I hate the world today
You're so good to me, I know,
But I can't change
Tried to tell you but you look at me
Like maybe I'm an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet
Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see the softer side
I can understand how you'd be so confused
I don't envy you
I'm a little bit of everything
All rolled into one
-Meredith Brooks 'Bitch'
Souraya felt limp as she and Lily walked back to Hogwarts. She decided she didn't like crying. Maybe at first it felt good, like opening a bottle that's been fizzing for ages and the cork just needs to pop, but now she just felt empty. She could always kill Lily, while she was under the impression that Souraya was good. But…no. She wouldn't. Lily could help her, she would. She had promised.
'You okay?' Lily said quietly, sounding shaken.
'Fine.' Souraya marvelled at how strong she sounded. It came from years of having to be strong.
'We're almost there,' Lily said, starting to walk faster as the castle grew larger on the horizon.
'Can't I just apparate us?'
'If Voldemort is watching you- and I think he might be- he can't track us on foot. If we apparate back, he'll see you and me. I'm supposed to be dead, aren't I?' Souraya nodded 'This way, he'll just think you're lying low, until it's safe to go back to him.' Lily's pace became even faster, until she was almost running.
Souraya was not fit, because the Dark Lord did not train his followers in Physical Education. They used magic.
'Can we slow down?'
'If we slow down, we won't get there until it's dark. Or is that okay?'
Lily shrugged, and slowed down to a normal walking pace.
I hate the dark, Souraya thought passionately. It's so- so- cold. She looked at Lily, who didn't seem to be aware of the blackness closing in around her.
Why do I have to pretend? I could have said 'sure Lily. I'm fine with running.' But then- she reasoned- I would have collapsed a few miles back, and Lily would be carrying me.
'I hate the dark,' Lily said suddenly, sounding like she was voicing something she had never told anyone. 'The last time I was outside in the dark, it was because my parents had been killed.'
'Oh.' She couldn't think of anything else to say. 'When- when was that?'
'A few years ago. I was fifteen.'
Souraya remembered that, but she didn't say anything. Master was feeling particularly vindictive that week, and had decided to go after 'the Cooper girl.' Souraya herself had been asked to go, but she was studying for an exam, and couldn't. She didn't exactly want to, either.
'Do- do you miss them?'
'Yeah.' Lily looked around into the trees of the forest. 'All the time.' She walked a bit faster. 'Shit.'
Souraya glanced up in surprise. 'Pardon?' Lily didn't looked like the type of girl who would swear.
It was Lily's turn to look surprised. Souraya didn't look like the kind of girl who would say 'pardon.' She realised that she should answer her. 'Uh, we have to go through the Forbidden Forest.'
Lily raised her eyebrows. 'You've obviously never heard of the Forbidden Forest, have you?'
'Well, yeah. James and Sirius used to talk about it all the time. Doesn't sound scary to me.' She tried to stop her teeth chattering. Whether it was with fear or the cold, she didn't know, and didn't really want to find out.
Lily grinned slightly. 'They may have talked about it a lot, but trust me, I seriously doubt they've ever been in the Forest after dark. And if they have, it was only during-' Lily remembered she wasn't supposed to tell anyone about the Animagi transformations, and thought fast '-their first and second years, when they were even more stupid than they are now. If that's possible.'
'I thought you liked James?' Souraya said, stepping over a large log that had fallen down.
'What? Oh, yeah, I do.'
'But you're always insulting each other-'
'Nah, we just tease. I did use to hate his guts. In fact, in our third year, I think I preferred spinach to him…I hate spinach.'
Souraya grinned grimly to herself. This was the kind of conversation Lily would have with her friends. She was surprised the dark side hadn't managed to capture her yet. After all, if she was this kind to everybody…
'Souraya? Can you hear something?'
'Only our feet…some birds, I think they're hunting for mice-'
'No, I mean something- different. Weird, like.'
'Just listen. Properly.' Lily pressed.
James looked at the walls surrounding him, wondering if there were any secret passages nearby. Nope, this is was a completely unsafe area if Hufflepuffs were present. No escape whatsoever.
He sighed, wondering when they'd come back. Or maybe- his eyes lit up- Sirius and Remus would be taking a midnight stroll, and they'd rescue him! If they saw his name on the map- but no. Sirius just had to lose it, didn't he?
