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Chapter 1: Your Mother and I Talk Often, Actually
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“Lily, I just don’t get it.”
I frowned, staring at the book before me with no unfamiliar frustration and let out a long groan. Besides me, I heard Dorcas Meadows snort amusedly while I saw Lily Evans give me an amused look (apparently, I was an extremely funny person). I frowned and gave my friend a pleading and desperate look, while I kicked Dorcas’ shin under the table. All three of us were gathered around one of the small study tables in the Gryffindor common room, trying to finish off the rest of our homework while taking advantage of the quiet and calm atmosphere of the area.
“I don’t think it’s funny enough for all that,” I muttered sullenly.
“Raye, it’s really not that difficult,” Lily laughed.
“It is!” I insisted, my eyes narrowing. Honestly, what a great bunch of mates I had- they’re encouragement and support is so touching, I could only store all my effort into keeping tears from springing to my eyes. “I’m no good with Herbology, you know that.”
Lily set down her wand on her charms text book and adjusted her seat so it was closer to mine. Her eyes concentrated on the text before me, mouthing the words softly underneath her breath as she read. A minute later, her eyes came away from the book and she fixed me with a twinkling gaze as she gave a small smirk.
“Raye, I bet if I gave this to my four-year-old muggle neighbor, she’d have this understood in a minute at the max,” she said plainly, causing Dorcas to look up expectantly. I gave Lily my best I-Honestly-Despise-You glare and tried to wrench the book away from her when Dorcas had leaned over the table and snatched my copy of Advanced Herbology Made Easy.
“Oi!” I yelled hotly, trying in vain to get the textbook back.
“The perplexities of the puffapod revolve around the blatant disregard for the rules of growth, survival and reproduction generally excepted in Herbology theory. The large, pink-tinted pods are preinstalled with seeds for similar plants, and once the pod is dropped, it pries itself open and the seeds inside bloom into large flowers within seconds, and their roots merge with whatever surface they come into contact with. Whilst other magical plants rely on some consistent temperature, surrounding, or material to enable it grow, the puffapod requires only to fall, no matter the type, quality or quantity of air around it in the process, and somehow is able to grow and sustain itself for years after,” Dorcas recited in a monotone voice, looking extremely bored at the reading, sodding genius that she is.
Dorcas stopped at this point and fixed me with a smug look while she tossed the thing back at me. I caught the book easily and placed it farther away from me, pushing my half-finished essay with it.
“And how exactly is that difficult to understand?” Dor asked, turning back to her Potions essay.
“It’s not; I just have no idea how to utilize that frankly useless information into a sodding six-inch essay about puffapods!” I cried angrily.
Lily quirked her eyebrow at me and, with a knowing glance, opened the book back to the page I was on when I had requested her help and shoved it back towards me and placed my essay on top it.
“You’re not stupid, just lazy,” she said firmly. “Get it over with, so we can all take a break, yeah?”
I made a face at her. She’d get so annoying when she was all reasonable. I dipped the quill in the nearby ink bottle and turned back to my essay with a resolute expression. A minute later, I was already searching for a distraction from irritating essays, and resorted to ask where our other close friend, Emmeline Vance, was.
“She’s got a detention,” Lily said immediately. “With Slughorn, because she exploded that potion in your cousin’s face yesterday, remember?”
Oh- right. I was rather ecstatic when she had done that. Slughorn had tried to ‘switch it up’ yesterday, and reached the conclusion that the best possible way to provide some interest in class was to change partnerships around. Emmeline, who had a fierce sense of loyalty that could overcome her otherwise calm nature, had gotten stuck with James after I had finished complaining extensively to her about the very same. By the end of that lesson, James had a weird substance growing out of his neck and face, Emmeline was looking surly after receiving a week’s worth of detention, and I was thanking whatever deity that came to mind that I had helped the girl out in charms class in first year.
I grinned shamelessly and turned to Dorcas and granted her another swift kick to the shins as I continued to smile at her like an insane idiot.
“Oi- stop doing that!” she exclaimed, rubbing her leg angrily while glaring daggers at me, a lock of her dirty blond hair falling out in front of her face as she leaned forward. “What was that for, anyway?”
“Why aren’t you as loyal as Emmeline is?” I demanded, still smiling since I had felt about no guilt after kicking her.
“What are you talking about?” she growled, still rubbing her leg.
“I remember you were paired with Black in potions yesterday, and I don’t see you in a detention because of some stupid thing you did to save my honor,” I said pointedly.
“Yeah, ‘cos I’m not an idiot. Now stop trying to put off that sodding essay and complete it already before my leg falls off.”
“Pansy,” I taunted, sticking out my tongue at her. Nonetheless, I turned back to my essay, and returned quickly to my bad mood as I stared helplessly at the words before me that honestly made no sense at all.
About a half hour later, I slammed the book shut and stored my finished essay in my bag, thinking that if I didn’t get an ‘O’ for perseverance alone I’d drop out of the class in protest.
“I’m finished!” I announced proudly, nearly skipping over to where Lily and Dorcas lounged. After finishing their own work they had both decided to go and relax near the fire, as the entire Gryffindor tower was nearly deserted today and all the nice couches and arm chairs were still very much unoccupied.
“Really?” Dorcas mocked, her voice matching my enthusiasm. “Wow, that’s so fantastic! You really should’ve said it louder though- some people in the Ravenclaw dormitories might not have heard the news yet.”
I grinned good-naturedly and threw my quill at her face with a wink, my smile only widening when I saw that a couple of stray ink drops had found its way onto Dor’s face (odd how forgetting to properly clean stationary could lead to such convenient things, isn’t it?). Dorcas was lying on the couch, her long legs nearly touching the end of it, and her arms over face. There was about no room for me.
I strode over to where she reclined (picking up my quill on the way) and promptly sat on top of her outstretched legs, signaling her to make room. She moved her legs so I could recline back as well and she resituated her legs on my lap. I happily smiled at Lily who at least gave me a congratulatory smile, and, despite it looking slightly forced, the effort was commendable.
“Is Emmeline ever going to come back or is she going to spend the night there?” Dorcas asked.
We both turned to Lily, who was a prefect and therefore the person we, that is Dorcas, Emmeline, and I, expected to be privy of all knowledge pertaining to detentions and house points and the like. Lily gave as a familiar exasperated look before answering.
“I’ve told you before that just because I can hand out detentions, I don’t get an alert whenever someone in the school manages to receive one detailing the situation.”
“But you’ll know when it’s over and such won’t you? Is there a time limit as to how long he can keep her there or anything?” I asked her.
Lily frowned, adjusted her position so she would be sitting upright- a sure sign that she was being attentive- and pulled a thoughtful face.
“Actually, I don’t believe there is,” she stated, a small amount of wonder in her tone. “Theoretically Slughorn could keep her there all day, but most teachers obviously choose not to. It’s nine though, so she’ll probably come back soon enough. She left about two hours ago and it can’t span longer than that.”
“Speaking of those not present, I notice that you haven’t spoken with your cousin in a long time,” Dorcas said, her arms still covering her face from view, though from the sharp tone I could discern that her interest was piqued. My eyes flitted downward uncomfortably and shifted to the side before answering.
“Duly noted,” I responded sardonically. “Any other epiphanies you would like me to record?”
“I’m being serious, what’s the matter?” she persisted. I noticed Lily looking rather interested as well but I opted to take the avoidance path and dismissed both of their worries on the matter.
“It’s nothing terrible, we’re just arguing again,” I explained, not completely truthfully, a fact which I was sure both of those sitting nearby were well aware off. “By the way, I’m off to grab Emmeline and drag her back here before she runs into the aforementioned prat who I reckon isn’t very chuffed about having odd things sprout on his facial region.”
Dorcas and Lily both mumbled their alrights and, after taking moment to generously flick my quill over Dorcas’ face, I gallivanted out of the common room, quite happy with my day now that my Herbology homework–which, I might add, is not even due until Friday of this week, giving me two days of Herbology-free leisure—was complete. I was about to turn the corner when I felt myself come into contact with a tall, and sturdy form. I stumbled back a couple steps, looking up to see who it was when I someone who bore a striking resemblance to Sirius Black had came into view (I say someone who only looks like him, because I can’t be entirely sure- my vision’s just been about knocked out since the inconsiderate sod just about killed me moments ago).
I raised my gaze from the floor to be level with his, thoroughly unsurprised to find him frowning down at me. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall besides him, looking about ready to have a conversation. His expression remained dark as he stared at me.
I raised an eyebrow appraisingly, my chipper mood now sour since I’ve seen him.
“Yeah,” I responded flatly, glaring at him immediately. Our relationship had always been tension-filled and quite tentative, and though we had made something akin to ‘progress’ throughout it, the events of fifth year had completely destroyed it.
“Where you off to then?” he asked, with more than a hint of derision in his voice.
“I’m off to find your mum and chat about how agreeable your company is,” I snapped irritably. “Where do you think?”
“Have you always been such a rude bint or is it a newly developed trait?” he asked, sounding considerably angrier than he had at first. He stood sturdier, no longer leaning on the wall, all signs of playfulness or casualness out of his voice as he spoke. His dark locks fell over his eyes languidly as his piercingly gray eyes, now somber and so opaque, focused their gaze on me.
“Side-effect, actually,” I spoke finally, looking away from his gaze. “Your presence tends to bring out the worst in everyone,” I finished with a resolute nod. “And terribly fun though this conversation is, I’d rather not have it, thanks.”
I angrily brushed past him, feeling incomprehensibly angry with the tosser I had just left behind me, and rather unsure of what I had said to spark such annoyance in him as well- not that I regretted it, mind, only that I was curious. Nevertheless, I felt guilt tug at my stomach and I spared a moment to turn around and look back at Sirius for a second, if only to see if he still looked so angry, and saw him staring at nothing in particular, his expression as unnervingly intense as ever. He looked up just as I had looked over and I caught his gaze, frowning when his expression turned ever gloomier.
* * *
Emmeline and I wandered back into the common room late, as we had both decided that a visit to the kitchens was in order, as we had not went there for weeks and were both extremely hungry. I had found out of the place just last year, when I was trying to get the invisibility cloak from James (as my mum and James’ dad had both assured my it was rightfully partially mine). He had adamantly refused when I had first suggested it exercising that particular right, and I had to follow him around the entire day cloaked in a concealment charm until I finally found it in his trunk.
When we arrived back at the dormitories, we saw Dorcas lying still on my bed whilst Lily seemed to be merged with my closet and dresser, muttering to herself as she shifted through it.
“What are you looking for,” I asked curiously, trying to peer over Lily’s shoulder as she rummaged through my robes.
“Where on earth do you keep your socks?”
“My dresser, bottom drawer,” I replied immediately. “It’s really not all that difficult to find.”
Lily immediately wheeled around and glowered at Dorcas who looked rather unperturbed at the sight, impressively enough.
“And I do recall that you were supposed to look through the dresser,” she said sharply.
“And I do recall me saying I wouldn’t do anything until you tell me why you’re going insane over a pair of socks.” Dorcas shrugged. She closed her eyes and looked ready to fall asleep on my bed. She yawned largely and disappeared for a minute underneath the covers and remerged with a nice expression on her face, looking comfortable and relaxed in my bed.
I tilted my head questioningly. “Are you out of socks?” I asked simply.
Lily whirled around quickly, her eyes blazing and cheeks flushed. She glared at me rather impressively (I put a good amount of energy into resisting the urge to grab Emmeline’s hand and demand she stand between Lily and I and use her formidable height to protect my small and flimsy body) before turning back on her heal to go to my dresser. She sent me another annoyed look before immersing herself within my linins once more, as if I was the reason her mood had gone so sour.
“If you ever talk to that cousin of yours again, you can tell him to stuff that giant-”
“What did he do?” Dorcas asked immediately as Emmeline and I walked up to my bed, to ready ourselves for what would inevitably be a long-winded oration describing all of James’ worse points and how they do destroy Lily’s hope for a calm and peaceful life. This, as exaggerated as it seems, is more or less rather accurate.
