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LilyFlowers and Ancient Runes

The sunlight streaming through the tall windows of the Great Hall glanced off the silverware and speared into the eyes of the students at the Gryffindor table. Lena shaded her face against the glare and idly turned a page in her book.

She wasn’t really paying attention to the words before her; her mind was too preoccupied with the afternoon’s lessons. Her Ancient Runes class was set to start a translation of an old Celtic manuscript that dated back to before the Roman conquest. Naturally she was excited about this. Her family was Irish; she had grown up in Ireland before coming to Hogwarts to study.

The sounds of hundreds of hungry students enjoying their lunch break faded into the background as Lena engrossed herself in her study of the book before her. The page she had opened to depicted a large index of common characters and runes that formed the basic structure of an old Gaelic dialect. She was particularly fascinated with a column of strange curled characters on the far left. They awoke a faint recognition in her memory, but she could not recall where she might have seen them before.

The heavy thump of leatherbound textbooks on the table in front of her announced the arrival of Bianca. She flung herself down on the bench opposite Lena and proceeded to pile her plate high with pasta and sauce. With a dignified sniff, Bianca ignored the platter of garden vegetables next to her and dove straight for the apple cobbler.

With a wan smile, Lena reached over and retrieved the offending dish from beneath Bianca’s nose. “Really, Bee, you should eat something green or red or orange every once in a while. Believe it or not, it actually is good for you.”

“But I do eat green and red and orange, Lena dearest. I eat mint ice cream, steak, and nacho chips; all of which are quite healthy enough for me, thanks ever so.”

Lena let out an exasperated sigh and turned back to her book.

A gentle breeze stirred the curls that had escaped her early morning horsetail. Lena looked up into the end of a long plastic straw Bee was pointing at her. She was blowing a steady exhale of air down the straw into Lena’s face. Lena reached out to grab the straw from Bee’s grip but with an evil grin Bee quickly whipped it out of her reach and proceeded to mercilessly tickle her. Lena pulled her wand from the inside of her robes to ward off the barrage when a strong hand gripped her wrist and a playful voice spoke from behind her.
   
    “Now now, we can’t have any of that. We believe in common courtesy here.”

    She tilted her face back and met the dancing eyes of James Potter and Sirius Black. James still had a firm hold on her arm.

    “I’m afraid we must take you to be disciplined young lady. That is no way to treat a Quidditch Chaser! Follow us please.”

With that, he levered her out of her seat and, to her immense humiliation and the Great Hall’s obvious delight, proceeded to march her out into the Entrance Hall. Catcalls and whistles followed them until the trio was out of earshot. After being gangmarched up three sets of stairs, down five corridors and through a hidden tapestry, James finally stopped and turned to a breathless Lena.

“Miss O’Shai, it has come to our attention that you are a poetic person. You have written poetic pieces for poetic competitions, you have participated in poetic readings, you are in general a blossoming poet. Now, Mr. Black here has been receiving some correspondences of a poetic nature—“

At these words, Lena’s heart skipped a few beats. They know, she thought in consternation. 

“—and we were just curious if you might know the source of these letters, since you are active in the poetic community.”

“Well, I, I really don’t—“

“We think it might be Evans trying to win over the most manly man in the school,” interjected Sirius. James punched him in the arm.

Lena’s heart fell from her throat to her toes. They thought it was Lily. Perfect Lily Evans. Of course.

“And we were wondering if we might appeal to your better nature, your sweet, sympathetic, empathetic side, entreat you to maybe perhaps—“

“Alright, alright, don’t trip over your ego. I’ll talk to Evans for you. And yes,” Lena held up a hand, seeing James open his mouth, “I won’t ask her straight out, I’ll be sneaky about it.”

“Thank you, kind person who will not breathe a word of this to anyone. This conversation never took place. If we hear some little birdie whispering it to the wind… well, you saw the snakes.”

“Right.” Lena turned on her heel and marched back through the tapestry into the corridor. Sirius sighed. “That went well,” he remarked to James, “Much easier than anticipated. She caught on quick enough.”

“Mmm…” was the vague response. “There’s something about that girl…”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing really. Just a feeling.” 

Sirius peered closely at his mate’s face but James’ expression was as closed as the lid of a jar of Blinking Possum Poison in May.

Suddenly James’ mouth cracked into a decadent grin. “What I wouldn’t give to be a pair of socks on Evans’ feet…”

Sirius slapped him. “Prongs, you’re doing it again. You do not want to be a pair of socks, or gloves, or any other article of clothing. Well, perhaps a pair of—“

Bubbles the approximate size and shape of mangos poured from his mouth, stopping his words in midsentence.

