Chapter 2 : Better Days
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The Ravenclaw Quidditch team consisted of seven people--obviously.
The Captain of the team was a dark-haired girl with glasses by the name of Tanya Silver, who was one of the three Chasers on the team. She was a very eccentric seventh-year girl who had once recieved a detention for wearing her lip and eyebrow piercings in the Great Hall. She was well-known for having a hell of an arm.
The other two Chasers were the perky fifth-year twins, Robyn and Jordyn Smith. They were both incredibly tiny girls with long blonde hair and green eyes. They might not have seemed like much, but thanks to their small frames, they were brilliantly fast on a broom and hard to catch.
The two Beaters were best friends Derrek McKinnon and Alexander Lockwood. They both had strong upper bodies, as most Beaters do, but other than that, they had absolutely nothing in common. Alex, like Layla, had brown hair and hazel eyes. He was always very serious and handled responsibility exceedingly well, which was why he had been made Head Boy this year. Derrek, on the otherhand, was a blue-eyed blond who never took anything seriously. He always had a goofy grin on his face and always had would not have been able to keep his mouth shut if his life depended on it. It was a wonder the two boys got on so well.
Kevin Vance, the younger brother of Head Girl Emily Vance, was the Seeker on the team. He was tall with dark hair and eyes and a dazzling smile. He was probably one of the biggest flirts that Layla had ever met in her entire life. But she had to admit he was a handsome bloke. And a bloody great seeker, at that.
There there was Layla, keeper on the team. She thought she did a pretty decent job of blocking shots, though James Potter and his exceedingly brilliant Quidditch skill had a knack of getting them past her.
This particular Quidditch pratice was a grueling one. Layla wondered why she had even bothered to take her broom, as they had been on the ground practically the entire time anyway. As they were running laps, Kevin had fallen into pace with Layla, and they talked despite Tanya threatening them with more laps if they did so. She was too busy racing Derrek around the field to care much, anyway.
"Silver looks as though she's about to have a fit," Kevin noted and Layla laughed. It was true. Up ahead, Tanya was growing agitated that Derrek was beating her, and was shouting insults at the huge boy in front of her. Due to all the shouting and running, her face was a very unattractive shade of red.
"So how are things going with you and Boberg?" Kevin asked nochalantly.
Layla smiled a little. "Brilliantly."
"Oh? That's a shame."
She rolled her eyes good-naturedly at him. "And why is that?" she asked, although she knew what he was going to say.
"Oh, no reason. Still waiting for that date to Hogsmeade you promised me at the end of fourth year," he sent her a wink.
"That was two years ago!"
"I know! And I'm stil waiting." She laughed and he added, "You know, there's still one trip left until the end of term."
"I'll probably still be with Adam," she told him.
He grinned at her. "A lot can happen between now and then."
"Be quiet or you're going to give me bad luck and then something will happen."
“Hello, love,” Adam greeted. “How was practice?”
Layla groaned. “It was murder. Tanya had us running laps round the pitch for nearly an hour. I don’t know how I’ll be getting up and down the stairs for a week.”
He chuckled. “That bad, eh?”
Layla leaned into him, her arms wrapping around his waist. “You’ve no idea.”
He led her off the pitch and up to the Gryffindor common room, as was their usual routine.
"Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I agreed to help Sirius Black with his homework right now."
He frowned at her. "Why?"
Layla looked up at him uncertainly. "Because he asked me to."
"Well you'll just have to tell him that you changed her mind," he told her, his jaw set.
She raised an eyebrow up at him. "Excuse me? I'm not going to do that."
“I share a common room with the bloke, Layla. I’ve seen him lead many a bird up to his dorm.”
They had reached the common room now. Adam said the password, and the portrait hole opened. They stepped through into what could only be explained as chaos. There were ribbons and confetti shooting out of thin air all over the common room. Parchment, books and quills were dancing around on their own, their owners chasing after them frantically. The only book that seemed stationary was that of Remus Lupin who was curled up in an armchair near the fire, reading contentedly.
