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The Shadow by IloveNeville
Chapter 4: Pick Your Poison
Snow was beginning to pile up on the Hogwarts Grounds and a cold chill filled the corridors. Hagrid had already single-handedly delivered the usual twelve Christmas trees to the Great Hall. Banisters were covered with garlands of holly and tinsel, and candles glowed from inside the helmets of suits of armor. Sirius noticed, like every year, an increase in the large groups of girls converging around mistletoe bunches everywhere he went, causing blockages in the corridors.
Walking out of the History of Magic classroom, he and James began towards the Great Hall for lunch.
"No detention with Glossin tonight. It's almost a shame," James joked, fastening his bag. Sirius looked up at him for a moment, thinking. As he did, someone pushed past them and he turned to see that it was Bertram Aubrey, a Ravenclaw boy from their class. Aubrey would often sit on the other side of the classroom and send deadly glares towards the Marauders every time they whispered something to each other. Sirius and James slowly made their way down a staircase and into the Entrance Hall, where Sirius saw Professor McGonagall standing with a second year Gryffindor girl. Lifting his wand up, Sirius pointed it directly at Aubrey’s back.
"Engorgio Skullus," he said, and without warning Aubrey's head began to grow at an alarming rate. Everyone turned to look at him in shock. Some people were trying desperately to stifle a laugh behind their hands, as his head was now twice its normal size.
"Why would you do that?" James exclaimed, looking at Sirius in confusion.
"Potter, Black. Detention!" Shouted McGonagall, as she sent her own spell flying at Aubrey, causing his head to stop growing. Suddenly something clicked in James' mind and he understood what Sirius had been thinking.
That evening the two boys set off towards the Detention Chamber.
"I hate you," James muttered, as he reluctantly followed Sirius. They walked past the History of Magic classroom and down a darkened corridor. Sirius ignored him as he opened the door to the Detention Chamber. Inside McGonagall and Jane abruptly stopped talking and looked over at him seriously.
"Come in," McGonagall said sternly. "I swear the two of you are trying to send me to an early grave," she barked, making her way to the door. She turned back, her face completely changed as she nodded at Jane in acknowledgement, before closing the door behind her. Sirius heard the lock click as he turned to see Jane staring absentmindedly at the door.
"Fancy seeing you here," he exclaimed, to which she simply looked up and smiled. "Are you okay?" He asked, taking a step toward her.
"I'm fine," she answered, almost too quickly. "I thought you two had served all your detentions," she said, sitting down against the wall.
"This genius got us another one," James replied, punching Sirius in the arm. “And talking of geniuses, I’m beginning to think you’ve been taking the mick,” he added, pointing his finger at Jane.
“Me? How, sir?” Jane asked, humoring him.
“I paid a first year off with chocolate frogs to fill Evan’s dormitory with lilies while she was at lunch.”
"You used an eleven year old to court Evans?" Sirius laughed.
"Hey, she was happy. She had her frogs."
"James, that’s not what I told you to do." Jane shook her head. "Lily doesn’t like grand gestures. You need to just relax and be honest with her. Let her know that it’s not about the chase."
"That sounds time consuming," James groaned, sitting down on the opposite side of the room.
Jane closed her eyes for several minutes as she imagined the Christmas dinner she'd be having with her family in just one week. Just like every year, she would sit with her father and they would watch as her mother would gradually become tipsy, as she told the family the story of how she had met Bertie Bott at a sweets store in Glasgow sometime in the 1940's, and she had suggested the idea of sweets that tasted like different types of foods.
Suddenly, Jane became aware of the whispering happening on the other side of the chamber. She opened her eyes to find James and Sirius stood huddled with their backs to her. She could pick up the occasional whispered word. After several moments, James turned around happily.
"Come on, Glossin. We'd better get a move on." Jane quickly stood up, a puzzled look on her face.
"A move on for what?"
"Tell me, how do you feel about the consumption of alcohol on school premises?" James asked, folding his arms across his chest in a questioning manner.
"I'm open to it," she replied. "But I don't know where you expect to find any. The kitchens don't even store it. I've tried."
"What if I were to tell you that Slughorn spends a considerable amount of time in the Potions classroom with his various bottles of mead?"
