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Canis Major by atellam
Chapter 4 : Disapproving Portraits
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 26


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empyreal. @ TDA


Chapter IV - Disapproving Portraits


I fell into his arms, forcing him to take a step backwards to steady himself against my momentum. The smell of his expensive cologne filled my nose, and while normally I found it slightly overpowering, right now I breathed in the spicy scent.

“Hey,” he murmured into my hair, as I buried my face into his shirt.
I grunted in reply and he chuckled, pushing on my shoulders, forcing my face out of his chest. Holding me at arm’s length, he looked me over.

His light brown hair was windswept, pushed back from his face. It had grown longer since I’d last seen him, but his pale blue eyes were still the same. Ravenclaw eyes, through and through. They held that calm and collected look, always giving the impression of knowing something you didn’t. But right now, they were looking straight at me and it took all my strength not to latch myself onto him again.

“Have you kept safe?” he asked, searching my eyes.

I had to stop myself from sighing. Yes, I’d kept safe; I was here wasn’t I? Not in the hospital wing, or some dark alley? Just because I was Muggle-born didn’t mean anything. I could still look after myself. Hell, the most life-threatening situation I’d been in all summer was boarding the train last Friday; with those malicious, bloodthirsty third years.

But I pushed my anger down, knowing he meant well. “‘Course.” That was my reply: one word. But I smiled when I said it, and I saw the worry disappear from his eyes, leaving my smile genuine. As long as he wasn’t worried about me, we were perfect.

Speaking of being worried... “You didn’t tell me you were arriving today! I kept waiting for your Owl, but it never showed!” I beat his chest lightly with my fists.

He laughed, flashing perfect teeth, and pulled me into his arms again. “I missed you. Besides, I wanted to surprise you tomorrow morning. I just wasn’t expecting you to be out wandering the castle when I showed up.”

“Right,” I grunted again, but I smiled into his chest where he couldn’t see.

“Reyna is rolling her eyes at us.” I could feel him chuckle.

“Is she gagging?”

“No, thankfully. Just giving us that look.”

I knew the one he was talking about, and laughed out loud. It was Rae’s you’re-ridiculous-but-I-love-you-anyway look, that was usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and a smirk.

I pulled away from Henry, turning to her. She hadn’t held back. Her hands on her hips joined the eyebrow and smirk. “We going or what? Prefects are bound to come walking through here any minute.” She tapped her foot impatiently for emphasis.

“She’s right. Come on. You happy to trek it up to Ravenclaw? Or will I see you at breakfast?”

I wasn’t happy to let him go just yet.

“East or west?” I asked Rae and she pondered the question for a moment, not quite sure what I meant.

“West? I dunno. What are you talking about?”

“West? Ravenclaw Tower it is then.” I smiled innocently at her.

“Keir!” She hissed at me, making her way across the Entrance Hall. Her shoes made a sharp sound on the marble floor, and the noise reverberated around the empty space. “We’ve got to get back to the common room! McGonagall will have our hides if we’re found out of bed.”

“Anthony’ll be there,” a voice cut in.

I grinned up at Henry as Rae’s frown faltered at his words. She renewed her scowl at us, and I skipped over to her, slinging my arm around her shoulders. Henry grabbed his oversized travel bag and started up the Grand Staircase to the Ravenclaw Common Room, while Rae and I continued along behind him, my arm still around her.

*


Skidding around the corner, and out of sight of Peeves, Reyna and I collapsed on the ground. Henry was doubled over, his hands on his knees, panting heavily.

The Poltergeist could still be heard in the main corridor, knocking over armour and yelling “STUDENTS OUT OF BED! ICKLE STUDENTS ROAMING THE CORRIDORS ON THE FIFTH FLOOR!”

I hauled myself to my feet, pulling Rae with me. “Come on,” I said as I nodded to the stairs leading to the Ravenclaw entrance. “Henry, Filch will be here any second!”

Realisation lit up his face and he grabbed my other arm, hauling me and Reyna along with him as he took the steps two at a time, the sound of crashing armour still echoing through the stone passages.

I kept looking over my shoulder as we climbed the inside of the tower, expecting to see Filch with a gleeful smile on his face as he gave the three of us detention.

It didn’t help that the torches lining the flight of stairs, and the stray ray of moonlight from the tiny windows littered along the wall, left our shadows visible for the Caretaker. Not that he wouldn’t hear our feet on the stone stairs or anything…

I stopped suddenly as I ran into the back of Henry on the landing. Reyna was fidgeting nervously in the half-light, as we waited for the bronze knocker to ask its question and grant us entry. It sprung to life at the sight of Henry while I danced from foot to foot, agitated.

