A/N: Well, it just wouldn't be a chapter of mine if it weren't ridiculously long and complicated. Reviews make my day sunny!

Disclaimer: Own natta.

Chapter 2- "Good Girls Say 'I Love You'"


"Like a Rolling Stone"

Sometimes, she thought that if she stepped off the Astronomy Tower, she would just float away.

He could not remember the last time he'd looked before taking a leap.

She believed in God.

He smoked too much.

She had her first kiss in a sun-soaked garden at the age of fifteen.

He lost his virginity to a girl named Sarah at the age of fifteen.

She wanted to write.

He wanted to play Quidditch.

She thought she was in love and disliked the fact.

He knew he was in love and positively hated it.

She smiled and laughed a great deal.

He did, too.

She was dramatic.

He was dynamic.

She was precise.

He was impulsive.

She excelled in diplomacy.

He excelled in diplomacy, but often resorted to throwing punches instead.

She served seven detentions in as many years.

He served seventy four.

She thought he was barking mad.

He thought she was positively insane.

Whatever else this may turn out to be, it is first and foremost a love story. It is the story of how a boy and a girl came to be—and then to realize that they were—in love with one another. You see, it is probable that falling in love was the most important thing that they ever accomplished, and they accomplished a number of quite important things. He was James, and she was Lily, and one day they shared a kiss, but before that they shared many arguments, for he was cocky, and she was sweet, and matters of the heart can require time.

It began—he would later speculate as he stared down the end of a wand that could very easily kill him—with a punch. A simple movement of his arm as his fist came into contact with Nicolai Mulciber's jaw, throwing the latter to the ground and causing quite a bit of a stir.

It began—she would later speculate as she stood by the threshold of a room wondering if this could ever work—with a kiss: the simple movement of standing on her toes and embracing Luke Harper on the train station platform at Hogsmeade village.

Whether he or she was actually correct is not a matter for us to discern, but either way, both were agreed that "it" began on September 1st, 1975: the first day of their sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And, simply for the sake of chronology, this story begins with the event that she claimed initiated everything. She stood on the Hogsmeade platform at approximately half past seven p.m. on September 1st, seeing her boyfriend of two months for the first time in two days, and they kissed.

(I Love You)

Luke Harper's lips were warm. He was soft, unassuming, and cautious, moving slowly and taking his cues from her. There was no music, but the kiss seemed to err on the side of romantic. That was fortunate—she thought—because her character was decidedly romantic. She watched black and white movies and liked the look of snow in her hair, for goodness sake; of course romantic was a good thing. Of course she wanted... why the hell was her mind wandering like this? She was supposed to be making out with her boyfriend, not... Good Lord.

They broke apart, and he smiled his beautiful, classic, even-toothed smile. It was quite possibly his best feature, and it made the ensuing fifteen seconds or so of silence between them quite nice. Lily Evans had spent most of the summer with Luke Harper, so a kiss on the train platform was not, perhaps, as dramatic a gesture as it could have been, but they had been separated for the past two days, so there was some sense of long-awaited reunion.

The sky had begun to grow dark, and the torches of Hogsmeade station had been lit when the Hogwarts Express pulled into the station some ten minutes prior; now, nearly all of the train's two hundred fifty or so passengers were disembarked and preparing to set off for the castle that was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The dim moonlight just barely illuminated the lengthy path to the castle turned school doors. Hogwarts' first years had been shuttled off by the caretaker, Hagrid, towards the boats that would bear them across the lake and to the path, while the upperclassmen were starting for the horseless carriages that took the alternate path through the village of Hogsmeade.

In the poor lighting, Luke did not look his best, but that didn't mean he was not absolutely gorgeous, with smooth brown hair, tender brown eyes, and, naturally, that smile. Even when Lily found herself irritated with Luke—a rare occasion in and of itself—that smile made her stomach flip. Now, as her hands rested on his chest—one hand gently fingering his perfectly straight silver and blue uniform tie—she realized that the last two months (the duration of her relationship with Luke) had been really rather nice.

Luke was a decent kind of chap: he didn't much bother about politics or serious things, but he was romantic and epitomized everything that a sixteen-year-old girl's seventeen-year-old boyfriend should be. He lived in Hogsmeade, because his family owned a business there, which was why he did not ride the Hogwarts Express like all of the other students; however, he had met Lily on the platform, which was a lovely gesture... rather like something from a black and white movie, Lily thought.

In one moment, however, Lily's happy recollections of the summer were thoroughly shattered.

"I love you," said Luke.

Like his kiss, his tone was soft and unassuming, though the very gesture of professing his love after a mere two months was anything but cautious. Time froze at the utterance of those three words, and Lily's heart beat very quickly... not in the good way. She weighed her options.

He loved her. He loved her. Love was big. Love was epic. Love was... Certainly, she liked Luke a great deal. She liked the way his hands rested on her hips when they kissed and that he managed a moderately convincing show of enjoyment when they listened to her Led Zeppelin records. She liked that he had been ridiculously bashful in front of her mother and that he hadn't asked about her friendship with Snape once. She liked his smile and that he wasn't always trying to poke at what she was thinking. She liked that he didn't seem to mind "taking things slow" and that he said those silly romantic things just like the hero of a medieval poem.

I like Luke, she thought.

I love someone else.

And that settled it in her mind.

"I can't say that back," Lily murmured after what seemed to her an eternity but was in reality only a few seconds. Still, the confusion in Lily's eyes had been cue enough for Luke to know what her reply would not be. He nodded dejectedly. "Luke, listen, it's not that I don't—that I don't care for you a great deal, because I do." The platform was becoming less and less populated as the other students filled the carriages. Lily did not even toy with the idea of giving Luke the real reason she could not say those three damned words to him... he wouldn't understand.

"I mean," she pressed on nervously, "you understand how I am. I have very specific ideas about love and all the rest, and I could theoretically say it back now, but—but it wouldn't mean enough to me. I just couldn't say that unless I truly, completely, unrestrainedly meant it. We've only been together two months..."

"Ten weeks," Luke corrected.

"But when you say it like that, it just sounds shorter," Lily pointed out, frowning. He nodded submissively, and she sighed. "Are you angry?"

"No." The answer came immediately and without hesitation, marked by sincerity and the desire to assure her of it. "No, I'm not angry. And I understand—you're... you're a year younger than I am and it could be more difficult for you to make these kinds of commitments..."

Lily thought that idea contained more condescension than an age gap of only one year permitted, but did not argue the point, because it saved her an argument. Anyway, he had the moral high ground here: she ought to have been able to say "I love you, too."

She moved her hands away from his chest, and the space opened up between the two adolescents. "We had better get a carriage," Luke said, brushing off the disappointment rather quickly. Lily mentally added that to the tally of admirable qualities this boy possessed: he didn't hold a grudge.

Severus holds a grudge, she thought.

