Chapter 7 : Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and a Slytherin
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She swirled around the contents of her cup and tried to find something, anything, to distract herself. The last thing Missy wanted was to replay those events in her mind.
Misericordia was always focusing on what happens next (what she was going to do, where she was going to go, etc.), a quality that placed her ahead of many individuals her age (most of whom were prone to dwell and not do). This mentality meant that Missy never gave much time to reflection.
She rarely slowed her pace to get lost in scenes of the past because she disliked analyzing them. She disliked analyzing herself in particular, and she had this gut intuition that if she thought about her recent interactions with the Marauders, she would uncover something that she would rather not recognize.
She tossed back her head, tilted back her cup, and felt a giant swig of Firewhiskey sear a flaming path down her throat.
“Ugh,” she muttered as her eyes began to water. “Cheers,” she said, raising her glass to no one, and finished the last swallow in the glass before the taste buds at the back of her tongue had a chance to recover.
Now she had a task with which to distract herself: get a refill. She scanned the area first, trying to locate the general direction of the booze before she launched herself into the fray.
At the right end of the clearing, a decent size stage had been erected. The only thing that it supported at the moment was a radio (from which, Missy assumed, the current music was blasting) and several instruments. Despite the fact that there was no band standing on it as of yet, the front was densely packed with energetic bodies.
The left half offered a bit of relief from the chaos; it was less crowded the farther left you got, enabling students to actually hear the people they were mingling with.
There was one giant tree, naturally segregated from the rest of the forest, in the exact middle of the space. It was eye-catching, almost awe inspiring. It was there that the most movement was taking place; Missy caught glimpses (seen between the shifting of students) of four long tables, stacked with bowls, pitchers, and an assortment of stylized bottles and cans, stationed around the massive living beacon.
She pushed off from the tree she’d been leaning on and descended the slight slope leading down to the party zone. She plunged in, deftly weaving her way past her peers, easily finding and sliding through the small openings presented between bodies.
Earlier in the Great Hall she had been annoyed at having to work her way through a crowd, and right now she was probably navigating past a lot of the same people that had been standing around in her way just those few hours ago. Now though, perhaps because of the contagious, uncontained spirit of youth in the surrounding atmosphere, or the surrealistic quality of the environment in which she found herself, she wasn’t the least bit agitated.
No, not even the kid that had just stepped on her foot could piss her off. She was able to distinguish his eloquently phrased “Oh, shit” above the noise mostly because she said those words herself on the daily.
“Sorry!” he called into her ear.
She waved his apology away. “Couldn’t even feel it,” she said raising her voice and pointing to her heavy-duty footwear.
He looked down at her boots and flashed a grin, giving her the thumbs up and a pat on the back, before they both continued on in the directions they’d been moving prior to her toe getting trod on.
As Misericordia navigated her way she couldn’t help the way the corner of her mouth twisted upward slyly. After that she felt a lot more at ease with her situation: she had recognized him, but he hadn’t recognized her. It was only hours ago at dinner, when he had been in his Ravenclaw robes (and she in her Slytherin ones), that she had shoved him aside to get to her table.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do without you next year,” Sirius was saying to the lead singer of Larger Than Giants, a seventh year named Richard Argos. “I mean, how else are the masses going to be entertained?”
“Gonna have to find another band, I suppose. One that’s got a front man as dashing as I am,” was the response. Richard was cocky – that’s why everyone called him Dick.
“Did you really get signed?” asked Peter.
Dick looked around, eyeing everybody close to him suspiciously. “The truth?” he asked. Peter nodded his blonde head rapidly. Dick paused and stared at him hard, like he was deciding whether or not to divulge any information, before breaking into a grin the equivalent of a high yielding lumos spell. “Hell yeah, we did!”
Peter actually appeared a bit disappointed (perhaps good news wasn’t as juicy as bad news) but recovered quickly seeing how genuinely excited Richard was at his bands’ great fortune.
