Chapter 2 : II. What
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“Strategy,” Sirius points out, “Is key.”
I glance at James, and then at Peter, both of them intently listening to his every word. I subconsciously nod my head, my attention snapping back to Sirius. The air around us is thick, and deadly vital. We’ve secluded ourselves to a table in the corner of the common room, away from everyone. It’s almost lunch time and the place is beginning to clear out.
“What we’ve got to do is simple: sneak into the slumber party undetected, take Lily’s diary, read it and scan for anything she might have written about Prongs, and leave the premises without anyone finding out.”
“But…” Peter begins.
“But,” Sirius continues, “The hardest part isn’t leaving undetected. It isn’t finding out where her diary is, and it most certainly isn’t having enough time to read it before putting it back where we found it. The hardest part is getting in.”
He’s right. We have to develop a good strategy in order to make sure our outcome is successful. All we have right now is an objective: the diary. But we have no set of plans to carry out our mission, which is why we decided to skip lunch today. We’d have the whole common room to ourselves to discuss our Master Plan.
Peter thinks for a moment, and then asks, “How are we going to get in though? We can’t use Polyjuice Potion. And none of the girls would work behind Lily’s back and go for it, which means we can’t get any help from Lily’s friends to get in.”
I look around the room; there’s no one in sight. Good, now we don’t have to worry about anyone overhearing.
“Yeah,” James says, starting to sound worried. “I agree with him. We can’t blindly go in there without any sense of direction. There’s no outside source to help us out on this one. Not only that,” he states strongly, his voice rising, “but we have no idea where Lily keeps her diary in the first place!” He runs his hands through his hair, and adds, “If it really is strapped to her side, I’m royally screwed! And I won’t be able to impregnate her in a few years to come!“ Sirius puts a hand on his shoulder, silencing him.
“Hey, now. Don’t start psyching yourself out, Prongs! We can do this. If you get nervous then you won’t have a clear head, and if you don’t have a clear head-”
“Everything’s going to go to shit,” he finishes, exhaling. “And I’ll never get my mojo back, setting in stone the fact that you won’t be getting your mojo back.”
Usually James is always up for this kind of fun, but since his relationship (or lack thereof) with Lily is on the line, he’s not taking control of the mission - Padfoot’s stepped in to take charge. There’s no way James could do it because he’s emotionally involved, so he has more to lose if Lily catches him. Or if anyone catches him, for that matter. Which means that he’s more likely to mess up or change plans last minute.
“Mate,” I tell him in a reassuring voice, “We’re doing this for you. Sirius isn’t going to put a plan into action he thinks will end in failure. Whatever we plan, it’s going to be one hundred percent fool-proof. Or else we won’t go through with it.”
“Oh, of course. Of course,” he replies quickly, look at the ground. “I know that you guys- Well, I mean… I just think there’s more stuff being thrown against us, rather than for us. You know?”
The tone of his voice tells me that he’s genuinely worried. Normally, I’d tell him to get a grip, but I feel a bit sad for him. He’s trusting us with this because he loves this girl; well, maybe it’s not love yet, but it could get there. Lily’s really got him hooked. I’m usually not good with sympathy when it comes to sympathizing over women (my motto: if they don’t like you, move on, because it’s not the end of the world) but this is different.
“I know what you mean,” Peter agrees, sitting up in his plushy chair. “And you’re right, mate. There’s more against us than for us; but that doesn’t mean we can’t manipulate who’s against us. We’re the marauders, damn it, and there’s nothing we can’t handle.”
Sirius turns his full attention to Peter. “What do you mean, Peewee? Manipulation? How so?” Sirius asks, instantly interested. His ears perk up and that devilish smile that usually scares the shit out of me is on his face. He leans back in the loveseat and puts his hands behind his head.
Wormtail looks down at the coffee table in front of us, smirking to himself. He lifts his eyes upwards and looks at all of us. “Lily’s friends. Lily’s very, very cute friends.”
Peter’s eyes land on Padfoot, and he’s giving him a mirror image of his own devilish grin.
I don’t like the sound of this.
“Woah,” I put my hands out, slowly understanding. “Now wait a minute-”
“HAH!” Sirius slams his hands on the table. “You’re a genius, Petey!”
Peter’s beaming. “I’m pretty kick-arse.” he shrugs, relaxing back into his chair.
Even James chuckles, shaking his head. “That’s devious. Slash, I kind of like it… Why didn’t I think of that? Love has stricken my mojo and my inability to think deviously straight! I can’t believe it!”
“Prongs,” I say warningly.
He leans forward off the loveseat, putting his hands on his knees. While making eye contact with Wormtail, he mumbles proudly. “And it’s just what we need, brethren…”
“No,” I say exasperatedly. “Come on, guys.”
“What’s the problem, Moony?” James questions, turning to me. “They’ll know where she keeps her diary - they live with her for Christ’s sake! What better way to find out where it is,” he winks at me, “Than coaxing it out of them?”
“We are not seducing her friends!” I proclaim, throwing my arms around after every word I say.
Are they barking mad!? That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard! Besides the fact that Sirius likes to do that for fun every other day, this could blow up in our faces! If one of us blatantly tries to convince one of the girls to tell us where the diary is, they’ll catch on quick. They’re going to tell on us because they’ll know we were trying to take it!