“What breaks but never falls, and what falls but never breaks?”

Fantastic. We’ll be out here all night, with detention for sure.

I looked at Henry hopefully, before glancing back over my shoulder to see the eyes of Mrs. Norris peering at us from a few steps below. If the cat was here, Filch wouldn’t be far behind.

But suddenly Henry’s eyebrows shot up, and he answered.

“Day and night.”

Merlin, he was brilliant.

Agonisingly slowly, the door opened.

“Far out, now go!” I pushed Reyna through the door before I was shoved through the gap myself by Henry. Toppling over Reyna, we both fell to the floor with a thud and I turned my head just in time to see the shadow of Filch coming up the stairs before Henry slammed the door. He slid down the back of the door, and I heard him exhale in a sigh of relief. I grinned at him and he rolled his eyes at me, before chuckling to himself.

Filch hadn’t seen us. Well, maybe he had... But he hadn’t seen who we were, and hence, we were free from detention. Thank Godric.

As I turned my head back to Reyna, I realised that there was something wrong. The giant circular space that made up the Common Room was completely silent. Everyone was staring at the two Gryffindor girls sprawled on the floor and their Quidditch Captain panting heavily by the door.

I froze, staring at the faces that were all turned towards us. Suddenly, the awkward silence was broken.

“You’re early.”

Instantly, the eyes of the Ravenclaws left us and turned to the dark haired figure that had just risen from the lounge chair on the opposite side of the room. I thanked Merlin for Anthony, and quickly got back to my feet while no one was watching.

Anthony King made his way across the room, clasping hands with his best friend as Henry rose off the ground.

“I wasn’t expecting you to get here for another hour or two - why on earth are you so out of breath?”

“Peeves, and that bloody cat of Filch’s.” Henry scowled at the memory. “I swear to Rowena, I’ll find out how that animal sends telepathic messages to him, and then I’ll kill it. It’s good for nothing else, anyway.”

I smiled as I shut my eyes, enjoying the cool night air on my face. The Ravenclaw Common Room was one of the most magical areas in Hogwarts as far as I was concerned. It was a huge, circular room with midnight blue carpet and large arched windows that were hung with soft blue and bronze silks. The scale of the windows lead the Ravenclaw Tower to be one of the airiest places in the school. The ceiling, almost majestic in nature, was painted with stars, while a large white marble statue of Rowena Ravenclaw stood by the stairs up to the dormitories.

Henry had told me the first time I’d visited Ravenclaw Tower with him when we’d first started dating, that his house’s founder, Rowena Ravenclaw, had built the room deliberately without a fireplace. I’d thought it odd at first, seeing as the Gryffindor fire was such a large part of our Common Room; I couldn’t think of a house area without one. But apparently Rowena, treasuring knowledge and wits above all else, had feared for the books and so, no fireplace. Although there was an incredibly brilliant charm placed on the windows that kept the temperatures from outside affecting the Ravenclaw students. Honestly, Rowena Ravenclaw was a woman after my own heart.

My favourite part about the Common Room however, was the books. There was a huge alcove opposite the dormitory stairs that was filled with them, floor to ceiling. Some of the volumes had been there for centuries, others were brand new, but on a day when the wind was still – which was incredibly rare – the smell of much-loved parchment filled the room.

The night air was cool on my skin after our escape from Peeves – Hold up… “What do you mean you weren’t expecting him for another few hours? He told you he was coming, but he didn’t tell me?”

Anthony laughed, as Henry smiled weakly at me from behind his best friend.

“I told you, I wanted to keep it a surprise,” he said sheepishly.

I raised an eyebrow at him, sceptically, but it was soon turned on Madison Cleansweep as she brushed past me and hugged Henry. Anthony’s eyebrow joined mine halfway to our hairline.

“Henry! You’re back!” she shrieked, wrapping her scrawny arms around my boyfriend.

Too right he was back. Shame I beat you to being the first one to welcome him, I thought while a smirk made its way across my face.

“Hey, Mads,” he replied, hugging her back.

Mads? Mads!? I’m sorry – what?

Grabbing Henry’s bag that had been forgotten on the floor next to him, I looped my arm through his, accidentally elbowing ‘Mads’ in the ribs as she was still wrapped around my boyfriend. Did I mention that? That he was my boyfriend? Because yeah - he was.

“Head up and unpack?” I looked up at him through my lashes, smiling slightly.

