Chapter 1 : I'm Feeling Mighty Lonesome
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I sat on my bean bag, remembering the day.
You know, that bean bag probably has more memories stored in its folds than anything else at Hogwarts. All those midnight hours I spend sitting on it, remembering the day. Some of those memories must have crept out of my head and stored themselves inside that big, red, comfortable mass. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t deflated after the three years I’ve spent here. As soon as the feathers inside it lose their fluffiness, the memories sneak in and take up the new space… until the whole bean bag is just my memories, holding my weight up and making me feel comfortable.
I wonder if I’ll be able to bring it home after I graduate, or if I’ll have to leave it here for a new first year to add their memories to mine. I hope that first year will be nice. I wouldn’t want my memories mixing with a Gryffindor bully.
But today the memory I’ll be adding isn’t the usual bad grade, or teacher drama.
“Lily, did you hear what I told you in Arithmancy?”
I looked up at Lorraine, trying to remember what she might have told me. Lorraine and I are very close. We tell each other almost everything – our insecurities, our family issues, who we like and dislike. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, just last year I was using the term “best friend” for another girl, someone I barely even talk to anymore. It’s quite scary how quickly things can change. Next year I might barely know Lorraine anymore and maybe instead I’ll tell all my secrets to somebody who I might not even know at the moment.
“No, what was it? Come on, tell me!” I whisper to Lorraine, kneeling next to her desk so no one can overhear us. Not that anyone would anyway, since Flitwick wouldn’t be able to control our class even if he suddenly grew ten inches and his voice stopped being so squeaky. It’s mayhem in here, every day at exactly 9:00, when the sixty of us pile in and are told to practice on each other with cheering charms.
“Okay, so I was in Potions, and Peter told me that James likes you!”
At first I just stared at Lorraine from my crouched position. And then I started laughing so hard, I hit my head on the desk and fell over.
“What? You actually believed Peter?” I wheezed out, trying to stop laughing. The thing is - James wouldn’t even look twice at me. He’s the year above, and he only shares three classes with me – Arithmancy, Choir, where he plays the accompaniment, and finally Advanced Choir, again, where he just plays piano and sometimes guitar, if Flitwick really wants him to.
“Well, yes! Peter sounded so truthful! You should have seen him, he was so sad about it. He was rambling on about how he had no chance, now that James liked you. He was saying all this stuff about James being confident, and how James would be able to ask you out for sure.”
I almost groaned out loud. Peter Pettigrew. The only guy who would ever like me, turned out to be a complete moron who I could never like back. He asked me to the school dance in second year, before he managed to become friends with James and Sirius. I still don’t understand what they see in him.
Overweight, with massive hygiene problems, Peter Pettigrew came up to me in the Great Hall in the middle of lunch, 2nd year, and mumbled, barely audible, “So… D’you wanna come to the dance with me?” And as stupid and inexperienced as I was, I mumbled back, “Uh, sure.” And then, I ended up avoiding him ever since, including that evening at the dance.
“I’m almost completely sure that Peter was pranking you. There’s really no way that James would like me. I mean, he doesn’t even look at me…”
“I don’t know… Peter sounded so depressed,” Lorraine insisted.
“Well… Then maybe James pranked Peter. He seems like the type to do something like that.”
“Doubt it. After all, Peter always goes on about how being friends with James this year is the best thing that’s ever happened to him,” Lorraine pauses, then starts talking again, “You know, you should really try being friends with Peter. He’s so nice once you get to know him!”
I raise my eyebrow and glance over at Lorraine. She knows I’d never be able to do that. After all, I still feel guilty about ignoring him the day of the dance. It’s not even that Peter is a bad person, it’s more like I feel bad about myself because he was depressed for a couple months after The Incident, so I don’t really like talking to him because it reminds me of how stupid I was. Needless to say, I don’t like being reminded of my own stupidity.
Lorraine started talking again, “But if James asked you out, would you say yes?”
That question is a bit harder. But after a few moments of silence, I still reply fairly easily.
“Nope. He’s not really my type, anyway. And he swears a lot. Not that I don’t do that myself…”
I could go on stating reasons why I wouldn’t go out with him. There’s actually quite a lot. Like how my 4th year friend used to like him but James totally dissed her, so it would be like going behind her back if I said yes. And if I started going out with James, then I’d have to be friends with Peter. And then there’s always the final point. I like someone else already. Of course, it’s completely stupid, but I guess I like the fact that I can admire my crush without really doing anything, since I have no chance with them anyway.
But it’s still nice to know that someone out there other than Peter might like me, even if I would have to say no. It’s like a sense of accomplishment, that you’re nice, smart, funny, and pretty enough to get someone to like you.
