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"Can you believe it's time to leave already?!" Lily asked excitedly. Lucy shook her head mournfully.

"No, I can't. Where's the year go?!" She asked, throwing her clothes into her trunk. Lily threw Lucy an odd look.

"What's wrong, Whit?" Lily asked, concerned. Lucy shook her head, packing her clothes into her trunk quickly and snapping it shut. Lucy scanned the room, Summoning anything that was hers. Nothing came, so she figured that everything was packed......................seeing as her trunk almost knocked her over.

"Are you sure?" Lily asked, studying her friend's face carefully. Lucy didn't look at Lily, instead focusing her eyes down on her wand. "Lucy?"

"I'm fine, Lils. Really." Lucy's voice was tight and strained. It was obvious she was lying, but it was also obvious that she really didn't want to talk about it.

"Okay, Luce. Whatever you say." Lily said, letting the subject drop for now. Lucy visibly relaxed, eyes coming off her wand and back up to Lily's face.

"Great! Then I say we sit with the guys!" Lucy said brightly, jamming her wand into her pocket. Lily groaned miserably.

"Do we have to?" Lily whined, wordlessly begging for a no.

"Yup-yup!" Lucy cried happily, picking up her trunk easily. "It was bad enough for me the first time there, I want to be with my friends on the way back!" Lily groaned again, but did not protest, knowing perfectly well that Lucy had been alone coming to Hogwarts and did not want to leave that way.

The two girls made their way down the stairs with their trunks, Lily complaining good-naturedly about her older sister. They got onto the Hogwarts Express and found an empty compartment, stowing their trunks up in the carry space. The train began moving before long, both girls knowing that the boys would find them sooner or later. Suddenly, out of nowhere, screaming could be heard just outside the compartment. Lucy and Lily exchanged a brief look before dashing out of the compartment. Outside, girls were dashing here and there, screaming and pointing at the floor. Lucy and Lily looked for the source of terror and saw a little brown rat. Lily screamed and jumped back, Lucy just looking confused.

"That's what you all are afraid of?" She asked incredulously, words barely out of her mouth before someone else spoke.

"I'll kill it!" A girl who looked about fifteen or sixteen yelled, dashing foreword and cornering the poor, terrified little rat. Her foot lifted into the air to squash the poor little thing, coming down at top speed..................

Only to land on the back of Lucy's neck. The girl screamed in shock, jumping backwards. Lucy sat up, one hand cupped around the little rat. She put one hand to the back of her neck to find that it was bleeding slightly. "Ow." She commented, in a tone that people used to talk about the weather. Lucy wiped the blood now on her hands onto her robes before standing up and looking down at the little rat.

"Are you okay, little fella?" She asked softly. The rat squeaked, sounding as if it were close to a breakdown, if that was possible.

"Are you okay?! Why'd you jump under my foot?! Are you bleeding?! Why'd you save that rat?!" The girl that had accidentally hurt Lucy was frantic and confused. Lucy looked over at her calmly, holding the little rat close.

"I'm fine. You were going to step on him. Yes. He's important too." Lucy said, answering all of the girl's questions in order.

"What do you mean, 'He's important too'?!" The girl asked, the shock of hurting Lucy gone, replaced by bewilderment.

"I mean, his life is just as important as yours, or mine."

"What?! He's just a rat!"

"So?!" Lucy asked sharply, eyes suddenly alight with fire. "So what if he's a rat, huh?! Does that mean he's not alive?! Does that mean that killing him doesn't make you a murder?! Huh?! Does it?!" The girl seemed too flustered to answer, so Lucy continued. "This little rat didn't do anything to you! It couldn't hurt you if it wanted too, and you're trying to kill it?! Why?! What in the world could this little guy do to you, huh?!" Lucy was furious. She was holding the rat gently, but her eyes were blazing. "There's no reason for you to be afraid of him! He's never done anything! How would you feel if you were surrounded by huge, screaming beasts out to kill you?! You wouldn't like it, would you?! I know I wouldn't!" The girl opened her mouth angrily, seemingly ready to defend herself. Lucy didn't give her a chance, though, cutting her off before she could begin. "No! I don't want to hear it! You think, just because you're afraid of this little guy, you can kill him?! I don't think so! It's not like he hurt you! You should only ever hurt someone in self-defense, if even then!" Lucy was trembling violently, rage evident. "Unless this little rat attacked you, you shouldn't bother it!"

