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Chapter 7 : Angry Pelican and Crumpet Drawings
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Although she was Head Girl, she certainly hadn’t been an angel for all that time, yet in no way been downright devilish either. Over the past few years at Hogwarts she’d put more toes over the line than a Grindylow has on his left foot during mating season and wasn’t a stranger to having to sprint back to the common room in the dead of night after being out of bed. She’d never been up to anything that notorious though and possibly more importantly, she’d never been caught.
However Lily reasoned as normally her midnight trips were to venture to the library to either return a book or find a new one to complete homework to a higher standard, she could hardly be punished if anyone ever did find her. Not that it had mattered too much in the last two years as Prefects were given free rein to be in the corridors at any times. Something that Lily didn’t always think was wise, given the amount of classrooms she’d glanced into and found a couple in a compromising situation and it had turned out to be two Prefects.
Wisely Lily carefully put a memory of her running round the staircases at night, attempting to evade the caretaker, safely to the back of her mind. The lower years may talk in shushed tones of awe of Dumbledore and his ability to ‘read minds’, but Lily knew that truthfully he was a proficient Occlumens and she had no wish for him to know that the auburn haired ghost that Mr Longwater had raved about for weeks after was in fact her in her pale blue dressing gown. Mind you, he may already know. He had an uncanny talent to know everything that happened on the Hogwarts estate, sometimes before it even happened.
“Miss Evans’, if you’re waiting for the door to knock against your hand, it wont happen.”
Lily jumped as Dumbledore’s voice appeared from directly in front of her. The door had swung open and Lily had been left stood awkwardly with her hand raised still ready to knock. She quickly let her drop to her side. Here was a classic example of Dumbledore’s omniscience. His crooked smile quickly but her back at ease though.
“Come in.“ He was sat, somewhat majestically behind the giant mahogany desk, embellished with the Hogwarts crest.
“Good morning Sir”, She stood facing him behind two chairs.
“May I offer my congratulations on becoming Head Girl?”
“Oh no Sir, I mean yes, but I should thanking you. I’ll promise I’ll do my best and be a good role model and…”
Dumbledore raised his hand indicating she should stop and gestured wordlessly that she should sit.
She did so thankfully.
“Miss Evans, there is need to swear any sort of allegiance to the school or me. This isn’t the Wizengamot you know. I have every faith in your ability to complete your new role” His tone hardened slightly, “I would never entrust such a role to someone who I didn’t believe could handle the responsibility and I trust you‘re aware of that.” He voice softened again. “Which leads me to a more pertinent question. Have you any idea where Mr Potter is at present?”
Lily rolled her eyes, “Last time I saw him he was stuffing his face with bacon and eggs.”
“And when I left not long after he was helping himself to some of Mr Lupin’s porridge and preparing to leave which leads me to believe he is not still eating.”
Lily bit her lip, clearly issuing some restraint to stop her mouth running away with itself.
“You know Miss Evans, something quite odd happens in the Hogwarts Staff Room when any of the staff disagree.” Dumbledore spoke with the casual elegance in his voice that led Lily to believe the message he was about to share was anything but casual or offhand.
“The room turns decidedly hostile towards us. The windows shrink, the fires refuse to light and all our armchairs turn into the most uncomfortable wooden stools you can imagine, loose nails and everything. I imagine it’s the school’s none to subtle way of telling us that we work better as a team. It usually has the desired effect. We tend to be willing enough to negotiate when our comfort is in jeopardy.”
Lily knew Dumbledore well enough to know that this anecdote wasn’t without deeper meaning. She also guessed that second meaning without too much thought.
“You think me and James wont work well together.” She closed her eyes and sighed. “And that I should make more of an effort to be patient with him.”
“All I suggest is that considering the close proximity of some of the duties you share, it may be wise to try and get along without major incident.“
Lily privately thought their issues would only be solved when James underwent a complete personality transplant but wisely kept this opinion to herself, instead taking the safer option of staring at her shoes.
“Or at least try not to hex him over breakfast again.” Dumbledore grinned.