This was a fact. Actually, at that very moment, Severus Snape was watching the unfolding scene from his carriage a short distance away and forming a grudge. Lily was still seeing Luke Harper, it appeared, and since he had no way of knowing the content of the conversation, the young Slytherin—pallid, plain, and in every way the opposite of Luke Harper—felt resentment boiling inside of him. Then, his carriage began to push away, and he hastily averted his stare so that the other Slytherins in the carriage would not notice where he had been looking.

"I'm sorry," Lily repeated, as the pair made their way towards the four remaining carriages.

"Don't think about it," Luke commanded affectionately. "It's not of any real consequence—I only wanted to tell you how I felt."

Lily nodded, then, with a bit of reserve added: "Thank you." He smiled, kissed her on the top of the head—which he did quite a bit—and the pair entered a carriage. He really did seem to have forgotten, but Lily remained fixated.

The carriage was otherwise empty when they sat down. "I hope no one else gets in," Luke began to say, but the words had barely left his tongue before someone else stuck their head through the open carriage doors. He was handsome, had black hair and grey-blue eyes.

"Oh, hullo, Lily," said the boy. "Hullo... other person." He glanced at Luke as though the Ravenclaw really had no role in his purpose here.

"This is Luke, Sirius," Lily told the new arrival. "Luke Harper... he's in Ravenclaw."

"Bully for him," remarked the boy called Sirius. He directed the whole of his conversation towards Lily: "Have you seen James?"


"You certain? He went missing when we disembarked from the train."

"I'm certain."

"What about you, Lucas?"

"It's Luke."

"I know. Have you seen James Potter?"


"Alright then. Have a lovely carriage ride. Stay chaste."

"Sirius, go," ordered Lily.

Sirius winked. "Goodbye, Lily. Goodbye... other person."

He was gone an instant later, and Luke shook his head. "What is it with him, anyway? He's so..." Luke, however, had no opportunity to finish the thought, as a tall, blond haired girl burst into the cabin and took a seat. Lily arched her eyebrows in surprise.

"Hullo, Mar, I thought you'd gone up to the castle with Miles."

"Miles Stimpson," began Marlene Price, fire in her blue eyes, "is the biggest, most intolerable jerk I have ever met."

"You've been dating him for almost two years," Lily reminded Marlene.

"He's a git," stated the blond. "Him and his whole stupid, evil, annoying Ravenclaw house!" As if noticing Luke for the first time, Marlene added: "No offense, Harper."

"None taken," replied Luke.

"What happened?" Lily asked cautiously.

"He's a prat!" Marlene quite nearly shrieked. "He ditched me for the majority of the train ride as you well know, Lily, because you were with me, and then as we're getting off the train he asks me to wait for him on the platform while he runs back to his compartment to fetch something. So I wait, and then not two minutes later I see him getting into a carriage with that tart Alexa Kyle."

"Is Alexa Kyle a tart?" asked Lily skeptically.

"I don't know," Marlene admitted. "But probably. And do you know what else he did? He..."

Before Lily had any chance to learn of Miles Stimpson's further exploits as a rotten boyfriend, however, a fourth traveler joined the carriage. The door closed magically behind her, and almost instantaneously the carriage—having attained its four person quota—started towards the castle.

"Donna," noted Lily in surprise. A tall, athletically built black witch, with curly dark hair and amber colored eyes collapsed into the seat across from Luke. "I thought I saw you get into a carriage with Mary."

"I'm surprised you could see anything," the girl addressed as Donna replied curtly, "What with your being lip-locked with this git." She jerked her head towards Luke. Lily placed an appeasing hand on her boyfriend's arm.

"Donna Shacklebolt," said the redhead firmly, "What did I tell you about being a bitch around people who don't understand that you're always a bitch?"

Donna scowled. "Fine. I'm sorry, Harper," she apologized without sounding at all sorry. "I'm not really angry with you, after all. I just hate all blokes."

"Me too!" cried Marlene at once.

"Something you two agree on," marveled Lily. "Maybe there is an upside to Marlene dating a prat and Donna... hating everyone."

"I don't hate everyone," Donna argued, but her statement was met with doubtful looks from all three of her companions. "I don't."

"You hate most people," Marlene told her, and when Donna opened her mouth to protest, the blonde pressed: "What percentage of people in this carriage right now don't you hate?"

Donna looked around. "Twenty five percent, but this is a skewed statistic. Obviously I hate myself, obviously I hate Harper, on account of his being a bloke, and obviously I hate you, Marlene, on account of your being psychotic and emotional."

"What a sweetheart," said Marlene wryly. "So you hate men, who represent fifty percent of the population, and you hate emotional people. Don, face it, you hate most people. In fact you hate everybody except Lily and maybe you're ten-year-old sister."

"Shut it, Price." Marlene crossed her arms, a knowing expression on her pretty face. Donna rolled her eyes. "New topic," she demanded.

"Agreed," agreed Lily. She glanced out the window and saw the tips of the castle towers just beginning to appear over the hilltops. "Look," she said, "we'll have the first view of Hogwarts soon." And they did, a moment later, as the castle appeared glistening blue in the moonlight and every bit as surreally majestic as Lily had remembered it. Hogwarts was perhaps the only thing in the world that never failed to live up to Lily's romantic expectations. She told this to the others, and while Luke smiled affectionately at his pretty redheaded girlfriend, Lily's two friends exchanged looks.

"What?" Lily asked, noticing them.

"Summer Lily is gone," sighed Marlene, imitating nostalgic sorrow. "Hogwarts Lily is back. I like Hogwarts Lily a great deal, of course, but it's always sad to see Summer Lily depart."

"Summer Lily?" Luke repeated. "Is there more than one type of Lily?"

"There are more than sixty types of Lily," Donna told him, as though he were a great fool for not already knowing this.

"Summer Lily," Marlene clarified, "stays out late to see fireflies. Hogwarts Lily is melancholic."

"There used to be Summer Lily year round," Donna went on. "We had to put up with Percy Byshe Shelley quotes in the middle of Transfiguration class and observations on the extraordinary beauty of candlelight during Potions. But then..." Here, Donna hesitated for the shortest of seconds, and then continued, "then, little Lily grew up, and we only have to endure Summer Lily at the end of term and over the holidays."

Luke put his arm over Lily's shoulders, having overlooked both the pause in Donna's explanation and the grateful look his girlfriend sent her immediately following. "And will I like Hogwarts Lily?" he asked.

"Everyone likes every kind of Lily," Marlene told him, rather defensively. She looked over her shoulder out the window. "We'll be at the castle soon." And they were.

(He Said)

"He said I love you?" echoed Donna disbelievingly. Let out of the horseless carriages, the girls—and most of the other Hogwarts students—were beginning the short trek towards the castle doors. Luke had departed to meet up with his Ravenclaw friends, with whom he would eat dinner, and Lily had just finished relating her awkward news. "Just like that? After two months of a summer holiday relationship? Doesn't he know those things never last?"