"But-"

"Don't even think about defending yourself to me!" Lucy's voice was razor-sharp. The green and gold flecks in her eyes seemed to catch fire and dance in her eyes, her hair falling into them wildly, making her look even more violent and unpredictable. "I don't want to hear it! Nothing you can say will make me believe that what you were about to do was right! You were about to take another thing's life! A living, breathing thing! With a heart and a mind! You were about to crush him! You were about to cause this little guy unimaginable amounts of pain, letting him know his day was done. IT ISN'T RIGHT!" Lucy was really shouting now.

"IT JUST ISN'T RIGHT! UNLESS AN ANIMAL ATTACKS YOU FIRST, OR A PERSON, YOU JUST LET THEM BE! WHAT HAS THIS LITTLE RAT DONE TO YOU, HUH?! HAS IT HURT SOMEONE YOU LOVE, HAS IT KILLED SOMEONE?! HAS IT KIDNAPPED A KID, PULLED THE TRIGGER ON A GUN?! HAS IT MURDERED, HURT, RAPED ANYONE?! I DON'T THINK SO! THIS LITTLE GUY HASN'T DONE ANYTHING BUT TRY TO LIVE, AND ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS KILL IT! THAT MAKES YOU A MURDERER!

"DO YOU WANT TO BE A MURDERER?! DO YOU WANT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR TAKING A LIFE OUT OF THIS WORLD?! ISN'T THIS WORLD BAD ENOUGH ALREADY! WELL?! ISN'T IT?!" Lucy didn't wait for an answer. "YES, IT IS! AND YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY?! BECAUSE OF PEOPLE! YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT! PEOPLE! IT'S PEOPLE WHO MURDER, STEAL, RAPE, BEAT, TORTURE, ABUSE, BURN................IT'S PEOPLE WHO DESTROY EVERYTHING GOOD LEFT IN THE WORLD! IF THERE'S ANYTHING TO FEAR IN THIS HORRIBLE PLACE, IT'S PEOPLE, NOT A POOR, DEFENSELESS LITTLE RAT! 'HE'S JUST A RAT'! THAT'S WHAT YOU THINK? WELL, I'M JUST A PERSON!

"I'M JUST A PERSON, A HUMAN BEING! KILL ME, WHY DON'T YOU?! GO AHEAD, DO IT! KILL ME, LIKE YOU WOULD IF I WERE NOTHING BUT A LITTLE RAT! GO AHEAD, I'M WAITING!" Nothing. "I SAID I'M WAITING! WHAT, DON'T WANT TO KILL ME?! I'M NOT DOING ANYTHING, AM I?! THERE'S NO REASON TO KILL ME, IS THERE?!" The girl shook her head shakily. "THEN WHERE IS THE REASON TO KILL THIS RAT?!" Lucy shouted angrily, whipping around to glare at the rest of the girls who were watching the scene with interest.

"The way to deal with something you are afraid of," Lucy began, struggling hard to keep her voice level, "is not to get rid of it."

"How, then?" A girl about fourteen asked bravely, shrinking back as Lucy looked over at her. Lucy carefully took the and held it close to her, looking into its little brown eyes.

"Easy. Just stop being afraid."

"What if it's not that easy?" A thirteen-year-old demanded.

"I was of something once, before. I'm still afraid of it now, but I've come to terms with it. The only way to win is to face it, accept it, and move on." Lucy kissed the little rat. "This little guy is hardly worth making a fuss about." Lucy looked up at the staring faces solemnly, eyes shining with unknown sadness and pain.