“Don’t worry, there’s only five of them,“ Peter wheedles.
Gee, ONLY FIVE. That’s excellent.
“Right, because anything bigger than five would just be indecent,” I reply sarcastically.
“Only three of them are going to the slumber party, though. We just don’t know which ones. These selected five girls are the closest to Lily Evans. Moony, remember your friend of a friend of Lily’s friend, that told you about the slumber party in the first place? They didn’t mention who was going to be there, did they? Three out of those five girls are going to be there. We have five girls to choose from - might as well get some of them covered.” James shrugs.
I throw him an alarming look.
“What? It’s worth a shot.” He sticks his tongue out at me.
“We can take turns,” Peter starts, “You, Me, and Sirius will take one girl each. So two won’t be accounted for. But if we have any time, we’ll get them later on. Oh, and James won’t be participating.”
“Righty-o,” James states, doing a motion similar to saluting a captain/drill sergeant with his fingers.
How come he gets to sit this one out?
“Don’t give me that look, Moony. I’m sacrificing a good flirting session, or possibly even a nice snog for this,” Prongs tells me, reading my face. He puts his feet up on the coffee table, spreading his arms out on top of the back of the loveseat. “I’m faithful to Lily, you know that. She’s my fiery-haired maiden of love.”
I sigh, exhaling out of my nose.
“Look a wee bit like a fire-breathing dragon there, mate,” Sirius comments, smiling.
“You are way too excited for this,” I shake my head.
“Can’t a bloke be cheerful?” Sirius Black’s sly smile makes itself known. He’s imagining empty broom cupboards right now, I’ll bet you fifty galleons.
I purse my lips in response. “This is so wrong.”
“Stop shaking your head, Moony!” Wormtail shakes my shoulders. “This is PERFECT. If we can do this, and find out where Lily keeps her diary, we’ll have a lead. The only thing left to figure out is how to get inside the girls’ dorm! It’ll cut our work load in half. And this is a group effort, so we can’t do this without you.”
“I’m not snogging one of Lily’s friends to attain information!”
Doing shit like that makes me feel guilty. And I mean really really guilty. I can’t lie for the life of me, let alone persuade someone to give me what I want. If I’m not all for the idea, I can’t follow through. It’s just how I am! I’ve always been the brains of the group, the planner, the secretary, the whatever-the-hell you want to call it. Through all our other Marauder Master Plans, the labor and the following through was usually done by someone else.
“You don’t have to snog her! Just dazzle your way into flirty conversation, and ease on into it. Every other sentence should be a question, followed by long dialogue in between. You have to fake the conversation. Once you get the meat, cut off as quickly as you can. But not too bluntly, you want to make her think it was real, and your interests were just general.”
“Gah!” I hate this! Reminds me of that one time Padfoot got me to go and steal a girly magazine back in First year, because he wanted to know what ‘DD’ meant. I was a prat for thinking that was all he wanted to know. Needless to say, he knew what DD meant, he just wanted to see them up close. Along with other things.
I almost cried that night! I felt like I was going to eternal damnation.
“We never make you physically participate with our schemes, so you’ve gotta do this! You owe us. I would if I could but this time the tables are turned. Take one for the team,” James reasons, throwing his hand up like Robert DeNiro, or any other Italian, in a courtroom.
The corner of Peter’s mouth turns upward, into a domineering smirk. “That Valerie girl thinks your cute, you know.”
Heat rises to my cheeks. “Please don’t make me do this.”
I’m always calm and collected, never too excited or fond of anything. I’m like a wise-man except I don’t dress like I’m homeless. And I have good dental hygiene. But flirting and seducing a girl to find out where some chick keeps her diary? Not sure if I can stay cool for this one…
“Hey, it’s painful for us, too,” Sirius fruitfully says, the bastard.
“I’m sure,” I growl.
He just laughs. “The blonde one, what’s her name…Emily, I think… She’s been eyeing me up since the start of term. So I’ll go for her. Time for me to go back on my Blonde Girl escapade again. Remus has Valerie, and you…?” Sirius turns to Peter.
“I was thinking Jasmin.”
“Oooooo,” James and Sirius coo suddenly, tilting their heads back. It sounds as if they’re in pain, and their faces are squinted.
“Why are you guys looking at me like I’ve been kicked below the belt or something? She’s a hot gal, what’s with the ‘oh, man, we feel your pain’ faces?” Peter demands, eyebrows raised. He’s right, she is quite the looker. Her long black hair ends at her waist and she has the perfect caramelized skin. She has Somalian in her and her father is from India. And everyone knows that she’s won belly-dancing competitions. Which makes her all the more desirable to every guy in Gryffindor.
Prongs and Padfoot share a look. “I wouldn’t go for her if I were you,” Sirius advises, scratching the back of his head and looking off.
“Padfoot and I think that she may be taken…” James trails off.
“What do you mean? She’s completely available!”
“Not to men,” Sirius utters.
Peter looks absolutely left out in the dark, utterly confused about what they’re saying. I think I may know what they’re talking about, but I’ll just keep my mouth shut.
“Prongs and I know these things, alright? Jasmin may not be interested, so we can’t risk it. And it’s not ‘cause you’re not attractive, Petey. Because you are.”