“Well, that’s good, since that’s what I told Peter. I told him that, ‘Lily likes someone else already’,” Lorraine air quoted as she continued the conversation. “Dude, I used to think that James was sort of cute, but then I looked up close and realized he wasn’t really…”
“Yeah, I see what you mean. And he’s the polar opposite of who I actually like,” I answer, as I start slipping into my day dreams of Amos. Amos Diggory is one of the popular kids at Hogwarts. Yet, somehow, he still managed to stay nice, unlike all the others who slowly shrivel up and turn into jerk faces. Amos and I are in the same year, but we only share two classes, Choir and Advanced Choir, making it easy to admire him, without really talking to him. Amos was shorter than me, but his blond hair and amazing smile made up for that. He was funny, laid back, and pretty much perfect.
There are times when I feel like I should be taking Divination instead of Arithmancy. After all, I was the first to adorn owl jewelry before it became fashionable. And I was the first one to wear leather jackets, too. And I was even the first to start liking Amos. I liked him before he was popular, when I still might have had a chance.
Not that I mind much. The thing is, as soon as I’m labeled as something, I start feeling like I’m a piece of slowly molding bread. I don’t enjoy doing things as much, I stop liking whatever it is I’m labeled to like. For example, I used to dream of becoming a famous singer. I’d practice in choir every day, I’d stay after classes. I got really good. And then people started labeling me as the “best musician”, and I started feeling like I had a standard that I had to reach. It stopped being fun. I think the same thing happened with all my old “best friends”. They’d want me to wear “friends forever” necklaces, and proclaim my friendship everywhere I went. And slowly I’d drift away, since I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s why I’m so close with Lorraine. She doesn’t make me label myself as her best friend.
I’m afraid that as soon as Amos would ask me to be his girlfriend, the same thing would happen. I wouldn’t be able to take it, trying to be something that I’m not really ready to be. And then I’d stop liking him. I may only be a 3rd year, but that feeling that someone out there might make me happy… it’s a nice feeling to have, and I don’t particularly want to lose it.
“Lily! I still think you should try being friends with Peter!” Lorraine really doesn’t know when to let things rest though. But this is where my patience kicks in, and I repeat everything I’ve said before.
“I don’t know. Maybe sometime later I’ll be able to talk to him, but I’m not ready right now.”
“You know… Peter kept on trying to guess who it was that you liked. The funny thing is, he’d always guess all the weird people that you’d never even think of!” Lorraine started snickering.
“Really? Who?” I look up at her, ready for something funny.
Lorraine started retelling me her conversation, “Well, first he guessed Frank, and I was like, ‘Ewww, no!’ so then he guessed Arthur, which is even worse… until finally I stopped him and said that she ‘obsessed from afar’. And then it was really funny, because he started saying that it was the same for him, and it was like he felt closer to you because I said that…”
This time I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
“Did you really have to tell him about ‘obsessing from afar’? Now he’s gonna think I’m a creep or something…” I shiver inwardly, trying to think of how stupid I must seem now. I think I’m stupid myself, I don’t need others knowing about my obsession.
Lorraine just smirked, “No, he’d never think that… He’s too obsessed with you to think that your obsession would be creepy.”
I laughed and said, “That’s a nice way to put it, remind me to use that sometime.”
I looked over at all the kids in the classroom - trying to absorb the calm atmosphere that radiated from Lorraine and all my friends around me. No one was listening to our conversation; I could hear some people discussing an upcoming birthday, while others were scratching away with their quills, filling in the questions that they had left till the last minutes of class. I knew I would need to absorb all of that, to store for later, and to remember after I grew up and start talking about grown-up things.
And it’s time to put away that memory. It’s time to hide it away, and not dwell on it any more than I have to. But it really can’t hurt to keep a little bit of that warmth of being wanted stored away, deep inside me, can it? I’d never say yes to James, even if it turns out to be the truth and he really does like me.
But… It’s like those boys who mark their bed post every time they shag a girl. Only this time, it’s inside my head, and the more marks I can make of boys who like me, the better I can feel about myself, the more confident I can become. I may not be the prettiest of them all, or even the smartest or most talented. But I like to think that there’s a certain spark in me that others lose as they mature and grow up.
I remember so many times people have told me I’m different. And it’s different each time, sometimes it’s not even really meant as a compliment, but just the way they say it can warm me up, like the thought of having some kid out there, like James, who likes me.
Charmaine and Alice were sitting at the lunch table with me, discussing my latest accessory I added to my school uniform.