Lucy turned and walked back to her compartment, not bothering to look back.

-----------------------------------------------

"Wormtail's been gone awhile, guys." Remus said worriedly. "I don't think it was a good idea sending him out like that. You shouldn't have dared him, Padfoot." Sirius laughed, a bark-like laugh.

"He'll be fine. We'll give him a couple more minutes." Sirius asked, grinning.

"Yeah, Moony. What could possible happen?" James asked cheerily.

-----------------------------------------------

"Hey, little guy, how're you feeling?" Lucy asked behind her closed compartment door. The little brown rat was trembling slightly. Lucy held it close to her. "Don't worry, you'll be fine, I promise. I won't let those girls hurt you, okay?"

It took a good while, but Lucy had finally managed to calm the little rat down. When she was sure he wouldn't run off, Lucy put him on the sweets table, next to a box of Bertie Botts' Every Flavor Beans, which he immediately began eating. Once the rat had finished off the box, it climbed into it and fell asleep. Lucy picked the box up carefully, holding it in her lap, the opening facing her.

"What are you going to do with him?" Lily asked, startling Lucy, who hadn't realized she was in the compartment. Lucy shrugged.

"I don't know, find him a home? If I can't, I'll keep him myself." Lily's eyes grew wide, but she said nothing. Lucy didn't notice, looking down at the box again.

"Whit?" Lucy looked up.

"Yeah?" Lily hesitated.

"Why risk your neck for a rat? I mean," Lily began hastily, seeing the fire light in Lucy's eyes again, "You could've really got hurt." Lucy didn't answer right away, thinking. She tipped the empty container, sliding the little brown rat into her waiting hand. She cupped her hands around its little body as if holding water.

"Look at it, Lils." Lucy said softly, holding the rat out. "Could it really be dangerous? Could it ever hurt anyone?" Lily shook her head. "Does it deserve to die?"

Lily shook her head.

-----------------------------------------------

After about ten minutes or so, even James and Sirius were growing frantic. Peter still hadn't come back. They set out to search for him, asking in each compartment if the occupants had seen Peter, or a rat. As they got nearer to the back of the train, girls in compartments had panicked at the word rat, so the they figured Peter had been around. In one of the last compartments, when James, Sirius, and Remus mentioned the word 'rat', a girl looking about fifteen or sixteen almost lost it.

"The rat?! Where is it?! That girl isn't around, is she?!"

"What girl?"

"The girl! The one with the curly black hair and blue eyes! She went insane! All I did was try to kill that bloody rat!" James, Sirius, and Remus' eyes grew wide.

"You didn't though, right?!" They asked desperately.

"No! I couldn't! That insane girl jumped in my way and saved the bloody pest! I couldn't believe it! She was bleeding and everything, all to save a bloody rat! Then she started screaming, and........................" The girl trailed off, mumbling to herself. Around her, girls were nodding vigorously. James, Sirius, and Remus exchanged looks, all three of them knowing the only person who would save a rat.

Lucy.

James, Sirius, and Remus now had a specific person in mind to look for. The three of them hurried to the very end of the train, checking in compartment windows for Lucy. In the very last compartment, they found her. She was curled up in a chair, holding something and looking out the window. And there, nestled in the crook of her neck, was a little brown rat. The guys almost collapsed in relief.

Remus knocked on the compartment door, James and Sirius bursting in without waiting for an answer. Both Lucy and Lily looked dreadfully confused, but it was Lucy, as usual, who noticed something odd.

"Where's Peter?" Lucy asked, standing up and looking out behind the guys.

"In the loo." James responded immediately. Lily believed him, but Lucy just shook her head. "What?"