“You’re a sexy guy,” James says simply, shrugging.
“But sexiness aside, you may not be what she’s interested in. Jasmin’s best friends with Lydia.” Sirius tries his best to speak clearly and carefully, hoping Peter (who’s as intuitive as a tissue box and as daft as a teaspoon) will pick up on the hint.
“Yeah, and?” Peter’s still confused.
Lydia’s also very pretty. She has light brown hair that’s shoulder length with thick bangs that fall from the top of her forehead down to her eyebrows. She has really long lashes and the perfect set of lips. Lydia actually reminds me of one of those porcelain dolls; she has a great complexion.
James inhales a big breath. “Well, as attractive as these two ladies are… they are more than meets the eye.”
“What are they, then?” Peter tries on.
“They’re very nice,” James replies quickly, stalling a bit.
“Very pretty,” Padfoot begins to alternate along with James.
“Yeah,” James nods. “Very easy to get along with.”
“Very nice legs.”
“Very touch-y feel-y.”
“Very sensual women.”
“Very personal with each other.”
Silence ensues around the coffee table as we all stare at Peter expectantly. I can hear the grandfather clock ticking away at every second that passes by.
Peter’s eyebrows are furrowed for just a moment and then he gets it. “Oh,” he murmurs.
“Yeah,” James and Sirius both conclude, their hands folded together. “At least, we think so. Prongs and I have only ever observed when we were making our annual Who Looks The Most Snoggable list last week.”
“Oh, damn… That’s- wow, I mean… That’s…” And then he goes off into a trance.
I smack him in the back of the head. “Now is not the time for fantasies,” I scold.
Wormtail doesn’t move for a second, then the initial shock wears off. He turns to me and soothes the redness growing on the back of his neck, his face flat as a brick. He quickly throws me a sarcastic smile before Sirius continues on.
“Right… so that cancels out Jasmin and Lydia. The only person left is-”
“The other brunette,” Peter sighs. “Daphne.”
Crap, we forgot about her. Daphne is a very… feminine lady. As in: she’s a hardcore feminist and hates most men that try to talk down to her. This includes Professor Slughorn. She wears cat-like glasses and red lipstick. And it’s not as if she doesn’t like boys, she does - it’s just that it’s much harder to woo her than most girls. She’s kind of uptight. So she’s skeptical of everything.
“You’ll just have to talk your way into it, no flirting at first,” Sirius wisely tells Peter. “She’s the kind that likes structure, posture, etiquette, and all that crap. So… you’re gonna actually have to have a stable conversation with her. Mainly about politics and female equality.”
Peter frowns. “What a load of poo.”
James looks at his watch and rises from the loveseat. “Okay, lads. It’s almost the end of lunch, time to head down.” His stomach grumbles. And so do ours. As we head down to the Great Hall, Sirius Black clears his throat to get our attention - because when it comes to hunger, we have one goal and one goal only…to stuff our faces.
“Guys, let’s make sure to go as far as we can with this without them suspecting a thing. So pull a red card and run away from the girl if you think she’s getting suspicious. We can’t risk it. One of us is bound to hit the jackpot and get an answer, so don’t force it out of your girl. Out of the four of us, at least one is most likely to find out where Lily’s diary is, but in the case that none of us succeed, we’ll have to resort to Mr. Bubbles.”
Mr. Bubbles a Fifth Year in Ravenclaw who didn’t exactly live in a posh neighborhood growing up. Half his life was spent back and for between his mum in Birmingham and his dad in south London. Both of their flats were located in not so great places, so he befriended a few criminals, some French and some English. Some of them gang members and some of them street gymnasts. They taught him the thievery trade and how to run off roof tops. He’s a great bloke, don’t get me wrong, he was just influenced by the wrong people. At the age of ten he could hop off a four story window and work his way down each window pane until he reached the street corner. Fortunately for Mr. Bubbles, he never got caught. And that’s why he’s reliable - he leaves everything as it was.
“Wow,” is all I say. “I’m impressed. Way to think ahead.”
“Do you think he’d do it though?” Peter pipes up. “Like, successfully? I reckon he could sneak up there long enough to tell us where it’s located but, I mean, its still the girls’ stairs. It could turn into a slide in two seconds flat. Not sure if he’s ever dealt with that before, I don’t think. I mean, that’s what our conflict is centered on.”
James rolls his eyes. “You’re a git if you think Mr. Bubbles can’t manage going up a flight of stairs. The man’s a gazelle. I swear, he’s part of the matrix and he can defy gravity.”
I don’t know how he thinks of his reasoning, sometimes.
“Obviously,” I say.
Long story short; Mr. Bubbles was a street gymnast/thief until he got his letter when he was thirteen (he was a late bloomer when it came to magic) and cleaned up his act. He transferred in two years ago. No one knows what his real name is - he says that his nickname growing up was Bubbles because whenever someone thought they caught him stealing, he’d poof into thin air before they turned around for a good look. It’s as if someone popped out of sight, because he was always nowhere to be found. He had a talent with escaping unscathed because he was alarmingly fast.
And I guess when he hit puberty he decided to amp his name up to Mr. Bubbles… Who knows?