"I'd say how do we get out of here?" At this, James grinned and pulled a sheet of parchment from his pocket. Touching his wand to it, he looked at Jane.
"Glossin," he grinned, not taking his eyes off hers. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." She stared back for several moments, confused as to what he had said. Suddenly she noticed that something was happening to the parchment. Thin ink lines had begun to spread like a spider’s web from the point that James' wand had touched. The lines slowly began to form great, curly green words. Upside down, she read.
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Wizard Extraordinaires are proud to present
THE MARAUDER’S MAP
"The Marauder's Map?" Jane muttered aloud. It was a map showing every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. Not only this, but on the map, tiny ink dots moved about, each labeled with a name. Looking closer, Jane noticed a labeled dot in the centre of the parchment, showing that Lily Evans was in the Gryffindor Common Room; Hagrid was walking by the greenhouses outside; and Peeves the Poltergeist was currently bouncing around the trophy room. This map showed a set of passages Jane had never entered.
"And we are the Marauders," James said, moving his arms about theatrically. He walked over to the mirror which hang on the far wall and pushed it aside. Jane hurried over to the open passage which James was now standing in front of and looked inside in amazement.
“Ladies first.” James smiled, gesturing her inside. Jane looked at him nervously. He simply nodded in encouragement.
“Jane, I promise we’ll be right behind you,” Sirius said, strolling up behind them. Looking into his eyes, she believed him and reluctantly stepped into the passageway. She walked for about a minute, hoping desperately that there would be an exit at the other end. When she felt the passage end, she pushed hard against the wall in front of her, and relief flooded over her when it started to move. She quickly stepped out from behind a portrait of an odd looking wizard in purple robes. He wore a strange device on his head which magnified his eyes, making him look like an insect. Looking around, she noticed that she was standing in the Dungeons, and a cold shiver spread across her. As promised, Sirius stepped out of the passage moments later, followed by James. They both smiled at her, as Sirius walked past and down a nearby corridor.
Jane followed him for several moments, before someone closed their hand around her wrist and she was pulled backward to where James was now slowing his steps.
"You do realize that Sirius hexed Aubrey so that he could spend more time with you?" James whispered, smirking. Jane looked up at him disbelievingly. He simply nodded at her. Suddenly Sirius stopped at the other end of the corridor and turned around.
"Hey James, let's pick up the pace," he whispered. No one spoke for several moments, until James strolled past Sirius happily, patting him on the back.
"Let's." He grinned, as he continued walking. Sirius stood still for a moment, puzzled. When he looked at Jane, she simply shrugged. He waited, as she continued along the corridor a little bemused, and together they followed James.
“So, pick your poison,” he said. “Firewhiskey, Daisyroot Draught, or mead?"
“Firewhiskey,” she replied, as they strolled along.
"I remember the night I moved into Potter Manor, Mr. Potter asked me that same question. It was the first time an adult had spoken to me like an equal. It was nice," Sirius said, trailing off. But something had caught Jane's attention.
"You live with James?" She asked. Sirius looked at her.
"My parents were trying to dictate who I should be. A pure blood maniac just like them. It wasn't a fun home to grow up in." Jane stared at him seriously, as she came to the realization that everything she thought about the boy beside her was incredibly wrong.
"Well, you seem to have turned out okay," she said. "They should be proud to have a son like you. If they can't see that, than they're not worth your time." Jane exclaimed. moments later regretting it. "Sorry," she said, covering her mouth. "I just insulted your family."
"No it's fine," he laughed. "Someone calling it as they see it. In my opinion it doesn't happen nearly often enough." He smiled down at her, beguiled. Suddenly there was a hiss and they both looked up to see James on the other end of the corridor.
"Stay there!" He mouthed. "Filch is coming.” And he disappeared around a corner.
Jane could hear footsteps. They were becoming louder, as her heart started to beat hard in her chest. She noticed Sirius reach into his pocket as he pulled her towards him and wrapped one arm around her. Without warning, something soft and silvery was thrown over her head just as the glow of a lantern flickered across the walls. She turned to see the caretaker, Argus Filch edging closer, a lantern in his hand. He didn’t seem to notice them as he slowly walked past where Jane and Sirius now stood huddled together. She could feel the boy's chest rising and falling with every breath and the hairs on her arms stood on end. After several moments, Filch’s footsteps had faded away and Sirius pulled the silvery fabric from their heads.
