Chapter 1 : The Clever Way
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When Eleanor McGrath had said she wanted revenge on Sirius Black the clever way, she had anticipated that because she was getting clever revenge on him, it would work; unlike all the hot-headed Gryffindor attempts.
Pretty much all of Sirius’ ex-girlfriends wanted revenge on him once he’d broken up, and while he was edging dangerously close to the ‘player’ label, he was still currently situated in the Land of Heartthrob, meaning that none of the blokes seemed to have caught onto this fact.
But instead of obtaining sweet revenge, she had been locked inside Greenhouse Five with the man himself. And she was not pleased.
It had started with The Beatles. Eleanor had just wanted Sirius to try them, but it had ended up escalating into an angry row over whether muggles or purebloods were more stupid.
Then Sirius had run out, trying to prevent himself doing something stupid.
A few days of being cold-shouldered later, Eleanor had had enough. As he walked by her in the charms corridor without a second glance, she stuck out her arm to stop him. “Hey! What’s with the ignoring all of a sudden?”
He had coldly glared down at her. “I thought we were through.”
“Fine then!” she retorted angrily, upset that their ties had been severed so quickly. It had only been a row. “Good riddance for me!”
And she had stormed off.
“This the work of your little turtle trio?” Eleanor frustratedly asked Sirius, still searching around the edge of the greenhouse to check for loose panes they could crawl out through. Never had she so regretted being such a forgetful person that she left her wand in her bag outside the greenhouse!
Well, that itself wasn’t such a great example of forgetfulness.
Sirius, who was still fruitlessly tugging at the lock on the greenhouse door (accompanied by many grunts), gave her a dirty look.
“My turtle trio? I s’pose you mean the rest of the Marauders,” he said scornfully. “Well, I thought it was your study buddies. What with you being too proud to say you were wrong but still wanting me back.”
“I’m too proud to say I was wrong? Wrong about what? That you’re an absolute prat who breaks up with girls because they can’t be arsed to apologize after an argument?”
“Well, yeah. Because you broke up with me, remember? Or has that clever mind of yours finally imploded?” Sirius raised an elegant eyebrow in scorn, and for a moment, looked so very graceful and powerful and generally attractive that Eleanor couldn’t help putting aside her confusion to remember why she’d gone out with him in the first place.
His coal-black hair that waved slightly, more tamed than James Potter’s crazy mess, but still wild. His enticing eyes, such a brilliant silver-grey. His lips, so –
Hang on. ‘…you broke up with me…’
Eleanor snorted attractively instead. “Uh, no, duh. Or has your airheaded brain finally been trumped by the pretty face?”
“You think I have a pretty face, McGrath?”
“Well, compared to, say, the Giant Squid, then yes.”
“You know, even you…” he paused, considering, “… nope, not even you have a pretty face compared to the Giant Squid.”
Ah now, this was why they had broken up. “Either way, numbskull, I never broke up with you, as much as it pains me to admit it. You cold-shouldered me then dumped me - ” humiliatingly, publicly, callously, “ – in the middle of the corridor. Ringing any bells?” She clambered off the floor to face the elder Black sibling with her hands on her hips. She could see her reflection vaguely mirrored somewhere behind him as he slouched on the door with his hands in his pockets, the picture of insolence.
Next to him, a translucent, shortish girl with glossy brown hair half-up and dark eyes glared, quite impressive because of the aggression in her expression.
But instead of an arrogant ‘oh yeah, aren’t I clever?’ remark, Black merely looked confused.
“I beg to differ. You sent me a rather callous note at breakfast, saying that you hated me now and never wanted to talk to me again. So I didn’t.”
Eleanor gave an unamused chuckle. “Um, no. I never sent you any note. I hate notes, remember?”
“Well, I thought it odd at the time, but - ”
“Let me see the note, Black. Now!” she added crossly when he did nothing, glaring until he reluctantly brought a pile of rubbish out of his pocket. Eleanor tried to resist tapping her foot impatiently as he lazily pulled out Zonko’s joke products, sweets, sweet wrappers, a couple of broken quills, scraps of parchment…
“Oh look, here it is,” he observed several minutes later.
