Pink Green Blue

Prelude to Destiny by Hourglass nomineeHourglass winnerAnotherDreamer

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Rating: PG. Created: September 14th, 2005. Updated: April 21st, 2006. Read Reviews (252)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

Chapter Six
Costumes

"I still don't understand why I couldn't just go as a Muggle," complained Christine when the girls began their night of trick-or-treating.

"Because on Halloween you dress up as something you don't actually believe exists," replied Sam. The tan girl looked hilariously perfect in her witch's costume. She had the floppy hat, wart on the nose, fishnet black stockings, and school robes billowing around her.

When Christine first mentioned wanting to take part in Halloween, Tracy owled a few relatives to find a place to go. After a short period of planning, the four girls decided to forego the feast and celebration at Hogwarts in favor of unlimited tricks and treats. They had asked the Headmaster for permission to visit Tracy's aunt over Halloween weekend, knowing that the woman lived in a Muggle village. But even at this late stage, Christine did not seem to grasp the idea of the holiday.

"What if I didn't believe in Muggles?" Christine asked with an air of triumph.

"Then I would say you're thick," chirped Tracy, dressed in the strangest costume any of them had ever seen.

There was a popular Muggle doll at the moment that none of the girls knew about. The woman at the store assured them it was the perfect costume and, to tell the truth, Tracy did look adorable with her hair in her normal short pigtails, large poke-a-dot red and white coveralls over a white shirt, red and white knee-high socks, white gloves, and black shiny shoes. She even had fake freckles on her nose and cheeks.

"But I believe in witches and Sam is a witch. And I believe in giraffes," Christine pointed out as they headed up the path to the first home.

"Right. You also dress up as something you don't believe a person could actually be. Besides, you look good in yellow," Lily replied, smiling.

In truth, because of her tall stature and the late request from the girls, Christine had to choose between a giraffe and a pencil. Lily thought Christine made the best choice. Lily, of course, dressed up as a pumpkin. While she planned to be a princess, she had grown attached to the silly orange costume on her birthday and now could not bring herself to let it go.

------

Tracy's aunt lived in a very nice area. Her neighbors were the type to hand out whole bars of chocolate instead of miniature sizes. Of course, Christine forgot her costume qualms as she immediately tried each and every type of sweet she received at least once.

After four hours and too many houses to count, even Christine realized the folly of her actions.

"I hurt. I hurt so badly," she moaned, clutching her stomach. Lily looked at the sickly girl, but managed to suppress her desire to say I told you so. Sam did not hold back.

"Maybe if you'd listened to us you wouldn't be in this pain," Sam said, her friend's discomfort amusing her greatly.

"Want to race to the next house?" asked Tracy, bouncing up and down on her toes.

"No! I never want to move again," Christine moaned.

"Guess that means you don't want the rest of your treats," said Lily, moving to take her bag of sweets out of her hand.

"No, no," Christine protested, making a valiant effort to stop rolling on the floor as she clutched her bag with both hands. "I'll move. I'll move."

"This is the last house anyway," Lily said, straightening. "And Tracy, you're on."

The two smallest girls in the group took off like perfectly aimed hexes: red and brown hair streaming behind them. Sam and Christine threw their bags over their shoulders and followed at a much slower pace.

After gathering the last of their sweets, the four friends stumbled into Tracy's aunt's guest room amidst giggles and sugar-highs. They stayed up half the night chatting as they munched on their sweets. The current subject of conversation was the Muggle bloke who had asked Christine that night if he could ring her. Tracy had punched him. It took all of Lily's patience to explain that the boy was just chatting her up.

"I wish a bloke would ask me for my number," Lily said, opening another chocolate bar.

"You have Hottie," replied Christine, laying herself down on the middle of the ground and curling up into a ball as she clutched her stomach in pain. She'd eaten more despite her own pain and the advise of her friends.

"I don't even want Christian!" proclaimed Lily as Sam reached out and took the bag away from Christine.

"Are you all right, Christine?" Sam asked, looking at her friend lying so still on the blue carpet.