"You're lying, James Potter." Lucy announced simply. "I don't like liars. If it's a secret, just tell me." Lucy petted the little brown rat absently as she spoke. Shock was written across every face in the compartment. Lucy, not paying attention to any of them, carefully set the little rat on top of her head. It ran across her head, half-falling off, getting caught in her bangs. Lucy laughed and untangled it from her hair. "Again?" She asked. It shook its head and Lucy laughed again.

"Why are you talking to it?" Lily asked, confused. Lucy looked over at Lily calmly, stroking the little rat's fur and holding it close.

"What? Just because he can't talk doesn't mean he can't think." Lucy held up the little rat to her face. "You understand me, don't you?" She asked, kissing the top of the rat's head. The rat squeaked and Lucy laughed. "You're a sweet little thing, aren't you?" The rat nodded happily. Lucy's face darkened suddenly and she grew silent. "I won't let them hurt you, okay?" She whispered softly to the little rat.

The compartment was completely silent as Lily, James, Sirius, and Remus all stared at Lucy, the boys' mouths wide open.

Lucy studied the rat carefully for a moment or two, looking slightly confused. Then she beamed. "You remind me of someone!" She exclaimed happily. The rat stared up at Lucy wordlessly. "Peter Pettigrew!"

James, Sirius, and Remus gasped simultaneously, causing Lucy, Lily, and the rat to jump. Lily glared at the boys while Lucy comforted the little rat.

"Do I even want to know what that was about?" Lily asked, somewhat sharply. The boys shook their heads rapidly. Lily and the boys looked over at Lucy to see her reaction and were somewhat surprised. Lucy had put the little brown rat on her head again, and it was running around and getting tangled in her hair. The weird thing was............the rat seemed to be enjoying itself.

"That's not natural." Sirius choked out. Lucy laughed.

"Why not, Sirius? My hair is fun to play with!" To demonstrate, Lucy shook her head lightly, curls flying everywhere. The rat squeaked in protest, gripping her head tightly. Lucy grinned as she took the rat off of her head. "Isn't that right, Peter?" She asked the little brown rat.

The compartment was silent for a long time, tension swallowing everyone. James, Sirius, Remus, Lily................even the rat seemed to be shocked. Only Lucy was blissfully unaware of everyone else, humming to herself softly.

"That's not Peter!" Remus exclaimed moments later, James remaining silent after being caught in his lie. Lily spoke before Lucy could.

"Well of course that isn't him!" She sniffed in a superior, know-it-all way. "Peter's a boy, not a rat."

"Now hold on a second." Lucy said abruptly, still playing with the little rat. "What makes you think this couldn't be Peter?" Lily looked confused.

"Because people can't be animals?" She asked hesitantly. Lucy shook her head.

"Here, hold him for me, will you?" Lily shrank back from the rat instinctively. Lucy rolled her eyes and turned to the boys, looking at each of them carefully. "Sirius." She decided, handing him the rat. "Don't let him go." Sirius nodded.

Lucy reached up into the carry space above their heads for her trunk, pulling it down and throwing it onto a seat, with some difficulty. She opened it and rummaged around in it for a good while, before pulling out a book with a triumphant air.

"Here it is!" Lucy said cheerily, closing her trunk. Lucy held up the book for the others to see. It was their Transfiguration book. Lucy hopped up onto her closed trunk, opening the book and placing it in her lap. Lucy turned the pages slowly, humming to herself and swinging her feet like a small child.

"Here it is!" She exclaimed, after having searched for a bit. "Listen!" Lucy propped the book up some so she could see it better, slipped on her glasses, and began. "There are some wizards who, with much practice, can transform into an animal. The few witches and wizards who accomplish this task become known as Animagus'. An Animagus can be any animal at all, but only one. For example, a wizard may be able to become a stag," Here James turned pale, but no one noticed, "and may be able to stay in that position for an unlimited amount of time. An Animagus who can turn into a dog," Sirius' eyes grew wide and he gulped audibly, "can live with a family their entire life unnoticed. Animagus' can turn into both domesticated, and wild animals. Very, very rare is it when an Animagus' transformation results in a magical animal, such as a unicorn, dragon, or phoenix..............." Lucy paused, eyes skimming the page. "There's more after that, but it's not really that important..............hold on." Lucy read something, laughed.

