Chapter 3 : Chapter 3: Bubble, Bubble, Trains and Trouble
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Chapter 3: Bubble, Bubble, Trains and Trouble
I was just putting my spoon through some chocolate pudding when something floated past my face. I paused. I may not eat dinner in the Great Hall too often, but I had never seen anything fall from the ceiling while eating before. Focusing my eyes to the object in front of me, I dropped my spoon back into the pudding and just stared.
A small, transparent bubble did a lazy loop before the breeze in the Great Hall forced it out of my sight.
Looking around, I finally saw that everyone else in the Great Hall had noticed the bubbles before I did. And there were more than just a few bubbles. The bewitched ceiling, tinted deep orange to match the sunset outside, looked to be raining bubbles.
Another of these bubbles floated within my reach. I poked it with my finger. And like I suspected, it didn’t pop like a regular bubble. I caught it in my fingers and tried to burst it apart. Its spherical form distorted, but it never popped. As I released it, three more bubbles approached me.
I sat alone on the end of the Gryffindor table, closest to the oak doors out. The closest people sitting near me were a group of first years, talking excitedly about the upcoming summer, the feast, and the bubbles. Two of the small boys were creating shapes by stacking the bubbles together. Whatever they were creating was already nearly a meter high.
I looked up to the staff table. I expected the professors to be irritated to say the least. My eyes spotted Professor McGonagall first. Her lips were thin. Her own dessert was being ignored as she tried to speak to Professor Dumbledore. He, however, looked delighted at the bubble storm. He laughed as bubbles piled up on his plate, covering the remains of his pie.
The other professors seemed to match Professor Dumbledore’s reactions rather than McGonagall’s. Professor Flitwick laughed as he assembled his bubbles to look like a hat. Professor Sprout kept poking the bubbles with her fork. Professor Slughorn was attempting to collect the bubbles in an empty water goblet.
I tried to go back to my dessert and tune out everyone else in the hall. It wasn’t easy. The end of term feast always got everyone in the castle into the Great Hall for our last dinner at Hogwarts before we all left on the Hogwarts Express to go home for two months. With so many people eating and talking at once, it was sometimes hard to ignore my peers. Like now, for instance.
Right when I was blowing away bubbles from my pudding, a loud squeal emanated from the Slytherin table. Everyone, including me, looked up to see what was bothering that table.
It seemed that the bubbles weren’t just casually falling on their table as they had been with the other three houses and the staff. These bubbles seemed to be attracted to the students, attaching themselves to the robes, hair, and skin, basically any and all parts of the exposed Slytherins. The smaller students were already getting covered with a second layer as they tried to wipe the bubbles off their faces.
I looked back to the Gryffindor table. Like I expected, the four Marauders were laughing at the expense of our house rivals. James and Sirius were doubled over on their benches, tears rolling down their eyes as they clutched their guts. Peter was trembling with laughter, making him look like a vibrating piñata getting ready to explode. Remus was no exception. He was grinning widely, the most controlled but obviously involved in whatever prank his fellow Marauders were doing. I don’t think anyone but me noticed when he slipped his right hand under the table, put his left hand over his face casually, and muttered a few words.
While I might not notice everything that goes on in the castle, I’m still observant when I want to be. It didn’t take long for me to find the bubbly form of Severus Snape. Like all the other Slytherins, he was trying to keep the bubbles from covering his face. Above him, pink bubbles emerged from the ceiling, forming a nearly-straight line for the fifth year.
This is probably the most bubbles that Snape has ever seen in his life, I thought. I took a bite of pudding to keep my laughter under control.
I looked back up. The pink bubbles were gone. Snape, as well as all other Slytherins within arm’s reach, were now covered in a layer of green slime. Lime green slime. I giggled a little at the rhyme.
Everyone else in the hall also seemed to think this was a great turn of events. Through the muttering, I heard things like “Deserves what he got!” and “Shouldn’t have called her that.” One of the first years next to me even said, “I knew those two couldn’t have been friends like everyone said they were.”
