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Chapter 5 : Welcome Back... To Your Old Tricks
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Platform 9 ¾ was exactly the same. The same smell inhabited each nose and the same sounds played about each ear. Marion took it all it, savouring every image that passed her beautiful, green-blue eyes. Each autumn it got better; new smiling faces appeared every year, and seemed to just get happier. She stood with Lily alone on the platform for a while, before spotting James and Sirius approaching from the distance with two familiar figures. As they came clearer into sight with Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew, Marion’s face broke into a broad grin and she threw her arms around Remus’ neck.
“It’s great to see you too.” He chuckled into her sweet smelling hair in response to her enthusiasm. Marion pulled back and grinned at him. She had definitely missed him the most. She always referred to him as ‘the brother she doesn’t regret having, even when he ticks her off.’ Even though she had two actual brothers, and James whom she had always considered a brother, Remus was the one she trusted the most, and the one that tried her patience the least.
She hugged Peter too, a little tentatively. It was becoming increasingly possible that Peter Pettigrew, the youngest and smallest marauder, had a crush on Marion. It wasn’t hard to believe. She was the most popular girl in school. Marion had noticed his awkwardness and pulled away very quickly, and Lily nudged her side because she wanted to get away from the Marauders at all costs. Marion reluctantly complied, nodding to both Sirius and James, and bidding farewell to them. She then headed to the train with Lily, Alice and Mary and grabbed the first empty compartment she could find. As usual Lily sat by the window and Marion sat next to her, and Mary and Alice sat opposite.
Alice seemed incredibly happy to see Marion again but in all honesty, Mary never really had liked her. She didn’t understand that Marion was beautiful by nature because she hadn’t told anyone that she was a nymph. Mary just thought she was up herself and liked to show off to every boy who showed an inkling of interest. She had got jealous of her so many times, but not just because she had all the guys Mary fancied following her around like lovesick puppies, but because she never even introduced Mary to them, even when she knew she liked them. Marion had noticed it, but never mentioned it. She stuck it out for Lily and Alice’s sake. She wasn’t going to keep useless guys around because Mary wanted to ogle them all day. She wasn’t her personal boy-lure. As they sat in the carriage, out of spite, Mary brought up the topic of boys.
“So, do you guys know the Ravenclaw quidditch captain?” she asked, her brown eyes sparking with excitement. Lily was less than enthusiastic about this topic, and so rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“The one with the wonky eye, you mean?” Marion queried, “David – something… yeah, why?”
“Well, he’s had his eyes fixed and now he’s really fit!” Mary continued in a high, girlish voice, ignoring Marion’s negativity.
“Really?” Lily contributed half- heartedly “Isn’t he the one who asked out Marion at the end of last year when Gryffindor beat Ravenclaw for the quidditch cup?”
“Yeah.” Alice said, her eyes drifting to the right slightly as she tried to remember. “I think it was when the Gryffindor team were lifting Potter up and he almost made Marion drop him.”
“Anyway,” Mary continued, regardless of her friends’ apparent un-interest, “we can’t all be going out with gorgeous Californians.” She had meant it as a joke but both Lily and Marion’s heads snapped up. Lily’s eyes widened and she looked worriedly at Marion, whose brow had pinched slightly from being caught off guard, but otherwise showed no sign of being bothered at all.
“Actually, none of us are going out with a gorgeous Californian.” She said calmly, though her voice was like a million knives in Mary’s ears. The other two were going to side with Marion now and she knew it. That was how it always worked. She was constantly out of the loop, and would put her foot in it.
“Why? What happened?” Alice asked, switching to Marion and Lily’s side of the compartment and wrapping an arm over her friend’s shoulders. Marion didn’t look as though she wanted her sympathy.
“I’m fine.” Marion assured, her voice strained with annoyance as she wriggled out of Alice’s grip. You didn’t have to be able to see Lily from behind her book to know she was rolling her eyes.
“Come on, tell us what happened.” Alice pressed. She was always a little too nosy. Marion sighed and obliged her need for knowledge.
“If you just want the basics, he cheated on me and I dumped him.” Already Alice’s mouth was hanging open. She loved a good gossip, and this was the sort of story she just ate up.
“What about after-math?” she questioned. Marion sighed huffily before answering.
“Well, I think I slapped him after I caught him with this girl and Val was not happy. Then he showed up at Mischa and Ryan’s and shouted up the place and James and Black got really pissed with him so Black beat him up.” She said calmly. Alice and Mary looked at each other in disbelief at the last thing she had said and continued to press the matter.
“Black? As in Sirius Black?” Mary questioned, finally finding something worth talking about in something Marion had said. The beautiful brunette nodded, not seeing the significance of that fact.
“Yeah, he’s living with the Potters’ now so he came on holiday with us.” She told them, again quite casually. “He never really liked Kyle, not that I cared. I think he’s just such an arrogant prat he’s not used to having to fight to be the centre of attention. But when he came over and started shouting a load of rubbish he just lost it and started to hit him.”
