So I know I am about a hundred years behind in answering my reviews, and I’m really sorry. I’m going to have to devote a day to just responding. But to compensate for my lack of response to my reviewers, I have written up a nice, spiffy, new chapter. Enjoy!
You Hate Me
Chapter 11: Like Glue
There are few better cures than that of a bath. Wars had been fought over the Gryffindor sixth’s bathtub, which is convenient, since baths can relieve even the worst battle wound. Baths heal all sorts of pains: heartbreak, sore muscles, headaches, cramps, congestion, guilty consciences, and fights with a best friend. The perfect bath can even hold fear at bay.
Piper skipped the Hogsmeade trip to take advantage of the empty bathroom (and she wasn’t keen on going since January brought such cold weather). She sunk into the porcelain tub filled with scalding hot water, bubbles, candles, and a yellow rubber duck. For good measure she barricaded the door.
The row Piper and Lily engaged in the night before had been monumental. Piper splashed the water angrily. She submerged herself completely, hoping the water would somehow be able to wash the fight away.
Piper wasn’t going to deny that she started it.
“Lily I don’t mean to sound like my mother, but you could do so much better than Grey.” Piper had said to Lily while they were walking to Charms.
“And you could do better than Sirius Black.” Lily said.
Piper frowned but quickly turned it into a smile. “Yeah but that was a joke, Lils.”
“It didn’t look like it to me.”
“What do you mean by that?” Piper stopped cold, instinctively putting her hands on her hips and gaping.
“You didn’t exactly try to hide how much you like him, Piper.” Lily explained in a teacher-like manner.
“Don’t try to turn this conversation onto me, Lily.” Piper pointed her finger and advanced on her friend. “This may come as a shock to you, but I do not like Sirius Black.” Piper paused, still pointing. “But even if I did he would be a much better pick than,” Piper adopted a mocking sonorous pitch to her voice, “Grant Grey. You try to act so perfect, Lily Evans, but even I can see that this whole Grant thing is just one of your little maneuvers to make everything go your way. You should probably let Grey know he’s just a pawn in your game.”
Piper was fully ready to yell at Lily more, but Lily took advantage of Piper’s second pause and decided it was her turn to shout.
“Don’t you dare lecture me on games, Piper Redden.” Lily held her hand up in a point.
A passerby would have thought the two girls were mock fencing with their fingers.
“Your whole life has been a game and you just hope no one catches on.” Lily put her hand down, ending the epic battle. She inhaled and exhaled slowly. “Jesus, sometimes I feel so bad for you. You’re so screwed up. I’m going to be late for Charms.”
Piper was suffering in all kinds of ways. She was angry with Lily, at Sirius, at Grant Grey, but mostly, she was angry with herself. However cliché it may have been, it was completely true. What was wrong with her? Piper was ready to commit herself to St. Mungo’s for tests. She was nuts. A sane person wouldn’t have kissed Sirius Black—even jokingly. One in their right mind wouldn’t have run away from home. Nor would the said sane person pick a fight with a friend. Piper was mad. She had to be. It was the only explanation. Or Lily was right, and she was just completely screwed up.
Her heart hurt, her brain pounded, her hands trembled, and her breath shook. I am completely fucked up. Her newfound position in the school was too much pressure for a sixteen year old to bear.
The reason Piper went without friend was because they only caused problems. She had seen what friends had done to each other in Hogwarts. Companions are loose cannons. They can hold too much ammunition against you for comfort. A close friend can be more dangerous than an arch nemesis. Piper shouldn’t have thought Lily Evans would be any different than any other girl. And she shouldn’t have thought she could intrude on the close knit social hierarchy.
Piper inhaled the highly perfumed air and pondered.
Exactly one year ago she wasn’t what someone would have called happy, but nor was she depressed and aching for a change. She had long ago accepted that things weren’t going to change for her, which is why she never wasted her precious energy to change herself. The path of Piper’s life was already laid down; no friends, lovers, grades, or detentions were going to change it.
