Chapter 1 : I
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Through the small group, he could see a dark haired girl push through and approach the Sorting Hat. As she moved past James, he noticed that she seemed to be rather tall for her age. He rose from his seat, hoping to catch another glimpse of the girl as she walked through the throng of students. Next to her, the group of first years appeared to vibrate with anxiety.
McGonagall placed the dirty Hat on her head and the Hall fell silent. For two minutes, the silence hung heavily in the Great Hall as the students tried to make out the Hat’s mumbling before it finally cried, “Gryffindor!”
Applause erupted from the Gryffindors, welcoming the girl as she coolly walked to their table. She took her seat next to Lily Evans, who smiled at her warmly.
“Hi Claire,” Sirius heard Lily say loudly over the applause. “My name’s Lily!”
“I know,” Claire replied, her voice endearingly low.
“Of course you do,” said Lily sheepishly. “It’s nice to meet you!”
As peace engulfed the Hall once more, Sirius looked over at Claire so to get a better look at her. He stopped cold when his eyes caught hers and he never thought he would ever see such hard, blue eyes. She held his gaze for a moment, unruffled, before turning back to the Sorting Hat.
Something moved past her and collapsed onto the sofa to her left. Claire looked up from the book she was reading to find the same boy who was staring at her during the Sorting by her side, grinning at her. He said nothing.
She shut her book and placed it neatly in her lap. After a pause she said, “Yes?”
“Hi, I’m Sirius Black,” he said, flinging an arm over the back of the sofa.
“I know,” she replied.
“So you’ve heard of me?” He seemed pleased.
“Yes, when McGonagall announced your name to the entire Great Hall, I expect everyone’s heard of you.”
His smile fell and she thought she caught his eyes smoulder.
“You think you’re being clever, do you?”
She sighed, rashly. “May I help you?” She ignored his question.
Something seemed to shift in his gaze as he stood and said, “No. No, you can’t.”
Claire watched him walk away, frowning curiously.
In the midst of the fray, Claire registered an audible bang from behind her. She whipped her head around and saw Peter Pettigrew, dumbstruck and his hair singed at the ends. She wrinkled her nose as the smell of burning hair drifted towards her desk. Feathers were zooming past her head at breakneck speeds while others floated gracefully above their heads.
“No, no, no, no, no,” cried Flitwick. “Stop, stop! This should not be this difficult!”
One by one, students began to notice his frustration and stopped what they were doing. As the room fell quiet, feathers all around the room fell and littered the floor. All heads faced the front of the classroom.
“This is to be done gently,” he said calmly. “Remember: swish and flick. Mr Black, would you care to demonstrate?” He looked to the back of the classroom encouragingly.
“Of course, sir,” called a voice from behind Claire.
As she turned back, Sirius pointed his wand lazily to his left, targeting James Potter. There were a number of gasps as his wand sliced through the air and he said, “Wingardium Leviosa!”
Laughter echoed around the room as James rose higher and higher out of his seat, hovering close to the ceiling, smiling from ear to ear. Applause mingled with the laughter, greeting Sirius’s proud and somewhat smug expression. Claire’s nose wrinkled as she turned back in her seat to face Flitwick.
“Well done, Mr Black!” Flitwick clapped excitedly. “But please use the feather next time – we don’t want to have to send Mr Potter back to the hospital wing, do we?”
“No sir,” came the familiar voice from behind her. From the corner of her eye, Claire could see James losing altitude, slowly being lowered into his seat again. The students cheered and laughed.
Claire did not cheer, but found that she was not as disapproving of Sirius Black’s display as she would have been had he not successfully levitated James Potter.
Sirius and James burst from the Potions dungeon, inhaling deeply.
“I reckon that stink’s going to be there for a while,” said James. “I suppose that’s why they’re specific about clockwise and counter-clockwise.”
He felt something knock into his shoulder and he turned to find Claire James and Lily Evans looking at him with sharply narrowed eyes.
“Watch where you’re going,” Claire growled.
The two girls fell into a seemingly heated discussion, ignoring James and Sirius as they walked away. The two boys stared after them.
