I spent all of Muggle Studies gazing at Gabby darkly. She studiously took notes the whole time, never diverting her attention away from the lecture. To anyone else, I’m sure she looked like she was just the responsible Head Girl listening to the lecture. What a liar.
My gut feeling was that she was the reason I'd woken up as the wrong person that morning. So far everyone else seemed to be in their rightful place. This was why I was watching her. She was bound to slip up. She may have everyone under her thumb, but she wouldn’t con me.
After class I went back to my room and tore it apart looking for my schedule. I finally found it lodged under the mattress of all places and headed off to Transfiguration. I was a little late and received a glare from McGonegall. The boy I sat next to ignored me completely.
I continued to think about this whole alternate universe dilemma. I figured the best way to solve it would be to find my answers in the library. There were a lot of books to go through, so I was anxious for my classes to be over.
The rest of the day turned out to be quite boring. I did not see Gabby or any of my friends until supper, and that was from one table over. I was starting to get the feeling that the Lily Evans of this universe was a bit of a loner. Nobody attempted to start a conversation with me the whole day. It wasn’t as if I was hated by any of them because everyone that had happened to speak to me had been perfectly polite. It was more like they couldn’t help but ignore me. Like I was invisible.
After supper I filed out of the Hall with the rest of the Hufflepuffs, but I silently slipped away towards the direction of the library. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter anyone along the way. My success ran short when I met Madame Pince.
I politely told her that I was there to do research for class and that it was important that I get started tonight. I asked if she would allow me to stay past the library closing hours because I knew that it would only be open for a few more minutes. As more words came tumbling out of my mouth, the librarian’s mouth became smaller and smaller until there was just a set of very pursed lips on her face. A decided no.
She informed me tersely that I was welcome to researching in the library, but I would have to come back the next day. She didn't allow students to be in the library after hours. I translated this to: Madame Pince no longer trusted me around her books. I knew for a fact that Madam Pince (at least the one I knew) did allow students after hours since I have, on countless times, stayed in the library late into the night with her permission.
It had been a long day, so I decided to hit the books the next morning. Thank Merlin it was a Saturday.
I woke early and ate breakfast faster than I had ever done before. I'm not even sure I chewed any of my food. I was eager to begin my research. I began in the Reference Section of the library. I was up to my ears in curse and counter-curse books. I went through books about binding spells, switching spells, transporting spells, you name it, I read it, all to no avail. Not one of them mentioned anything that sounded remotely like the situation I was in.
By supper, when my stomach began to make angry sounds, I decided that the book I was looking for had to have been in the Restricted Section. I would need to tackle that when I wasn’t so hungry.
I sat through supper, now openly glaring at Gabby. Bloody twit. She must have covered her tracks nicely. Here I was, Lily Evans, Forgotten Hufflepuff, sitting alone and there she was at my table, with my friends, laughing at things I should have been laughing at.
I just had to get into that Restricted Section as soon as possible. I could do it after curfew, but by somehow sneaking in without being seen. Having been the goody-two-shoes my entire tenure at Hogwarts, I'd never even been out past curfew aside from when I'd been on patrols duty. This was bound to be interesting.
I decided that ten o’clock was as good a time as any. Madame Pince should have cleared out of the library by then. I quietly tip-toed out of the Common Room, unnoticed, since there were tons of people hanging around. It was Saturday after all and nobody would miss me.
I silently made my way to the library. I had to dodge a few prefects on patrol along the way, but made it nonetheless. I took about three steps into the library before I caught a glimpse of Madame Pince working at her desk. She had the desk lamp on and was bent over some book, reading. Damn it all to hell.
My footsteps were quiet as I backed out of the room. I let out a sigh of frustration after quietly closing the doors again. It felt like my luck had quickly turned rotten since Friday morning. Of course, it was just as I was thinking this that a voice sounded behind me.
“Oi, what are you doing out past curfew?”
I whirled around to find James Potter standing in front of me. He looked so…so in charge that it took me off guard for a moment. “James. I-I was just leaving the library.”
“Are you okay?” His voice sounded concerned.
“You look like you’re about to cry. Are you sure you’re alright?” To my absolute horror, tears began to fall down my cheeks. I tried to swipe them away discreetly, but it was no use. “Hey, what’s the matter?”
That’s when I really lost it. I began to babble to him about alternate universes, and that I wasn’t supposed to be a Hufflepuff, and that I desperately needed to get into the library for answers. I wasn’t sure if he understood any of what I was saying. My voice was distorted with emotion and I wasn’t sure if what I was saying was exactly English.
“Hey, hey.” James gently grabbed my shoulders. He was looking slightly amused after I showed off my babbling skills. “Slow down. Just tell me what happened.”
“Never mind. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Try me. I can keep up. I'm more clever than I look.”
I looked up at his earnest face. His eyes were kinder than I had ever seen them. Actually, I had never really seen this side of James. Which, I conceded, could have technically been considered my fault because I'd never really given him a chance. But he was at fault too for being so blasted annoying all the time.
“No, it's okay. You won't believe me. It is kind of farfetched, even for Hogwarts.” When his earnest expression didn’t change for a long stretch of time, I gave up and told him everything. He surprised me again by listening the entire time without interrupting me once.
“So what you’re saying,” James began slowly after my tale of woe, “is that you somehow switched places with Gabby. You also think the answers are in the Restricted Section, but you need to get past Madame Pince.”
“Why didn’t you just try a Disillusionment Charm?”
“I—huh.” He smiled at my mystified expression. “Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so obvious.”
“You are a bit distraught at the moment. And although I am the Head Boy, I was a Marauder first. I'm sort of really good at subterfuge.”
“True. Anyway, thanks for your help. And for listening.”
“No problem, but if we’re going to do this it should be now. I have a feeling that someone might be coming along this path any time now to finish up their patrols.”
“Wait, what do you me by ‘we’?”
“I’m helping you, obviously.”
I shook my head. “You don’t have to do that, James. I don’t even know how long this will take.”
“Good thing I’ve always been a night person.”
“James, I’m serious.”
“Lily,” he sighed. “I’m helping you. End of story.”
Before I could protest anymore, he was invisible. I followed suit shortly after and we made our way into the library. Madame Pince looked up once, as if sensing that all was not silent within her library. I bumped into the back of him when he stopped under her piercing glance. After a few seconds, she turned her attention back to her work muttering something about "bloody ghosts”. I felt James groping for my hand, and we hurried to the Restricted Section.
“Merlin,” James said, laughing softly. We’d both become visible again, and I could make out the wide grin on his face. “I thought she saw us for sure.”
“Me too. My heart’s racing right now.”
He looked up into the stacks. “Now, where to start?”
Author’s Note: First off, I would like to thank my beta, NaidatheRavenclaw, for her help in editing my chapters. She does an awesome job!
I know this one isn’t all that action packed, but I promise it’ll get better. The next chapter has a lot of interaction between Lily and James. I’m really excited about this story and I hope you continue to read it! Reviews are greatly appreciated and never fail to make me smile (even the ones with some constructive criticism, which is always welcomed).