Sirius clapped Dick on the back. “I’ll drink to that!”
Remus smiled and raised his glass. “Congratulations.”
“May I become richer than the Minister, more famous than Grindelwald, and get more ass than Dumbledore,” Dick said and tipped his drink back, chugging until he had drained his can.
Remus, already in the middle of a large gulp when that last sentiment was expressed, almost choked, which resulted in his spraying a nearby girl with beer.
You’ve got a way with words, Dick,” Sirius said, trying hard to suppress his laughter. “Stay right here. For that, I’m bringing you a shot. I’ll get you one too, Remus.”
He edged his way toward the refreshments, but not before witnessing Remus move toward the girl, attempting to apologize through his fits of coughing and gasps for air.
The second Sirius was out of Remus’ sight, he began to shake with laughter. He had never seen his friends face so red!
He managed to squeeze into a gap (between Frank Longbottom and a Hufflepuff girl from his Care of Magical Creatures class two years ago) at the corner of the nearest table.
“More ass than Dumbledore,” he muttered, still chuckling a bit. He reached across the surface for three shotglasses.
“More arse than Dumbledore?” the Hufflepuff girl asked, raising an eyebrow. She’d paused, the lip of an Icevodka bottle poised over her own shotglass. “Why’ve you been looking at the Headmasters arse?”
Sirius ignored her, not caring to answer. She mumbled something before nudging her way out. Immediately after, someone who’d been waiting behind her took her place.
He nudged Frank, making his fellow Gryffindor overflow the edge of the glass he was pouring. “Sorry, Frank. You done with the Firewhiskey?”
“Well, I don’t think I can fit anymore in this cup,” Frank said smiling and passing along the huge bottle. “It’s all yours. I just got to decide what I should bring for…”
“Bring for whom? I was listening,” Sirius said, not looking up from filling up the last of the shots.
“For Alice, but never mind. Isn’t she from Slytherin?”
Sirius turned to see the person that had procured the Hufflepuffs’ spot easily slipping back out through the crowd. She held her drink high above a head of wavy black locks.
“There are no Slytherins’ at this party, Frank.” Sirius grabbed his three shots, spilling some on his hands in his haste. He had only caught sight of a sliver of her face, but he had a feeling that that sliver was a perfect match of Misericordia.
It was only by sheer luck, with the added bonus of height, that he was able to follow the retreating crown of her head. When she sat down along the outskirts of the party, he knew for certain that it was Misericordia.
He caught her eyes as he walked over. She hadn’t expected him to follow her, he could tell, but she didn’t look surprised that he had, either. She peered up, moving her bangs out of her eyes to see him better. They studied one another in silence for a moment, not quite sure what to say.
They didn’t know each other. They were from opposing houses. She wasn’t supposed to be here.
Sirius really didn’t know why he had pursued her. He wasn’t going to kick her out and make her walk through the Forbidden Forest alone. That would be uncalled for. But he had already done something pretty uncalled for already, hadn’t he? When he’d kissed her on a dare without her consent?
He really shouldn’t have approached her like this. Now he felt stupid. Why the hell weren’t his legs moving? He should leave. He had friends waiting for him.
“Sit down,” she said. “You can tell me all about your secret attraction to Dumbledore.”
He should have said, “No. I’m supposed to be somewhere. Just don’t be conspicuous.” Instead, he sat down in front of her and set down the alcohol he had meant to drink with Dick and Remus.
She reached into the side of her tall, left boot and produced a pack of cigarettes. She took one from it and put it between her lips before reaching into the right boot for what was probably her wand.
His hands moved of their own accord, pulling his own from his back pocket. He held it out to her, its tip alight.
Misericordia looked from the tiny, outstretched flame to his face. He felt even more idiotic than when he’d been standing, because knew what he had just done. Unconsciously, Sirius had given her a peace offering.
She scooted closer, holding back her ebony curls in one hand as she leaned over his wand. “Thanks.” She inhaled and blew out a stream of smoke.
