Chapter Five

The exams passed rather uneventfully, and Lily hadn't revealed to anyone her reason for dashing off madly to the library. She had been spending lots of time with Remus, who was walking around the emptier halls with a scared expression and jumping at every little noise. She hadn't been teasing him as much as she had, and James and Sirius were avoiding both of them a bit. Lily was usually in in the common room with Eva, Vanessa, and Remus, all of them looking through heavy books or just talking. Christmas was coming up, and all of them had written to their parents to ask them to send them presents for their friends, as they weren't allowed inside Hogsmeade. Two nights before Christmas, Lily and Remus were playing chess in front of the common room fire. Lily was desperately trying to save her queen, which, as she was just learning chess, seemed impossible. The ebony queen was surrounded in a corner by a tower and two bishops, each of them protected and invincible. "Remus, this situation happens every time. What am I doing wrong?" Remus moved his knight to guard a bishop. "I'll tell you once you lose. It's actually beatable, but it takes a bit to see the flaw in this strategy." "Once I lose. Gee, that consoles me." Lily bent over the board. "Remus, what do you want for Christmas? You never told me." Leaning back into his couch, Remus assumed a thoughtful expression. "Well, if you could get James and Sirius to talk to me again--or at least to find out why they're not talking to me, that might be nice." Lily scowled. "A real present. C'mon, I already told you I'd like some drawing pencils and several German books. At least you have an idea of what to give me. I don't know what you'd want." Remus rolled his eyes. "What do you want German books for? English I can halfway understand, but German?" Lily halted her hand on its way to a pawn. "I like to translate." Remus looked down at the board. "Did you touch that pawn?" "No." "Oh. I thought you did. Anyway, I know what you should give me--I just thought of it." He stopped as a shadow fell over the board. "Oh, hi, James. Want to watch?" James scowled. "What should she give you? I thought the guy usually supplies the wedding ring." He bent down to the game. "Here. Checkmate." With that, he vanished up his dormitory stairs, leaving a disgruntled Remus behind and a smirking Lily, whose knight had checkmated Remus' king. "Ha! I won that time. But what on earth was he so mad about?" Remus frowned. "I don't know. No offense, but the last thing I want to do is marry you. What is wrong with him and Sirius lately?” Lily woke up on Christmas morning with a heavy weight on her feet. Groggily opening her eyes, she blinked towards a large pile on the end of her bed. She sat up in bed and immediately was thrown back onto her pillow by a flying pillow launched at her head, aimed from Vanessa's bed. "Get up! Presents!" Lily grinned and crawled out of the sheets. She went to the window, looking out on the castle grounds. "Look; it's snowing!" 41

By now Eva and Amanda were up, too. "Who cares? Oh, look, I think this one's from my mom. Wonder what this one is." Amanda had spotted a lumpy package with a gold card and reached for it. "Fizzing Whizbees! See what you have, Lily." Lily jumped onto her bed, pulling her slippers onto her cold feet. Wrapping herself in a blanket, she turned over her presents. "Mom sent me something...several somethings...oh look, wasn't that nice. Eva, look!" She held up a package of books. "Hebrew and German!" Eva rolled her eyes. "I will never understand you and your insane desire for books." She buried her hands in a bag full of Chocolate Frogs and threw them to the whole dormitory. "Catch!" Lily slowly worked her way through her pile, revealing, among other things, several bags of colored ink, pictures of her room at home, bags and bags of candy, several Owl Treats, and a book full of hexes from her father, who had fallen in love with the Flourish and Blotts bookshop in Diagon Alley. Finally, at the bottom of the pile, she came across gifts from Remus, James, Sirius, and Peter. Peter's she opened first. Raising her eyebrows at the Sugar Quill, she moved on to Remus'. She smiled when she opened it. A scarlet scarf had fallen out, with a golden lion on the front. Remus had attached a note. I thought you might want something to wear to the Gryffindor Quidditch matches, since you don't have anything red. Thanks for everything, Remus Lily smiled. "You're welcome." she whispered. Next came Sirius'. He had sent her a book of all of James' hexes, all compiled and handwritten. "Wow." Lily grinned. "This was a bit of a suicidal gift, Sirius." Lily picked up James' present. Slowly, she slit open the card. The small envelope was regular parchment with "To Lily" written on it in burgundy ink. Carefully, almost as if expecting the small pieces of parchment to explode in her face, Lily took the letter out of the envelope, unfolded it, and read: Dear Lily, I'm sorry about being really cold to you. I guess I just thought you were getting really close to Remus and pulling both yourself and him away from us, so both Sirius and I wanted to prevent that. But last night Remus asked to talk to Sirius and me, and he told us everything. About how you had figured out he was a werewolf on the Astronomy exam night, didn't tell anyone, and didn't avoid him, either, and about how you had to put up with me and Sirius'--well, I'd rather not say what I think, but I know what you must think of us now. I guess the only thing for me is to say that I'm sorry. I was a bit jealous of the time you were spending together, I mean, not boyfriend/girlfriend jealous, just mad that you weren't around anymore. You're a great friend and I hope I didn't spoil your first year

