chapter six - truthful talks

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Later that day, after a very boring History of Magic lesson and a succesful (in Lily's case, as she managed to transform a rat into a antique jug) Transfiguration lesson, Lily headed down to lunch. The other girls had all gone down to Hogsmeade for their first visit but Lily had stayed behind.
She entered the Great Hall and slid onto the bench, next to a couple of fourth-year girls who greeted her politely.
She was about to reach for the basket of rolls when she heard two people drop heavily into the seats next to her.

"Was that necessary?" She asked Sirius and James irritably.

"What?" James asked in mock innocence.

"Dropping onto the seat. I felt the bench vibrate."

"That was only James," Sirius asked, reaching over Lily's hand to grab a roll. "I've been meaning to ask him to lose weight, so thank you for reminding me." Lily grinned as James turned red and glared at Sirius.

Lily was quite surprised to see them both there on a Hogsmeade visit and was about to ask them why they didn't attend when a few afternoon owls streamed into the Great Hall. A beautiful bronze owl dropped a package on both Sirius and James' plates.

"Ooh, she sent us sweets!" James exclaimed, throwing aside a tag that read To: James - From: Euphemia(mum)

"You want this? I don't really like these. They're too sweet for me,"  James held out a fudge brownie to Lily.

"Thanks," she said, putting it next to her plate. At that moment, Marmalada, Lily's spotted brown owl, flew by and dropped a package onto her table. There was no label or tag on the brown wrapping paper.

Lily tore it open eagerly, expecting the new set of Princess Diaries books she'd asked her parents to purchase, but instead was faced with a small paper bag and a letter.

She opened the letter, James and Sirius leaning over to see, but immediately closed it when she saw the last sentence. She only needed to feel the contents of the paper bag and glance inside to know what it was, and when she did, a feeling of overwhelming sadness consumed her. She abruptly stood up, not noticing the concerned looks James, Sirius and the cluster of fourth-year girls gave her, and forgetting the paper bag, letter, fudge brownie and her book bag in her haste to escape. It was only once she was in the safety of the silent corridor outside the Great Hall that she felt the tears slide down her cheeks.

"What just happened?" James whispered to Sirius, who rolled his eyes.

"Mate, where's your brain? The letter obviously must've triggered something in her." The boys glanced at each other, and then Sirius nodded. He picked up the paper bag while James held the letter in his hands.
It read:

I don't know what you thought, that I'd actually like your gift? It's trash, just like you. It's only because mum forced me that I'm actually writing this letter, much less touching your stupid 'pet'. Leave me alone, you freak.
Your (ashamed to be) sister, Petunia

James, his eyes wider than usual behind his glasses, showed the letter to Sirius, who, his smirk gone, gave the bag to James. Inside was the torn remains of a book. The title was, somehow, still visible. Jane Austen was the name. In the spaces between the title, stood Your favourite book :)

James took a deep breath before adressing Sirius. "You should go talk to her." He didn't like it that he couldn't go, but he knew Sirius was the perfect man for the job.

"Me?" Sirius, looking surprised, asked. "Why not you?"

"Because," James said. "You know more about how to comfort her than I do." He winced and closed his eyes immediately after his words. That sounded so rude.

"Thanks mate," Sirius said, patting James on the shoulder. James could tell, even though Sirius was a good liar, that he meant it. That's what bestfriends knew.

She thought she had gotten used to it but she didn't. Every single time she heard, saw, read the word, especially if it was from Petunia, she would feel the tug in her heart. It wasn't something you could get used to.

Freak. The word played over and over again in her mind. The first time Petunia had ever called her a freak,she'd crept to her room and had written the word over and over on a piece of paper. By the seventh time, it had made no sense. Lily soon found out she was like the word on paper. She made no sense. She was no witch. She was, like her boggart had clearly stated, a freak mudblood.

Freak. The tears had stopped by now, but her eyes were still red and puffy. Her back against the wall was beginning to ache, but she didn't care. Both mudblood and freak was starting to collide together in her mind, forming a scribbled ball that made no sense.

Freak. Maybe Petunia was right.

Freak. Who liked a girl who had to hide something that she had no control over.

Freak. No one loved freaks.

Freak. No one could-

"Lily!" Lily snapped out of her thoughts and looked up to see Sirius staring down at her. For once, his mischevious smirk was gone, replaced with a hard, concerned frown. She didn't know how he found her here, hidden behind a suit of armour outside of the Great Hall.

"I have my ways. And your hair gives it off." He said, as if reading her thoughts. She looked down at her lap again, and after a while, felt him slide down next to her.

They were both silent for a while, each engrossed in their own thoughts.

"Do you maybe want to talk about whatever happened?" Sirius asked quietly. "I've learned that I'm good with family issues."

Lily almost said no, but she did want to talk about Petunia. She figured she owed as much to her self. Besides, however rude and arrogant Sirius acted, Lily could see that he was trying to hide his emotions. He was even good at it.

"The first time I found out magic was real," she began. Sirius turned around to face her, his grey eyes concerned and open. "We were playing in the park a few blocks from my house. We were just swinging and stuff. Then Tuney said she felt hungry, and left to go home. But I didn't want to go yet, so I just sat in the grass, playing with flowers. Then this boy - Snape actually-" she felt a pang in her heart when she mentioned her ex-bestfriend's name - "-came up to me. He told me I was a witch and he was wizard. He taught me how to make the flowers grow in my palms.
One day Petunia and I were playing again. And I told her that I wanted to show her a trick. So I made the whole flower-in-my-palm thing happen." She paused, sucking in her deep as she felt her eyes prickling. "Petunia was definitely not impressed. She -she-" Lily stopped again and sucked in another deep breath. Sirius stared down at her, his jaw clenched.

"She called you a freak, didn't she." He said lowly. Lily gulped and nodded. "How did you know?"

"I read the letter." He winced, almost as if expecting her to lash out at him.

"I didn't expect you not to." Lily said, managing a weak smile.

Once again, they were both silent. It felt surprisingly nice to share her feelings, especially to someone like Sirius, who she knew dealt with problems of his own.

"Well," Lily muttered, standing up and dusting off her skirt. I think I should get going."
She turned around and walked, not before shooting Sirius an appreciative smile.

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