed sense of hatred for me.
“Hey Su, can you smell that?” Jenna asked.
“Yeah I can, it’s like somebody trod in a load of mud
.” Su sneered. Isa, who was sitting next to me, span around to face them.
“What is your problem Iles?” She hissed through her teeth.
“She is.” Jenna sneered, pointing maliciously at me. “Her, as well as every other mud-blood who come here: stealing our education.” Slughorn was in the potions cupboard, but the attention of most of the class was now directed towards us. I blushed furiously as I tugged on Isa’s arm.
“Leave it Ice.” I mumbled, embarrassed. She shook her head, and stood. Even standing, she barely had a height advantage.
“So what, her parents are Muggles, so she doesn’t deserve to be here? That’s what you’re saying?” Isa laughed humourlessly.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Jenna retaliated, standing up as well. The desk that separated the tiny Spanish girl and the platinum haired harpy was looking increasingly smaller as each girl leant forward into the others face. “She’s filth.” She hissed. I closed my book as I struggled not to cry. The other Slytherins began to mumble words of approval as my friends shouted abuse and protests and Jenna. I was aware of Kim and Alice watching us from across the class. “And everybody here knows it.”
“Not what your friend Snape said last night.” Sirius chirped from next to James. Jenna glanced at Severus, who was furiously writing in his tattered Potions book and ignoring the people looking at him.
“Like he’d ever talk to something so repulsive.” Su Sochacki, who harboured a not-so-secret crush on Severus, laughed loudly as Jenna spoke.
“You twisted little harpy!” Isa whipped out her wand, causing Jenna and her friends to do the same. Alice leapt up and pulled out her wand as well, as did Sirius and James, the latter of whom had probably been listening all along. Peter and Kim were the only Gryffindors who were left seated: Kim would do more damage that Jenna and Peter wasn’t a duellist, even if it was the unrequited love of his life (Isa, not me...) that needed defending.
“How do you live with yourself Reyes?” Sneered Jenna. “We all know that you just love Muggles, but can you not keep it to yourself? It’s disgusting.”And with that, Isadora Reyes was silenced from shock, and I’d had enough. Insulting me was one thing, but bullying Isa was another. Standing, I turned around to face Jenna.
“What’s disgusting is your poisonous attitude.” I heard the potions cupboard door open, but the anger that I felt had quelled my common sense. “My parents might be Muggles, but at least they never helped to kill innocent people.” The Gryffindors shouted agreement: everybody knew the Iles’ ties with Voldemort. “People are being killed everyday thanks to those venomous opinions you propagate, and we’re the ones who are supposed to feel ashamed? You’re sick, and you’re the one who doesn’t deserve to be here.” I placed a hand on Isa’s shoulder; she was shaking with anger. She reluctantly sat down, as did I. The adrenaline rush through my body meant that I was still rearing for a fight, and I couldn’t help feel jittery.
“Sit down Miss Iles;” Slughorn commanded. “You’re lucky that I’m not giving you a detention.” Slughorn faced the board, but turned around with a stern look on his face. “Lily, I’d like to see you after dinner tonight.” Slughorn sternly told me. “My office.” I blanched. What had I done wrong?!
“Open your books to page 173,” he sat at his desk. “Today we will be studying growth potions.”
I’d had the rest of the day to calm down somewhat, so when we headed back to the common room after Defence Against the Dark Arts with the Puff’s- a lesson that all four of us girls had together- I felt a lot calmer and a lot less homicidal. I’d asked them not to mention Potions again, and they’d happily complied. It was embarrassing to be tormented and picked on all the time and I certainly didn’t want to be reminded of it in my free time.
Alice opened the staircase as I went to the ice-cold alcove and took out four cauldron cakes and some sandwiches to tide us over until dinner. Sliding the grill over the alcove, I levitated the platter towards the girls.
“Oh, get some of those macaroons!” Kim chirped as they clambered up the stairs.
