*My Life in a Nutshell: Chapter 18, Exploding Rainbows*
A/N: Yeah, the title sounds a lot more dubious than it really should. Read on!
The walk back to the Head's Common Room was a torturous one, with feelings plaguing me from all different directions, jabbing at my poor brain and steadily increasing my levels of insanity.
Yeah, I didn't think it was possible either, but I was slowly growing madder. Mad-hatter madder.
I needed a few moments to clear my mind. And I definitely needed company to talk to – being by myself was slowly driving me crazy. Being with James, I realized, probably would drive me even crazier – so I turned tail and started heading straight for the Gryffindor Common Room.
The walk was therapeutic, with muted daylight filtering in through the open windows, and a chilly October breeze passing over my heated skin. It was a cloudy day, but the sunshine broke through at different intervals, casting golden light rays onto the Black Lake and the Forbidden Forest. As I passed through the corridor, eyes trained on the outside, I watched the Giant Squid's tentacle lazily reach up and slither down amongst the waters.
Too soon, I left the comforts of that corridor, and found myself face to face with the Fat Lady.
"Kneazel's whiskers," I muttered.
Upon realizing that the portrait hadn't swung open yet, I looked up to meet a rather comical expression. The Fat Lady looked positively horrified.
"What?" I asked, a bit offended. "Do I have something on my face?"
"No, dear," she said in a high-pitched, nervous tone. Her voice wobbled uncertainly. "But please. Don't go in there."
"What's the problem?" I asked suspiciously, narrowing my eyes and leaning forward menacingly.
"I've been specifically informed not to respond to that," the Fat Lady said, unsure.
"Well, here I am, specifically informing you to answer my question," I said menacingly.
"Well, I don't have to listen to you, do I?" the Fat Lady responded, her voice steadily getting more and more shrill.
"Well, it would be in your best interest if you did," I threatened, and her rosy cheeks paled quickly.
"Oh alright then, I'll let you in," the Fat Lady finally gave in. "Just make sure to tell them that I was forced. That I tried my absolute best to keep you out – "
"KNEAZLE'S WHISKERS!" I bellowed, and she shrieked and swung open immediately.
My jaw went slack and I nearly fell over. It was pure chaos that met my eyes.
It seemed as if a rainbow had decided to stroll into the Common Room and explode. There was multicolored goo oozing from every nook and cranny, and the slime covered the carpet and was slathered on the furniture. The always blazing fire had been reduced to a tiny crackle, the ooze filling up the fire place as it dripped down from the mantle. The walls were coated in purple and blue, the floor covered with varying shades of red, orange, and yellow – and green was splattered on the ceiling quite spectacularly.
"Shit!" five voices chorused.
One of them, I knew, was mine. The other four…well.
"You. GUYS. WHAT THE BLOODY HELL HAVE YOU DONE?" I screeched, and the multicolored students on the floor (I hadn't noticed them before, they had blended into the scenery quite nicely) struggled to cover their ears.
I saw the Marauders quivering in the corner, still standing and relatively spared of the rainbow mess. Sirius was clutching his ear drums and cowering away, while Peter was huddling and crossing himself repeatedly, apparently having broken down completely at my outburst. Remus was standing, utterly beside himself with frustration, seething and massaging his knotted brow with a goo-covered hand, the other at his waist in the perfect picture of intolerance.
And James. Well.
He was standing there, eyes wide as saucers, hands limp at his sides, frozen in fear.
I wanted to maul him.
And do other things to his body, too, but that was…completely beside the point.
I took in their collective reactions, and felt more than saw the curious and wide eyes of the rainbow-coated students strewn across the room as they tried to gauge my reaction.
I was simmering with anger, the madness frothing in my gut, but I took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten, just like my dad had always told me to.
Fuck this shit.
"You morons better get this cleaned up in the next ten minutes or Merlin help me, I will cut. You."
It was amazing how fast the Marauders went to work. They sprang from their frozen positions and began shooting spells haphazardly all over the room, showering the walls with fresh water and scourgifying students willy nilly. I watched, borderline amused, as Sirius pranced along the walls and cleared away masses of purple and blue slime, and Remus sent calculated jets of water into the ceiling corners in order to reach the farthest places.