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here. Oh, and by the way, if one of your presents is a single yellow rose, tell me. If it's there, it'll come without a card. I think you'll get a laugh out of it. Thy humble servant who deserves to be crushed into dust at thy feet and then attacked by all sorts of magical creatures (they'll be easy to find, won't they? I mean, we've got the werewolf...), --James Lily nodded slowly as she folded the letter back up. So Remus had told his friends. She was surprised, but a bit relieved at the same time. He had been so afraid that everyone would shun him and try to get him thrown out after they found out that not only was he a werewolf, but he had attacked their former Transfiguration teacher and hospital nurse as they took him down to the Whomping Willow on the grounds, which had a passageway underneath it that led to the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade, where he transformed. It had taken all of Remus' courage to tell Lily that part. One night in the common room, he had told her that the room where she had been shut in underground was where he had stayed every month before the Whomping Willow was fully grown and could be used as a doorward to the passageway. The Shrieking Shack was haunted only by him, as he had to bite and claw himself, there being no humans around. Lily picked up James' present, glad that he was speaking to her again, kindly. The present was in gold wrapping paper, thin and crinkly. Lily unwrapped it quickly, trying not to tear the paper. She smiled as a tiny figure fell onto her bed. "James, he's adorable!" The tiny werewolf held a sign in his mouth, whimpering a bit, with sad eyes. The words on the sign were in burgundy, just like the ink on her letter. "James was a stupid fool. Forgive James." The bed creaked as Vanessa jumped onto it, right next to her. "Ohhh, who gave that to you?" She gave Lily a knowing look. "Now wasn't that sweet of him?" Lily shrugged. "I don't know what you mean. He did something stupid and apologized for it in my letter." Eva came over. "Sure. Is that all he said?" Lily gulped. Yes, he told me that his best friend was a werewolf and I knew that and was trying to be a good friend to his friend and he got jealous of us for that, so he apologized. "Yeah, pretty much." Amanda pointed towards the window. "Look, there!" An owl was flying towards the open glass panes, bearing something wrapped in silver tissue paper. It flew in, dropped the package on Lily's lap, and sped off in the direction of the Owlery. Lily laughed as a tiny yellow rose came fluttering out. Puzzled at the package and its spilled contents, all the girls in the dormitory bent over the rose. "Lily, who sent you that?" "Was it James or Sirius?" "You are so lucky."