I wonder who they’re talking about, I wondered. Obviously Snape did something to upset someone else. Oh well. At least I wasn’t targeted about this prank. I went back to finishing my pudding.
“Oi! Snape!” I looked up to see James standing in the middle of the table. “You might want to consider washing that filthy mouth out with soap.” As he spoke, a pink bar of soap appeared and slammed itself in Snape’s open mouth, just as he looked like he was going to yell at James. Across from James, Remus once again had his hand covering his mouth, his right arm beneath the table again. James smirked as he saw Snape try to pry the soap out of his mouth. It wouldn’t budge. “Glad to see you’re taking my advice!”
The Gryffindor table cheered, and James stood up to take a bow. His gaze rested at one red-headed fifth year in particular. He winked down at her.
Lily slapped him.
The hall went quiet as Lily got up from the table and turned to run out of the Great Hall. As she passed me, I saw the tears already running down her face.
After three seconds of looking like a deer in the headlights, James jumped out from behind the bench and went to chase after her.
Oh no you don’t, I thought. You’ve already done enough. I pulled my wand out from beneath the table and took aim. “Tarantallegra,” I whispered.
James’s legs started dancing uncontrollably as I hit him with this spell. He tried to continue after Lily, but his legs refused to go straight forward. He threw himself at a wall, sliding down to the floor to stay in one place. His legs, however, kept jerking around, dancing to an inaudible tune. He shot a glance at the Slytherin table. All of them, however, were still focused on keeping the bubbles out of their faces so they could breathe. Professor Slughorn was just making his way to his house table, casting a spell to make the bubbles popable.
I finished eating my dessert when the other three Marauders went over to James (after Professor McGonagall had a short word with them). Seeing other people also leaving the Great Hall, I got up and went to leave. As Sirius tried to get a good aim at James’s still-jerking legs, Remus looked from me, to James’s legs, back to me. He raised an eyebrow.
I shrugged, averted my gaze, and continued out of the hall. This might not have been any of my business, but if Remus could discretely curse James’s enemies, I could jinx a roommate’s foe.
Students at this school are predictable. If one gets a compartment at the very front of the train, people will pass that compartment, assuming that there has to be another open compartment somewhere else down the train. The entire school must have passed by my compartment and not once did anyone ask to join me. The train jerked into motion without anyone having backtracked to my compartment.
Hogsmeade Station soon disappeared as the train picked up its pace and headed back to London. Getting slightly motion sick from looking out the window, I slid over to sit closer to the compartment door and read one of the books I was getting for Zach. Five minutes and only two pages into the play, I understood why all my other friends made Zach write their papers. Oh well. What does ‘bite my thumb’ mean? What’s the big deal?
About two hours into the trip home and one outbreak of noise from an out-of-control game of Exploding Snap later, my compartment door slid open. Not expecting it (and after just figuring out that Caesar was stabbed by Brutus), I jumped. “Eep!”
“Sorry, Monroe.” Oh, it was just Remus. But then I saw his Prefect badge.
He’s just doing his rounds, I thought. Aloud, “No, it’s okay.” I picked up the book from the floor, hoping I didn’t wrinkle any pages (Zach, you crazy book-lover!) and found my spot. “I just didn’t expect anyone.” No prefect ever popped their head into my compartment before.
After a few moments, I realized Remus was still standing in the doorway. Did he expect something from me? Sirius’s words from just last week echoed in my head. “Remus is a Marauder. The biggest trouble-makers in school? He would never get anyone from Gryffindor in trouble!” Then again, didn’t I just see him pull off that stunt in the Great Hall yesterday, which is certainly not a Prefect duty? There was no way James or Sirius could have done it with the way they were laughing (sorry, Peter, but everyone knows Remus tutors you in everything). And then there was that look he gave me after I jinxed James. Jinxed James. Ha, that sounded funny!
