Disclaimer: Everything here belongs to the great Ms Rowling, I’m only playing in her world.
A/N: Thanks to my wonderful beta birgit for straightening out all the errors, and providing indispensible advice on how to make html work!
Conceited Prats and Ungrateful Gits
The hallway outside the Great Hall of Hogwarts was silent; only the scratching of quills could be heard as the fifth-years scrambled to finish their Defence Against the Dark Arts OWL theory paper within. The clocked ticked on, just five more minutes…
‘Quills down, please!’ announced a squeaky voice behind the doors. ‘That means you too, Stebbins! Please remain seated while I collect your parchment! Accio!’
There was a loud whoosh, followed by a burst of laughter. And suddenly, a rising wave of chatter rose as chairs scraped the ground and the doors burst open.
‘Four down, five more to go,’ announced Dorcas Meadowes, as the five fifth-year Gryffindor girls emerged together from the Great Hall, following the throng of students headed outdoors.
‘Three and a half, to be exact,’ corrected Alice Moody. ‘There’s still the practical after lunch.’
‘Well, I’m not going to think about that,’ vowed Lily Evans. ‘Let’s go down to the lake until it’s time – it’s such a hot day.’
The sunlight was indeed dazzling on the smooth surface of the lake that afternoon, and the girls peeled off their shoes and socks to dip their feet into the cool water.
‘Did you see when all the parchments flew at Flitwick?’ said Alice.
Lily laughed. ‘Poor Flitwick, our papers were just too much for him.’
‘Did you see Sirius?’ gushed Melissa Starling, who had earlier taken a seat behind the handsome boy. ‘He was so calm…’
‘I don’t know about Black,’ grinned Lily, ‘but I certainly noticed you. You were staring at him like he had all the answers to the paper written on the back of his head!’
Melissa flushed as the other girls laughed.
‘He is good-looking, you must admit,’ she said sheepishly.
‘Peter was looking at my script like it had all the answers it needed,’ sniffed Dorcas.
‘It probably did,’ said Aura Banning gravely, but with a twinkle in her eye, which caused the others to break out in peals of laughter again.
‘Lunch should be ready by now – do you girls want to go in?’ suggested Alice.
‘Oh no…it’s so beautiful out here…and we’re going to be cooped up the rest of the week for exams. I’d rather spend as much time as possible in the sun,’ replied Lily.
‘Why don’t we just have lunch here? I could go and fetch something,’ offered Aura.
‘That’d be wonderful! Thanks, Aura.’
‘I’ll go with you,’ said Alice, scrambling to her feet. The two girls hurried off back to the castle.
‘It’s a shame they have exams in the summer,’ sighed Lily. ‘It’s a waste of beautiful weather.’ She gazed dreamily across the lake, absently dipping her fingers into the water.
‘Look.’ Dorcas nudged Lily. ‘Melissa’s gaping again.’
Sure enough, Melissa was watching Sirius Black and James Potter across the lake; the two had gathered on the lawn not far away from the girls, together with the tag-ons of their group, Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin. Black was staring around at the students milling over the grass, looking rather haughty and bored, but very handsomely so – no one could fail to concede that. Potter was toying with a Golden Snitch, letting it fly a foot away, before seizing it. Every few seconds, he would rumple up his hair and glance in their direction.
Lily rolled her eyes. ‘Conceited prat,’ she muttered, turning away.
‘Hey, relax, Lily,’ soothed Dorcas. ‘If he wants to make a fool out of himself, that’s his lookout, isn’t it?’
‘Problem is, he thinks he’s so popular – and he actually is – that he can get away with anything. I can’t understand why every other girl in the school that doesn’t fall for Sirius is head over heels for him!’
Dorcas laughed. ‘Unfortunately for him, you’re not one of them. How many times has he tried to ask you out this week?’
‘I don’t keep track, for heaven’s sake!’ said Lily exasperatedly.