He even signs his parchment as Mr. Bubbles, and the professors call him Mr. B or Mr. Bub sometimes, too. Everyone knows Mr. Bubbles, it’s just a custom to being a Hogwarts student. I mean, who else could help you steal stuff in Hogwarts?
People started coming to Mr. Bubbles late last year asking if he could hack in to people’s dorms, teacher’s classrooms, broom closets, and get stuff for them. Eventually, he made a business out of it. But only if your reason was legitimately important and if you were willing to pay serious cash. If it was superficial or unethical (as far as he’d consider it to be, anyway), he wouldn’t do it. He’s pretty reliable and always keeps his mouth shut, though. He’s the type of guy that gets the job done, and doesn’t stop until he’s fulfilled his assignment.
“I doubt he’d just look for where Lily’s diary is and report back - because he’d find it and read it,” Sirius points out, looking at James. “He’s an ex-criminal, he’s bound to be a bit curious.”
If you were in danger of failing for the year and needed the answers to a test, Mr. Bubbles would crawl in doorways and disappear in the ceiling shafts to reach the professor’s office. If someone stole something of yours (most likely a Slytherin), and you wanted it back, he could sneak down into the dungeons and hold himself upright against the corridors until it was clear to walk into the dorm it was being held in, and look through the drawers until he found it. But like Sirius pointed out; he’s a curious fellow. If it was an enemy’s diary it would be different, but since it’s Lily, James wants to keep things personal.
James considers Padfoot’s words. “You’re right… let that be the last resort. If we can’t get one of these girls to open up, we’ll just get him to find and take the diary. We won’t have to go in and look for it if we have him, that’s just pointless. It’s easier and faster if we just get him to steal the diary for us. Then we’ll get him to put it back when we’re done. There is no point in getting him to find out the location when he could just take it and bring it to us.”
Mr. Bubbles is the perfect business partner because he never gets caught. Oh, and he doesn’t work for most Slytherins, either. So that’s a big relief. But he’s on the down low, so no one speaks of his works out loud. Not many people go to him, but everyone knows who he is.
“How does that sound?” James looks at all three of us in the eyes. “Call him as a last resort?”
Sirius, Peter, and I nod in agreement.
“That seems reasonable,” I comment. “There really is no point in doing it ourselves if it comes to calling Mr. Bubbles.”
Wormtail opens the door to the Great Hall, but turns to us before walking inside. “Let that be plan B, no pun intended.”
“Sounds good, Peter. Guys, plan A is in action.” Sirius walks ahead of us and passes by a First Year. He winks at her and she faints in her soup. “All systems are go, but if none of us come back successful, then plan B it is.”
“I have Mr. Bubbles’ owl Soursquirt on air dial, Padfoot. Just in case.”
“Don’t worry, Prongs, it probably won’t come to that,” he says with a little bit of certainty in his voice. “But good looking out.”
As we take our seats, some of the Gryffies stare at us, knowing we’ve been gone for most of the hour. Whispers ensue over our whereabouts, but the guys and I just smirk to ourselves knowingly. I pour myself a glass of pumpkin juice and start to devour the nicely displayed dish of Cajun poultry in front of me.
“Remus, she’s looking at you,” Peter teases, elbowing me in the side. “May want to slow down on the chicken before it gets lodged in your throat. It’s not an attractive sight to most civilians.”
I look up to find Valerie Spalding, the girl I’m going to seduce, a few meters away from me and staring in my general direction. And I’m not talking about an ‘oh, my eyes fell on you by accident’ type of stare. Her elbow is propped up on the damn table, and her head is resting on her open palm! She’s completely facing my general direction! She’s… GAZING!
I’m surprised to the point where I stare back at her like some half-arsed idiot who’s never seen a woman in his life. My mouth won’t close! And there’s food in it.
I start blinking profusely.
Valerie snaps out of her somewhat stupor and quickly turns back to her friends, embarrassed. And by ‘her friends’ I mean a few of the girls around her being the said ones we must infiltrate.
Wait, that sounded sexual, didn’t it?
“Blubbah,” is the noise that my throat makes as I swallow my food.
“I knew she had a thing for you,” Peter laughs. I ignore him best I can and pretend I didn’t catch her staring. God, my cheeks. They’re radiating.
I’m not the dating type. Sure, I love women. I admire them from affair. And yes, I’ve had a few girlfriends. But I’m not into blatant admiration. And I’m not Sirius Black. I’m the type of guy that waits until the girl approaches them. Not because I like making them come to me, it’s just that I like making sure that the girl likes me back before anything happens. I mean, look at James. If Lily was to approach him, then he’d know she liked him back. That’s what I like to do, that way there’s no worry.
I’m confident most of the time. Although in situations like these, I don’t like being forced to make a move. I’m generally not a nervous guy - but the guilt finds its way and makes me look like a babbling idiot. It’s… complicated. I don’t know how to explain it.
I speak my mind, a lot. If a girl is pretty, then the girl is pretty. I’ll tell her so. If I want to kiss someone I like, I’ll kiss them - provided that they show an interest in me first. This method takes longer, sure, but I like feeling secure with relationships; whether they be flings, crushes, or serious dating material. Sirius has no patience. He’s more of a playboy, and he likes it that way. Peter and James like having girlfriends. So do I. There’s the general difference. I just move slower than my friends when it comes to women.
