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Chapter 2: Partners in crime?
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Sirius & Toni
The morning in the girls' dormitory was awkward to say the least. Girls in general didn't like sharing things, especially bathrooms. Girls also didn't like living in closed space with girls they didn't know. Don't lie, you know it's true.
So, when they all woke up more or less at the same time, a problem stumped them.
Who was going to take the bathroom first?
Marlene McKinnon, an outspoken girl whose hair reminded Grace of the large meadows of lush golden wheat, absolutely refused to have a bathroom schedule. 'I will go to the bathroom whenever the hell I want, Evans. I want to you see you try to stop me.'
Mary just really didn't want them to fight so she graciously offered she go last, which was gladly accepted by them all.
Lily stood by her decision to have a bathroom schedule, because; 'Really, McKinnon, think – we can't keep fight about it! We will be way more peaceful if we had exact time.'
All Grace wanted was to wash her face and brush her teeth, really.
"This is it!" Sophia Burke snapped, obviously fed up with listening to Lily and Marlene snap at each other. "I'm taking the bathroom!" She grabbed her stuff and ran into the bathroom before any of them could recover, locking the door securely.
Marlene and Lily glared at each other. "Look what you've done." Marlene hissed spitefully as she threw herself on her bed, crossing her arms over her chest crossly.
"I didn't do anything. If you could just accept that I'm right—"
"Please, don't start again!" Mary begged in her sweet voice, looking at them with wide brown eyes. Marlene and Lily exchanged a look and nodded at each other in begrudging truce.
"Thank Merlin." Grace breathed a sigh of relief. She grabbed her hair brush and started to run it through her hair, not noticing the hostile look Lily sent her.
"Just for the record—" Marlene said, lips quirking up in a small smirk. "I think you're a controlling know-it-all."
Lily's breath hitched and she nodded slowly, turning around to finish making her bed.
Marlene raised an eyebrow, surprised she hadn't said anything in retaliation.
"Great." Grace heard Mary mutter to herself and she privately agreed.
"Good morning, Grace." Remus greeted her as she joined him, James, Sirius and their dorm mate, whose name she still didn't know, on the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.
"Yeah, for you maybe." She grumbled, pilling food on her plate jerkily.
"Huh, what do you mean?" James asked. His hair was even messier than yesterday and Grace was almost positive he hadn't bothered to brush it, or touch it really, to make it look somewhat presentable.
"It's just; my dorm mates." She said exasperatedly, looking down the table to where Lily and Mary were sitting together. She couldn't see Marlene and Sophia anywhere and her fifth dorm mate remained unknown. That was it. But thus far, she really wasn't happy.
"What happened?" Remus asked, sounding concerned.
"It's nothing major, just girl stuff. Like, we fought for the bathroom for about twenty minutes, then Marlene decided to be a bitch to everybody, especially to Lily and when I tried to defend Lily, the stupid bint told me to shove off, because get this, she could take care of herself just fine and she didn't need the help of, and I quote "arrogant and mean bully." End of quote. Yeah, well, I didn't need to be lectured on the importance of being organised for five minutes straight but I swallowed it." Grace stabbed her eggs repeatedly in anger and growled.
"And since when am I a bully, huh? So what, I bloody laughed when her tosser of a friend fell. Big freaking deal. Get over it; everybody bloody laughed. Do you know why? Because it was freaking funny." She threw her fork on the table. "I'm not hungry." She muttered.
James exchanged a bewildered look with Remus. "That's... er, you're right, of course." James nodded to himself. He knew that women liked to hear they were right.
"I know I'm right." She snapped irritably. "And what's wrong with you?" She asked Sirius, whose plate stayed untouched as he kept glancing at the windows.
"Mail's coming today." Sirius muttered moodily, looking down at his cold breakfast. "I'm sure my parents hadn't sent me a 'We're so proud of you' card."
"They wanted you to be sorted in Slytherin?" James asked in a gentle voice Grace was surprised he possessed.
"Wanted?" Sirius snorted, giving James a look filled with dark humour. "Wanted is too weak of a word to describe it. They practically demanded that of me. They were obsessed with it idea, and they don't like it when things don't go the way they planned it…"
"Your cousin too?" Remus asked as he glanced at the Slytherin table where Narcissa Black sat, talking to a blonde boy her age.
"Nah, Cissy is not that bad. She hissed some bullshit about upholding the family name and sticking to people my parents would approve off, but I could tell she wasn't all that surprised. She wasn't thrilled, certainly, but she definitely feels better about this than say, my parents or Bella." He shuddered slightly.
"Who's Bella?" James asked before Grace could.