James sent drying charms over the entire room, sending a strong breeze throughout the mass of confused and now spotless students, while Peter, since he was rather hopeless at cleaning spells, conjured up a small rag and went to work on the windows and mantelpiece.
In ten minutes, the chaos of the Gryffindor Common Room was a distant memory. The only reminder was the group of boys now standing, quite exhausted and out of breath, in the middle of the room, covered in the slime they'd created to begin with.
My mouth set in a grim line. All the Gryffindors debated whether or not they'd like to see the inevitable mutilation of the infamous Marauders that was sure to happen in the next moment or so – and, like rational human beings, they fled the Common Room faster than I could say "spattergroit."
The four boys stood resolutely in the center, facing their demise.
I narrowed my eyes and sent a quick, wordless scourgify in their direction.
"Sit," I commanded, and watched as the Marauders frantically tripped over each other in attempts to reach the nearest chair. The power of this was oddly satisfying. I decided to test it a bit further.
"Sirius!" I barked. He immediately stood at attention, pupils dilating with terror.
"Sing the alphabet," I demanded.
"What is this, a sobriety test?"
"Do it. NOW."
He jumped. "Um. Fuck. Wait. No, that's not how the alphabet works."
I heard in the corner James quietly singing the alphabet song to Sirius's words. "Um, fuck, wait, no, Black's an idiot…"
I sent a spell shooting in his direction and heard his muffled scream from behind me, watching Peter's rather horrified expression out of the corner of my eye.
Meanwhile, Sirius was having a small scale mental breakdown as he continued to struggle with the alphabet. He seemed to be stuck on "M".
I charmed his mouth shut and summoned the boys to the couch in front of the fireplace, where they all squished uncomfortably as I paced back and forth in front of them.
"You are going to explain to me exactly what just happened," I said calmly, staring straight ahead as I paced and not sparing their nervous bodies a single glance. "You are going to explain, and you are going to be absolutely honest, unless you want to suffer the consequences."
I turned to Remus, who was looking rather guilty and uncomfortable. "Start. NOW."
"Calm down, Lily," he stuttered to begin with, avoiding my murderous glare. "It honestly was a mistake. Believe me, we'd never try to cause this level of chaos before Hallow – " he stopped short.
"Halloween?" I finished eagerly.
"MOONY!" James and Peter cried out, and Sirius struggled against my silencio with a strangled mmph!
"I get the point!" Remus shouted exasperatedly. And as if I hadn't witnessed the spectacle myself, he turned to me and said apologetically, "I'm afraid I can't tell you, Lily."
"Right," I said weakly. "Just explain why the Common Room looked like unicorn poop, please."
While James and Sirius contemplated the many uses of unicorn poop with far-off, dreamlike expressions on their faces, Remus walked me through the mess that I'd found in the common room.
"Well, Hagrid made an interesting discovery the other day," Remus began in a business-like tone. "He was taking Fang for a walk in the Forbidden Forest and happened upon a variant species of a puffskein, except they were about this big – " Remus held his thumb and index finger about two inches apart " – rainbow colored, and made strange humming noises whenever Hagrid got close to them."
"Mmmph nnnmm – " Sirius interrupted. I took off the silencing charm and he almost screamed in relief.
"Dear Merlin, woman, don't ever do that again," he huffed. "But Hagrid gave 'em to us since he thought that they'd be less scared of us."
"Called you and James a 'couple o' pretty boys'," Peter added.
"How can you be scared of this?" James said, hands framing his face effeminately. Remus's hand shot out and thumped the back of his head.
"Can you lot be quiet for a second and just answer my question?" I hissed.
"Right," Remus continued. "Anyway, Hagrid left about three of the puffskeins with us and we had them in the dorm for a few days."
Something seemed rather off about this, but I just nodded and gestured for Remus to continue.
"They were actually sort of adorable, and we named them – Harold, Arty, and Jumper, actually. They were frolicking around in our dormitory and seemed to be having the time of their lives there, just sort of sitting and warbling in the sunlight."