Lily inwardly cursed Dumbledore’s brilliant memory, did he really remember everything that had ever happened? That particular incident had happened at least a couple of years ago, it was the OWL exams and everyone had been dealing with stress differently.
Peter had got into the habit of biting his nails down to little stubs, Jules insisted on crunching toffees loudly whenever she was revising from Lily’s notes (not as they had particularly better content than her own, just because they were far more legible) and Sirius, oddly, was spending every other second juggling as apparently it calmed his ‘nerves‘.
However James’ method of controlling his worries was, unfortunately for Lily, to be as aggravating as humanly possible. Therefore when he’d decided to transfigure some bread rolls into little doughy cherubs which floated past her head blowing heart shaped bubbles all over her and her notes… well she hardly thought she could be held accountable for him having stag’s antlers sprouting from his head. Oddly she’d been aiming for donkey’s ears but the antlers had just popped up, almost as if they were used to being there. She put the little mishap down to exam stress, as had the professors.
She cringed visibly at the memory.
“Merely a suggestion my dear. While we are waiting for your counterpart, how are you feeling about your NEWT’s?”
Lily immediately launched into a lecture about her worries in Herbology. The flow of doubts was reminiscent of a flood of water rushing over a waterfall.
Meanwhile James was up in his dormitory, immersed in a discussion with Sirius and Peter. The boys had all agreed to meet up briefly before the first lesson back, yet Remus had been uncharacteristically late so the usual discussion of their timetables and lesson diversion tactics had descended into the typical trading of quips and insults that generally occurs when adolescent males are together. However once they realised that their fourth member wouldn’t be joining them, they got onto some more serious discussions which didn’t revolve around the phrase, “Well mine is bigger than yours.”
By the time Remus did saunter in a little later looking more than a little pleased with himself, Sirius was scribbling furiously on a piece of parchment, his tongue just jutting out from between his lips, a sure sign that he was concentrating.
“So we get a whole load of crumpets and … Moony, where have you been?”
Remus shrugged, stroking his jaw. “In the common room, talking to Jules.”
“You were late for the first official Marauder meeting of the year, because you were flirting with some girl!” Sirius looked completely indignant, despite the fact he had no right to be. All the Marauders had at some point been guilty of this crime, yet Sirius, ever the hypocrite, was by far the worst offender.
“It was Jules, there was no flirtation involved whatsoever, just two mates talking. I’m not flirting when I talk to you, am I Pad?”
Sirius winked, “Well, you try and hide it but subconsciously I think you do just a little bit Moony.”
“Damn it, you saw right through me. It takes all my effort not to swoon when I see you.”
Remus mock fainted onto Sirius’ bed, disturbing all the scrunched up parchment balls littering it.
He unravelled one, “Is this a giant tyre swing, Pad, or an angry pelican? It’s hard to tell with your diagrams.”
“It’s a catapult actually,” Sirius reached over defensively to snatch the parchment back. “You’re holding upside down.”
“Oh yeah I guess. So James what happened to your Dumbledore meeting… wait, are these crumpets?”
This cued a struggle of tangled limbs on Sirius’ bed, which meant that Peter was the only one who saw James’ face blanch, before he ran out of the room, almost tripping down the stairs in his haste.
Remus looked up when the door slammed, “He forgot, didn’t he? Why didn’t one of you remind him?”
Sirius shrugged, difficult considering his shoulders were currently trapped between Remus’ knees. “I’m the beauty of this operation, not the brains.”
Peter and Remus scoffed, Sirius was as sharp as he was good looking.
Remus and Sirius began untangling themselves from each other, ready to go down to class.
“But he wanted to show Lily that he’d matured this summer.” Peter laughed at this idea.
“Maybe it would be better to say he was trying to fool her into thinking that he’d matured.”
“Something like that.”