"Cissy's sister and one of my cousins. She graduated last year, and well, she isn't exactly the most pleasant person around. In fact, she's bloody awful. One time, when I told her that she looked like Snow White – the stupidest thing I've ever said, really – she asked me who is that and when I told her it was a character from a muggle book, she bloody hexed me and tied me to the roof of the house for hours. That was in December." He shuddered, grimacing. "So, yeah, I can't wait to see what she has to say about my sorting."
"That... sucks, man." James patted him on the shoulder, a sympathetic frown marring his face.
"That pretty much sums it up, yeah." Sirius agreed, looking morosely at the window again.
"Hey, mate, cheer up!" James said, thumping Sirius on the shoulder. "They'll be mad for a while but they've got to get over it at some point, right?"
Sirius looked at James's grinning face and nodded, his serious face melting into a smile. "Yeah... thanks."
"No problem, mate." James answered, taking a huge bite from his toast.
Grace smiled but her smiled faded when she saw Sirius had slipped back to looking like someone had died. She opened her mouth to speak but she never got the chance. A loud noise filled the hall, and a second later, a swarm of owls flew through the windows, dropping packages and letters to their rightful owners.
Grace watched as a dark screech-owl dropped a letter in Sirius hands, and thought of something to say but before she could, a familiar owl dropped a large package in her arms. Nearly as big as the one James had gotten.
She looked down at it and took the letter attached to the top.
"Here, let me take that." Remus said quietly as he took the package from her.
"Thanks." Grace said with a smile. She opened the letter and found her father's familiar narrow handwriting.
Congratulations on making it to Gryffindor. Your mother and I are very proud of you. Now, I want to apologise for not being able to be there when you left, but I hear from you mother that you left with the Lupins anyway. That was wasn't very nice thing to do to your mother, Graciela.
But enough of that. The package is from your Grandma Sheila. I don't know what's in, we haven't opened it but I'm sure it's something that will make you happy.
Study hard, and don't get in too much trouble. Your siblings are there to look after you and if you need anything you can always ask them, alright?
Grace set aside the letter with a roll of her eyes and grabbed her package from Remus. She teared the paper off and opened the box, gasping when she saw what lay inside. The reached out to touch it. It felt like water against her fingers. "Wow, that's really beautiful!" A older girl sitting a little down the bench next to James said as she slid closer. "Is that silk?"
"I believe so." Grace said as she lifted it. It was a long, scarlet scarf, with golden treads at the hem. A small slip of paper fell into Grace's lap and she frowned a little, picking it up. Inside were four words written in a beautiful calligraphy handwriting.
I told you so
She grinned and put the scarf around her neck, puckering her lips a little as she looked at her boys. "How do I look?" She asked, chuckling a little.
"It looks a bit odd with your uniform—" James started but seeing Grace's look, he backtracked. "But it's pretty, yeah."
"Who is it from?" Remus asked curiously.
"Grandma Sheila." Grace said happily as she took it off.
"Can I see that?" The older girl asked, smiling politely.
"Sure." Grace said, handing it over to her.
"I'm interested in fashion." She explained as she examined the scarf carefully. "That's very expensive." She noted, stating the obvious. "It's expertly woven – it's definitely silk. I believe it's woven from elves. They are the ones who can reach such perfection." She sighed, caressing the scarf as if it was her child. "Treat it well." She said to Grace as she handed it back to her almost reluctantly.
"Thanks.." Grace said slowly, taking it. She looked at Remus, who just shrugged, looking just as confused as she did.
"Mel, c'mere, you're scaring the poor firsties." One of the girl's friend jeered from down the table and the girl flushed slightly, sending them all an apologetic look as she returned back to her friends who continued to tease her.
"There's more in the box." Remus said, and Grace looked and there was indeed, something more. She lifted the heavy leather pouch and smiled fondly when she heard the sound of money clinking inside. "Oh, grandma."
"Hey, Sirius, mate, you alright?" Grace looked up as James spoke and looked at Sirius, who was gaping silently at the letter in his hands. "What's the matter?" Sirius didn't answer. James sighed impatiently and grabbed the letter from his hands, without even asking. His hazel eyes jumped up and down the letter and by the time he was finished, his eyebrows had reached his hairline.
"Man, your mother is not a nice person." He said, shaking his head in wonderment.
"She's coming here." Sirius said, raking his hand through his hair almost manically.
"Poor Professor Dumbledore." James said sympathetically.
"You don't get it." Sirius snapped, snatching his letter back. "When my mother sets her mind on something, she gets it. Always. All of my family does. Don't you get it? She is going to make him move me to Slytherin. Damn it." His fisted his hands, the parchment crunching in his right hand.