Of course he did.
James was just plotting ways to get Sirius back- not necessarily because of the map accident, but just for all the times he had been hit by dungbombs and firecrackers- and he was just planning the finals details of the plan -which would run ahead considering he ever got out of this dump- when the door opened.
Katherine McDowell walked in, smiling. 'Hi, James.'
He ignored her, and made a mad dash for the door.
'Uh uh, uh,' she said, shaking her finger, grinning. She blocked the doorway. James marvelled at how she managed to take up the entire doorway, figuring she was a skinny, icky, altogether bitchy Hufflepuff. He realised his last thought didn't make exact sense. 'How long have I been without food?' He wondered out loud.
'Oh, not long. I'm sure a strong man like you doesn't need food all that often,' she said in would-be-silky voice if it hadn't come from her. She brushed up against him, and James gagged. What did she think he ate, air? Biscuits?
'Have you seen Lily?' He asked.
Katherine's blue eyes clouded over and narrowed, making her look more menacing that ever.
'I was just wondering.'
Maybe he could curse her…yeah…now, where was his wand? Ah, yes. He had shoved the mahogany wand into his back pocket. Hopefully it wasn't sticking out. Hopefully she wouldn't think to search him. James didn't like the thought of her hand in his back pocket. Lily's maybe, but not hers…he suddenly realised he better move quick before she tried to tie him down.
'Petrificus Totalus!' He cried, whipping his wand out and pointing it at her.
She fell down to the floor, her legs snapped together and her arms stuck straight to her sides.
'Sorry.' He apologised, because she looked so- so helpless. Almost better than she normally looked, but not quite.
Then he raced back up to the Common Room, wondering if anyone had tried to rescue him from their clutches.
'I hear- nothing.' Souraya looked at Lily curiously, who had her eyes closed and was listening intently.
She heard Lily mutter a Charm, and became even more curious. What could she hear?
'What's going on?' As Tina had often pointed out, Souraya was horribly impatient.
'I can hear -something.' Lily crept forwards, trying to stop the leaves under her feet crunching. 'I don't know what it is,' she whispered.
Souraya racked her brains, trying to come up with a plan.
And then she remembered.
Tina always said she was forgetful.
'Padfoot? Moony? Wormtail?' James stepped into their dorm and two heads popped up.
'James! Where've you been all day?' James saw his best friend smirk in the moonlight. 'Out with Lily? Jo said she's not back yet.'
'No. Some Hufflepuffs cornered me and I've been suffering all afternoon.'
'Aww…poor Prongs. But then where's Lily? Did they attack her as well?'
'Er- umm- I don't think so. Maybe we should check.'
'Yeah, good idea. They might be force-feeding her spinach or something.' Remus blinked, trying to wake up.
'Eurgh. Where d'you think they'd put her?'
'Right where Filch'll see. We better hurry before Mrs Norris get revenge.'
The three boys left each wondering what a little -now very blue- cat could do to a seventeen-year-old girl.
Souraya's eyes opened wide with fear, and she started backing away from the direction Lily could hear noises from.
'What's wrong?' Lily hissed, also stopping in her tracks.
'I- they- Lily, we have to hurry! Say a charm- or- or- I don't know, but do something quick!'
Lily nodded, though she had no clue what was frightening her companion.
She whispered a charm and pointed her wand at the two of them. They could suddenly move a lot quicker, almost as if there was no gravity pulling them down. If Souraya hadn't dashed away, Lily would have quite liked to see how high she could jump.
By the time they reached the castle, both girls were out of breath and weak in the knees, but they hurried into the castle, slamming the door shut behind them.
Lily sat down, breathing deeply, watching Souraya with her bright green eyes. 'What- happened?' She gasped.
Souraya didn't answer for a moment and when she did, she spoke quietly, most unlike the Souraya Reilly most people knew. 'I told the Dark Lord that I'd meet him in the forest- I- I- forgot, I didn't mean to-' she broke off, trying with all her might not to cry. Why did she care what Lily, goody-goody in all respects (at least when it came to school-wok) thought of her? She wouldn't even have the stomach to do half the things Souraya had been able to manage by age thirteen.
So why did she care?
James, Sirius and Remus rushed down to the Great Hall, after hearing a loud bang, it was only to find Lily and Souraya, both of whom were drenched -it had been raining and neither girl had noticed the water soaking through their robes- and Souraya was crying. James blinked. She was the strongest girl he knew.