“What’s so funny?” Remus asked. He didn’t sound accusing. Just inquisitive.
“Uh, nothing.” Why was Remus just standing there? “Um, do you need anything?”
“I’m just making my rounds,” he said.
I paused, not sure if I should say something or not. But with summer freedom so close, my mouth won out over my brain. “So they assigned you to patrol one compartment? Don’t they trust you with more duties?” Merlin, I did not just say that! This is just great!
Remus surprised me with a small smile. “Who would have thought you would have such a witty remark?”
“If only you knew,” I muttered.
“What was that?”
The air was silent around us again. Remus tried looking around, but he didn’t leave like I wanted him to. I went back to Shakespeare. Learning Latin seemed easier than decoding this stuff.
“So, what are you reading?” Remus asked.
I showed him the cover. “I wouldn’t have passed a Muggle literacy course, I can promise you that.”
“Is that for one of your friends?” he asked. “The one from the letter?”
“Yeah, pretty much.” I shrugged. “Though I don’t see why Muggles think this was so great. I don’t get it.”
Remus hummed in agreement and the compartment went silent again.
I didn’t like the silence. Maybe I should ask Remus about himself a little. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in small talk? “So,” I started slowly.
“So,” he replied in the same tone.
I sighed, racking my brain for something intelligent to say. “So, uh, how’s Addison doing?”
Instead of smiling, Remus frowned and tilted his head to the side a little bit. “Uh, I guess she’s okay. We’re not dating anymore.”
“Really?” I thought she was Remus‘s girlfriend.
“Yeah. We only dated for about two weeks in fourth year, remember?”
“Two weeks?” Okay, not only was I not sounding intelligent, but I just showed him how much, or rather how little, I pay attention to the social status of my peers. “Who else did I miss?” Ouch, that sounded a little too blunt, Artemis. What is the matter with you?
Remus, however, didn’t seem too phased by that comment. “Renee, Celia, and Kati. They never lasted too long.” He shrugged. “We always agreed to just be friends.”
Wow, he dated three other girls and I wasn’t aware of it? I asked myself. Where was I? Oh right, the library. Duh. Wait, he dated Kati? My dorm mate? How could you not notice, Artemis?! It must be special talent of mine not to know the gossip of Hogwarts.
Another explosion went off further down the corridor, but Remus made no effort to check it out. Instead, he leaned against the door frame and looked down at me, practically staring a hole into my forehead.
Using that very skill I’ve learned over the past five years, I tuned out Remus’s stare. I checked my progress in the book. One act in two hours?! I thought this was Act III at least! Oh well, it passes the time.
“You jinxed James’s legs last night, didn’t you?”
I looked up from my book. Remus now had his arms crossed in front of him. The look in his amber eyes told me that I wasn’t hearing things- Remus did just ask me that.
I closed the book and returned Remus’s cool stare. “You set the bubbles on Snape and the Slytherins, didn’t you?”
Remus raised an eyebrow at this. “You saw?”
I nodded. “You have a habit of covering your mouth with your left hand when you don’t want anyone seeing your lips move.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. But why did you jinx James?”
“He was going after Lily. She was really upset for some reason.” Although she’d never gotten so worked up over one of the Marauders’ pranks before. And compared the previous jokes on the Slytherins, this one was rather tame. “Although I don’t know why.”
“You mean you haven’t heard?” This time both eyebrows shot up. I shook my head. Remus sighed. “Well, just last week, Snape, er, he called Lily a, um, you know.”
“A Mudblood?” I whispered. “Who cares about blood status? It means nothing! I mean, she’s one of the smartest in our year! Just barely under you, Potter, and Black.”
“And you of course,” Remus reminded me. “But James was so mad with Snape. You are aware that James is in love with Lily, right?”
I rolled my eyes. “Merlin do I know.”
“We’re just guessing Lily is still a little sensitive to the topic. Apparently she and Snape were close friends up until last week.”
