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Chapter 4: My Knight in Shining Armour
Even though I’d been away from school for two months, it was easy to slip back into the school-day routine. I rose early on the first day back, like I usually did, too excited to find out which lessons I had that day, and just glad to be back to a place where I was happy and felt like I belonged. The other girls, especially Mary, seemed to think I was strange wanting to get up early. But none of them understood the tranquillity of having the common room all to yourself for once and just enjoying the surroundings.
I showered and dressed quickly, eager to get to the common room. I had started reading muggle classics over the summer, and I wanted to finish the current one I was reading, Wuthering Heights. I had just got to the bit where Cathy was being forced by the evil Heathcliff to marry his son, Linton, and I wanted to see whether the marriage went ahead or not.
I was so immersed in my thoughts of what was going to happen next that I failed to notice that there was another early riser in the common room.
“Thalia! What are you doing down here so early? It’s at least another hour until breakfast starts.” A voice sounded making me jump in fright.
I turned to the voice wondering who it belonged to as I recognised it; when I saw who my face broke into a wide smile.
“Oh, hi, Remus. Yeah I know I’m up early. I just wanted to enjoy the calm of the common room so I could try and finish my book off,” I said showing him the book as evidence.
“Ah, Wuthering Heights, I didn’t know you were into muggle books,” replied Remus.
“Yes, I know, it is strange, considering, I’m a pureblood, but when you live with someone like my mother it’s nice to be able to escape into a world which is completely different to your own,” I explained.
It was just a few days after I had returned from Hogwarts for the summer holidays and I had barely seen my mother since she picked me up from Kings Cross. So I had taken to exploring muggle London due to a lack of nothing better to do, and one day I came across an old second-hand bookshop near Charing Cross Road. The owner was a nice old woman called Beatrice, and she always happy to recommend the next book I should read or discuss the plot in the one I just finished.
“Ha! That’s just like Sirius. He hates living with his family, so he escapes into the muggle world to annoy them. Now and then, he reads muggle books and magazines and dates muggle girls,” Remus said, laughing.
“I never thought Black would have had the attention span to read an entire book. I mean, he and James end up playing hangman in the books if we’re told to read them during class.” I thought back to all the arguments those two have had with our professors, with them pleading that hangman was just as educational as actually reading the book.
“Sirius seems to think that he’s so intelligent that reading the actual textbook is unnecessary. If you ask him about any muggle book, however, he’s probably read it. Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a muggle book section in the library. Sirius likes the books so much that he even reads them at school, even though his parents aren’t here for him to provoke” Remus smirked.
“I never thought I’d hear someone say Black read books for his own enjoyment. Maybe he did actually mature slightly over the summer,” I laughed.
Sensing the conversation was over, I went to my favourite armchair by the fireplace, so I could enjoy the dying embers of the fire whilst reading.
I had managed to read a significant chunk of the book before my friends appeared, looking not quite as excited as I was for the first day back. Well, Lily was looking as excited as I was feeling, but then again, all prefects seem to love the thought of school and learning. That was probably why they were picked to be one.
“Ready to go, then?” Maia asked. She cast her eyes over at Remus, who was sitting in the armchair opposite me, deeply immersed in his book.
“Yeah, of course. I’ve been down here for at least an hour, so let’s go,” I said, eager to get some breakfast, as my stomach had started to emit embarrassing rumbles.
We made our way out of the portrait hole and down the many staircases leading to the Great Hall, still catching up about our summer holidays. Even though we had all met up two weeks previously at Alice’s house, we hadn't run out of things to talk about. I always loved going to Alice’s house, as she lived in St. Ives right by the coast. It was nice escaping to the sea, as I was used to the grimy streets of London.
We were still among the first people at breakfast today. The Gryffindor table was nearly empty, bar a pair of timid looking first years who ate in silence. They were probably not well acquainted enough to be able to have a conversation.
Other than them there was the keeper and captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team, George Wood, who was a seventh-year. We were on speaking terms with him due to Mary being a chaser. He looked rather lonely sitting by himself, so we decided to keep him company. George was always up for laugh and whenever you saw him, he had a smile planted on his face. He was also one of the other few boys in the school who you could actual have a normal conversation with.