Lily looked up and saw them gaping at her, but she shook her head, not wanting to upset Souraya- not that it appeared possible, though you never knew. James shrugged, and they went back upstairs.
'Do you want to go to Dumbledore?' Lily asked quietly.
The black-haired girl nodded tearfully, wiping her eyes, feeling disgusted at herself.
They walked up to the Headmasters office, doing their best to go along silently, as Filch had been punishing students with the worst punishments he could think of, ever since some students (not that Lily knew them) had drenched his beloved cat in sparkly paint. She still shimmered, and was still a startling shade of blue. James and Sirius had informed her of Filch's new state of mind, and she was most eager to stay away from him.
'Okay. God, I hate this gargoyle!' Lily kicked it with her shoe.
Souraya, who still wasn't think clearly, calmly drew her wand and the gargoyle exploded neatly, falling to the ground in ashes.
Lily stared at the mess before her. 'Right. Well. Up we go.'
Lily knocked on the door, hoping he was there. If he wasn't, he would probably find his gargoyle while they were waiting for him, and she wasn't exactly sure how he'd take it.
The door opened and Dumbledore's old, wrinkled face peered around.
'Ah, Miss Cooper, Miss Reilly.' Lily smiled, while Souraya wiped her eyes and wondered who he was talking about. Then she remembered what her last name was, and smiled weakly at the Headmaster. She wasn't used to be called 'miss.'
'I've been expecting you. Please, come in.'
The two girls entered his office and sat down, Lily biting her nails, Souraya looking calm and sophisticated, while she had an argument with herself in her head.
You could be ruling the world, Ray, said the evil little voice in her head, and she could almost see it smiling at her, trying to make her do something, something bad.
Maybe I don't want to rule the world, said the other voice
Why not? Have everything you ever wanted-
I couldn't have freedom
You call this freedom? Look, these people are scared for their lives! They don't know what to do! You don't have to join them; you could be with your own kind-
These are my own kind…and this is freedom.
Souraya thought about this for a moment. Yes, this was freedom. Maybe they were scared, and maybe they didn't know what to do, but at least they were allowed to smile. She thought of Lily, who trusted almost everyone -except a certain little rat- of James, who was always fair, even if he did hate Slytherins, and of Dumbledore, who'd give anyone a second chance. And then of course there was Sirius, who was so damn cue it really didn't matter what he thought.
Anyone? Said the evil voice, questioning her.
Anyone. She answered firmly. Even me.
'Well then.' Professor Dumbledore sat down opposite them, and he was smiling, but his eyes appeared to be searching them, trying to see things even they didn't know. 'What did you want to talk about?'
Souraya shifted uncomfortably under his gaze and looked at Lily.
'Er- well, Souraya was kind of on the Dark Side- but' Lily hurried on '-she's changed, and she's really sorry. Voldemort told her to kill me, but- she didn't.'
Whatever the Headmaster had been expecting, it obviously wasn't that, and it took him a moment to compose himself. 'And why did you change, Miss Reilly?' He looked directly at Souraya.
'I…I didn't like what they were doing,' she said honestly, trying to think of a way to say it without sounding stupid. 'I- it wasn't fun, killing people.' She turned red. 'I didn't understand how they thought it was exciting. Sometimes-' she gulped '-sometimes I liked- liked not knowing what was going to happen next, and when Tina was around it was almost like having a real friend. So- I went along with it. But- but now I've changed, I really have! Please,' she looked at him and Lily pleadingly, begging them to believe her, 'I have.'
Lily had heard it before, and she nodded -if Souraya was going to kill her she would have already. Professor Dumbledore gave her another hard stare, and then his blue eyes twinkled and the lines at the corner of his eyes wrinkled up. 'I believe you, Miss Reilly. I will talk to you tomorrow morning, at a more reasonable time. Professor Snape will tell you when to come.' She stared at him for a moment.
'You mean I can go?' Her own blue eyes were a picture of disbelief and relief mixed up together.
'Yes.' The Professor smiled. 'Off you go. Miss Cooper, please stay a moment.' Lily nodded and Souraya leapt up, grinning, her face feeling as though it were about to break from happiness.
'Ah, Lily. It's a confusing world we live in, isn't it?'