But then what happened?
Lily Evans talking to her didn’t change everything. Sirius Black kissing her didn’t mean she wasn’t a Redden. She was a teenager for God’s sake, things were not supposed to be this confusing.
Reflecting upon that thought Piper sunk lower into the hot water. “There isn’t much I can change now. “ She said.
The only person who did not hate Piper with a fiery passion was Sirius bloody Black.
“How’s that for irony?” Piper laughed.
“How’s what for irony?”
Piper emitted a scream so loud the dogs in Hogsmeade were driven to several moments of hysteria. She screamed a second time when she saw the torturously familiar feet, ankles, shins, thighs, torso, hands, arms, neck, and finally head of Sirius drop from the vent in the ceiling.
Piper spluttered, choking on the bubbly bath water she inhaled. “Sirius get out!”
“I thought you needed to see a friendly face.” Sirius took in the girls’ bathroom with slight awe while Piper pumped more bubbles into the suddenly translucent water.
“Sirius, I’m naked!”
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before. Besides, we did date that one time. I’ve been meaning to tell you that breakup thing was brilliant! Apparently, the girls decided to give me some recovery time before I date again. God, I could kiss you!”
“Don’t!” Piper crossed her arms over her chest. She felt very vulnerable in the tub that scarcely covered her body. “Turn around, will you? I’m not gunna have a conversation with you naked.”
“You’re the one that’s naked. But if you would like I could—“
“No,” Piper said, knowing that Sirius was going to offer that he get naked as well.
As much as Sirius would have enjoyed a bare conversation with Piper, he turned around nonetheless. He gave her a full twenty seconds to get toweled up.
“How did you even get in here?” More confident with a thick towel covering her bodice, Piper reverted back to her normal confidence.
“Turns out Mr. Godric Gryffindor was one of those blokes Minnie is always going on about who can’t be trusted and all that shit. The ceiling vent in our dorm leads right to the one above my head. I’m glad we finally found out where it leads so I can put it on the map…”
“Er…wocher, your towel’s slippipng.”
Piper hastily tightened her towel firmly around her body. A blush crept its way onto her face. She wasn’t exactly sure she liked that only a white towel separated her nakedness from Sirius.
Suddenly solemn Sirius said, “I’m sorry this all had to happen. I mean I’m sorry that I was—er—insensitive and all that shit. It’s just so weird being back here now, after seeing you as that pampered princess and then you seeing me as the embarrassment of a son. I guess that’s all. I’m sorry. I know how hard it must be for you to live with…well everything you live with.” Sirius concluded awkwardly.
Startled that he had voice her own previous thoughts Piper frowned, yet found herself agreeing.
“So you just dropped in to say sorry?”
Sirius’ apology couldn’t have come at a worse time. “What would you’ve done if it had been Korey or Raine or Lily in here?” She said suddenly.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Sirius laughed. His broad grin was so bright and suffering-free that it actually made Piper feel a smidgen better. “Oh! I forgot to give you this when we were, you know, ‘dating.’” Sirius reached into his pocket and pulled out two purple plastic rings. “Matching promise rings,” he said with a nudge.
“Did you get those out of a Choco Choco Chimaera box?”
“I’ll have you know it took twelve proofs of purchases to get these rings.” Sirius said, his face breaking into the same, warm grin that made Piper want to grin as well. Damn him. Damn Sirius and his rings and his grins. He gave her the ring. “Just so we’re clear, I’m a jackass and I’m sorry.”
Piper agreed with his first confession. “So what happens now?” Piper asked. If a kiss had changed the feelings between her and Sirius so dramatically she wasn’t sure how an apology would affect them.
Piper punched Sirius hard in the arm, tore through the barricade blocking the door, and slammed it shut behind her.
* * * *
“How’d it go with Piper?” James asked later that night.
“Not so good. My arm is killing me.” Sirius winced and showed his three best mates the black and blue battle wound.