A girlfriend in Sirius Black’s world is a snogging buddy for about 10 to 18 days. A girlfriend to everyone else is a girl that you are exclusively, and monogamously, dating.
It’s probably just a phase. Padfoot’s just enjoying being a seventeen year old guy. When the day comes, he’ll get a stable girlfriend. He may be a playboy, but he’s sincerely romantic, too. He got his heart broken in Third Year and he hasn’t had a stable girlfriend since… Peter, James, and I witnessed the break up and it was BAD. But that pain will eventually fade. He doesn’t believe in love but some day that will change.
Wow, I sound like a complete poof.
Who am I, Nicholas Sparks?
No more of that!
“Holy crap, have you seen the bum on Beverly?” Sirius says, leaning back and admiring Beverly Clearwood’s nicely curved arse walking past him.
“Lily’s arse is better,” James cuts in quickly, slamming his fist down in mock anger. At least, I hope it’s mock anger. “Not that any of you are allowed to agree with me because if I catch you guys staring at her backside I may have use castration as punishment.”
“Pfft. January Wentworth could beat both of those chicks by a mile. She moves one way and her bum moves in an entirely different direction. They’re like two different people.”
“Oh, please, Wormtail. Lily is a lady of quality. January is not,” James disagrees, taking a big bite of his sandwich. “She’s skanky, methinks.” Food falls out of his mouth. I hand him a napkin.
Padfoot’s eyes dart around the Great Hall, searching for more eye candy. “January’s quality, alright. But so are her triplet cousins: April, May, and June,” he shares, making eye contact with them at the Hufflepuff table. They flutter their eyelashes at him.
“The Wentworth triplets? Padfoot, they’re fifteen!” I enlighten him.
After trying to convince myself all throughout lunch, that I have to do what I have to do, I separate from my mates and head down to my next class. They’re all headed to Transfiguration, unlike me. I’m headed towards Ancient Runes…with Valerie Spalding. My face is nothing but sullen, I’ll bet. But I’m not too fond of mirrors as of late, so I’ll skip the face check. Last month’s moonlight run left a bruise on my neck.
Sirius calls, “Good luck!” from behind me but I just purse my lips and quicken my pace.
I mean, Merlin.
I can’t believe I have to do this.
And I actually like Ancient Runes!
Not that I’ll be able to pay any attention to today’s lesson, because my heart will be shooting out of my chest. Because I have to chat her up! Because Sirius wants me to get close to her! So I can find out information! Which means I’ll be sitting next to her to do so. Which I never do.
And I mean never.
I sit in the front of the class, for Dumbledore’s sake. The only class my mates aren’t in is the only class where I actually sit in the first row of desks. You know, call me a git, but I enjoy a good Runes lesson once and a while. It’s something my mates don’t always understand. Sure, I get good marks - but my marks in Ancient Runes are down right excellent.
And now my participation grade won’t be up to par, because I won’t be coherent enough to raise my hand to answer a question. Don’t give me that face, complaining is my forte and my participation grade happens to be A BIG DEAL, OKAY.
I morosely open the door, preparing for my doom and thinking up some more thoughts in my mind for me to whine about.
Valerie is a bit hard to find, but I eventually spot her in the back of the class, closer to the windows than I would have liked. And she’s talking to one of her friends… sitting next to her.
Damn it. How am I supposed to sit next to her now? I refuse to do the teenage romance thing and send her a note filled with heart stickers and jasmine perfume just to communicate. I do not want that at all. I want that as much as I want to be tested for syphilis. And being tested for syphilis is supposed to be down right painful for a male. Heaven knows, I’d rather deal with that then the little pang of guilt that is growing inside my stomach. At least, I think it’s guilt.
It may just be nerves.
Perhaps it’s my conscience ruining a nonexistent ego.
Or an irritable bowel syndrome that I don’t know about.
The sound leaves my lips and for a split second it’s quiet, as the two girls in front of me stop what they’re doing. And they look at me. Valerie looks at me, then down at her desk, and then up at me again. She’s trying not to smile, I can tell. Her friend just looks blankly in my direction.
“I was wondering if I could…If I could sit with you today.” I exhale silently, relieving the stress from my body. Okay, milestone passed. I said it. Wait, what if she says no-!?
I blink a few times, forgetting why I was standing in front of her in the first place. Then reality washes over me as her friend annoyingly gives up her seat to me. She purses her lips and then walks away to the other side of the room. I turn my head back around to the girl I shall pursue, opening my mouth to say something, but Valerie Spalding cuts me off.
“Have a seat,” she smiles, patting the space next to her.
She smells like a peach.
My pathetic excuse for a smile makes its debut, as I try to relax. Our Professor walks in and immediately begins to sort out papers that were left askew around her desk. The classroom is now in whispering conversation, careful of what she might hear.
“So how’s your day been?” Valerie props her head up on her hand, staring into me.
“Uh, okay, I guess.” Gulp.
I’m using you.
You’re really attractive.
I’m using you.
Your eyes are fantastic.
I’m using you.
“Just okay? Not spectacular?” She speaks to me softly. Her eyes flash me a kind look.
I feel sick.
Grimacing to myself, I look down at my parchment and it’s then that I notice it’s charred. There are letters, burned into my parchment, on the top right hand corner. And then my eyes grow wide. Well, I completely forgot about this splendid surprise. I hide the corner of my parchment with my hands immediately, hoping Valerie didn’t read any of the burnt words.
