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The Flower and the Stag, Part 3

James lay in bed, planning out what he was going to do that day.

Then he remembered, and groaned, pulling his pillow over his head.

‘James!’ His mother called. ‘Time to get up!’

He hid under the covers.

He heard her push the door open and come in, humming under her breath.

It all right for her to hum. James thought miserably. She doesn’t have to spend a week with Lily Cooper.

His mum pulled the covers off and grinned cheerfully at him. He glared at her and slid out of bed.

While his parents packed, all they talked about was their holiday. After about half an hour they remembered he was still there.

‘Looking forward to seeing your friend then, James?’

‘Nope.’

His dad raised his eyebrows. ‘You two still haven’t worked out your differences?’

‘Nope.’

‘I don’t want to here that you’ve been being a nuisance at the Coopers.’ His mother said sternly.

James stayed silent.

*****

They drove into London and ate breakfast in a small café and then drove on to a little village just out of the city.

They stopped in front of a fairly large house that was a bit run down, but James though ‘at least I’ll have something to do here.’ And while painting an old house wasn’t exactly thrilling he’d rather do that than spend time playing with dolls, or whatever girls did.

His parents gave him a hug, kissed him and drove off, leaving him with strangers. And Lily. The thought of Lily wasn’t exactly comforting either.

The Coopers smiled at him. ‘The girls are still asleep, I’m afraid. Would you like something to eat?’

‘No thanks.’ He answered.

‘Well, the televisions in there,’ Mr Cooper pointed to a large room coming off the hallway.

‘Television?’ James repeated blankly.

‘Oh, yes dear, Lily said he mightn’t know what some thing are.’ Mrs Cooper whispered to her husband.

So Mr Cooper showed James what a television was, and after he’d explained it, he left James to watch the morning cartoons.

He was in the middle of watching a program about a dinosaur, when he heard someone running down the hallway.

A tall, thin girl appeared at the door, squealed and ran back up the stairs.

He heard her screeching to someone else somewhere in the house and crept up the stairs to listen.

‘What is that person doing in my house? Do you HEAR what I’m telling you? Get him OUT!’

‘Sorry, no can do.’ He heard Lily’s familiar voice mumble.

Her sister stomped out of the room, screamed when she saw James and raced down the stairs again.

The next moment, Lily was at the doorway.

James stared at her for a moment. Her hair was in a mess, she was wearing her pyjamas and her eyes looked puffy.

‘What are you staring at?’ She muttered, and pushed past him.

James went back downstairs.

Lily came out awhile later, with her hair tied back and she was wearing clothes. He’d never seen her in jeans before, only black. It made her look different.

She poked her tongue out and went into the kitchen.

For the rest of the day, Lily avoided him, Petunia avoided him, and their parents tried to be nice.

The next day, Petunia (for some demented reason) was following him around like a puppy follows its mother.

James caught Lily off guard and asked her why.

‘She likes you.’ She said with an evil grin on her face.

‘She hates magic. Remember?’ He replied crossly. He was sick of the older girl treating him like a king.

‘Ah, but now she knows that we can’t use it yet.’

‘Then why does she still hate you?’

Lily’s face clouded over. ‘Because she just does, alright?’ She got up from the chair she’d been sitting in and went to her room.

James groaned. One witch was bad enough. And now her sister liked him.

Yuck, yuck, yuck. Why couldn’t it be Lily? James suddenly realised what he’d just thought. Why would you want Lily to like you? He argued with himself.

She’s the witch who turned you into a cockroach! Remember? He pushed the thought of liking Lily out of his head and thought of ways to hate her instead.

It was much easier.

The next two weeks were hell. James and Lily snapped at each other, tried to fight (Petunia kept interfering) and the rest of the time just ignored each other completely.

Mr and Mrs Cooper did their best, however, Lily had taken to wearing earplugs whenever they started lecturing on friendship.

On the last day, James and Lily were playing wizard chess. Lily was hopeless at it, and Petunia had run away terrified when she saw that the pieces could talk and move.