“Yesh,” the Marauders said in unison. For a girl, Piper really could throw a punch.
“But will she help us or not?” said Remus.
“We didn’t exactly get that far in the conversation.” Sirius shrugged off his robe and threw it on to his bed. “But,” he said, keeping his friends calm, “I’ll be able to get her to come around. Did you guys get the equipment?”
Grinning, Peter unearthed a large cloth bag from under his bed. His grin was contagious. The Marauders laughs were soon comparable to hyenas.
James sobered long enough to say, “You really think you’ll get her to help us?”
Sirius wiped a tear from his eye. “When have I not been able to woo Piper Redden?’
Remus, Peter, and James frowned. The three broke into variations of, “Only every time you talk to her.”
Taking a leaf out of Piper’s book, Sirius punched all of his friends hard in their arms, threw back the hangings on his bed, climbed in, and went to sleep.
* * * *
For the second time in a twenty four hour period, Piper found herself screaming at the sight of Sirius Black seemingly popping out of nowhere. And for the second time in a twenty four hour period, she found herself being confronted by him in the girls’ toilet.
“We need your help.” Sirius said. He took her by the arm and slowly dragged her away from the door.
“Who do you think?” Sirius said.
He kicked open a stall, revealing James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus Lupin battling for more space on the top of the toilet seat while clutching each other for support at the same time.
“WE CAN EXPLAIN!” The three shouted, nearly collapsing from their careful glob. Seeing Piper and Sirius, they bashfully hopped down, hoping to save what dignity they had left.
Piper leaned against the sink for support, letting her forehead hit the mirror. She slowly massaged her temples with two fingers and wished she could force the Marauders away with willpower alone. Rhythmically, she picked her head off the mirror and let it fall back down again, all the while saying, “Why me?” under her breath.
While Piper wallowed in her own misery, James took a dab of powder out of a cloth sack and blew it on the door. He pulled the handle after letting the dust settle and found it securely locked shut. Even when he put all of his strength behind his pull the door did not give way.
“What could you possibly need my help with?” Piper asked, grudgingly coming out of her stupor.
The Marauders bit their lips and frowned. Each wanted the other to reveal the plan.
“We have a plan.” James stepped forward.
“A brilliant plan.” said Peter.
“An excellent plan,” said Remus.
“An ingenious plan,” said Sirius.
“So, you have a good plan…?” Piper said slowly.
“Right, that’s what we’re saying,” said James. “But before we tell you, we have to know if you’re in or if you’re out.”
“How can I know if I’m in or out if I don’t even know the plan?”
The Marauders swore. They hadn’t thought of that.
Nevertheless, Piper was intrigued. Never before had she actually worked with the Marauders while they planned something. It would be interesting to see. And, thought Piper, it would be interesting to not be the object of the plan.
“Never mind,” said Piper, “I’m in.”
“That’s the spirit, love.” Sirius wrapped his arm around Piper’s shoulders. He led her to the bathroom door. “Now, go give that lovely door a good pull, Muscles.” He pushed her to the door.
Piper rolled her eyes. Some plan they had. Feeling more ridiculous than she ever had before, she tried to open the door. It was stuck. Piper put more strength into her pull, but the door remained resolutely shut as if twenty first years were on the opposite side holding it shut. Getting more frustrated, and forgetting the Marauders were watching her; Piper rattled the door handle until it was on the verge of falling off.
“What are you boys playing at?” Her hair had fallen out of her carefully placed braid and fell around her face, giving her a slightly crazed appearance.
“This is the basis of the Plan,” said Peter.
Piper had thousands of questions on her mind, the frontrunner being why are you in the girls’ bathroom, but she put a pin in that question and asked another. “Is anyone going to tell me what this goddamn plan is or what?”
“Ah, the million dollar question,” said Remus.
“Our Intelligence has informed us that on Friday all of the Professors have planned on surprise tests.” James began.
“The bastards,” Remus, Sirius, and Peter said under their breath.
