Chapter 15 : Halloween Soirée
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The Great Hall was full of jovial chatter, music and happy feasters as the Halloween feast got into its full swing. The walls were lined with the floating and the hanging pumpkins, and the darkness beyond the windows only added to the supposedly scary atmosphere - but unfortunately for the creators of the mood, the school ghosts were nowhere to be found. Unfortunate, yes, but celebrating the death day of Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington was also an event to be jolly about. Well, perhaps not, but that depended on your opinion.
Students chattered and laughed, feasted on the many ghost-resembling treats in front of them (mainly just food shaped into bats, spiders and similar), told ghost stories and got right into the pace of how the feast was going.
“They say there’s a curse on Hogwarts,” Peri smiled evilly from where she sat in between Sirius and Abbie. The group rolled their eyes.
“When is there not a curse on Hogwarts?” James replied sardonically, drawing laughter from some surrounding students. Peri pursed her lips.
“In Salem we always talked about it – it was something to do with the ghost’s vengeance...” more eye rolling, but she pushed on eagerly. “On the seventh year, of the seventh decade every century they say that the Headless Horseman returns to wreak vengeance on the men that sentenced him to death!”
“Nothing new,” Sirius shrugged indifferently.
“Who sentenced him to death?” Rachel asked quietly, her face blanching slightly at the mention of ghosts.
“The Headmaster of course,” Peri grinned triumphantly at having caught someone’s attention. “He rides in through the Hall doors and kills the Headmaster right there, in his seat on the high table,” She helped herself do a slice of chicken from the plate in front of her. “It’s a long tale – I could go into it if you like.”
“And how would you know so much about it?” Abbie raised a sceptic eyebrow. Peri huffed.
“Come on, I did live in England for ten years!” She answered indignantly and carried on. “Well it’s just we had a few transfers from Hogwarts around this time last century; I think, obviously I wasn’t around – yeah, yeah, ha flipping ha, Sirius – and they had a lot of stories to tell. They say –“
“Look, can we not talk about this?” Remus interjected wearily.
“No way, I wanna hear this!” Peter laughed.
“Scared, Remus?” Lily challenged heartily.
“No,” Remus rolled his eyes. “But can’t you see it’s bothering her?” He gestured to Rachel’s frozen expression, pale as a sheet, as she stared motionlessly into her dinner. The others exchanged sympathetic glances and the matter was dropped.
Suddenly a loud scream pierced the chatter and the hall fell silent, all staring over at its source. Anna Mentoni, the “really annoying, clingy, spiteful, mean Hufflepuff girl” was now clutching her reasonably flatter chest and running from the hall in embarrassment.
The Marauders, of course, roared with laughter. Along with the rest of the hall, to be fair to them. Peri wrinkled her nose in mild disapproval that the boys had actually done that, but then again they were boys. And if Anna Mentoni was as mean as they made her out to be, perhaps she deserved it. She watched Remus pocket his wand and smirk once more, high fiving James who then drew his own wand.
“Here goes,” he muttered. It was just when chatter in the hall began to pick up again that James whispered a spell and moved his wand in a fluid motion – and the plates of food on the Hufflepuff table started to rise and fall. A simple gesture, but a startling one. A few of the poor good natured Hufflepuffs jumped backwards, before laughing and looking around for the one who was pulling the prank. Most eyes turned towards the Marauders, and James just went back to his food as if nothing had happened. The plates continued to rise and fall. But, of course, the Marauders weren’t even remotely finished.
Amidst many squeals from the Ravenclaw table, the seventh year Gryffindors watched on curiously as the food, that was previously only fashioned like insects and various other less than favourable creatures, found themselves being transfigured into their real life counterparts. Abbie winced and swallowed as she watched a particularly young Ravenclaw girl cry out as she tried to remove a large worm from her arm. Lily opened her mouth slowly and eyed James angrily, and he had the sense to avoid her gaze guiltily.
“Potter...” she growled, but Remus placed a reassuring hand on her arm.
“See, we’re not always bias towards Slytherins!” Sirius interjected loudly, as the noise from the Ravenclaws began to decrease. But almost at the moment he spoke, the Slytherin table vanished beneath the unsuspecting students, and those who were previously leaning on the surface found themselves falling forwards and they cried out in surprise. The Marauders held themselves back from roaring with laughter, but they certainly snickered along with the rest of the school. And the sight of Severus Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange face planting into the floor was enough to even make Lily roll her eyes good naturedly and let the corners of her mouth perk up.
“Well... not always,” Peter snickered quietly. The Great Hall was abuzz with various shrieks and gasps of surprise at the various tricks being performed, and the Marauders chanced a glance up at the staff table. There was a lot of eye rolling, but most of the professors seemed to be watching on in amusement, too absorbed in the festivities of Halloween to protest.
All of a sudden, the group jumped back from the Gryffindor table in surprise as large black bats suddenly burst from the bowl of black treacle on the tabletop, before they all began laughing as the bats flew around their heads. Abbie playfully punched Sirius on the arm, complaining about the surprise. Sirius merely winked and grinned broadly.
“I have to say, this year has been rather low key – pretty amusing, but still low key,” Will noted, glancing around at the students still avoiding the various nuisances the Marauders had caused.
“Well,” Remus shrugged nonchalantly. “There’re only so many pranks you can pull on Halloween. And unfortunately we’ve pulled the best six already.” James laughed heartily in agreement before cutting himself off in surprise.
There was a loud crash from the outside of the window, and then a high pitched screeching could be heard from behind the castle walls. The boys glanced at each other in surprise before turning around to face the window. The Gryffindors closest to the sound visibly jumped when another loud bang was to follow – something was flying against the window! The bats that had emerged from the treacle and had been flying around the room aimlessly instantly darted towards the windows themselves; the things banging on the windows from the outside were bats! The girls turned to the Marauders accusingly, but the boys merely held up their hands in surrender.