James couldn’t pay attention. He kept seeing the bright green eyes in front of him instead of his chess pieces.

You hate her. He told himself severely. You are enemies. You can’t like Lily. Just forget this, okay? But he still couldn’t concentrate.

‘Stop it!’ He said out loud by accident.

Lily looked up in surprise. ‘What? Stop what?’

James felt his face flush, and Lily looked curiously at him. ‘Nothing.’ He muttered.

‘You look like a tomato,’ Lily commented.

‘You look like some one’s tipped flour over your face.’ He snapped crossly.

She glared at him, tipped the chess pieces back in the box (with them screaming at her loudly) and stomped up to her room in huff.

*****

Lily’s parents dropped them off at Kings Cross Station the next morning. James and Lily weren’t speaking to each other because James had hidden a cockroach under Lily’s sheets. She’d woken in the middle of the night shrieking, only to find James standing in the doorway grinning when she switched on the light.

She gave him a blood nose.

They sat silently in their compartment, waiting for their friends to arrive. Sirius bounced in first, a huge grin on his face. It grew even wider when he saw them together.

‘Friends again?’ He asked happily.

‘As if.’ They two said in unison.

‘Were we ever friends?’ Lily added.

‘Oh well. It’s way more fun this way.’ He noticed James’s nose was bigger than usual. ‘What happened to your nose?’ He asked curiously.

‘Nothing,’ James muttered, while Lily giggled. He glared at her, and Sirius watched them in confusion.

‘James Potter. Did she punch you?’ Sirius was obviously delighted.

‘Maybe.’

Sirius tutted. ‘Lily, Lily, Lily.’

‘What?’ Lily said irritably.

‘You do know that James will hate you for this?’

‘He already did, Sirius.’

‘Ah, but-’

‘What is your point?’ Lily snapped.

‘My, my, we are in a grumpy mood today, aren’t we?’

Lily got up and grabbed her trunk, pulling it down off the shelf and just missing James by inches.

‘I am sick of this.’ She muttered and dragged it out the door.

‘What did you do to her?’ Sirius asked in amazement.

‘Spent two weeks at her house.’

‘Ooh. When’s the wedding?’

James glared at his friend. Sirius must have decided the look in James’s eyes was dangerous, because he didn’t push the subject any further.

They all sat together at the Sorting, the boys on one side of the table, Lily and Holly on the other.

Remus, Sirius and Holly were discussing- actually, trying to discuss the new subjects for that year, but James and Lily were arguing with each other at the same time.

The others ignored them, until some pumpkin soup went flying over the table.

They stopped talking and watched as James wiped the soup of his face. Lily was hysterical.

Some first years were sitting near them and all of them turned to watch the older kids with interest.

James had finished cleaning himself by then, but Lily was uncontrollable. So when James flung some pie at her she was completely helpless, and just sat and laughed. Holly tried to calm her friend down, she was having a coughing fit; some pie had gotten into her throat.

After about 5 minutes, Lily was just sitting and breathing deeply, only breaking out into giggles occasionally.

When she had complete control of herself, she loaded her spoon up with peas and some apple pie, aimed for James and got him smack on the nose.

He yelled loudly; his nose was still aching for the day before and burning apple pie was not helpful.

Professor McGonagall appeared behind Lily in a trice and surveyed the scene before her. She sighed heavily and said in a tired voice

‘Potter, Cooper, with me. Now.’

Lily got up and followed the Professor, James left a moment after and found them waiting for him in the hall.

‘What am I going to do with the two of you?’

‘You could expel him.’ Lily said helpfully.

Professor McGonagall frowned at her and stood silently for awhile.

‘I can’t stop you hating each other, but why don’t you just leave it at insulting each other?’

They nodded and left to go back into feast.

Professor McGonagall stood in the hallway for a moment.

What am I doing? Giving students permission to insult each other? Minerva, you’ve gone crazy. She shook her head and walked briskly back into the Great Hall.