A small group of second-year Gryffindors were seated together, circling the fireplace in the common room in a heated conference. Claire and Lily, neither of whom could be bothered to explore the manner of the discussion, sat on the outskirts of the group, each in her respective armchair. The pair was conversing about the benefits and limitations of being raised as a Muggle before being introduced into the Wizarding world.
The rowdy conversation became increasingly louder until the students were yelling at one another. Claire looked to Lily with dark eyes, her lips forming a firm line.
She turned to the group and, loudly enough to be heard clearly over them, yelled, “Oi! Shut up!”
The group turned to look at her, though a couple of students did not meet her cold eyes.
“You can’t tell us to shut up,” said a boy Claire did not immediately recognize.
“We can if you’re being idiots,” said Lily firmly. The boy glared at her but said nothing.
“Then perhaps you can help us,” said Sirius Black charmingly, his eyes focused on Claire. “Would you say that the Chudley Cannons or Falmouth Falcons are more rubbish?”
With her eyebrows raised she replied, “That would be whatever team you support, you idiot.”
Sirius glared at her.
Sirius felt a collision with something relatively soft and lumpy, and then with something relatively hard and slippery. He heard nothing and would have otherwise thought he had died was it not for the sharp pain in his nose and the unnatural weight unevenly distributed on his left leg. As he pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping that it had not broken from the impact of undoubtedly breaking his fall, he heard a groan come from his left leg. He opened his eyes and saw a mass of dark hair before registering that it was, in fact, a person.
The mass of hair shook itself and confirmed that it was Claire James that he had unwittingly run into and that the weight on his leg was due to the fact that she had landed on top of him.
“Black? Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sitting on you,” she muttered, reseating herself onto the floor.
“You OK?” he asked. He felt around his nose for evidence of a warm, sticky liquid. His face was dry.
“Yeah, I think so. I didn’t kill you, did I?”
“No, I reckon I did a good enough job of that myself,” he grumbled, verifying that his face was still as it should be. “I didn’t do you in, did I?”
“No, rather you provided a nice cushion to land on.” Sirius caught the glimpse of a smile and for a moment his eyes unfocused.
“I think my eyes are broken,” he said.
“Well, as you’ve deduced that you likely did it yourself, you can’t hold me accountable.”
Sirius laughed softly. He lifted himself off the ground before offering Claire his hand and pulling her up to a standing position. As she dusted off her robes, he ruffled his hair absentmindedly. It was the first time that he had ever stood directly next to her and he was somehow uncomfortable with their proximity.
“Thank you,” she said graciously.
“You’re welcome. Nonetheless, I was on my way somewhere before we nearly massacred each other,” he replied, stepping away from her. “See you around?”
They turned away from each other and headed in opposite directions.
The second-year Gryffindor girls huddled closely together, the darkness of the night inhibited by the dance of the flickering candle. Their beds unoccupied, blankets and pillows lay strewn across the floor among the giggling of the small group. Without obligations the following day, the midnight meeting hoped to continue well into the early morning.
“What do you lot think of James? Potter, I mean,” asked Alice, smiling.
Lily’s small shift in demeanour did not pass unnoticed by Claire, who smiled, knowingly.
“I think he’s so good-looking,” tittered Rose Hornby, “Easily the best looking of all the boys in our year.”
“He is cute, but I don’t think he’s the best looking,” commented Annelise Witt hesitantly.
“What do you think, Lily?” Claire grinned at her deviously.
“What do you mean?”
“He obviously fancies you!” said Alice with excitement. “Since last year! Even you must think he’s attractive.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied stubbornly, turning up her nose.
Claire sighed. “She’s obviously in love with him and won’t say anything.”
The girls giggled and nodded their heads in animated agreement. Lily threw Claire a curious look.
“What do you think about Sirius Black?”
The room grew quiet as everyone looked to Claire in amusement, awaiting her response. Claire inwardly cursed Lily to die a thousand deaths, meeting the triumph sparkling in her green eyes.
“He’s only a little disgusting, don’t you think?”
Henrietta Merryweather laughed.
“What about that time the two of you sat in the common room, snuggling on the sofa?” Lily pressed.