Eleanor snatched it out of the air. “Give it here.” She quickly scanned it, confusion only growing as it became more obvious that this wasn’t her, and telling Sirius so.
“But… but… you wouldn’t look at me at breakfast, either.”
“We had just argued, and then you were giving me the evils. Of course I didn’t feel like looking at your ugly mug.”
Eleanor had just finished grumpily recounting their fight in as few words as possible to Sophia (who was a good listener but awful advice-dispenser) when she was kicked under the table, viciously.
Opening her mouth to retaliate verbally, Eleanor caught sight of the Marauders themselves dropping onto the benches beside the Gryffindor table, their backs to the Ravenclaw table for the moment.
She glared for a moment, then turned back to Sophia to angrily bite at her toast. But a few moments after the post owls started to fly in, she felt eyes boring into her back, and turned around to the Gryffindor table.
Admittedly, Eleanor had not anticipated all four of the Marauders glaring at her like she might spontaneously combust if they glared hard enough. But she was more than equal to it, though a little confused, and so just eyeballed them for a few seconds before turning back to Sophia and shrugging like she had a mini-showdown with the school’s worst troublemakers on a daily basis.
In truth, she was a little confused, though decided to go with the flow of their new distance due to the argument.
Of course, that was before she was then ignored for days on end and then dumped in front of most of the school.
“So you didn’t write me this letter… and you thought I broke up with you, when I thought you broke up with me?” Sirius summarised.
Eleanor sighed. “Yes, that’s right. Look, we’ve been over and over this, Black! But what it really comes down to is: who did write that letter?”
“Nah. What it does come down to is: who locked us in here, and how are we going to get out?”
They started angrily at each other for a moment, and Eleanor backed down with a sigh. “I think your lot locked us in. Sophia is - ”
But Sirius was shaking his head. “They’re all pretty angry at you, for me, because of the callous letter you sent.”
Eleanor grimaced. “No, the callous letter someone sent as me. Not me, yes? So… who else is about to make us split up? Why would someone want that?” She couldn’t help pacing up and down, unconsciously avoiding all prying tendrils that whipped into her path through the seed trays and fat pots of the greenhouse.
“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?”
Eleanor stared over at Sirius. Since when had he realised something she hadn’t? He kept on talking, the smug little smile growing on his face, and Eleanor’s itch to slap it off growing with it. “Well, my fan club’s leader, of course – Poppy Sheridan. She’ll be all over this like the permanent sticking charm on the ugliest painting in the world in my ex-home’s hallway.”
As much as she hated to admit it, Eleanor had to admit that the clingy and annoying Poppy was almost certainly the culprit… and she was girlfriend of Sirius before herself. But Poppy was manipulating, influential, and absolutely hated Eleanor for her sarcastic and smart attitude.
Eleanor reflected for a moment that she really should have chosen her enemies better, but then started doing her proper thinking out loud. “But Poppy’s already got her revenge, hasn’t she? I mean, it’s hardly a present when she gives you screamed serenades at – hang on, I bet she thinks it is. She’s almost as bad as James,” she said disgustedly, and Sirius nodded in agreement.
“Unfortunately, I have to agree with you, as rare as it would seem for us to be in agreement, McGrath…”
Was it really that rare? They were both really quite similar, in temper and reactions and perceptions… in fact, it was just levels of intelligence that they differed in; hers was vastly superior to Sirius’, and while she was just as proud, she was much less smug and arrogant than the teenage boy lounging gracefully against the fanged geranium opposite her.
“So, that would mean she hadn’t got her revenge. And because you asked me out not long after that…” Eleanor waited for Sirius to continue with the sentence, but after a few seconds of his puzzled silence, gave up. “So she would want revenge on me because she thought I usurped her as girlfriend!”
Sirius’ expression cleared, and he opened his mouth to respond, but it was at that precise moment that the fanged geranium decided that it didn’t much like being lounged on, despite it being by the Pranking King.
Sirius gave an almighty yelp, leaping backwards but having his hand jerked back, as the multiple sets of botanical mouths fixed their teeth in his flesh. He tried to tear his hand away, but the flower-heads just sank their fangs in deeper.