“We can’t be blamed for the behaviour of wild animals!” Sirius laughed at the assumption. Lily raised a sceptic eyebrow and muttered about how she wouldn’t put it past them. Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of the pumpkins, the ones holding the candles that she and James had put up the week before, starting to move. She rolled her eyes and sighed, it was about time she did her job.
“Look you four, I know these pranks are supposedly funny –“
“You did laugh,” Peter pointed out quietly. Lily ignored him.
“- I know they’re supposed to be funny, but can you quit it now? They’re just nuisances.”
James rolled his eyes and withdrew his wand again. He hesitated, and then his eyebrows furrowed.
Remus noticed his hesitation first. “What?”
“I don’t remember the counter jinx...”
“Oh Prongs, c’mon – it’s just a simple levitating spell,” Remus paused. “Unless you did something funny to it?”
James frowned sheepishly. “It was only – it’s just so I wouldn’t have to concentrate on it all the time. Sort of like a safety lock, my dad taught me –“
“Prongs!” Sirius groaned. “Didn’t we already establish this summer that this technique was beyond you?”
“Well I’ve been doing it fine!” James retorted defensively.
“You just don’t remember the counter jinx,” Peter added drily. James huffed and looked down guiltily.
“It’ll probably... wear off in a bit?” And it seemed as though he was right, for at that moment all the floating objects around the room dropped to the floor – pumpkins, bewitched bats, tables, bowls – all crashing down to the ground. James flinched at the noise.
But the night, it seemed, was not yet over. To everyone’s surprise, the doors to the Great Hall burst open – but while every wound up and tense student suspected something terrible may come crashing through, surprisingly it was only a small round object rolling across the floor.
Someone screamed, and the room was in uproar, students all around talking on top of each other and shrieking. A few got up – more than ready to get away from all this madness, and the teachers were just about ready to get up themselves and sort through the complete pandemonium that was the Halloween feast. Unfortunately, as some students headed towards the doors they too screeched and ran back, as a low echo of the clopping of metal on stone could be heard through the doors. And as soon as it became clear what was making the sound, the school soon receded into silence.
It was a man, on horseback. The horse snorted restlessly and flicked its tail as the students took in the man’s appearance. He was clad in a black leather suit, with thick boots and wide black gauntlets that clutched the reigns as the horse moved from side to side. And it was then that they noticed the pale tinge that the horseman held – almost translucent, as if he were not quite there. But of course the most noticeable feature of the mysterious horseman was the one that had made the students scream; he was headless.
There was only a thick part of the leather suit for a neck, and the head was nowhere to be seen. Rachel, perhaps the most vulnerable to this Headless Phantom, clutched onto whoever was closest to her, she didn’t care who, and her nails dug in deep. She whimpered, and began to shake. Slowly the clatter of the horse’s shoes began to echo again and there were sharp intakes of breath as it galloped down the aisle between the Ravenclaw and the Hufflepuff tables, gaining speed as he headed straight towards the end of the hall.
“The- the curse!” she found herself hissing hoarsely, as she then hid her face into the shoulder of the arm she was holding, not bearing to keep her eyes open and look.
What she missed, however, was a grand sight to see. The Horseman galloped up through the middle of the hall, pulling a long, silver sword out of the sheath at its side as it went. The sword was raised high, as it reached the staff table. Many of the staff found themselves edging backwards in their seats, a little apprehensive of this Headless Phantom – it was a well known fact that a ghost could never really hurt you, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to scare you. The only Professor who didn’t flinch was Professor Dumbledore himself, who looked on passively as the Horseman’s sword came swinging down to him. And once the Phantom was in range, the weapon dropped, and swung right at Dumbledore’s neck as if to chop his head off – most of the students gasped, a few of the screamed, but it was over before any of them had any chance to think. Over, meaning finished in the loosest sense of the word – whereas Dumbledore’s head may firmly rest upon his shoulders;
His beard... had vanished.
And despite the tension that had smothered the room a moment before, the hall erupted into laughter. The horse swished its tail and snorted, before turning, its rider sliding his sword back into his sheath, its work done.
“Happy Halloween,” a voice boomed – presumably from the Phantom, but of course, he didn’t have a mouth, so no one could be sure. “May your year be filled with good wishes, and those wishes not so pleasant.”
With a sharp pull at the reigns of his horse, the Horseman galloped down the aisle between the Gryffindor and the Ravenclaw tables, before coming to a stop beside the Marauders – and if any student in the school hadn’t realised that it was a prank by now, they knew the moment that James waved his wand and the form of the Horseman appeared to become corporeal, and he reached a hand out to them. Sirius jumped up and took the hand, allowing himself to be pulled onto the horse behind him, laughing loudly all the while.
“Happy Halloween!” He reiterated, whooping with delight as the Horseman took off towards the doors to the Great Hall. The Hall, now abuzz with chatter watched in awe as the other three boys jumped from their seats and made to follow them, laughing manically as they escaped the confines of the hall, knowing full well that the whole school had just been well and truly got.
James paused as he reached the Entrance Hall, watching Remus and Peter chase the galloping horse up the stairs, but he turned back to the Great Hall. With a grin and a wave of his wand Dumbledore’s beard reappeared, before he shut the door behind him with a bang.
Silence stretched over the hall as the doors closed, an awkward atmosphere settling in. But then came the laughter.