*****

The Gryffindor third years first lesson the next day was potions.

The Professor spent a long time explaining a project to them, and giving them the ingredients they needed. Then she dropped a bombshell.

‘I’ll be putting you into groups of two, I don’t want any arguments, all right?’

She went around the dungeon pairing everyone up.

‘Cooper, go with Potter,’ she said briskly.

‘WHAT?" Lily screeched.

The entire class turned around and Lily felt herself go pink. ‘Um, sorry, but- but can’t you change it? Pleeeease?’

She frowned at Lily. ‘I said I didn’t want any arguments. Go and sit with Mr Potter.’

Lily walked slowly over to James table and slumped into a chair. They sat silently for awhile, until the professor said

‘Get to work.’ They didn’t move and she walked over to their table.

‘Now.’

Lily picked up a shrivelfig and started to chop it up. James grabbed it from her and hissed ‘you don’t do it like that.’ He took it from her and Lily pulled a face.

‘Fine, you do it if you’re so smart.’

James ignored her and continued chopping.

*****

‘Come on Lily, come.’ Holly begged her friend.

‘No way. I am not going out in the freezing cold to watch Quidditch.’

‘It’ll be fun, better than just sitting around.’

Lily shook her head. ‘All you do is giggle at that Ravenclaw seeker. I’d come to a game, but not to Ravenclaw training. Okay?’

‘Fine, fine.’ Holly went of with the other Gryffindor third years, talking about the Quidditch teams. At least, the boys on the Quidditch teams.

Lily watched them go and sighed. Some one behind her echoed her sigh and she spun around.

James grinned at her. He was leaning over the back of the armchair she was on, grinning like a Cheshire cat. She narrowed her eyes.

‘What do you want, Potter?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Good. I’ll see you tomorrow. Unfortunately.’ She muttered under her breath.

James watched her go, sighed, pulled a book of the shelf and started reading.

*****

‘Hush little baby, don’t say a word. Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird, and if that mocking bird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna you a diamond ring.’

‘No, please, not Harry! Have mercy, please, take me, kill me instead!’

*****

Lily woke up. She could hear Holly snoring and Laura, another Gryffindor girl, talking in her sleep.

She lay back down and tried to sleep, but it was impossible. Every time she closed her eyes, she heard that lullaby. Her mother used to sing it to her.

Finally, she gave up and went down to the common room. It was deserted, so she sat down in an armchair that was in front of the fire. Lily stared at the glowing coals for awhile and then dozed off to sleep.

*****

Sirius and James crept in the portrait hole, covered by James’s cloak. They went over to a large chair and sat in it, took the cloak off, and opened the book they had grabbed from the library.

~Animagi~

The title said in gold, bold letters. They turned the pages gently, as it was very, very old. It was a very complicated potion. They were reading the difficulties involved when they heard a sound by the fire. Sirius slammed it shut and stuffed it under the chair, while James went over to the fire.

He saw a small figure curled up on the cushions and he went over to wake them up, but when he saw who it was, he nearly turned back.

Sirius joined him, but instead of standing and staring at her, he walked over and started to shake her.

‘No, don’t kill Harry, please, have mercy, please, don’t kill my baby!’ Lily whispered.

Lily woke up with a start and the two boys stared at her in shock.

She rubbed her eyes and realised who it was. ‘What did I just say?’

‘You said ‘Don’t kill Harry, please, have mercy, please, don’t kill my baby.’

‘Oh.’

‘So. Who’s Harry?’

‘Don’t know.’ Lily said quietly.

Sirius and James watched her for a moment. She seemed to be looking for something that wasn’t there.

‘You okay?’ Sirius asked.

Lily shook herself out of a trance. ‘Yeah. I’m fine.’

Then she got up and disappeared into the girl’s dormitories.

Sirius looked at James in surprise. ‘You’ll have to watch that one.’ He said with a knowing expression on his face.

‘What?’

‘I think she’s a few screws loose. You know, missing the top deck.’

James looked at Sirius blankly.

