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Lily began to feel the spinning slow down. She caught a glimpse of Crystal’s blond hair before face planting in Erica’s living room. Fortunately, there was thick carpet to cushion her fall, and soon Tracy was pulling her up, trying hard not to laugh. Crystal, who had caught Iris’ cage, was making no effort to keep her giggles in and was holding on to Erica she was in such glee. Erica was only smiling, and helped Tracy brush Lily off. “Sorry ‘bout that, Lil, Dad just installed our new model here. It’s up to three times faster than the average fireplace, so if you’re not a frequent floo user, using it can be quite a, er, trip?” Erica jokingly apologized. “Yea, you should have seen Crystal the first time she used it!” added Tracy, laughing at the memory, which had fortunately shut Crystal up pretty fast. Lily was laughing now, and realized how great it was to be back with her best friends. Lily gazed around the spacious living room, which was lavishly furnished. The Aibees were very wealthy, as they were an old wizarding family. Lily had only been to the Aibee Manor twice before, but she could clearly recall the elegance and luxury of the entire mansion. “Let’s take our stuff upstairs to our rooms. I was thinking two of us to a room, and we all will share my bathroom.” Erica said, leading up the back staircase. After two more flights, Lily’s legs were beginning to feel very tired from the weight of all her stuff. Finally the girls reached the third floor landing. Tracy, like Lily was breathing hard, but Crystal, who was very athletic, looked okay. Off of the landing was a long hall which Erica began leading them down. “This is our West Wing of the house.” she called back to them, as she was unweighted down, having no stuff. She continued, sounding very much like a tour guide. “Here is my room, which connects to the bathroom, which is right here, and the bathroom is also connected to my guest room, here. And at the end of the hall is the West Wing recreation room, and on this side is my closet and mirror room.” Lily was flabbergasted. Recreation Room? A whole separate room for the closet? Mirror Room? Tracy and Crystal were as amazed as Lily. “So, who’s staying where?” asked Tracy, coming out of her stunned state first. “Well, Crystal and I can share my room” suggested Erica. “Okay, then Tracy and I will stay in here.” finishing Lily, motioning towards the guest room. She followed Tracy, dragging in her stuff. Her mum would be sending her clothes and the remainder of her Hogwarts stuff later in the evening. The room couldn’t have been more perfect. The walls were painted a soft blue, Lily’s favorite color, and there were two large wooden beds, each painted white. There were two matching dressers, a white vanity table, two blue, fluffy lounge chairs that matched the blue bedspreads and pillows, and the same fluffy carpet (white) as in the living room. But what Lily loved about the room the most were the Large windows overlooking the lake (yes, the Aibees even had a lake) and the blooming gardens. Erica looked in, smiling, “Will this do okay for you both?” Lily turned around and looked at her, “Even though, according to Tracy, I am hard to please,” she said, shooting a dirty look at Tracy, who smiled sheepishly, “I absolutely love it! It is perfect, and the view is wonderful.” Lily added. “Yea, best view in the house.” commented Erica, looking out the window dreamily. “Well, Crystal’s done getting unpacked, so let’s go eat supper!” she said, snapping out of her reverie. “And afterwards, we can do makeovers and try on each other’s clothes, like we do at school!” “Okay!” said Tracy brightly, then turning to Lily, “You coming, Lil?” “You go on, I’ll be right down.” Lily replied, motioning to the remainder of her still packed stuff. But unpacking was not what Lily had in mind. She went to the desk, got out parchment and a quill, and opened her new ink, the rose scented pink kind, and started her letter. Dear Petunia, I am sorry if you are mad at me, but I am not sure what I have done to make you angry. I am at my friend’s house till the end of the summer, so I hope you will come and see me off on September first. I am really trying to enjoy myself, but I can’t, knowing you are mad at me. Also, I want you to know you are the best big sister ever, and that I love and miss you. Hope to see you September First! Love, Lily P.S. This is my new owl, Iris. Isn’t she beautiful? Feeling a little better, Lily tied the letter to Iris’s leg, and watched as her amazing bird took off into the night. She sat there for a moment, lost in thought, then hearing her stomach rumble brought her back, and she went down the many flights of stairs to join her friends for supper. *** Dinner, of course, was an extravagant affair, and very delicious. When Lily and the girls were all properly stuffed, they went back upstairs and into the Erica’s closet. Lily’s clothes had arrived by then, and so they began to try on clothes and model for one another. This practice of her friends had always bored Lily a bit, but her friends always enjoyed it. In fact, along with boy discussing and matchmaking, modeling clothes was one of Lily’s friends’ favorite pastimes. Crystal came out into the Mirror Room with a glittery black dress with sequins on it. It was very short, and showed off her slender, muscular body in all the right places. Tracy had curled Crystal’s long blonde hair, and Lily had applied just the right colors to her cheeks, lips, and her crystal blue eyes. Erica was snapping photographs as Crystal mugged for the camera, to the applause of Tracy and Lily. Next Tracy came out, wearing a fuchsia halter top and tight black capris. Erica had done her straight black hair in a half up, half down style, and Crystal’s make up brought the attention to her face. Lily snapped the shots, then Tracy tripped on one of her high heels and all the girls were laughing again. After they had gained control over themselves again, Erica went, and Lily styled her very curly hair in a sleek up-do. Lily was about to step out into the Mirror Room, where her friends were waiting, but for some reason she felt unusually self-conscious. She’d done