"I'd been dating Miles more than a year before he said 'I love you,'" Marlene noted bitterly; "And I'm pretty sure he just said it to distract me from the fact that he was writing letters to Sandy Pitterton."

"First of all," said Donna, "Marlene, your boyfriend's a git; we know; you know; no one cares at this point. Second of all, what the hell did you say to Luke? He didn't seem angry... You didn't say it back, did you?"

"Of course she didn't," snapped Marlene. "Lily wouldn't lie about something like that... would you?"

"No, of course not," sighed Lily. "I just told him that I couldn't say it back, that's all. I said I could only say something like that when I absolutely meant it."

"And he didn't break up with you on the spot?" marveled Marlene. Lily shook her head. "Some girls have all the luck."

"Like who?" asked a new voice, joining the group. A tiny brunette, with large gold hoop earrings and quite a bit of eye make up had arrived by Marlene's side. The blond slung an arm over the new arrival's shoulder.

"Hi, Mary," said Lily, "they were just talking about..."

"About how Luke Harper is an idiot and said 'I love you' to Lily."

"After only two months of a summer fling?" the girl called Mary asked incredulously. "That's funny!" Then, quite seriously: "You didn't lie and say it back, did you?"

"She told him she wasn't ready," said Donna.

"And he didn't break up with you on the spot?"

"No," Marlene told her. "In fact, he was thoroughly cheerful with her."

"Some girls do have all the luck," Mary agreed.

"Where were you anyway?" Lily asked. "For the carriage ride, I mean..."

"You mean, after you lot ditched me?" Mary asked cheekily. "No, don't apologize... I had a compartment full of boys, which is better than you three anyway. Adam McKinnon sat next to me and, my God, has he grown up this summer? He must be about six feet tall..."

"Mary, you're forbidden from sleeping with Adam McKinnon," Marlene ordered firmly. "He's one of my best mates, and all of your relationships end in... well, usually they end in arson."

"Funny," said Mary sardonically. "Yes, I'm sure that your friendship with Adam is the reason you don't want me sleeping with him..."

"What is that supposed to...?"

"Has anyone seen James?"

The exhausted and breathless form of Peter Pettigrew interrupted, as he reached the top of the slope and approached the girls. "He's around here somewhere, James is, but no one can seem to find him."

"I haven't seen him," said Donna, and Marlene concurred.

"You know, I thought I noticed him climbing into one of the first carriages," Mary mused uncertainly. "I can't be sure... but it seems like maybe I did."

Peter thanked them and rushed away.

"Why's he so nervous?" Lily wondered.

But hardly anyone heeded the last comment, for at that moment they entered the castle. Through the high wooden doors, the procession of students came into the Entrance Hall—large and dimly lit, with the great marble staircase to the left and tall doors into the Great Hall straight across the large room. These doors, however, were uncharacteristically closed, and it became apparent why a moment later. Professor McGonagall, the stern and imposing Transfiguration teacher, materialized seemingly out of nowhere and called for silence as the students gathered in the Entrance Hall.

"It appears," said Professor McGonagall, her thin mouth forming a disapproving frown, "That Peeves the Poltergeist has made something of a mess in the Great Hall in retaliation against Mr. Filch. Most of the damage has been attended to, but I ask you all to wait a few minutes while Mr. Filch and Professor Dawton finish."

Peeves the Poltergeist—just one of the many Hogwarts ghosts—was something of a nuisance as far as Lily was concerned, but he certainly possessed one thing in common with the Hogwarts students: a passionate dislike of Filch, the school caretaker. A few of the others in the large group of adolescents chuckled appreciatively at Peeves' antics, while one or two prefects muttered something about the ghost's "intolerable lack of respect for authority." Lily did not really mind waiting a few minutes to begin the proceedings (namely, the Sorting Ceremony and the Welcoming Feast), if it was at Filch's expense.

She listened with mild interest as Marlene and Mary caught one another up on the latest gossip, when a tap on her shoulder drew her away. Remus Lupin—best friend of Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter, as well as Lily's fellow Gryffindor prefect—stood at her side with an irritable expression on his thin, pale face.

"Lily, have you seen...?"

"Potter?" Lily finished for him. He nodded hopefully, but she shook her head. "I haven't, I'm afraid, although if you're interested in finding Sirius Black or Peter Pettigrew I might be able to lend a hand."

"No, I've found them," Remus grumbled. "It's James we're after now. Well, thanks anyhow..."

"Not at all," said Lily; she liked Remus. "'See you later." He started to go, and Lily returned her attentions to her girl friends, until she was once again distracted by a tap on her shoulder. "I still haven't seen him, Re..." It was not Remus Lupin this time. "Sev," Lily remarked in surprise. Severus Snape now stood just behind her. Lily tried to recall the last time he had appeared so tense in conversing with her and estimated it to be the very first time they met, more than seven years before.

"Hi, Lily," Severus began in his least comfortable tone; "I was hoping we could talk for a minute."

Lily glanced around the hall in search of Severus's Slytherin friends. She finally located them in a spot quite a large distance and about a hundred students away, evidently unaware that Severus was no longer among their number. "I see," Lily said bitterly to the Slytherin, "it's quite safe to speak with me now. You're in no danger of Mulciber and Avery catching you in conversation with a muggleborn." She started to turn away again.

"It's not like that!" Severus protested, and she paused. Mary, Marlene, and Donna had ceased their conversation to watch.

"Then what's it like?" she demanded. When he had no answer, Lily went on: "Severus, I thought it was quite clear at the end of last term that we weren't going to do this anymore. It's too much of a strain on the both of us."

"Lily..." Severus cast a cautious look towards her three friends. "Can't we talk about this elsewhere?"

"Why? My friends have no problem with my speaking to you."

Donna started to argue, but Marlene kicked her.

"Lily," sighed Severus, wearily. "When are you going to forgive me?"

"I have forgiven you, Sev," snapped the Gryffindor. "I simply don't think we can be mates anymore."

"But I didn't mean..."

"Yes, you did mean it, and there's no use in arguing the point. We only ever end up going 'round and 'round till we're both too angry to speak reasonably."

"We were friends for seven years..." said Severus in an undertone (then again, he always spoke so quietly). "That can't just go away overnight because of one little mistake."

"It was a very telling mistake, though," replied Lily softly. "Sev, please just go."

"No." Stubbornly. "Not until you tell me that we can be mates again. You didn't answer any of my owls this summer, and you practically sprinted away after the prefect meeting this morning."

Lily could not help but be a little impressed. Severus was never this vocal about personal things in front of others... much less her friends. In fact, in seven years of friendship, Lily could not recall a single instance in which he actually referred to their being mates in public. Perhaps his repentance was sincere...

She called her emotions to heel immediately. It didn't matter if he was sorry now... it was too difficult being mates with him. It was too difficult devoting herself when all he ever seemed to do was widen the gap between them.