James Potter and Sirius seemed to be the ones behind all the madness. They were standing on a couple of tables, wands flourishing this way and that, grinning like madmen. Peter Pettigrew was beside himself with laughter as he watched people running about, desperately trying to get their belongings to stop running away from them.
“Aghast!” James Potter shouted when he spotted Layla and Adam entering. “It’s the enemy!” With a flourish of his wand, confetti and ribbons were now throwing themselves at Layla, completely covering her. She put her arms up above herself as a shield, a grin spreading.
James jumped off the table he had been previously standing on, and with a dramatic warrior cry, ran over to Layla and Adam. “Fear no more!” he cried out, grabbing Adam by the arm and attempting to pull him away from Layla. “I will save thee!”
She attempted to follow them, but Sirius Black jumped off the table, wand pointed at her. “Halt, you fiend!” he shouted. A blast of confetti emitted from the tip of his wand, showering her.
Not knowing what else to do, Layla held up her hands in surrender. “I come in peace!” she shouted through her laughter.
At those four words, Sirius stopped shooting confetti at her, but he still had his wand raised. “Hear that, Prongs? Says she comes in peace. What d’you reckon we should make of that?”
James was fussing over Adam, demanding over and over again if he had been contaminated or brainwashed by the enemy in any way. “I don’t know, Sirius.” He eyed Layla suspiciously. “What do you think, Peter?”
Peter also eyed her suspiciously. “She seems a bit odd, what with the confetti and all. I mean, who does that? Just walks around covered in confetti.” He shook his head.
“You’re right!” James gasped. “Very good eye there.”
Sirius reached out his hand and shook some of the confetti out of Layla’s hair. “There,” he said, seeming pleased with himself. “Now she’s all right.” He threw an arm lazily around her shoulder and beamed at James.
James grinned back, stating that he trusted Sirius’ judgment.
Layla looked at Adam, who was eyeing Sirius with great dislike. She shrugged Sirius’ arm off and went to sit next to her boyfriend on one of the couches.
He didn’t look at her. In fact, he stood up and announced that he was off to bed. He didn’t even tell her goodnight.
Layla sighed as he disappeared up the stairs. Sirius sat down next to her, stretching. “Problems with the boyfriend?” he asked nonchalantly.
She shrugged. Somehow in the last two minutes, the chaos had calmed down and everything was restored to order. It was just Layla and the Marauders left in the common room now, though, as nobody wished to be part of another Marauder prank.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I know it’s my fault he’s upset. I would be, too, if I had such a beautiful girlfriend as you and she was tutoring a wanker like meself.”
Layla looked up at his smiling face, frowning a little.
He set a textbook and a piece of parchment on the table in front of him. “Ready for some homework?” he asked her.
By the end of their studying session, the other three Marauders had gone upstairs, leaving Sirius and Layla alone in the common room with just a few other students who had come back down to finish some homework. Although it was well past midnight, Sirius didn’t want Layla to leave yet. He had been having quite a nice time studying with her. And yes, they were actually studying. Although it was a good excuse to get Layla to talk to him, he really benefitted from her help. He considered himself to be smart, but Potions was one of his weaker subjectsnd loathed writing potions essays. They bored him to no end, but Layla had managed to liven it up just a bit.
He had noticed a great deal of things about Layla while they were studying: her eyes were hazel (he had never been close enough to notice before), the way her posture always seemed perfect, her polite manner of speaking. But one thing in particular that stood out to him was her fingernails. It seemed such an odd thing, to notice somebody's fingernails, but hers were hardly there. It struck him as odd that she should seem so poised and beautiful in every way but her fingernails. It was obvious that she chewed them.
"You chew your fingernails?" he asked her abruptly.
She had been stowing her things away in her bag and looked up at him, surprise and embarassment evident on her face. "Yeah, nervous habit, I suppose," she replied, frowning at him slightly.
Sirius watched her as she continued to put away her things. “What’s it like having your father as the Minister of Magic?” he asked.
Layla swallowed. "It's pretty cool," she said, though she didn't meet his gaze. "Really, it is."
