Chapter 8 : Under Lock And Key
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The next morning, the Gryffindor table was exceedingly awkward. The marauders were sitting opposite Lily, Alice and Mary and none of them would dare talk to the other. Lily scowled at the four boys over her food, not taking one bite for minutes at a time. Sirius repeatedly rolled his eyes, not seeing how she could blame him for everything. Marion started it, she always did. It wasn’t his fault that she just so happened to smell nice on that day. How was he supposed to know she wouldn’t tell anyone? She would have, at least that’s what her reputation told him to expect of her. And that was her fault, not his. It was all her fault.
David had been told by Marion just why he had walking into his DADA lesson that day to pointing and sniggering at his suddenly pink hair. He was not a happy man, and had spent a good twenty minutes scrubbing at it with every shampoo and hair potion under the sun before she had given him the antidote from Slughorn. He hadn’t dared show up at breakfast today before the whole thing blew over, and he was probably right to do so. The anger between the students at the Gryffindor table was palpable in the air.
“Evans, will you stop staring at me, I’m trying to eat.” Sirius muttered at a glaring Lily as he shovelled more cereal into his mouth. Lily sighed in annoyance as her attention was called by a familiar and beautiful figure that was walking down the aisle between the tables towards them. Marion sat silently between Lily and Alice. She scowled at James and Sirius before grabbing a single slice of toast and buttering it. She then cut off the crusts, and folded it in half before putting it anywhere near her lips. This agitated Sirius. It was the same way she’d eaten the toast she’d taken off his plate in California.
“Lillian, will you please tell your friend that she is probably the fussiest eater ever to grace the face of the Earth?” he asked, looking at Marion the whole time. She scowled again, and then smirked as she directed her attention to Lily.
“Lily, please tell Black that if he calls you another goofy name I will have to punch his teeth out?” she cooed. Lily smiled cruelly at Sirius.
“You heard her, Black.” She chuckled. She and Marion exchanged satisfied looks and went back to their food.
“Well you tell her that I’m not scared of her.” Sirius replied, not willing to let this fight go.
“Well you tell him he should be!” Marion shot back.
“Well you tell her that she’s nothing more than a selfish evil bitch.” Sirius retorted. James’ head snapped up, not believing Sirius had actually said such a thing. Remus’ eyes widened in shock and even Marion looked a little taken aback.
“Well you ask him that if he thought that was true why he defended me from Kyle.”
“Well you tell her that it was because he was a dick and I needed to hit something.”
By this point, they were both on their feet and in each other’s faces over the table, drawing the attention of the teachers and other students. Neither of them was really paying any attention to Lily anymore, and she kept her head down to avoid being part of it. They were so loud everyone could hear them. Professor McGonagall was now on her way over to them from the teachers head table.
“Well you tell him if that’s how he talks about women, it’s no wonder he’s never had a girlfriend that lasted longer than five minutes!”
“Well you tell her that the way that she acts, it’s amazing guys are still interested –”
“Stop!” came a stern voice, causing both of the angry teen’s heads to turn towards the professor, who was now standing only a few feet away from Sirius. They both sighed and exhaled fiercely as they sat down, still locking eyes and filled with rage.
“What is the meaning of this?” McGonagall asked with her usual harsh tone. She narrowed her eyes at each of them when they made no reply. “You both should know by now that this sort of language and volume is not tolerated now or anytime at this institution! Honestly, the two of you are disgracing this house. I let your little spat yesterday slide, but this is absolutely ridiculous! If I see you causing any sort of trouble again, you shall both receive detention.”
“That’s ok, Professor, I was just leaving anyway.” Snapped Marion through clenched teeth. With that she left with Lily, Alice and Mary trailing along behind her. The professor scowled at Sirius once more before turning hotly on her heels and walking back up to the teacher’s table. He grimaced, his mood becoming even fouler, and pushed his plate away and stalked off.
“We can’t just let this happen.” Remus whispered to James in the eerie silence that followed. James nodded. He knew Remus was right, as he always was. “If they keep fighting they’ll tear each other to pieces! And guess who will be stuck in the middle?”
“Us. I know, I know.” James said. “But what can we do? We can’t very well talk to Marion, she’s mad at us too. And Sirius will never listen to reason, he’ll think we’re on Marion’s side.”
