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I stared at the black mark. It was unmistakable. He twisted his arm away, cringing, and he held it to his chest.

“Hestia—“

“Peter, what have you done…” It wasn’t a question. They were hollow words, meant to be said by someone else; meant to be said by someone who actually had strength left.

I was losing control.

“They threatened to kill you, Hestia. I had to—I don’t—I’ve never been brave. I had no choice. Please, baby, please.”

“Please what?”

“Hestia, I don’t have anyone else.”

I closed my eyes. 


“Leave him ALONE!”

It was Lily, one of the last ones to come from the lake edge. James and Sirius looked around. James’s free hand jumped to his hair again.

“All right, Evans?” said James, and the tone of his voice was suddenly pleasant, deeper, more mature.

“Leave him alone,” Lily repeated, “What’s he done to you?”

“Well,” said James, appearing to deliberate the point, “It’s more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean.”

Disgusting.

I began to walk away, but something caught my eye. It was Peter—Peter Pettigrew—laughing. It wasn’t so bad, really—I mean, lots of people were laughing. Yet, still, there he was—making puppy eyes at James as usual. And laughing.

Someone cried “OY!” and there were gasps.

Quick as a shot, Snape was hanging upside down in the air above the crowd, so everyone could see his skinny little legs and sad grey underpants. The cheers that followed made me want to throw up.

I was almost afraid to look at Peter, but I did, and there he was, roaring away with the others. He looked like he was bawling with delight.

So I stupefied him. I don’t know what made me do it; I’m usually not impulsive. My hand just sort of did it, before it could even ask my brain. And I didn’t even say anything out loud, which makes my first nonverbal spell the Stunning of a boy I hardly know—and who didn’t do anything to me anyway—behind his back. Not a great achievement.

Peter slumped to the ground, but no one noticed. They were all too caught up in the circus going on in front of them. I turned and walked away. Someone would help him eventually.

“Who wants to see me take Snivellus’ pants off?” James cried.

“Why didn’t you Stupefy him instead?” said a voice right behind me. I jumped before realizing it was only Lily, looking strangely bitter and visibly upset.

“Shit, Lily, you scared me,” I looked at her with a smile, “And anyway, I think you’ve stupefied James enough for the two of us.” She gave an unconvincing laugh, and would not be distracted, staring at me with her big green eyes (which I attempted to avoid), persisting matter-of-factly:

“You just Stunned Peter, Hestia. I saw it. Care to explain?”

I thought for a second, but couldn’t quite grasp onto anything whole and tangible, “I don’t know. I guess James is a lost cause. Peter…isn’t like them.” I gave a half-laugh. It sounded so lame. “I can’t believe you saw that, though. I don’t know what came over me.”

“Well don’t worry, Hestia, I wont tell anyone you’re in love with Peter,” she said, grinning accusingly.

I rolled my eyes, “Oh good, then I won’t tell anyone you’re in love with Snape!”

She didn’t smile at this the way I’d thought she would.

Voices carried over from behind us, “Whoa, James look at Peter! Wormtail, what the hell? Peter?”

I smiled and pushed open the door to the Entrance Hall, “See? No harm done.”

Lily said nothing, just gave me a funny look and took the route to the Gryffindor Common Room, while I made my way to the Hufflepuff.

I had no more OWLs that day, so I figured I’d relax a while before studying for the next day. This plan was destroyed early on, however, when I climbed through the trapdoor and found all my friends spread around the Common Room, kissing someone or another. Not many people know this, but there’s a sign hanging in our Common Room that says, “Make love, not war…Then go make love some more!” It’s our unofficial motto, really. I sat on the arm of the sofa that my two best friends, Phyllis Edgecombe and Maxwell Lang, were doing a very good job of taking up.

“James was torturing Snape again,” I said, eyes firmly fixed on the ceiling so as not to intrude. Not that I was expecting a response.

“Mmm, sorry, mph,” one of them said (it was really impossible to tell).

“And then I—oh, never mind,” I smiled to myself, got up, and headed towards the girl’s dormitories.

“Wait!” said Phyllis, detaching herself momentarily. Max began kissing her neck. I felt gross just looking at them. Not that I wasn’t used to it by now, “Don’t go up there. Greta’s having one of her dramatic fits again—you know, exam pressure.” And sure enough, just as she said it, I heard what sounded like a chandelier crashing coming from our dorm, “I made sure to lock your stuff up.”

“Thanks,” I said, “I’ll be at the library then…if you need me. Oh, how’d you think the exams went?” But it was useless to expect either of them to hold a conversation for more than five seconds. I doubt they even heard me. I don’t know if love makes you blind, but it certainly makes you deaf.