He frowned at her. "You don't have to lie."
Her head snapped up and she looked up at him with wide eyes. "I'm not lying." Her voice was slightly high-pitched. "What could possibly make you think such ridiculous rubbish?" She chuckled nervouly.
Shrugging, he responded with a simple, "I'm good at reading people."
She was quiet for some time, and he noticed her hands were wringing together in her lap. He supposed she was thinking by the way she was chewing her lip. Finally, she let her shoulders droop and her head hung a little. "You're right," she said. "I actually really hate it."
"Most people would hate you for saying that," he said knowligably. "They'd say that you're ungrateful because you have everything, and there's plenty of people in the world who don't have anything."
"Is that what they told you?" she asked him.
He shrugged. He knew she was referring to his family. It wasn't like his disownment had been some big secret or anything.
She sighed. "I know they'd say that. But I'm always expected to act a certain way, no matter what."
Sirius sympathized. He knew exactly what she was talking about. That’s how things were in the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. He was expected to act, talk, and think a certain way. He hadn’t been able to handle all the pressure and it suffocated him.
“Why don’t you just stop caring what your father thinks and do what you want to do? Like I did,” he suggested.
Layla smiled at him sadly. "I wish I could, but I just wouldn't have the nerve. Imagine what the press would make of my scandalous behaviour."
Sirius hadn’t thought about that. He vaguely remembered the time in fifth year when she started dating Boberg, how it was a frequently discussed topic in Witch Weekly. He remembered all the mail Boberg would receive each morning from different magazines asking to interview him. That must have been frustrating.
“Fuck ‘em,” was all Sirius could think to say.
She shook her head. "The press terrifies me the way they take always take little things and blow it completley out of proportion," she admitted. "And I hate the way everybody looks at me after."
Without thinking, Sirius patted her back in what was meant to be a comforting way. She immediately tensed at his touch. She wasn't very comfortable with him and had not been expecting that at all. “Relax I’m not going to do anything,” he told her, rolling his eyes. “Despite what you’ve heard, I’m really not that bad of a bloke.”
Layla looked up at him warily but didn’t say anything.
“I lied to you,” he told her. She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, waiting for his response. “When I said I was sorry Boberg was angry with you for helping me. I’m really not sorry.” He grinned cheekily at her. “I rather enjoy being in the presence of beautiful women.”
She didn’t respond. He smiled at her as he got off the couch, extending a hand out to help her up. “Shall I escort you to your common room?”
Layla nodded, accepting his hand. As she gathered her things, he disappeared up the stairs leading to the boys’ dormitories. He came back down with a broom in hand.
She eyed him warily as he opened one of the windows. “What are you doing?”
He grinned at her, his grey eyes alight with mischief. “The traditional way is far too boring and there’s always the chance of getting caught afterhours by Filch. This way is much more thrilling.” He extended his hand out for her to grab hold of.
Layla just looked at it.
“Detention? However did you manage that?” Anna didn’t look at Layla. She was too busy buttering a slice of toast.
“It was Black's fault,” Layla sniffed, sending a glare to the dark-haired boy in question. But he was laughing about something with the other three Marauders and didn’t notice.
“Oh? And why is that?”
“He laughed at me.”
Anna snorted. “You got a detention because Sirius Black laughed at you?”
Layla clicked her tongue. “No. I got a detention for being out of bed after hours. But we got caught because he laughed at me.”
Anna finally looked up from her toast. “What were you doing out of bed after hours with Sirius Black?” she asked suspiciously.
Layla rolled her eyes. “I told you, I was helping him with his homework.”
Anna resumed her buttering of her toast. “So why did he laugh at you?”
“I tripped over a suit of armor,” Layla admitted a little sheepishly.
Anna grinned and shook her head in amusement. “Only you, Layla,” she teased.
Layla couldn’t help but smile a little at her friend’s amusement.
“I lost our house twenty points.”
“You’ll earn them back.”
Layla sniffed. “I can’t believe I’ve got a detention.”