"What? What is it?" Lily asked, intrigued.

"I guess it's not really that funny, but.............."

"But what?"

"They make it sound so............so serious! As if it really matters!"

"What is it?!" Lily asked impatiently. Lucy shook her head, snapping the book shut.

"Not important." Lucy repeated. Lily frowned.

"Then why don't you read it?!" Lucy didn't answer. She hopped off of her trunk, opened it, and threw her Transfiguration book in it. She rummaged around in her trunk again, taking out her Defense Against the Dark Arts book. Lucy opened it without bothering to sit down, flipping through the pages, eyes skimming them with amazing speed. She stopped suddenly, read a few pages at lightning speed, then slammed the book shut, a look of disgust on her face.

"What? What is it?" Lily asked, surprised. Lucy shook her head and slammed her DADA book back into her trunk, closing the lid with amazing force. She locked the trunk and shoved it back in the carry space.

"Gimme Peter." Lucy demanded Sirius, who held the little rat tighter.

"What?! This isn't-"

"Gimme Peter."

"That's not its name!" Sirius looked slightly panicked now.

"Is he yours?" Lucy asked, confused. Sirius hesitated, then nodded his head furiously. Lucy said nothing, the look in her eyes clearly stating that Sirius was lying to her. But, once again, Lucy would do nothing to him, or any of the other boys, instead choosing to sit down in the spot where her trunk had been.

There was an odd tension in the air as the boys waited for what would come next, Lily watching everything with a slightly suspicious air about her. Lucy leaned back into her seat, eyes on the little rat. Sirius quickly moved it to his pocket. Lucy looked up at Sirius' face searchingly, but mentioned nothing.

"Sirius." He jumped.

"Yeah Whit?"

"Go find Peter." Sirius nodded and tore out of the compartment, leaving James and Remus standing by the door uncertainly. Lucy raised her eyebrows at them. "You two sitting down or what?" They nodded and sat.

Sirius came back with Peter not long after he'd left, Peter looking flushed but very, very happy. Lucy took note of this, but mentioned neither Peter's appearance or the little rat to either boy about them as they sat down. The four boys sat on the seat across from Lucy and Lily, Lucy watching them carefully. It was clear that she suspected something, but, as she'd always done before and would continue to do, she ignored her suspicions and turned to other things. The four boys loved her for this, each of them appreciating her all the more every time she did so.

"What are you five doing this summer?" Lucy asked casually, arms behind her head. She was smiling easily at Lily and the boys, but her eyes looked somewhat troubled. There were conflicting emotions in them, ranging from sadness, happiness, acceptance, even a slight bit of fear lingered in them. She was looking at her friends as if drinking them in, to last her throughout the summer. A surprising amount of pain flashed in her eyes. But she blinked, and each emotion was wiped from her eyes.

But not before Lily, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter had noticed.

"Hello? Anyone gonna answer me?" Lucy asked jokingly. Lily, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter shook their heads, the boys exchanging glances. The five of them had been caught up in studying Lucy and hadn't answered her.

"Well, you know what I'm gonna be doing." Lily said, answering first. "I'm gonna be hanging out with my family, which includes Petunia. Who hates me." Lucy smiled sympathetically, Lily just shrugging.

"What about you four?" Lucy asked, turning back to the boys.

"Pretty much the same. Me and my family. We haven't decided on whether or not we'll be doing anything this summer. I might get to visit some friends." Peter said, throwing glances at James, Sirius, and Remus, who grinned. "Other than that, I don't know." Peter was a pureblood, though not as rich as most. He was a middle-class pureblood, his parents not really known well in society. They were good and kind, yes, and would be perfectly happy if Peter wanted to visit friends over the summer.