“Not quite as fantastic as I’d like it to be,” I reply to her.
I completely forgot that Sirius charmed everyone’s parchment so we could keep tabs on one another!
How’s it coming? Did Valerie snog you yet?
I mentally roll my eyes, and then scribble a response.
I can’t do this! I’m acting like a git!
The letters burn up on the spot, charring where the ink once stood. I wait for Sirius to reply.
Valerie’s voice brings me back to reality and I stand up straighter, almost with a jolt. “What?”
“How come your day’s been mediocre? You’re a marauder. I thought mediocre wasn’t your lifestyle.” She flashes me her pearly white teeth.
You know, she’s quite pretty. And in any other circumstance, I’d probably go for her. But my reasons aren’t genuine and I’m not a good actor. Blame the human in me… or the human I have left in me, anyways. It’s already difficult correcting the wrongs into rights after a full moon, but this? I’m playing with her feelings here.
And my wolf senses are making it hard for me to concentrate on her, instead of how delicious the eau de parfum smells on her neck.
Oh, would you stop bitching and grow a pair? I’m not asking you to turn into James Bond. Just talk to her! The sooner you do it, the faster you’ll get it over with.
I exhale out of my nostrils and breathe.
Oh, bad idea.
“You smell really good,” I blurt. My face does this weird confusion thing, where I think about what I’ve just said for a whole two seconds and then I go red.
Valerie giggles, biting her lip. “Thank you. I didn’t know you could smell it, you aren’t that close.” She adjusts her seat so she’s looking directly at me, resting her left arm on her desk. I continue to stare ahead of me, hoping by the minute that this will get easier.
She tilts her head, fingering her dangling necklace, and looks at me playfully. “Here, take a better whiff of it.”
And then she leans over at me and her neck is close to my mouth. By instinct, I smell her and inhale her scent. I am…extremely satisfied. Valerie sits back down and observes me. Oh, she’s good.
Her surprised face makes me feel a bit better. “How did you know?”
“I’m very good with scent preferences. I can distinguish perfumes and body sprays easily,” I try to smile.
She smiles at me, and turns back to her desk as our Professor begins addressing the class. For the first fifteen minutes of Ancient Runes, there’s hushed whispers and small conversation while we take notes. Once and a while, Valerie will catch my gaze and we’ll smile at each other, before going back to taking notes.
I think I’m getting somewhere. How about you?
I’m sitting next to her as we speak. She’s got her hand under my desk. I’d say it’s going good ;)
How are the guys doing?
No idea, I haven’t spoken with them. Neither of those two gits are responding to my notes. Is Valerie going to the sleepover?
I don’t know yet.
I nod to myself, taking in the info. Or lack thereof. So the guys are all off on their own while I’m left fending for myself and- Wait, maybe I am bitching too much…
I can do this, I’m sure I can. Hell, I’m a marauder. Just like Valerie said, mediocre isn’t my lifestyle. What’s wrong with me? I need to get a grip.
After our class lesson and the Professor’s lecture, we get assigned to do textbook work.
“Hey,” I say to Valerie, nudging her elbow.
She whips her face up and she bats her big lashes at me. “Yes?”
“What are you doing this weekend?” I boldly ask her. I’m so proud of myself!
Valerie Spalding blushes a bit and looks down. “I have plans,” she says sullenly.
“Oh,” I try to sound melancholy but I think I just sound monotonous. You think she’ll tell the difference?
“What a shame.” CRAP, now I sound like a robot. Maybe I should move my eyebrows. I suck at this acting thing. How does Clooney do it?
“I mean, only for the first half of the weekend. I’m free Sunday,” she quickly informs me, looking back up. She stops talking when she sees me moving my eyebrows around.
I stop immediately, and shake it off. “Oh, that’s good,” I grin.
“I mean, I’d love to do something with you. We don’t hang out much, do we?”
Awe, she’s cute! “No, we don’t. It’s a shame. I’d like to get to know you.”
That-a-boy, Remus. Get ’em tiger!
Er, I mean wolf?
“I’d like to get to know you, too. If I knew you wanted to do something, I’d have cancelled going to Lily’s bloody sleepover…”
I scribble viciously in between her ranting to let Sirius know.
She’s going to the sleepover.
“She’s having a sleepover? That’s nice. Just her and her friends?”
Valerie shrugs. “Lily’s big on sleepovers, and since all of us have different schedules, she likes to make time for us and the girls to hang out.”
“Sounds like fun,” I comment, leaning back in my chair a bit. “So who’s all going to this cute pillow fight?”
Valerie eyes me up a bit, thinking about her answer. “Just some girls.”
Holy crap, is she getting suspicious? NO. That cannot happen. Merlin, I’m going to feel two inches tall if she starts acting like I have an ulterior motive. Which I do, but still. If she gets hesitant, she’s going to know something’s up! Ergo, my fake ego is going to go down the drain. Along with the pair that Sirius intended I grow for this task.
“I’m just asking because I don’t know any of Lily’s friends,” I reassure her, shrugging my shoulder boringly. “Just curious to see who you are going to be hanging out with instead of me.” And then… I wink.
I actually winked.