"Please go, Sev," Lily repeated. He looked as though he would cave, when mitigating factors arrived in the form of Nicolai Mulciber and Samuel Avery.

Fate works in funny ways sometimes.

It began in their fourth year.

Sirius Orion Black—notorious trouble maker at the school—had been in search of his best mate, James Potter. James Potter had been in detention most of that morning (a Saturday in March) for setting fire to Lily Evans's cloak, on account of two main reasons: first, that James was utterly besotted with Lily at the time, and second, that Lily had told James he wasn't as talented a Quidditch player as Hufflepuff Liam Lyle (a markedly false statement she had made simply to irritate him). As a result of the aforementioned cloak-on-fire incident, Professor McGonagall had sentenced James to a week of detentions, and Sirius Black—forgetting this—had set off in search of his friend on that Saturday morning in March, 1974.

At some point along the course of that search, Sirius had overheard a handful of Slytherins boasting loudly about something or other, as they made their way down the adjacent corridor. Sirius at once made up his mind to try out the new hex he had learned the previous evening, and cast his eyes about the corridor for a place to hide. Unfortunately, the second floor corridor in the west wing of Hogwarts castle is an unusually bare one, and there was but one tapestry hanging along the entire length of the hall. Sirius ducked behind the tapestry wondering if it was at all possible that the Slytherins might not see him, and when he did, the young Mr. Black discovered something odd. A door.

It was probably just a forgotten broom closet, that tiny room that lay behind the door that lay behind the tapestry on the second floor corridor of the western wing of Hogwarts castle, but Sirius liked secret things and—as a result—he became quite enamored of the secret room. He was quite enamored of it, right up to the point when he accidentally revealed its location to Peeves the Poltergeist during a particularly dull detention (he was supposed to be cleaning trophies, but had stopped to chat with the mischievous ghost) about a year later. Then, Sirius realized that the secret nature of that closet's location was utterly lost, and he could no longer consider it his own. He discovered a new broom closet the very next week, however, and was not terribly distraught.

Peeves, as it turned out, liked secret things too though. It was his knowledge of the broom closet that led him to play a prank on his sworn enemy, the caretaker Argus Filch, on August 27th, 1975. He removed every non-furniture item from the caretaker's office and brought it to that broom closet Sirius Black had once revealed to him. Filch was, predictably, enraged. It took him two days to find his things.

That was when Filch asked Dumbledore to banish the ghosts from the Welcoming Feast and, Dumbledore, being a sympathetic headmaster, agreed to this one demand. And, when Filch informed Peeves that Dumbledore had forbid him from coming to the Welcoming Feast that year, Peeves decided to make a mess in the Great Hall, so as to delay the proceedings and just generally aggravate Filch. He succeeded in both.

Thus, the Sorting Ceremony did not occur on time, and the students were forced to wait in the Entrance Hall while the last pieces of rubbish were cleared away by Professor Dawton and Mr. Filch. Because of this, Severus Snape had an opportunity to slip away from his Slytherin friends and confront his ex-best-mate, Lily Evans, as she stood listening to her friends share mildly interesting pieces of gossip. Consequently, the two—Lily and Severus—began to argue and, caught up in the moment, did not notice that Nicolai Mulciber and Samuel Avery had noticed their conversation and started towards them.

If Mulciber and Avery had not arrived at that particular moment in history, the rest of this story might have gone very, very differently. However, they did and it didn't, and it was all because Lily Evans had falsely told James Potter that he was not quite as talented a Quidditch player as Hufflepuff Liam Lyle.

Fate works in funny ways sometimes.

"Severus," said Mulciber, a tall, thin boy with narrow eyes. "What have we here?" He indicated to the little scene between his housemate and Lily. A few more Slytherins appeared, including a pretty dark haired girl and a handsome fair boy.

"Severus," said the girl, "What are you doing?"

"Oh, by all means, Colista, don't worry about your manners on my account," interjected Lily sardonically. She did not notice that Donna had surreptitiously drawn her wand in anticipation of an altercation.

"You must forgive us," Mulciber cut in, oozing false charm; "You see, Severus here said that your... relationship... had ended."

Severus opened his mouth to speak, but Lily was not interested in his excuses. "He told the truth," she said, careful not to let it show how much it hurt her to hear this news. "We're not friends anymore. You win." She thought the last bit would comfort their pride and put an end to any fight beginning to brew.

"Watch your step, Evans," retorted the girl, Colista.

"C'mon," mumbled Severus, but the other Slytherins ignored him. Remus Lupin, noticing that Lily appeared to be in some sort of dispute, returned to her side.

"Is something wrong, Lily?" he asked, his eyes set coldly on Severus.

"No," said Lily quickly. "Nothing's wrong. Everything's fine. These fine students were just leaving."

"We'll decide when we'll leave," put in the thickset and mulish Samuel Avery. Lily rolled her eyes and started, once again, to turn away. She noticed that quite a few people had ceased their own conversations to watch the scene, probably hoping that something dramatic would happen as it often did when Slytherins and Gryffindors argued.

"Aren't you going to duel?" some naïve second year inquired, after a brief silence.

"No," said Lily. Remus, too, had furtively drawn his wand just in case.

"What's the matter?" asked Colista. "Don't you think the two of you can take us?"

"The five of us," corrected Mary, stepping forward, her wand drawn too. Lily suddenly noticed that she was one of the few whose wand was not out by now.

"Oh, I'm deathly afraid," scoffed Colista. "What do you say, Mudblood Macdonald? Would you like Avery to give you another taste of some of his more imaginative hexes?"

Marlene and Donna both took a step forward. Lily held them back. "Shut up, Black," she snapped to Colista. "And I mean it—if you want to keep that lovely, magically procured nose, you won't ever speak like that again." There was fire in her tone, and Colista's confidence faltered ever so slightly. The blond boy standing beside her set a hand on her shoulder.

"What's going on here?" Sirius Black had arrived, bringing with him Peter Pettigrew and a sense that the whole situation had escalated.

"Nothing," said Lily quickly, sending Sirius a look that told him to stay back.

"If it isn't my blood-traitor cousin!" remarked Colista. "How does it feel to be living on the streets where you belong?"

"Shut up, Black," snapped Sirius.

"You, shut up, Black," retorted Colista. Sirius took a step forward, but Lily held him back with her arm.

"Maybe you should go," the blond boy murmured in Colista's ear.

"Cool it, Zabini," she snapped to him. "You don't own me."

"He's right though," said Sirius, with mock concern. "You might want to step out of this one, dear Colista. It might be uncomfortable for someone of your delicate nature. Avery can take you..." He said this as if offering friendly advice to an old comrade. "I know he's been dying to get you alone for years."