‘Oh look,’ Melissa cried suddenly. ‘It’s Snape!’ The other girls’ heads swung back to watch – there was always trouble when Potter, Black and Snape clashed; their enmity was no secret in the school. Lily had never known exactly when the trouble started or actually seen an entire episode of a Potter and Black versus Snape duel. What she did see now disgusted her immensely.
Snape was setting off across the grass, in the direction of the castle. Potter and Black stood and called out.
‘All right, Snivellus?’ said Potter, in a loud, carrying voice.
Snape reacted so fast, it was as though he had been expecting an attack: dropping his bag, he plunged his hand inside his robes and his wand was halfway into the air when Potter shouted, ‘Expelliarmus!’
Snape’s wand flew twelve feet into the air and fell with a little thud in the grass behind him. Black let out a bark of laughter.
‘Impedimenta!’ he said, pointing his wand at Snape, who was knocked off his feet halfway through a dive towards his own fallen wand.
The girls weren’t the only ones looking now: students all around had turned to watch, some of them even laughing as they gathered closer, as though viewing a good show. Lily, however, stood stock still, unable to wrench her eyes away. This was a completely unprovoked attack on Snape’s part, and it was totally uncalled for. How could Potter and Black be so callous and cruel?
‘They’re certainly going to pass their Defence practical,’ murmured Dorcas softly. Lily threw her an incredulous look.
‘Defence? I don’t know what you’re talking about, because what they’re doing doesn’t look anything like defence.’
‘Keep your hair on, Lily,’ said Melissa. ‘They’re just having fun…it’s just a couple of hexes.'
Snape was lying panting on the ground now. Potter and Black advanced on him, wands raised, Potter glancing over his shoulder in Lily’s direction again as he went, which only served to fuel Lily’s anger. Did he think such a show was meant to impress her?
‘How’d the exam go, Snivelly?’ said Potter casually.
‘I was watching him, his nose was touching the parchment,’ said Black viciously. ‘There’ll be great grease marks all over it, they won’t be able to read a word.’
Several people watching laughed; Peter Pettigrew sniggered shrilly. Snape tried to get up, but the Impediment Jinx had not worn off; he was struggling, as though bound by invisible ropes. Lily felt a pang of pity for him, and wondered how everybody could be so unfeeling as to find it humorous.
‘You – wait,’ Snape panted, staring up at Potter with an expression of purest loathing, ‘you – wait!’
‘Wait for what?’ said Black coolly. ‘What’re you going to do, Snivelly, wipe your nose on us?’
Snape let out a stream of mixed swear words and hexes, but with his wand ten feet away nothing happened.
‘Wash out your mouth,’ said James coldly. ‘Scourgify!’
Pink soap bubbles streamed from Snape’s mouth at once; the froth was covering his lips, making him gag, choking him – oh, why didn’t Remus Lupin do something about his friends? He was a prefect – he ought to control them a bit…if anyone could have any influence on them, it should be him, as their friend. But he was sitting there as though turned to stone. Lily wished he’d show a bit of backbone.
Well, if Remus wasn’t going to act, she would.
‘You call that fun?’ she hissed at Melissa. ‘I’ll show them fun, the arrogant, conceited, bullying – leave him ALONE!’ She rushed forward angrily.
Potter and Black looked round. Potter’s free hand immediately jumped to his hair as he saw her coming.
‘All right, Evans?’ said Potter, his tone changing abruptly from cold to warm, pleasant and deep. It was a voice that would make most girls swoon, but Lily was unaffected.
‘Leave him alone,’ she repeated, glaring at him. ‘What’s he done to you?’
‘Well,’ said Potter, appearing to deliberate the point, ‘it’s more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean…’
Many of the surrounding students laughed, Black and Pettigrew included. Lily couldn’t think of anything less hilarious, however, and out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Remus Lupin, who was staring intently at a book with a faint frown line between his eyebrows, was not laughing either.
‘You think you’re funny,’ she said coldly. ‘But you’re just an arrogant, bullying toerag, Potter. Leave him alone.’