“Well. Imagine my surprise when I go to my dresser to change into my pajamas today, and I look through it and my closet and find that I don’t have a single article of clothing left. Except underwear- thank god Potter’s not quite exceeded the borders of absolute debauchee by nicking those as well.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said evenly, a thoughtful hint to my tone. “Steeling your clothes is creepy enough to qualify, I think.”
“Nope,” Dorcas quipped. “’Cos he didn’t steal clothes that are particular to her. Underwear is particular, and would qualify as deserving macabre-style punishment, but clothes that could just as easily have been mine or anyone else’s only reaches the deserving of a good kick in the stones level,” she finished evenly. “Shall I oblige?”
Lily, who at this point had taken several of my socks and was now attempted to match them together, stopped abruptly, one sock clutched in each of her hands as she pondered Dorcas’ offer. Finally she shook her head. Without further explanation, she dived back into my dresser and took out more socks.
“D’you need a shirt then? And stockings and skirts and the lot?” I asked helpfully, walking over to where she sat and sitting down on the floor beside her, crossing my legs habitually.
“No; your skirt would be a little too small on me, as would your shirt. I took a skirt and shirt from Dorcas, and I’m about to steal Em’s shoes and stockings, but I just wanted a couple extra socks, and you never wear any anyway.”
There was Lily being all reasonable again.
“I ran into Black,” I said conversationally when a minute of silence had gone by. “Literally. And I might add that I was this close to falling down and possibly suffering a concussion and he didn’t even bother to apologize, inconsiderate tosser that he is. So, you are all given an excuse to fuss over me and pamper as you like.”
“You’ll survive,” Dorcas said flatly, though she sat up slightly on the bed that really was not large enough for both her and Emmeline to try to stretch out on. “Did you have another row?”
I shrugged in response but nodded to confirm her suspicions. “Yeah. Not that bad though, but he seemed really angry. Can’t imagine why in all honesty.”
At this, Lily, ever the omniscient, gave me a wry and skeptical half-smile for a second before redirecting her concentration back on my socks.
“Lie,” Emmeline sang cheerfully, kicking Dorcas’ legs to the side as she attempted to get more nicely situated. “What did you say to him, you cow?”
After taking a moment to glare at Emmeline for even considering the notion that I had altered the truth in any way to my benefit, I relented and quickly recapped the small conversation I had with Black only ‘bout an hour ago. By the end of it, Lily looked as confused as I about why Sirius was acting so odd, and Emmeline merely grinned widely at me.
“You’re so odd,” Em had said plainly by the end of it, her maniacal grin still in place. “‘I’m off to see your mum and converse about whether or not you’re a git?’ Really Raye- who says that? Funny though,” she granted at the end, nodding as though whatever small piece of humor she found in it was enough to redeem everything else.
Dorcas on the other hand had given me an oddly tempered look and continued calmly.
“Raye, I really think you ought to stay away from mentioning family in your conversations with him.”
“What?” I stared at Dorcas who was staring at me shrewdly, more likely than not analyzing the whole situation, and getting it right to the pin.
“He’s sensitive about that—our families are good friends, remember? Just stay away from family topics, however silly, it really won’t take you anywhere. Er- one of his close family members are really sick, you know.”
I nodded hesitantly, still a little confused but unwilling to dwell further into the subject. I shrugged and assured her I’d leave off the family area even for silly insults if I speak with him again, and then we moved on to discuss Lily’s plans to retrieve her garments with little enthusiasm.
“Can I borrow that cloak of yours Raye?”
I nodded, quite use to this routine; since fifth year James would periodically do something plain strange and often times uncouth. Lily would respond either by a: having a frightening row with him with a very fiery and awe-inspiring vigor; or b: calmly repairing the damage with a scary and formidable gleam in her eye that said plainly ‘if you so much as breathe too loudly near me again, so help me I will remove crucial parts of your anatomy with that utensil right there (yes, that one)’. The former was more entertaining to watch, but the latter option was by far the most effective.
“Yeah, I’ll need to get it first though. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.”
A/N: It's finally here! The new version. Just about everything is different, apart from the characters (Though many were cut). I'd love opinions! And I'm editing the rest of the chapters right now. It's starting off odd, but it does get better as well. I hope you enjoy! And a little note is always nice as well. [=
“Do it, Dor.”
Dorcas growled in frustration and glared at me whilst I stared back at her innocently, a provoking smile on my face. I was attempting to convince her to keep watch for me as I readied to enter the boys’ dormitories to steal James’ cloak for Lily. I was about ready to simply walk up there, throw open the door, and snatch the cloak and run back down before anyone noticed (which, stupid as it sounds, is actually a quite efficient method) but Lily had stopped me before I had the chance and told me that James would probably be expecting me to come for the cloak and a more subtle method might be more convenient for everyone this time around.
And to achieve subtlety, it seemed obvious that I would need a person to warn me before anyone heads up, to keep up said subtle appearance. But Dorcas, ever difficult, had decided that she would choose now of all times to act difficult. This would not deter me, however, for I was of a sharp mind that was tuned to dealing with bothersome things such as Dorcas Meadows refusing to be my faithful watch guard.
I narrowed my eyes shrewdly for a secondly before responding quickly.
“I’ll lend you my history notes for a full month.”
“Mine are better.”
That was unfortunately completely true.
“Lily will lend you her charms notes, then.”
Dorcas took a moment to look contemplative before nodding her okay. She sat herself down right in front of the stairway and looked at me expectantly, silently gesturing me to go and finish the job as quickly as possible.
“Not quite yet, genius. We need to straighten out what signal you’ll give me if they’re here.”
Dorcas shrugged. “How about ‘they’re here’?”
I thought about it—it was short and to the point and horribly lacking of anything in anyway subtle but it got the job done. Well then—subtlety to hell. I voiced my approval and made my way up the stairs, taking a bit of precaution so as not to make too much noise.
It was Saturday morning and after putting retrieving the cloak off for two days, I was wrestled out of bed by a bad-tempered Lily who had demanded I get her the cloak that instant, lest she decided to make use of the quill beside me as a makeshift dagger. Apparently, I was not the only one who got irritable in the mornings. Following Lily’s inspirational spiel (that was sarcasm, by the way), I had fallen out of bed after I miscalculated the distance to the floor (my eyes were still adjusted to glaring light that had abruptly broken through the windows when my eyelids wrenched open by aforementioned devil-incarnate) and hurriedly fixed myself up and ran downstairs, before Lily had the chance to make good on her threat.
Trusting that they—that was James, Sirius, Remus and Peter—were down at breakfast, I had hoped that Dorcas standing watch would be enough to save me from uncomfortable situations.
Opening the door cautiously, I poked my head inside and felt relief when I noticed that, as far as I could see at least, the room was completely empty. I grimaced after I closed the door and walked to the center of the room, my eyes fully taking in the entirety of the room now that my vision wasn’t blocked by bed-posts or add angles as it was at the doorway. Speaking in all honesty, how could anyone stand to live in such a messy dump for longer than three minutes without feeling perturbed by the sight of trash or undergarments strewn so liberally throughout the room that it was impossible to find an area of two square feet that had a semblance of orderliness? Really- if I was bothered by the state of a room in terms of tidiness, it couldn’t by any means be a thing excusable.
I sneered at the drawn curtains in distaste after further inspection of the room. A bit of light never killed anyone, did it? It would be easy enough to assume otherwise at the way this room was so methodically organized to resist every small ray of sunshine as if it were a drop of arsenic. The curtains were all drawn hastily and the hangings over a couple of beds were utilized in a similar fashion.
And there I was thinking that late teens were times for being revolutionary and spiritedly idealistic. Apparently the inhabitants of this room hadn’t quite left the emotional wreckage that was the age of thirteen—pity. Amusing as it was to spend hours poring over dark song lyrics in dimly lit rooms while reveling in the knowledge that no one could fully understand you was, I always found that time was a bit difficult, especially considering the havoc it wreaked on eyesight and all.
“I always knew they were a bit slow on the development, but this really is too much,” I muttered as I entered James’ portion of the room, which I recognized easily from the various posters of the Pride of Portree scattered about the area surrounding his bed. I rummaged through his trunk, humming to myself cheerfully in the process, and taking a rather large amount of pleasure in the fact that I wasn’t going to be putting any of the miscellaneous items back in the trunk. He can deal with this mess himself.
“Aha. There you are then,” I spoke up after a minute of searching, smiling with a satisfied expression after I found the silvery cloth shining up at me.
“Oi- what are you doing here?”
I jumped and turned around quickly, glaring at whomever it was that had frightened me.
“Well what were you doing sneaking up on me like that?” I demanded angrily, squinting at Sirius crossly. “Really, there was no need. You could’ve said you were here before…” I trailed off uncomfortably; very aware that I was trying desperately to distract Sirius from the fact that I was clutching on to James’ invisibility cloak right in front of me and hoping he was still somehow oblivious.
Sirius raised an eyebrow appraisingly and his eyes traveled down me and stilled at the bundle of silvery cloth that was held evenly near my stomach. My cheeks instantaneously are suffused with a fervent heat and I know that he’s about as distracted by my discourse as I was.
“Right—hand over the cloak then before you leave, won’t you Hughes?” he asked smugly, a distinct condescending sneer laced between his tone as he stared at me through his unnervingly sharp eyes.
“No,” I said plainly, trying to ignore the annoyance that grew inside me as I tried to think of a way to get out of this. “You and I both know that I’ve about half- well, third,” I corrected myself quickly, remembering my older sister’s part in this, “right to this cloak and if I want it, I have no problem taking it.”
I held the cloak tighter in my arms and strode meaningfully towards the door, making it apparent that I had no intention to stop to discuss the matter further nor to give in and hand the cloak back. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help glancing back once to make sure that he was still harmless (that is without a wand and somewhat far away), only to find that he was slowly walking behind me.
I stopped and let out an irritated sigh, staring at him balefully as I stood rigidly, about a second away from opening the door and leaving.
“I’m only walking in my own dorm room, Hughes. Or is that not allowed?”
I took another moment to glare at him forcefully. He was standing casually about five or six feet away from me, his striped, beige pajama bottoms looking ruffled and without a shirt. If you ask me, the entire attire was very indecent. If I had walked around sans-shirt, there would most definitely have been an outrage. Even inside my own room, as the only dorm mate that I didn’t know particularly well (Mora Samuels) seemed to think I was a tart enough already and would be scandalized whenever I walked around without a robe covering my ‘improper neckline’—on the school mandated uniform, I might add. If I walked around without a shirt she’d probably suffer an aneurism.
Not to say that I’d ever walk around without a shirt, mind. Just drawing up the inevitably unfair situations between Black and myself.
“No, it’s not allowed,” I said shortly, swerving on my feet and wrenching open the door. I strode out looking fearfully behind me and sprinted down the stairs, tripped on the last step, and painfully landed in a heap of legs, arms, and other various limbs that managed to end up in places where they ought not to be.
“Ow,” I whined, straightening myself out tenderly, barely noticing that I was atop Dorcas, who apparently had taken to standing in front of the staircases.
“Get off, you slag!”
“I am, stop being a baby,” I said crossly, taking my time in straightening myself out. When I had finally looked up from the ground I found the very reason why Dorcas was standing in front of the staircases. I followed a pair of shoes up to a disheveled and marmalade-stained shirt and farther up to find James Potter, looking rather unpleased to see me there.
“Got Lily’s things for her then? Or—” he bit off his speech when he saw me inch away, putting my cloak behind my back. His hazel eyes flashed in irritation and understanding as he let out a bellowing ‘Oi!’ and moved to chase me.
“Dorcas stop him!” I yelled, running with all my speed to the girls’ staircase. I glanced behind me quickly just in time to see Dorcas, eyes wide, wildly throw herself at my cousin, wrestling him down and promptly sit on his back forcefully, shouting at me to keep going all the while. As I ran up the stairs I heard my cousin splutter to himself rather unintelligibly before his speech came back to him.