Alice and Mary giggled excitedly and shared a look that made Marion feel uncomfortable. They moved in a tight knit circle around her, pushing Lily to the side so she was now pressed hard against the window. She exhaled sharply and moved to the other side of the compartment, not even being noticed by Alice and Mary. She didn’t want to talk about this matter anymore than Marion did, but she knew once they had grasped hold of a new potential for relationship drama, they weren’t going to let it go.
“So do you like Sirius now?” quizzed Alice, who was too much of a hopeless romantic for her own good. Lily stifled a giggle and Marion looked truly horrified.
“No! Absolutely not! I’d never, never, NEVER go out with Black! Never. You know we can’t stand each other at the best of times.” She assured them. She then heard Lily’s giggles escape as her other two friends bombarded her with more questions.
When they got off of the train, Marion and Lily found themselves once again wandering into the presence of the marauders, now with Alice and Mary tagging along. They were congregated, as usual, in their group of four at the edge of the platform, surveying their classmates in the hope that one or two of them may provide amusement based on how they had changed over the summer. They must have found one, as they were chuckling to themselves when they saw the girls come into view.
“Preston, I was wondering where you’d got to. I almost missed you.” Sirius joked, causing the other marauders to burst into laughter, except Remus who just smiled and rolled his eyes. He liked both Sirius and Marion, but their fights did get on his nerves sometimes.
“Yeah, that’s hilarious, Black. No really, my sides are splitting.” Marion threw back, her words dripping with sarcasm. Sirius abruptly stopped laughing and scowled into Marion’s remarkable eyes. Turquoise met piercing grey. Alice looked between them and smirked as if she were seeing some sort of suppressed attraction.
“You’re looking good. All that sun must have baked the hate and distain right out of you!” Sirius laughed, pretending to eye Marion up. She put her hands on her hips.
“Let’s be realistic, Black, where on earth would we find enough sun to burn away my distain for you?” she retorted. Sirius didn’t laugh at her, but smirked as if he had anticipated something like this as her answer, and nodded.
"Good to know, Preston. You know, we’d make a good couple, you and me.” he said. She wrinkled her nose at the thought in confusion and distaste.
“What?!” she exclaimed.
“Come on! We’re both already emotionally crippled and are nauseated by the sight of each other. It’s like we’re already married.” Sirius laughed again. The other marauders howled along with him.
“Urgh! Let’s be honest, dipshit; on what sort of fucked up world would that ever be allowed to happen? If there is any justice in this world, I will never be forced to stoop to such a level.” Marion replied. Lily seemed to find it funny, but Sirius looked less than impressed.
“Oh, come on, Preston –” Was all he got out before Marion interrupted.
“Please, tell me this isn’t the part where you tell me you like me because you’ve been reading my hatred and general distain for you as some sort of creepy show of affection.” She said.
“No, this is where I continue to insult you in charmingly witty ways because I genuinely hate you also.” Sirius quipped, expelling a smirk onto his thin lips.
“Well it doesn’t seem that way after what Marion told us you did to her ex-boyfriend.” Mary said suddenly, causing the girls and the other three marauders to burst into fits of laughter, leaving Sirius standing there silently without a comeback or any words at all. He’d almost forgotten about that. He’d certainly not considered the possibility that Marion would tell her friends about it. Then again, she was friends with Alice Prewitt, and hoping that she wouldn’t find something out was like hoping the sun wouldn’t rise in the morning. The cackling girls then turned to leave the boys where they were.
Marion was close to tears of laughter when someone knocked her bag over. When she went to pick it up, however, the culprit had turned around and done it himself. When he saw who he was dealing with, he grinned. He knew who Marion Preston was. Who didn’t? She was the prettiest girl in the whole school and the best quidditch player Hogwarts had seen in a long time. He had asked her out once when he had had his wonky eye, only to face rejection. It wasn’t as humiliating as he thought, as she was gentle with him, but now, he looked a lot better.
Marion and Mary both recognised the boy as David Berkeley, who was now the Ravenclaw quidditch captain. Marion nearly gawped in surprise at him. Mary had, for once, been right. He was a lot better looking with his eye fixed. Now they were razor sharp, and – as Marion noticed for the first time – a rather pleasant shade of brown. Mary watched open mouthed at the transaction as what had happened so many times before was happening again; someone she had fancied was paying more attention to Marion than they were to her. The marauders swiftly left on Sirius’s command as David spoke.
“I’m sorry.” David said, handing Marion back the handle of her bag. She shook her head, flashing her best smile as she took it.
“No, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have left it lying around.” She said. David smiled and winked then left with his friends, looking back and letting his eyes linger on Marion for a while as he did so. Marion then turned around to face her friends.
“Mary, you were right. He is fit now.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.” Mary replied with dismissive sarcasm, but Marion was too busy nattering away to Lily now to pay attention.
In truth, at first Mary had only chosen to hang around with Marion and Lily because they were popular. Well more Marion than Lily but she had the affection of James Potter which couldn’t be dismissed. She was the one who had talked Alice into it and now it was like she was the tag along. As she followed the others towards the carriages she remembered how she had chosen her friends. She had been careful. She had chosen Alice originally at the train station before their first year began because she thought, due to Alice’s rather out of place teeth, she would make her look good by comparison, but also because she was friendly.
