Chapter 6 : No smoke without fire
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At breakfast, the day after the Hogsmeade visit, Lily Evans sat at the Gryffindor table, trying to figure out why people were talking about her – as she could sense that they were. She sat with Rachel, leisurely buttering herself some toast, but she could feel eyes on her back, and lots of the girls around the hall were giving her death stares.
“Rach,” she said, turning to her friend with the frank, honest face and light brown hair. “Am I being paranoid or are people talking about me?”
“You’re paranoid.” Rachel confirmed automatically. However, after a swift glance around the room, her opinion seemed to change, as she took in the looks that their table was getting – some curious, and others that could only be described as hostile.
“Are you sure?” Lily asked.
“Well, now you mention it…” Rachel began honestly, “We are getting some funny looks, but maybe it’s me they’re talking about.”
“What have you done?”
“What have you done?” Rachel was interested.
The two girls were joined suddenly by Mary Macdonald, who plonked herself down beside Lily excitedly.
“So,” she pressed. “Is it true?”
“Is what true?”
“You, and Sirius Black?”
“I was only winding you up the other day, we didn’t know there was anything actually going on!”
“Lily!” exclaimed Rachel, amused.
“There is nothing going on!” Lily was bemused and annoyed – where had this come from? Unless Sirius was right and Louisa and her friends had spread rumours about yesterday. But it wasn’t like they had seen anything – all they had to go on was that she’d gone in the back room with him. She could dismiss this as an unfounded rumour, but Merlin, news travelled fast!
“Where did you get this from?” She asked Mary.
“Jenny Nightshade, Hufflepuff. She’s like James’s second cousin or something. She wanted to know, and I quote, ‘how you could do this to him’…”
“Me and Potter were never together! I don’t owe him anything!”
“Er, Lily, that didn’t sound like a denial to me…”
“There is NOTHING going on between me and Sirius!” she repeated. Mary and Rachel looked at each other.
“You just called Black by his first name.”
Lily was on the defensive now.
“So what if I did? I call James by his first name…sometimes.”
“So there’s definitely nothing?”
“NO! I’ll tell you where these rumours are coming from though – yesterday, when I went back to get my jacket from The Three Broomsticks, Black had kept it in the back room for me and I went in with him to get it back. That’s it. Alice and Beth were there, and so were Louisa and Aimee and some other girls. One of them probably started all this – it wouldn’t have been Louisa though.”
“No, she’s rooting for you and James.”
Lily looked at her scathingly, and Mary held up her hands in defence, grinning.
“That makes sense I suppose,” said Rachel, reasonably. “And the rumour explains this lot.” She gestured around to the glaring girls, and laughed.
“Yeah,” added Mary, with a laugh of her own. “You better watch out Lily, or the Aul Sirius Black fan-club’ll get you!”
The rest of breakfast was enjoyable, as the three girls talked over all the old rumours that had been spread around the school. Some had been so ridiculous that it was hard to imagine that they could have been believed – at the time of course, everyone had been convinced that they were the gospel truth.
“Do you remember when everyone was saying…” choked Mary, hardly able to contain her hilarity “That Macgonagal… had left….Mr Macgonagal….for, for Flitwick!” She burst into raucous laughter.
“Then again,” she added fairly, as she managed to control herself. “No smoke without fire…”
Catching Lily’s eye she realised her mistake, and tried to appear serious for a moment. “Not always, of course.” She corrected herself, but her expression seemed to say otherwise.
Sirius was having similar trouble to Lily that day, in convincing people that he and Lily Evans were not secretly going out. Girls gave him aggrieved looks in the corridors, but worse was the disgust in the faces of the other boys, that showed him clearly that they thought he was a scumbag for “betraying” James. Some did slap him on the back and congratulate him, but in general, people weren’t so keen on the idea. Sirius denied every accusation of their involvement vehemently – although he was beginning to wish that he was seeing Lily, as it seemed he was going to get all the agro for it anyway. What worried him was that he hadn’t yet seen James that morning, as he had been up at dawn for a Quidditch practice, and hadn’t yet returned. Sirius needed to get to him before anyone else did, as even Remus, the most trustworthy person he knew, might let on to James what he had almost seen on the night of Sirius’s party – if he thought the cat was already out of the bag. James was the best friend Sirius had ever had, and, if he had to admit it, probably the most important person in his life. He didn’t want to jeopardise that friendship over one stupid rumour…..Well, he admitted to himself, a bit more than a rumour.