Eleanor was torn between a desire to laugh her head off and her duty to free her ex-boyfriend. So she did both.
Whilst laughing as hard as she could without falling over at the sight of the terrified prankmaster, Eleanor grabbed a mini trowel that had fallen under a bench and wacked the stalks of the plants, just next to Sirius’ hand. At least, that’s what she tried to do. Unfortunately for the geranium, it managed to jerk the hand a bit further backwards just in time for Eleanor to bring the trowel down with all her weight onto the flowers… and the hand too.
While Sirius was hopping and clutching his hand in (admittedly hilarious) agony, the fanged geranium gnashed its teeth angrily. Eleanor could have sworn it was glaring at her, but merely swatted at the prying tendrils of the Venomous Tentacula behind her that was trying to repay the favour they had dealt to the Geranium.
Grinning painfully at Eleanor to show he was alright, with his hand shoved in his armpit, Sirius tried to resume their previous conversation. “So… you think Poppy wanted revenge on us so broke us up?”
“Must’ve done. She probably heard the fight and timed the letter for then because of that…” Eleanor trailed off into awkward silence as they both studied their own pairs of highly detailed and immersing shoes.
After a few tense moments, Sirius broke it. “Look, I - ”
“ – didn’t mean it - ”
“I didn’t want you to go against your beliefs - ”
“ – wrong of me - ”
“ – stupid of me - ”
“Sorry!” they declared together, their eyes somehow wandering upwards to meet on this last word. They were frozen in time as they did, other than Sirius swatting another creeping Tentacula tendril a few times, but the magic was broken as a stifled giggle was heard from outside.
Immediately, Eleanor whipped around and ducked under the bench, shaking herself mentally as she did so. Stupid! She could feel herself falling for Sirius Black all over again, and it was unneeded.
Pressed against the foremost sheet of glass, Eleanor peered through the translucent wall to see exactly who, what and where the giggle had come from. Giggles meant amused conspirators.
Unfortunately, she saw nobody anywhere near enough to be giggling and heard by the pair of them. Frowning, Eleanor tried to turn around to back out – but Sirius was blocking her way with his legs as he lay down the opposite way to her. Frowning, she tried to move them, but he kept them glued to the ground. So she crawled over them instead, secretly grinning at his curses.
“Got any ideas?” she called down to him, standing up and brushing off.
He grunted. “Yep. I know, alright…” crawling backwards, she could hear him muttering oaths under his breath until he reached her. “I’m assuming you know Lily Evans?” At Eleanor’s raised eyebrow of disbelief, he hurried on. “Yeah, well, that must’ve been her. With James and Peter and Remus, I’m assuming. But they’re under James’s Dad’s invisibility cloak, though I have no idea how they all fit.”
“So they locked us in?”
“Yeah. Must’ve been them.”
There was a pause. It did make sense for the Gryffindors to be doing something this brash and illogical. But Eleanor still had another question for him – “Why?”
He burst into irrational (in Eleanor’s opinion) laughter. “Because it’s funny, duh!”
“Right. Of course.”
Sirius’ chuckles faded as he noted the poisonous sarcasm in her tone. “Um, what?”
“Well, why is something this blatantly stupid funny?”
“How is it not? I mean, look at us! We’re in a greenhouse, bantering away, and they have forced us together. You have to admit that it’s pretty hilarious.”
Eleanor had to admit no such thing. She couldn’t really see where Sirius was coming from, until she tried to put herself into a Gryffindor frame of mind. She had admittedly tried to get revenge on him herself, but that had involved patience and putting on an uncaring front.
“Haven’t all the Gryffindors already covered the revenge options?” Sophia asked, a crease between her brows.
“I wouldn’t be stooping to the level of avengement if he hadn’t dumped me over such a petty fight and so humiliatingly,” Eleanor countered. “And it’s going to be clever revenge. So it’ll actually work!”
“And you’re going to do this how?” her doubtful friend asked.
“With time, and a very clever idea… which I haven’t thought of yet.”
“You won’t get one,” Sophia said dismissively, waving her hand and changing the subject.
But it was Sophia’s lack of faith that only cinched Eleanor’s decision to carry the disastrous plan out, and for several weeks she thought over hundreds of ideas until she came to the one she knew she was satisfied with.