“What flavour?” I yelled after her, but if she replied then I didn’t hear her. Opening the grill again, I found three large bowls of assorted macaroons. One bowl was brightly coloured, one pastel, and one the colour of a dark, sumptuous chocolate. The macaroons inside were old-fashioned and matched the colour scheme of the bowls. The butter cream fillings mimicked the shade of the almondy crust, and when I squeezed one of the white-chocolate coloured ones a dark, creamy cocoay paste oozed out. I tasted it, but found that it was too bitter. Instead, I got a bowl of the pastel coloured macaroons and replaced the grill with my free hand. Climbing up the staircase after the girls, levitating feast ahead of me, I heard James and the boys come through the front door. I quickly scurried up before they noticed me, and found Kim and Isa sprawled across my bed haphazardly. Alice was leaning on my desk, carelessly forming a patronus with her wand.
A tiny silver snidget flew animatedly around my dorm room. It was easy to see how the now-critically-rare bird was used as an early Snitch; from the way that it ducked and wove its way easily around the posts of my bed and the dangly lampshade, everything suggested an infallible ease of agility. I was concerned that it might become caught in the netting over my bed, before realising that it wasn’t actually real.
“Let me try.” Kim sat up and clapped excitedly before producing her wand from her sleeve. “Expecto patronum!” Silver wisps extended from her wand, but faded into nothingness before they formed a shape. Defence Against the Dark Arts was a subject lost on Kim and Isa, and they’d have to put a lot more work in if they ever wanted to form fully corporeal patronuses. She looked crestfallen.
“Don’t worry Kim, me and Lily can’t do them either.” Isa sat up and stroked her friend on the arm, earning her a gracious look from the mocha skinned beauty. I carefully put the snacks on the desk and sunk into the giant plush lion toy/seat in the far corner of my room. The walls were a royal gold and all the fixtures, such as lights, curtains and even the scratchy crinoline netting that covered my bed were a deep red. I’m all for house pride, but when your bedroom looks like Godric Gryffindor threw up on it, you’ve got to concede that house pride can be taken too far.
Isa took out her wand and attempted the spell herself. From the sheer capacity of her silver wisps, it was clear that her patronus was going to be large, but apart from that nothing was defined enough for us to guess what it was. She thought it’d be a winged horse of some sort, seeing as she grew up breeding and rearing them.
“Lily, show us yours?” Alice smiled. Begrudgingly, I took out my wand and performed the spell. As I focused on my happiest emotions, a tall, long-legged animal began to take form. My concentration broke as it always did (I wonder if Slughorn’s going to take away House Points...) and it collapsed into thin wisps and then nothingness. I sighed exasperatedly as I placed my wand next to the lion’s paw.
“I think it’s going to be a gazelle or something,” I shrugged, “I can tell it has long legs but that’s about it.” I told them. Alice grinned suggestively.
“Gazelle, sure... or a doe...” She chirped in a sing-song voice. I blushed furiously as the other two girls looked confused.
“What do you mean?” Kim asked her, confused. “Why is she blushing?” She asked again, pointing at me. Alice tried in vain to keep a grin off of her face.
“James got a clear form on his today, didn’t you see?” She raised an eyebrow. Kim shook her head and looked to Isa, who gasped in a resounding clarity. I groaned.
“It was a stag! Lily, you have matching patronuses!” Isa shrieked. I shushed her furiously.
“James is down there!” I reminded her with a hiss. She lowered her voice but not her level of excitement.
“This means that you’re just meant to be together!” Isa sighed. Apparently romance was enough to turn even the most cynical girls into shrieking fools.
“It’s not a doe! It’s barely even formed, oh- I don’t know!” I placed my head in my hands. Alice moved over towards me and placed a friendly hand on my shoulder.
“It’s fine, Lily. If you don’t want to do anything about it then you don’t have to.” I looked up at her. “But you should know that even mine and Frank’s patronuses aren’t related.”