Charmaine held my wrist, quizzically looking at the leather contraption I had placed on it. Charmaine was someone I could laugh with – she was easy going and known to many simply as “The Doctor”. She’d take one look at you and pronounce to the whole world how she thought you were feeling and why. Oh, not necessarily accurately, but so quickly and confidently that it was hard not to believe her, even if you were the one being studied.
She was good in all her classes; some would wonder how she turned out to be a Gryffindor with the rest of us. That was until they got to know her. Although she may not be the most loyal of our group - I like to think that position goes to myself - she is certainly the most confident and straight forward. Before I got used to her frankness, the way she could tell you off could be quite intimidating, but then again, you can get used to everything, especially once you start sensing how deeply she cares under that mask.
Charmaine tugged on one of the leather bands, and said, “This is such a Lily thing to wear - a leather cuff. Just make sure not to wear your skull earring with this, or you’ll turn completely emo.”
Alice just looked at it from her usual spot at the table, “I like it. But I still like your big green earrings more.”
Small, petite, Alice. Who would have known she had a love for my jewelry? Alice was sweet. At least, that was the first thing you’d think of when you saw her. Her small hands and feet and large eyes certainly helped portray that effect. But, she was completely ruthless when it came to gossip. Not that she’d tell anyone what she heard, oh no! It was more like a storage bank in her brain. She collected gossip in the bank and would give it back out only under dire circumstances.
Charmaine glanced over my shoulder, “Just make sure Mary doesn’t see it, she’d explode!”
I turn around and see Mary playing cards with Frank and some others - one of their more intense games.
“Too late for that, Char. She was the first person I showed it to! And she didn’t hate on it that much,” I smile, remembering her expression when she saw what a real leather cuff was.
Mary was another one of our gang. The two of us were the unbreakable jokesters, while Lorraine and I were the unbreakable secret keepers. Everyone in our little clan had a different role with one another, and it was Mary and I who made everyone laugh. Of course, even the closest of jokesters had disagreements, and it was so when it came to my choice of style. Mary tended to like the small studs and a face clear of makeup, and I was… well, I liked the dramatic eyeliner and over-accessorizing. I wasn’t emo, not at all, although some of my accessories were more on the dark side, like the skulls Charmaine mentioned. But even the skulls, I could pull those off without a hitch.
I turned back around, “Well, I think I can pull this off. I just wish the straps didn’t stick out as much… But I can trim them when we come back to the dorms.”
Charmaine nodded, “You can pull pretty much everything off. I mean, the pixie-cut flaming red hair, the giant earrings, the leather jacket…”
Grinning, I run my fingers through my hair, “It looked much worse longer, anyway.”
Charmaine suddenly narrowed her eyes at me, and declared, “It’s weird. There’s something different about you. Like, in a good way.”
Liam sat across from me in Muggle Studies. How I hate this class… Liam wasn’t much better either. His eyes slightly bulged out of his head, reminding me of a goldfish that was plucked out of its tank. He was known to be the negative pessimist too. You could never say anything without hearing a mean reply. However, once seated so close to him, I learned to get over the distaste in my mouth and hold a decent conversation with him. He could even be funny… at times.
Our professor was circling the room, like a hawk, but she didn’t mind me much, after all, I was one of the few students who understood what she meant when she said the word ‘television’.
I stood up and walked over to Lorraine on the other side of the room. She had issues with this class, so I’d just drop by from time to time and let her copy my answers.
I tapped her shoulder to catch her attention and waved the question packet in front of her face.
Lorraine grabbed it from my hand, “Watch it! I wouldn’t want my only source of information being cut off by Hawk Eyes over there!”
I just grinned widely at her, “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it. Poor Hawk Eyes knows I’m the only one who keeps the class test average above a T.”
I turned around and kept grinning - something about the whole day just made me want to smile as wide as I could. Walking back to my desk, I knocked into Mary’s desk, accidentally-on-purpose, and tugged on Charmaine’s pony tail.
As I sat back down at my desk, I hear Liam’s voice, “You smile funny.”
Smiling wider, I look up at him, seeing only his eyes peaking above his text book.
“I mean, it’s weird… It’s like every time you smile, everyone around you has the urge to smile too. And you smile funny too. It’s like to one side like this,” Liam tries to demonstrate by bringing the corner of his mouth up towards his ear.
“Gee, thanks,” I grin back, feeling like he had just made my day.
Just complements like that are enough to make me feel wanted. I don’t even think Liam meant it as a compliment, more like a negative comment that went wrong. Charmaine probably didn’t even notice over her prevailing confidence. And yet, just remembering how people think of me, how people don’t think I’m completely average, how people might like me… it can make my bean bag feel fluffier and more comfortable than ever.
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