‘Nobody’s home.’ Sirius said loudly, leaning in closer to James.

‘I’m tired. See you in the morning.’ James started towards the boy’s staircase.

‘But- we haven’t finished-’

‘Lets do it tomorrow, okay?’

‘Fine.’ Sirius followed his friend up the staircase, pulling faces behind his back. What was wrong with him? He was almost as nutty as Lily. Almost, anyway.

The next day Lily acted as if nothing had happened, so James and Sirius pretended nothing had happened. She sat at the opposite end of the table to them at breakfast; usually they sat together; Lily liked to comment on James’s hair.

Holly had stayed up late the night before studying for a big test they had and didn’t notice anything different, she was having enough trouble keeping her eyes open.

James, Sirius and Remus were sitting in a huddle with their heads close together discussing something. Peter Pettigrew was trying in vain to join the conversation, finally giving up and sulking over his cornflakes.

Lily gazed around the great hall, although nothing very interesting ever happened at breakfast. The Slytherins were arguing with the Ravenclaws over something in Quidditch; nothing important, not to her anyway.

The Hufflepuffs sat quietly eating their breakfast, talking to their friends in little groups. Lily yawned, stood up and was about to leave when a loud yell filled up the Great Hall. It was coming from the Slytherin table.

Lily could see them all, most with their ears covered. One boy was sitting very quietly, his face very red.

Severus Snape.

YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE ENTIRE FAMILY! HOW DARE YOU BEFRIEND GRYFFINDORS! THEY ARE NICE! YOU ARE FILTHY! (at this stage, half of the Slytherins left the room in disgust, glaring at Severus.) Lily thought that the voice sounded vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

NOW, I INSIST YOU BE AS ROTTEN AS BEFORE, NO MR NICE GUY! Whoever sent the howler broke into giggles suddenly and Lily knew who it was. James. She glanced over at him, but he’d left the room.

Lily followed, and the sounds of Severus being yelled at drifted behind her into the corridor, where she found James and his friends laughing hysterically.

‘You’re dead meat, you know.’ She said calmly. ‘McGonagall’s probably hunting you down already.’

‘But you’ll protect us, won’t you?’ Sirius mocked.

Lily grinned. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing McGonagall dissect you with her own bare hands.’

Sirius pulled a face, and laughed. ‘For a girl, you come up with some pretty funny things. Too bad you are a girl.’

Lily glared at him. ‘And I hope she kills you first.’

‘I won’t be killing anyone, Miss Cooper.’ A voice said coldly behind her.

Lily turned around slowly. Professor McGonagalls face was stony, her eyes were blazing with anger. Lily stepped back, bumped into James, who knocked over Remus. The three of them lay in a heap.

‘Get up.’ The professor snapped. They got up.

‘ I want an explanation. Now.’

All three of them started talking at the same time.

‘We sort of sent this Howler to Snape-’

‘And I guess now we’re in trouble-’

‘But it was just a joke-’

Professor McGonagall turned to Lily. ‘And you, Miss Cooper?’

‘What about me?’

McGonagalls eyes narrowed. ‘What was your role in this prank?’

‘I didn’t have one.’

To the Professors surprise, the boys didn’t object. She had been expecting them to say that Cooper was ringleader of their little gang, just to get Lily into trouble. But they hadn’t.

‘Then why are you out here?’

‘Just… Talking.’ Lily answered. If they got her into trouble…

‘Just talking?’ The professor raised her eyebrows. She was in a very bad mood already, someone (and she suspected their initials were J.P.) had been sending little cards to everyone in the school. They said

Go to the window

Tell professor what you see

If she gets mad

Don’t say it was me

So she’d had at least 100 students come up and tell what they could see outside of the window. It was driving her crazy. And it was still only breakfast.

She was definitely not in the mood to have someone (especially not a little witch that was already known for causing trouble) mess around with her.

‘All of you, go to Professor Dumbledores office. I suppose you know where that is? The passwords the same as last time. He’ll be up to see you later, when he finds the time.’