Rachel took a shuddering breath and released the arm she had been holding tightly, blushing when she realised it was Will’s, but he smiled kindly at her and winked, letting her know he understood her fright. To reiterate that point, he blew out a deep breath as conversation began to pick up again in the Hall and he turned to his friends.
“... I think we just got pranked,” he muttered, stunned.
Peri rolled her eyes. “Gee, you think?” She spared the Staff Table a quick glance, and was happy to note that, for the most part, they held smiles on their faces, which meant that it was likely that the boys wouldn’t get into trouble, which was lucky.
Lily blinked. She had to admit it was a good one, she hadn’t been expecting that. “How do you think they did it?” she asked, trying to keep the note of awe out of her voice. “To conjure up something like that... that’s pretty advanced magic!”
“Typical you, wanting to know the spell behind it,” Abbie put in dryly. “Maybe we can ask them later. Speaking of which – where did they go?” she directed this question more towards Peri.
She shrugged. “To get everything ready for Will’s party I guess.”
In the excitement that had been the Halloween feast the girls had forgotten all about Will’s planned birthday party for later that evening. Will mentioned that he hoped they didn’t go too overboard for it, but he knew, and was pretty sure the girl’s knew, that he was enjoying the attention deep down. It was nice to have people care enough to give him a massive celebration for his birthday. Now if only he could get his sister to actually go.
The girl’s were still buzzing long after the feast was over, gushing about the prank and all the eccentrics of it – but there were still a lot of loose ends where it was concerned though, and they were more than ready to interrogate the Marauders about it the moment they got the chance. They were travelling along the seventh floor corridor laughing loudly, and talking about nothing in particular as they headed towards the portrait of the Fat Lady.
It was only once they reached her that they discovered how professional the Marauder’s had been willing to go. Next to the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room stood Sirius, dressed in a smart black suit with his hair slicked back. Over his arm he had a white tea-towel (or something similar) so that he bore a remarkable resemblance to a waiter. When he noticed Will and the girls, his face broke into a smile.
“Well if it isn’t the guests of honour. We’ve been waiting for you,” He bowed his head politely, “Welcome to the birthday celebration of William Crockford, as organised by the Marauders.” He grinned. The girls were definitely taken aback by this polite behaviour – it was nothing like Sirius at all! “Jack-O-Lantern.” He said to the Fat Lady, who giggled and allowed them through. What the girl’s saw once they were inside made them gasp outright.
Along the edge of the wall to the left of them leading from the portrait hole to the boys’ staircases was a long buffet table, laden with all sorts of small treats and tasty snacks – perfect, because most people were already pretty full up by the feast. In the middle of the table there were two large bowls, filled with some kind of drink – most likely a punch – with ladles and glasses surrounding it. All the comfy furniture had either been vanished or moved to the sides, making the common room seem even bigger than it normally was! By the fire the floor had been transfigured to tiles, available as some sort of dance floor and the space of the room (that would have been a corner, had the room not been circular) next to the girl’s staircases had been converted into some sort of bar.
James, dressed in an apron and smart white button-down shirt, was cleaning a glass behind the counter and he winked at them as they gazed in awe at the room. Even up near the top of the room there were streamers, balloons, and an all manner of decorations, including a large banner above the boy’s and girl’s staircases that read “Happy Birthday, Crockford!” Remus, also dressed up in a smart white shirt and apron, was by the buffet table; tongue out in concentration as he tried to balance spirit glasses on top of each other into a tower and Peter, in a suit similar to Sirius’, was adding a few finishing touches to one of the large armchairs (now looking a lot different) that read “King’s Throne” above it. Will rolled his eyes when he realised that must be for him.
Sirius smirked at their obviously impressed faces. “I’ll explain the proper layout once you all come down later – what do you mean ‘what?’? You can’t honestly expect to have a proper party dressed in your school robes, can you?” He grinned. “The ladies staircase is over there, please change into something slightly more appropriate.” And to the wider audience of the room, James began to shout.
“This party’s for Will Crockford, seventh year if you haven’t heard of him – organised by us, the Marauders, so if you have any problems what-so-ever you will come and talk to us,” He placed the glass he was cleaning back on the tabletop as he now occupied everyone’s attention.
“Unfortunately, this party is only open to fifth years and up, if they choose to stay, and our hosts/waiters – that’s Sirius, Remus, Peter or I – will have to send anyone younger back to their dormitories.” There was a collective groan from the younger students in question, but there was still a twinkle in James’ eye.
“However,” he carried on. “You will find your dormitories laden with treats and drinks and all sorts to keep you occupied – just so you’re not missing out on anything.” That certainly cheered them up some.
“That’s clever,” Lily murmured thoughtfully.
“What is?” Rachel asked, still gazing around the room in awe.
“Well for one thing, it was a pretty good idea not to let anyone below fifth year come to this – but they’ve also given loads of treats and stuff to the younger years so they won’t have to come down here for a party. Just so that they won’t have to spend their whole evening chasing kids upstairs,” She finished, nodding with approval.
“If you ladies, and Will, wouldn’t mind making your way over to your dormitories,” Sirius put in. “We’d like to start as soon as possible,” He smiled warmly, gesturing in the direction of the staircases. The girls giggled and nodded, before making their way over. Will was still flabbergasted at the whole thing, but he definitely looked pleased.
“Look, Black, I mean... wow,” He began, but Sirius cut him off.
“There’ll be a time for speeches later, Crockford.” He winked, and patted him on the back. “Now go on, before I chase you up there!” His polite demeanour from before being wiped away by his cocky grin. Will laughed, before jumping up the stairs two at a time.
A good half an hour later, almost everyone who wanted to attend the party was down in the common room – except for Will. The Marauders had wanted to give him a proper entrance, so they insisted that he only come down when he was sent for. So, at that moment, whilst people were filling their glasses with butterbeer for a toast, Frank Longbottom had been sent up to retrieve him (Longbottom being the only other seventh year boy apart from the Marauders – who were busy doing other things).