“Oh, you’ll be fine,” Anna laughed a little. “Honestly, it’s just a detention. I’ve had plenty of them so take my word for it. They’re not all that bad, just bleeding boring.”
“But I got a detention.”
“Relax, you’ll live.”
“Tanya’s going to be upset with me. It’s scheduled at the same time as practice this evening.”
“She’ll have a heart attack,” Anna agreed.
Layla was silent for a moment longer, the whole while Anna buttered her toast contentedly. “Professor Flitwick wrote to my father,” she finally said.
As the real reason Anna had found her best friend moping in bed that morning with what seemed like hardly an ounce of sleep, had finally presented itself, she set down the buttering knife and looked at Layla. Layla looked absolutely miserable as she played with her pancakes absentmindedly.
“Layla,” Anna began. “I’m sure it won’t be all that bad. This is your first detention in six years.”
But Anna knew that, no matter what comforting words she came up with, there was no chance in hell her best friend would feel any better. Although she could get irritated with her every once in a while, Anna loved and sympathized with her best friend. Anna had the luxury of growing up with a mother that loved her and she couldn’t possibly imagine what Layla felt like having to grow up without one.
She also knew that the approval of the Minister of Magic meant everything to Layla and any words of disapproval from him could possibly shatter her heart. Anna always thought Layla was always a bit over-dramatic when it came to her father (seriously, she’d probably chop off her own leg with a butter knife if she thought it would please him).
Layla stayed silent. Knowing she was fighting a losing battle, Anna picked up her butter knife and resumed her buttering. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Layla rested her chin in her hand and began moodily stabbing at her pancakes with a spoon.
“You’re supposed to eat those with a fork, silly,” Derrek McKinnon,a tall blonde boy, took a seat across Layla. He grinned cheekily at her, flickeding his wand lazily in her direction.The spoon was transfigured instantly into a fork. Layla grumbled in response.
“Good morning, Layla,” Alex greeted, taking a seat next to his best friend. “Hello, Anna.”
“Good morning,” Anna greeted cheerfully as Layla supplied him with a disdainful “Hullo.”
“Manners, sister,” Alex scolded.
Layla scowled at him but removed her elbow from the table nonetheless. Although she sat up straighter and began eating her pancakes properly with a fork, she was obviously sulking. Derrek turned to Anna. “What’s with her?”
“She’s pregnant,” was Anna’s answer.
Derrek choked on his orange juice at the same time that Alex shouted, “What?!” The dark-haired boy was so loud that more than half the occupants in the hall stopped what they were doing and turned to see what was happening at the Ravenclaw table.
“Fucking hell, Anna,” Layla exasperated, slamming her head on the table. She groaned at the pain but made no inclination to picking up her head.
Anna knew she shouldn’t say things like that with the way the Hogwarts Rumor Mill ran but she honestly couldn’t help it. She loved the way people reacted to the ridiculous things she said. It amused her to no end.
Besides, it was all in good fun.
Anna continued buttering her toast as though it were no big deal. “Oh, yes,” she said nonchalantly. “And it’s not even Adam’s. Quite the scandal, really.”
“Who’s is it?” Alex growled.
Oh, they made it much too easy for her.
“Derrek’s,” Anna replied cheerfully.
Derrek’s eyes widened in shock and he shot a terrified glance at Layla. Alex seemed to take that as confirmation. He whipped out his wand, pointing it at his best friend, a murderous expression on his face.
Anna burst into laughter. “Really, idiot, it’s a wonder you made it into Ravenclaw. Of course Layla isn’t pregnant with Derrek’s baby, you dolt. She’s just sulking because she has detention this evening.”
Layla didn’t pick her head off the table. “I am not sulking.”
“Oh, hush. Yes, you are.” She could practically feel the glare Layla was sending her through her brain waves. It only served to amuse her all the more.
“That wasn’t funny, Turpin,” Derrek snapped at Anna.
“Oh, I beg to differ.” Anna continued her fits of laughter.
“It’s insulting that you were willing to believe her so easily,” Layla accused. She picked her head up and scowled at her older brother.
“Yeah!” Derrek added indignantly.