‘I will if you go out with me, Evans,’ said Potter quickly. ‘Go on…go out with me and I’ll never lay a wand on old Snivelly again.’
This was such an insult that Lily’s cheeks instantly turned red with rage.
‘I wouldn’t go out with you if it was a choice between you and the giant squid,’ she spat.
‘Bad luck, Prongs,’ said Black briskly. ‘OI!’
The Impediment Jinx was wearing off: Snape was inching towards his fallen wand, spitting out soapsuds as he crawled. He reached it before Black or Potter could react, and directed his wand straight at Potter; there was a flash of light and a gash appeared on the side of Potter’s face, spattering his robes with blood. Lily gasped; she had, of course, expected retaliation from Snape (and quite justified too), but this was surely considered Dark Magic!
Potter whirled about: a second flash of light later, Snape was hanging upside-down in the air, his robes falling over his head to reveal skinny, pallid legs and a pair of greying underpants.
Many people in the small crowd cheered; Black, Potter and Pettigrew roared with laughter. Lily felt her mouth twitch – Snape did resemble a long-legged bat in atrocious-looking underwear – but restrained herself quickly. It would never do to condone their behaviour.
‘Let him down!’ she said hurriedly.
‘Certainly,’ said Potter amiably, and he jerked his wand upwards; Snape fell into a crumpled heap on the ground. Disentangling himself from his robes he got quickly to his feet, wand up, but Sirius said, ‘Petrificus Totalus!’ and Snape keeled over again, rigid as a board.
‘LEAVE HIM ALONE!’ Lily shouted. How immature could they get? Reaching into her robes, she whipped out her wand and pointed it straight at them. They eyed it warily. Lily’s spell work was by no means shoddy and they knew it.
‘Ah, Evans, don’t make me hex you,’ said Potter earnestly. As if he’d dare, thought Lily disgustedly.
‘Take the curse off him, then!’
Potter sighed deeply, then turned to Snape and muttered the counter-curse.
‘There you go,’ he said, as Snape struggled to his feet. ‘You’re lucky Evans was here, Snivellus –‘
‘I don’t need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!’ was Snape’s astonishing comment.
Lily blinked, utterly speechless for a second, feeling insulted beyond words. If this was the way he reacted, when she was just doing him a favour…
‘Fine,’ she said finally. ‘I won’t bother in future. And I’d wash your pants if I were you, Snivellus.’ It was probably quite hypocritical of her to use Potter and Black’s derogatory name for him, but his ungracious response had touched a nerve.
‘Apologise to Evans!’ Potter roared at Snape, his wand pointed threateningly at him. Lily couldn’t believe her ears. It was his fault, he started this, and he was acting as though Snape was the main culprit here?
‘I don’t want you to make him apologise,’ Lily shouted, rounding on him. ‘You’re as bad as he is.’
‘What?’ yelped Potter. ‘I’d NEVER call you a – you-know-what!’
‘Messing up your hair because you think it looks cool to look like you’ve just got off your broomstick, showing off with that stupid Snitch, walking down corridors and hexing anyone who annoys you just because you can – I’m surprised your broomstick can get off the ground with that fat head on it. You make me SICK.’
With that, she turned on her heel and hurried away. She could hear Potter shouting her name after her, but she didn’t look back.
‘Bang out of order,’ she could hear people whispering.
‘Doesn’t know how lucky she is…’
‘Throwing it all away…’
‘Can’t believe James still likes her…’
Furious, Lily stomped up the castle steps. The beautiful summer afternoon was ruined for her now, and it was all James’s Potter’s fault. Why did people like him have to exist?
‘Lily!’ Aura and Alice were approaching, trays of food in their arms. ‘Lily, what happened?’
‘Hey Lily – I’ve got your shoes and socks!’ Dorcas hurried up behind her. ‘They’re just going on, you’d better get a teacher or something –’
‘I don’t care,’ said Lily coldly. She strode past them angrily, leaving Aura and Alice to look inquiringly at Dorcas for answers.