Frank jumped down, winking at Sirius and soon after Will stepped down the stairs slowly, trying to anticipate what might be at the bottom of the staircase. Luckily, though, it wasn’t anything too embarrassing – just the partiers sharing a toast to him. He blushed admirably as they all raised their glasses and began to drink. A loud cheer rose up, and as he finally reached the bottom of the stairs he was overcome with people coming to congratulate him. He was shaking hands, being patted on the back and even taken into a headlock (James) grinning like a maniac all the while. The crowd (it couldn’t have been more than thirty people; but still decent enough to have a great party) directed him over to the chair that he’d seen earlier – the one labelled “King’s Throne”.
“Oh wow, er, wow, thanks guys!” Will laughed nervously as he sat down. He was embarrassed as hell, and wasn’t entirely sure what to do next – but luckily, Sirius had it covered.
“Okay, so before we get this party started, anyone who’s got a gift for Kingford down here, we’ll give ‘em now,” He winked. “And I’m gonna start us off.” From behind his back Sirius produced a small wrapped packaged, and wiggle his eyebrows as he knelt on the floor and handed it to him. “For you, sire.” Will rolled his eyes at his antics and, aware that everyone in the room was watching him, tore the paper off slowly.
“You didn’t have to get me anything...” He chuckled. But when he saw the gift his demeanour changed. “Oh Sirius, you shouldn’t have,” he commented dryly. Sirius took on a mock modest tone, wiping things off his suit and non-existent tears from his eyes.
“Oh, I know, I just thought you were worth it,” Sirius gushed. Will gazed dully at the photo frame in his hand. It was an animated picture of Sirius, who blinked it’s eyelashes at the camera every so often. The few people around who could see it snickered – but that was nothing on James. He roared with laughter at the sight of it.
“Hey, hey Crockford! If you don’t want it, can I have it?” He asked, clutching his sides as he laughed. In the end Sirius turned the photo frame over and tacked on the back was a bit if parchment – a voucher for 15 Galleons off anything in Zonko’s. Will smiled gratefully and took the voucher off the frame.
“Keep the photo,” Sirius winked and Will rolled his eyes. The other Marauders also presented him with a few gifts, even with Will’s protests that they didn’t need to. Remus gave him a box of Honeydukes finest chocolate, and Peter gifted him with a small book. The cover read “Herbology for Dummies” and Will laughed.
“I’m not as bad as you!” He swatted Peter on the head. James had given him a new pair of Keeper gloves, which he was very pleased about. He’d needed a new pair since last season, and apparently he’d noticed. James had also joked that now he didn’t have any excuse not to save every goal that was thrown against him in the first game of the season in a few weeks time. But Will also detected the seriousness under that statement – James definitely wanted to win this year.
Then came the gifts he was slightly keener to see – the ones from the girls. Peri was shoved forward first, and she also presented Will with a photo frame. Will cocked a brow and Peri rolled her eyes.
“It’s not a self-portrait,” She smiled. Will turned it over to see it was a picture of Rachel, Abbie, Lily, she and him. Will smiled warmly. He actually forgot temporarily that there was a rift between his friends at that moment.
“Thanks Peri! It’s great!” He answered happily, giving her a friendly kiss on the cheek. Next, Rachel came forth, with Remus helping her to carry a large crate. “Uh oh...” Will began, but Rachel opened the lid to reveal that it was a box of Liquorice Wands.
“Score!” Will cried happily, getting up to give Rachel a hug. He pulled one off the top and began to eat it happily. This time Lily skipped towards him, holding a small box in her arms.
“Happy birthday!” She smiled, and handed it to him. Suspiciously, Will noted that it was quite heavy. But once he opened it he was completely blown away. It was a camera. And not just a camera, a wizarding camera. The one’s that took moving photos. He was stunned into silence!
All he could do was get up and give Lily the biggest hug he’d ever given. “Thank you! Thank you so much!” He all but shouted in her ear. She laughed and hugged him back. And to commemorate it, Will took his first photo with his new camera of Lily. And the last person with a gift to give was Abbie. She inched her way up shyly with a small box. When Will opened it, he realised it was a new wizarding chess set. He’d needed one of those for so long, and was incredibly pleased to see it.
“Thanks Abbie!” He laughed, and pulled her close. Abbie patted him on the back.
“Alright big boy – but you’ve got a party to start,” He released her slowly, before turning to face the rest of the group.
“Um, wow.” He scratched the back of his neck awkwardly.
“Speech!” Sirius hooted. Will rolled his eyes and smacked him upside the head.
“Well, yeah, I guess. Uh, all this stuff is really great, thanks! And the common room looks amazing guys,” He turned to smile at the Marauders. “So... would you mind if I took a picture – of everyone here?” He pulled up the camera to annunciate his request. He then grinned. “Say ‘Sirius smells’!”
Then one of the fifth years had offered to take one with Will in the shot as well. “Sirius smells!” They all obliged. Will then picked up the camera again and picked up where he left off.
“So thanks everyone, really. This is really awesome. I can’t say I ever expected to celebrate my birthday Marauder style, but I’m glad I did!” He laughed. “So, you should probably all go and have a good time!” He finished, and, as if on cue, some quiet jazz music started to blare out from nowhere (it seemed). And the group dispersed to start enjoying themselves.
Will collapsed back into his “throne” giddily. This whole thing seemed so surreal, that he was finding it a bit difficult to take it all in - the Marauder’s sure knew how to throw a party! Will was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t notice Abbie meander back over to him nervously.
