Chapter 1 : Prejudice
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Does it make a difference, being muggleborn?”
“No. It doesn’t make any difference”
(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33, p. 535)
Lily remembered her friend’s words and marveled, not for the first time, at the lie. She often wondered where that kind boy was, if he was buried somewhere under the contempt she so often saw in his eyes when he looked at her. She had, for so long, held out hope that her friend was still in there, even after he’d called her “mudblood” for the first time in fifth year.
Even now, nearly two years later, she felt a clench in her gut when she thought of that time, when they had stopped being friends. He had tried to apologize, but she had finally understood that a “mudblood” is what she is, and even though Severus had tried to ignore it for many years, he would never see her, or those like her, as anything but inferior.
She could hardly believe how long it had taken her to see it, but now, sitting alone in the Great Hall as she drank coffee and watched sleepy students wander in for breakfast, it seemed so clear.
It was just the way things were, and it had always been this way. If Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin, the founders of Hogwarts, could not get past dirty blood, how could she expect any pure blood witch or wizard to?
It was early, the first day back to class after the Christmas break. Her best friend Lena had returned late the night before and was trying to sleep as late as possible. Lily put aside a piece of toast to bring up to her.
She watched as some younger students from Ravenclaw wandered in, going directly to the end of their table the furthest from the door, chatting happily.
As she took another sip of her lukewarm cup of coffee, the young group fell silent as an older group of Slytherins strolled past them. Lily narrowed her eyes as her Head Girl instincts kicked in. The first day back to class rarely went by without some sort of incident; she was on high alert. But the older group passed and the second years breathed a sigh of relief.
But that instant, the pitcher in front of the Ravenclaws burst, showering them with pumpkin juice. The half-filled hall burst out laughing, and the young students hurried out of the hall, faces beet red.
Lily scowled as she spotted the prankster, a fifth year Ravenclaw, high-fiving a passing Hufflepuff. Sure, there no harm done, it was just a little fun between house-mates.
But Lily knew, as did everybody else, that those second years were muggleborns, and the fifth year girl who’d had her fun was a pure-blood. Everyone pretended not to notice.
Lily was so lost in her own thoughts that she didn’t notice when someone sat down next to her until he waved a fork in front of her face. “Earth to Lily...”
She blinked, and turned to the sandy-haired boy with a grin. “Good morning Remus, have a good holiday?” she asked.
“Sure, it was fine. I spent the New Years at the Potter’s with Sirius and Peter. It was a time.”
Lily raised an eyebrow. “I’m not going to ask what sort of trouble you boys got into.” Judging by the half-amused, half-sheepish smile on Remus Lupin’s face, she didn’t want to know.
“Speaking of, where are the Head Boy and his groupies?”
Remus couldn’t respond with his face full of bacon, but her question was answered as the three sauntered through the doors and took seats opposite Lily.
“Hullo Evans, good Christmas?” asked Sirius Black as he reached over her plate for a cup of coffee.
She smiled up at him, “It was nice, quiet. Remus was just telling me that you boys had a good holiday.”
Sirius laughed, looking much more content with a cup of coffee in his hand. He leaned back, letting his dark hair fall back off his face and said, “I hope he didn’t say too much. I can’t have you getting us into trouble with your please-men.”
Lily’s eyes widened. She couldn’t decide if she was amused or apprehensive when James Potter took his face out of his porridge to say tiredly, “Policemen, Sirius.”
He shot Lily a mischievous look through his wire-rimmed glasses as he continued, “Just because you wanted to call Miss Evans when they let you have your one phone call...”
“She’s the only girl I know with a tele-thingy!” Sirius interrupted, defensively.
Their shortest friend sniggered into his juice. “Telephone. But she’s the only girl you know who’d help you if you were in jail, period,” Peter Pettigrew teased. Sirius ignored him.
Lily shook her head, but was amused nonetheless, “I can’t believe you got arrested. I really don’t want to know.” She stood up to bring Lena her breakfast before they were both late for class.
“Oh, Potter,” Lily remembered after she had taken a few steps, “We should meet up later to go over the prefect schedules for this term.”
She took another step closer, determinedly ignoring the dark-haired Slytherin passing behind her.
James ran a hand through his messy black hair and grinned up at her. “Sure thing, Lily. 7:00 in our office?”
She could feel the Slytherin boy glaring daggers at the lot of them as he walked by. She clamped her hand over Sirius’ as it inched closer to his wand, his eyes following Severus as he walked away, and smiled back at James.
“Sure. See you guys later.” And ignoring Sirius’ pout, she gave the boys a quick wave and went to find her friend.
She could feel Severus’ eyes still on her back until she left the Great Hall. She wasn’t sure why she’d even bothered to stop Sirius from pranking her former friend.
Lost in thought, someone walked straight into her, making her lose balance and topple down the few stairs she’d just walked up.
Giggles erupted around her and she clenched her teeth to not snap at whoever had walked into her. She found herself looking up into the eyes of a sixth year Gryffindor girl, Christina Clearwater, who she had never gotten along with.
Neither spoke. The sixth year didn’t give her a second glance as she walked away. Lily picked herself up from off the ground, rubbing her elbow and rolling her eyes. Christina was a seventh-generation pureblood witch.
Of course, most people were kind, they didn’t intentionally treat her or other muggleborns differently, but ever since she had arrived at Hogwarts, the undercurrent of prejudice was there. She was a different class, and no matter who tried to bridge that gap, be it Godric Gryffindor, Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape or the four boys who called themselves “Marauders”, the fact remained that being a muggle born made you a second-class citizen.
The words that Severus Snape had told her seven years ago taunted the Head Girl as she made her way to Gryffindor Tower. “Does it make a difference, being muggleborn?” She had asked him.
He had said, “No. It doesn’t make any difference.” (DH, 535)
She wondered if he had ever believed the lie, if anyone actually believed it. As she crawled through the portrait hole, Lily wondered if she had ever really believed it herself.
* * *
Note: I do not own anything you recognize. The quote is from Chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows, when Harry is watching Snape's memories in the Pensieve.
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