“Don’t even go there, Padfoot, that’s dangerous territory, even for you.”

“Don’t worry, mate, I leave that to you,” Sirius choked through a gush of bubbles.

He made a break for it before James could hex him again.

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    Lena breezed through her first class of the afternoon, History of Muggle Machines, in a daze. Bee attempted several times to distract her bemused friend from her dreaming but each time she was merely met with a grimace, a glare, and a “Buzz off, Bee.” When later asked what was bothering her, Lena responded with a zip of the lip and narrowed eyes.

    2:43p.m. that afternoon found Lena entering her Ancient Runes class on the third floor. The usual rush to get to class had pushed, jostled, and flustered her into a tizzy, so when she slipped through the door behind a furiously flirting Zachary Zarucka and Marcia Littlegrass, she slumped against the wall and heaved a heavy sigh.

    “Don’t you just love the craziness of hormonal teenagers late to class? It’s such a delight to witness these daily rampages through the corridors. I especially love being crushed against the walls with every other step.” Lena looked up into the smiling eyes of the one, the only, Lily Evans. Lily was not particularly tall, but she was still an inch or two taller that Lena. EVERYONE was.

Lily had that long, wavy, apple red, run-your-hands-through-it hair that was the dream of all the boys and the envy of all the girls. She was nice to nearly everyone and she actually liked homework. She was muggleborn but nobody really cared; she never spoke of her family. Lily was the epitome of perfection in human form. And Lena hated her.

    Well, not hate exactly. She just… greatly disliked her. Lily was almost too perfect to exist among the common population. She made Lena feel incompetant, ignorant, and ugly. Lena was short, there was no getting around it. She had very dark, furiously curly hair that was cropped sharply to her shoulders and very pale skin. When she was younger, people had compared her to a china doll, but now her pale skin with its lone five freckles merely gave her a ghostly, milky tone. Her eyes were large and a pale grey shade, surrounded by a veil of dark lashes. She was willowy, but to the point of being gangly and thin. Her shoulders were slightly rounded from a very short childhood and an angry divorce. She was softspoken and stuck to the shadows, cursed as she was with a terrible shyness that had denied her many friends. She liked her books and her writing and was normally content with her life.

But, being an artist, albeit an artist who painted in words, she was a hopeless romantic. She was idealistic and fanciful, and prone to secret crushes that she hid from the world, even from Bee. The current object of her affections was ignorant to the tune of her heart, and she planned on keeping it that way. She was almost ashamed of her amour and she hid it shrewishly within her, though it occasionally surfaced in the glazed, faraway glance of her eye and the wandering of her attention.

And now he thought Lily Evans was writing the poetry. Perfect Lily Evans. God, Lena wished she could just shout, No, it’s me, not her! It’s me, sod it all, it’s me––

“Lena? Lena are you alright?” With a huge effort, Lena pulled herself back to humdrum reality and the concern written all over Lily’s face.

“What? Yeah, I’m fine, it’s nothing,” she murmured, brushing a few stray hairs back from her eyes. “Just thinking about the homework load for this weekend.”

“I’m so glad it’s a Hogsmead weekend, I don’t think I could take another week of Potter’s pestering without some sort of vacation. Actually, Sam Reinhart asked me to go with him. It was sweet and I’m really excited; I hope it doesn’t sleet like last time. What about you? Are you going with anyone?”

Obviously Lily assumed that Lena had a date. Lena wondered what in the world had given her that assumption. She had definitely not been hanging around with anyone in particular lately. Cor, it was so embarrassing for Lily Evans to be inquiring about her empty love life.

Blushing furiously, Lena shook her head and mumbled something incoherent under her breath.

“Oh,” said Lily, slightly taken aback. “Well, that’s alright, it’s always more fun to go by yourself and not to have to drag anyone else along. To be honest, I’d almost rather go with just my girlfriends. It’s always awkward on a first date. You know that feeling I’m talking about, never really knowing what to say…” She trailed off at the expression on Lena’s face. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry––“

The bell signaling the start of class cut Lily off in midsentence. Lena sighed with relief and both girls took their seats.  Professor Dillidal rapped his knuckles on the desk and began his lecture at the front of the class, commanding the rapt attention of the students. Lena, however, wasn’t paying the slightest attention. Her mind was cringing away from the conversation she had just weathered. It was possibly one of the most awkward she had ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

If only Lily knew what was going on. Things would be so much simpler…

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