He grinned down at me. “Sure thing. Then I’ll walk you and Rae back to Gryffindor, alright?” I could have stared into his perfect eyes all night.

“When are Quidditch tryouts, Henry?” Madison piped up, clearly not happy she had been forgotten.

“Oh! Andy, did you – "

“Got it covered; Pitch is booked for Friday night.” Anthony smirked, pleased with himself.

Henry turned to Madison. “There you go. Friday night.”

She flicked her long dark hair over her shoulder and put on her best flirt face. I snorted and she glared at me before turning her eyes back to Henry.

She giggled while she had his attention. “I spoke to my Grandpa… Guess which Hogwarts team is being supplied with brand new, top-of-the-line Cleansweep Sixes, free of charge?”

Oh, no. She did not just - Reyna caught my eye with a concerned expression on her face. Even Rae knew those brooms; they weren’t even out in stores yet and the entire Ravenclaw team was getting them? I wanted to scream and shout and stomp my feet, but mostly I wanted to push her out the Common Room window and wave her goodbye as she fell to the bottom. How dare she try and tease Henry away from me by promising him new brooms for his team!

“Seriously?” Henry had a look of shock on his face. Even Anthony, who I could usually count on, looked like he was about to hug her. I’d hug her. Hug her so tight she couldn’t breathe.

Madison nodded, beaming at him. Honestly, the urge to push her out the tower was overwhelming.

“Well as exciting as this is… I’m thinking we should head back. It’s late and we have classes tomorrow,” Reyna said, far louder than normal conversation would permit. But as Henry and Anthony where so caught up in Madison, it was needed to grab their attention.

“Wha – Oh! Fair enough. I’ll walk you back.” Henry’s smile was met by my scowl, and his expression changed to one of confusion. I sniffed at him as Rae led me towards the door, but I was incredibly thankful that she’d opened an escape option before I was in Dumbledore’s office for pushing Madison Cleansweep off something tall.

My anger and resentment significantly dropped however when Anthony stepped forward and held out his arms for a hug from Reyna. I don’t think I’ve even seen her dark skin turn such a shade of red.

He hugged her goodbye, and while it lasted only a moment, my heart melted at the expression on her face. Henry draped an arm around my shoulders, squeezing me tight, and I knew he saw it too. We’d been trying to get Anthony together with Rae forever.

Of course, Reyna never spoke about him, opting to blush furiously and avert her eyes when he came up in conversation, and unfortunately, Anthony was the sort of person who refused to be set up with anyone, stating that then he’d like them because the situation was biased, as opposed to falling for them naturally without intervention. Which of course, had lead to very, very subtle planning from me and Henry.

It was a long process.

But when they broke apart, Anthony turned to me and ruffled my hair, grinning. “See ya, Nyx.”

“Oi! Get off.” I batted his hand away, rolling my eyes at him, trying to contain my laugh.

“Whatever. Get out of here.” He chuckled, opening the door. “Off you go! Just don’t get caught, yeah?”

“I'll try.”

“Come on, Keir. Reyna’s right; it’s late, and I’ll be damned if your first detention is because of me.” Henry’s arm tightened around me again, and I sighed, fighting the urge to nuzzle into his chest.

Rae laughed nervously, running her hands through her dark hair. I think it had just suddenly hit her how likely it was that we’d be caught. Henry, however, led us out of the Common Room and down the stairs without hesitation. I gave Reyna a feeble smile that she quickly returned before we set off after him, back to Gryffindor Tower.

After forgetting about a trick stair, almost getting trapped in said trick stair, and extended periods of time hiding behind tapestries when we heard sounds that might have been a prefect, we reached the corridor with the Fat Lady and the knot in my stomach relaxed. The portrait eyed Henry as we approached, still looking at him as she began to speak.

Password?

“Alterum tantum,” Rae muttered absently, still searching the corridor for signs of prefects.

The Fat Lady huffed as she swung forward, clearly not impressed that she was giving us access with the Ravenclaw there. Reyna ducked through the portrait hole immediately, and when I turned to say goodbye to Henry, he grabbed my hand. I cocked my head to the side, confused as to his intentions when he leaned down and kissed me full on the mouth.

I was frozen for a moment before I pulled away. Looking into his blue eyes, I saw disappointment that I’d broken the kiss.

“I missed you, Keir. You know that, right? I missed you while I was gone,” he said intently, searching my face.

“Oh, bloody hell! The both of you; get detention, I don’t care, but I’m going to bed, alright? See you in the morning Keira. Thanks for walking us back, Henry.”

