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Chapter 3 : I Am Only A Stroppy Mare When Faced With Plaid Pajamas
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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.”
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