Sirius felt a great wave of relief envelope him. His hand was shaking as he picked up his shot and tipped it down his throat. He greatly appreciated the way that the Firewhiskeys’ warmth cascaded through his veins.
He set down the shotglass in the grass and leaned back on his hands. “I don’t think I need to tell you this, but I haven’t been staring at Dumbledore’s ass. Do you know Dick?” He shook his head and amended his statement, realizing how it could be misconstrued. “Richard Argos?”
“I’ve heard of him.”
“Well, his band – they’re playing tonight, actually – got picked up by a label, so we were toasting with him earlier. He made the toast. Said something along the lines of ‘May I get more ass than Dumbledore’.”
Misericordia didn’t respond. She lifted the shotglass beside her to her mouth with the hand that wasn’t holding the cigarette and drained it. She shivered. It must have been Icevodka.
“I thought it was funny,” Sirius said, hating how unconfident this sounded, even to his own ears. What the hell was wrong with him?
Missy looked at him sideways. “I bet Dumbledore gets mad bitches.” She watched him for a second, and then laughed, the Icevodka making her breath hang in the air, crystalizing it. “I can’t believe I said that with a straight face.”
Sirius was surprised, to say the least. He had been so caught off guard by her joking with him that he couldn’t manage to vocalize his laugh. And he wanted to. He thought she was funny, and he wanted her to know it.
She took another pull on her cigarette. “Oh come on, Sirius. I thought that was hilarious. Don’t be so serious.”
This was the first time she’d used his first name, and he honestly couldn’t stand it when people used a play on words with his name. It annoyed him. So when he dropped his gaze to his sneakers and felt himself smile he knew he was in trouble.
“Was that for me?” Misericordia asked. She pointed to the nearest of the shots. The two originally intended for Dick and Remus.
“Nah,” he said. “But here.” He handed her one, and picked up the other.
“Fire or ice?”
He locked eyes with her and he felt a noticeable thump from his chest. He was glad that it was dark and it was night, because his cheeks burned as he said, “Fire.”
Misericordia set her empty glass aside and lit a new cigarette (with her own wand this time). “I chain smoke when I’m drinking,” she commented. She wasn’t looking at him. She was watching the sky. He guessed she was feeling a significant buzz; he knew he was.
“I’m glad I came.”
Sirius grinned. “Don’t you mean you’re glad you crashed the party?”
She directed her gaze toward him again. “Nope. Believe it or not, someone actually invited me.”
Sirius puzzled over that one for a minute. Someone had invited a Slytherin to an excusively Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff gathering? And then proceeded to not have anything to do with that Slytherin whatsoever?
“THE NAME’S DICK, AND WE’RE LARGER THAN GIANTS!”
The three houses gave a resounding roar of approval so powerful that it could have shaken the earth. It certainly outmatched the volume of Dick’s magnified voice. It was one-thirty and the students of Hogwarts were clearly ready to make some noise.
“That’s your friends’ band, right? You should get closer!” Misericordia got to her feet and grabbed Sirius’ hands, pulling him up. She dropped them once he was standing.
“Are you coming?” he asked, raising his voice to be heard as the instruments picked up.
She shook her head. No. “I’ll catch up with you later, though?”
“God, you are impossible, Potter!” Lily shouted back at him. “Stop hounding me!” She was trying her best to shake him off her tail, zigzagging through the crowd at random intervals.
He’d been trying to locate her since he’d ditched Poison Lips by the edge of the forest. That had been around eleven. He’d only managed to find her five minutes ago and she had been attempting to lose him ever since.
He called out “Evans!” at the same time that a girl nearby cried “Lily!”
Lily stopped in front of Frank Longbottoms’ girlfriend (and Lily’s roommate) Alice, enabling James the opportunity to catch up.
“Oh, Lily! Thank goodness I found you! I don’t know what to do!” Alice was in a state of panic: she was practically ripping her hair out.