Sirius picked up. "Now, I thought it would be a good idea to just show them off. They deserved some attention, and I knew that the girls would probably fawn over them like mother hens, so I brought them down to the Common Room for a bit."
"Things were going swell, Lily," James insisted. "They were just sitting on the mantelpiece and being all happy in such, and everyone was happy, and it was just a happy moment. Nothing but happiness."
"And that changed when…" I trailed off.
"Sirius lost track of them while he was talking to some silly 4th years about them," James growled. "And of course they just hopped off the mantelpiece, and then some idiot fed them Exploding Snap cards – "
"How does that even happen?" Sirius said, throwing his arms up with an indignant flair. "Such animal cruelty, I don't even – "
"It was your fault, you bint," interrupted Remus.
"Anyway, they sort of exploded," Peter said quietly, watching his friends roar at each other unabashedly.
I faced Peter in despair. "You made three adorable, rainbow colored Puffskeins explode by feeding them Snap cards?"
"Well, technically, it wasn't us feeding them the Snap cards. Some different guy, you know."
I buried my head in my hands and, sensing my moment of sadness, James, Sirius, and Remus all stopped shouting rather quickly.
"They packed quite a punch for such tiny little creatures," Sirius said thoughtfully.
"You are a cruel and terrible excuse for a human being," I said coldly, and Sirius looked at me, deeply offended.
I took a deep breath and prepared my punishment. "You four are going to go to Hagrid and apologize, no, grovel, incessantly until you've fixed the terror that you've caused. You are going to find that stupid student who thought that feeding Snap cards to a few living creatures was a good idea, and you are going to make him beg for mercy. I know you're capable of that."
They nodded emphatically.
"And you'll have detention."
There were simultaneous groans from the four teenage boys in front of me and I contemplated slapping each one.
"Let me finish my sentence, will you?" I said, annoyed. "You'll only have tomorrow night, which you should be thankful for, and I'm not going to tell McGonagall about your latest escapade. I can't believe I'm not reporting you to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. I am an angel, boys. Remember this."
To my disbelief, all four of them simultaneously leapt off the couch and kowtowed right at my feet.
"That's pushing it a bit," I said quickly, but decided to bask in the glory of the moment.
"Hey, Lily," Sirius piped up from the ground, and I glanced down at his curious expression, also joined by James who was glancing sideways at his best mate.
"Yes, Black?" I said warily bending down slightly to meet his gaze. Now we had captured Remus and Peter's attention, too.
"Was it actually you that sighed at Jamesie-kins in Transfiguration today?" Sirius said gleefully.
Suddenly all the confusion and insanity that had messed me up earlier this afternoon came shooting back into my mind. Spluttering with anger, I saw no other solution than to step on Sirius's back with vigor, enjoy the strangled choking sounds he made for a moment, then leave for the girl's dormitories without further ado.
"Nice knickers, Evans!"
I shot a Jelly-Legs Jinx behind me for good measure.
It sometimes astounds me how things tend to flare up and then blow over so quickly. Thanks to the Exploding Puffskein Incident (which I never thought I'd be saying, much less be thankful for), people had virtually forgotten about the sighing debacle. Except for, you know, the Marauders and my friends, who were all equally interested in my tight-lipped behavior regarding the incident.
Rather tight-lipped, that is, unless you counted the hexes I sent at Sirius as he pretended to wilt and sigh as I walked past, screaming, "James! Oh, James!"
My Wednesday was quiet.
Potter and I had, after the St. Mango's incident and my sighing debacle, agreed to put the matter to rest by swearing to never speak of it again. Though he did always bring it up as great let's-ruin-Lily's-mood material, I threatened him often enough that he'd at least stop after a little bit. I was surprised he hadn't jumped on the opportunity, actually. I had pretty much stated out in the open that I at least found him physically attractive, and he'd done nothing but tease me about it and whisper to his little Marauder friends.
And to think I was in like with this pitiable boy.