"Cool." Lucy said happily. "Remus?"

"Me? Oh..................I probably will stay at home." Remus didn't look at Lucy when he spoke, looking a bit uncomfortable.

"What? Not going anywhere? Visiting anyone?" Remus shook his head, the look on his face clearly asking Lucy to stop. She saw this and switched her focus onto Sirius. "What about you, Sirius?" She asked, catching the grateful look Remus threw her. Sirius, on the other hand, scowled.

"Family." He spat angrily. "I'll probably be stuck going to a bunch of bloody pureblood parties, listening to what a disappointment I am." Lucy looked surprised. "My mum sent me a Howler in the beginning of the year, when she heard I was Gryffindor. I was out by the Forbidden Forest, though, so no one heard but me."

"What's a Howler?"

"A red letter that lets the sender scream at you louder than humanly possible."

"Oh." Lucy said quietly, eyes searching Sirius' angry face. "You know it's not true, though, right?" Sirius looked confused.

"What's not true?"

"You're not a disappointment, Sirius." Sirius said nothing, looking away from her. It was silent for a moment before he spoke again.

"Might visit friends, though." He mumbled, shooting a glance at James, who nodded discreetly. Sirius saw this and smiled, bad mood gone.

"What about you, James?" Lucy asked curiously.

"Definitely staying home." James announced firmly. "I want friends over this summer." Sirius, Remus, and Peter grinned. "And as soon as possible, too. I'm gonna talk to my mum and dad and find out how soon I can have guests, then I'm sending owls out." James grinned. "My parents are awesome. They'll probably let me have as many friends over as I want, for as long as I want."

"Awesome, James. Sounds like you four are gonna have fun." Lucy said cheerily.

"What are you doing this summer, Whit?" Lily asked. Lucy fell silent, smile disappearing somewhat. She didn't look at her friends, instead focusing her attention on looking out the window. There was a long silence before she finally answered.

"I'm going............." Lucy's mouth couldn't form the word 'home'. "I'm................"

"What?" Lily asked curiously, the four boys listening carefully.

"I'm....................."

"Anything off the trolley, dears?" A lady asked. All of them jumped. They shook their heads. "If you want something, I'll be up front. We're almost there, might want to get changed." The lady left. There was so much tension in the air that the six Gryffindors could almost taste it. Lily opened her mouth to say something to Lucy, who bolted out of the compartment as if she was on fire.

Lily sighed, concerned. She got up and left, leaving the boys to change. The four of them changed into their Muggle clothes quickly, Lucy and Lily returning not long after they'd finished. Lucy remained silent, staring out of the window, every once in a while running her hand through her hair. Lily tried to talk to Lucy many times, finally giving up and pulling out a book to read. The four boys looked at Lucy, unsure of how to approach her. James and Sirius began playing chess when they were sure that Lucy wouldn't talk for the rest of the ride, Peter watching them closely.

Remus, on the other hand, moved to the seat across from Lucy, watching her intently, waiting for her to talk. Lucy felt his gaze on her and half-turned from the window to see who was staring at her. She looked at him silently for a bit before turning back to the window. Remus had the feeling that Lucy had no idea what she was looking at. Her eyes were slightly glazed, a troubled look in them.

Remus felt worried, and he wondered what could be so bad about Lucy's house that she wasn't telling any of them. He knew why he didn't like talking about his house. It was because his parents who, though they loved Remus, feared him greatly. They had moved him from his room on the second floor to the basement many years ago, often locking him in at night, using a thick padlock they'd bought just for that reason. But what could be so wrong in Lucy's house, that she did not want to go home? It was obvious she wasn't happy about going home, just as it was obvious that he didn't. Neither of them had wanted to talk about it, although James, Sirius, and Peter knew perfectly well why Remus didn't want to go home.

Remus said nothing to Lucy, just sat across from her, thinking, for the rest of the ride.

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