"You know, we wouldn't even be in this situation if I hadn't decided I needed revenge on you..." Eleanor sighed.
Sirius raised his eyebrow. "You were getting revenge on me?"
"Yes, I was turning you into a toddler," she said absentmindedly, fiddling with the strap on her shoe, "and then somebody shoved me in here, but it turned out you were trapped too. And the rest is history."
"Well, how would you get revenge on him then? With a beanie attack?" Eleanor scoffed, moving closer to the common room fire.
"I can actually see Sirius getting pretty scared by that..." Sophia mused before shaking herself. "Look, I would have you not avenge yourself at all! You are too good for him and he never deserved you, so why are you going to do this? You're not that girl!"
"You don't have any ideas for me, do you?"
"Good thing I didn't listen to your previous lecture then, isn't it? I have a great idea now, and not even you, Sophia Perkins, will dissuade me."
Sophia sighed, knowing when she was beaten. "Fine. Let's hear it, then."
"It's simple. I get him on his own - "
" - so nobody sees me cast a Toddler spell over him! Then for 24 hours Sirius will be acting his true age. And if he's not a satisfying enough toddler, I will re-apply the spell until I am satisfied my reputation has been avenged." Eleanor sat back looking thoroughly satisfied already, and Sophia stared doubtfully.
"And you really think this idea of turning Sirius into a toddler is the best way to show him you came out top in the relationship?"
"I'm not turning him into a proper toddler, just making him act like one... So yeah."
"I still think you're crazy," Sophia said, "and I refuse to have any part in this crazy scheme."
Of course, within two days Eleanor had her searching through the library to find the right spell. Sophia might be extremely clever at remembering facts and a great friend, but she did not have the strength to resist Eleanor for long.
As Sirius stood open-mouthed and tried to process what Eleanor was saying, she slipped off her shoe and looked at it thoughtfully for a second before hurling it brutally at one of the back panes of reinforced greenhouse glass. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work other than creating a small spider web of cracks in the corner and making Sirius jump.
Eleanor merely shrugged and retrieved her shoe before hurling it twice more at the window, each time increasing the cracks until on the fourth violent throw, the glass smashed outwards in a sparkling explosion.
Eleanor grinned, saluted Sirius, and started attempting to exit without cutting herself (ladies first, after all) but Sirius grabbed her arm.
"Fancy having a bit fun with our kidnappers before we abandon them to watch an empty greenhouse?"
Eleanor frowned. "Well, it depends what you were thinking of."
He gave a mischievous grin that set her heart stupidly aflutter. "Maybe... Use the spell you had for me on them?"
And so, five minutes later, Eleanor came to find herself crouching round the corner of Greenhouse One and staring at an empty patch of air that apparently held the other three Marauders and Lily Evans, which Eleanor was finding difficult to believe, not least because of the relatively large size a cloak would need to be for that.
Peering round the corner with her head under Sirius', Eleanor was trying to remember the spell - she had written the evasive enchantment on a slip of paper and left it in her bag - as he listened hard and started grasped her arm.
Eleanor was slowly led back and around the spot where the grass was suspiciously depressed until Sirius suddenly stopped and pushed her into the grass before flopping down himself and slapping a hand over her mouth when she tried to protest. Of course, this only provoked a bite in retaliation and much sticking out of tongues until they mutually got bored and Sirius motioned for Eleanor to cast the spell.
"I can't see them! How can I jinx four people if I can't even see them?"
Rolling his eyes, Sirius reached into his pocket and pulled out several small balloons. "They're paint balloons," he whispered, "so you'll be able to see the outline, yeah?"
"But surely - "
He had already thrown them. It was a good thing she had swiped her schoolbag along the way, Eleanor thought, otherwise she wouldn’t have her wand; she was hurriedly grabbing through her bag to swipe it as shrieks rent the air and a distinct cloak-covered and paint-splattered form came into view.
“I think that aim was pretty good,” Sirius commented casually, grinning as he inspected his fingernails. “Oi! Hurry up, McGrath – they’re going to be having our heads any minute now!”