“Hi, George. How was your summer?” I slid into a seat opposite him.
“Really good," George said. "My parents took me to the Quidditch world cup in Egypt this year. It was surreal seeing quidditch being played next to the Pyramids of Giza!”
“It was shame about Scotland though," Mary cut in. "Shocking play! I couldn't count how many times the snitch was in front of MacFarlane’s face, yet he didn’t see it. Damn those Frenchmen, beating us again!” Mary was still sulking then, clearly she still hadn't gotten over her home country's defeat.
“How did England do?” asked Alice, who seemed to be trying to show an interest in quidditch for our sake. We all knew she hated it, due to memorable flying lessons in first year, which resulted in her repeatedly falling off her broom.
“They fared slightly better," George answered. "They got to the quarter-final but were beaten by Oman in that match. It must have been really embarassing. Most of the team uses flying carpets instead of broomsticks, so we should have had the advantage.”
We continued the rest of breakfast debating whether the Irish could remain the champions of the Quidditch World Cup next time around, or whether the Japanese would be able to beat them. Once the hall was practically full, Professor McGonagall descended the steps from the staff table so she could hand out our timetables.
“Evans, there’s yours. Here you go McDonald, and aha here we are, Longwood.”
Just as McGonagall handed me my timetable, there were several cries of shock from the other side of the room. The room was too crowded to get a clear of view of what was going on, so I stood up to see what this commotion was.
The entire Slytherin table seemed to have sprouted warts and spots all over their faces. It, did not make them look very attractive, to say the least. The rest of room ruptured into peals of laughter at the Slytherins misfortune. I swear I could also see Dumbledore chuckling away quietly. McGonagall, however, did not find the incident nearly as amusing as the headmaster did.
I felt a little mean joining in with the laughing. But then again, I had never found a likeable Slytherin, so I guess this was their own fault in a way.
“Potter, Black, detention for the rest of the week! No, don’t deny it wasn’t you. I could tell you were up to something last night. Lupin, I expect you to keep a tighter rein on your friends next time, as the behaviour which these two are displaying currently is unacceptable.” McGonagall said dismissing their pleas that there was no evidence it was them who did this; therefore, it would be highly unjust to make them serve detentions for it.
Not wanting to be late for my first lesson, I ignored the noise from the Slytherin table and McGonagall, and quickly cast my eyes down today’s column on my timetable to see what lessons I had. I let out a groan – today was not going to be fun.
First was double Potions with the Slytherins. I enjoyed Potions as it was easy to get right if you just followed the steps, and, I liked the logic behind it. Professor Slughorn was alright as well. I was a member of his Slug Club, along with James and Sirius due to our parent's immense wealth and good connections. Being in the Slug Club was quite good as Lily was in it as well due to her wit and intelligence.
I didn't tend to go to many of the dinners, as there were rather dull in my opinion. Lily spent quite a bit of the time with Snape, so unless I wanted to hang out with James and Sirius, I would be on my own.
Being a pure blooded Gryffindor, I was tolerated by the Slytherins and they generally left me out of their bullying ways. However, I hated their comments to the muggleborns like Lily. She was lucky in a way. When Snape was around, the rest of the Slytherins tended not to say too much. Lily sitting next to him probably helped. Slughorn absolutely loved those two, as they were both brilliant at potions. So he spent most of the lesson fawning over them.
Potions was followed by Transfiguration, which was hard work for those of us who weren’t as naturally talented as James and Sirius. McGonagall was practically the only head of house who didn’t favour her own, so we nearly always ended up with a massive essay to write each week.
Then perhaps the dullest subject at school followed – History of Magic. It was taught by this dreary old ghost called Professor Binns. No one had the staying power to listen to his lectures on the Goblin wars, except for Lily and Remus who seemed to be the only ones who took notes about it. The rest of the guys tended to throw paper aeroplanes around the classroom, and we girls just passed notes to each other.