“Well we’ve got to think of something.” Peter put in. “Maybe if we could get them to sort it out themselves we wouldn’t have to talk to either one of them.”
“Yeah, I can see that going well.” James said sarcastically, but then an idea popped into his head. He had no idea what made him think of it, but he began to think that might be possible. “Hang on. I think I might have an idea.”
After DADA, James, Remus and Peter waited for Lily outside the classroom. They were going to need her to help out if James’ plan was going to work. They needed to get both Marion and Sirius at the same place at the same time. When she saw them, she was less than pleased, and hoped with all her might that it wasn’t her they were looking for. She tried to walk past them, but they stood in her path and refused to move. Huffing out an annoyed sigh, she crossed her arms and stared up annoyingly at them.
“Evans.” James smiled confidently as he had so many times before. She scowled at him, wanting to wipe that smirk off his stupid face.
“Potter, if you’re planning to ambush me in another contrived attempt to get me to go to Hogsmeade with you, I’m waving you off right now. I’m still not interested.” She stressed.
“Good to know we’re still on the same page there, Evans but no. That’s not why we’re here.” James chuckled, seemingly unphased by yet another rejection. Lily arched a dark red eyebrow in disbelief. What else could James possibly have to say to her?
“Well what do you want, then?” she asked Remus, the only person there she actually didn’t mind talking to. Remus could help but let loose an amused smile at the wounded face James gave at the fact she had completely ignored him before explaining.
“We want to stop this Mirius war before one of them ends up in the hospital wing. And before you say no, we know you don’t care about Sirius but I’m sure you’re as sick of listening to their rubbish as we are. We need you to talk to Marion and get her to go to the broom cupboard on the third floor.” He said calmly, Lily nodded and raised her eyebrows.
“Mirius?” she questioned.
“Oh for God’s sake, it’s just quicker to say!” Remus snapped despairingly. “Are you in or not?”
“So I don’t have to talk to Sirius whatsoever? All I have to do is make sure she turns up at the broom cupboard?” Lily asked. The three boys nodded.
“Yeah, at six tonight after dinner.” James added. Lily considered for a moment, still not too happy at having to work with them on one of their little schemes, but nodded nonetheless.
“Alright I can do that.” She said. She then walked past them towards the Common Room. The boys let out a sigh of relief as if they had thought she wouldn’t have agreed to participate.
“Well that’s all the characters in play. Now all we have to do is cross our finger and pray this works.” James said as he let out a shaky sigh. The other two nodded and followed him to find Sirius.
After dinner, Lily had waited until Mary and Alice had left to go to the Common Room and stayed late with Marion at the table. She pretended to listen as she went on and on about how annoying Sirius was and how much she was baffled by his constant need to be ‘in her face’ with the odd contributing ‘yeah’ or ‘totally’. When the hall was nearly empty, she got up and walked with her to the stair cases.
Lily had come to know the staircases at Hogwarts quite well. They like to move at certain times, like when they’d seen a neighbouring one move, or when students from a certain house got too close. The staircase that led to the third floor liked to switch from the path to the fourth floor and the path to the broom cupboard when the fifth floor staircase moved. Lily was sure to walk slowly when they were approached and kept her eyes trained upward to see when the upper staircase moved. She couldn’t think of a valid reason to get Marion to the cupboard, so she had to hope there was a way of getting her there seemingly by accident. Luckily, Marion was too engrossed in her bitching to notice her nervousness.
As she spotted the fifth floor stairs move, Lily subtly sped up and steered Marion to the stairs quickly. When they were about halfway up, the staircase gave a jolt, and the two girls hastily gripped the bannisters as it swivelled around to face the other way, fastening itself to a new stairwell and sprouting a new railing at the joint. Marion stopped talking and Lily let out a quiet sigh of relief as they walked up to the top.
“It might be hours before it changes again.” Lily said almost hopefully. “We might as well go the long way around.”
Marion shrugged and nodded as she followed Lily down the corridor that led to the broom cupboard. Lily’s heart was pounding in her chest. She wasn’t exactly sure what would happen next. What if they weren’t there? How would she Marion to obediently wait at the cupboard for them without asking questions? She wasn’t used to deceiving people like this. For all she was Marion’s best friend, not much of her nature had rubbed off on her. They turned the last corner leading to the passage the cupboard was in, and approached the door. Lily’s heart lifted as she heard male voices approaching from around the bend at the other end of the corridor. Just as they stopped at the door, the marauders appeared with Sirius in tow.