“Really?” Isa asked curiously, chewing on a sandwich. I tried to ignore the knowing in my own stomach; I’d eaten too much today as it was. Alice nodded.
“His is a fossa.” She explained. It was my turn to raise an eyebrow at my closest friend.
“Like the cat?” Isa sounded doubtful, and I had to stifle a laugh.
“Yes.” She curtly told Isa. Alice turned to me. “Lily, patronuses reflect the inner nature of your very souls.” Oh no, she was on one of her spiels again. “Mine’s a snidget, for example. It reflects my almost inhuman speed on a broom and my natural agility.” She bragged. Kim and Isa sat on the bed mimicking her silently. I grinned as Alice turned around and glared at them. “They reflect everything that you are, and for your patronuses to match like that... well, it’s not something I’d ignore. That’s all I’d say.” She shrugged.
Alice was a prat, but in essence what she was saying was true. Patronuses were fragments of your soul that reflected your nature perfectly. Matching patronuses would mean, as cliché as it sounds, that James and I shared aspects of our souls. It meant that we were irrevocably bound to each other from birth. It would mean that we were compatible in the rawest, purest way that two people could be compatible.
Either that or it was a coincidence. A big, fat, random coincidence in all its unplanned glory. My patronus was barely even formed yet; it could be a gazelle, an antelope or even a giraffe! Even if it was a doe, would that mean that we were bound to one another? Deer were pretty common (especially in Fen Ditton, where they’d steal Frank’s tomatoes from the vine in the back garden). I shook my head.
“It’s probably just a coincidence, there’s no reason to make a big deal about it.” I told my friends, and gestured for Alice to pass me the last cauldron cake (I caved). I bit into the sugary goodness as I mulled over the situation I’d found myself in.
I’d ignore it: pretend that it was a coincidence and that part of me didn’t secretly hope that was part of some deeply woven, intricate love story. Would it be pretending if it probably was a coincidence? I didn’t exactly like the man who was destined as the Romeo to my Juliet, but beggars can’t be choosers. Denial is the way forward, I thought dryly to myself as I quashed any hope of a blossoming romance. A doe is innocent, pure and skittish. A stag is brash, loud and for lack of a better word, horny. Why would they ever choose each other?
Later that night, I went to see the Potions Professor and Slytherin Head of House, as instructed. The girls had gorged themselves so completely on macaroons and sandwiches that they hadn’t wanted to go to the evening feast, and there was no way that I could usher them back to their own dorm. I was scared that they’d wreck my room, and that was the thought that preoccupied me as I nervously opened the door to Professor Slughorn’s office and made my way to his desk.
The tiny office was plush and cosy with antique emerald-coloured armchairs and a rich polished mahogany desk that smelt slightly of citrus. Dotted around the room were pictures of Slughorn with various ex-students. I noticed that Marlene and Tim, last year’s Head Girl and Boy, were waving at me from a small frame on the fireplace. I didn’t make a habit of visiting teachers offices, so I was left wondering whether they were all as luxurious yet cramped as this.
Slughorn paced behind his desk as I sat in front of it, wondering why on earth he had called me here when it was Jenna Iles sprouting frankly racist rubbish and Isa threatening to hex her. I was a victim!
“Lily, I’m sure that you know that you are in fact an extraordinary girl.” I was startled as he finally spoke.
“Er, thank you...” I muttered, wondering where he was leading with his praise.
“But it’s true!” He exclaimed, misinterpreting my bewilderment as self-doubt. “You have achieved a great deal at a young age. You’re Head Girl of a school that isn’t entirely accepting of your... kind.” He paused. “You’re one of the brightest and most talented witches that we have here at Hogwarts; in fact Flitwick has always born a grudge that you were sorted into Gryffindor rather than Ravenclaw.” He sat down at his mahogany desk, facing me. “I must admit that I had my doubts about that one too, but when you defied You-Know-Who, you proved that you have not only brains, but bravery.” I felt my cheeks flush their distinctive red.