“Er, Will?” She waved a hand in front of his face and he jumped.
“Yeah?” He asked hurriedly, smiling. Abbie stood there awkwardly.
“Well... I just wanted to apologise,” She began hesitantly.
Will just looked confused. “Apologise for what?” He laughed nervously. Abbie’s eyebrows furrowed.
“You know, what I said in the hospital wing?” Will’s eyes widened in realisation.
“Oh, that,” He waved his hand in dismissal. “You don’t need to apologise for that!” he laughed.
“Well I am,” She replied stubbornly, sticking out her bottom lip. Will laughed. “Anyway, I thought I’d give you something else that I found in the bottom of my trunk. This is gonna make you feel great, but I bought it like ages ago for you for Christmas, but I never gave it to you ‘cause Lily’s present looked better and I latched onto her and we shared it. But now I’m giving it to you!” She smiled.
“I’m touched,” Will replied wryly.
“I thought you would be,” Abbie laughed back. “Here it is!” And from her palm she let something dangle. It was a pendant on a long black string, and on the end there was a simple crescent moon made out of some kind of bluish gem, with a silver rim around the outline. Will gasped in awe and reached out to take it.
“Wow,” He breathed, as he took it close to his face to examine it. “Is the gem a moonstone?”
“No, it’s a blue opal,” Abbie answered smugly.
“My birthstone...” Will finished for her.
“That’s why it’s so perfect! And it’s the moon so, yeah – do you remember that time we all snuck out to go stargazing at night? You said you really like the moon, and I remembered. So I’m really glad I found this.” She carried on. Will looked up at her in surprise.
“Abbie, that was in third year...” He laughed, but Abbie froze.
“You do still like the moon, right?” She asked nervously.
“Sure I do,” He answered patting her on the back when she sighed with relief. “I’m just surprised you remembered,” He murmured thoughtfully, before taking her into a tight hug.
“Well, you know me, amazing and all that,” Abbie replied ‘modestly’.
“It’s the best present I’ve had – thank you,” He murmured in her ear, his voice shaking with emotion. Abbie smiled.
“No problem.” And he released her. She grinned and then flounced away to get a drink. Again, Will collapsed into the chair, but this time for a different reason. He kept the pendant close to his chest as he stared after her contentedly. He then sighed before putting it on, definitely thinking he’d never take it off – and little did he know his expression was being closely monitored by James Potter.
“I don’t believe it...” James muttered, astounded. He then made his way up to Will. “Hey stranger,” He grinned, and plonked down into one of the chairs next to him. This jerked Will out of his reverie.
“Hey, Potter. Although, after throwing me such a great birthday party I’m wondering if I should call you James...” he trailed off. James shrugged.
“Whatever you like,” He continued. They sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to the jazz music and the general laughter of the party before James brought up what he wanted to talk about hesitantly. “You like her, don’t you?” Will’s head snapped around so fast that his neck cracked.
“Who?” He asked quickly, feigning indifference.
“Abbie.” James answered, taking a sip off his butterbeer, not once taking his eyes off the blonde haired girl with the ponytail. Will followed his gaze towards her.
“What makes you think that?” He snapped incredulously. James just laughed softly at his defensiveness.
“Your reaction for one,” Will growled, but then sighed. “And two, I know that expression - the one you were staring after Abbie with. I see it in the mirror every morning,” He carried on seriously, but his gaze was no longer focused on Abbie, but on a red-headed girl sitting and talking to Rachel. Once again Will followed his gaze and admitted defeat.
“You got me.” He sighed. “I suppose you’d know a thing or two about unrequited love,” He laughed sardonically and James couldn’t help but agree. It was now a comfortable silence that they sat in, and Will felt like he and James had reached some sort of mutual understanding – on a different level than merely being acquaintances. They had something they could relate to within each other, and that did wonders for the social part of the brain.
“So how long?” James asked softly.
“I’m not really sure,” Will sniffed, sitting more upright in his chair. “It just sorta happened. I don’t remember it ever not being there...” For some reason, he didn’t feel weird at all, confessing all of it to James – he’d never told anyone before, but he guessed it was time to share. So long as he could keep a secret and not tell her.
“You’re very good at hiding it; I’d never have guessed if I hadn’t seen that.”
“Thanks,” He replied bitterly. “Sometimes I think it’s too good.” He forced a laugh. James’ eye widened in realisation.
“You’ve never told anyone before, have you?” He asked in bewilderment. Will shook his head and shrugged.
“I don’t need other people feeling awkward for me,” He answered simply, spreading his hands. “And besides, I’m used to it by now. May as well just forget all about it...” He trailed off.
“No.” James replied with a surprising amount of vehemence. “You shouldn’t just forget about it. But... why haven’t you told her?”
Will shrugged. “She likes Lupin.” He replied, with only a slight hint of resentment to be picked up upon. James scoffed, piecing together the reason that Rachel and Abbie were fighting and the whole weird situation in his mind.
“Painful situation. I see you’re one of those ‘I just want her to be happy’ kind of blokes.” He smiled. Will shrugged again.
“I suppose... but sometimes it sucks. Like back in second year when Lupin asked her out. I heard you and Black – er, Sirius – talking about how Lupin was going to ask her after dinner and so on, so I told her. She was so happy, practically skipping for joy. I’ve never felt more worthless in my entire life.” He finished, wrinkling his nose at the painful memory. James’ eyes twinkled.
“That’s why I like to go for the ‘I just want her to be happy with me’ way of thinking.” He winked. Now it was Will’s turn to scoff.
“And look where that got you?” He laughed.
“Well at least I know Lily doesn’t like me and that it’s never gonna happen,” He shot back. “You’ve never even asked her.”