“Snuggling? You mean the time we were talking about Transfiguration? I’m pretty sure he was disgusting then, too.” Claire grinned in satisfaction as she recognised Rose’s chuckle.
“That’s not what it looked like to me.”
Claire frowned at Lily, the blue of her eyes becoming hard and cold. “What are you getting at?” she asked.
“I mean that you fancy him.”
“Claire, really?” Annelise gasped.
“No, I don’t fancy him,” she replied truthfully. “I don’t see why I can’t talk to someone without you accusing me of liking him.”
The other girls seemed to accept this response easily enough, though Claire knew that Lily would not be satisfied. She knew full well that Lily was very sensitive when discussing James Potter.
“Even if you don’t fancy him,” continued Alice, “I heard that Chelsea Ford in Hufflepuff has since September.”
The congregation fell back into eager discussion, continuing until early into the morning.
The room of twelve year old boys roared with laughter as they watched James’s head rapidly balloon to double the size, and then slowly deflate as he swallowed his candy.
“I wouldn’t let Evans see you like that, mate,” said Sirius, replacing his own purple candies that James had just eaten in the bag labelled “Sugarplum’s Balloon Gums”.
“Not that she’d get a chance,” said Remus, smirking. “She spends too much time with Snape.”
“You reckon she fancies him?”
“Not as much as he fancies her,” answered Sirius, chuckling darkly.
“What’s a guy like Snape doing with a girl like her, anyway?” asked Peter. “I mean, she’s easily the prettiest girl in our year.”
“Definitely,” said James, eyeing Peter suspiciously.
“Nah, she’s not my type,” said Sirius, lying back and propping his feet up on his trunk.
“Fine, who do you think is the best looking girl in our year?” James asked, a devilish smirk playing at his lips.
“Gryffindors? Or everyone?”
“Oh, Sirius fancies Claire James,” said Peter. “Don’t you?” Everyone looked back to Sirius’s reddening face.
Sirius shot Peter a scathing look, damning his big mouth to hell and back. “I do not.”
“Pete’s right,” said James, fighting the smile threatening to spread across his face. “You’re always looking at her. Something you’re not telling us, eh?”
“I do not fancy her,” said Sirius angrily.
“You’re getting awfully angry there, Sirius,” prodded James. “Protesting too much?”
“It’s quite alright if you like her,” said Remus, encouragingly. “She’s not a bad looking girl. And she’s pretty smart.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what she’s saying half the time.” Remus snorted at Peter’s remark.
“C’mon, Sirius, you can tell us,” said James. “We promise we won’t make fun.”
“I have nothing to tell,” he said stubbornly, crossing his arms across his chest. “Except for that one time I accidentally blew up her cauldron, I barely even talk to her.”
“Ha! I remember that! She wanted to strangle you!”
“See, she’s violent,” Sirius replied, calmly. “It would never work out.”
James smiled wickedly. “Sirius, have you thought about asking her out?”
Something very cold and wet hit her in the back of her neck, seeping into her scarf. The cold slush slid down the back of her shirt and she cried out in shock. Claire heard the unmistakeable sound of someone sniggering behind her.
Whipping around, she shot Sirius Black an icy glare as she cleaned off the snow from her neck.
“You really should not have done that,” she said, her voice even.
He raised his eyebrows challengingly. Something in the gray of his eyes invited her, threatening her. She was sure that he would never live to see the light of day again as far as she was concerned.
She bent down to pick up a handful of snow, carefully moulding it into a ball. She felt Sirius watching her every move, anticipating her initial strike. She softly tossed the snowball up in the air, catching it as it came back down. A playful smirk danced across her lips as she quickly threw it high up in the air, following it with her wand.
For a moment, Sirius looked as though he had come out triumphant, before Claire’s snowball came at him from the sky, traveling at the speed of a Bludger. Without any time to react, it hit him square in the face, knocking him off his feet. As he lay in the snow, Claire walked off proudly while James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew roared with laughter.
Author's Note: To those of you who have already previously read this chapter, I hope you noticed the additional vignettes that I've added (and there may be more to come!), and to those of you who haven't, I hope you liked it!
Please review! And thank you for reading.