There was a sudden silence as Marion and Sirius saw each other. Their eyes locked. Grey and turquoise in the ultimate staring competition. They then looked suspiciously at who they’d come with. Lily bit her lip ad looked at Remus anxiously. The other three marauders looked at one another and nodded in unison.
“What the hell is going – umf!” Sirius was cut short by James wrestling with him to get him into the cupboard. Lily couldn’t fight with the much stronger Marion, so Remus gripped her wrists behind her back and pulled her towards the door as peter held it open. Both of them kicked and screamed, fighting furiously against their captors with confusion and anger in their voices. When they were far enough in the cupboard, James and Remus forced it shut and leaned against it to stop Marion and Sirius opening it again. James pulled a large glowing silver padlock out from under his robes and slid it over the handle. As he clipped it shut is made a tingly noise.
He and Remus than stepped away and watched as the door shuddered. The screaming and shouting from the other side told them that Marion and Sirius were still wrestling to open it. James let slip a winning smirk, triumphant in his plan.
“That door doesn’t lock.” Lily pointed out. “How did you stop them opening it by dangling a padlock of the handle?”
“Swiped it from my dad’s study. The animal trainers in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures use them all the time. If two animals won’t get along, they stick that on the bars of a cage and stick them both in. You don’t even have to bother locking it. That padlock won’t let them out until they’ve made peace. I thought it might be useful.” He finished with a cocky grin. Lily raised an eyebrow, almost looking impressed, but she soon caught herself.
“Right… and how did you get him to come here?” she asked.
“We told him we stashed pranking supplies in this cupboard that we could use to get back at Marion. He ate that right up.” James said again with his chest swelling with pride.
“Right. Of course.” Lily said, not wanting to admit her slight awe at his aptitude.
“So, Evans, may I have the honour of walking you back to the Common Room?” he asked flirtatiously. This was more like what she was used to. She exhaled sharply.
“Err fine! But only because we’re going the same way.” She sneered. She turned sharply and walked on, hunched shoulders and arms folded. James gave a ‘Get in there!’ gesture to his friends and they rolled their eyes before following.
Sirius was still banging on the door furiously fifteen minutes later, screaming at the top of his lungs for his friends to let him out. Marion sat on a shelf with her hands over her ears, feeling stupid and completely useless to have been tricked into this by Lily of all people. Even if she could wrap her head around the fact that Lily could actually have defied her moral compass to deceive her, she absolutely could not believe she had worked with James and the others willingly. Lily couldn’t even lie to teachers about where Marion was when she skipped lessons. If she had gone through all this trouble she must have had some sort of personal stake in the matter. She must have thought this was not only a good idea, but something that had to be done. Marion wanted to think more about it at the hope that she might reach an answer or some sort of epiphany, but Sirius shouting at the door kept shattering her train of thought.
“Oh, Black will you just shut it already!” she bellowed over him, “You don’t honestly think that they’re still there, do you? They know they don’t have to bother with waiting.” She explained coldly.
“But this door has no lock! It should be opening – oh bloody hell!” he suddenly burst out again. Marion rolled her eyes.
“What now?” she asked in a testing tone. Sirius glared at her.
“James has this enchanted lock they use on troublesome animals in the Ministry. It doesn’t let them leave their cages until they stop trying to kill each other. I bet you anything he’s put it on the door knob!” he explained. Marion’s eyes widened.
“You mean this isn’t just a matter of them leaving us here until they think we’ve been punished enough and let us out? We have to actually make up if we want to leave?” She said in a shaky voice. Sirius nodded darkly.
“Yeah.” He murmured.
“Great. That’s absolutely brilliant!” Marion spat sarcastically. “That’s not going to happen any time soon.”
“Too right.” Sirius growled as he went to sit on the other side of the closet. A few minutes of silence consumed them as they sat, not knowing what to say. Marion tucked her knees up under her chin and continued to think. Suddenly, her head lifted.
“Why did you do it?” she asked simply, her voice small and unthreatening.
