Chapter 4 - The Rumors

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Lily Evans slowly pulled on her uniform from inside her new dorm, dreading the moment she'd have to walk out. She painstakingly made sure every button was in the right place, smoothed down her skirt, adjusted her socks, and retied her shoes. She glanced in the mirror, smoothing down her dark red hair. She had bags under her eyes, and she still retained her shocked expression from when she'd woken up in the Head Boy's bed.

She gathered her books sluggishly, double-checking that everything was in her bag. I could wait a few minutes more, she thought. Just a few more minutes --

A knock interrupted her thought and she huffed in annoyance. "Lily?" came a familiar voice, and she groaned. Just the person she'd been avoiding.

"Yes, James?"

"You're slower than a flobberworm right now. Get your arse out of bed and get moving." She could hear his joking tone, but still rolled her eyes.

"Just a minute!" she called back, hoisting her bag onto her shoulder. She took one last look in the floor-length mirror before opening the door and coming face-to-face with James Potter.

He looked just as he had on any other day, but he still took her breath away. Dammit, why'd he have to be so -- so -- handsome?

She must have looked flustered, because his eyes twinkled in amusement, and he stepped back to let her pass. "Morning, Evans."

So he didn't remember.

"Potter," she said stiffly. His lively expression died, but just for a moment. Then he just chuckled. "What's got your knickers in a knot, Lily?"

"Nothing." Just my impending doom. And I need a cigarette.

"Well, then, cheer up -- time to turn over a new leaf! It's the start of a new year! You're Head Girl! Keep your chin up!" James followed her out of the portrait hole.

Lily rolled her eyes, but smiled all the same. "Alright. We'd better get going, or else we're going to be late." She still couldn't look at him straight, not after last night.

"There she is!" James said brightly and Lily gave a small smile. James had a way to make everyone smile.

They headed down to breakfast together, Lily's mood slowly getting better, until they got to the Great Hall.

It was unusual -- almost every student was at breakfast, but most of them weren't talking. Bewildered whispers ran through the student body, and people craned their necks to see the pedestal upon which the Crown of Hogwarts sat.

Lily and James looked at each other and frowned. "What's going on?" James whispered. Lily shrugged.

They began to head to where the Crown of Hogwarts sat, and soon gasped at what they saw.

Instead of the Crown of Hogwarts proudly displayed, there was a white business card with two words on it:

White Fox.

***

All Sirius Black wanted was a bit of peace on the first day of Hogwarts. But his wish did not seem as though it would be granted after he ran into a pair of Slytherins who only wanted trouble, Marlene McKinnon, and then the absence of the Crown of Hogwarts. Not to mention last night's fiasco.

His morning started like this: He woke up, got dressed, made sure his hair looked perfect, and began the trek to the Great Hall. When he was on the fifth floor, however, he ran into two other members of the student body.

"What the hell are you doing here?" was Sirius' greeting.

"No need for hostility," said Severus Snape smoothly, while Sirius' brother bristled with anger next to him.

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