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"I know. If I had either of them I'd be happy, but you have both!" Lily picked up the present, wondering what this was about. "I don't think it was James. He told me in his letter-well, not really told, but he mentioned something about a yellow rose and that I'd get a laugh out of it. I wonder what he meant?" Eva started to giggle madly. "What if it's from that rat Peter? I think he likes you." Everyone burst out laughing at Lily's disgusted face, then stopped, frozen, as someone else's voice joined theirs in laughter. Amanda was the first to speak. "Who was that?" Vanessa shook her head. "I don't know. It sounded like it came from over there." She gestured towards the space between Lily's trunk and Eva's bed. Tentatively, the girls moved over to the area Vanessa had indicated. When they were five feet away from the wall, a giant blast of light threw them halfway across the room, making them land painfully on their backs. Lily raised herself up as she heard muffled laughter speeding across the room and to the dormitory's door. "And stay out, who or whatever you are!" She frowned. Slamming the door, she glanced at her roommates, each hobbling to the closest bed they could find and plopping themselves down, rubbing aching and throbbing backs. "We'd better get dressed quickly. I hope nothing else is in here." With much persuading and more Tickling Curses, she managed to push Amanda and Eva off of her bed so she could put her presents away. Lily put the small werewolf, now on his knees and turning into a human, onto her nightstand, smiling slightly as he clutched her finger and bit it gently, managing to place the sign on her hand. Lily put it back inside its mouth and slipped into her robes, tying her hair back with a kerchief. Vanessa and Lily preceded Eva and Amanda down to the common room. The other twins with brown hair had gone home for Christmas, so the inmates of the dormitory were finally able to get up without black circles around their eyes. "They can stay home, too, for all I care." had been Amanda's response. Downstairs, Lily saw James and Remus at the fireplace, talking intently. She headed straight over. "Good morning." Placing herself on a scarlet couch, she arranged herself Indian-style and tapped Remus on the shoulder, who was staring into the flames. "So you told him, Remus?" "I didn't think I could take much more of this...I mean, I hate to sound like a wimp, but I thought people'd start to attack me if they found out what I did to those teachers...but I wanted to know what my friends would think of me." Remus looked up at Lily. "I guess it was you that made me decide to tell them...I don't know how to say thank you." Lily smiled. "Don't. I hate being thanked--it makes me nervous because I don't know how to respond." James regained a mischievous grin. He flung himself at her feet, pulling at the hem of her robes. "Thank you, kind spirit, thank you so much for inspiring my friend! I beg of you to accept my thanks! And thank you a thousand times for accepting my apology as a remedy against the crime my indifferent person has committed against thy sacred being! I-Ouch!" Lily put her shoe back on. "I told you not to thank me."

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"No. You told Remus that." Lily waved her shoe threateningly in his face. "All right, I'll stop!" Lily settled back into the couch. "You said something about a rose in that letter you sent me. You also said you'd explain it. Shoot." James grinned evilly. "Did you get it?" Reaching into the pocked of her robes, Lily pulled out the flower she had received, looking a bit apologetic as she handed it over and a few petals fell off. "I did." Taking the flower, James smirked. "Guess who sent it to you." Lily raised her eyebrows. "The opinion of the girls in my dormitory is that Peter sent it. It's perfectly ridiculous, of course, but it was the only idea they had." James picked a hanging petal off the flower. "His name starts with an S." "An S? James, give me a real answer. Do you know how many people in this school have names that start with that letter-First or last name?" James grinned. "First." Lily frowned. "First name starts with an S?" Sirius whirled around from his game of checkers with Miranda. "What about me?" James waved to him to come over. "The rose thing." "Oh." Sirius was grinning from ear to ear. "That." He swung himself over the back of Lily's chair and landed right beside her. "Tell her." Lily was confused. "Tell me what?" She looked from James to Sirius in expectation. James took something out of his pocket. "Recognize anyone in here?" Pulling the piece of paper close to her eyes, Lily gazed at it incredulously. It was a simple, but very well done sketch of herself; a depiction from her shoulders up. She was smiling in the drawing, with her eyes sparkling and a lock of red hair tucked behind one ear. She was wearing an earring of a dazzling green, which she recognized as one of a pair she had worn about a week before school let out for the Christmas holidays. Behind her, she recognized the bright and cheery walls of the Charms classroom. The drawing was done in coloured pencil, with a small black scribble of a signature in the bottom right corner. Lily accepted the small, not very strong magnifying glass Sirius handed her and studied the writing. "I can read S-something. Don't you have a better magnifying glass?" James smiled. "I have something better." He pulled his wand out. "Engorgio!" Lily watched as the sketch grew to four times its normal size and had to be laid down on the floor for inspection. She slid down from the couch and sat on the carpet, next to the signature. "S. Snape?" Her eyes widened. "Why-" She stopped in amazement. James grinned. "Well, what do you think?" Lily managed to recover herself. "I think it's very good." Sirius waved that aside. "No, the fact that our dearly beloved Slytherin enemy, the hater of Muggle-borns, drew a picture of you and kept it in his pillowcase." Lily started to laugh. "His-his pillowcase? What on earth…" Her voice trailed off. Remus nodded. "His pillowcase. Although James and Sirius haven't revealed to me how they found it there…hint, hint." He punched Sirius lightly in the stomach, who immediately keeled over, coughing and choking. "Please-no touch-no touch! -Sirius allergic to wolfies!" Lily and James looked at each other in surprise, then burst out laughing along with