I groaned. Mudblood. Who ever thought of that term? There’s nothing dirty about anyone’s blood. So what if someone has Muggle parents? They’re like the perfect bridge to the two worlds. And Lily just proves that Muggle-borns can do magic just as well, or better, than those so-called Purebloods.
I was still grumbling about how thick certain students at this school could be when the witch who pushes the trolley filled with candies started on her traditional journey through the train, coming to stop in front of the first compartment. Mine. “Would either of you care for something from the trolley, dears?” she asked.
I pulled out my money bag hidden in my robes. But upon opening it, I was reminded on how much I spent as Hogsmeade last weekend. I didn’t think anything from the trolley cost so little that I could afford it. “Uh, no thanks,” I muttered, returning my light money bag into my robes. I wondered if shoe laces were edible for a couple of seconds.
The witch moved on, crying out throughout the rest of this car. I heard numerous people yell at each other as they rushed to get in line for the candies.
I had just picked up my book again, determined to read through it faster, when Remus took my wrist in his hand. Surprised again that he was still here, I looked up at him. “Wha-?”
“Here.” With his free hand, he placed a Chocolate Frog in my palm, closing my fingers around the candy. “I don’t have any more on me, but I can bring back more if you want.” His eyes were locked on our hands.
“Lupin, you don’t have to-”
“You’re hungry. I can hear your stomach growl from here.” He slowly and deliberately made himself let go of both me and the Chocolate Frog. “If you want more, you can always come down to our compartments. The Marauders, I mean.” His ears started to turn pink. “They wouldn’t mind. That way you wouldn’t have to sit alone. I mean, you just seem so lonely. . .” His voice trailed off.
“I don’t mind being alone,” I said softly. My hand still felt warm from his touch. That warmth seemed to have spread from his touch and had traveled up to my chest, now just creeping up the sides of my neck. What was wrong with me? “And I can’t-”
But by then Remus was gone. I pressed my face against the compartment window to watch him walk away. He seemed to just glance into the other compartments, not taking the time to speak to anyone else. Once he was out of my sight, I sat back down and slowly started eating the chocolate Remus left with me.
I gave up on Shakespeare by the end of the second act. Yeah, Zach would definitely have had to write my paper if I was in a Muggle school with him. Congratulations, Artemis, you’re actually a witch. Your only worry is writing papers about Urg the Unclean and Wendelin the Weird. Oh, and creating potions that might become poison if you mix it wrong.
I was already in my Muggle cloths, looking out the window as the train pulled into Platform 9 ¾. Please, I just wanted to get my summer started. And to begin, I wanted food. I couldn’t wait for Dad’s cooking. Mum’s food always came out burnt (“At least you won’t get sick from undercooked foods!”).
I was probably the fifth person off the train. But there were too many people in my way for me to see my parents. The witches and wizards around me seemed to look through me, a few smiling when they saw their own children. I once almost ran into a stern-looking couple. The woman frowned at me before ignoring me all together. She didn’t even acknowledge my apology.
“Artemis! Over here!”
I found my dad calling from near the back of crowd. I ran through everyone and jumped the last five feet into his arms. I clutched his neck tightly and he twirled me around once, then set me down.
“Oh no, my baby’s grown!” Dad said, trying to frown. His lips still curved upward though. “How did this happen?”
“Five months and Hogwarts food,” I answered. “When you feed kids, they tend to grow.”
“No problems this year?” Dad asked me.
“You didn’t get a letter from McGonagall, did you?” I asked as my reply, putting my hands on my hips. I rolled my eyes for dramatic effect.
“With my daughter? Who knows what you get away with?” He looked around. “Where’s your trunk? And Peck?”
I feigned surprise. “But Daddy, you always get my stuff for me!”
“Artemis, how old are you?”
Dad sighed. “Don’t you think you’re old enough to get your own trunk?”