The library was nearly empty; it was such a beautiful day out. Elizabeth Benet, a Ravenclaw one year above me, called me over to her table. She was pretty in a snake-like sort of way, and friends with about half the school.

“How were the OWLs?”

“Oh…not bad. I don’t much care about Defense, anyway. I only need Potions, Charms, and Herbology to be a Healer. And anyway, when’s a Dark Wizard going to attack me?”

“Oh, they’re out there,” she said vaguely, returning to her book. I inwardly smacked myself, remembering far too late that Grindlewald had tortured and killed all four of her grandparents in Nurmengard.

There was no way to take back my words, however, so I took out my Transfiguration notes and made a pathetic attempt to read them. My mind kept floating to other things.
A few minutes later, Elizabeth poked me.

“That boy over there—he’s all alone. What’s his name again?”

I looked up, “Oh, Peter.”

“Right, right. Pettigrew. You know him?”

“Yeah, I tutor him.”

“Invite him over, he’s making me sad.” That was so Elizabeth; controlling the world with her goodwill.

She reminded me of Peter, really. They both seemed to me like they could be in any of the four houses at Hogwarts. Well, maybe Peter couldn’t be in Ravenclaw, but otherwise he was brave enough to be in Gryffindor (obviously, as he was in it), hardworking and kind enough to be in Hufflepuff, and yet strangely cruel and dodgy enough to be in Slytherin.

“Hey, Peter!” I said in a stage whisper across the library, “Want to sit with us?”

He looked up, surprised at being spoken to. When he saw me he grinned, “Sure! I need help with Transfiguration anyway and I was about to come and find you—“

“Shh!” Madam Pince came careening from behind a shelf, making Elizabeth jump so badly that she spilled ink all over a book. Seeing this, the librarian gave a cry of despair, and nearly dove across the room to survey the damage. She gingerly took the book in her hands and looked like she was about to cry.

“Here, Madam, I can fix it for you,” said Elizabeth kindly, taking out her wand. Madam Pince snapped the book shut, gave all three of us a death glare, and without saying a word, swept away, hugging the book to her chest as if someone was trying to pry it from her.

We spent a good deal of time laughing at the mad librarian, and I was about to begin studying with Peter when he said, “Oh, guess what? I got attacked today! I don’t even know by who, but someone Stunned me. Isn’t that weird?”

“No.”

“It’s—not?”

“No. I stunned you, Peter,” I said matter-of-factly, staring resolutely at the tabletop.

“What…you? In all seriousness?”

“Yes, I did. You were laughing at Snape.”

“So? So was everybody,” He looked at me incredulously, “You realize how weird that is. You can’t just go around Stunning people—“

“Maybe you shouldn’t go around laughing at friendless creeps who clearly need help.”
He just stared at me for a moment. “I wasn’t even the one making fun of him. It was all James. Why me? There were a ton of people—“

“Because you were the only person there who I could care less about.”

“So you stupefied me?”

“To save you from making yourself into an even bigger asshole, yes!”

He reddened slightly, “But—I mean—Come on, Hestia, it’s Snape!”

“I like Snape.”

His eyes nearly popped out of his head, “You do?”

“Yes. We had a conversation once.”

“Really,” he said, amazed.

“Yes, I said to him, ‘How did you get your potion that color, Snape?’ and he said ‘You just add a bit of sugar, you effing Mudblood.’”

“And so you like him?”

I laughed, but quietly, because I saw Madam Pince was back. “No, I can’t say I like him, but the sugar did work. He’s very smart, you know, and every time you make fun of him he gets creepier and creepier.”

“Yeah, I guess. But you should have just told me to stop, why Stun—?” But he was interrupted.

“Ooh, look at this! Hey, Peter, how is it that you always get all the pretty girls?”

It was James, followed by two other friends, all grinning. Blood rushed to my face. I couldn’t think.

Peter fought a blush admirably, looked at me, and muttered “Sorry.”

“How dare he?” said Elizabeth between gritted teeth, “He just broke up with you and now he’s calling you pretty? What sort of—“

“Just? Liz, that was Fourth Year. Really, I don’t care. I’m pretty much over it. Honestly, I feel sorry for the girl who has to put up with that raging mess of ego. And…and, anyway, I‘d rather he call me pretty than ugly.” I gave her a convincing smile. She saw through me, though. People always see through me.

I looked back at Peter, just in time to see him scurry away after his friends.

I shrugged and muttered, “I don’t know why he hangs out with them.”

“Well, isn’t he sort of dull?” Elizabeth asked, as if dullness was an embarrassing disease that she’d rather not mention.

I don’t think so. And he’s perfectly nice, most of the time.”

“Well, then I don’t get it,” she said, “Maybe he just doesn’t have anyone else.”

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