“Anyway, they have all planned on giving us tests, right. That means that we have to take tests in some of the hardest subjects, Friday being our most difficult day and all. Just think: Arithmancy test, then Herbology test, then Potions test, then Transfiguration test, it’s just too much. Plus, I happen to know you’re absolute shit at Herbology, Redden, so you better be glad we’re including you.”
“And I happen to know you’re shit at Arithmancy, Potter, so get on with this stupid plan.” Piper spat.
“Alright, well, think of this: Friday morning when everyone gets up and expects to go to all of their classes they find that they can’t get into any of the classrooms because all of the doors are glued shut. And I mean all of the doors. Library, Greenhouse, even the ones that lead to the Great Hall. It’s brilliant. And with the help of this dust,” he pulled the cloth sack from his bag, “it will be even easier. All you do is blow a bit onto a door and it stays shut depending on the amount of dust you put on. But we need your help. See, there are four of us, and as far as we can tell there are at least one thousand two hundred eighty doors. Doors that need to be glued shut. But one thousand two hundred eighty doors isn’t divisible by four, but it is divisible by five, so we need five people for this to work.”
Piper did some quick math. “But…one thousand two hundred eighty is divisible by four,” she said.
The four Marauders also did some quick calculating. Sirius counted off numbers on his fingers. Remus bit his lips. Peter frowned in concentration. James whipped out a quill. “Shit, she’s right,” Remus finally said.
“Well it’s too late. Now she knows of the plan and either she agrees to help us or we will have to silence her.”
“God Potter, you don’t have to murder me. Look, I won’t tell anyone your master plan. And if you still want me I’m in.”
James grimaced jokingly. “I guess we could use another set of hands…” Then he was back to business. “Thursday night at midnight the five of us split up and glue shut all of the doors in the sections that we will later map out. Sounds good, yeah?”
Piper’s immediate thought was: No it doesn’t sound good, you git! But as she thought about it, it was a good plan. With all of the doors locked, lessons would have to be called off for the day, giving them an extra week to prepare for the tests. Then the glamour began to fade. The suspicions would immediately be on the Marauders, and they would take Piper down with them.
And there was one more issue:
“Thursday is tomorrow.”
“Minor detail,” Peter said.
“Minor—minor detail. How do you expect to pull this off with,” Piper checked her watch, “Thirty six hours notice?”
“Dear, if you don’t think we can do this,” Sirius wrapped his arm around Piper’s waist, James took the other side, “you don’t know the Marauders.”
* * * *
Thursday, Piper found herself smuggled into the boys’ dormitory for a debriefing, as James called it.
She would have rather they trapped her in the bathroom to decide how the prank would be executed. Their dormitory was disgusting. The first time Piper had snuck into the boys’ living rooms was at night time and she didn’t have much time to look around. Piper wished the candles would blow out and stop illuminating the pigsty. She was frightened to step anywhere over the threshold.
“Is there a floor here anywhere?” She asked. Pursing her lips, she tiptoed over to the five armchairs arranged in a circle. Piper tried to fan the smell of dirty socks out of her nostrils, but it was hopeless. The only solution was to breath as little as possible.
“Watch it, we picked up for you!” Peter cried.
Nonetheless, the floor was still covered with clothes, playing cards, books, cloaks, ribbons, wands, pictures, dishes, medals, broomstick twigs, hair, chocolate, candy wrappers, cheese, one piggy bank, shredded parchment, lotion, nine slippers, and a piece of parchment with writing all over it laid carefully down in the middle of the five chairs.
“This,” Remus said, picking up the parchment, “is the Map.”
Piper stepped closer to read the minute writing, ignoring the rubber chicken she stepped on in the process.
It was, indeed, a map. It was a complete and detailed map of Hogwarts. Tiny dots littered the parchment, zooming about. On closer inspection, Piper realized that the dots had names attached to them. There, in the western side, were five little dots labeled Piper Redden, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter.