James swore with every step he took, pounding along the corridors at top speed. First years scattered in his path, all eager to avoid the large seventh year who had clearly put too much powdered Mandrake root in his Babbling Beverage. Unbeknown to them however he wasn’t suffering from a potion overdose, just the stupidity of missing an appointment he’d been determined to keep to. He’d thought about it last night when he’d been trapped in that infernal room, in a sulk after his plan to burn their way out had failed so dramatically. He’d had it all planned out, he’d get there early. He smiled ruefully at the image he’d conjured in his mind, him sat relaxed in an armchair turning round just in time to see Lily’s delightfully flustered face when she’d seen he’d beaten her there. But that idea had been ruined now and only because he’d been too stupid to check his own watch! It was only wrist for Merlin’s sake! Just there at the end of his arm, now mocking him with it’s closeness. How long would it have taken him to glance in that direction just once. Lily would be furious now, not flustered, and wouldn’t trust him to organise anything or fulfil any of the duties he was supposed to this year.
His internal rant had carried him all the way to Dumbledore’s office. One of the stone gargoyles turned to waylay him further.
“You’re terribly late, old boy.” The carved creature drawled. “The girl was here ages ago.”
“Yes, I know, can I go up?”
“There’s no need for rudeness” chimed in the other gargoyle. “Manners don’t cost a penny, you know. Talking like that will only serve to make you later.”
“You’re making me even later!” James roared.
“Temper, temper.” The bitter gargoyle murmured to itself as it swung aside to reveal the staircase behind.
James climbed the familiar steps to Dumbledore’s office. He hadn’t been there as often as Lily had, although that seems unbelievable. Most of the Marauders wrongdoings had been handled by one of the other teachers, generally Slughorn, or more recently the newest professor, McGonagall. They’d been thrilled to see a young new witch up at the teachers table a few years ago, instead of stuffy old Professor Saddler. They’d gone into their first lesson full of anticipation of either having a fun loving new teacher, or at least one who couldn’t control a class and left them to their own devices. They’d been horrified to find out what a disciplinarian she was.
James and Sirius were both adamant that there would be no summons to the office for either of them this year. James, because he was determined to live up to the job of Head Boy and to turn over a new leaf. He tried to kid himself that he was doing it for moral reasons but he knew deep down it was mainly to try and impress Lily. Sirius' motive was a lot less honourable, he was still intending to live up to his reputation as a Marauder, this year however he just wasn't going to get caught. As he and Peter had pointed out earlier on the train, just because Remus and James had upped and become traitors on them didn’t mean they should give up on the good name of Marauder.
James threw his body through the door muttering incomprehensibly but Lily was able to catch words such as time, Sirius and what sounded like crumpets, but Lily was convinced she must be wrong on the last count.
“Nice of you to join us Mr. Potter.” Dumbledore said amicably.
“Sorry Sir,” James flushed, a feeling he was unused to.
Lily saw the sudden blush and found herself unintentionally attracted to this previously unseen bashfulness. She berated herself silently.
“As I’m sure neither of you wish to fall behind on the first day of lessons, I’ll be swift. Other members of staff will tell you about some of your more mundane jobs so it’s just up to me to let you know about one of your more specialist tasks. As you’re aware you’ll be leading the dancing at the Yule Ball this December, but you’ll also be needed for other jobs related to the Beauxbatons visit, greeting students, guided tours of the castle and so on. The other thing I would really appreciate is some advice in planning some of the events. There were some complaints, you see, that the staff’s ideas weren’t quite modern enough. I was so sure that the lecture on growing magical vegetables would have been well received, but alas Minerva disagreed. So useful to have a younger one on the staff - such a breath of fresh air she is - decades younger than the rest of us.”
He frowned, scratching his eyebrow with his quill.
“So I’d appreciate any input you may have as regards to music… or um… other festivities. On another note, one of the perks to your new job is access to a small study on the fourth floor. No doubt Mr. Potter and his associates have come across it in one of their numerous adventures. It’s not very large, hardly room to swing a Kneazel but it does have a nice view of Hogsmeade village. You could use it if you find the common room a little too noisy to work in or if… well I’m sure you will be able to think of endless uses. The password is ‘Pumpkin Juice’ at the moment but you will be able to change it as you wish, just remember to let the other know. That’s all I think, unless either of you have any questions?”
“No Sir.” Lily shook her head and James simply shrugged his shoulders.