“It’s blatantly obvious that she likes Lupin – it’d just be a waste of my time,” Will growled. James spread his hands in surrender.
“Ok, ok, have it your way,” He waved his hand nonchalantly. “But just remember – this is our last year at Hogwarts; the last time when people are going to be more concerned with trivial things like dating; and quite likely the last time you’re going to see her every day.” Will squirmed in his seat; James was telling him out straight what had been gnawing away at his insides ever since he had made that vow with the girls at the beginning of the year –
To do everything that they’ve always wanted to this year.
“This is your last shot, Crockford. Don’t give up!” James winked and punched him playfully on the shoulder. Will smiled slyly.
“I won’t if you won’t.” He shot back. James frowned, suddenly serious, as he thought about it, a vexed expression etched onto his face.
“... I’ll think about it.” He answered finally, much to Will’s surprise. But it wasn’t the fact that he would think about it, it was the fact that James was seriously considering not thinking about it. James Potter was seriously thinking about giving up on Lily Evans – what was the world coming to?
“Look, just ask her.” Sirius hissed, pushing Remus in front of him. “You two are practically going out anyway...”
“She’s talking to Lily – she probably doesn’t even want to dance.” Remus shot back. Sirius merely rolled his eyes.
“Of course she does you loon,” he scoffed, punching him on the shoulder lightly. “Besides, you’re not getting off waiter duty just to sit in the corner and think about asking her – just do it!”
“Have you thought about maybe I don’t want to ask her?” Remus raised his eyebrow. Sirius dismissed this instantly as he began to push Remus through the crowd of people.
“Yeah I’ve thought about it. Oh well.” At Remus’ irritated expression Sirius just groaned in frustration. “Look, it’s just a dance! It’s not like you’re asking her to marry you! And besides, you can snog her in the library but not ask her to dance... odd, much?” This time Sirius raised his eyebrow. Remus looked astounded.
“H- How do you know about that?” He spluttered, his face turning beet red. Sirius rolled his eyes.
“I know everything,” He replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Now go.” He pushed him towards the two girls that were talking. “Go!” And he pushed him harder.
Remus stumbled over someone’s feet and was suddenly right in front of the two girls. They stopped talking to look at him and he fiddled with his tie uncomfortably.
“Er... want to dance?” He asked; his face flushing. Rachel’s face was soon matching his (much to Lily’s amusement) as she glanced at Lily, bit her lip and nodded gratefully.
She took Remus outstretched hand and he led her over to the tiled part of the room, where many sixth and fifth years were already swaying to the catchy beat of the jazz. Awkwardly Remus placed his hands on Rachel’s waist and she lifted her hands up to his shoulders. They began to sway to the music slowly, not meeting each other’s eyes. Rachel noticed Lily back on the edge of the room make kissing faces at her. Rachel then narrowed her eyes at her before breaking out into a nervous grin. She was dancing with Remus Lupin for Merlin’s sake! Who wouldn’t be happy?
They danced in silence for a couple of minutes, when it suddenly occurred to Remus that the last time they’d spoken alone was a few days ago – in the library. And look at what they’d ended up doing then... Remus blushed at the memory. But he couldn’t bite back a smile.
“What?” Rachel asked, startling Remus. She’d been watching.
“Nothing.” He replied, still smiling. He moved his gaze back over her head, where he noticed Sirius charming a pretty sixth year in the corner. He shook his head lightly – some things never change. He then noticed that Rachel was still staring at him, this time smiling secretively.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing.” She murmured, grinning widely. Remus smiled, definitely feeling pretty content at the moment.
“So...” he whistled.
“So...” Rachel echoed.
“Crockford seemed to like the liquorice wands,” he commented mildly, glancing over to where Will was now surrounded by a few sixth years – including Duck Davidson. They were probably talking about Quidditch.
“Mmm,” Rachel answered. “You know Remus, I’ve been thinking.” Remus looked down at her in mock concern.
“That’s bad for you, you know.” Rachel grinned despite herself.
“Oh be quiet,” she smacked his shoulder lightly. Remus raised his eyebrows in prompt. “I’ve been thinking about, you know, us.” Remus was surprised, but he thought it was about time she thought about it, rather than keeping him on hold like this.
“And?” Remus prompted.
“I feel like I’m sneaking around – with you, I mean. I know at the moment if someone were to ask you out you’d say no, but... I don’t know how long that will last,” Remus’ heart began to race, and he was tempted to put in that “forever” would be an appropriate description. But for the disgustingly cliché of it all, he avoided it. “You might get over me and suddenly – suddenly you’re going out with some other girl...” She trailed off and he pulled her closer, her head resting on his chest.
“I don’t want any other girl,” Remus whispered quietly to her.
“And I don’t want to wait anymore.” She whispered back, now lifting her head up to glance searchingly in his eyes. Remus raised his eyebrows – did this mean he could -? His heart was pounding so hard now what he was sure it would burst out of his ribcage.
He leaned down towards her, lips parted as her eyes fluttered closed. He could feel her warm breath on his chin, but he just had to be sure.
“You’re sure?” he whispered.
And he closed the distance between them, meeting her in a slow kiss. It was like electricity, sending sparks around his insides as her lips began to move ever so slightly against his. It wasn’t passionate or frenzied, but sweet and intense. Rachel felt his right hand lift from her waist and caress her cheek lightly – the faintest of touches, but she could feel the care and devotion that went behind it, and it made her shiver.
Eternity passed in a minute and eventually Remus broke off, needing to get some oxygen into his lungs. Breathing deeply, he then settled for resting his forehead on hers and breaking out into a large grin – it was infectious, and soon Rachel was smiling too.