The boy Zabini raised his wand and Lily struggled to restrain Sirius. "Will everyone cool down?" she snapped. "Even if dueling over who Avery wants to shag were an intelligent decision, Professor McGonagall's around here somewhere and we'd all be in trouble for it. Now will everyone go back to their own business? Everyone!" she added significantly to the spectators. No one moved, for while the onlookers may have respected Lily, they would certainly not pass up the opportunity to watch what promised to be an extraordinary fight.

"Let's just go," Severus reiterated his plea. He did not make eye contact with anyone.

"Wait just a moment," said Mulciber, slimy as ever. "Severus, Colista here has raised an interesting question..."

"Really?" cut in a desperate Lily. "I wasn't terribly interested."

As though he had not heard her, Mulciber went on: "You told us that your friendship with Evans had ended, and yet here we find you in deep conversation with her. Now, I have no doubts about your loyalty, but I think Avery does. Don't you, Sam?"

Samuel Avery, a dim fellow, looked about bewilderedly, suddenly conscious that he had been addressed but not quite sure why. "Just say 'yes,'" snapped Colista, rolling her grey eyes.

"Oh, right. Yeah. Yeah."

"I think you should prove it to him, Severus," Mulciber went on.

"Nick, c'mon," said the blond boy, Zabini. "Not here... he'll be caught for certain." Lily was relieved to see that at least one of Snape's supposed "friends" had his interests in mind. Colista told Zabini to be quiet, however, and he complied.

"I don't want you to hurt her or anything," Mulciber continued. "I wouldn't dream of asking that. Severus, all you have to do to prove to Avery that your loyalty is totally to your real friends... to Slytherin, all you have to do is give me Lily Evans's wand."

Ostensibly a simple request, it was certainly a loaded statement. To get Lily's wand, Severus would—presumably—have to disarm her using his own.

"You're not getting my wand," Lily said firmly, all the while making sure to maintain a grip on Sirius's arm, so that he would not attack. "In fact, this whole conversation is officially over." But no one was listening to her.

"Do it, Severus," said Colista. "Do it, or you're no friend of ours."

"Snape, if you raise your wand on Lily," Donna spoke up, ever the executive, "You'll be in violation of Hogwarts rules and in position for detention."

Avery snorted. Evidently, if Snape didn't raise his wand to Lily just now, he'd be in a position for something much worse than detention.

"You know what," the redhead began irritably; "this is so stupid. If you want my wand, just take it. I'll need it for class tomorrow, though." She drew her wand and held it out for Severus to take. Mulciber held up his own hand in warning.

"Get it yourself, Severus," he said, all traces of even superficial charm gone. Lily looked Mulciber square in the eye and put her wand away again. Severus wouldn't assault her. He couldn't.

"Severus," murmured Colista. "Do it now."

"Now," agreed Avery.

Most of the students around them had paused to watch the drama. Lily unconsciously let go of Sirius's wrist. She watched Severus very carefully; he drew his wand.

"Severus, please," Lily practically whispered. She wasn't terribly afraid of being attacked, but the prospect of losing all hope for Severus's friendship was agonizing.


The Slytherin's hand twitched. He raised his forearm ever so slightly. Donna, Mary, Marlene, Sirius, and even Peter readied their wands. Several of the Slytherins did as well. Lily saw only Snape. His hand twitched again.

Then, several things happened at once.

As Severus's arm moved a little higher, Colista raised her wand and pointed it at Mary Macdonald. Sirius raised his wand as well, and in his mind, he began to form the words of a stunning spell. Remus started to step forward, ready to push Lily out of the way should it come to it, and Zabini, the blond, grabbed hold of Colista, forcing her small body behind his considerably larger one.

One particular gesture outweighed all others, however, in importance and spectacle. Seemingly out of nowhere, a tall boy with messy black hair appeared somewhere just behind Marlene. James Potter—for that is who it was—pushed past everyone else and in one simple, graceful, and utterly shattering motion punched Nicolai Mulciber square in the jaw. Lily gasped, and Severus nearly dropped his wand in surprise; Mulciber was on the floor a moment later, clutching his jaw and moaning in pain.

The hall seemed silent for several seconds. At length Sirius Black remarked: "Well, at least we found James."

Then, Avery and Zabini raised their wands, and—forgive the cliché—all hell broke loose.

(Joan of Arc)

Minerva McGonagall was born to be a school teacher. She possessed the tall, threatening build, the stern and elegant tone of voice, the lips so easily pressed into a thin—practically invisible—line, and the hard-as-nails eyes that could obtain the honest answer from a rock. The twitch of just one perfectly arched eyebrow was enough to convince the greatest skeptic that she was an expert on any given subject, and most of the time she need not even raise her voice to command a classroom's attention. Everything about her appearance—the dark hair pulled taught away from her thin face and the long, sweeping robes she donned, for instance—indicated a "no nonsense" persona: the sort of disciplinarian personality that effortlessly demanded respect. Minerva McGonagall was born to be a school teacher, no doubt, but at the moment she wished that this was not the case.

"Not one of you," began the older witch, as she paced from one end of her office to the other, "is going to leave this room until you answer my question."

The heels of her ankle length boots—forest green dragon hide—clicked ominously against the hard floor, her mouth was at its very thinnest, and even the air in the dim office seemed to tremble, yet the nine Gryffindors standing in queue before her remained perfectly silent. Each stared at the portion of wall directly in front of him or her, knowing that if they were to make eye contact with the head of their house and the Transfiguration teacher, a confession would surely follow. McGonagall waited a few moments, and then, rounding as she reached the wall, headed towards one of the students near the opposite end of the queue.

"Mr. Pettigrew." The unfortunate Peter Pettigrew looked as though he were going to be sick. Every inch of his five foot seven body trembled, from sandy blond hair to leather clad toe.

"Yes... Professor?"

"Perhaps you can answer my question," said Professor McGonagall, narrowing her eyes.

A wide-eyed Peter gathered his courage. "I—er... I don't... what was the question again?"

Annoyed but undaunted, McGonagall reiterated her prior inquiry: "I asked which one of you started the fight in the Entrance Hall. The fight which—I might add—involved more than fifty students and resulted in dozens of injuries."

"Oh. Oh, er... I dunno... I didn't see, exactly. It was... it was very crowded."

McGonagall arched those indefatigable eyebrows. "Is that right?" Peter nodded. "Are you certain that you're not protecting anyone, Mr. Pettigrew?"

"No! Of course I'm... no!"

"Not Mr. Black?"


"Miss Shacklebolt?"


"Mr. McKinnon?"


"Mr. Potter, then?"

"No! P-Professor, I swear I don't know who..."

But McGonagall had apparently already lost interest. She moved to the other end of the line, where Donna Shacklebolt stood, head held high. As McGonagall drew close, however, the determination in Donna's amber eyes faltered. Her curly black ringlets were completely out of place, and a cut marked the young witch's forehead. When McGonagall approached, Donna appeared a little less proud of her battle scars. Donna Christine Shacklebolt played by the rules, and she was about to be asked to lie to a teacher.