Lily wasn't quite sure what to say, so she just said the obvious. 'Er- yes.'
'That was a very noble thing you did. Most would not have forgiven someone else so easily.'
'You did.' Lily's eyes widened. Why was she always talking to the Headmaster like that?
He laughed. 'I have many years of experience. Tell me, how did you know she wasn't lying?'
'Her- her eyes changed colour. They were black…now they're blue.'
Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully, stroking his beard. 'And why did you come here tonight? If I'm not mistaken, you would not have normally blown my gargoyle to pieces.'
'Your? Oh, yeah. Uh, sorry about that. Um, Souraya thinks that Voldemort is in the Forest…we had to walk through the forest,' she explained. 'And she got all scared and we ran away…she was just so scared, you see?' Lily was biting her nails as she spoke, though there were barely any nails left to bite.
'Yes. Do you know where in the forest?' Professor Dumbledore leaned forward in his seat.
Lily thought hard. 'Around the- East edge, I think? I'm not really sure.'
'Thankyou for bringing her in, Lily.'
Lily nodded. 'S'okay.'
'How is Mr Potter, by the way?'
Lily turned slightly pink, but composed herself and grinned. 'I think he was being chased by Hufflepuffs last time I heard.'
'Ah, yes. They still haven't figured it out yet?'
'Er- no, I don't think so.' Figure what out? She thought, wondering if Dumbledore had lost it, then decided that he probably hadn't.
'Before you go, Miss Potter- did I say Potter? I meant Cooper.' Lily turned red, and hoped whatever it was he said it quick so she could get out of there. 'I'm sure you've heard of Aurors?'
'What would you think of becoming something like an Auror? Not quite an Auror- we'll leave that to the professionals-' Lily could have sworn she heard him mutter something under his breath '-but it would be a great help to our side.'
Lily nodded again, not even needing time to think about it. 'Sure.'
'What were you thinking of doing when you left school?'
She hadn't thought about this.
'Er- something to do with Charms, I think. I don't really know.'
Professor Dumbledore nodded his head, smiling. He glanced at his watch 'Goodness me, look at the time. Thankyou again for bringing Miss Reilly to me. I'll let you tell your friends where you've been.'
Lily grinned and dashed out the room, praying her face wasn't too red.
James, Sirius, Remus and Jo were all fast asleep in the common room. Holly was playing chess with herself, but the rest of the common room was empty of people and was almost silent, if you somehow managed to ignore Sirius's snores.
Holly glanced up at Lily when she entered and smiled brightly, blinking because she was half-asleep.
'Where on earth have you been? Oh, God, I sound like my mother. But where have you been?'
'Maybe we should wake the others up,' Lily suggested.
'Oh, yeah.' A few well-chosen words later, their friends were up, wet, and quite grumpy.
'Evening, my pets,' Holly carolled cheerfully, ignoring the daggers they were sending at her. 'Oh, for goodness sake- Jesus Christ, why do I keep talking like Mum? Anyway, why don't you just use a spell?'
'What? Oh. Oh, yeah.'
When they were all dry and had drenched Holly as payback, all five of them gathered around Lily, asking where she'd been in one voice.
'Let's just say that Souraya- you know, that exchange student?' She said to Holly and Jo, who didn't know her. 'She was working for Voldemort.' James turned pale. 'She's back now, she was supposed to kill me but she didn't. Honest.'
Sirius looked sceptical. 'Are you sure?'
'Yes, I'm positive. She had a billion chances to kill me, and she didn't. She even went to Dumbledore…so be nice to her, won't you?' Lily sounded anxious.
'Kay… hey, have you heard about James's fabulous day?' Sirius sounded delighted.
'No. I heard something about Hufflepuffs but- what happened?'
James looked pained. 'I was trapped all afternoon. And- uh oh.'
'I think Katherine McDowell is still there.'
'She can't exactly move.'
Lily snorted, and soon all six of them were laughing.
A few weeks later, Lily, James, Jo, Sirius and Remus were sitting on the grass outside, enjoying the sunshine that was unusual in February. In fact, there'd barely been any snow at all this year, though the five seventh years weren't particularly bothered about the weather at the moment.
Sirius was just about to challenge James to a game of Chess- he hadn't beaten him in weeks- when there was a very loud bang from somewhere near the forest.