“So now you’re mine?” he whispered. Rachel nodded, breathless. “Definitely?” She nodded again. “Officially?” Rachel rolled her eyes.
“Yes!” His smile was giddy, and he pulled her into a hug. “Even if it is the reason Abbie hates me...” Remus released her, concern etched on his face.
“What?” He asked, his eyebrows creased.
“What?” Rachel echoed, not sure what he was talking about. But then she realised; oh, she thought, that must’ve not been in my head.
“Abbie hates you?” Remus was pretty surprised at this. “How come? Since when?” Rachel looked down at their slowly moving feet, chewing her lip resentfully.
“Well sort of. I think she’s jealous, but I don’t know... I’m a bit surprised you didn’t know that we were fighting already. Black and Potter knew.”
“Yes, well, Padfoot always seems to know every- ow!” he gasped. Rachel flushed and apologised; she’d just trodden on his foot. “But why? Did you have a fight?” Remus placed a finger under Rachel’s chin gently and lifted her face up. Rachel still wouldn’t meet his gaze.
“Yes,” Her eyes moistened a little. “About a week ago,” she breathed in deeply, trying to stop herself sounding like a sobbing little girl in front of him. “She said she’d, um, asked you out and that you’d said no because you were waiting for me.”
Realisation dawned on Remus’ face and he muttered an obscenity under his breath. “I remember. But to be honest – not that I’m holding a grudge – it is kind of her own fault... in a way. She had her chance,” he muttered. Rachel was confused.
“What, I – I don’t understand...” Remus glanced at her warily.
“She never... told you?” When she asked what she hadn’t been told, Remus let out a long breath. “I suppose it doesn’t matter. Its ancient history now,” Rachel looked up into his eyes pleadingly, and he squirmed – his resolve weakening every second.
“Oh alright. Way back in second year I asked Abbie out. Happy? I was just infatuated – I didn’t even know her that well. I just... why am I even trying to explain myself?” He laughed hollowly. Rachel wasn’t sure how to interpret this news. “It was just infatuation, honestly,” he repeated. “I barely even knew her...” he trailed off at Rachel’s pensive expression. They stopped swaying. “Rachel?”
Rachel blinked, unsure of how to respond. “But... I never knew that,”
“Perhaps she never told you?” He supplied.
“But she would have told me this,” she persisted. “That would have been massive news for her!” Remus just stared at her blankly.
“Why? She said no, she wasn’t interested – maybe it wasn’t worth mentioning?” He couldn’t keep the undertone of bitterness from creeping into his voice. He supposed this showed how much his affections had meant for her.
Rachel snapped up, staring him in the eyes, and he could almost see the cogs and dials ticking and whirring behind them as she licked her lips and wore that calculating expression. “Oh but she was,” she muttered in confusion. “Interested in you, that is. We both were, back then.”
Remus’ eyes bulged out of his sockets. “Say what? She was? Wait... you were?”
Rachel pretended she hadn’t heard him. “But then why would she say no, she would have loved that!” But then realisation dawned. They both would have loved it, Abbie must have said no for her. “No, no...” she murmured, guilt clawing at her insides. The only reason Abbie would’ve said no to Remus... for her.
"Want to know the reason I’m angry? Because when the time came you didn’t do the same thing I did for you."
Abbie’s words from the closing moments of their argument made sense now; that was what she had been referring to. When the time came and Remus had approached Rachel, she said yes without a second thought, without even thinking about Abbie. She felt as if someone had punched her in the gut.
Rachel looked up into Remus’ concerned expression, confusion evident in his amber eyes. She put on a smile, desperately trying to hide her inner turmoil from him.
“Yes, yes I’m fine!” she answered brightly.
“Rachel...” his tone has a warning edge to it, but she ignored it.
“Honestly Remus, I’m fine. It’s my problem anyway,” she smiled weakly. “I’ll sort it.” Remus didn’t seem convinced, and began to protest but was cut off by Rachel pressing her lips to his. He didn’t protest, but the matter wasn’t over, not by a long shot.
Sirius moodily stirred his punch, glancing out at the seats and tables, and the couples dancing around him. It was a great party – no, in fact, scratch that; it was a fantastic party, no need to be modest about it. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and there was now substantial evidence to prove that the Marauder’s could throw a perfectly normal party that didn’t involve alcohol. Well, there was that little bit in the punch but no one had to worry about that.
So what Sirius didn’t get was why he wasn’t enjoying himself. Why wasn’t he over by the bar mucking around with James? Or chatting up some sixth year girls while he got them drinks? He was just as bewildered by his behaviour as the next person, and it caused him to huff and sulk in the corner. That brunette looked quite – oh, no, he’d gone out with her back in sixth year. Too lanky, foul breath; not an experience he would indulge in repeating.
He sighed, looking around the room and tapping his foot lightly to the beat of the jazz, wondering where to direct his attentions next. However he found the decision made for him when somebody placed a small hand on the table right next to his glass. He followed the arm up and he found himself face to face with Peri, her glasses shining at the edge of her nose.
“Sirius,” she smiled in a friendly way. “Come dance with me?” It was more like an order than a request, and Sirius felt himself tense up at the suggestion, ready to reject it instantly. He didn’t want to dance with her. “It’s just there’s no one else half decent who can,” she added, biting her lip and hoping to gain a little favour.
Sirius merely flicked his eyes in a different direction and took another sip from his glass. “Well deal with it or you can dance with yourself.”
Peri was a little put out to say the least – couldn’t he at least make a little effort to be friendly towards her, like she was him? What was his problem anyway? What had she done to warrant such intense dislike from him? She rolled her eyes, and was about to reply sharply when she felt an arm catch her round the waist.
