The Great Hall was always so vividly lit, full of eager students returning to yet another year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each new year always brought along with it a new group of students with which to fill newly evicted beds passed down from graduated students. That was what it had been like for Lilia Gunner only two years ago. Now headed into her third year, she had grown quite accustomed to the constant ritual of sorting out the new children into the appropriate houses and then commence with dinner.
She lifted her head just the barest amount when one of the young boys was sorted into Slytherin. Her house. It was rare for a Muggle Born to be sorted into such an esteemed house, but she had been sorted there almost as soon as the Sorting Hat had touched her head.
She was one of the quiet ones in Slytherin, never one to boast of her status, after all, she wasn't extraordinarily brilliant as far as book smarts went, decently smart but nothing special, and both her parents were Muggles. What was there to be proud and arrogant about? She preferred to not speak of the answer.
As soon as the Sorting ritual was completed and all the first years were seated at the corresponding tables, the food appeared magically in front of them all. She swallowed, having grown a little hungry and so timidly reached out to grasp the handle of the silver tongs so she could plate some chips when someone reached over and smacked her hand carelessly out of the way.
Her green eyes narrowed, her gaze falling upon none other than Draco Malfoy.
"Watch it Mud Blood, privileged classes get first pickings after all. You should know this after being here the last two years," the sharp looking blonde spat with a sneer.
Lilia stayed silent, her dark green eyes standing out in sharp contrast to her pale white skin. She chose to say nothing, preferring not to get into a senseless squabble with a spoiled brat like Malfoy. However, she felt someone's eyes on her and turned to her left towards the tables where the professors sat.
Snape had been watching her. Or more specifically, the near argument between her and Draco. He looked as calm and cold as ever, so she turned her head away, ducking behind her straight black curtain of hair.
Lilia had never been afraid of Professor Snape like most of the other students in the school. To her, he was just another Slytherin who seemed arrogant and thought himself better than those around him, including those he taught. She supposed that was why he was so good at being head of Slytherin house. Either way, she didn't want to get his attention focused on her now, seeing as she'd evaded his snarky tone the previous two years.
After she finished eating what she'd picked up from the middle of the table, she got up with her classmates and slowly proceeded back to the common room, keeping her head down slightly to avoid eye contact with anyone she didn't feel like speaking to at that very moment.
Once in the Slytherin common room, she, along with the other third year girls headed up to their dormitories and got ready for bed.
Lilia was among the first to get changed and brush her teeth before laying down and closing her eyes once her head lay upon the soft cotton pillow.
When the lights were all out and the other girls were merely whispering to themselves about their morning classes, Lilia opened her eyes and simply revelled in that moment in the dark where no one would think twice about her and let her sleep a night in true peace.
The following morning, classes begun and of course, Lilia climbed out of bed with the rest of the girls and got ready for her first day. She buttoned up her white cotton shirt, fastened her skirt, pulled on her stockings and shoes, then put on her tie, followed by the jumper each student was supposed to wear. Lastly, she donned her black cloak with the Slytherin house symbol embroidered onto the left breast. Once dressed, she went to the mirror located just above her own dresser next to her bed and brushed her thick straight black hair all the way down to her waist, and then quickly ran the brush gently through her fringe of dark straight cut bangs. Setting the brush down, she gathered her books and headed to her first class of the morning. Herbology.
Personally, Lilia enjoyed Herbology. In comparison to most of the other classes within the school, she found it to be rather relaxing. It was a relatively easy start to her mornings, and she was rather good at the subject, so that only gave her more interest to begin her day with the subject. After Herbology, Lilia went on to her Charms class which was always alright. She always chose to sit at the back of the class, as she did in most cases, not really delighting in being called upon to practice the newest charm Professor Flitwick imposed upon the newest victim. Afterall, who would want to be the focus of attention only to be humiliated if the charm itself didn't work or went wrong? Not her. After charms, Lilia moved on to Transfiguration, a class she seemed to do well enough at, though as usual, there were others who did far better and grasped the material much faster than her. She preferred not to race through it though. She enjoyed taking her time to perfect the spells before attempting them, after all. She'd always been extremely cautious when it came to those things.
At last, her fourth period arrived, brining Lilia Gunner to stand outside the Potions classroom. She opened the door and proceeded to find the nearest vacant seat. She looked around, swallowing when she saw they were all taken up at the back, and moved closer to the front, then closer and finally to the front row where there was a seat empty in the middle.
Quickly assuming this vacant chair and placing her books neatly on the desk in front of her, Lilia awaited the arrival of their Potions Master.
Only seconds after Lilia had seated herself, she heard the door to the dungeon's door be kicked open, followed by the immediate presence of their darkly clad Potion's Master and head of house, Severus Snape.
Lilia's green eyes watched him as he stormed somehow gracefully and powerfully to the front of the room and assumed his place by his desk and turned to face the class.
Snape scanned the room for anyone missing and then stood straighter, pulling his black cloak closed around him like… some sort of vampire; or so Lilia at least thought to herself.
"Good afternoon, third years. Can anyone tell me what we will be working on today?" he asked, nodding towards the ingredients already stationed at regular intervals between each pair of students.