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Remus and Peter at the sight of Sirius curled up in a ball and scratching himself madly while rolling on the floor. Recovering himself first, James rolled his eyes, catching a glimpse of the flurries of snow whirling outside the window. His eyes twinkled. "Sirius, get up. We're having a snowball fight!" Half of the Gryffindors that had been in the common room made a mad dash for their dormitories in search of cloaks and mittens. Skillfully avoiding being stampeded, Lily wound her way upstairs through the throng. She ran to her trunk, opened it, and burrowed through her things for a dark-green cloak with a hood, lined with black felt that her mother had sent her at the beginning of the holidays. Wrapped in the cloak were thick black gloves and a dark green scarf, which Lily threw on as fast as she could. Eva followed her down the stairs, muffled in a pale blue cloak with white fur around the edges and collar. Her parents were rich, very rich, which had excited the envy of many of the girls. Quickly, they climbed out of the portrait hole, sprinting down the corridor as fast as they could. For the first time in days, Lily stepped out of the front doors, gasping as she saw the amount of snow on the grounds. The lawns were covered in four feet of snow, and they had to fight their way through the drifts to get to a somewhat less snowy area underneath a weeping willow. Eva and Lily cleared a sort of path to the willow, only ten feet long but surrounded on each side with snowy walls, as thick as they could make them. The path was made of snow that they had stamped and jumped on, till it was so thick that they couldn't have pushed a shovel through it. They were just erecting a sort of doorway at either end with the help of Vanessa, Amanda, James, Sirius, Miranda, John, and Remus when a roar from the castle gates announced the arrival of the rest of the Gryffindors. Most of them jumped off of the castle steps, landing in the soft snow and managing to sink halfway through it. The students who hadn't were fighting their way through the snow to the end of the pathway to the willow, where they were putting up a fort and packing ammunition together as fast as they could. John conjured a megaphone, climbing on top of a pile of snow. "My fellow Gryffindors." The students fell silent. "We have invited the other Houses out here, and we're going to kick them into next winter, where hopefully they will fall into a snowdrift even larger than this one." The Gryffindors cheered. "So don't waste your snowballs on any of us." He stepped down, made the megaphone vanish, and went to the other side of the willow to help Miranda and Lily conjure up a high snowy wall all around the tree's drooping branches. By the time the rest of the participating school came outside, the Gryffindors had made a regular war fort out of their willow. There was no more willow to be seen; instead, a white half-circle a foot thick had been erected right next to the lake. Surrounding it was a wall seven feet high, and, as a finishing touch, an elegant doorway opened into the willowy, white grounds and a Gryffindor flag, stolen from the Great Hall, waved jauntily on the top of the half-circle. Practically everything was put up by magic, especially most of the dome, the banner, and the doorway. Inside the willow, the Gryffindors not helping with the fort were busy making snowballs. There were mounds of them stacked up near the back, and the grounds weren't even starting to look less white.