She breezed away, her blue robes swirling out behind her.

‘Great.’ Lily moaned. ‘Just great.’

James laughed. ‘Shows you shouldn’t gloat.’

‘I wasn’t gloating. I was just…telling you to watch out.’

‘You said McGonagall was going to kill us.’ Remus pointed out.

‘Most people would run in that situation.’ Lily said grumpily.

They had reached the entrance to Professor Dumbledores study, James told the picture the password and they entered.

Most of the witches and wizards that were waiting for Professor Dumbledore over the years sat nervously in their chairs, waiting for him to come with their hands in their laps.

But not these students.

Lily watched the professor’s Phoenix fly about in its cage, she had never seen one before and was fascinated.

The boys tried on the sorting hat, looked at the papers on Dumbledores desk, and were about to try a spell he had written out when the professor himself appeared in the fireplace.

‘Good morning,’ he said cheerfully.

‘Morning.’ They chorused and sat down in some chairs and waited for him to speak.

‘Well. This is- what, the fifth time you’ve been here these last few years?’

‘The sixth,’ Sirius said proudly, and Dumbledore laughed.

‘Yes, the sixth. But only your first, Miss Cooper.’

‘Uh huh.’ This little talk wasn’t going exactly the way she had expected, and just as she was relaxing, Dumbledore became serious.

‘Mr Snape is quite upset, as is the rest of Slytherin house.’

‘Oh.’ Sirius said, trying to hide his smile. ‘Sorry about that.’

‘Mr Black, we cannot have this type of behaviour at Hogwarts. A few pranks, we can look over, but some people are getting sick of it. Professor McGonagall is one, I think she’s beginning to run out of punishments.

James tried not to laugh.

‘I will be taking 30 points from Gryffindor house, and you will all have a detention. You may go. Miss Cooper, could you stay a moment?’

Lily nodded and sat down again. Professor Dumbledore waited until all the boys had left before he spoke.

‘Professor, I didn’t do anything today, I swear-’

‘Yes, I know.’ He smiled at her kindly. ‘You and Mr Potter are not friends, I take it.’

‘Not really,’ Lily muttered.

‘As long as it doesn’t get out of hand. He’s a good boy at heart.’

Lily snorted, then suddenly remembered she was talking to the headmaster and blushed, but he just laughed.

‘You can go, but try not to torment those boys too much. I think they underestimate you.’

Lily grinned and left the room glowing. They underestimated her, hey? She rubbed her hands together. This was going to be good.

The Gryffindors had potions that day and they had to work with their partners.

‘Pass the beetles.’ James said shortly.

‘I need them.’

‘We’re supposed to be working together.’

‘Unfortunately.’ Lily said under her breath.

‘I heard that.’

‘Good, you were supposed to.’

They worked in silence for the rest of the lesson, until Sirius decided to join them.

‘Snape is driving me crazy,’ he whined.

‘Want to swap?’ Lily asked.

‘You’re joking, aren’t you?’ Sirius said in disbelief. ‘You want to go with Snape? Instead of James?’

Lily considered the possibilities. ‘Actually, I might stay with James.’

‘I knew it was too good to be true.’ Sirius pulled a face and went back to the cauldron he was working at.

At lunchtime, Lily sat alone, reading a book. It was an ordinary muggle book she had brought from home, except she hadn’t had any time to read it.

Towards the end of lunch she got the feeling someone was watching her, so she looked up quickly. Most people had left the Great Hall, and there were only one or two Hufflepuffs, a couple of Ravenclaws and some Gryffindors still eating. James and his friends were down the opposite end of the table to Lily and as she looked in their direction, James looked up. She met his eyes and he grinned at her. She poked her tongue out and went back to reading.

But she still felt like someone was watching her.

*****

A few weeks after Snape received the howler, James got some letters. Lily was helping Remus study for a Charms test because he had been sick for awhile. Sirius leaned over to see what James had got, and let out a whoop of laughter.