"I hurt," Christine replied, reaching out to grab her candy bag from Sam and drag it toward herself, where she hugged it to her chest.

"Well, Lily, you aren't going to snag a boy at Hogwarts," mumbled Tracy as she rummaged through her own stash of sweets.

"Why not?" asked Lily, feeling a sharp pang of hurt as her friend all but told her she was unattractive.

"What?" asked Tracy, pulling her head out of the bag.

"You just said I couldn't find a boy at Hogwarts. Why not?" Lily asked, trying not to sound too terribly upset by her friend's words.

"I said that?" Tracy asked. Lily saw Christine reach out for her bag. Sam moved it out of her reach

"You did," replied Lily as Christine glared at Sam. "Why couldn't I?"

"Well," began Tracy, "because you've got a bubble."

"A bubble?" Lily repeated.

"A bubble tells blokes not to try anything, no matter if they like you," explained Christine, crawling toward Sam and her bag.

"Why would I have something like that?" Lily asked.

"Dunno." Tracy shrugged as she poked her head back into her bag. "I just heard that you do."

"You're bubbled if a bloke likes you and lets everyone know it," Christine said as she lunged at Sam, who was tackled to the ground.

Hours and many different topics later, the four girls laid in various areas around the room, falling asleep. But for Lily, sleep did not and would not come easily.

------

"And what's this one taste like?" asked Christine in a loud voice that Monday in Potions. Christine, after a night of stomach problems, refused to eat anything without knowing beforehand what it tasted like. Hence, she was pestering Lily to no end.

"Peppermint," whispered Lily, trying not to draw too much attention to herself as she was trying to fall asleep sitting up.

Lily knew that it was easier to quiet her friend by answering her questions than ignoring her. Otherwise, Christine, who had absolutely no respect for a classroom setting, would ask the question over and over again until she received a response. The blonde girl popped the sweet in her mouth and spit it out.

"Ew!" she squealed. "That did not taste like peppermint."

Lily cringed. Why couldn't Christine learn the art of whispering and subtly? The professor had turned to face them.

"Would you like to leave, Miss Evans?" The professor -- a man Lily actually thought was rather entertaining -- asked Lily.

"Would I miss anything important?" Lily asked, hoping he would either take it as a joke and laugh or take it seriously and let her leave. How she would have loved to take a nap.

The professor smiled and shook his head at her. "You're rather impertinent today, aren't you?"

"It's Monday," Lily replied, shrugging. She could see people staring at her as she spoke so casually with the professor. Who cared, Lily was effing tired. The professor smiled fondly and shook his head at Lily before going back to patrolling the classroom.

"What's this one taste like?" interrupted Christine once more. Lily moaned and threw her head down on her hands in frustration. She had hardly slept that weekend and she was suffering the consequences and on top of that, Christine was poking her in the side, asking, "What does it taste like?"

------

As she walked towards the Great Hall after his morning classes, Lily felt like her head was about to explode. She was not sure what a migraine felt like, but she was sure Christine O'Connell was the cause of them. She pushed through the throngs of students, apologizing as she went. Then she accidentally knocked a book out of someone's hands.

"Oh shoot. I'm so sorry. I didn't see you," Lily said, bending to pick the book up and only managing to knock into the person who bent down at the same moment. She cried out and grabbed her head with her right hand as her left held the book.

"Sorry," he said. She looked up to smile at him and say it was fine, but when she recognized his face, her entire mood changed and she took two steps backward, her tired eyes widening. Why did she always have to make such an arse out of herself in front of him?

"I'm not going to hex you," James Potter said, looking upset by her reaction.

"You would if I were a Slytherin," Lily snapped back, knowing her anger came more from her lack of sleep than him.

James shrugged. "Probably."

"Here," she said, pushing the book she picked up into his arms. "Take your book. It's probably 101 Ways to Curse the Helpless." Then Lily turned and continued pushing her way towards the Great Hall. Once there, she grouchily took a seat across from Tracy.

"What happened to you?" Tracy asked, dipping a cracker into her soup.

"Nothing," Lily said shortly. But she saw Tracy's eyes flick towards the door and locked with James Potter's. They were silently talking. "Stop that!"