“Where—where did you find this?” Piper stammered.
“Find? We didn’t find it! We made it.” Peter snatched the map out of Remus’ hand. “Isn’t it cool?”
“Lay it back down, Wormtail, we gotta plan.” Sirius took the map out of Peter’s unsuspecting hands. He laid it back down and let James take over the talking.
“At exactly 0000 we rendezvous back at the entrance hall. Sirius works on sector 1, I take sector 2, Piper has sector 3, Peter has sector 4, and Mooney you take sector 5.”
James’ spy speech was a bit too much for the less James Bond savvy group.
He reiterated. “At midnight we meet at the entrance hall, and I take sector 2, Sirius takes sector 1, Piper takes sector 3, oh bloody hell,” James unfurled the map, and drew a large circle over each of the carefully planned divisions he had made on the map. He wrote the initials of the designated mischief maker inside each of the circles. “Got it?”
“Ohhhhh.” The four other said, nodding.
“I’m not sure I am quite keen on this plan. You do realize we’ll get caught.” Piper said.
“Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. But look at the brilliance in this plan: even if we get caught, meaning us four, they will never suspect that you helped us with it, and how could four boys possibly cover the entire school in the span of a few hours? They’ll never know.” James said.
“Just a quick question though…” Piper said.
“Why is the Ravenclaw common room the only one that we’re gluing shut?”
James blushed. Piper had a vague suspicion she knew exactly why James planned to lock the Ravenclaws out for a day, and his name was Grant Grey.
“I don’t like him either mate.” Piper elbowed James in the shoulder.
All questions and complaints out of the way, James put his hand out in the middle, Sirius followed, putting his on top of James’, then Peter and finally Remus. They looked expectantly at Piper. She realized that she was to follow suit. Her hand went on top of Remus’ and without warning they lifted the bunch of hands up, saying, “READY, BREAK!”
* * * *
“I can’t believe I’m doing this. I can’t believe I’m doing this. Why am I doing this?” Piper was pacing the entrance hall. Sneaking down to the rendezvous point seemed like the hard part of the task at hand, until she arrived at the entrance hall and fully realized how hard it was going to be to not get caught.
“Keep your voice down, will you?” Remus rounded the corner, followed by the rest of the Marauders. “Here, take this,” he handed her a cloth sack similar to the one James had in the bathroom the day before.
“Now it’s very important that you use exactly a teaspoon on every door. That will keep it locked for a full day.” James handed out teaspoon measurements to the five of them.
“Everyone know where they’re going?” Sirius asked.
“Alright, Piper you take these.” James handed her the Map and a silvery cloak that nearly slipped from Piper’s hands. “You need them more than we do. The map is so you can see if anyone’s coming, and so you don’t forget a door, and the cloak is to make you invisible.”
“This is an Invisibility Cloak?” Piper stammered. “How did you—how did you get one of these? Even my brother had a hard time finding one and—“
“I’ll tell you later, it’s a very heroic story with lust and adventure. But for now, keep your mind on your task, and your task on your mind.”
“But how will you lot stay out of trouble?”
The Marauders exchanged secretive glances.
“We have our ways,” they said.
Piper began to wonder if the Marauders rehearsed moments such as this. She held the cloak warily in her hands; she didn’t want the Marauders to think they needed to keep her out of trouble. She didn’t need their help. She was Piper Redden. She could do anything she wanted. But before she could protest, the Marauders had taken off and she was left alone in the dark entrance hall with no choice but to wear the fucking cloak.
“Piss, piss, piss, piss, piss!” she scuffed her foot on the ground, sulked for a minute, and then put on the cloak, took out the map, and began to glue shut the doors of Hogwarts.
* * * *
The next morning, Piper woke not to the announcement of Professor Dumbledore calling off the lessons for the day, but to Lily Evans positively seething over her bed.
“Where were you last night?”
Faced with a question she did not know the answer to, Piper was forced to lie. “I dunno, I was here, I guess.”