Lily and Remus looked over curiously and saw that James’s face had gone bright red. Remus read it over James’ shoulder and soon joined Sirius in hysterical laughter.

Lily tried to read it, but James pulled it away.

‘Hey!’ Lily said in surprise. She made a grab at it, snatched it away and read it standing on a chair so James couldn’t get it.

Dear James

I miss you with all my heart. Life is so lonely without you. And you do such a good job of annoying Lily, better than I could ever do. I await your wonderful return,

Petunia Cooper

Lily shrieked with laughter and hopped off the chair, singing

‘James and Petunia, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes-’

James clapped his hand over her mouth. ‘I do not like your bony, horse-faced sister.’ He hissed angrily.

Lily sighed. ‘Good thing too. I wouldn’t want to be related to someone who can’t even brush their hair.’

Something in James popped and he made a grab for her hair, missed, landed face first in some porridge and then chased Lily around the Great Hall.

Lily ran into Professor Flitwick, knocked him down, and then James tripped over them both.

Professor McGonagall ran over to find Professor Flitwick putting on his spectacles and James Potter and Lily Cooper trying to kill each other. That’s what it looked like, anyway.

*****

James got quite a few letters from Petunia, and grew more and more embarrassed.

But after awhile, she grew tired of it and they all forgot about them.

Voldemort was gaining more power.

He didn’t dare try to enter Hogwarts, but all around them he was killing people.

In the newspapers they said he believed greatly in Divination. Apparently, when he was still at school, the teacher had made a prediction.

The great one will rise,

the good will fall,

the great one will die,

and child rise above them all.

Most said it was just a stupid prediction, but divinators believed it. Other people said ‘but wouldn’t that mean he’ll die?’

The thing about predictions, they soon realised, was that there were a number of ways to look at them. So in the end, the kids went back to concentrating on school- work.

Lily’s nightmares grew worse and worse, until it got to the stage where she didn’t want to go to sleep at all.

One night, she sat in the common room drinking coffee to keep herself awake. She heard whispers coming from the boy’s staircase, but she was too tired to move, and just sat and listened.

She recognised James and Sirius’s voices, and heard them sit down near her.

They obviously hadn’t noticed her there though, because she could hear them whispering to each other quite loudly.

‘We’ll need to get most of the ingredients from the Professors cupboard,’ Sirius whispered.

‘Okay, you do that and I’ll bring some from home. I think dad has some stuff for making potions.’

‘It’s almost sad Severus isn’t our friend.’ Sirius commented.

‘Why’s that?’ James asked, and Lily could picture his amused expression in the darkness.

‘Because he’s good at potions. Although that’s about it.’

James laughed and then said in a whisper ‘You’re not too good at charms, are you?’

‘Nope. Oh, no. Neither are you. Remus is hopeless, and there’s no point asking Peter. He’s just pathetic.’

‘Sirius.’ James scolded him. ‘He isn’t that bad. But you’re right, he’s not that good either. We need someone to help us with that part of the potion. We can’t afford to mess it up.’

‘Yeah, but we can’t tell anyone either. And the only person I can think of that’s good at charms- really good- is Lily. And she’d tell for sure.’

‘No I wouldn’t.’ Lily said, and shut her mouth immediately. She hadn’t meant to say anything.

The two boys glared at her. ‘Do you have some kind of spell on you that says ‘I must listen to all of James and Sirius’s private conversations?’ Sirius asked in exasperation.

‘No. But I wouldn’t be able to hear them if you checked to see that no one was there first. It isn’t my fault you’re dumb enough to talk about something important out in the open.’

James pulled a face at her. ‘Why are you up, anyway?’

Lily remembered why she was there, and sighed.

‘Just because. Do you want help on this potion or not?’

‘I don’t suppose,’ Sirius said slowly ‘that you’d help us without us having to tell you what we were actually doing?’

‘Fat chance.’

James knew that she wasn’t going to give up, and said so to Sirius.

‘We want to become animagi.’ He said in a rush.