Finally Arithmancy after lunch, which was about the only lesson of the day I would completely enjoy. The only other Gryffindors who took this class were Lily, Maia and Remus. Lily’s reason for taking it was because it was similar to some muggle thing called maths, so for once her parents could vaguely get what she was learning about. I always liked this class due to the mental challenge, and our teacher Professor Montrose was always really nice.
Knowing we had quite a long walk down to the dungeons for Potions we bid George farewell and walked out of the Great Hall while listening to McGonagall still shouting at James and Sirius for the prank they pulled.
Despite leaving the Great Hall later than usual this morning we were still the first ones at the dungeons. Due to the prank the Marauders pulled, they were probably still being shouted at by McGonagall. The Slytherins had probably gone to the hospital wing to see if Madam Pomfrey would be able to remove the warts and spots.
Knowing Slughorn was rather lenient on school rules we just walked in and took our usual seats. Lily at the front where she always sat with Snape, so Slughorn could talk to them all lesson. Then Maia and I, and Alice and Mary sat on tables next to each other at the back so we could talk. This was kind of pointless as there were always loud noises, usually due to someone’s potion exploding so it was easy to talk and not get caught anyway.
Fifteen minutes or so later the rest of the class trooped in wart and spot free. Potions went unbearably slowly today due to Slughorn giving us a lecture on the importance of us doing well this year as it was our OWL year, and we needed to achieve an E or higher if we wished to continue the subject. Like we didn’t know that already.
Once he was finally done we spent the remainder of the lesson attempting to make a forgetfulness potion.
Maia and I actually succeeded in making the potion, without any mishaps, though it was more of a lime green, instead of the pale it was meant to be. We even got an approving nod from Slughorn when we handed it in.
Either way we fared slightly better than Mary and Alice, because when we were making our potion, we could hear shrieks of, “Don’t put that in the potion,” and “It’s meant to be turned to counter-clockwise seven times, not clockwise four times!”.
Given all the commotion they caused when making their potion, it was no surprise that their potion ended up a very vivid pink, and emitting silver sparks. Though it looked nice, when they handed in their phial to Professor Slughorn, he just gave them a dismissive look, before shooing them away.
As there was still summery weather we decided to spend our break sitting in the grounds and enjoying the sunshine. Knowing that as we were in Scotland it would probably disappear soon and rain and grey clouds would take its place.
“This is the life,” Mary said, while kicking off her shoes, and lying down in the grass.
“We’ve barely been back for a day, and you’re already complaining Mary?” Lily asked her.
“Can you blame me? After that horrific Potions lesson, I need another holiday. It’s alright for you. You’re amazing at Potions, and you sit next to Snivellus, who’s an even bigger nerd at it than you,” Mary replied jokily.
“What have I said about not calling Severus, Snivellus? It’s bad enough he gets called it by Potter. He doesn’t need it from you too!" Lily shot back. "Besides I’m not a Potions nerd. I just enjoy the subject, so I listen. That’s something not very familiar to you Mary,” Lily stuck her tongue out at Mary, to let her know that she was only joking about the last part.
“Whatever Lils, you’re a Potions nerd, don’t deny it!” Mary lay back down in the grass, giving up on the argument.
Maia, Alice and I, had remained silent throughout their disagreement. Lily and Mary were prone to arguing over how much time should be spent on school work, so we tended not to interfere.
Twenty minutes later, I had finished my daisy chain and, Alice, who was always checking her watch, announced it was time for the next lesson.
Reluctantly, we headed back inside for Transfiguration. McGonagall spent the beginning of the lesson talking about how important this year was, which was almost the same speech we'd gotten in Potions. Then she went on about how Transfiguration was very important for our magical education, and therefore we must get a high grade if we wanted to succeed in life.
After that, we had to turn a dinner plate into a mushroom. Mary appeared to have not been listening again. When she aimed her wand at the dinner plate it turned a dark purple and reduced in size, not exactly a mushroom.
Lily was shooting looks of disapproval over to her, before muttering to me, "I honestly can't see why she doesn't work harder. It's our OWL year, after all." I looked down at her mushroom and saw it looked like one from fairy tales with its red head and white spots. My own one looked rather dismal in comparison as it was dirty brown and no other decoration.