Playing stupid was always a good idea. Maybe, if I slur my words enough she’ll leave me alone.
Uh-oh, Head Girl rearing her head.
“I wasa sleepin on the cooucha.” Piper said, yawning. Really, she had been furiously blowing powder on every door she passed, but Lily didn’t have to know that. Nor did she need to know that Piper had been in the boys’ dormitories returning the Map and the Invisibility Cloak until well into the evening, being quiet not to disturb the other occupants of the boys sixth.
“You had something to do with this!”
Their argument had drawn a crowd. Raine, Sanaa, and Korey, who were getting dressed for the lesson-free day, peeked out from behind the bathroom door (which was thankfully unglued).
“Nah I would neva glue the dors together.” Piper pretended to rub the sleep from her eyes.
“Then it was Potter.” Rage settled into Lily’s face.
“You know, I did hear that Slytherin bloke…what’s his name…Perry! Perry was talking about how he wasn’t prepared for the surprise tests the Professors had planned for today.” No longer pretending to be in sleep withdrawal, Piper reverted back to good old fashioned lying.
“Perry.” Lily said absolutely venomously. She geared up for the hunt and ran from the common room.
Piper wiped the sweat from her brow. She couldn’t believe it had worked. They had actually done it…and without incident! Well, except for Piper almost stepping on a rat and nearly fainting. Now she had a whole day to rest, and while the day would have been more fun with Lily around, Piper would find something to do.
* * * *
“And then Piper almost stepped on me!” Peter finished his story of their midnight activities with a flourish, sending his friends into choruses of laughter.
“Where are you off to so fast, Padfoot?” Remus asked.
“I’d tell you but…no, I wouldn’t tell you. Er—I’m not telling. But…how do I look?”
“Great,” said James. He adjusted his glasses. When Sirius neared the door he said, “Tell Piper I said hi!” Sirius threw an askew slipper at his friend, hitting him square in the jugular.
Piper was exactly where Sirius knew she would be, especially since he had already checked the common room, lake, forest, halls, and great hall. Although the Quidditch pitch was the last place on earth he thought he would find Piper Redden of all people, he was glad he had found her at last. His mad search was growing boring.
His attempt to sneak up on her failed miserably. She heard him when he was still twenty paces away.
“Been running somewhere?”
Sirius shook his head.
“What are you doing?”
Sirius shrugged, but the twinkle in his eyes revealed that he was indeed up to something.
“Sirius what are you—“
Piper coughed violently as she inhaled the powder Sirius had just blown at her; it landed, glowing, on her hands, chest, and arms. “If that is Bulbadox Powder I will—“ She was never able to finish her threat, for Sirius had covered the space between them so quickly she hadn’t been able to come up with a suitable one. She put out her hand to push him away but found she couldn’t pull it back. Sirius smiled as she tried to unglue her hand from his. While she glared at him, Sirius wrapped his free arm around Piper’s waist, pulling her close to him. They were stuck together at every opportune body part.
Piper stopped struggling to take her hand back and fell still. Sirius advanced half an inch more, closing what little gap was left between them. Not knowing, and not caring, who was watching them, Sirius pushed his lips against Piper’s. She inhaled sharply, but fell against Sirius, comfortably configuring her body to his. He was deliciously warm and tender with her. Sirius’ mouth covered Piper’s completely, and with a moan of submission, she willingly let someone else be in control for the first time in her life.
* * * *
Grant Gideon Grey looked out of the window in his dormitory. Since he was locked in, there wasn’t much else he could do but look out the window and hope someone would find out how to undo the spell soon. Grant had been amused by a bird catching a worm, owls taking flight, and cats chasing mice, but he was even more amused by Piper Redden and Sirius Black snogging.
After watching the spectacle long enough, he dug through his trunk and found a very important address that he had long forgotten.
Rhett Redden would love to know about the types of people his little sister was dating, and Grant planned to tell him just that.
Cliffy: noun. Melodramatic adventure in which an installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.