Sparks started flying up, and many of the students who happened to be outside- especially the brave (and stupid) went to investigate.
'Great.' Sirius muttered. 'Now either James'll go, and Lily'll follow, because they obviously could let the other go -' Sirius pulled a face '-and then Remus'll have to choose either to make them come back and be rational or go and save the world- I'd say he'll choose the latter- and then you'll probably go, and I'll have to follow- that is, if I haven't already left because I've lost my mind too-'
Jo looked up from digging a little hole in the grass- she had a horrible habit with pulling out grass. 'Why'd you follow me?'
'Hey, I don't want all my best friends over there and me here all by myself.' He looked a bit surprised.
Jo nodded, and then realised that James, Lily and Remus had already left. 'I think it's our cue.' She said, grinning.
'Yup. Who went first, Prongs or Kermit?'
Jo looked over to the forest, where Lily was trying to drag James away from all the commotion. 'James, I think.'
'Come on, then. Don't want to miss out on all the action.'
The two of them jogged over and caught up with the other three, who were peering over the heads of the crowd.
A tall man in black was standing in a clearing, holding his wand above his head, flying the sparks up. He was holding a girl down with a spell.
Lily gasped, and tried to fight through the crowd to get her away. James and Remus held her back by her robes. 'Lily!' James hissed quietly, so no one could hear. 'They've been trying to kill you for the last three years. Don't be stupid.'
Lily stopped struggling, but still looked determined to do something.
Before anyone could do anything, however, a small figure pushed towards the front of the crowd. 'Avery.' She said coldly, and the figure pushed back her hood, revealing long, black, shiny hair.
'Souraya!' Lily whispered, and this time she did get to the front, before anyone could stop her. 'What are you doing?'
Souraya turned around, her blue eyes shining. She smiled at Lily, and mouthed 'thankyou.' Then she stepped up to the dark wizard.
'It's not her you want.' She said clearly, making the crowd whisper excitedly. 'It's me.'
'Ah, the little Reilly girl. Changed sides, have we? Well, Master did say you weren't to live much longer. What harm would it be if I killed two girls? Not much difference, I'm sure. He lowered his wand. 'No.' Lily said quietly. 'Not Holly, someone, do something!'
'Avada Kedavra' Avery hissed. Souraya fell to the ground, lifeless.
'There goes one little nuisance. And now for the second. Miss Parker, I presume?' He looked at Holly, who stared up at him determinedly.
'What can we do?' Lily whispered, terrified.
But before they could do anything, Holly was on the ground.
Avery laughed, and apparated away. Lily rushed to Holly, whose hair hung over her face. 'Someone get Dumbledore, quick!'
Half the people gathered rushed away, not wanting to stay any longer. 'They're dead, aren't they?' Lily said numbly, not wanting to believe it.
James nodded, his brown eyes hard and cold.
When the Headmaster came, they left, after a last glance at the two girls, both of whom were still on the ground.
Lily collapsed onto her bed, refusing to talk to anybody or anything, and she threw her mirror on the ground when it tried to say something cheerful. James knocked on the door tentatively, having her stories from all her room mates -especially Lianne, who had had a clock thrown at her- about what a terrible mood Lily was in.
Lily buried her face in her pillow, muttering something. James sat down on her bed, and Lily lifted er head ever so slightly. 'I said, go away.'
'Oh, sorry. I didn't quite catch that.' He looked around, wondering if he'd have to intercept any flying clocks. It appeared that the other girls, in fear of their safety had confiscated all the clocks (and any other objects that were hard and light enough to throw- such as chairs), so he was reasonably safe in his present position.
'Lily, what's wrong? I know you're upset about Holly and 'Ray, but there isn't anything we can do.'
Lily wondered if throwing James the Second (her teddy) would hurt him. She decided that it wouldn't, and stayed silent.
'Why are you so angry? There's no way you can block Avada Kedavra, you know that.'
Lily sat up, and James saw that her eyes were red from crying. 'We just had to stand there, and watch them die. It wasn't fair.' She looked up at James, her eyes shiny with tears. 'It wasn't fair. I just felt so helpless! Why did they have to kill her? She hadn't done anything!'
James hugged her tight, rocking her back and forth, trying to calm her down.
'And- and Souraya. She was good. You know, she was going to help us? On our side…I hate them.' She clenched her fists. 'I hate them.'