"Stop what?" asked Tracy, turning to Lily and putting on her most innocent face. Lily's eyes narrowed.

"Stop looking at him. Just because he's your Quidditch teammate doesn't mean he's perfect."

"He's also my friend," Tracy said.

"Whatever." Lily saw Tracy's eyes flash over to James's and grew more frustrated. "He's a bigot and bully."

"He picks on Severus Snape occasionally," Tracy corrected. If Lily did not know better, she would think Tracy was trying to make Lily like James. Well, too bad for her. Lily was determined to get over this annoying obsession she had with James. The first thing she needed to do was gather the willpower to go somewhere else to study on Wednesdays, or at least to tell him off so severely that he would never come back. The only problem was that she wanted him to come back. Argh! Dwelling on this was not helping her get over him.

"And he insists on either calling Severus Snape that stupid, cruel nickname," Lily said. "Normal people don't do that. How old were you when you stopped making up mean names for people you don't like?"

"I know that's a bit childish, but I think he has the right sort of idea. The Slytherins are lining up to join ranks with evil," Tracy said. If it had been anyone but Tracy-- Tracy who was one of Lily best friends-- the redhead might have slapped her.

"That's such a horrible stereotype," said Lily.

"It's not a stereotype when it's true," Tracy said, taking a sip of her water.

"Yes it is!" Lily snapped. "And it's not true!"

"Listen, I don't care. We're both tired and cranky. Why don't we skive off our afternoon classes and relax a bit?" Tracy suggested, side stepping an argument like she always managed to do. She held out a hand for Lily to shake, which the redhead did, though reluctantly. When Lily pulled her hand back there was a piece of parchment in it. Before Lily could look up at Tracy, the brunette was gone and Lily was left to read her note alone.

12:00 - 2:45
Fifth floor only before 2:15

And so the Game was on.

------

Lily's watch showed the time to be two thirty-seven and the score on her arm told her she was in second place. If she could make it back to the common room first, she would win. But the last corridor before the Fat Lady proved to be a problem.

Lily was running as fast as she could around a corner and towards the staircase that led to her common room when a voce made her freeze.

"Stop right there! Halt!" came the distinctly pompous voice of a prefect. In all of her running, Lily had missed their lighted badges. How could she have been so stupid?

"Lily?" asked a softer voice as the prefect lit her wand and pointed it at Lily. The redhead clutched her left side with her hand, breathing deeply as she tried to catch her breath.

"Ruth?" Lily asked, hoping she was right.

"What are you doing?" Ruth asked.

"Is your entire year trying to sabotage our chances at the house cup?" demanded the first speaker who Lily now identified as Mike. Ruth and Mike were the seventh year Gryffindor prefects.

"What do you mean my whole year?" Lily asked, hoping they had detained Christine, who was in first place.

"We just passed Remus Lupin and his crowd a few corridors back. None of you even bothered to hide from us," Mike said, sounding disappointed. His disappointment meant little to Lily as she saw a glint of movement behind him. She threw herself onto the ground, rolled to her right, aimed and shot the spell at the movement. Even in this poorly lit setting, Lily's aim was perfect. It was the power of the curse that failed her. Sam was hardly stunned.

"What's going on?" Ruth asked, covering her head. "Are we under attack?"

"No. No. Nothing. Don't worry," replied Lily, scrambling up and taking both of them by the hand in order to pull them toward the portrait hole. "Let's discuss this in the tower."

She ran as fast as she could, shouting the password early, but when she entered the room she saw Christine and Tracy panting near the entrance and her heart sank.

Even the scolding of her fellow prefects paled in comparison to the realization that she would not win this game (or even come in a close second). The harsh reminder of her weakness with curses came in the form of the materializing score sheet. All of her points could have been doubled (if not more) had she simply put more power into her curse-work, but she knew it was her weakest area and as she was no longer enrolled in Defense, she doubted she would be getting much better any time soon.

Because of her rank as prefect (and because they abhorred taking points from their own house), no points were taken off and the event went unreported. Lying in her bed that evening, Lily related the story back to her friends.