"Miss Shacklebolt," said Professor McGonagall in her silkiest voice, "Perhaps you can tell me what happened? Perhaps you can tell me who started the fight..."

"That would be the Slytherins, Professor," said Donna at once. "They definitely started it."

"I understand that," said the teacher wryly. "Despite dozens of conveniently cast Confundus curses..." McGonagall sent a significant look to Sirius Black, back near the other end of the line, "the general consensus appears to be that it was a handful of Slytherin sixth years who goaded you all into the fight, but that one of you—one of the Gryffindor sixth years—actually initiated the physical portion of the fight. As Carlotta Meloni and Michelle Mumps were not even in the Hall at the time, I didn't find it necessary to call them here. Now, Miss Shacklebolt, perhaps you can tell me which one of you really started the fight? Who punched Mr. Mulciber?"

Donna hesitated. She opened her mouth and closed it twice, before finally mustering the strength to say: "I don't know, Professor. I—I didn't see who threw the first punch."

Professor McGonagall's expression grew, if possible, colder. She moved hastily away from Donna, towards where Marlene Price stood. Marlene had a bruise on her cheekbone and a rip in her school jumper, but she held her head high as the Professor drew near.

"Miss Price? Was it you?"

"No, Professor," said Marlene.

"Who was it?"

"I don't know, Professor."

"And you, Mr. Lupin?" McGonagall turned to the prefect, who shook his head.

"I reckon one of those Confundus Curses you mentioned hit me..." he said, somewhat unconvincingly. "It's all a bit fuzzy, still, if you..."

"Mr. McKinnon?"

The brown-haired boy to Marlene's left shook his head. "I was with some Hufflepuffs. I didn't see anything."

Professor McGonagall nodded, allowing the entire office to sit in silence for a moment. "Am I right in assuming that none of you will confess?" She finally asked and was predictably met with more silence. "Very well. Professor Slughorn is currently dealing with your so-called 'opponents.' I cannot speak for their punishment. I can only say that you will all receive detentions and, for every hour that passes until one of you tells the truth, each of you nine will lose twenty points apiece for Gryffindor."

There was a collective gasp, and McGonagall went on.

"This will go on as long as it needs to," she said. "There is no possible way that I can overemphasize how disappointed I am in all of you—first for your obvious participation in such an embarrassing display of barbarism..." She was undoubtedly referring to their various states of disrepair, a result of the brawl, "and then for your disrespectful, idiotic refusal to cooperate with me now. Now, the point deductions will begin on the hour." She looked every bit as disappointed as she claimed. "I have nothing else to..."

"I did it."

McGonagall—as well as everyone else, including James—turned to look at the sixth year who had just confessed.

"You, Miss Evans?"

Lily blinked rapidly, gathering her courage, and then nodded. "Yes, Professor, I—I started the fight."

Professor McGonagall crossed her arms, approaching the redhead with disbelief on her aging face. "You hit Mulciber? You dislocated his jaw?" she demanded.

Lily bit her lip, conscious of her thin arms and slim frame. "I—er... I work out."

"Miss Evans..."

"It's true, Professor," Lily pressed. "Honestly, I—I was angry and things happened very quickly, and I should have told you this earlier, but I was... I suppose I was afraid."

For a long minute, the elder witch stared intently upon the younger. "Everyone else may go," said the teacher at last. Without a word, the other eight filed out of the office. Lily exhaled, nervously awaiting the punishment that would surely be hers the moment that McGonagall was alone with her.

"Miss Evans," McGonagall repeated, still skeptical. "Are you certain that you want to take the fall for this?"

"I—I'm not taking the fall," said Lily earnestly. "I deserve this—it was my fault."

"So you are not covering for anyone?" asked McGonagall.

Lily took a while to answer. "Professor," she said at length, "If I wasn't the one to do it, who would it be? Knowing our class, Black or Potter, right?" McGonagall did not dispute the point. "And would I really stand up for them?"

The transfiguration teacher eyed Lily very carefully. "Very well, then." And she sounded so sincerely disappointed that Lily almost wished she could redact the statement: the thought that her head of house—a witch she herself so admired—would disdain her was practically unbearable. "The whole thing is a matter of great embarrassment to myself and the entire staff. A letter will be sent to your mother and—well, and as for the rest of your classmates..."

"But they didn't know," Lily interrupted loudly. "That is, I mean—they were in the Hall with everyone else, of course, but everyone else was Confunded, so isn't it... possible that they were telling the truth when they said that they didn't know who struck Mulciber?"

"It is possible," McGonagall reluctantly allowed. "But you, Miss Evans... I'm afraid there is no getting around that."

"No," agreed the redhead.

"Fifty points will be deducted from Gryffindor. And you will spend every Friday night in detention for the rest of the month.

Lily bowed her head. "Yes, Professor."

"You must learn, Lily, that being a truly courageous Gryffindor does not always mean taking the James Potter approach to every situation... which generally involves striking or cursing someone."

Restraining a smile, Lily nodded. "Yes, Professor," she gravely said again. "I'm very sorry that this happened."

McGonagall nodded, her face impassive. "You may go."

"Yes, ma'am." And she did.

When alone, Professor McGonagall sat down at her desk, shaking her head. So Lily Evans had started a full-out brawl in the Entrance Hall... even if it wasn't true, the whole business made an amusing story. She allowed herself a small smile.

"Good for her."

(A Bit About James)

James Potter was tall. He had black hair, which—much like James himself—never seemed willing to cooperate. He was handsome, with spectacles, a strong jaw, and a long, straight nose. He had good skin, good teeth and a crooked grin. He played Quidditch better than nearly everyone he'd ever met, and had a very distinctive gait: a simultaneously lazy and businesslike, self-possessing walk that seemed to suggest that wherever he might be, he would be just as comfortable somewhere else, and whoever he might see there was quite lucky that he came at all.

James Potter smoked too much.

He spent most of September 1st, 1975 not thinking about Lily Evans, by which I mean that he spent most of September 1st, 1975 determined to be not thinking about Lily Evans. After disembarking from the Hogwarts Express, he had opted to walk to the school, and when all the carriages had gone, he slipped a cigarette into his mouth, lit it, and thoroughly enjoyed the solitary journey up to the castle.

He actually didn't think about Lily Evans for those twenty or so minutes.

Then, he arrived at the Entrance Hall. He saw the little drama ensuing between Lily and the some Slytherins, but said nothing because he had decided that he didn't want to care what that particular redheaded prefect did anymore. Still, he listened in, until he saw exactly what was about to happen. Then, without thinking, without even considering the consequences (there could have been a great many consequences for James, but more on that later), he stepped forward and knocked Nicolai Mulciber to the floor.

He dislocated Mulciber's jaw, but didn't find that out until later in McGonagall's office just after Lily Evans confessed to the crime so that they wouldn't all lose Gryffindor a whole lot of points. He would have been quite proud that he'd dislocated the bloke's jaw, if he hadn't felt so rotten about everything else.