“Oh,” she fruitfully quips, forgetting her former thoughts. “I thought it was because you wanted to know so you could do that weird guy thing that guys do when girls talk about slumber parties.”
Gulp. No, she’s definitely not suspicious about me finding out where Lily Potter keeps her diary. Phew, close one.
“Wh- what thing?” Jesus. I’m an idiot.
“Er, it’s nothing,” she starts, “It’s embarrassing. Never mind…” She fiddles with her quill and turns her head away from me.
Are her cheeks red again? Because I think mine are, too.
“No, no… tell me. I won’t judge, promise.”
NOW, WHY DID I SAY THAT?!
I know perfectly well what she’s getting at, and now I’m forcing her to tell me?! What the bloody hell has taken over my sense of logic? Pestering her to tell me something I already know is going to make the mood oh so awkward. Not to mention embarrassing!
I begin writing a note to Padfoot, but get interrupted by Valerie Spalding’s timid voice in my ear.
“It’s nothing…” she bits her lip. “It’s just that, whenever I talk about a sleepover or my friends in pajamas or a pillow fight, guys always do that thing where their eyes glaze over-”
I snap my quill in half.
And we’re both as shocked as the other. We both stare at my hand, holding the broken quill.
“Do you need another quill?” she asks me perplexed at my predicament.
“Eyes glazing over, you say…”
“Lemme get you one out of my bag.” She turns away from me and unzips her schoolbag that’s resting on the back of her chair.
“Now, why w-would they do such a thing?” I nervously spit out, eyes not leaving my hand and my broken quill. I’m as red as a cherry tomato. Maybe if I don’t move my stare my quill will come back to life.
Along with my dignity.
“Here, I bought a pack yesterday. You can have this one,” she says, handing me a white quill.
“Oh, what did you say? Why would they do that?” She furrows her eyebrows at me. I keep staring at my broken quill, ignoring the new one she’s put on my desk.
I just grunt a ‘yes’ in a caveman like way.
“Well,” she nervously laughs. “You know, they fantasize about girls in no bras and loose pajama tops, and it makes me feel awkward. Especially when I tell them that we sometimes get into tickle fights-”
“AH, YES,” I intervene quickly, before she says more. “I think I know now.” I purse my lips in a tight smile and nod in her direction, before changing quills and throwing my broken one in my schoolbag.
Valerie just shakes her head. “Yeah, it’s crazy.” She bites the tip of her quill.
I wonder if she did that to the one I’m holding.
Damn this woman. What is she doing to me?
“I just don’t get why guys think that’s an attractive figment of imagination. I mean, girls in pajamas? We don’t exactly look like models and smell like roses when we go to sleep. Especially Daphne. The girl’s all about non-petroleum jelly facials and not using post-consumer cosmetics used to seduce husbands.”
“Ah. And what does that mean?”
She raises her eyebrow and gives a small shrug, unable to find a reason. “The hell if I know. I asked her if she wanted to borrow my lip balm for her dry lips, and she lectured me on sharing lip products and how germs can be spread.”
That sounds fabulous.
“I’m guessing Daphne is one of the girls?” I quip, trying to move the conversation. Class is almost over and as much as I hate to say it, I need to find out what she knows so I can get out of here.
“Yes, unfortunately. She’s a pain in my arse sometimes, but I love her,” she explains.
“Is she part of the sleepover, then?”
“Yep. I’m actually kind of happy to see my best friends again, but I don’t know… a switch of audience would be nice,” she smirks secretly. Yeah, a secret smirk.
You know that smile that could be a smirk but isn’t lifted to it’s full potential? The kind that is seductive yet suggestive enough to NOT be a full smirk? That’s what Valerie is doing right now.
“Well, hey. Don’t miss going to your girls night for me, we’ll have plenty of time to hang out. The school year is only half over. You wouldn’t want to disappoint Daphne, and uh…” I wave my hand around, pretending I don’t know the names of her friends.
“Daphne and Emily,” she happily tells me, smiling. “Oh, Lydia and Jasmin are coming, too.”
Wait, I thought only three girls were going to this lumber party?! My friend of a friend of one of Lily’s former friend said that there would be about three girls at this thing.
“Really? I didn’t know you were friends with Lydia and Jasmin,” I play dumb. Keep your cool, Remus.
“Well we’re all pretty close, but they’re closer with each other than with the rest of the group.”
I scoff under my breath before I can stop myself, but I disguise it as a tickle in my throat. Before I give her another reason to think I’m a complete git, I flip a page from my textbook nonchalantly looking for an answer to one of the questions.
She looks into the distance, pondering. “It’s strange, though. Lydia said they couldn’t make it but at lunch today they were all for it. It was only supposed to be Emily, Daphne and I…” Valerie says more to herself than to me.
I take out the charred parchment from under my class notes. This changes a lot of things! Hopefully, it won’t be something we can’t handle. But still - the more girls in the room, the less we’ll be seen undetected.
PADFOOT! ALL FIVE GIRLS ARE GOING TO THE SLEEPOVER!
I get no response, so I write again.
Are you there?
The sod is probably snogging.
Damn it, Sirius!