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The rest of the school stormed outside, but no sooner had they made it down the steps but they were met in mid-jump by a shower of snowballs. The Gryffindors had made two tiny ditches near the entrance doors and ten of them were hiding inside the ditches with a large supply of ammunition. Taking advantage of the confusement and entanglement of the rest of the school, the scouts scurried back to the willow. The victims, instead of separating, drew together in an attack towards the Gryffindors. Marching as an army would, with Malfoy and a Hufflepuff girl as captains, they surrounded the dome. There were no guards at the doors, so Malfoy entered first. He soon wished he hadn't. Squeezed against the wall were about forty Gryffindors on each side, each armed and ready. Malfoy retreated, limping, with smarting red cheeks and his black fur cloak covered in snow. Stunned by the attack on Malfoy, the rest ran to retreat. Lily, from her post behind the fort, grinned evilly as she guided a humongous, oversized snowball over the heads of the school. The diameter of the thing had to be thirty feet, and the constant Engorgio's were making it swell even larger. At the moment when Malfoy was running back, she was getting ready to release the cannonball from where it hung on its invisible hook. Lily flicked her wand, but never got past that as a huge weight fell on her from behind. One of the Ravenclaw-Slytherin-Hufflepuff army had hung around the Forbidden Forest, watching the attacks and meaning to force his way in from the back of the willow. About to curse the snowy wall, he saw a figure, crouching, move towards his army with a breath-takingly large snowball held up in the air. He saw the figure raise its wand, and, making up his mind in a split second, he dashed forward, hurling himself on the Gryffindor. Lily was lying on her stomach with her wand hurled far from her and an enemy on her back. Her wand was too far away for her to reach, so, using a trick she often put into practice when attacked like this at her old Muggle school, she kicked up as hard as she could. Her foot connected with her attacker and made him fall off, groaning in pain. Lily jumped up, her wand too far away to reach, but her fists were doubled. She tried to inch towards her wand, but couldn't manage it with her opponent dashing at her every chance he got. Three feet away from her wand, her arm was pinned under her and the other arm was being twisted. She let out a scream, and almost immediately, a familiar voice came to her ears. "Hey, get off her! Get off!" James had tackled the attacker after making the snowball land on the small army, hard. Trying to see if her hand would still move by itself, Lily crawled away, tearing her scarf away from where it had been wrapped around her face. She plunged her wrist in the snow, wincing. James and his assailant were still fighting, his opponent clearly winning. He threw James off and rushed towards Lily, who got up off of her knees, shaking her hood back. Snape stopped dead in his tracks. "Lily?" Lily pulled her hair out of her collar. "I thought you were going to attack me. You're not doing a very good job of it." Snape started to turn a bit red. He swished around and went for the entrance doors. James came up to Lily, who had sunk back onto her knees, holding her wrist. "He'd better be glad he didn't hurt you too much, otherwise he wouldn't be retreating right now. He'd be having his face ground into the snow. C'mon. I'm taking you to Madam Pomfrey. She's

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pretty good; she should fix this up." Glaring at Snape's retreating figure, James took Lily up to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey was very good. She fixed up the twisted wrist in about five seconds, then dried up Lily and James' clothes with a wave of her wand. She handed both of them a mug of watered-down Pepperup Potion, muttering on and on about the dangers of snowball fights, finally sending them downstairs to their common room, forbidding Lily to go outside again that day. They passed a rather comfortable afternoon in front of the fire, with James teaching Lily the finer points of chess and introducing her to his Hogwarts house-elf friend, Minky, who, among loud protestations of pleasure at meeting Lily, brought up a steaming pitcher of hot chocolate and two mugs. ("Minky is so pleased to meet miss. Minky does not know how Minky can express Minky's gratitude at being allowed to meet miss, indeed, Minky is honoured, miss.") The Christmas feast was delicious, as usual, James said, a bit blasé, as he burrowed through mountains of treacle tart, chocolate pudding, and blueberry ice cream. The boys' plates were heaped, and even if they had wanted to, Eva, Lily, Vanessa, Amanda, and the girls on Gryffindor's Quidditch team couldn't have stuffed themselves full to the brim, since almost every time they reached for a piece of cake or a baked potato, they would have to pull their hands back quickly for fear of being cursed or hexed by one of the boys, who seemed to think that this whole feast was only theirs. After having to content herself with a four-inch square piece of steak, a few cookies, the last baked potato, a thin slice of turkey and a tablespoonful of dressing, Lily was trying to keep her book from being spattered by chocolate pudding as she slowly ate the last few spoonfuls of the raspberry sorbet. The girls were alrather dissatisfied as they watched the Ravenclaw table, where several fifth-year girls were complaining about how much they had eaten. "Matilda, do you know, I must have gained ten pounds just tonight." "I don't see why you're talking. I had no idea that Yorkshire pudding had that many calories in it. I might have to stop eating altogether to make up for this." "You don't have to do that. If you eat celery, celery cancels itself out." "It does?" "It doesn't taste all that good, but it'll work. It's better than throwing up after every meal." Lily stared at the Ravenclaw girls. Normally, she would have been disgusted to listen to that kind of conversation, but tonight she was too jealous to care. They had actually eaten a good dinner. Amanda was the first one to say what the Gryffindor girls thought as they shifted their gaze to Sheila and her friends, who were digging into chocolate candies Sheila had received as a Christmas gift. "You know what? We need to ask to be re-Sorted into Ravenclaw." Eva nodded. "Better yet, let's go over there. Sheila knows me." She waved over to the Ravenclaw table. "Oy, Sheila!" The group turned around, curious. "We need to come over to your table." Sheila raised her eyebrows as she shot a stream of blue sparks into the air, spelling out the word, "Why?" Eva pointed to the boys, and Sheila laughed. "Enough said. C'mon over." The rest of the evening, Lily had an unobstructed view of Snape, who kept looking over to the Ravenclaw table. She wasn't sure who he was staring at, since Sheila was sitting