After a few minutes on the train, Marion had walked into the compartment they were in with Lily and another boy called Severus Snape (though not one of them still spoke to him now), after leaving the compartment across the aisle containing the marauders. She then realised an opportunity. Marion was pretty and all the boys in the compartment were giving her attention, so she picked them to help her little group. It was just bad luck that Alice’s teeth got sorted and now she was prettier then Mary, but it didn’t help how Mary felt. It was as if she had created this group and was now being kicked out of it. But she had only herself to blame for being so silly and selfish in the first place.
At the feast, Dumbledore warned them all as usual the importance of cautioning yourself before letting anyone eat anything. It was always the kind of thing Marion didn’t really want to hear before eating, but she had heard it often enough now to be prepared for it. She sat in her usual spot next to Lily and Alice and it was just fate that the marauders happened to find seats opposite her. She scowled and Sirius over her pudding and he saw a new opportunity to start a fight. Same as he always did.
“Got a fascination with me, Preston?” he asked in as loud of a voice he could.
“Not in the slightest.” Marion sneered, Sirius was about to reply when Dumbledore stood again. Marion was a little disappointed at that. She had just been thinking up wonderful verbal bullets to shot down this arrogant idiot’s smirk.
“Attention students.” He called and the hall hushed immediately at the sound of his voice. “Welcome back to Hogwarts and I hope you all have a brilliant year. For those of you that are knew here, I must stress the importance of trying your hardest. Only by trying our best, do we reach our full potential. We have never failed to offer help to any student who asked for it, so feel free to step up or come and see me at any time. Extra curricula’s are available for all subjects so find something you like, and stick to it. And may this year be a blessing to all. Now, Madame Hooch has reminded me I must announce before you all go, that the quidditch teams have been posted in your common rooms, and that practice starts next Tuesday, beginning with the Gryffindor team. Thank you.” He called, waving his hands as a cue of dismissal.
Sirius and Marion locked eyes over the dinner table; stock still. This was a moment they both relished every year. Both of them were chasers on the Gryffindor team, and many had said they were the best the team had seen in a long time. But that didn’t mean they were as good as each other. It didn’t even nearly mean that. For three years since joining the team, Marion had beat Sirius out for the position as first string chaser, which meant she got the honour of being Vice Captain now that James led the team. They both shot up at the same time and dashed out of the hall, each trying frantically to reach the dormitory before the other as their friends ran after them excitedly.
“Flobberworm!” Marion nearly screamed at the Fat Lady as she reached the top of the stairs, panting and shaking. The portrait opened obediently after muttering some rather nasty things and Marion barrelled through, with Sirius hot on her tail. She made her way to the crowded post board where the quidditch team names were hanging. The marauders arrived along with Lily, Alice and Mary. Seeing that Marion and Sirius were so close to the board, James and Remus leapt in front of them and blocked their view.
“Now then, guys,” James warned, “You know that whatever it says on this sheet behind me, you’re both great players and I’m glad to have you at my disposal.”
The smile he was trying to hide made it look like he was teasing them more than he was trying to calm them down. He already knew what the paper would say. He was the captain. This was a moment he looked forward to every year. Marion crinkled up her face, knowing he was talking a load of old rubbish. And she did not have time to listen to a load of rubbish right now.
“Whatever!” she snapped incredulously. With Lily behind her, she pushed past James with a little more force than she had originally intended and sent him flying into Sirius. She looked at the board and read down slowly.
Gryffindor Quidditch team:
Seeker/ Captain: James Potter
First- Marion Preston
Second- Sirius Black
Third- Daniel Letterman
“YES!” Marion roared in triumph as she hugged Lily. Then she turned to Sirius with a gloating grin on her smug and rather content face. He didn’t need to read the list now to know what had happened.
“Aw! Second to me three years running, Black!” She giggled, punching the air. James, Remus and Peter couldn’t resist laughing along. They didn’t dislike Marion the way Sirius did. But Sirius looked oddly confident for someone who had just been thrashed at their first battle of the year, and smirked back at her, with a reply ready and waiting.
“You don’t mean that.” He grinned.
“Oh, don’t I?” Marion asked, not seeming at all phased and thinking this was just another one of his contrived attempts to regain a little bit of status.
“No, you don’t. Because if you did, you wouldn’t have put your lips anywhere near my face back in California and as I recall, you kissed me.” He said. At this, every head that had heard turned. Had they heard that right? Marion Preston had kissed Sirius Black? They had the undivided attention of everyone in the room now. The marauders stared with dropped jaws so it was obvious Sirius hadn’t already told them, and Lily gave Marion an ‘I told you so’ look. Marion had to admit that comment had taken her a little by surprised, but the fight wasn’t over yet. She kept a straight face.
“It was a kiss on the cheek, Black so you needn’t get so excited. Anyone would think you got a boner every time I look at you.” She grinned and then left as everyone erupted with laughter. He scowled, but knew that he had lost fair and square. He could accept that. There was always next time. There really was always a next time with them.
'Seems like we’re all back to our old tricks' he thought.
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