I shook my head. “Nope. I’ll do it when I’m seventeen and can use the Locomotor spell outside of school. Besides, that’s what dads are for!”
“Hopefully. They’ve sat through school long enough!” I ducked my dad’s reach as he went to weave through the throng of people to get my trunk and Peck. I soon spotted Mum just a few feet away from where Dad had been. She was talking to another couple.
“Hi Mum!” I yelled, running over to her and engulfing her in a hug. When I released her, I realized Dad was right- I had grown! Mum and I were now the same height at 1.7 meters (or roughly five foot six for those who can’t do metric).
Mum seemed to think the same thing. “Who are you and what have you done with my little girl?” she asked sternly. Then she smiled. “Never mind. I like the young woman I see standing before me.”
I stuck out my tongue. “Young woman? I’m only sixteen, you know.”
“In half a year you’ll be of age in this world,” Mum reminded me.
“I won’t be a fully qualified witch until I finish my N.E.W.T.’s when I’m eighteen,” I reminded her. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
“I wouldn’t think of kicking you out,” Mum said. “What would Dad and I do without you?”
“What have you been doing for the past five months then?” I teased her.
Mum’s face turned pink. “That’s not the point.” After I finished laughing for getting the better of her, she said, “I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced you.” She turned to the couple behind her. “This is the daughter I was telling you about, Artemis. Artemis, this is-”
Mum and I looked back to who called. Of course, it just had to be Remus Lupin. He was walking towards us, his trunk already on a trolley. His eyes widened slightly when he saw me. “Monroe! Hello again.”
“Again?” Mum whispered in my ear. I elbowed her to keep her quiet.
“Hi, Lupin,” I said.
“Oh, so this is your son!” Mum exclaimed to the couple beside us.
But the Lupins didn’t seem to be paying attention. Mrs. Lupin rushed forward to hug her son. Remus stood about twenty centimeters taller than the woman. His dad walked up to Remus and whispered something to him. Remus’s face remained neutral as he made a short nod and muttered something. I wasn’t able to read his lips.
“He’s cute,” Mum whispered to me.
“Please, don’t,” I whispered back, worried she might start talking and not stop short of humiliating me.
“Just making an observation,” she said. “Though he’s a bit pale.” She looked back at me. “As are you.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve been studying inside for the past five months. I thought you picked that up from all my letters.”
“Well, you could use some sun. Not too much, though. But just enough.”
At that time Dad came up with another trolley, Peck perched in his cage on top of my trunk. “Are we ready to go?” he asked us.
“I think so-” Mum started.
“Wait!” I dug into the pocket of my jeans and pulled out the Chocolate Frogs Card that came with the candy Remus gave me on the train. “Hey, Lupin?”
Remus, along with his parents, turned around to face me. All three of them looked confused.
“Thanks for the chocolate on the train,” I said, handing him the card. “This is yours.”
Remus looked like he was going to refuse it. “But I gave-”
“I’m not into collecting the cards,” I lied. In reality, I had nearly all the cards, but that was because I bought them myself. Remus bought that Chocolate Frog, so the card should belong to him. “It’s yours.” I placed the card on his trunk and turned back to my parents. “Okay, let’s go!” I said in a hyper voice. “Move! Move move move! You guys are slower than I remember! Shoo! I wanna go home!”
“How much sugar did you have on that train?” Dad asked as we walked toward the barrier.
“Only one frog,” I said.
“Did you eat anything else?” Dad asked.
Dad sighed. “So we’re going to have to deal with five months of pent-up energy this summer?”
“Merlin help us all,” Dad prayed.
“Amen,” Mum added.
A/N: I hope this chapter turned out right. It took a while to get the Marauder prank written, and I’m still not sure about it. The next chapter shows Artemis in the Muggle world. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions/comments/concerns. Thanks! (Oh, and I do not own anything from Shakespeare either. Artemis’s reactions to Shakespeare belong to her and do not reflect my own personal thoughts or opinions.)
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