“Geroff, you stupid—ow!”
* * *
I grinned triumphantly at Lily as I waved a silvery cloak in front of her eyes. She snatched it from me and murmured a thanks, and set it down safely in Emmeline’s wardrobe, after flicking her wand at it once. Not quite curious enough to inquire why she hid the cloak in Em’s closet rather than her own, I merely laid back down on my bed, fully intending to return to my slumber and enjoy at minimum another three hours before I got back up.
“No! I need your help for ancient runes, Raye!” Dorcas pleaded the moment I closed my eyes. I shook my head vigorously.
“Raye, if you’re awake enough to shake your head you can get off your lazy arse and help me!”
Ah- there’s the Dor I knew and loved. Ladies and gentlemen, Dorcas Meadows: master of persuasion and subtle flattery.
“Dorcas stop trying to charm me, you manipulative cow. And as it is, it’s a Saturday. You won’t get a word out of my mouth that has any semblance of intelligence until tomorrow, sorry.”
“I’m certain I’ve never heard any word come out of your mouth that had ever that had a semblance of intelligence,” Dorcas mumbled to herself angrily, sitting down beside me after realizing that I was very serious about not lending her any help until I had a proper amount of rest. I gave her a smile as she began to chat with Lily about something I couldn’t bring myself to listen to. I was about a moment away from drifting off to sleep when Emmeline had jostled me awake.
“What?” I snapped irritably, frowning at my friend after being forced to sit up.
“Fabian’s waiting for you down stairs. For some Transfiguration project, he said- I think.”
I hit her arm quickly, but leapt off my bed all the same. “Runes,” I mumbled underneath my breath.
I felt my cheeks heat up again—the second time in an hour—and ran to the bathroom to check myself up. After sparing a wary glance at the mirror in the bathroom in our dormitory, I could honestly say one thing: I looked like shit. My hair was uncombed and sticking at angles that I’ve never honestly considered was possible, my eyelids were drooping lazily over irises as I adjusted to the sudden outburst of light, and my skin was looking unfortunately pale as it had been a while since I’ve last seen sun.
The overall effect wasn’t very pleasant.
Shrugging to myself, I worked first on my hair, running my comb through it multiple times until the long, raven-colored curls cascaded down just to my back. I washed my face a couple times as well, blinking twice at my reflection afterwards. The tamed hair did some good to me, and my skin was looking considerably less pale and I was feeling fully awake. I took a moment to survey my appearance. My small face, of a lightly tanned natural skin color, held two large, almond-shaped eyes that were an unfortunate color of dark brown. Soft, reddish lips found their easy place with my soft features and I finally decided that I looked presentable enough to go down.
The moment I set foot on the ground, I noticed four figures all hunched together at the corner of the common room and rolled my eyes at them. Really—I knew I wasn’t one to talk, considering that I had just primped myself for ten minutes in order to look attractive for a boy, but they act as if we’re back in third year with all their conspiratorial whisperings and stupid pranks.
“You lot look like gossiping fourth years,” I said pointedly, launching a poisonous smile their way. “Just wanted to let you know, because immaturity isn’t very attractive.”
I raised an eyebrow at James in particular, getting a rather sadistic surge of pleasure when I noticed him flush, send me an angry look. I took care to ignore Sirius, who I knew would be , as I, embarrassing as it was to admit, didn’t want to provoke him much. Instead, I focused on Remus who was frowning and staring elsewhere, looking uncomfortable with the situation—bloody typical. He’s probably the next most ethical being that ever existed.
“Apart from you, Remus,” I said grudgingly.
After achieving my daily act-like-a-prick-to-James quota (established three days ago), I filed out of the common room in happy spirits, nearly sprinting to the great hall where I knew Fabian would be waiting. I hurriedly ran my fingers through my hair as I neared the great hall. Just as I began smoothening my skirt out, ready to casually enter the great hall with a smile on my face, a nearby voice scared me (again) nearly out of my wits and I hastily turned around. My eyes narrowed upon seeing Sirius standing alone—even more bloody typical, it seems, since he’s recently taken a liking to bothering me whenever possible.
“And you call us immature Hughes? I thought it was only second years that get so anxious—”
“Oh Sirius, you’re so clever. Really, you must stop with all this brilliant talking before my brain implodes,” I snapped.
I took notice of his bad temperament before I said a word but couldn’t stop myself all the same; it wasn’t my job to put up with all his ruddy mood swings. A moment later, I felt a bit uncomfortable as he growled lowly at me, looking rather irritated at the sound of my voice.
“Hughes, I know you think you’re so bloody clever and that any unfortunate sod like Prewitt over there would be lucky to be the object of your affections, but I didn’t come over here to treat you like the princess you think you are. Incomprehensible as it is, I came here to say that for some reason or another, James seems to miss having you around in his company so maybe you should stop acting like a prat, yeah?”
I opened my mouth to retort and immediately shut it, staring angrily at the bloke before me. Narrowing my eyes further, I decidedly ignored his words before speaking.
“Shove off, Black,” I said evenly. “You don’t even know anything so stop acting as if it’s all on me, because you know what? Any—”
“Er—is everything alright here, Raye?” came a level, somewhat amused voice.
Easily recognizing Fabian’s soothing tone, I turned around with a smile. Before I could answer him however, I heard Black snort derisively behind me.
“Everything’s fine Prewitt. I was just having a lovely chat with Miss Stick-up-her-arse, here,” he drawled. He gave me a pointed look before turning away, hands shoved in his pockets, sullenly walking back to James and them.
“You’re alright?” I heard Fabian ask me in a concerned voice.
“I’m fine,” I assured him quickly. Before he could implore further I hurriedly prodded him and directed him towards the library. “Let’s start on that project now. It’s not as if we’re not behind enough already…”
* * *
“So I’ll have my essay finished by coming Wednesday then. Should we meet then?”
“Mhm,” he agreed, not looking up from his textbook. I was leaning against my chair easily, feeling rather bored and occasionally performing simple charms to keep me occupied. He hadn’t even glanced up before he continued.
“But really Raye—do it.”
I rolled my eyes, tired at his antics already before replying.
“I told you already I would. Really.”
He mumbled a sort of response as he continued reading through his part of the assignment. I had finished a few minutes ago and was now trying vainly to keep myself busy as Fabian read through his segment—over, and over again.
“Aren’t Ravenclaws supposed to be quicker on the uptake?”
I laughed lightly when Fabian threw me a pointed look before kicking the front legs of my chair back down, causing my chair to slam heavily back onto all four legs. As I flourished my wand pseudo-impressively, I began thinking back on my day with a pensive edge, my eyes glazing over as I stared at nothing in particular.
I couldn’t help it—I felt an undeniable satisfaction at the notion that it was finally me who had the upper hand. It was not James tormenting me periodically whilst convincing me to forgive him but two minutes after; it was finally a situation where I for once did not fall back on guilt of rejecting apologies and took the time I needed to process everything. It wasn’t as though I didn’t miss James; I missed him as much as he did me, probably more. Despite that, I could only put up with him for so long before being, frankly, sick of it.
How every time Lily rejected him or acted in any way that wasn’t to his liking he would release his irritation on me was infuriating. I was her mate, yeah, but that didn’t mean I was her conscious or in control of her ruddy mind. How he’d constantly tell me, more or less, to shove off whenever any ‘Marauder’ so much as breathed in a way that insinuated they needed their time (which happened about once a bloody hour) alone was enraging. How he had so completely trusted Sirius for everything while screening through his words with me had become absolutely maddening.
It was childish, yeah, I knew that. Immature as it was, it didn’t make it any less hurtful to know that the bloke I had considered my best mate for so long had discarded me so quickly. I had put up with it all—for the total ensemble of five years. It wasn’t as if he had said a few words that made me completely cut off ties or anything; dramatic as we were, our lives hadn’t quite reached the thespian-esque climactic set up that would warrant such a scene (though I swear, we’re getting closer to that point every day).
But like I said—I could only put up with so much…
“Oi!” Fabian swatted at my shoulder. I looked up in alarm and he fixed me with an odd look before explaining himself.
“I’ve called your names a hundred ruddy times Hughes,” he grinned. “Where are you?”
I sighed playfully, over exaggerating a wistful expression on my face before replying.
“In a perfect, perfect utopian land where we’re not forced to do useless assignments with untrusting peers. Alas. If only, if only.”
Fabian merely raised an eyebrow as he surveyed me thoughtfully.
“You know you have a habit of repeating your phrases often, whenever you’re in that forlorn yet farcical mood. It’s sort of funny.”
“Forlorn and farcical? Oh stop Fabian, you’re making me blush.”
Chapter 3: I Am Only A Stroppy Mare When Faced With Plaid Pajamas
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Flouncing cheerfully up the stairs to the my dorm room, humming lightly to myself after spending a rather nice day with Fabian, I entered the room expecting to find Lily and Dorcas studying as Emmeline slept and found, to my surprise, that it was barren. Shrugging I inspected the room through to make sure they weren’t hiding some creepy niche—for whatever reason they would do that is beyond me, but I’ve come to expect odd things from them at times. Satisfied that they were definitely not in the Common room or the dorm, I grew quickly bored and sullenly pulled my work out of my bag, readying myself to start on my studies.
My eyes grazed the thick cover of the large volume I pulled out of my school bag. Frowning slightly at its dust coated exterior and unfortunate musky smell; I brushed it off lightly with my arm before opening. Upon wrenching it open, another cloud of dust had blew into my face, sending me in a fit of coughs.
I really ought to read my Arithmancy book more.
Sighing forlornly as I stared at the enormous work pile before me, I neurotically began to clean it up, knowing I would feel far better and more ready to do it once I’ve finished. I used the small planner that Lily had gotten me earlier to organize my work.
I had my Herbology, Ancient Runes, Transfiguration, and Charms homework completely finished for coming Monday. Potions and Arithmancy had both an essay left to finish, and my Defense teacher had (thank Merlin) relieved us of homework for the weekend following an unfairly rigorous week of new spells and theory. Face set determinedly I got to work on my Arithmancy homework, hoping dearly that I’d finish all of my work before it was time for dinner.
About forty minutes later, I was finishing my last problem in Arithmancy , a giant smile on my face as I neared the prospect of my freedom. Just as I wrote the answer to the final question, eager to scribble to my name at the top as I always did once I finished the door to my dorm room had just slammed open and a thoroughly irate Lily Evans strode in, her hair positively crackling with anger.
I spared a final, sad look at my potions book, realizing I would probably not have time to get to it today with the ample distraction that was sure to come, judging from the look on Lily’s face. Ah well- at least my Arithmancy was finished, and that was a sight harder than my potions anyway, come to that. Putting my Arithmancy away carefully, I dutifully mumbled a question directed to Lily, waiting for her to explain.
“They’re absolutely no where! I’ve searched everywhere they could possibly be—”
“Wait, are you talking about Dor and Em, or your clothes?”
“My clothes! I must have gone through every drawer in every dresser and everywhere else they could possibly be in their room at least five times, and they’re nowhere to be seen!”
Smiling comfortingly I gave a small half-hug to Lily to calm her down before walking to Emmeline’s wardrobe. As I began to speak, I tried out some spells to reveal the clothes that Lily had stashed in our friend’s closet, to assuage her at least with proof that we have a bit of time left.
“Don’t worry so much Lily, we’ll find them soon enough. Besides, he never keeps them for too long anyway. You have a set of clothes for tomorrow just wear those,” I dropped the set atop Lily’s bed with a smile. I was always so Zen after I do my Arithmancy. “Eh- where are the socks?” I asked, after finding no socks in her pile in Emmeline’s closet.
Lily gave me a pleading and slightly guilty look and she shifted uncomfortably.
“I’ve already worn them all. You know how often I like to change my socks. They’re getting washed now.”
I laughed and set off to my closet, looking through the dresser to find some socks.
I cut off immediately as I registered what I had just passed on my way to the dresser. My wardrobe was slightly open, and a distinct shadow of black had met my eyes, rather than threads of gray cloth. Glaring suspiciously, I strode quickly over to my bed and wrenched open my wardrobe to find exactly what I feared. It was completely empty.