“Do what?” Sirius replied, leaning his head back and resting it on the wall behind him, feeling completely defeated. Marion huffed.
“Why did you try to turn my hair pink?” she clarified. Sirius considered his answer choices. He could tell her the truth and risk embarrassment, or he could think up a new lie and be stuck in here forever. He decided he had nothing to lose by telling her the truth.
“James saw my little sniffing stunt in Potions. He told the others and they all thought I fancied you. I had to pull a prank to prove I didn’t.” He said quietly. That wasn’t what Marion had expected to hear. She ran over his answer a few times in her head before retaliating.
“Do you fancy me?” she asked.
“Of course not!” he threw back bitterly as if the very thought was poisonous. She recoiled, relieved and offended at the same time. Ten more minutes of silence followed.
“It seems we’re both still as stubborn as ever. I mean you went through all that just to prove a point?” she sneered.
“So what if I did, Preston? You didn’t have to cut me out of that quidditch practice to prove yours.” Sirius snarled. The silence fell upon them again. Marion looked at the floor, which was barely visible in the darkness of the small room. The window didn’t give a lot of light as the nights were drawing in and it was already dark. About half an hour had gone by before either one of them bothered to speak again.
“Do you really think I smell nice, then?” Marion spoke into the quiet air. Sirius opened his eyes and removed his head from the wall, looking a Marion’s dark silhouette on the other side of the room.
“Why?” was all he could say.
“Just wondered.” Marion shrugged, picking at a loose thread on her shoe as her head rested on her knees to seem nonchalant and unaffected by the awkwardness. Sirius sighed in annoyance.
“Yes, is that what you wanted to hear?” he murmured nastily.
“There’s no need to say it like that, Black. It was just a question. And for the record, I didn’t ‘want to hear’ anything.” She spat at him angrily.
“Well there you go, you smell nice. About the only thing nice about you.” Sirius replied hotly. Marion’s breath caught in her throat. She hadn’t expected that. It was quite hurtful. As Sirius ran over the sentence, he realised that was a bit harsh, and regretted it.
“Look, Preston, I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“You are?” she asked just to be sure she hadn’t misheard him.
“Yes, I’m sorry for sniffing you, for trying to dye your hair pink, for being mean to you at quidditch and for getting us stuck in here.” He listed, now more defeated and humbled than ever. She looked at his dark frame; she smiled and nodded her approval.
“And I’m sorry for being such a sap back in California, for slapping you, for being a hogger at practice and for getting us stuck in here.” She reached out her hand for him to shake, he took it, and then used it to pull himself up. After helping her up, they yanked at the door handle, which opened at will, a metallic clunk on the outside told them the padlock had fallen to the floor. He turned back to Marion and smiled. But before opening the door, he said one more thing.
“By the way, if there’s any part of you that still thinks you deserved what Kyle did to you, don’t, because you didn’t.”
Marion smiled a little, and nodded as they both exited the tiny, dark room. They both squinted a little as the light from the candlelit passage hit their eyes, but were glad to be out of there. Looking down, they laid eyes on the giant padlock that had kept them sealed in. It had stopped glowing silver, and was now a dull iron colour since its purpose had been completed. Sirius picked it up and shoved it in his pocket. He then looked at Marion and put a finger to his lips.
“Keep it quiet, Preston, but he’s not getting this back. Don’t tell him I have it if her asks.” He whispered.
“I won’t, I promise.” She chuckled.
Together, they walked to the common room again in that reliable silence. They didn’t know what to say to each other. They weren’t angry anymore, but they didn’t have much nice to say. They both knew all the playful teasing was all just that; teasing. But without the others around to hear their witty repartee, there didn’t seem to be much point. As they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, Marion turned to Sirius.
“Black, this is the last bit of time alone we get before we see the others, so if there is anything else you need to say…” she trailed off. There was a silence as Sirius thought, but he couldn’t think of anything to say, so he shook his head.
“Friends?” he asked. Marion nodded and the two hugged, rather tentatively and a little awkward, but still friendly. They entered the common room and were lucky enough not to catch any of the marauders or Lily or they may have been horded with questions. The two of them simply said goodnight, and left for their common rooms without a word, knowing that although their friends’ idea was annoying, it had worked.
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