Still, James exited the office with the others and kept his mouth shut. Keeping his mouth shut had never been James's greatest skill, but he'd been working on it lately.

(More on Joan of Arc)

The Sorting Ceremony—which, with the combined efforts of Peeves' havoc and the Entrance Hall fight, was delayed by nearly an entire hour—was noisier than Lily ever remembered. She, along with the other Gryffindor sixth years, arrived late due to Professor McGonagall's lecture; their Slytherin adversaries skulked into the Hall a few minutes later, evidently displeased that Professor Slughorn had dared punish them at all. Severus continuously made eye contact with no one.

The Welcoming Feast began a few minutes later, but not before the silver haired headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, stood up at the Staff Table at the front of the Great Hall, and made a short speech.

"I realize," he said, the ever present twinkle of amusement in his blue eyes just a little less obvious this evening, "that this has been rather a dramatic night; I can only hope that the rest of the year passes in a much more boring fashion." And Dumbledore might as well have ordered it. More seriously, he continued: "Such altercations must not continue this year. When the world is in turmoil, it is the duty of Hogwarts to remain united. Now, eat up."

And the plates on the four house tables were immediately filled.

"United indeed," remarked Donna, a quarter of an hour later, as she served herself a second portion of potatoes. "When has Hogwarts ever been united? When have Gryffindors not feuded with Slytherins?"

"When have Slytherins not been an evil lot?" Marlene added darkly. "No offense, Lily. We know Snape used to be alright..."

"Speak for yourself," muttered Donna. Mary remained uncharacteristically quiet for most of the meal.

"You alright, Mare?" Lily asked. "You don't look well. Do you need to visit the infirmary?"

"I'm alright," sighed Mary. Her confident, chipper self was somewhat wilted—a rare, almost non-existent occurrence. "I guess I've just been thinking about what Colista said... and about last year, when Avery hexed me in the Transfiguration classroom." Her honesty about the whole thing struck Lily as surprising. Marlene draped an arm over the brunette's shoulders.

"You were ambushed, Mary," said the blond coolly. "They're just ugly cowards, the whole lot of them, who are so infuriated that a girl like you would never go out with them." Mary smiled appreciatively, then looked up to Lily.

"So why'd you do it, Ginger?"

Lily, sipping her pumpkin juice, raised an eyebrow. "Do what?"

"Take the blame," Mary elaborated in an undertone. "Why'd you say that you punched Mulciber?"

"Someone had to," said Lily, thinking it rather obvious. "I didn't want Gryffindor to lose all those points, and it became apparent that Potter wasn't going to speak up."

"I don't see the point of it," Donna admitted; "I mean, of course, I'm glad you did it, because Gryffindor won't lose as many points and I won't have to go to detention, but, Lily, now everyone is going to blame you for losing us fifty points before the school year even began. It might have been noble, but it wasn't terribly bright, was it?"

"Thanks for the support, Donna," replied Lily. "Listen, I don't really care. I have four detentions and fifty fewer points... if it had been Potter who got the blame, they probably would have taken a hundred points, just because he's always pulling stunts like this."

"I suppose," agreed Marlene. "Well, I'm finished—I think I'll head up to the dormitory. Do you have the password, Lily?"

As a prefect, Lily did. "Jumping Beans," she responded. "You're finished already? You've hardly eaten a thing."

"I'm on a diet," Marlene informed them, glancing dissatisfiedly at her lanky figure. "Jumping beans, did you say?"

"A diet?" scoffed Mary. "Get out, Marlene, you're so stupid about food."

"Says the twig. Jumping beans?"

Lily nodded. "You're beautiful, Mar."

"Hmm, I ought to be," said Marlene lightly. "I've barely eaten in two weeks."

"Are you done, too, Mar?" asked a boy also seated at Gryffindor table. He had light brown hair, blue eyes, a good natured expression, and an empty plate. "If you're headed to the Common Room, I'll tag along."

"Sure, Adam," said Marlene, smiling as Adam McKinnon got up from the table. He possessed a few battle scars of his own from the fight, including a torn sweater and purple bruise on his forehead. "See you lot later," she added to the girls, starting to leave.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't!" Mary called suggestively after them.

"Which includes what exactly?" asked Donna. "You're kind of a tart, Mary."

"Don't be mean," Lily interrupted.

Mary sighed. "It will forever be a mystery to me why Marlene continues to date that prat Miles Stimpsonwhen she's got a perfectly lovely bloke like Adam McKinnon."

"What do you mean 'she's got?'" asked Donna, surprised. "You don't think that McKinnon fancies Marlene, do you?"

Mary and Lily both snorted. "I think that you're blind, that's what I think, Donna honey," Mary answered. Donna scowled.

When the dinner plates were cleared, dessert arrived. When the dessert plates cleared, it came time for bed.

"Gryffindors this way," Lily called out to her table; they weren't really required to follow her, but as prefect, she was obliged to show the first years where to go, and of course, she had the password. Thus, Lily dutifully led the way up staircases and through corridors in the direction of the seventh floor and Gryffindor tower.

Along the way, a number of students stopped her to congratulate or thank her for knocking one to Mulciber—how quickly news spread. On the fourth floor, however, someone caught up with her that Lily was not particularly pleased to see.

"Can I have a word, Evans?" asked James, with very little question in his voice.

"I have to take the first years to the Common Room and give the password," Lily retorted coldly. "Maybe later."

"Remus can do it," said James. Remus was, indeed, available and qualified, but Lily remained uncertain.

"Alright," she decided presently. It couldn't hurt. Remus took over the lead, and Lily stayed back with James Potter. He waited until they were alone in the corridor to speak.

In years to come, Lily could not recall exactly what she had expected James to say at that moment, but whatever it had been, it most certainly wasn't what James did say.

"What the fuck were you thinking?"


"W-what?" the redhead managed to articulate.

"What were you thinking?"

"I..." but no response seemed adequate. "What are you talking about, Potter?"

"I'm talking about your idiotic little stunt with Professor McGonagall," James snapped. "I'm talking about how you stupidly took... took credit for socking Mulciber, when no one..."

"Took credit?" Lily echoed incredulously, her temper rising. "Excuse me, 'took credit?' You're out of your mind!"

"Why the hell did you tell McGonagall that you started the fight?"

Lily's green eyes narrowed. "Why the hell didn't you tell McGonagall that you started the fight?"

"I didn't start the fight," snapped James. "I just socked Mulciber. I wasn't even involved in your little love fest with the Slytherins. But you had no call to take the fall for socking Mulciber, like you told McGonagall!"

Lily didn't bother telling him that, technically, she had never said that she actually struck Mulciber. Heavily implied it, yes, but straight out confessed—no. Rather, she placed her hands on her hips and shook her head disbelievingly. "Wow, Potter, even I didn't expect you to actually blame me for taking your punishment!"