The Zen was gone.
“THOSE PRICKS, I’LL—”
In a second, Lily had weaved her way over to my side, looking more than a little ecstatic that someone else was sharing in on her misfortune. Prat.
“This is great we can search together!”
I silenced her with a glower and skulked my way to my bed, falling over it dramatically and covering my hand over my face.
“My clothes…” I whined. “I hate them, I hate them, I hate them.”
“Now you know how it feels.” Lily grinned, sitting on the edge of my bed, pushing me over a bit. “Come on now, two heads are better than one right? I’ll draw up a plan.”
The mattress felt a little lighter, signaling to me that Lily had gone off for a second. Lifting my head up I saw her excitedly coming back from her bed, quill and parchment in hand.
“Right. If we both work properly we can have the entire seventh and sixth floors covered within two days. We’ll have to go in shifts to cover them as well, in case they try to change it. I’ll scour the west side then—”
“The entire west side?”
“Not of the castle, Raye, look at the diagram,” was the snippy and impatient reply. I looked in wonder at a rather accurate and neat map of seventh floor, with several of the more important locations labeled, that she must have drawn within a minute. My respect for her had increased considerably as I realized how often this had become routine for her—drawing up maps and forging what sounded like military plans worthy of the sodding Roman army.
“If we increase our numbers, we’ll have our best chance…”
Sorry, strike that last—the Russian army is more like it.
“Emmeline would do it, but if Dorcas is tired, well I still have that honeydukes chocolate left…”
I had tolerated it for a few minutes (well it’s still entertaining, insane or not) but once she had begun talking about rationing food during our shifts, I decided it was time to step in.
“Lily, if you’d like, I could always, you know…just ask. Usually if I bother James enough he’ll just get tired and bored and tell me what he’s done or where he’s hidden whatever. It might save us time and resources.” (Hah—and Lily thought she could be reasonable and level headed!)
Lily pulled a thoughtful look as she considered the idea. I shifted my gaze towards the ground. “A lot less thrilling, I know…” I mumbled to myself under my breath, only to receive a sharp elbow to my side as Lily’s ears (they’re as powerful as a hawk’s, I tell you) picked up on my mocking tone.
“Fine. But if I don’t have them back within two days, we’re going with my plan. And I’m not going to over work the house-elves or anything because we’re unprepared, so before your idea fails start stocking up on food, yeah?”
All the confidence she has in me—it’s touching, really.
“Er… In the meantime—have they spared your socks?”
Lily and I were sitting at the fire, talking softly whenever we felt bored with the silence but for the most part simply lounging together. Neither Dorcas nor Emmeline had come to the common room since I’ve come back and it was making both Lily and me rather annoyed, and a tad worried. After exchanging few casual talks (we had run through my day with Fabian, her sweeping of the boys’ rooms, and some other things) she had moved on to interrogate me about my work. Learning I had half left of the Potions essay she promptly marched me up the stairs and made me finish it.
An hour later, we both reentered the common room. We were relaxing near the fire, taking advantage of the completely empty common room. Most people, it seemed, were either in their dorm rooms or wandering around the castle somewhere with their friends. After fifteen minutes of silence we had decided to play a game of exploding snap, and periodically stopped the game (with a charm) when we felt bored.
“Should we clean that up?”
“I want to clean that up.”
“No you don’t.”
“Yeah, I—do…” I trailed off when I caught Lily’s tired gaze.
“No, you don’t,” she replied firmly.
I know, and hard though it is to believe, our conversations really are always that stimulating and thought-provoking. I don’t know how, it must be a gift. How else would those witty and clever remarks rise to our throats so easily and quickly?
Suddenly, both Lily and I sat upright, deadly alert as Emmeline and Dorcas ran wildly into the room, both looking as if they could collapse any second. I stood up, a right formidable glare on my face.
“And just where have you two been? Honestly—so inconsiderate—we’ve been worried sick—”
“Yeah, I can see that,” Dorcas interrupted in a misbelieving tone. She sneered a tad as she looked at the leftovers from the exploding snap and the blanket on the sofa that I had brought down earlier to keep myself warm. Well. Heaven forbid I distract myself from intense worries, because Dorcas doesn’t seem to approve.
“What happened to you lot?” Lily questioned. She was standing up as well, looking a bit worried and more than a bit curious.
Emmeline, who was far worse off than Dorcas it seemed, heaved out an answer.
“We—great hall—pricks—ran—hide,” she finished, still doubled over. Her head drooped towards her knees, that were bent as well, and her hands looked glued to their place just above the knees.
“Ah, understood,” I muttered softly, looking off at the distant as I waited for Emmeline to properly tell us. “What a coherent, detailed explanation of the story.”
“Well, my—aren’t we—clever—prat—” Emmeline wheezed again, giving me a small glower and she collapsed on the sofa near me. Apparently being fit to collapse couldn’t stop her from calling me names. I stuck my tongue out at her.
Finally, after five minutes of heavy breathing and an excellent utilization of yoga (Dorcas is an experienced one), we had all gone up to our dorm room where Dor and Em could tell us the events that had just happened. We had awkwardly greeted Mora, who took one look at the top two buttons on my shirt, which I had unbuttoned after the temperature had shot through the roof about twenty minutes ago (I don’t know why the thought of taking off that blanket hadn’t occurred to me) and merely sniffed haughtily and turned away from my heathen self.
I felt dirty.
Buttoning up the two buttons hurriedly, I turned to Em and Dor as Lily had quickly uttered a spell so Mora wouldn’t hear what we were saying.
Emmeline gave me a slightly guilt look before starting.
“Well…alright. So I had ran into Potter and Black earlier and…they’d asked about something, and I wasn’t thinking straight you know; I hadn’t had much to eat lately, and I don’t think I’ve reached my vitamin C quota in three days, so—”
“Emmeline accidentally helped James and Sirius get up the stairs where they stole your clothes Raye,” Dorcas explained, already impatient with Emmeline.
“So she felt guilty and went around the castle looking for them but she wanted my help, and I, naturally, refused but she brought a Honeydukes with her so I said alright,” she shrugged, as if modestly accepting her own willingness to be bribed under the pretense of ‘help’. “But we never found it so I dragged her over to you where you can, you know, hex and be angry and all that.”
I stole a glance at Lily, who was staring keenly at the two traitors before us. Or traitor and accomplice, I suppose.
“Well did you search in an organized manner or merely investigate every other room?” Lily asked immediately.
“…I really ought to find new friends,” I said levelly, ignoring the wounded looks of Emmeline and the punch from Dorcas. Lily merely nodded sympathetically.
“The Hufflepuffs are a good bunch.”
After forgiving Emmeline (it was an accident, after all) and finishing her honeydukes bar that Dorcas hadn’t gotten to, Lily and I told them they could help us look in a couple of days if my plan fails. That was around the scene I first remembered when I had gotten out of bed on Sunday and realized I only had two days to get my and Lily’s clothes back before Miss Mussolini-in-Training would take reigns over the affair.
After putting it off for about four hours, during which I talked with Dorcas about which honeydukes chocolate bars are the best tasting (she prefers dark chocolate while I’m a strict advocate for milk, which causes many disagreements in our lives) among other things, I had gotten off my arse at around one and made my way to the boys’ dorms. Opening the door loudly to bring attention to my presence, I strode in purposefully curiously sweeping the room to see who would be inside.
“By all means, waltz right in…it’s not as if knocking is a common courtesy anymore…”
I smiled as sincerely as possible at James for his welcoming. He, Sirius, Remus, and Peter were all sitting in a circle in the center of the room, a pack of muggle playing cards in Sirius’ hands. So this is how they spend their weekends. James, Sirius, and Peter were all still clad in their pajamas, which prompted me to congratulate Peter’s choice silently in my head. After all, plaid and beige bottoms (that belonged to James and Sirius, respectively) were no match for the flamboyant, bright, multicolored polka-dotted set that was hanging loosely over Peter’s body. They looked nice and cheerful, and, I very much appreciated his choice of shirt. Or choosing to don one, at least (which was more than I could say for James or Sirius).
“I know we’re gorgeous Hughes, but if you’re going to stare this long I’m afraid we’ll have to start issuing a three-galleon fee.”
I gave Sirius a huge, vibrant, utterly fake grin in return.
“Sirius, forgive me for being so forward but would you mind if I took a picture of you? Only I’ll need it complete my shrine, where I’ll spend every day praying and hoping to be blessed with cleverness and generosity to rival your own,” I said in a false and breathless voice. I switched back to my normal voice before continuing. “Or you could, you know, sod off.”
“What do you want Raye,” James asked tiredly, presumably cutting in before Sirius, who looked ready to speak, could open his mouth.
“My clothes, you prat,” I said flatly, giving him a look that said clearly I had no idea why he’d bother to ask that pointless question.
“Oh—right,” he grinned, and turned his body to face me, putting his cards down for a second. “Would you like them back?”
“No James, I just came to congratulate you on your brilliance on thinking of such an original scheme.”
“I’m not hearing a yes,” he trilled, still looking ecstatic at our situation. A smile had suddenly pulled at my lips but I suppressed it quickly—or attempted to, anyway. I noticed James’ eyes glint a bit as he caught my near-expression and quickly covered it up with a remark.
“Well what do you think, you wanker? Yes, I’d like them back.”
“Cor, a bit stroppy today, aren’t you?” he asked, looking nothing short of thrilled as I gave him a glare. His hazel eyes twinkled as he continued. “Sorry coz, but I’m not giving a single skirt back until you have a good chat with me.”
I narrowed my eyes and repressed the softening of my glare, which I knew he saw the instant he looked over at me. It had been a long time since I’ve talked to him, and I knew that as well as he did, and despite my anger, I missed him. He was my cousin, and I could only spend so long without saying a word to him. And it looks like a month was dangerously nearing the close—as it should. In all honesty, I’m still surprised that I got past two days.
Besides, Lily in her post-World-War-One Mussolini impression was not enjoyable to have around, unless you’re armed with heavy liquor or relentless boredom.
“Yeah fine,” I deadpanned. “When and where?” I asked with a small smile on my face that I didn’t have the ability to keep down.
“Don’t look so ecstatic Raye, or I’ll think you’ll want to talk to me again and won’t bother with the clothes-retrieving.”
I didn’t have to glance for a second to know the smug, yet somehow endearing expression that would inhabit my cousin’s dear face. Rolling my eyes and replacing my smile with a scowl in an instant I replied with a cross expression.
“Shut it. Tell me when and where, Potter, or I’ll change my mind.”
And without another word, my cousin leaped off his feet and went to supposedly grab some clothes.
“I know you tossers have already seen my cards so no inhibitions in continuing your game, just redistribute,” he called unnecessarily as he began to pull his pants on. I watched as Remus, who had already begun to mix James’ cards back into the deck, mumble an affirmative. After pulling a shirt over his head hurriedly, his appearance as ruffled as ever, he made his way over to the door, closing it quickly after raising his hand to signal to his friends he’d be going.
“Ready?” he grinned lopsidedly, his hand running through his hair—a sure sign he was nervous, flirting, or simply preening himself. Considering we shared a grandmother (and James wasn’t really the creepy, incest type, thank Merlin—I know Sirius wasn’t quite as lucky with his extended family) I assumed it was the uneasy, nervousness that inspired the gesture.
James looked pleasant but still rather uncomfortable as he strolled outside with me, bringing me to a large tree near the lake where we could have a nice chat without being overheard by anyone. It was like a known fact that no one ever occupied the large tree besides the lake—it was pretty much owned by James and his lot. If the courtyard was sans-Marauders, then the spot was available for use. The moment their godly feet step foot on the ground, however, it would be vacated within minutes.
I kind of wish I had that kind of power.
After a few moments of absolute silence I found myself getting a tad annoyed. I knew he’d make it so easy for me to forgive him if I talk to him—that was mostly why I had avoided him so much for the summer and since school was in session. And now, I talk to him for over five minutes for maybe the third time since last year and he’s already well on his way for earning my forgiveness.