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next to her, but it seemed that every time Lily met his gaze, his eyes quickly turned back to his plate. The rest of the holidays passed rather quickly. James had given the picture Snape had drawn to Lily, who didn't really know what to do with it, so she stuffed it in the lining of her trunk. Snape had found out that James and Sirius had swiped it, so he had withdrawn into the Slytherin common room, obviously hoping to avoid the teasing James and Sirius were planning. Far too quickly, the students came back and classes started again. Snow was whirling thickly outside, so every Herbology lesson that was scheduled with Professor Groves was cancelled, as people kept cutting class to avoid having to walk across the grounds in sixfoot deep snow. It was during one of those free periods that Lily found herself in the frosted window of her dormitory, playing with the elf-nymph necklace, which she wore around her neck, and staring into the midnight-blue pendant. She was passing her fingers along the thinly woven gold chain when her eyelids drooped and her head fell onto her chest, her hands clutching the necklace. She had the sensation of falling, falling down into space, and was just wondering when and if she would ever stop when, abruptly, she fell into a wet, dewy substance. She shook her head violently, then, struggling out of the dew, which contained many watery plants, she managed to climb onto a rock close to her. Shivering a bit, she drew her wet robes close to her body. There was a splash near her, and when she opened her eyes to look at the thing that had made the noise, she almost fell off of her rock. It was a creature that reminded her a bit of the pictures of veelas she had studied in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but in a way it was nothing like a veela. It-or, rather, she, had a sheet of silvery hair that hung down her back. Her snake-shaped eyes were a deep greenish silver, and her ears were pointed and long. She had unnaturally long fingers and unpainted silver nails. Her lips were the same colour as her eyes, and her skin was pale, pale as the crescent moon, with a silvery shine as she moved. Around her neck hung a silver necklace, thinly woven and delicate, with a dark green emerald clasped in silver talons. She didn't wear a shirt or robe; she had on what seemed to Lily to be the top of a bathing suit. Again, it was and was not anything like a bathing suit top; it was made of silver strands of light, which sparkled and glimmered in the glittering gloom around them. The creature leaped out of the water, and Lily had to stifle a gasp of astonishment as she swam towards her; the creature had a long greenish-silver fish-tail, flowing and graceful as it glided through the dewy plants and the mists, reflecting the light and multiplying what little light hit it. Her tail was longer and more beautiful than that of any mermaid; she would probably have taken it as an insult if Lily had called her that. Coming up out of the dew again, she made her supple, sweeping way over to Lily's side. Her head only inches from Lily's, she reached slowly for the necklace Lily wore around her neck. Lily started back, frightened, as she caught sight of her own normally emerald-green eyes, reflected in the pendant the creature wore. They had a silver gleam in the pupils. She toppled backwards off of the rock and fell back down, down, until she hit the windowsill hard, opening her eyes with a start. Still frightened, Lily tore the necklace off and threw it into the bottom of her trunk, slamming the lid down. Breathing hard, she dashed towards the common room, frightened to be alone in the room with the necklace.

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Downstairs, she ran towards Eva, who was finishing up some homework. "Lily, what's wrong? You look as if you've just seen a ghost!" Taking the shaking shoulders of her friend, she made Lily lie down on a couch. "What happened?" Lily gasped for breath, shivering. "Eva, I just saw an elf-nymph." Eva looked at Lily as if she had gone insane. "You saw a what? How do you know?" Lily shook her head, biting her lips till the blood came. "I don't know. I don't know." Staring into Lily's eyes, Eva let out a small scream. "Lily!" She started. "What?" "Your eyes! They've got silver streaks in them!" Both of them, leaping off of the couch, shot to the dormitory, which had a large mirror hanging on the wall. Lily peered at her eyes. They were shot with silver, rimmed and fringed with light, just as those of the elf-nymph had been.

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