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.
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