It wasn’t just irritating—it was bloody infuriating.
“Well, are you going to say anything or should we fast forward to the part where I leave?” I snap, sitting myself down angrily once we reached the tree.
“Give me a moment, Raye, I’m still trying to figure out what to say,” he said, a definite edge in his voice. “I thought you wouldn’t come for at least another day…”
“Yeah, well if you were a day away from the wrath of Mussolily, you wouldn’t waste a second either,” I muttered underneath my breath. He gave me a confused look for a second before shrugging to himself. He went back into his thoughts for another minute and, just as I was about to get up and leave, he finally spoke.
“I don’t know why you’re so angry with me Raye, but—”
“What? Did you really just say that?” I interrupted hotly, about ready to take the wand he was so casually spinning with his hand and shove it up his arse.
“Well nothing happened!” he exclaimed. “Nothing happen that was significant, it was as if you just decided plain one day that you were going to be a stroppy mare and ignore me!”
“I—that’s not what happened at all James, you’re just too thick-headed to realize!”
“Then what did I do?” he persisted finally, practically pleading at this point.
“You didn’t do anything differently James, but that was it! You did what you always did and that was more than enough to piss me off and the moment you pull your head out of your arse and realize that I’ll forgive you,” I cried hurriedly, now rather upset.
“Look, I just want to draw a truce, alright?” he exclaimed, putting his hands up to signal that he wasn’t looking for another spar. I narrowed my eyes dangerously and thought it over in my hand.
On the one hand, he is a prat.
But on the other hand, he’s my cousin, and I’ve ignored him for a full month. Surely that’s punishment enough?
But still—he is a prat, and a prat that deserved that month fully. Come to think of it he deserves sixteen years of it for full retribution. Or maybe eleven years; he was alright until he turned seven, really.
On the other—I stopped that train of thought once I felt an urge to shout ‘Tzeitel, no!’ itching my throat. Emmeline’s obsession with musicals was really taking a toll on me.
“I swear, I’m sorry,” he dug further, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to refuse, hazel eyes shining brightly with both happiness and an annoying satisfaction.
“Partial truce,” I said finally, taking a good amount of pleasure as I watched his face fall. I know—I’m a hag, but I had to prove that I wasn’t so ready to lie down and have him tread all over my body again. The muscles around my abdominal region are still recovering from the weight, sorry. He’ll just have to squash my fingers for the time being.
Suddenly, he thrust his hand forward and sported a large grin on his face.
“Fine, then. Partial truce. But that means you’ll have to start talking to me again.”
“And you’ll have to go away if I say so. And no pranks on me, or my friends. And Sirius or Remus or Peter can’t either.”
“I can promise you but your friends are a little…” he trailed when he caught my meaningful expression. “Yeah, that’s fine,” he corrected himself hastily. “But Lily won’t get her clothes back.”
“You declared partial, Raye.”
I hated that smug grin of his.
“So, no skirt-retrieving. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a prank to redirect. And I do recall Snivellus being rather nasty to a fourth year today, so…” He winked as he sent me what I’m sure he perceived as a fetching, gallant look as he brought himself off the ground and dusted himself off. Pansy. “By the way, your clothes are back in your closet. I charmed them back after you came into my dorm.”
“He wouldn’t give them back?”
I gave Dorcas an empathetic response as I shook my head. By now, I could care little about my clothes as I dreaded the coming week. Lily was demanding enough and reasonable enough when she was in her right state of mind. When her Potter-drive kicked in, she bloody transformed.
Into Mussolily. Her totalitarian and overly determined ‘for the greater good’ alter-ego. It wasn’t just odd, it was ruddy scary as hell.
“Have you told her that she could easily charm mine or Emmeline’s clothes to fit her?”
“Yeah. She was having none of it—went on about the principle of it or something…” I spoke resignedly.
I was sprawled across the tiny couch we had in the dormitory. We had both decided to stay in today; the heat outside was, for me, less than appealing because I had more than my fair share of sun during the summer and was getting sick of the weather. I had yet to change out of the clothes I threw on early morning, which consisted of fairly-fitted sweats and a large sweatshirt. It was hardly appealing, but there was no competition when it came to comfort.
Dorcas, on the other hand, was wearing a pair of plaid pajamas that were slightly too small for her as they were mine. She refused to take a step out of our dorms until she had gotten more clothes to wear. She quite enjoyed the heat and would happily have gone outside to lounge in the sun if it wasn’t for the fact that James had decided he was comfortable enough with his sleep wear it down to breakfast. This became a problem for Dorcas, because my pajamas were exactly the same kind—my mum and aunt had bought them together, thinking it would be adorable if I matched with James.
When I found her in the morning, looking surly and refusing to get off of her bed and clad in my favorite pair of pajamas, I had only received three words of explanation.
“Mussolily has them.”
I suppose any other person who was more used to having saner friends with more consistent personalities would have inquired why at that point, but I rarely bothered anymore. It had become routine when Lily entered into Mussolily to simply expect the odd and seemingly completely unnecessary because if she continued to act reasonable in any way, she wouldn’t be Mussolily. A reasonable Mussolily was an oxymoron.
I sighed after a moment of silence, feeling extremely annoyed with the lack of activity in the common room.
“Where is everyone?” I asked rather loudly, feeling the need to fill the silence with something.
“Outside. Where it’s warm and nice and pleasant.”
“Ah.” I paused. “You know Dorcas, talking with you is probably the most uplifting experience I’ve ever had.”
“See? I’d ask how you maintain such a thoroughly cheery disposition but—sorry,” I finished hastily when I received a look from her. It wasn’t just a look, it was the Look. She wouldn’t glare or even narrow her eyes—she’d just look, her face incredibly expressionless yet stern. There would be a little glint in her eye that you’d barely catch, and you’d understand; the Look would have a message.
Sometimes it was ‘stop right now and I won’t dismember you painfully slowly with my fingernails’ and other times it was ‘stop now and I’ll dismember you slightly less painfully slowly with my fingernails’. I had gotten the latter. Squirming uncomfortably, I gave her a minute of silence to appease her before piping up again.
“I’m so bored Dorcas. All my homework is finished and I have nothing to do. Where’s Emmeline?”
I groaned very, very loudly and had a fit as I slammed my elbow down on the couch and kicked. I then rolled over and thrashed around on the couch in annoyance before rolling off it and calming down within seconds.
“I don’t know why I associate myself with you,” Dorcas said plaintively, quirking an eyebrow but smiling. “But, seeing as you obviously are at the end of your short, short tether and are still climbing downwards, I’ll help you out of pity.”
“Your kindness, it overwhelms me.”
“Here, hand me that invisibility cloak and get in.”
She heaved herself off the bed and stretched before combing her hair through once. She gave me a grin once she got inside and motioned me to join her.
“Where are we going?” I asked her, glancing at the clock. It was about half past two and lunch had been over a while ago, though neither Dorcas nor I had attended. I really hoped we would stop at the kitchens.
I knew I always gave Dorcas a hard time, but really, there was a reason she was one of my best mates. She actually was my best mate—I relied on her more than I did on Emmeline or Lily, who were both closer to each other as well. It was a slight difference, because I’d honestly trust them all with my life, but Dorcas and I had something that I loved. She was the person who I would tell first about everything, and I held that position over her as well. We were inseparable since our third year, and our group since second.
She was stubborn, level-headed, secretly incredibly sweet, intelligent, and a downright cow at times. I was quick-tempered, hyperactive, irresponsible and lacking of a moral compass. It was a match made in heaven. We were comfortable enough with each other for complete honesty, and the largest difference between us and Lily and Emmeline was simply that I reached that point with Dorcas about two years sooner.
And though we both gave each other a hard time, we didn’t mind. If she started to be consistently overly-nice to me—well, then I’d be afraid.
“I love you Dorcas Meadowes. With all of my heart.”
I meant it. I really did. The girl earned my love when she whisked me away from the confines of the dormitory and took me to the kitchens.
“I know,” she grinned. She reached over to my plate with her fork and scooped about half of my treacle tart and then managed to fit the entire thing into her mouth. I glared at her as she finished chewing and then swallowed, before sending me a bright grin.
“I take that back,” I said.
“I don’t mind. It was worth it.”
Laughing, I reached over and attacked her own plate of apple pie with my fork which she fended off.
“No, you ate all of mine!” I exclaimed, still trying to reach her plate with my fork.
“There’s still half left you cow—”
“Well I’ll leave you half then too—”
“No, just get off—OI!”
I grinned triumphantly as I finally reached her plate, taking a hold of the entire thing and then retreating back to my seat, where I quickly ate a giant spoonful of her desert. She grumbled and reached over the table to grab her food again, taking it back quickly when I went back to my treacle tart. Suddenly, I heard four loud, rather obnoxious voices reach my ear.
“Oi, it’s not my bloody fault! I left it with wormtail, I told you!” I easily recognized James’ voice and frowned. He and his friends rarely argued with each other.
“Prongs we spent this entire bloody year working on it and you have to take it up to the girls’ dormitories—”
“I told you I left it with wormtail, I swear!”
“But you took it back from me just yesterday, remember? When you wanted to see where Raye was before—”
“Everyone calm down. Prongs, you probably left it in their dormitory when you were stalking Lily or irritating Raye or doing whatever you like to do. They’re all probably off somewhere else now and we can’t risk going up until the night, so just keep quiet and we’ll get it then,” I just recognized the placating and slightly weary tone of Remus before I threw the cloak over myself and Dorcas, wide eyed, threw herself underneath the table.
I took out my wand and tapped the dessert plates quickly, sending them back to the cleaning section of the kitchens and reminded myself to thank the house-elves later. I withdrew my wand back inside the cloak just as James, Sirius and the entire bloody crew had waltzed in dramatically, the portrait door closing behind them. Forgetting that I was donning the invisibility cloak, I lunged underneath the table as well, where Dorcas sat, pushed up against a side.
She slowly crawled over to me and we both tried to fit ourselves inside the cloak, ignoring the conversations of my cousin and his friends. I quirked my head towards the side of the table where there were less legs swinging down and we nodded. Slowly and cautiously, we crawled out from underneath the table and reached the portrait hole when we both stopped.
How could we get out without them knowing that we were here?
I turned to Dorcas and she shrugged. Stepping out of the cloak, much to my annoyance, she revealed herself and it took a moment for Remus to notice with a jump.
“Emmeline and I were just leaving,” she shrugged. “But I need dessert.”
Without warning, she called the house-elves and asked sweetly to pack two servings of treacle tart and apple pie. As they wrapped them up for her and she thanked them profusely, I looked to find James and Sirius looking surprised, though Remus seemed comfortable enough. Peter merely turned back to his cake, not very concerned about Dorcas’ sudden appearance. There was an awkward silence as no one in the room knew quite what to say.
Honestly, I couldn’t blame them. If I were simply eating with my friends only for someone to materialize out of thin air and then act all casual about it, I’d be confused as well.
“How do you know about the kitchens? And—you have my cloak!” James suddenly exclaimed looking confused, irritated, and now triumphant.
“Raye told me. And it’s not all that hard to figure out either. And yes, Sherlock, I do. You’ll get it back later so don’t make a fuss.”
She smiled at the house-elves and simply waved to them as she exited, calling out a “C’mon Em” before she left. Furrowing my eyebrows, I left behind her and we closed the portrait hole. I saw Dor scowl and glare when my cousin yelled something about pajamas as she left, and I held in a laugh. We both got underneath the cloak and about ran back to the dorms.
“That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” I said truthfully breathlessly.
“It worked didn’t it? We’re both out and they don’t know we heard about—whatever it was.”
I shrugged and set the cloak away in my closet, and searched the entire room for anything suspicious. But, after about a half hour of searching, we couldn’t find a thing that seemed the least bit suspicious. We were just about to quit when a disgruntled Emmeline had nearly collapsed at the doorway, where an alert Mussolily stepped through.