Eleanor scowled and kneeled up, pointing her wand at the group. “Agus retractit!”
Nothing happened, and she frowned. Maybe it was the other way around? She just couldn’t visualise the slip of paper with the spell on… “Agit retractus! No, agit retractit… agus retractus!”
She shot a panicked look at Sirius, who rolled his eyes. “You ever going to hit the right spell this century?”
She glared right back at him. “Well, if you’d thought to give me time enough to get the paper when I grabbed my wand - !”
“Well, screw that. We’ll get revenge the old-fashioned way,” he laughed, Summoning the invisibility cloak and scowling when that didn’t work. Eleanor laughed and grabbed some more of the paint balloons lying on the ground that Sirius had pulled out and as the group managed to tug the cloak off themselves, she volleyed as many paint balloons at them.
There were many shouts and shrieks that were clearly heard by the pair, and they couldn’t stop laughing as Sirius hit them and Eleanor missed nearly every time. Revenge was sweet.
However, though there were enough balloons to thoroughly coat the greenhouse-locking tricksters, once they ran out Eleanor and Sirius were left squinting at the people who they had just paintballed – shell-shocked, angry, and… there were only two of them.
“Hang on… where are Remus and Peter?” Eleanor asked, a growing suspicion in her mind.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Evans and Prongs stayed under that cloak watching us, eh? Well, this is a memorable day. I only wish I had a camera!”
Eleanor grinned wickedly. “This is where I come in!” She quickly pulled the bulky contraption out of her bag and snapped a photo of Lily and James as they hurtled towards them angrily, covered in paint, and then realised exactly what she had taken a photo of; Lily and James hurtling towards them angrily.
“Uh-oh, I think this is time for our quick exit,” Sirius muttered, pulling her up by the arm and sprinting for the greenhouses. Eleanor couldn’t help but think it was ironic that they were running straight for the dangerous glass building they had just escaped from, but found that she didn’t really care as long as they were out of the path of the two angry Gryffindors.
As they huddled behind the angry Venemous Tentacula plant, muffling giggles, Eleanor and Sirius watched the couple outside slow to a stop and look around for them, still covered in bright pink paint. Within a few moments, James grabbed Lily’s hand and started to gently pull her away; with a frustrated look on her face, she did so, looking back every now and again to check that they hadn’t emerged.
Just before they were too far out of sight, though, the unthinkable happened.
James Potter pulled Lily Evans in for a kiss and she did nothing. In fact, Eleanor and Sirius’ mouths both dropped open as she kissed him back before walking up to the castle, leaving James frozen.
“Please tell me you got a photo of that,” Sirius whispered, as Eleanor stood shell-shocked. She shook herself, trying to process his words.
“Um… yes, yes I think I did!” Eleanor’s excitement was growing, and she didn’t even notice the difference as Sirius grabbed her hand and led her out, fetching their dropped bags along the way.
However, she did notice when he put his hands on her waist and flashed her a charming grin as they stepped out of the greenhouse. As she was confronted with a close-up of his face, the nervous tremors down her spine started up, and her stomach was a pit of butterflies.
Slowly, she raised her hands to his neck, and gasped as he pulled her flush to him with a grin, gently laying his forehead against hers. “Hey, McGrath…”
“Yeah?” she whispered.
“If we never broke up, does that mean we’re still going out… and I can still kiss you?” Sirius’ eyes twinkled.
Eleanor tried not to giggle or explode. “I would guess so.”
“Oh, good. Now I won’t get hit,” he muttered before capturing her lips with his.
It was glorious; Eleanor could feel all of her singing, and pulled herself onto tiptoes. This was why they had been such a good couple. All of her was –
Eleanor’s head jerked forward, painfully crashing foreheads with Sirius before she whipped around, eyes narrowed and glaring, focusing on James, Lily, Remus and Peter, all of whom were laughing away… with Sophia?
Oh, the betrayal. As another turnip flew through the air towards her, Eleanor unlatched her hands from around Sirius’s neck and whipped out her wand from her sleeve, shooting a large grin his way before they began to defend and attack.
The revenge might not have come in the planned form, but Eleanor was feeling satisfied that she had done her job well.