Alex rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I guess I should know better by now than to believe anything that Anna says." He turned to his younger sister. "So why do you have detention?”
“Got caught out of bed after hours.”
“What were you doing wandering the castle after hours?”
“I was helping Sirius Black with his homework in the Gryffindor common room.”
“Oh, really, you were ‘helping Sirius Black with his homework’?” Alex asked sarcastically. “Honestly, Layla, you’re dating Adam. Have some respect. No wonder Anna told me you were impregnated with somebody else’s child.”
Anna bit back a smile.
Layla gaped at him. “I really did help him with his homework! Why doesn’t anybody believe me?”
“Because it’s Sirius Black,” Anna replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
Alex rolled his eyes. “What time is your detention? Not during Quiddich, I hope.”
Layla’s silence was enough of an answer.
Derrek laughed. “Seeing as you’re still alive, I’m going to assume you haven’t told Tanya the wonderful news yet. I’ll make sure and tell her for you then.”
“Don’t forget to mention that the reason she has detention in the first place is ‘cause she was ‘helping Sirius Black with his homework,’” Anna snickered.
She thought herself to be rather hilarious. Bollocks with school. She should just be a comedian.
“Whatever. I’m off to class.” Layla snatched the toast out of Anna’s hand, effectively silencing her snickering.
“But I’ve been buttering that for the past ten minutes! At least!” she called out desperately, the look on her face showing nothing but sheer desperation.
Layla took a huge bite out of it as she walked, making sure Anna could see her.
Anna scowled at Derrek as he laughed at her expence.
Twats, the lot of them.
The Great Hall was nearly empty now, but Anna stayed put at the Ravenclaw table. She didn't care if she was a few minutes late to Charms this morning so she stayed put, buttering another slice of toast. She was certain that this one wasn’t going to be nearly as nicely buttered as the one Layla stole from her but she was lazy and didn’t want to get up yet.
Anna winced at the sound of her full name but turned to see who had called her.
Jeremy Price, a good-looking Hufflepuff with brown hair and eyes, was the bloke who addressed her by her full name.
Anna sent him a smile. “I’ve told you before, Jeremy. Call me Anna.”
He ignored that.
“I was wondering if you could let me have a look at your Charms essay before Professor Flitwick collects them. I was having a bit of trouble with the history, and I just want to make sure that I didn’t mess it up too badly.”
Anna nodded and dug around in her bag. After about a minute of searching to no avail, she let out a sigh. “Sorry, Jeremy, it seems I’ve forgotten my damned essay in my room.” He nodded and they bid their farewells as she started toward Ravenclaw Tower.
Mary MacDonald was a very pretty girl with brown hair and green-gray eyes. She was a sixth year in Gryffindor and was, incidentally, a Muggle-born witch. She was also currently dating Remus Lupin and was very much aware of his condition. But she didn’t mind. She loved him, regardless.
Last night was a full moon and, as every morning aftterwards, she skipped eating breakfast in the Great Hall so she could take him something to eat while he recovered in the Hospital Wing.
“You know I hate for you to see me like this,” Remus told her. He was very pale and sickly-looking this morning, and his voice came out in a harsh whisper.
Having heard those same words countless times before, she ignored them, instead choosing to smile and hold up a brown bag for him to see. “I brought you breakfast.”
"Healer Horodowich will bring me something to eat,” he told her, but he gratefully accepted the bag anyway. No matter what it was, it was sure to beat the food that the Matron would give him later on. Mary chuckled as the first thing her boyfriend pulled out of the bag was a chocolate bar.
They ate in the hospital wing, talking all the while. Mary couldn’t understand for the life of her why Remus was so convinced that he was a monster. He was positively the gentlest and most sincere person she knew. He might define himself as a werewolf, but Mary saw him for what he truly was-Remus. Plus, he color-coded his socks. What kind of a monster color-codes their socks? And although she was merely sixteen years old, she loved him dearly.