Lilia sighed lightly and glanced down to look at the ingredients upon her desk. Daisy roots, skinned shrivelfig, a caterpillar, a small spleen, a rat's? and some kind of liquid. She thought for a moment, trying to recognize the liquid, recognizing it as leech juice and then realized all these things were used to make a Shrinking Potion. She glanced around from beneath her curtain of dark hair, wondering if anyone knew.
"You there, girl, can you tell me what we might be making today?" Snape suddenly asked.
Lilia's gaze turned to meet Snape's, her eyes widening slightly. She glanced down at the ingredients to be sure once again and then parted her lips to answer. "A shrinking potion, sir?" she said.
Snape eyed her for a moment, long enough to make Lilia doubt her answer and feel foolish for thinking she might have actually gotten it correct when he nodded.
"Good, and what are the effects of this solution, exactly?" Snape asked, his dark eyes scanning the room for yet another unprepared victim to center out and humiliate somehow.
Lilia breathed a sigh of relief, leaning back into her chair and closed her eyes for a moment, a bit surprised when she heard a slight chuckle come from her right. She opened her eyes and met a pair of deep blue eyes and a slightly amused grin.
"Is something funny?" she whispered, glancing over the brown haired boys shoulder at Snape to make sure they wouldn't be caught talking.
He shrugged. "Your reaction to getting the answer correct merely amused me," he replied calmly, quirking a brow. He then extended his right hand over his left arm out to her. "Quinn Prewett," he said.
Lilia looked at him curiously, then down at his hand. She was about to reply that her name was Lilia Gunner when they were interrupted.
"I do not believe that anywhere in the curriculum it says to flirt with your potions partner, Mr. Prewett."
Lilia and Quinn both looked up to see their Potions Professor looming over their desk, looking down his nose at them as though they were some filthy vermin.
Lilia had always hated the feeling of being in trouble in plain view of those around her and so her eyes widened in surprise and she sat dumbfounded while his Professor looked back at her with a cold gaze.
"Apologies sir, I was merely introducing myself is all," Quinn said calmly.
Snape's gaze moved from Lilia to Quinn and remained there for some time. "Don't let me catch you introducing yourself to anyone again while I am instructing this class, Mr. Prewett… It would be a shame to have to reprimand one of my own Slytherin house students under such… childish circumstances…" he said coldly and moved away calmly, his gaze lingering a moment longer on Quinn and Lilia.
She watched him move on and resume his class.
Once Snape finished his instruction and the students began work on their Shrinking Potion, Quinn once again tried to make conversation with the quiet dark haired girl next to him.
"So, I didn't quite catch your name," he said, a slight grin forming on his lips, the corners of his mouth being tugged up at th every slightest against his will when he looked at Lilia.
She raised her head only a little and looked at him, then glanced down seeing his hand was yet again outstretched to her, she supposed, in a friendly manner. "Lilia Gunner," she replied quietly, turning back to the daisy roots she was evenly chopping into pieces for the potion.
"Lilia Gunner. That's a nice name for such a nice looking girl," Quinn boldly stated with a flirtatious smirk.
Lilia glanced over at him for a moment from beneath her dark fringe of bangs and frowned slightly. She wondered what sort of arrogant boy she'd landed as her partner for the assignment.
Quinn watched her chop the daisy roots and then chuckled. "Aren't much for conversation are you?" he asked.
She glanced at him curiously. "Is that a problem?"
"Not at all, I don't mind, I'll speak for both of us," he grinned.
Lilia looked at him like he had just grown another head.
He looked at her and then cleared his throat. "Sorry, I didn't mean to come on strong, I just wanted to meet someone new this year is all," he said calmly.
She looked at him quietly. "You can start by not distracting me while I'm cutting, thank you."
Quinn grinned and sighed, sitting back and waited for her to finish.
The rest of Potions class went on with a bit of a drag to Lilia. She tried to get out as quickly as possible, being one of the last to stay behind and clean up the desks for the next class. She had felt compelled to hurry especially since she felt Snape watching her every movement. Perhaps he was watching her because he was surprised to have a student who had recognized the ingredients of the Shrinking Potion? She couldn't guess.
Once that had been done, she gathered her things and glancing once quickly to see Snape reading something, she headed out, wondering if the feeling of him watching her had merely been something her mind had conjured up to make her paranoid.
Her eyes were so green. Even more vivid than Lily's had been when he had last seen her. Snape had never noticed that young dark haired, pale young woman in his classes before, but there she was, in his third year class, somehow having been there all along and without him noticing her.
She wasn't anything special at first glance, what with her thick dark black straight hair and short bangs covering her forehead, and almost her eyes. Her skin was so pale it was nearly completely white, quite possibly even paler than his own. But her eyes. So green, like a pair of emeralds had been plucked from some deep treasure trove and placed into her sockets. But they weren't merely startlingly lovely to look at, but so empty and sad.
Never in all his years of teaching had he ever seen such an empty gaze from such a young child. It was a look far beyond her years. Even that infernal Potter boy had been through too much for most children to bear and even his eyes weren't so devoid of emotion.
What sadness could possibly have burrowed its way into such a young girls heart and had such a toll that even her eyes were windows into the darkness of her soul?
Snape wondered who that young girl was and why he had never seen her before in any of his classes. How had one such as her evaded him for two whole years?