She nodded her head to Emmeline.
“I think she needs more exercise, Raye. What do you two even do in Quidditch practices?”
“Nothing compared to what you’ve done with her,” I muttered underneath my breath. Taking pity on my friend, I lifted myself off of the ground and walked over to Emmeline, dragging her to the little couch near the middle of the dormitory. Just as I hoisted her on top of it, I heard Dorcas explain to Lily what we were doing.
When I turned back to them I saw Lily grinning and asking about a hundred and one questions to Dorcas.
“Did you use the scopririo charm then?”
“We couldn’t we didn’t know what it was called,” Dor explained, though she trailed off when Lily shook her head. I shared a look with Emmeline; neither of us even knew what the charm did. I shrugged to her and we both turned back to Lily.
“Sometimes you two loose all sense,” she said bemusedly. “What is it your cousin and his friends call themselves again, Raye?”
“Er—it’s ‘Marauders’,” I told her, a bit confused as to where this was heading.
Lily brought out her wand confidently flicked her wrist a bit. Then, she opened her mouth and spoke clearly.
“Scopririo Marauder,” she said. Nothing happened. She furrowed her eyebrows. “Scopririo Marauders,” she said, this time replacing ‘Marauder’ with ‘Marauders’ to be inclusive. A small piece of parchment flew gracefully towards her hand, and she gave us a smile.
“It finds lost items,” she said. “You only have to say who the item belonged to and everything they lost that’s relatively nearby flies over to you.”
“Wow,” I said, looking rightly impressed. “We haven’t learned that one.”
“No,” she admitted. “But I looked through extra charm books over the holidays. I was bored,” she shrugged. “It’s not like I talk to very many there, do I? And I owled Dorcas to ask for some books and she came over one day and we looked through some together.” I nodded.
“Useful,” I grinned, and for once I meant it.
Once Emmeline had regained her strength (“What did you do to her?” Dorcas had demanded when Emmeline struggled to support herself when she tried to stand, only to have her knees buckle) we had all gathered around my bed and drew the hangings closed. Lily ignored the question.
“What do you think it is?” Lily had whispered conversationally, staring eagerly at the parchment before us.
“Maybe it has a list of spells—you know, things that no one else really know and is key to all their pranks,” Emmeline looked thrilled at the prospect; she and I were by far the most mischievous in our group, and though we were nothing compared to the ‘Marauders’, we could hold our own rather well.
“Or it could just be terribly embarrassing secrets,” Dorcas shrugged.
Lily, Emmeline, and I all turned our heads to give Dorcas a pointed look.
“That’s really the best you can come up?” I said scornfully. “Come on Dor—you heard how frantic they were! All for mere embarrassing secrets we could probably find out if we shoved Lily in a room with James? How unoriginal.”
Dorcas glared at me and gave me a shove.
“Pardon me for being realistic,” she muttered sulkily. “But really, what else can they do with a piece of parchment?”
All of us realized the truth in that statement and we deflated. I shoved Dorcas angrily again and then aimed a kick at her shin.
“Way to destroy our mood,” I grumbled. “Realist.”
I meant that as an insult, but as I only received odd looks I guessed that no one else thought of it as one. Before I could clarify my meaning however, Emmeline rushed us to open it. She nudged my foot and motioned to the thick, folded parchment.
“Well, open it!” she demanded, gesturing wildly to the object before me. Giving her an incredulous look I shook my head.
“Do I look like an idiot? It’s James’ work, I’m not touching it. You touch it, Dorcas.”
“Me? Fat bloody chance—I like my hands, Raye. And who would pose for your sketches in class if I’m blown to bits from some shoddy curse?”
“She has a point,” I said levelly. We all turned to Lily. “I’m afraid you don’t pose for me, Lily. Open the parchment.”
We all stared expectantly as she snorted. “And why can’t you do it?” All three heads turned to me.
“Well, who would sketch Dorcas?” When they all didn’t change their skeptical look I explained. “It sounds ridiculous, but it’s not really.”
It was ridiculous, actually. The only person who enjoyed my artwork was my mother—and that was because she painted herself. I usually had to prod my friends until they’d give it a second’s glance before muttering a half-hearted ‘wow, great Raye’ and then turning back to their own business. But there was no way I was touching an object that the four, teenaged, prank-crazy males made—four, teenaged, prank-crazy males who call themselves the Marauders, at that. Obviously, they can’t be all that right in the head.
“Oh this is ridiculous,” Dorcas piped up. “They like to prank, but it’s not as if they place curses on their work. And they didn’t even leave it on purpose so it’s not as if they placed curses on it beforehand—”
“Oh!” I exclaimed. “I bet they did do this all on purpose—”
“That’s ridiculous; they had no idea where they were. Besides, they’re not even smart enough to place that bad a curse on it. Now open it Raye,” Dorcas finished sternly.
“Me? If it’s so harmless, why can’t you do it?”
“Because it’s harmless, so you can!”
“That makes no sense!”
“Oh—oh, honestly,” Dorcas huffed. With slight hesitation, she reached her hand forward and flicked open the parchment. It was blank. Almost comically, all four of us bowed our heads further to watch the parchment, waiting for some explosion, or something equally theatrical. After waiting for about three minutes, we all reclined back on the bed, the disappointment apparent in every body.
“How terribly anticlimactic,” I spoke in a resigned voice.
“It must have something,” Lily muttered, freely touching the parchment and looking rather depressed. “I was so sure this would be an excellent bargaining chip…”
Emmeline took the parchment from Lily.
“It will have something,” she said confidently. “They’re the Marauders, and its way too unlikely that they planted this. And because it belongs to them it’ll have some trick to it,” she reasoned. Bringing her wand out from her robes, she made a few swishes before tapping the wand, and muttering charms underneath her breath.
“Still nothing,” I groaned after Emmeline failed for about the sixth time.
Lily took the parchment back and did a few more complicated charm-work on her own. All of our breaths about halted as we watched her; we all had our strength in subjects, and Lily reigned the charms department. After five minutes, all four of us were looking incredibly dejected.
“Well that’s plan one shot to hell,” Lily said. She played around with her hair, not looking at anything in particular.
“Let’s hide it,” I said. “They’ll probably come looking for it—”
“Of course!” Lily exclaimed. “We don’t need to know what it is—we just need it—”
“No, I’m curious!” I whined, as if that settled everything. Just as Lily and I prepared to head into a debate, Emmeline cut us off.
“I can’t believe we missed it,” she said underneath her breath. We all snapped to the parchment, scouring it for signs of—well anything—thinking that was what Emmeline was talking about before she hastened to explain.
“No—I just mean I know what to do. Look, we simply duplicate this parchment, and hand it to them like a bargaining chip. And then someone can follow them in the cloak and see what they do with it. They’ll have to reveal whatever it does somehow to check if we’ve gave them the legitimate thing; surely they know that a parchment isn’t hard to replicate.”
We all considered it. Finally, we decided that would be the best course of action at this point.
“Right,” I said decidedly. “We should start tomorrow then; I’m done the day.”
There were immediate protests at my statement, but I tried to quell them.
“I’ve been at this for at least two hours! And I’m hungry…”
I walked resignedly down to dinner, feeling rather foolish at what I was about to do. It was a bit late to head down now and most people had left, having eaten their full already. There were only about fifteen or so people still present once I arrived, which I suppose helped—though the busier it was, the better most likely. It was unfortunately rather quiet, except for the small gathering at the Ravenclaw table that was making a bit of a racket.
“Alright, quickly load the food and leave,” I muttered underneath my breath as I gained upon the Gryffindor table. Once I reached it, I grabbed a few napkins and began piling a criminally large amount of food atop it. Ignoring the eyebrow-raises I received from my classmates, I tried to find a way to balance all the food on the napkin. Finally, I deserted my attempts to balance it, and simply stacked various food trays atop a giant platter, that was filled with sweets only a minute ago. Just as I thought to myself about how I would explain this somewhat awkward situation, I heard someone calling my name. Brilliant, really.
“Oi, Raye!” I turned to see a grinning Fabian advancing upon me. When he came closer and saw what I was doing, he quirked an eyebrow and gave me a grin.
“Hungry, are you?”
I rolled my eyes, but I couldn’t help but return his smile.
“Actually I’m trying to heave as much food as possible back to the dorms for three other people—all of whom eat enough on a daily basis to feed a small country. What are you still doing here?”
He shrugged. “My friends don’t seem to want to leave yet. But you know that when everything disappears, the trays will go with it? Why don’t you just go down to the kitchens and grab some food?”
What a sensible lad. This was why I liked him. I nodded to him and accepted his idea, and asked if he’d like to accompany me, to which he replied an affirmative. We walked down to the kitchens comfortably, walking a tad closer to each other than was really necessary.
“So why are you lot eating there then?” he asked conversationally. I searched for an appropriate answer.
“Well…I can’t really say, but we sort of found something and we’re trying to—er—analyze it…” I finished weakly. I really hoped he wouldn’t pry further; Fabian was definitely inquisitive and not knowing something about his closer mates would irritate him.
Surprisingly, he shrugged and assured me it’s alright. We continued to have a light discussion as we entered the kitchens, to find James and his crew situated at the small table.
“Do you never leave?” I asked bewilderedly once I found them there. At about the same time, James had shouted as well.
“Do you show everyone this place?”
We both stopped. “Everyone already knows about the kitchens, you prat,” I rolled my eyes. He narrowed his eyes at my response and looked about to say something when he stopped abruptly, and stared at me and Fabian suspiciously.
“Why are you two walking together?” he demanded, giving Fabian a look one might give a rather filthy and unwelcome houseguest, who left tracks coming into said home. Fabian fidgeted behind me uncomfortably.
“What, can’t someone accompany me to the kitchens?”
“He’s not someone, he’s some bloke.”
Apparently, being a person and being a male were mutually exclusively. I didn’t say anything immediately, but when I thought about it, I realized that actually made quite a bit of sense. But because I didn’t want to scare Fabian away (as he was, after all, of the male variety and probably wouldn’t appreciate me insinuating that he was subhuman) and so I gave James my signature ‘Wow, you’re an idiot’ look.
“It must be so tiresome to be you,” I said finally, before turning to face Fabian. “Don’t mind him Fabe, he’s just never been right ever since Aunt Liz dropped him on the wood floor. You know—mental effects…”
And, ignoring their protests and Sirius’ glare (which he had a habit of giving me every time I stepped into view) I strode past them and requested the house-elves to fix something for four to go, apologizing and thanking them profusely afterward. When I turned back to my ‘company’ I found him having a pleasant discussion with Remus, while James and Sirius snuck looks at him at intervals of their own private conversation.
“Er—ready to go?” I asked awkwardly, lifting my bag full of food and motioning to the portrait hole. He smiled and nodded and said his goodbyes to Remus and then to Peter, James, and Sirius, who gave him half-hearted replies. Tugging on his arm with my free hand I tried to get him out as soon as possible, before James decides to delve into his overprotective mode.
“Is he always that—”
“Yeah,” I said honestly, knowing immediately who and what he was speaking of. “He sometimes gets stuck in this odd 1930s, strong-man-protects-weak-woman world where he sees every male that communicates with a girl he has strong feelings for like a predator eyeing a prey,” I explained to him before shrugging. “And seeing as I’m his cousin I fall into that category. Doesn’t matter if you’re a friend or anything, he’s weird like that…” I trailed off uneasily, hoping he would move on to a different subject.
Why did James have to act as if Fabian was my bloke instead of just a bloke? It made things very, very awkward and it made me rather self-conscious as I walked next to him. I could feel a blush enter my cheeks after I finished my explanation and looked away, hoping he wouldn’t catch my face until I resemble a tomato considerably less. I felt my heart thump a little bit faster in my chest when I imagined what he was thinking…
We just reached the entrance to my common room. Letting out a breath I had no idea I was holding, I turned around and smiled.
“See you Fabian,” I said before I met his eyes. I stopped before I said the password, noticing him stare keenly at me, unabashed and looking straight unaware that he was doing so. I was nearly going to ask whether he felt alright, but cut off my words before the formed on my tongue when I saw him step closer.