Lily pushed Alice’s arms down from her scalp, holding them at her sides. “Alice, you need to calm yourself. I can’t help if you can’t tell me what’s wrong.”
“Yeah, I’ll help too, Alice,” James piped up, earning a glare from the red-head of his dreams.
“It’s my younger sister, Emma. I don’t know what she’s taken tonight but-,” at this point Alice burst into tears, unable to finish.
James watched Lily’s face turned to stone: she was very against drug use. Honestly, if he didn’t love her so much he would say that she looked really scary at the moment. “Alice, I need you to take me to her, okay?”
Alice nodded, sobbing. She grabbed Lily by the wrist (James following behind helplessly), leading her to the refreshment tables, where she let go of her grip and covered her eyes with her hands. James and Lily looked around, unable to spot the younger version of the hysterical girl.
“Alice, I don’t see-” James began.
“Up – sob – there,” Alice managed, removing one hand from her eyes to point at the lone tree in the middle of the beverage set-up. A small, pale figure sat perched on one of the topmost branches, swinging her legs and dangling feet. Alice was in a panic, but Emma was definitely unconcerned.
“Bloody hell,” James mumbled. No one around was paying any attention to them (Larger Than Giants was in the first fifteen minutes of their gig, after all); no one had noticed the girl make the dangerous climb up the tree.
“It’s going to be alright, Alice,” Lily was saying, a bit loudly over the music, as she rubbed Alice’s back, trying to soothe her. “I’m going to think of something.”
“Yeah, Alice,” agreed James, “I’ll help Lily think of something. We’ll get Emma back to you safely, alright?”
He received a hard kick to his shin. “Get lost, Potter.”
“Merlin, Evans!” he shouted. He looked down where a small, red square was blooming on his jeans. “You just stabbed me with your freakin’ heel!”
“Episkey!” Lily aimed the healing spell at the source of the blood. “All better. Now would you kindly get lost? Can’t you see you’re in the way?” she snarled.
“I’m trying to help!” Why did everything have to turn out like this? He had been so hopeful about his chances to win her over tonight… Now James felt absolutely miserable. Lily, his beautiful, intelligent, dream girl, was making him feel absolutely miserable.
“Oh please.” She rolled her eyes and took her hand off Alice’s shoulder, placing it on her own hip instead. “You’ve never helped out anyone in your life.”
His heart felt as if it was barely pumping blood anymore. What had he done to deserve this? What had he done to make the person he admired the most hate him so completely? He couldn’t even form a response after that. He was really hurt this time.
Lily narrowed her clear, green eyes when he stayed silent and spat out a succinct, “Exactly.” Then she turned to her roommate. “Just give me a minute to think, Alice. I promise I’ll get her down.”
At Alice’s harsh tone, James finally tore his gaze away from Lily. Alice had stopped crying, though she clutched her arms tightly across her chest for support. Frank had appeared at her side, an arm around her waist. Both of them had their necks craned, their watchful stares never breaking in their vigilance.
And now James noticed that a few more heads in the sea of students were tilted upward. A guy close to James nudged his friend, who turned away from the direction of the concert, and pointed; they exchanged identical smirks.
Now there were two girls in the tree: one near the top and one rapidly climbing her way to the top.
James only had eyes for the new one. He could see clear up her skirt. She had just about the tiniest pair of booty short panties he’d ever seen and he couldn’t focus on much else.
She pulled herself up with surprising strength and leaped from branch to branch, landing on her bare feet with a fair amount of grace.
Wait, why did she have bare feet? She wouldn’t unless the shoes she’d been wearing to the party weren’t conducive to tree climbing, in which case she’d have left them at the bottom…
A pair of black, buckled, platform boots lay by the base of the trunk. James groaned, partly because the nicest ass he’d ever laid eyes on belonged to Poison Lips and partly because the Slytherin he should not have brought to the party was starting to draw a small amount of attention.
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