"I'm sure Mary will do fine, she always manages to pass the end of year tests," I replied.
Lily was more dubious about the situation, however. "Hmm, perhaps. But this is different, these are our OWLs. Though I hate to say this, the only people who stand a chance at passing them without revising are Potter and Black."
I glanced over to the pair of them, and saw that they had amassed quite a collection of mushrooms and were now trying to transfigure anything in their vicinity.
"Haha, do you want me to tell Potter than? I'm sure he'll be delighted to hear that you're paying him a compliment for once," I joked.
"Don't you dare Thalia. I would never hear the end of it otherwise. Now come on, let's see if we can perform the counter-spell." At times like this I almost wished I sat next to Mary because that way I wouldn't be bullied into doing more work. I turned my head back down to the desk and began muttering the counter-spell.
At the end of the lesson McGonagall set us homework to practise the spell, and then write an essay on its usefulness, before swiftly ushering us out. The entire of class tried to prolong the walk to the next lesson as it was nowhere near as enjoyable.
Professor Binns saved us the lecture on this being our OWL year, but that might have been because he'd mixed up the classes. He once greeted Alice by her brother Tom's name, who was a third year now. She wasn't too pleased about being compared to someone who used to eat frogspawn.
Binns waited for us to be seated and just started lecturing. It sounded exactly like something we'd already heard, and I wondered if he was using the same notes from last year. Peter appeared to be already sleeping at his desk and James and Sirius were trying to build an old spitfire out of paper.
I guess the boys weren't as bad as Mary, who started painting her nails the same shade of pink her potion was earlier. Thankfully, Lily was too caught up in her notes to notice Mary not paying attention to the lesson, again. Maia and Alice didn't seem too keen to have a go at her, as they were looking at a copy of Witch Weekly under their desk, so I didn't bother interfering.
I have to say, I was quite proud of my concentration levels in this lesson. My notes weren't as detailed as Lily's, but at least there was something written down.
Finally it was lunch. I walked quickly out of the door eager to escape the boredom you felt just being in the classroom, when I suddenly tripped over some spilt ink on the floor. Luckily someone managed to catch me as I felt myself fall into someone’s arms.
It feels nice here, I thought.
No Thalia, you don’t even know who it is. The other side of my brain had kicked in, and I could vaguely hear the battle in my head continuing while I was coming back to the real world.
I turned around to thank my rescuer, and I immediately turned bright red when I saw who it was. I never would have thought it would be nice being held by him.
“Thanks, Black," I said with a smile, deciding to be nice for once, as he me a favour. "You saved me from looking like an idiot.”
“No problem, Longwood. Anything to save a pretty lady,” he said with his trademark smirk.
Wait a second; did Sirius Black just compliment me? No, it couldn't be. Since when did he do or say anything nice? He was probably just up to his usual flirting ways. But what was I supposed to do now? Do I go along with it? I realised that I'd been standing there, staring at him blankly. Yeah, it was the safest thing to do. It was so annoying when my brain goes into overdrive.
“Well, I guess you’re my knight in shining armour then,” I said, while attempting to copy his smirk.
“I guess you could say that I am. What does my fair lady require me to do now?” he replied, seeming to play along with the joke.
We continued walking down together, as due to me nearly falling, we had been left behind by our friends. I actually had a nice time with Sirius for once, without him being annoying or flirting with me. It turned out that he could actually be quite a decent person. When we got to the Great Hall, we seperated to our respective groups of friends.
“How come you’re so happy after a History of Magic lesson?” questioned Mary, as I slid into the seat next to her, still smiling
“Oh, no reason. Could you pass the shepherd's pie?" I didn't want them to make assumptions about Black and me. I glanced over at the group of boys and couldn't help but notice that Black was staring at me.
Author Note: Yay this chapter's been updated too! So a big thank you to pixileanin for making it awesome! This chapter was a bit of schooly, but there has to be one like that! What did you think of her encounter with Sirius? And what do you think about the other character development?
If you want to be lovely you could leave a review ;D