"The Game could have been ruined. What did they think we were doing?" asked Tracy.

"I have no idea. They seemed more upset about the fact that all of the sixth years were out of bed and roaming around the castle after hours," replied Lily.

"I wonder what the blokes were up to," Sam said.

"We could ask them," suggested Christine.

"Then we would have to explain what we were doing," Tracy snapped. "We can't do that."

Of the four of them, Tracy was strictest about the rules of the Game. It might have stemmed from the fact that she created the rules, but she insisted that knowledge of the Game extend no further than the four of them. That was part of the reason they were forbidden to talk about it aloud except in the dormitory at night. It was also one of the reasons for the odd way they were informed of the Game (Tracy passing each a note with a time period on it). At the appointed time, each girl cast the Commencement Charm and the Game was on: the four of them magically connected, the only ones who could be effected by the estimulumos spell, and the scores glowing on their arms.

Having a set time for the beginning and the end of the Game-- as opposed to each girl simply trying to get to the common room first-- had been Christine's idea, but Tracy had been the one to look up a spell that would safely freeze another person for a short amount of time. Lily had been the one who discovered how to connect the spell with the scoring system. Sam suggested acquiring extra points for being the first back to the common room within ten minutes of the end of the game and penalizing people who did not make it back in the allotted time. Tracy, of course, came up with the no-backs rule that forbid a person to attack a person who attacked them less than five minutes beforehand.

And that how, in short, the Game had grown from something of a flimsy idea into a well-defined powerhouse of fun.

------

The next prefect meeting, held in the middle of November, dragged on and on. Each pair of prefects had to report a problem they had and the group brainstormed ways to deal with said problem. Diana Halbur, the over-enthusiastic Head Girl, had come up with the idea.

Only three pairs of fifth years had spoken and an hour had already passed.

Everyone, it seemed, had a great idea about what or how a problem ought to be fixed. Lily's comments throughout (sometimes sarcastic, always jesting) did not speed up the process, but they managed to make her enjoy herself more. In between comments, Lily was sculpting a miniature Hogwarts out of the assortment of foods provided.

Her comments and sculpture were unappreciated by the Head Girl and the female sixth year prefects from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw (the self-proclaimed forerunners in the running for Head Girl). During each discussion the latter pair vied for the most speaking time and the final word. Sometimes, Lily felt like giving each a sword and telling them to duel. It would have been faster and more entertaining than the current situation: twenty-five students stuck in a dinky room listening to them shout at one another.

The current topic came from the Slytherin fifth years. It had been the 'current' topic for something close to twenty minutes with the same circular, ever-angrier arguments bouncing back and forth between the "forerunners."

"If you cover your badge, your authority will diminish and you won't be able to--" said the Ravenclaw through clinched teeth.

"And if you don't cover it, rule breakers will see you ahead of time and then won't receive the punishment they deserve and then--" interrupted the Hufflepuff, louder.

"The badge is the only thing that marks us as superior--" The shorter girl pushed her seat so forward that it pressed her against the table.

"And the light that it gives off marks us as well--" replied the girl across the table, leaning in to reinforce her point.

"If you take off the badge--" yelled the first girl.

"If you take no precautions--" interrupted the second.

"Just cast out a giant blinding spell," Lily said loudly. Everyone looked at her, surprised to here her mildly scornful and slightly self-mocking tone amidst the shouting. "If you blind them, the evil doers won't be able to see a thing, let alone your badge." The other prefects laughed incredulously, grateful to hear the bickering end.

At the sound of laughter both sixth year girls slid back into their chairs and looked embarrassed. The fifth year Slytherins who presented the problem looked uncomfortable.

"You need to wear to the badge so that professors know you're a prefect but if you hear a suspicious noise from somewhere close, you might want to put your hand over your badge to block the light a little," said Head Boy Matt McGrath, Tracy's brother.

"Fine. Be sensible, Matt. I still support the blinding spell," Lily said.

"Which would send you to Azkaban," quipped Kevin Creggie, sitting to Lily's left.