“Sir, with all due respect, I didn’t defy anybody.” I admitted, embarrassed. “I mean, not really.” He stared at me sternly for a few seconds, before standing once again and resuming his pacing.
“When did you pass your apparation test?” He asked.
“Er, last Spring. March, I think.” I told him, taken aback by the non sequitar question.
“You can apparate well? You don’t have a tendency to splinch?” I grimaced at a memory of Coral, a seventh-year Slytherin and a bit of a tease, splinching her right ear off on one of her first lessons. Slughorn was still waiting for an answer, so I shook my head.
“I’m quite good at it, sir.” I modestly told him.
“Tell me, Lily, did it ever occur to you to simply disapparate when you were first threatened?” He turned to face me as he asked this. To say that I was taken aback was an understatement: in the two and a half months that had passed since the attack, I had never thought of that. I could easily have disapparated away, and I knew that James had passed his apparation test during the summer, so he could have too. His eyes glinted and a smile crossed his face as he realised that his point had hit home.
“Truthfully, you never thought of it did you?” He grinned. I shook my head. Did this really prove I was a true Gryffindor? I still harboured my doubts.
“Lily, I’d like to invite you to a sort of club that I run.” A club? I thought bewildered. “We’re having a celebration before we break up for Christmas, just a select few of the Hogwarts elite, and I’d be honoured if you would come along. Your friend Alice too, best grades in the year and on perfect course to become a top auror, like McKinnon before her.” Slughorn began to ramble about a few of the students that would be in attendance. The way he spoke about us was as if we were prizes to be collected and treasured and I couldn’t help but feel a little proud of myself.
The meeting itself turned out to be more of a party. Isa, as the daughter of the only Winged Horse breeders in the entire United Kingdom, had also been invited. In the seventh year, Slughorn was expanding his club to include not only socialites but talented witches and wizards from their last three years at Hogwarts. Isa hated it; she didn’t like other houses and she didn’t like younger students, but Alice and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to students we’d never talked to before, and vowed to return to the February meeting.
I’d been confused as to why James, richest man at Hogwarts, and Sirius, a close second or third until recently, hadn’t been invited. When I asked them about it, they scoffed and revealed that they had been offered an invite in their sixth year: but were asked not to attend again after one excruciating meeting. According to Sirius, it was a mutual agreement not to return, but James privately told me afterwards that Slughorn had kicked them out.
“We sat opposite Fraser and Niamh.” James explained. Fraser and Niamh Vaisey: childhood sweethearts who had married on her sixteenth birthday at Gretna Green. It sounds romantic, but when you take the fact that her father is a suspected Death Eater and the fact that his mother is an anti-Muggle activist into consideration, the romance loses some of its sparkle somehow.
“So?” I asked petulantly. They were generally nice enough to pure-bloods like the boys, so I couldn’t see why they’d leave the club because of them.
“Fraser asked Sirius asked whether it was all blood-traitors he loved, or just the ones who were richer and uglier than him.” James dryly told me. I stifled a laugh, but nodded sympathetically.
“And then what?” I asked. “You hexed him?” He looked at the ground sheepishly.
“I told him Niamh and Sirius slept together.” He admitted.
“When?!” I shrieked in surprise. To the best of my knowledge, Peter was the only boy in the group to have slept with a girl! And Niamh is married!
“Well, obviously they didn’t, but then he insulted you and I-” He trailed off suggestively. My mood deflated almost instantly and I wasn’t ignorant or masochistic enough to ask what had been said.
“And you what?” I asked plainly.
“I hexed him.” He gloated.
D/A/N: All this belongs to... yep, you guessed it, JKR. ConCrit is greatly appreciated, but I’d also love to hear what you think might happen later on. Don't hit me with the "filler" stick, but this is a bit.