She squealed, turning around and realising it was James, grinning madly.
“Let’s dance!” He laughed gleefully, twirling her round playfully, before turning to Sirius. “I’m not interrupting anything am I?” He tried to keep the hopeful note out of his voice, but he knew that his best friend and his cousin hadn’t exactly been chummy-chummy recently.
“No, of course not,” Sirius replied coolly. “Be my guest.” He turned away and James tried not to sigh, before leading Peri away to the tiled part of the common room. At his retreating back Sirius remembered something, and called out to James, who turned around with a questioning gaze.
Peri was watching to, and Sirius was conscious to that, shuffling in his seat uncomfortably. “The thing... with the thing. Will you be heading back to the Head’s Dorm tonight?”
James’ eyes darkened, and he looked down. “I don’t know,” he replied, biting his lip uncertainly. “Well it’s a party, so I’ll probably stay here anyway.” Sirius nodded, before waving them away. Recently James had taken it upon himself to move back into the Seventh Year boys’ dormitory, and so far he hadn’t given much of a reason apart from a reluctance to return to his own bed, and the boys were none the wiser as to why he was doing it, merely leaving him to it with a promise to get it out of him at some other time.
Leaving the pair to dance, Sirius ambled over to the make-shift bar and was surprised to see Lily Evans swirling a drink in the same manner he had been not five minutes before. He cocked an eyebrow, before deciding to sit next to her. It wasn’t like he had much else to do.
“Hey Evans.” Lily stiffened as he slid into the seat next to her, casting him a furtive glance.
“Black,” she greeted, taking a sip from her butterbeer, not looking at him.
Sirius rolled his eyes at her indifference. He was just being nice! “So what are you doing here, sitting all by your lonesome?”
Lily shot him a brief glare. “Nothing I need to tell you about.” Sirius scoffed before sipping his cocktail. “What about you?”
“We-ell, James is busy dancing with his charming, witty, “amazing” cousin,” he muttered scornfully. “Remus is occupied by his significant other and Peter’s too busy with the birthday boy.”
Lily paused at the mention of Rachel. “Rachel and Remus – are they - ?” She let the question hang in the air, if anyone knew then Sirius probably would.
“Eh, probably,” he grinned. “I mean they were eating each other’s faces a moment ago, but I could be wrong.” He flashed a playful grin, and earned a corner of her mouth quirking upwards.
They sat in silence for a few more minutes, neither wanting to admit that the other’s company was nice, just to have someone to sit next to. Lily found her gaze drawn to Potter and her friend, and she frowned, wondering whether she should say something to break the silence.
“They really are quite close, aren’t they?” she mused, her voice traced with something that Sirius couldn’t quite recognise.
He looked across at her, before scowling and turning back to his drink.
Will had been enjoying himself so much that he completely forgot all about his sister. That was, until she walked through the portrait hole, face stern and mouth set in a thin line, taking in the festivities with a withering glare.
Will opened his mouth when she entered, and the chatter stopped as she towered over the students in the room, an awkward atmosphere settling as the students looked between brother and sister. Will half rose from his seat slowly, wondering if Professor McGonagall would be in tow, or...
“Doris?” he asked apprehensively. Well, he wasn’t really sure what exactly he was asking, but it seemed like as good a thing to say as any.
Doris ignored what he said, and merely stalked over to him, handed him a present and an envelope which read Open in Private. Will looked down at the gifts, and back up to his sister who muttered a quick ‘happy birthday’ and departed quickly from the room as fast as she’d arrived.
More silence descended on the Common Room, as Will tried to take in what had just happened. Did that mean she was okay with the party, or she was going to get a teacher, or... he bit his lip, wondering what to do next. Luckily, he was spared the thought as Peter piped up from where he had been sitting next to him.
“Where’s the music?” He forced a laugh. “Come on, it’s a party!” The talk and chatter resumed, and Will cast Peter a grateful smile, and he nodded.
But Will felt a burning curiosity towards the envelope that he was told to open in private, and not too long after the resumption of the party did Will find himself creeping away from the constant attention and heading up to his dorm to break into the mysterious envelope. First, however, he decided to open the present – and was a little taken aback by what was inside. What he’d expected to perhaps be a new jumper or something equally dull turned out to be something quite exciting indeed.
In the dim light of the dorm Will could just make out the light blue colouring on the long robes that folded out when he pulled them from the wrapping, and he squinted to look at the badge on the robes. His eyes widening, Will dropped the robes on the floor and dived for the envelope, tearing it open and reading what was inside in a frenzy.
He had to reread it twice before accepting it – this just couldn’t be true. Doris wouldn’t do that! Will felt his heart sinking as he read it through a third time, realising what his sister had done. The betrayal stung like a sharp knife, and he let the letter drop to the floor.
Salem Institute of Magic
21st October, 1977
Dear Mr. Crockford,
We were surprised, yet glad, to come across your application to our fine establishment. We believe the dedication to your studies and willingness to sacrifice other things so that you may pass your NEWT exams this year glowing attributes to a young man we have heard so much about.
Please complete attached the test booklet and send it back to us as soon as possible – it will not influence in any way whether you are accepted or not; your place has already been reserved – it is merely for us to get a general idea of what you are like and what you are good at.
We hope to be seeing you after Christmas,
Professor Amadeus Farlor
Headmaster of Salem Institute of Magic
Right, I don't have the time to proof-read this right now, so don't get me for grammar/spelling! I'll revise it soon. So. Um... it's been something like a year since my last update. Which is... really bad. But to be fair, this is a long one! Over 9000 words! Erm, if anyone still is following this story, I would really appreciate some reviews and stuff. Thanks for reading, hope you liked it!
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