Lily stared at him in the darkness. ‘You are joking, aren’t you?’

‘No. Do you want to help, or not?’

‘Sure I do. It’ll be fun. But why?’

‘Why what?’

Lily rolled her eyes. ‘Why do you want to become animagi? There has to be a reason.’ She paused and grinned. ‘Do you just want to impress Petunia, James? Knock on her door and say, ‘look at me, I can turn into a hyena!’ Lily fell into an armchair in hysterics. ‘She’d love that.’

James glared at her.

‘We can’t tell you why. But now you know, will you help us?’

‘I said I would. If you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.’

She walked slowly up the girls’ staircase and into her dorm, but she didn’t go to sleep. She tried not to, anyway. But soon she drifted off.

A flash of green light woke her up. She sat in bed breathing heavily, and she sighed.

When will this stop?

*****

For the last couple of months they had left of school, Lily hung around with Sirius, James and Remus.

She and James still weren’t exactly what you could call friends, and they did their best to disagree on everything. But Remus and Lily were friends, and although Sirius teased Lily quite a bit (and vice-versa), they both had the same odd sense of humour and Lily was probably closest to him out of all of them.

She helped them with their potion, even though they didn’t really need her yet. She didn’t like Peter though. She could tolerate James, it was fun to tease him, but Peter gave her the creeps for some reason. When she tried to tell the others, they wouldn’t listen. But Peter didn’t like Lily either. In fact, he hated he hated her guts to be precise.

James didn’t really notice, because whenever he was around Peter acted normal. But sometimes when it was just Remus, Sirius and Lily, it showed.

Remus tried to patch it up, but it seemed nothing could be done. And every time Lily looked at Peter, she remembered her nightmares. So she tried to ignore him and after awhile, it worked. But Peter did his best to leave her out in everything possible, only for her to say something witty and make the others laugh, or for her to help them with their homework.

He hated her.

She was taking his place in the group.

Where he should be.

But there was nothing he could do about it.

*****

James, Sirius, Remus, Peter and Lily all sat squashed into one compartment on Hogwarts express on the way home for the holidays.

They had been quite comfortable, until Lily appeared. Holly and Laura weren’t talking to her, because she had accidentally drenched them in an itching potion the day before.

She hadn’t meant to, it was a dare from Sirius. It was supposed to hit Snape, but he moved away too quickly. So she crammed in with them.

She ignored the way Peter’s eyes were burning into her angrily, like she had intruded on something.

But, in the end, it gave him a headache giving her daggers, so he settled for disagreeing with everything she said. But she didn’t notice, as James already did that most of the time.

Petunia was waiting for Lily with her parents at the station; something she’d never done before. But instead of running over to Lily, she ran over to James. James waved goodbye to his friends and made a break for it.

Petunia walked back over to where her family stood, dejected.

‘Is James coming over in the holidays?’ She asked hopefully, glaring at Lily when she snickered.

‘No, sorry sweetie. We’re having a nice, quiet holiday at home.’

‘Whoopee.’ She said sarcastically. ‘Can’t I visit him?’ She added.

‘He’d hide under his invisibility cloak if he saw you coming.’ Lily said with a laugh.

Petunia sneered at her little sister. ‘They don’t exist.’ She said primly, and hurried off to the car, hoping to catch a glimpse of James.

Lily followed, mimicking ‘They don’t exist.’ In a prissy little voice.

‘What don’t?’ Someone said from behind her.

‘Huh?’ Lily turned around and knocked into James. He rubbed his head.

‘You have an awful habit of doing that, you know?’

‘Yeah.’ Her mother honked the car horn and Lily could see Petunia crawling out of the car. (She’d seen James.)

‘See you, four-eyes.’

She ran off to the car laughing, and heard James call

‘Bye, Carrot.’

She jumped in the car and stuck her head out the window.

‘I hope your car breaks down,’ she yelled as they drove off.

‘Don’t have one.’ He called in return.

They turned a corner and James disappeared from sight.