"Sirius, relax." Jamea said soothingly, glancing at the high table. "Professor Dumbledore is not easy to bully and he is definitely not one to accept bribery. He is not easily scared either. Your mother has nothing on him, right? I doubt he'll move you. He's just not the person to do something like that."
"How do you know?" Sirius asked, almost hopefully.
James shrugged. "I know him. He and dad are mates. He came over a lot when I was younger, showed me some magic, told me a few riddles about life and was generally being his awesomely-yet-irritatingly brilliant self. Believe, mate, if there is someone who can stand up to your family – it's Professor Dumbledore. He's not afraid of anything."
"Well, I'm sure Professor Dumbledore would be touched to hear that, Mister Potter." They all jumped. Professor McGonagall's lips twitched faintly as she handed them all their timetables. "Mister Black, do you have something to tell me?"
"Er, yeah." Sirius said, fidgeting uncomfortably. "My mother's coming. She isn't exactly... happy with my sorting. So... I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what, Mister Black?"
"For what's about to go down when she comes." Sirius said honestly. "She has a temper. Big one. She's not shy about it either."
"Ah, yes, I remember." Professor McGonagall said with barely there smirk. "Don't worry, Mister Black, you are not going anywhere. You were sorted in my house and you will stay there until your last day of schooling. I give you my word. Now, continue with your breakfast." She nodded to all of them, leaving Sirius to stare after her as she continued down the table.
"Wow, that was really nice of her." Grace with, smiling slighty.
"Yeah." Sirius said, finally looking away from her. "So, what do we have first class?"
"The first one to complete their potion successfully will be awarded with thirty points." The students all exchanged excited looks, their fingers trembling in their desire to be the ones to win. Professor Slughorn smiled to himself, he always knew how to get them excited, and spoke the faithful word. "Begin!"
Grace looked at her partner, a girl with dark hair pulled into a messy bun and a fringe so long it nearly covered her dark eyes. She turned out be her fifth dorm mate, and from the two sentences they had exchanged after she unceremoniously dumped her arse on the chair next to her and announced she was to be her partner, she wasn't all that interested in school.
Yeah, she got that from two sentences. And well, and by the way she was eyeing the cauldron with a bored look in her eyes, elbow resting on the table, and chin resting on her palm.
Yup, she was the picture of 'this-shit-is-boring'
"So, you're not going to sit there staring in space the whole lesson, right?" Grace asked her as she flipped through her book to find the recipe to the Cure for Boils.
The girl gave her a sideways glance and sighed. "Yeah, pretty much." She had thick accent but Grace couldn't pinpoint it.
"You're going to die of boredom." Grace said as she settled on the right page. "Are you sure you don't want me to grab ingredients for you too?"
The girl – should really learn her name, Grace noted mentally – nodded. "Pretty sure, yeah."
"Alright." Grace casted her an odd look and stood up, following the other students to the cupboards at the back of the room. "Hey!" She said as she spotted Remus. "How's your partner?"
"He's alright, bit nervous, though." Remus said. His partner was their fourth dorm mate, Peter or something like that. Grace wasn't sure because he muttered his name so quietly that even Remus didn't manage to catch. And he had supersonic hearing. For real.
"Yeah, mine's complete opposite. She seems bored with the world." Grace shrugged, smiling a little as the boy in front of her finally moved and allowed her access to the cupboards.
"Trumps nervous any day." Remus said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, right." Grace flashed him a quick grin then turned her attention back the jars. "Now, let's see... horned slugs.. ah, there they are." She grabbed a jar and opened it. She made a face at the odor that oozed from inside but grabbed four of them and handed the jar to Remus, who took it gratefully. "Porcupine quills – check. Snake fangs – check. Uh, disgusting. Um.. dried nettles..." Grace searched the cupboard and frowned a little. "Do you see them anywhere?"
"Yeah, right there." He said, standing on his tip toes to grab a jar from the top of the cupboard. "Remember to be careful with the hairs this times, you don't want to repeat—"
"Yes, yes. I get it." Grace snapped at Remus, who only smirked a little. She carefully reached in the jar and took out a few stems, careful not to touch the leaves. "There. All done. Have fun." She grinned and skipped back to her table, where she quickly dropped off everything.
"Ew, my hands smell awful." She shuddered slightly and put her hands down on the table. She glanced at her partner, who hadn't move at all since she left her. Alright. That was something seriously wrong with this girl. "What's your name?"
"If you keep getting distracted you von't be able to finish your potion in time." The corners of her mouth lifted upwards. "And you vill lose those precious thirty points.."
Grace snorted. "I don't expect to win them anyway." She shrugged. "So, how about that name, huh?"
"Antoaneta Russinova." The girl replied and Grace's eyebrows furrowed at the strange name.