Oh—did I know what was about to happen? Because it felt a rather lot like he would—
All thoughts flew out of my head when he softly pressed his lips onto mine briefly, his hand resting behind my neck. My eyes fluttered clothes and I leaned into him without a second thought, returning the kiss and resting a hand on his shoulder. Before I knew it, he stepped back and smiled pleasantly, still staring at me keenly.
“See you Raye,” he said simply, before turning on his heal.
I stared at him, dumbfounded, as he left, a blush reentering my cheeks as I processed what happened. I grinned stupidly once he turned the corner and turned around, before stopping dead when I saw a pair of grey eyes staring hauntingly into mine, an indescribable emotion shrouding them. Furrowing my eyebrows in wonder I stared back for a second before realizing who it was.
Chapter 5: I Will Not Have You Courting In Public, Please
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I approached Sirius nervously, unsure of what to say without sounding like an idiot. I didn’t mind that he saw it; it was only an innocent kiss after all, but I didn’t want him to mention this offhandedly to James, especially since I told my cousin plainly that we were only friends. My cousin wasn’t nearly as overprotective as people thought—he just needed to be eased into the idea of me having sexual relations with anyone. He wouldn’t kill the bloke or anything, but he would have a frosty demeanor towards him, and not to mention that Fabian’s chances of being subject to a prank by James would probably increase tenfold.
Constant public humiliation could become something of a deal breaker, unfortunately.
“Uh—don’t tell James,” I said flatly once I approached him. “I know it’s an odd request, but you know how weird he gets.”
I really hoped he would forget that we were barely on speaking terms, let alone at a stage where we would keep secrets for the other. Unfortunately, that very thought seemed to enter him at that moment, when that mysterious expression disappeared on his face to be replaced with a devilish smirk. I really hated that smirk. It was that smirk too. The one that said clearly that he was going to say something that would make me really, really want to maim him with the nearest pointy object but he would say it anyway.
What a wanker.
“See, Hughes, I could just forget I saw anything and spare you some uncomfortable situations with your cousin and Prewitt….or I could go back and tell James all about how you two were mauling each other in the corridors with no respect for decency. Which do you think I should do?”
I gritted my teeth. “The former.”
“Alright then, the latter it is,” he spoke, pausing for a second when his smirk deepened. “I’ll see you later, Hughes.”
He had better thanked Merlin and all else that there were no lethal weapons in my ten-foot radius.
I trudged up to the dorm room rather happily; thoughts of Sirius already out of my mind. After a few moments of worrying I finally decided that if I simply give James a stern glare he’ll back off quickly enough. He really wasn’t an overprotective maniac—but his lack of tact combined with his rashness and ego deserves some recognition, after all.
That said I had about eleven years of dealing with his ego and rashness and lack of tact so I’m fairly confident he’ll back off.
“Well that certainly took you long enough.”
“I’m absolutely starving did you really have to take so long?”
Emmeline scrambled off her bed and ran over to me, stumbling along the way as she tripped over her own feet in her haste. Predictably, that last somewhat dimwitted exclamation had come from her mouth. When she reached me, she just about grabbed the food from my hands and ran back to her bed, where everyone was now gathered. All three dove into the food without wasting another second, none bothering to look at me long enough to realize that I had something to tell them (which, if they saw me, they definitely would have figured out considering the stupid expression I had on my face).
It was times like these that got me wondering why I never choose different friends.
My eyes strayed towards Mora’s bed for a split second where I found her carefully applying some sort of anti-bacterial on her little finger—for no apparent reason why, as there was no cut. I debated whether or not to approach her when she glanced up and caught my gaze. It wasn’t even a second before her eyes narrowed and she turned up her nose haughtily before turning back to massaging her finger.
So. That must be why I was stuck with those idiots. Terrific.
“So what took you so long anyway?”
I grinned stupidly at Dorcas. The moment she caught my expression, she made herself comfortable on Emmeline’s bed and gave me an excited smile; she loved to hear stories. Well, gossip was more like it. It was funny; as intelligent and mature as she was, when it came to gossip she was hardly any better than a third year. Lily and Emmeline both caught Dorcas’ expression and turned to me quickly, realizing something was up.
“What happened?” Lily asked sharply.
“I ran into Fabian.”
Dorcas rolled her eyes, already annoyed with my inevitable longwinded explanation of the event. She motioned for me to continue. Deciding to be irritating (just for the fun of it) I explained every moment in an excruciatingly detailed manner as possible, taking care to emphasize the minute details such as the pattern of my breathing and the pattern of the stone in the walls before I was bombarded with three pillows.
“OW! Oi—what did you put in here, you cows?”
I inspected one particularly painful pillow to find there were multiple, hard honeydukes chocolate bars inside a somewhat thin cover. I glared at Emmeline.
She shrugged and smiled.
“Well you were going too slow!”
Dorcas inspected the bag for a moment, her hazel eyes pouring over the varied flavors and types of the chocolate bars before eying Emmeline with a quirked eyebrow, giving her famous ‘really—why would you?’ trademark look.
“Really Em? Why on earth would you stuff a cover with chocolate bars? Don’t tell me you sleep on this!”
She looked cross at the thought. Probably because she tended to protest heatedly against mistreatment of the human body in anyway. Dor was an odd case. Growing up in the midst of countless magical psychiatrists really took a toll on her—though in the opposite way you’d assume. I always assumed that someone surrounded by (basically) the odd problems of humanity I would lose all faith and develop a few problems of my own. Dorcas had actually came from it with a relentless optimism for humankind and embracement of all flaws.
Like I said, she was always an odd case.
“No! It’s my chocolate pillow,” she grinned. “It’s quite useful. It’s uplifting to look at it. See?” She thrust the bag in the middle and practically shoved all of our heads into it. Lily shook her head.
“Death by chocolate,” she muttered, looking disbelievingly at the amount of chocolate Emmeline had hidden—and this wasn’t even the entirety of the stash.
“Uplifting right? All this chocolate, available for your dispense. Makes you want feel better.”
Without even looking up, I knew that Lily and Dorcas were both sharing looks at that statement. Nonetheless, I considered it as I stared into the bag. Closing my eyes and imaging myself in a bad mood, I opened them again to find myself in better spirits. Er—fake better spirits as I wasn’t really sad to begin with.
“I see what you mean,” I said evenly.
After a moment of silence, Dorcas broke it by inquiring about Fabian again and everyone snapped back to the story, their total attention focused on me. I recounted the story fully, leaving out very little, and at the end of it, Emmeline kept shoving me (supposedly out of endearment) and Lily and Dor were both looking quite ecstatic.
When I had told them specifically about how he kept staring at me before actually kissed me, Emmeline the Crazed Spastic seemed to snap and she punched me rather hard on my shoulder. I would have protested but I generally reacted the same way so I merely grinned at her.
“And Fabian’s so sweet!” Emmeline grinned. “I knew he was always half in love with you anyway—didn’t I tell you?”
She did. Multiple times. Probably once a day, at minimum. In fact, she would tell me and then she would proceed to try to convince me to return the feelings.
“Besides, why else would he put up with her?” Lily grinned. I smiled back.
“I don’t know—he would have to be an idiot to do so, right? What sort of pathetic person would really look to me for company without hidden sexual feelings?”
I glanced around the three girls that surrounded me pointedly.
I winced once I heard James bellow my name—in the middle of the Great Hall, no less. And as it was the proper time for breakfast on Monday mornings, there was a substantial crowd in the hall. Nearly collectively, the majority of people turned their heads to stare at me, most likely wondering what I did to make the James Potter displeased.
“Hey James,” I blushed and nervously looked around me for a second after James had come near me. “Did you really have to say that so loudly? It wasn’t exactly—”
“What’s this about you shagging that Prewitt bloke? And in public!”
He nearly shouted it, much to my displeasure. And anger. The anger was in hot pursuit in overshadowing my embarrassment actually, considering there were more than a few people in the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff table that no doubt heard, as many either snorted or looked up in curiosity.
Narrowing my eyes, I got off the seat and gave Dorcas a look that told her I’d be back soon. Grabbing a hold of James’ collar, I ignored his protests and about dragged him from the large room and into an empty corridor. I let go of him once we were a good distance away from the hall and I planted my hands on my hips.
“Firstly, if you ever shout something like that again so loudly in public, so help me, I will rip your tongue out of your mouth and shove it back down your throat and watch you choke on it,” I stated firmly. I was pleased when he looked uncomfortable at the statement. Prat.
“Second, don’t listen to your moronic friends. I was by no means shagging him, and even if I was, the so called public watching would consist of Sirius Black, aka the Moron Supreme. Fabian kissed me, and that was it. There was no ravishing of bodies or any other such lusty actions. In fact, I don’t even entirely know if he plans on doing it again. So don’t get your knickers in a twist, because you’ve done far worse and I’ve never gone after you for it, or your—er—partners.”
I paused and considered the statement. I had actually found it immensely disconcerting, back in fifth year about, when news of James exploits had finally reached my ears and I felt not only sick, but ready to perform said violent acts most thoroughly on the girl he had…consorted with. Well, I controlled myself so that last part was honest enough.
Giving James a confirming nod, I turned swiftly on my heal and then stood, rooted in place. Fabian stood there, and judging from the look on his face (slightly amused and more than a little smug—apparently, as sweet as he is, his body hadn’t managed to reject the male genes that produced such annoying results) had heard about everything that came out of my mouth.
In a moment, I really wished I hadn’t said that ravishing part. And the part about him doing it again was also better unsaid. In fact, this entire situation was really more or less embarrassing.
“Hi,” I said finally, shrugging and trying to seem casual about this whole thing. I hoped the blush that now graced my cheeks wouldn’t be noticed. “Er…did you hear about everything—”
“More or less,” he shrugged. He was looking at me, and barely spared a glance towards my cousin, I noticed, with a mixture of appreciation and annoyance. “By the way I do plan on doing it again,” he grinned shamelessly, and the blush immediately reddened on my face. “Many times, if—”
“Prewitt, do you even notice that I’m standing right here?” James growled. “Surprising thought it may be, I don’t really like to hear about what you’d like to do many times with my cousin.”
I elbowed James in the stomach.
“Don’t mind him,” I said brightly, taking small note to apologize to James later on. “You have potions first today, don’t you?”
Fabian and I walked back towards the Great Hall, and I grabbed James’ forearm and dragged him along, gripping it unnecessarily hard with my nails to give him a message. Though I knew James was much less than happy, I ignored his surly expressions as I chatted happily with Fabian, exchanging a few looks in the process. When I neared the Gryffindor table, I deposited James near his friends pointedly and then walked down to where Lily and Emmeline had joined Dorcas. When I seated myself down, I was surprised to see Fabian lower himself beside me. Well. Wasn’t he at ease? Not that I minded; actually I was enjoying this quite a bit.
“Well. Hello, Fabian,” Emmeline purred, looking absolutely delighted. “Did you see James yet?”
I really, really have no idea why I talk to that one in particular. I swear—Emmeline was blood-thirsty. Every time a whiff of a fight or anything equally violent shows on her radar she flocks to it. It was a bit scary at times, especially since she’s so lacking of inhibitions. It was like she was proud that she was so desensitized and sadistic.
“Yeah, I did. I think Raye talked to him enough for me though; he didn’t say much.”
“Oh,” Emmeline frowned. “I was hoping for something more entertaining,” she glumly turned back to her food for a second before looking back up curiously. I noticed Lily fight back laughter as she stared at her plate. Dorcas didn’t even attempt to hold anything back; she snorted rather loudly before pouring over her timetable.
“So, are you two exclusive yet?” she waggled her eyebrows.
Again, I really had no idea why I even tolerated her. She was as obnoxious as I was, and that could really mean no good.
“If you say anymore Vance you might expect a hex thrown your way. Hughes doesn’t look very happy.”