“Invisibility Cloak,” he said, at the mystified look on Jane’s face. Looking down, they simultaneously realized that he was still clutching tight to her. Suddenly he let go, and silently they made their way up the dark corridor towards Slughorn’s office. However, just as they turned a corner, they collided with someone and there was an almighty clatter as several glass bottles fell to the ground and smashed. Looking up, they saw James standing amongst it, a single bottle of Firewhiskey clutched tightly in his hand.
“Where are ya?” they heard Filch shout, his voice becoming closer by the second. “I’ll find you rotten little guttersnipes, and when I do-”
“RUN!” James yelled, and the three of them sprinted down the corridor, not looking back to see whether Filch was following. They turned a corner and then another one. They were almost to the entrance of the dungeons, but when Jane started turning left towards the staircase, Sirius caught her and pulled her to the right.
“This way, there’s a passage behind the statue of Merlin.”
“The portrait of Elizabeth Burke is closer,” James added, as he caught up to them. The bottle of Firewhiskey was sloshing around in his hand.
“You’re right.” Sirius responded. “This way.” And he took a sharp right, pulling Jane along behind him. She could hear Filch’s shouts as he chased them through the maze of the dungeons. They charged through a portrait and found themselves in a hidden passageway, which they hurtled through, finally coming out somewhere near their Charms classroom on the third floor.
“I think we’ve lost him,” Sirius panted, as he leaned against the cold wall and wiped his forehead. James was clutching his stomach and laughing heartily. "Blimey Prongs, did you really need to take all of the booze?" Sirius smirked, before he and Jane joined in, laughing as they made their way into the closest classroom and sat down on the desks.
"I hope you like Firewhiskey," James said, pulling the top off the only remaining bottle. He poured it into his mouth, shaking his head crazily as he swallowed it, before passing the bottle to Sirius who reacted much the same way. "So Glossin," James began, as Jane took a swig from the bottle and her throat was filled with a burning sensation. "How do I win Lily over?" Jane passed the bottle to him.
“You talk to her,” Jane said simply. “Be her friend and treat her like an equal,” she said, peering at Sirius who looked right back. “That’s all anyone really wants. To be seen for who they are.”
"You're not like other girls,” Sirius muttered, “You're just so sane."
"Believe me, I'm not as together as I seem," Jane replied, as she looked down at her hands, thinking about how wrong she had been about Sirius and how wrong he now was about her.
An hour later, after a thorough discussion on the existence of Nargles within the Hogwarts mistletoe, Jane sat up promptly from her position lying across the desk.
“Detention!” She exclaimed, and suddenly the two boys sat up and the three, taking a quick look at the Marauders’ Map, rushed from the classroom and down the nearest staircase. They ran through portraits of stern old witches, vicious looking goblins and a wizard with two heads. Finally Jane recognized the portrait of the bug eyed man from earlier in the Dungeons, and together the three bolted down the secret passageway which led to the Detention Chamber. Breathlessly they jumped out from behind the large mirror, closing it behind them, before collapsing to the ground. The three lay on the cold stone floor, pleading for the Firewhiskey to stay down, when Professor McGonagall opened the door and looked around the room, curiously.
“You may go,” she said, confusion in her eyes. Slowly, the trio rose to their feet and left the room without a word.
Once back in the Common Room, James began towards the boys dormitories, before turning around and looking at Jane.
“You’re fun. I like you,” he said happily, before continuing up the stairs and out of sight. Sirius and Jane looked at each other awkwardly for a moment.
“Well, good night,” she smiled, turning and walking towards to the girls’ dormitories.
“Yeah, g- goodnight,” he muttered, as she too disappeared.
AN/ Hey everyone. I am so sorry that it's taken this long to update. I've had an unbelievably difficult time with this chapter. Extreme writers block. But I think I've pretty much got the next chapter right, so the rest of the story should be updated quite regularly. I hope you liked this chapter, the next one's coming soon!