"No one asked you to take the fall!" said the wizard loudly.

"And no one asked you to sock Mulciber!" Lily countered. "And let the record show that I didn't take the blame for you! I just didn't want Gryffindor to lose all those points!"

"We still lost fifty—Slughorn only took twenty five from Slytherin!"

"Well what's that have to do with me? Why aren't you snapping at him?"

"Because I can't stand you running about acting all martyred," said James. "You were the one who started the whole business with Snape and Mulciber and Colista Black and the rest—why shouldn't you get the detentions for it?"

"What are you talking about?" Lily half-shrieked, unable to believe her ears. "Who's acting martyred? I haven't said a single word to you!"

"You'll be trying to hold this over my head for the rest of the year," responded the Quidditch captain. "And I'm just telling you that it won't hold. If you're going to play Joan of Arc, don't get angry when you're burned at the stake for it. Clear? Because I'm not going to feel guilty, and you sure as hell aren't going to be able to make me apologize for letting you get in trouble over it. In fact, you should be thanking me for dislocating that idiot's jaw."

Lily stared. She blinked several times. Calm again, she ran a hand through her long hair and said: "I should be thanking you? How do you figure that?"

"Well for one thing," he replied, "I saved you from a whole lot of drama." Lily began to object, but James continued: "You needed someone to put an end to that business, because you couldn't handle the truth of the situation."

"Which is what exactly?"

"That Snape would have disarmed you." For a moment, the two sixth years stood in reluctant ceasefire; James allowed the words to sink in, and Lily struggled for something to say. "He would have disarmed you and decided once and for all against you, and to tell the truth, Evans, I don't think you could handle it."

Lily exhaled. "And that's why you knocked down Mulciber, is it?" she demanded. "To save me from some unbearable truth?"

James shook his head. "I knocked down Mulciber because he's an ass who was getting on my nerves. But I helped you and dear Snivellus out a whole lot in the process. Now he doesn't have to pick a side. How goddamned convenient is that?"

"You don't know what he would have done," said Lily defiantly. "And I don't know how you can justify what you did as preventing something worse, when hitting him caused a gigantic brawl in the Entrance Hall!"

"So what? I'm glad I hit that wanker... if you had any guts at all, you would've done it!"

"What are...?"

"You can't just sit around and let people say whatever the hell they want, Evans."

"Actually, that's exactly what you can do, Potter. Haven't you ever heard of 'sticks and stones?'"

"It's called standing up for the right thing, Evans!"

"But you have to pick your battles!" Lily cried angrily. "And that was not a good time to start a fight with the Slytherins. We were in a crowded hall with dozens of other people around who could be—and were, I might add—affected."

"Don't pretend that that's why you backed down," sneered James. "You backed down because Snape was there."

Lily grew very cold. "Excuse me?" she said quietly, and James ought to have cowered in the presence of that sort of anger. Then again, James Potter rarely did what he ought.

"You backed down because Snape was there," he repeated. "Whenever there's any other kind of injustice going on, you'll jump up and put an end to it quick as anything. But whenever it's Snape involved, suddenly you're the banner of diplomacy, and we should all just 'pick our battles.' Eventually you'll have to realize that whether or not he disarmed you today, he's already chosen his side, and..."


The imprint of her small hand burned red on his face. He rubbed it gingerly, and though James did not seem surprised, he was silenced.

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about," Lily told him venomously. "And if you honestly believe any of that rubbish, you're a bigger idiot than I ever thought."

With that, she turned on her heel and started down the corridor. She stopped several paces away. "And how the hell do you know who Joan of Arc is?" she shouted, but as James attempted to answer, she shook her head, adding: "Never mind. I don't want to know." Then Lily hurried away, because she did not think she could stand another moment near him.


"So you're not going to tell us what James said?" Mary asked, as Lily washed her face in the sink of the sixth year Gryffindor girls' bathroom.

"What makes you say that?"

"Well, you haven't said a word since you came up here ten minutes ago," the brunette told her. "Except, and I quote, 'I hate that git!' Which we can only presume was a reference to James."

"It was," Lily allowed, drying off, before the two girls reentered the adjacent girls' dormitory. "He blamed me for 'taking credit' for the fight."

"You're kidding," marveled Marlene, who was brushing her long blond hair at the mirror. "He didn't! He couldn't!"

"Did and could," replied Lily. "He said I was playing 'Joan of Arc.'"

"How did he know who Joan of Arc was?" Mary wanted to know. Lily shook her head to indicate her ignorance on the matter.

"Who is Joan of Arc?" Donna, the only pureblood of the group, asked curiously.

"A muggle martyr," replied Marlene. "That is bizarre. Why would he be angry with you for getting him out of trouble?"

The question lingered in the silence of the dormitory for nearly a minute, before Michelle Mumps—the fifth roommate entered. "That was a lovely feast," she said. "I loved the strawberry tart! Didn't you?"

Michelle—or Shelley—Mumps was a plain girl, with a round figure and a temperamental nature. Not particularly close with the other four, Shelley's best friend was their last roommate, the currently absent Carlotta Meloni.

Shelley noticed that the other four appeared particularly contemplative and asked: "What's the matter? Did something happen?"

Donna rolled her eyes. "Just drama, Shelley. Just loads and loads of drama."

"Oh, good!" squealed Shelley. "I'm going to change and brush my teeth—then you'll have to tell me all about it." She collected some items from her trunk and hurried into the bathroom. Marlene finished brushing her hair and went to sit on the four poster bed that she had picked out for herself.

"You know what I can't get over," remarked the blonde after a while. "I can't believe Luke Harper said 'I love you' already."

Lily began to laugh. "Mar, after everything that's happened today, that's what's still bothering you?"

Marlene nodded. "It's just so funny! And he didn't break up with you when you didn't say it back."

"Couldn't say it back," Lily corrected.

"Nonetheless," agreed Mary. "I'm afraid you've joined the ranks of 'bad girls' with the rest of us, Ginger."

"What do you mean?" asked the prefect.

"Good girls say 'I love you,'" Mary told her matter-of-factly, before climbing into bed. Lily sighed, also getting into bed.

"I'm just glad this day is over. I'm with Dumbledore on this one—hopefully everything will calm down from here out."

"I wonder where our sixth roommate is at," Mary mused carelessly.

Donna snorted. "Really? Carlotta's occupied more beds at this school than any other single person in the history of Hogwarts." Carlotta Meloni had a reputation. "She's probably off with a bloke." Actually, she wasn't, but more on that later.

"Goodnight all," called Lily to the others. "Sleep well, and may tomorrow fail less than today did."

"Cheers," chorused Mary and Marlene. The four of them were all asleep by the time Shelley returned from the lavatory.

Fate works in funny ways sometimes.

They were awoken early the next morning by a piercing scream.

A/N: Long and confusing, it's so me. Reviews are ninety percent of what makes breathing air.