Hypocritical idiot. I glared at Sirius, who slid comfortably next to me, acting as if he normally sat next to people he detested. James and Remus took their seats across from him, though that was far more understandable as Dorcas didn’t have a problem with them. Peter had quietly taken his place at Sirius’ side, looking pleasant enough as he casually began his breakfast.
There was a short period of silence where I exchanged looks with Dorcas, Lily and Emmeline. We were all rather awkward as we were used to eating with mostly just us four, and now five more people were added to the mix. It wouldn’t have been all that bad if it wasn’t for who the five people were.
I gave James a pointed look, daring him to say anything insulting towards me or Fabian. To my surprise he simply offered a semi-smile to me and shrugged before shoveling loads of food onto his plate. I suspiciously turned back to my own plate, though I merely stole a muffin and nibbled on it; I usually preferred to skip breakfast in favor of sleep so a large breakfast on the weekdays wasn’t really the norm for me.
“That’s not all you’re eating is it?” I heard Lily ask. I looked up to find her staring at my plate semi-thoughtfully, an apple held firmly in her hand. I nodded my affirmative to which she raised a single eyebrow. I really should eat more; I’d usually just eat nothing for breakfast and then turn and stuff my face for lunch. It worked well too. I would get a decent amount of sleep and also a healthy amount of food.
“I would eat more if I were you…” she said, and widened her eyes to hint that there was a message hidden in her sentence.
I considered her statement. There was obviously something more significant than breakfast that she was hinting at, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what. I glanced over besides me to find that both Sirius and Fabian were in their own conversations, as were most everybody else. I leaned in towards Lily.
“I don’t follow,” I said plainly.
Lily rolled her eyes exasperatedly and shook her head lightly. “Rationing, Raye, rationing…. You don’t have to eat now, but make sure you have it in handy….you know.”
Ah. Mussolily was slowly yet surely making a reappearance. Frowning, I grudgingly nodded and slipped another muffin and some fruit into my bag, hoping it was somewhat inconspicuous. Fabian was already in a discussion with Dorcas about something or other, and the marauders were all whispering conspiratorially with each other (typical).
“So, Raye,” James began. “Quidditch practice.”
I frowned and turned back to my food.
“I just had a chat with Clark,” he continued, before pausing to down his milk.
I waited for him to continue, now interested. Daniel Clark was, to put it simply, something of an idiot. He had common sense enough when it came to school work, but the moment he stepped foot on the pitch it was like the only thing he knew how to do were things that were Quidditch-related. Flying, breathing, and beating were about all that went on inside his head. Despite this, he was pretty much the only player on our team I could stand.
The others weren’t terrible, but they worshipped the ground James walked on. Or everyone our age and below, at least. The older ones tended to have too much pride to suck up to him. It wasn’t personally offensive to me, but it wasn’t heartwarming either. As a result, I tended to keep to the captain every practice as we got along rather well anyway.
“He said we’ll have to hold tryouts for a new chaser and beater, since the old ones have left. He wants to hold it tonight, an hour and half after dinner. The pitch is booked and everything and he just put the fliers up yesterday.”
I nodded, remembering the hoards of fourth years that had gathered around the board in the common room yesterday.
“Alright, I’ll make it,” I said simply. I looked at Dorcas. “Do you have my timetable?”
She handed me crimson colored paper. I frowned immediately. We generally had every class about three times a week, and for most people that meant around eighteen classes. For me, however, that meant twenty four classes. I wasn’t a genius or anything, but like James a lot of the subjects came really easy for me. That combined with studying my arse of for OWLs had given me rather good scores as a result. And as lazy as I was, I still managed to keep up with a full schedule, if only to appease my parents who had thought that ‘exercising as much of my brain as possible’ would be a good way to end my Hogwarts career.
That basically meant that I had a full schedule. Charms, Herbology, Defense, Potions, and Transfiguration were automatically on my list, as they were basic subjects for any career. Ancient Runes and Arithmancy were added on for prestige and usefulness, and History of Magic was my final class merely because my father had an odd passion for it and practically forced the class on me.
Without looking up, I outstretched my hand and waved it, palm facing up. Three timetables were placed in my hand. Comparing our schedules I found that I shared most of my classes with Emmeline, Dorcas, and Lily. Ancient Runes I shared with only Dorcas however and Arithmancy with both Dor and Lily. Emmeline and I both took History of Magic. Finally resurfacing, I stole a look at Fabian who was glancing back at his table and getting up.
“Oi, what classes have you got?” I asked, stealing another bite from my muffin as I stared up at him. He smiled down at me and shrugged.
“I don’t have my timetable,” he said simply. “And it seems most classes are rather full so I think they’ve split some up by house this time.”
Reassuring me that he would meet up with me later he waved and left the table, walking back to his friends and his twin brother, Gideon, all of whom were sending catcalls his way once he neared. He turned to look back at me once he reached the table and I smiled in response. Turning back once again to look at my friends, I recited my classes, telling them everyone I have with them.
“What have you got today?” Em asked.
“Erm…I’ll have potions first, followed by charms class, and then it’ll be a break, and after that is transfiguration, then Runes, and finally History of Magic. It’s terrible.”
Emmeline nodded her agreement.
“Yeah, that’ll hurt.”
“You’re stirring it wrong!” Lily hissed to me, grabbing the ladle from my hands and turning it the other way. “Honestly, this was so simple…”
“It was not, and I was doing fine!” I protested. In all fairness, it wasn’t very difficult and I really did mess it up. But I still felt I had right to protest, if only to make it harder on Lily. After all, I was absolute shit at both Potions and Herbology and she knew it, and therefore had no right to rant.
That was my excuse.
“Ah—shit…” my eyes flittered around suspiciously to see if anyone had seen me accidentally knock about two teaspoons of some purple powder into the cauldron. Within a moment, Slughorn had waddled over to me and surveyed the cauldron, obviously having caught my actions. I was waiting for him to cluck his tongue in disapproval and force me to do it over when he miraculously began grinning.
“Very nice, Miss Hughes. Your potions was a bit off before but that cleared it up very well, very well indeed,” his smile grew wider. “Five points to Gryffindor for your innovativeness.”
He hobbled over to Lily’s cauldron and nodded in approval.
“Brilliant as usual, Miss Evans. Very good, very good…”
I grinned once he left, turning to give a wink to Lily who was shaking her head at me.
“Only you could get so far from sheer luck,” she mumbled and I beamed and laughed in response.
“I know,” I said honestly. “If it wasn’t for luck I probably would have been stuck doing remedial potions with Sirius in third year.”
We both joked around and laughed as we finished our potions. Pouring it inside the vial, I took both mine and Lily’s up to the front desk, as Lily began cleaning up around the desk. Once our equipment was put away, we found we had about fifteen minutes left of class. Turning around, we saw Emmeline and Sirius fighting as they both attempted to finish their potion first. Dorcas had seated with Remus today (much to Emmeline’s anger) and James had shared a desk with Peter, leaving Sirius and Emmeline the desk at the back end of the room.
“I thought you were good at this Vance,” I heard Sirius say as he grinned, finally pulling a vial out to fill with his potion.
“You prat, you cheated! I saw you pour that extra ingredient in my cauldron!”
Sirius clucked his tongue in response and smirked. “Ah, watch your cauldron now, Vance; it’ll take a good load of work to get it right now.”
Emmeline mumbled furiously to herself and within five minutes had finished her potion as well. The moment she bowed her head to pick up the vial however, Sirius had dumped something else in her cauldron. Emmeline brought her head up slowly, having caught the movement, and a maniacal glint appeared in her eye as she closely surveyed her now bright orange potion.
Seething to herself, she calmly clamped the sides of her cauldron, turned to a smug looking Sirius, and promptly threw the contents of what was left of the potion onto his lap. Lily frowned.
“Emmeline, I can’t believe you did that! I told you to keep your temper in check—now look! You’ve got a detention tomorrow, and do you know how much of the plan it alters? Everything!”
Mussolily was back, and with a vengeance it seems. Lily apparently had a three-day plan that was set to start tomorrow, and it was planned literally to the half hour. I only just saw it about an hour back.
It was bloody frightening.
Our schedules that she created only left room for breakfast, lunch, and small slots of time that are spent doing homework. After our classes end, we immediately go to our stations and begin the tracking, researching, etcetera until we literally collapse from exhaustion (she didn’t label the time to go to sleep simply to encourage staying up all night to prepare). Then, we wake up, go to our classes, and repeat the process.
It wouldn’t take nearly as long if the supposed Charms Prodigy knew a useful charm for once. Allegedly the duplication charm is ‘very complicated’ and ‘post-graduate level’ and a load of other things that I personally believe are just bollocks. Mussolily just didn’t want to admit that for once she was holding back the plan.
But after we saw the ‘plan’ both Dorcas and I went out of our way to convince Mussolily that it could really wait until the weekend. We were swamped enough with homework as it was and with Quidditch and the clubs I was involved I had little time for much else—and the time I did have I’d prefer to spend relaxing rather than stalking my cousin and his friends in a sort of suffocating cloak. But convincing her to move it back four days was near impossible, so we reverted to Plan B. Plan B was basically voicing how crucial Emmeline was to the plan, and then going to mention how her detention one night will set everything back and then start a domino effect that will inevitably result in the failure of the plan.
Finally, Dorcas and I left Emmeline to deal with the wrath of Mussolily to the temptation of lounging in the arm chairs in the common room. After a few minutes of silence, I broke it with an observation of Mussolily.
“You know, I don’t think Mussolily has a gender.”
“…What?” Dorcas spoke flatly, staring at the ceiling. My eyes never left the wall near me as I spoke. I was draped languidly over an armchair, and Dorcas was stretched out on the couch. I had tried to claim the couch, but Dorcas reasoned that as I was small enough, I should reside instead on the armchair as it was more proportionally accurate. It didn’t really make sense, but I was too buggered to put up a fight so I took the armchair.
“Yeah. I mean, think of Mussolily’s qualities…there’s no gender. You know what I mean. It’s just right that Mussolily has no gender, even though it’s wrong, because Mussolily shouldn’t be so earthly,” I reasoned.
Dorcas was quiet for a moment, where she considered my theory.
“No, definitely. It has no gender.”
I finally looked at Dorcas with an exasperated face as she stared back at me curiously.
“No gender, Dor.”
“Ah.” She understood. “Then I think she’s asexual as well. If she ever procreated, it would just morph out of her side or something.”
“Cor, you’re deranged sometimes, Dorcas. That was just weird,” I joked.
There was another minute of silence.
“Right. Well how’d your day go then?” she asked, though she didn’t actually sound all that interested. I shrugged.
“History of Magic right killed me. I talk about history with my father and it’s actually a bit fun. The politics and social elevations and falls. It’s sort of a psychology lesson, only on a large scale, when you really go deep into it. And even if you’re skimming the surface, the intricacies can be quite interesting on the politics, at least. The economics is boring, but that’s expected.”
Dorcas nodded, but I didn’t think she was really listening.
“And you smell really bad—” I continued in the same tone.
“No I don’t!”
“No you’re fine,” I agreed. “I was just checking if you’re listening. Anyway, Binns just manages to make it so boring. It’s not thrilling as it is but he squanders whatever interest you have, and then on top of it he always talks about the bleeding goblins!”
I chose to ignore the sarcasm.
“Well it’s annoying, Dor, when he refuses to acknowledge any other factors of history! He went on a tangent today and got on the topic of the last Great War—you know with Grindelwald. I mean, to be fair, he didn’t even live to see it, but still how could he try to link the cause of the war to the Goblin Mishap of 1736? It was centuries ago, and it didn’t relate in the slightest! I—shit.”
I jumped off the armchair quickly and grabbed my cloak of the coffee table, where I’d placed it when I felt too hot with it on inside.
“What happened?” Dorcas asked, looking up and glancing around.
“I’m late for tryouts,” I explained hurriedly before tripping over my own feet in my haste to get to the portrait. I slammed against it for balance and opened it at the same time, after which I ran as fast as I could to the pitch, hoping to Merlin that James had hidden Dan’s broom again to stall for time.