"If you care about that sort of thing," replied Lily, waving her hand as if that were a small detail. The fifth year Slytherins, who brought up the topic, nodded and sank gratefully into their seats.

"Thank you, Lily and Matt. That was an inventive way to fix the problem, but according to rule one hundred and twelve, Hogwarts prefects are never to block the light of their badge. If ever a student is in trouble and searching for one of us, we must ensure they are able to," said Diana, standing up to not so subtly remind everyone that she was Head Girl.

Diana had worked six hard years to deserve the title of Head Girl and she would be damned if a mere sixth year made her look less than capable of maintaining control of her meetings. Well, that was fine with Lily. She knew she wasn't a great prefect, let alone leader of meetings. She wasn't about to become Head Girl.

The Slytherins had been the last batch of fifth years, so the sixth years were now in charge of confessing a problem facing them. The Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff girls fought to be the first to announce their problems. The Hufflepuff, by sheer volume, won the battle.

"I often have first years come to me to ask for help dealing with Peeves. I have tried to talk to him, but he doesn't recognize my authority at all." The girl, whose name was Jenna, sounded distraught, as if the title of prefect ought to give her dominion over all living (and dead) things.

"I've never heard a complaint about Peeves from my first years," Jodie, the Ravenclaw sixth year, replied. Lily rolled her eyes as she took a bun and magically trimmed it into a replica of the South East Tower.

"Maybe your first years don't feel comfortable talking with you about such things," Jenna said meanly. "In Hufflepuff we make sure to ask--"

"My first years are perfectly content to complain to me!"

"And about you," snapped Jenna. Lily caught the eyes of the other sixth year girl in the room, Slytherin Gertrude Wrightman, and rolled her eyes. Gertrude glared back. The girl hated Lily.

"How dare--" began Jodie. Why weren't Jodie and Jenna's partner prefects saying anything to rein in their housemates? Stupid question. It wasn't like Remus would ever have said anything to Lily if she were acting that way.

"You ought to talk to Professor Dumbledore when Peeves acts up," interrupted Diana.

"I already thought to do that," snapped Jenna, obviously not realizing that she was talking to Diana, not Jodie. Lily, who had finished the windows of the tower, stepped in to speed this process up a bit. Another bought of fighting between Jenna and Jodie might prolong this meeting well into the night and Lily did not think she could handle that without screaming very, very loudly.

"Or you could dress up as the Bloody Barron and just try to terrify Peeves," Lily suggested, making the room smile. "Or, you know, you could just tell your first years to ignore Peeves. It's not like he ever really hurts anyone or anything. If they're really desperate, suggest that they tell him where the caretaker or Professor McGonagall are." Lily looked over at the head of her house and smiled. "No offense, but he's always more interested in attacking you than anyone else."

Professor McGonagall's eyes might have lightened. Or darkened. Lily wasn't sure. She turned back to her castle.

"If he has already pestered someone, there's little you can do except report it to an adult, but even they have limited ability to control him. The only person he listens to is Professor Dumbledore, and the only ghost he respects is the Bloody Barron. If he becomes truly unbearable, invoke the help of either of those two," Matt said. Lily looked over and smiled at him. "Next problem."

"Well," began Jodie, jumping up at the chance to announce an obviously much more important problem. Her partner prefect rose awkwardly beside her. "I have an increasing number of my housemates complaining about the food--"

Lily stopped listening. A glance at Matt told her that he had done likewise. The Head Boy picked up his quill and wrote on his parchment, then pushed it towards Lily. She looked down and read, Nice castle, bored?

Lily picked up her own quill and wrote back: Always.

Matt smiled and wrote, Did you have fun at my aunt's? Lily nodded, not bothering to look like she cared about the problems circling the group.

How was the feast? she asked.

Good. Two pumpkins exploded. He wrote back. Lily had heard the story from a third year after she returned from her day of Muggle fun, but never had the event explained to her.

I heard about that. What happened?

No one knows, but I suspect foul play from a certain group of Gryffindors in sixth year.

We weren't even here! Lily scribbled.

I meant the male half.

Oh. You're probably right.