some growing over the summer, and wondered what the reaction of her friends would be when they saw her in the tight green sundress Erica had picked out, revealing all of her newly acquired curves. Why was she being so silly, these were her friends she was talking about! And with that, Lily took a deep breath and stepped into the Mirror Room. Crystal and Erica’s reactions were almost identical to Tracy’s reaction in Madam Malkin’s. Tracy was clapping enthusiastically, and called out, “Told you our little Lil has grown up a bit over the summer!” Lily grinned sheepishly, but Tracy wasn’t finished. “Looks like Crystal, Erica, and I are going to have a full time job this school year trying to keep James Potter off of you!” *** The rest of the week passed too quickly for Lily’s liking. The girls spent the days swimming and sunbathing at the lake, shopping for accessories at the nearby store, “Bewitched”, and soon had complete outfits for the dance. There were many more makeovers, and the girls surprised Lily with a birthday party the Saturday before September first, inviting many of their friends from Hogwarts. Lily had been completely unaware of the party, and had found it odd that her three friends sent her on a job to go to the post office by herself, though she hadn’t thought much about it at the time. “It’s a very urgent letter for, um, the Minister of Magic… yeah.” Erica had told her a little unconvincingly. Lily raised her eyebrows. “The Minister of Magic?” Lily had questioned before Tracy, Erica, and Crystal had shoved her out the front door. Lily delivered the letter, which didn’t have the appearance of a very urgent letter, and came back to the house. The front parlor was empty, as was the kitchen, the bedrooms, and the rest of the house. Lily decided to go check outside, and opened the back door to look for her friends. “SURPRISE!” Tracy, Erica, Crystal, and about thirty other people shouted as she stepped onto the patio. Lily’s face lit up when she saw friendly faces from Hogwarts beaming at her. “You guys!” Lily squealed, hugging them each in turn. “Happy Birthday, Lils.” Tracy squeezed her tightly. It looked as though all the Gryffindors from the fifth year and up had been invited, as well as a few Gryffindor alumni from last year and a few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. As Erica handed out slices of cake, and Crystal tried to organize an orderly depository of presents (it wasn’t really working, and one present containing Filibuster Fireworks had gone off and was scorching many packages), many of the guests came up to Lily to wish her happy birthday and to catch up on gossip. It was during one of these such talks, while Tracy was entertaining a group of people about her run-in with the very cute Hufflepuff Quidditch captain, that Lily felt someone grab her hand. Gasping in surprise, she turned to see who was there, and found herself face to face with a grinning James Potter. Before she could say anything, he held his finger up to his lips to tell her to be quiet, and led her away from the group. “Potter, I didn’t know you were here!” Lily exclaimed, and James winked. Lily frowned slightly. “Er, why are you here?” “I was invited by your charming friend Tracy.” James told her matter-of-factly. Lily made a mental note to pulverize Tracy next chance she got. “You should have seen the look on your face when-” “I don’t appreciate people grabbing my hand and dragging me off, Potter, if that’s what you meant.” Lily cut him off in a rather cold voice. James’s face fell slightly. “Oh, no, not about that. When we all said ‘Surprise’ is what I meant.” James clarified a little awkwardly. “So, heard about the upcoming dance at Hogwarts?” Lily nodded, wishing Tracy would come over and rescue her from having to talk to James Potter. This is all her fault, though Lily angrily. “Any ideas of who you’d like to escort you there?” James continued, but Lily remained mute. “Because I’d be happy to oblige, you know, if you-” “Just stop, Potter, okay? I’m not going to go with you.” Lily snubbed. James looked taken aback, but only for a second. He plastered his winning grin on just as quickly as it had fallen. “Just give me a good reason, Evans, why you won’t go with me?” James asked. “I mean, there are plenty of girls who would go with me in a heart beat. It’s the whole Quidditch star thing, you know, that attracts them.” James waited expectantly, but Lily’s face was one of complete disgust. “There’s your reason. Besides, why don’t you just ask one of the plenty of girls who would go with you? Save yourself some time.” Lily lashed before hurrying away. James stood there for a stunned moment, though after several years of this kind of treatment from Lily he had to admit that he hadn’t really expected her to say yes. “If you’d just give me a chance, Evans, you might like me!” James called after her, but Lily made no indication that she had heard him. “Where were you, sneaking away from your own party?” Tracy asked curiously. Lily shoved her lightly, and scowled. “Thanks for inviting James and company, Tracy.” “Oh, no problem. I thought they might make things a little more interesting.” Tracy said, not catching Lily’s drift. As if to reaffirm Tracy’s words, a loud uproar by the refreshment table broke out. Several people were now drenched in punch, and finding the culprit wasn’t difficult. Sirius and James were laughing heartily at the mess they had made with a Filibuster firework and carefully thrown dung-bombs. Lily threw an accusing look at Tracy, but Tracy simply grinned. No one else seemed to mind that everything was covered in punch, not even the people soaking in punch themselves. If anything, James and Sirius were receiving raucous applause, to Lily’s chagrin. Why troublemakers like Sirius and James were so highly venerated by the female population at Hogwarts was completely beyond Lily. Good looks, brilliant pranks, and Quidditch, Lily sighed to herself, watching as Tracy began to flirt with Sirius Black. So many girls fell into that trap, but Lily Evans was positive she would never be one. A/N: thanks to all who have read and reviewed so far. You guys are the best!

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