All too soon, it was time for her to go. She had Transfiguration that morning, and it was unwise to cross the Head of Gryffindor House, Minerva McGonagall. Mary left her boyfriend with a kiss and a farewell, then made her way up the stairs in the direction of the Transfiguration classroom.
As she was walking, Mary noticed that the corridors were empty. Thinking she was running late, she started to walk a bit faster, but something was wrong. Her legs weren’t moving as fast as she intended them to, and she was no longer walking in the direction of the Transfiguration classroom.
There was a small voice inside her head that kept telling her to “Come to me.”
But Mary didn't want to go to him. She wanted to go to Transfiguration. That was where she should be.
Despite that, she rounded the corner in the opposite direction.
As Anna hurriedly rounded the corner, she bumped into something solid, and the impact sent her toppling backwards. She rubbed her nose, thinking that she had accidently walked into the wall. She silently thanked Merlin that there was nobody around to see her and made to gather her things. But she heard a scuffling, and looked up to notice that Mary Macdonald, her new potions partner, was getting up from the floor.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Anna apologized hurriedly. “Here, let me help you.” She offered Mary a hand, but Mary ignored it and picked herself up. She walked on without sparing Anna another glance.
“Well that was rude,” Anna huffed.
As she picked up her bookbag, she noticed that Mary had left her things on the floor. “Oi!” she called out. “Macdonald! You forgot your things!”
Anna rushed in the direction Mary had been heading. She called out to her again but Mary didn’t turn. Scowling, Anna ran until she was in front of the pretty girl. “Listen, Macdonald,” she started, “I’m sorry I bumped into you. It was an accident. But there’s no need for you to be so rude and-”
Mary didn’t stop walking. In fact, she plowed right through Anna, not even bothering to walk around her. Anna let out a growl of sorts and grabbed Mary’s shoulder, effectively stopping her in her tracks. “Okay, you rude bint, just because you’re pretty and you’re dating Remus Lupin does not mean that you can act all high and mighty and ignore me whenever I’m trying to do you a favor, yes?” she demanded.
She looked Mary straight in the eyes, but Mary didn’t appear to see her. She had a strange faraway look in her eyes that gave Anna the chills. “Macdonald? Er, Mary?” she asked uncertainly. “Are you all right?” She let go of the girl and immediately Mary started walking again. Anna stayed put, thoroughly confused.
Abruptly, she turned to see that Mary was already rounding the corner and she rushed to catch up with her. As Anna got closer and closer to the corner, she heard voices. She skidded to a stop and listened.
“Look at her, she’s like a puppet.”
“My puppet,” another voice put in. “What should I make her do next?” the voice added.
Careful to be quiet, Anna ducked her head around the corner. She saw Mary standing in front of two Slytherins, Evan Mulciber and William Avery. Mulciber pointed his wand at Mary and ordered her to come closer. Mary did so without any hesitation.
Anna didn’t know Mary Macdonald very well, as they were in separate houses and had very few classes together, but she knew that ,there was no way Mary would be fraternizing with Slytherins. Using the nearly infallible logic of a Hogwarts student placed in Ravenclaw, she came to the conclusion that Mulciber had Mary under the Imperius Curse.
Not knowing what else to do, but knowing she was unable to let it alone, Anna sprinted off in the direction of the nearest classroom. She didn’t even bother knocking, just yanked open the door and bolted straight in.
“Miss Turpin,” McGonagall said, looking surprised. “What is the meaning of this?” she demanded.
“Macdonald!” she blurted. “Cursed. Mulciber.” Anna’s words came out in short gasps as she tried desperately to regain her breath. Layla was a fit Quidditch player, not she.
But luckily for her, Minerva McGonagall was an intelligent woman and she seemed to get the gist of what Anna was trying to say. "Class, you will remain seated," she commanded, already walking out the door. "Miss Turpin, lead the way."
So what do you think of my latest installment, lovely readers. I would very much like to know your thoughts. Any sort of insight is helpful, really!
What do you think of Layla's character? Or Adam? Or Anna? Or Sirius? Let me know your thoughts, people, please!
However, thank you all for giving my story a chance and reading it. Now, please rate and review.
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