Speaking of which. Where's Remus?

Sick or visiting sick family. Matt looked thoughtful, nodded and turned back to the discussion amongst prefects.

Lily and Mat were strange friends. She would never consider the tall, strong, blonde boy a good friend, but he was a good acquaintance. He was one of the few people at prefect meetings she could talk to without feeling as though he was trying to assert himself as her better. Most prefects were very proud of their accomplishments, to say the least. The fifth years were puffed up with pride in their title, the sixth years were vying for Head Girl and Boy, and the seventh year prefects were bitter about not being chosen Head Girl and Boy.

Lily could count the people she could manage a decent conversation with during these meetings on one hand: Cleo (last year's Head Girl), Matt, Remus (though they rarely spoke), and Kevin Creggie (the Ravenclaw sixth year who was unfortunate enough to work with Jodie).

As Lily looked around the room, she saw Jenna and Jodie nearly at each other's throats again. Their male counterparts looked bored and irritated. While those girls were ready to kill for the position of Head student, the boys knew their chances of becoming Head Boy was so slim that they didn't try.

Kevin had once explained it to Lily, saying that the headmaster didn't choose the Heads simply because they were prefects. He didn't pick them because of marks. Instead, he picked them because they were leaders and genuinely good people; they were the people the younger students could respect.

According to that logic, Lily didn't think any of the female prefects were likely to be promoted.

Lily knew that younger students didn't think much of her or her title. When they looked at her they saw a girl who was too loud, too assertive, too self-centered, and too nice to the Slytherins. Stopping the very popular James Potter from attacking the very unpopular Severus Snape (and yelling at James Potter a lot) didn't exactly invoke the love of her peers. Add to that that the younger prefects saw the way she acted in these meetings, zoning out during the pointless bits (most of the time, as it were), and her chances of Head Girl were non-existent.

Jenna and Jodie were insane. That isn't to say that they weren't good prefects, they were. They followed the rules to a tee and always respected figures of authority, but Lily didn't see admiration in the eyes of the first years they scolded for dropping books, eating too loudly, or arriving late to classes. But maybe Lily was bias since she did not like them much in their prefect modes, which was sad because Lily had known them pre-prefect and liked them both.

Out of all the girls, Lily would say the Slytherin prefect would be the most likely candidate. While she was more than a little intimidating and never, ever warm, Gertrude Wrightman wore her badge with pride, followed all the rules and held herself with something Lily could only describe as majesty. While she was intimidating and very unapproachable, Gertrude Wrightman fit Lily's picture of a Head Girl better than any other sixth year girl. Too bad Gertrude absolutely abhorred Lily.

Actually, if Lily were to choose the Head Boy, she would probably also choose the Slytherin sixth year. His housemates seemed terrified of him. As a result, they responded to his commands instantaneously. The rest of the houses, while not terrified of him, saw something in his character that made them take a step back him when he walked past. If that was respect, he deserved the title of Head Boy.

"Lily?" called a voice, pulling Lily from her thoughts. She looked up to notice every person in the room looking at her. She waved to the group, smiled self-mockingly, and met the gaze of a smug Diana as she said, "As you are the only member from your year and house, you realize that you have to speak, yes?"

"Of course," Lily began, "but I don't have a pressing problem to share, so if you would like to continue."

"Nothing?" Diana asked. "There's nothing troubling you?"

"Aside from food, Peeves, and lighted badges?" Lily said with a slight sarcasm laving her words. "Nope, nothing to complain about." Most of the prefects smiled and appreciated that Lily wanted to speed up the pointless meeting.

"There's nothing you'd like to change?" pressed Diana. Lily looked at the girl, wondering why this was so important to her, and raked her brain for something that bothered her.

"I suppose there must be something. Let me think," Lily said. Diana's face brightened and she motioned for Lily to stand and continue. "Can I go after the next group?"

"Of course," Diana said, motioning for the Slytherin seventh years to speak. Lily watched as they rose from their seats, watched the way the rest of the group moved subtly away from them, and the way the Slytherins packed closer together. Yes, there was something powerful about the two of them.