“Then I suggest you make your way down to the greenhouse, Professor Root would be very upset if you missed his safety talk.”
“Yes Sir.” Lily walked to the door but James beat her to it and held it open for her. She pursed her lips and passed through the open door wordlessly.
Once safely back in the corridor, Lily turned to talk to James.
“I’m capable of opening doors Potter, I hope you’re aware of that.”
“I am as a matter of fact Evans. I thought I’d just take the opportunity to do the gentlemanly thing. I am truly sorry if I’ve offended you.”
“James, you constantly seem to offend me. That must be your special talent.”
“Ouch Evans, that hurt, it really did.” He clutched at his heart in mock pain.
“Good.” She turned and strode away but James was easily able to catch up.
“So what is it about me you find so infinitely offensive Lily?”
“Oh… I don’t know, everything?”
He paused, Lily was left waiting for his usual jokey comeback.
“You’re eyes are gorgeous when they’re angry.”
Lily stood still, how was a girl meant to stick to her resolve after she got such unexpected and sincere compliments?
A group of third years bundled past giggling, Lily turned and shouted at their retreating backs. “Get to lessons.”
“Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?” He raised his dark brows.
“Embarrassed to be so close to losing my temper. It always seems to flare up around you. You wind me up.”
“Not deliberately. You simply find yourself unable to resist my charm and looks and then you go and get yourself all het up.”
“Then I better get away from you before I fall prey to these charms of yours.”
“Too late love, I’ll think you’ll find.”
She reached the stairs and was about to take the steps down to the Entrance Hall when the staircase swung from beneath her foot.
The movement shocked her and she found herself stumbling backwards, righting herself only inches from falling into James’ arms.
“As you aren’t going anywhere Evans.” James stepped closer to stand directly behind her, close enough that she could feel his breath on the back of her neck. “How about checking out that study Dumbledore was talking about?”
Lily considered it, she did want to go and see it and the thought of more time alone with James, particularly in as close contact as she was now secretly thrilled her.
But could she trust herself in his company for much longer? She decided that it would be safer to get back into a classroom full of other people. Plus the fact she was Head Girl, she couldn’t go around skipping lessons after accusing the younger students of exactly the same thing. She had to lead by example, not work on the Muggle principle of ‘Do as I say, not what I do.”
Obviously, James didn’t have any of Lily’s concerns about setting a good example, judging by the way he was leaning on a stone statue looking calm, casual and admittedly gorgeous. Lily hated the fact that he could easily make any hormonal teenage girl fall for him, and even more so that it was working on her. He was stood directly in a stream of wintry sunshine which shone through his raven hair making each strand almost glow. Lily’s heart flipped as his hand reached up in that oh-so-familiar gesture to mess up the back of his hair. Years ago it had seemed so irritating and arrogant and now it was purely endearing, funny how things change like that. If anyone doubted the benefits of regular exercise, his position was a perfect advert for how years of hard Quidditch practise could make a body toned and muscular.
Lily’s wandering thoughts were thankfully cut off by the loud grinding noise which signified that the stairs were on the move. Somewhere above Lily could see, and registered more than a small amount of pleasure from seeing, the third years she had earlier cautioned clinging to the stairs.
Two staircases swung in front of her, one leading up to the fourth floor and one down to the Entrance Hall. Her internal battle was now actually physically staring her in the face.
“So what’s it to be Evans? Go down to boring old Herbology and listen to a safety lecture from Root or…” He dropped his voice to what he prayed was a seductive whisper. “Be a bit daring, take a risk and come to the study with me?”
‘TAKE A RISK!’ Her heart screamed, ‘Go with James!’
“I’m going to go for the safety lecture thanks.” Her head won over and beat the heart’s pleas. She walked regretfully down the stairs leading away from James.
James whacked his head against a mental brick wall. He’d blown it yet he had really thought that for a moment she was going to come. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking he thought he could sense a look in her eyes saying she was really considering it.
He sighed and watched her scurry down the steps. He waited until she’d reached the bottom and was nearly out the main doors before he hitched his bag on his shoulder and followed her begrudgingly.
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