Sirius headed down towards the Quidditch pitch, were the Gryffindor team were just finishing up. They all looked tired but satisfied, and James, with his hair all windswept, grinned over at Sirius.
“Great! How was practice?”
“Phenomenal!” James shouted back in a very bad Spanish accent. “Just off to get changed – do you want to lend the broom, while you wait?”
“Yeah, chuck it over then.”
James tossed his new Cleansweep 1 to Sirius, who reached up and caught it in one clean movement. One of the female chasers behind James sighed dreamily at this, and the two Marauders laughed. As the team disappeared into the changing room, Sirius mounted the broom and kicked off into the air, he felt the rush of cold wind in his face, and his spirits lifted considerably. He loved to fly, but couldn’t be bothered with the long hours of training, and strict rules of the game he would have had to put up with had he been on the team. He had also always been a little bit insecure when it came to his Quidditch skills – it was only thing that his little brother ever beat him at – except in their parents’ affections, of course.
As he flew a few laps around the pitch Sirius thought about James. He realised that James would believe him if he told him the rumours were just rumours, he shouldn’t be worried – James trusted him. He felt guilty for a moment, but concluded that he was trustworthy, as he had broken it off between himself and Lily. Not that there had been much going on in the first place – neither encounter had even been planned. A few minutes later, Sirius spotted the team emerging from the changing room, and flew back down to earth. Strangely, the rest of the players hurried off as he approached, leaving just James, who waited for Sirius, looking stony-faced. Something was wrong, and Sirius suddenly felt nervous.
“Prongs, are you okay?” Sirius asked, keeping the tone of his voice casual, but concerned.
“I’m great.” James replied, and his voice was as hard as his expression.
“Whatever you’ve heard…”
“Lisa Finnegan told me, it’s all over the school – you and Lily Evans.” James’s voice was full of anger, but his eyes looked hurt.
“I don’t care about you seeing her.” James cut across him. “But I do care if you’ve been lying to my face, and telling me she was changing her mind about me, when all the time…”
“Just tell me if it’s true or not, and stop acting like such a cowardly mutt – Lisa was positive it’s true, she wasn’t going to tell me until she saw me and you together, and assumed I must know, and be alright with the whole thing.”
“What an idiot – obviously we wouldn’t have had time to talk about…”
“Tell me, Black!” His voice came out in a snarl, as his eyes bored into Sirius’s, awaiting his answer. Sirius stared back, before saying calmly
“No Prongs, there’s nothing going on.”
“Really?” James sounded hopeful, the expression in his eyes was beginning to soften.
“Really.” Sirius assured him, relieved that James seemed to believe him. “It’s just rumours because me and Lily talk now, and we never used to – some stupid girls have made it up, just to make their boring little lives a bit more exciting.”
James gave him a long look, and hearing truth in Sirius’s words he laughed out loud.
“Well thank God for that!” he said, pulling Sirius into a manly hug. Sirius grinned, and the two of them started to walk back towards the castle.
“Sorry mate,” continued James as they walked. “I shouldn’t have doubted you, it’s just, I get a bit funny about that girl.” He laughed again. “ - Or you could call it jealous and paranoid.”
“It’s fine,” Sirius answered him. “I could definitely see your point of view – oh but Cowardly mutt? Really, that was a bit personal.”
“Sorry.” James repeated jovially. He was walking with a spring in his step. “You know,” he carried on. “ I honestly wouldn’t mind if you and Lily got it together – if you won her fair and square I’d have no problem with it. I just would have felt like an ejit if you’d been lying to me.”
Despite himself, Sirius seriously doubted this statement, but he kept quiet.
“And it did seem likely,” James went on, “That there was something between you two, seeing as she talks to you now…..”
“Well that’s a good sign,” said Sirius. “For you I mean - the fact that she doesn’t hate me by association. She’s warming to you, my friend.”
“Maybe.” He said. “Do you fancy taking the motorbike out later? Just for a run?”
Sirius smiled widely – both because the subject had been changed, and because he was still genuinely excited about his birthday present.
“Definitely.” He replied. “I can’t wait.”
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