She let the voices of the prefects lull her into a sense of comfort as she zoned them out, perfectly her castle. She carved the stairs from Hogsmeade and wondered how she was going to make the Whomping Willow.

Lily turned back to her miniature castle and added bean-windows to a tower. Where was the Slytherin common room? Lily had visited the Hufflepuff tower and the Ravenclaw wing, but where did the Slytherins live? It couldn't be in the dungeons, could it? That would be just too-- Matt gently nudging her with her elbow bid her to look up and realize she was, once more, the center of attention in the room.

"All right," Lily began, standing. She saw many eyes glancing curiously at her miniature castle and so she pointed to it and said, "Isn't it adorable?" Many students chortled.

"I really don't have much to complain about in this castle-- the big one, I mean. I love the food, Peeves amuses me, and these lighted badges have saved me from a couple of detentions, but-- I don't know. It seems like not everyone's loving it here as much as me. Specifically, I mean Slytherin students." The room, which had been respectfully quiet a moment ago, was now crushingly silent.

"What do you mean?" Matt asked.

"Well, the other day a second year Ravenclaw dropped her things in the middle of the corridor and nearly everyone stopped to help her. A month ago, the same thing happened to a Slytherin and I was the only non-Slytherin to stop and help her," Lily said. She did not mention that fact that the Slytherin seemed anxious about Lily's help, like she didn't trust her to actually be kind. It was decidedly odd.

Lily looked around the room and noticed how uncomfortable this topic made everyone. The Ravenclaws glanced back and forth. The Hufflepuffs seemed contemplative. The Gryffindors looked shocked. Of all the houses, only the Slytherins met her gaze and in their eyes, Lily saw only doubt and disbelief, as if they did not think she could not really care.

"Even in this room, the Slytherins are grouped together to the side while the rest of the houses intermix," Lily noted.

"Maybe they don't want to sit by us. Maybe it isn't our fault," suggested a Ravenclaw fifth year. Lily shrugged.

"I'm not blaming anyone. I didn't make an effort to sit by you lot either," Lily replied, addressing the Slytherins. "I honestly wasn't going to address an issue in this meeting because it has been long enough already, but when the Slytherin seventh years stood up, the rest of the room shifted and it reminded me of that little girl who dropped her things and how everyone just walked around her." Lily sat and wondered why, exactly, she said any of that aloud.

"I, for one, do not believe that the Slytherin students are treated differently by the prefects or fellow students," announced Diana, standing up and losing respect as she did so. Everyone knew it happened, everyone had been party to such actions. "I know that were I to see such behavior I'd report it immediately--"

"You don't have to report it to anyone, Diana," Lily interrupted. "All you have to do is step in and help a student who drops her things."

"Of course. Of course, and then I would report anyone who didn't to the headmaster." Diana kept talking, but Lily stopped listening again. Diana was the most frustrating human ever. Lily did not normally talk this much in these meetings. Actually, she normally kept a low profile and counted the seconds until they were allowed to leave.

Soon after that discussion, Diana excused the seventh years from reporting their problems. Then she passed out the newest set of patrol times and dismissed them. Lily packed her things and started for the door when Matt caught her arm and turned her around.

"How many times would you say you've switched your patrol times?" he asked Lily. She had the distinct feeling that he had wanted to ask her this question for a while. The rest of the room was emptying.

"Only a few times last year, more this term. Why?"

"No reason. Only to mention that these times are non-transferable. It's difficult to organize these patrols even without changing duty times. Tell Remus that when he returns," Matt finished.

"All right," she replied. She wanted to leave, to curl up in the comfort of her bed and forget this whole mess of a meeting. But Lily sensed that Matt had something more he wanted to ask her. She waited. The room cleared.

"What you said about the Slytherins--" He stopped himself. Then he looked around the room to make sure it was clear before looking at Lily with those dull blue eyes that seemed so trusting and curious and honest. "Are you trying to be Head Girl?"

"No!" Lily exclaimed, confused. "In my wildest nightmares, being Head Girl is not something that I have to deal with." Matt said okay and goodbye, still regarding her strangely.

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