Meanwhile, Marlene and I had proposed the Girl's Night to Alice and Miranda with girlish excitement. Alice and Miranda had reacted equally as girlishly, if not more so. We were having it in the girl's dorms, as James probably would either yell at us or interfere with our fun if I'd had the lack of sense to allow my friends in the Head dormitories. The date was set and I planned an outline for the event the morning of during charms, scribbling hastily on parchment underneath the desk as Flitwick lectured about charm engineering.
Plans for the Girl's Night
1. Opening: set safety precautionary measures against any open ears, propose agenda.
2. Discuss embarrassing moments of the week, as per usual.
3. Discuss present problems and matters at hand – propose solutions to Miranda and Marlene's current unspoken but very obnoxiously present predicament.
4. Have a bit of Miranda's firewhiskey.
5. Have a bit more of Miranda's firewhiskey.
6. Generally goof off.
8. Finish off firewhiskey.
"You forgot number 'seven' there," James said from beside me. I wasn't even surprised he was next to me anymore – just exasperated. His bad habit of popping up suddenly from nowhere was beginning to seem almost normal.
"Well – " I rechecked my list and realized to my embarrassment that he was right. I had forgotten 7. I covered my mistake up with an, "I meant to do that."
"Did you really?" grinned James. I realized that he had read my subtle list title and was now trying to get a better look at the rest of the list. "Seven's my favorite number, you know," he informed me as I protectively shielded my list from his eyes. "Pity you should skip it."
"Mr. Potter! Ms. Evans! Care to show me what you have there?" Flitwick piped up from the front of the classroom.
Not particularly, Professor. "Just notes," I assured him innocently. In eerie unison, the entire classroom turned to face my desk. Eyes blinked owlishly from the people surrounding me. Beside me Potter was stealthily switching my planning list with his dutifully written charms notes. As Flitwick strolled over, trying to look as menacing as possible from his meager four feet, I grabbed the list back before James could study it and hid it beneath my skirt.
Ha. No one was going down there, that's for sure.
Meanwhile, Flitwick was perusing James's notes with careful eyes as the rest of the classroom watched in fascination. Alice was giving me a look from by the window. I shrugged helplessly.
"Seems satisfactory," Flitwick announced, handing the notes back to me. "Please tell me, Ms. Evans, the proper aspects of charm engineering, and give an example using a charm we've learned in the past week." Flitwick looked at me expectantly, and James was also glancing at me furtively.
"Charm engineering covers aspects such as wandwork, mental attention, proper intonation, and overall control. For example, animating charms require the a specific manner, so to say, of the intended action, and correct pronunciation, along with clear intentions, in order to produce the desired effect." Ace, Evans.
"10 points to Gryffindor," Flitwick replied, smiling broadly, before returning to his podium and finishing his lecture.
I felt a nudge right above my elbow and realized James had passed me a note.
Have fun with that firewhiskey, yeah? Take pictures for me!
I sent a silent stinging hex in his direction, and James's following outcry was well received by the class.
After the bell rang James had lagged behind, clearly waiting for me. I didn't know what to make of our current friendship. I had grown closer to him than I cared to admit, and all this waiting and dancing around each other was beginning to frazzle my nerves. Not to mention that I'd made a wishing room full of posters of him just yesterday.
It haunted me to no end.
"Lily Evans, take a look at this," James said, rolling up his sleeve and showing me a rather nasty red mark, the product of my hex, on his forearm. His fine, fine forearm.
"Looking. Appreciating," I said fondly.
"I meant the burn, Lily, not me," James smirked.
I swatted him away. "Begone! I can't take you right now."
James slowly backed away to meet Sirius at the door. "You'll take me at all times, Lily. From now on and forevahh!"
His voice trailed off as he disappeared into the hallway.
I gazed after his figure and shook my head. Life was rather hopeless.
I had a great laugh reading all your reviews for the last chapter (seems the general consensus was that I was under some sort of influence while writing about dancing trolls. It's all good in the hood).
Anyway, I tried my best to fight off the insanity with more insanity in the form of exploding puffskeins via Marauder antics.
Review? More to come soon!
-tripping over isolines
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