"Is it Russian?" She asked curiously.
That got a reaction out of the girl. Her head snapped in her direction and there was a dark scowl on her face. "No. It's Bulgarian."
"Oh, right." Grace nodded. "Isn't Durmstrang in Bulgaria?"
"Close enough." The girl replied briskly. "Enough to think that my parents vould send me there but noooo, they just had to get a sudden change of heart and decide that Durmstrang it's too dangerous and send me here." She snorted and rolled her eyes. "Gadniari(1)."
"I see.." Grace nodded. That explained why she was so against everything. "Well, I'm sorry for that…" She trailed off and shrugged, turning her attention to the potion. People had already started while she had her nice chat, and she sighed deeply, knowing those points were safely out of her reach. That didn't mean she wouldn't try, though.
Twenty minutes into the lesson, Antoaneta started to fidget restlessly. Grace watched out of her corner of her eyes, while simultaneously stirred her potion.
"Fine." She spat out in the end. "I vill help you with your potion." She said as she snatched her book from the table and flipped through it so violently, Grace was surprised the pages didn't rip.
"I don't really—" Grace started but Antoaneta interrupted her.
"Believe me, skupa(2), you really need help."
Grace huffed and looked at her potion. It was just the murky brown colour the book said it needed to be at this stage. She was doing perfectly fine, thank you!
"Now, listen." Antoaneta put the book down and looked seriously at Grace. "You've got to trust me on this and ve'll have those points before Greasy and Bossy can."
"Greasy and Bossy?" Grace snorted.
"Yup, the redheaded control freak and that one that looks like he repels vater and soap." Antoaneta grinned slightly, and the simple action changed her face entirely.
"That's not really nice." Grace said but she sounded more amused than anything.
"I know." Antoaneta shrugged. "Can't brag with niceness but I sure as hell am good at magic."
"Alright, let's see what you can do, Antoaneta."
Antoaneta shuddered and shot her an alarmed look. "Gospodi(3), don't ever call me that again. Just call me Toni, alright? You can do that, right?"
"Why not? What's wrong with calling you Antoaneta?"
She shook her head. "There is nothing vrong vith calling me that, you just.. your pronunciation is awful. You are practically butchering my name."
"My pronunciation is awful?" Grace gaped, offended. "Have you heard yourself speak English?"
Antoaneta rolled her eyes. "Give me a break, I'm still learning. At least I can say your name vith the correct pronunciation."
"Yeah, let's see."
"Grace." Antoaneta said easily, a smirk on her face.
"Alright, alright but Grace is easy. Try saying Sirius! Or, or, Severus! Yeah, I want to hear you say that." Grace smirked triumphantly and nodded to herself.
"Antonaneta is not nearly as hard some of the names I can give you. Like, Katerina or Lyubov."
"What was the second one?" Grace asked, raising her eyebrows. "That's a name?"
Antoa – sod that, Toni – Toni rolled her eyes. "Yes. It actually means love in Bulgarian."
"Who on earth would call their child Love?" Grace asked incredulously.
Toni snorted. "Says the girl vhose name is Grace."
"Grace it's perfectly normal name, I'll have you know." Grace with a huff.
"If you say so, but that doesn't change the fact that it's Grace. Like, you know, gracefulness and stuff like that."
"It's better than Love!" Grace argued, crossing her arms over her chest.
"It's the same, if you ask me." Toni said with a shrug. "'Sides, you people name your kids Faith and Hope and… Chastity and stuff. You really can't speak."
"Yeah but I don't know anyone whose name is Love." Grace pointed out, feeling triumphant once again.
"Please, I prefer the name Love over Chastity any day. And Serenity, for that matter. Vhat kind of retarded names are these?" Toni shook her head incredulously.
"I don't know. I don't understand it either."
"Vhatever. I don't know why ve're even talking about this. Just call me Toni."
"But what if I like Antoaneta better?"
Toni sighed in exasperation. "I vill teach you how to pronounce it correctly if you insist on calling me that."
Grace made a face. "Nah, that's alright. Toni's just fine."
Toni smirked. "I thought you might say that. Now, let's get back to that potion."
"Right." Grace said as she straightened in her seat and forced herself to concentrate again. "Where was I…"
"Don't worry, I'm taking over from here." Toni said, pulling the cauldron closer to her. Grace raised an eyebrow but didn't comment, just sat there silently and watched her work. There was a certain glint in Toni's eyes that concerned Grace slightly but the girl looked like she knew what she was doing, so she didn't ask questions.
And she would pay dearly for that.
(1) Gadniari - jerks
(2) Skupa - sweetie, honey
(3) Gospodi - God