Feeling her eyes on me, I inadvertently hide my charred parchment under my text book. I find her quizzical expression alarming, so I change the subject by asking her to help me with a problem on hieroglyphics. Luckily, this gets her thinking skills going and for a good portion of time she helps me out. What? I actually needed help with that problem anyway.
“Thanks for the help, Valerie.”
“No problem, hieroglyphics are my thing. That, and knowing everything about Charles McGeester.”
Well that’s a surprise. Charles McGeester was an infamous mathematician who later found out he was a wizard in his late thirties. It was some sort of phenomenon back in the 1300s. Talk about late bloomer! The history books thought it was because of his mother being part goblin, since goblin blood distorts pureblood or something. Interesting fellow.
“Wow! You like mathematicians?” I am impressed. Most girls my age read nothing but new issues of Enchanted magazine. I find her fascinating, and refreshing.
“Well, just this one,” she rolls her eyes in a know-it-all way. Which I find highly attractive. Whenever I try to tell Prongs something he doesn’t know, I have the same face.
“I don’t know,” Valerie honestly says to me. “Just something about him. He’s so intriguing. I mean he became a potions master in his late 80s and he died when he was 200 years old. But no one ever talks about his works with potions. Just his life as a mathematician freak of nature. It’s a shame, really.”
“Yeah, he was brilliant. A lot of people love Merlin but I just love McGeester so much more. I feel like he really helped the wizarding world, even if he never got the credit he deserved. I mean, the man wrote everything down! He had a journal his whole life. There’s so much information on him.”
“The man kept a diary?” I try not to laugh.
“A journal,” she wheedles. “He wrote in it almost every day. He has about eighty-seven of them. I’ve only read the first thirty-five.”
My mouth literally drops.
“But now I’m just bragging…” she laughs, scratching her neck.
“No, no,” I say, telling her to continue. “It’s great. I mean, it’s a miracle that you even found that many to read up on. I can only imagine where he stored them, and how hard it would be to find them.”
“Oh, it wasn’t too difficult. McGeester wanted the world to know his thoughts, so he packed every five or so together with a binding spell. He’d stack them in his house.”
I smile. “You visited his house, didn’t you?”
“Of course! I can’t believe the Museum of Magic even charges people to see it. It’s like, a monument. It should be free for everyone.”
Wait a minute. We’re talking about diaries, aren’t we? What would Sirius Black do…
“He stacked his journals, you said? And he wanted people to read them, so he made them accessible? That’s interesting, I thought journals were personal.”
That’s right, he’d manipulate the conversation.
“I’m sure he didn’t have much to hide, most of his personal thoughts were probably erased or something when he gave them to the Library of Magic. You can also read the editions on the computer, but you need secret passwords to get to the Library’s website. It was a pain, but I got through it.”
I look down at my textbook, thinking about how I should word this.
“I wonder if he had a personal journal, that he never intended people to read.”
Valerie thinks for a moment. “He probably did,” she blatantly says. “He lived for 200 years. Must have found something personal to write about.”
“I wonder where he would keep it. I mean, he stacked his other journals in his house, right? Kind of like a bookshelf without the shelf part. But he couldn’t have done that with a personal diary.”
“Journal,” she corrects.
“Right, I mean journal.”
Valerie sighs. “I don’t know. I never really thought about that. Perhaps he had a social life or a love life or something, and he wrote about it in a personal journal. It makes sense… I mean he had one or two women in his life that he out-grew. They all died while he kept living…”
I think she’s just talking to herself now. Perhaps I should snap her back to reality.
“Valerie, could you slow down?” I ask loudly, looking at her straight in the eyes.
She is in the middle of a hand motion, but she stops herself and apologizes profusely. She folds her hands in her lap. “Sorry, I always go off like that about him.”
I smile at her cuteness. You know, I think I have a crush on her.
Damn it, now is not the time, Remus!
I shake my head of sinful thoughts. “But it’s weird though, how he could have kept it anywhere. Let’s say he did have it, we’d never know, would we?”
She furrows her eyebrows. “Why is that?”
“Well, private journals are kept hidden. Why else would he want it to be private? He obviously would have hidden it somewhere. Like everyone does.”
“Yeah, I guess so…”
The class bell rings, and our Professor bids us ado. But I stay in my seat, determined.
“Where do you think McGeester would have hidden it?” Perhaps I should have asked her in a more delicate manner.
“Not sure exactly-”
“Hah, what if he put it under his pillow like girls do?”
She tilts her head to the side, gathering her books. “Hey, now. Give us girls some credit. Not all of us have cutesy pink journals with heart stickers. And we don’t hide them under our pillows!”
“No?” I get up, slinging my schoolbag over my head. “Then where do you girls keep your journals that are full of boys you secretly fancy?”
Valerie Spalding collects all her belongings and rises from her chair, zipping up her bag. “Of course not, silly,” she playfully drags along, smirking. “We keep them under our mattresses, like boys do with their girly magazines.”
Author's Note: I can grovel and apologize and blame global warming for my lateness on this udpate - but I doubt it would do much good. I'm really sorry! I hope that this chapter madeup for it :) It's set in Remus Lupin's view, which was a bit hard at first, but I got the hang of it. I'm going to give you guys a look into the minds of each marauder so you can really get a feel of who they are individually ^_^
The next chapter is under serious construction! Hopefully I'll get it out within the next 2 months.
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by Stephanie M