I looked over my shoulder to see Rae shaking her head as she pulled the portrait hole closed, leaving the Fat Lady eyeing Henry again. I turned back to him to find his eyes begging. I sighed blissfully, finally falling into his arms and kissing him again. Yes, I had to be on tiptoes to reach his mouth – and even then, he was almost bent over double to reach me – but it didn’t really matter. His hands were around my waist, his mouth was against mine, and I could feel his biceps pressing me up against his chest. Detention would be totally worth it.

The Fat Lady coughed, clearly not impressed with our performance in the middle of the corridor; the sound barely registered in my brain as I felt Henry lift me up off the ground. I wrapped my legs around his waist and pushed my fingers into his hair. With him no longer bending down to reach me, he deepened our kiss and I sighed at the familiar feeling of his soft lips on mine.

The portrait coughed again, but I ignored it while my fingers tangled in his hair, drawing his face closer to mine.

Another cough sounded, but Henry's hands were resting on my hips as he pinned me back against the wall.

Tones of impatience were easily detectable when she next cleared her throat, and the urge to tell her to zip it was enormous. But I forgot about her again when Henry's mouth left mine, kissing up my jaw instead.

Suddenly, there was a much deeper cough, a lot closer than the last few. I started at the noise and Henry almost let me go. Reluctantly, I unhooked my ankles and slid down to the floor.

Sirius Black was leaning against the wall opposite us, clearly smug. He had a raised eyebrow and a smile playing around his mouth.

“I hope you’re both staying chaste…?”

I wanted to run and hide, melt into the wall behind me or fall through the floor. I didn’t particularly care which; any would do.

“What are you doing out so late?” Henry asked. I could see a blush creeping up his face, but he kept his expression neutral.

“Oh, you know. The usual.”

Pretty sure I didn’t know, and fairly confidant I didn’t want to, as it probably involved that Ravenclaw girl he was seeing and an empty classroom on the third floor.

Sirius’s gaze travelled over my shoulder to the portrait. “Alterum tantrum.”

The Fat Lady swung open again, rolling her eyes. Sirius smirked at me again before slipping past us and through the portrait hole. I turned to Henry and reached up and kissed him again, but pulled away quickly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He sighed, but nodded, kissing my cheek before turning and jogging down the corridor, back to the west side of the castle. I narrowly ducked through the portrait hole as the Fat Lady closed, knowing she would hate me if I made her open again.

Making a beeline for the girl’s dormitories, I relaxed when I found Black had already gone up to bed. I wasn’t sure I could deal with either ignoring him, or having a conversation with him at the moment; both seemed rather daunting.

*



The echo of our footsteps broke the silence of the empty corridors as Reyna and I sprinted down the passage to the ground floor. I took the stairs on the Grand Staircase two at a time, my bag hitting my hip painfully. Almost tripping down the last three, my hands shot out in front of me, stopping my momentum from carrying my face straight into the marble floor.

Rae grabbed my shirt as she sprinted past, and I nearly choked as she pulled me along behind her.

“Come on!

“Oh, forgive me for falling why don’t you!” I cried as I sprinted even harder, trying to catch up to her.

“We’re late! I’m never late, and I don’t like it.”

“Really? I never would have guessed…” I muttered under my breath as we both took a sharp turn and leaped down the flight of stairs leading to the dungeons.

We hit the ground running but breathed slightly easier when the Potions classroom was insight. Coming to a sharp halt a second before I did, Rae held up a hand, indicating for me a to wait a moment, as she doubled over trying to catch her breath.

“This – is – all – your – fault,” she wheezed, glaring up at me.

I leaned against the damn stone wall, my lungs burning. “Shut up. Merlin, I need to work on my fitness.”

“No, I won't ‘shut up’. If your boyfriend hadn’t turned up after detention, we never would have been out at all hours of the night, meaning we wouldn’t have slept in,” she snapped.

“Right. Because I totally planned for Henry to turn up like that,” I retorted. I rolled my eyes, forcing myself off the wall. Rae was still scowling at me when I rapped my hand on the door, before opening it tentatively, peering inside.

Slughorn was standing up the front of the class, gesturing to three cauldrons in front of him, completely unaware that I’d just knocked. A few of the students sitting closest to the door were watching me, including Mel and Alice, who had apparently saved us seats.

I slipped into the large square room, and sank into the seat next to Alice without a sound. Reyna however, wasn’t as lucky. Halfway between the door and the desk, Slughorn noticed her.

“Oh! And we have a late arrival! What’s your name, girl?”

And to think, we’d only had detention with him last night.

I shook my head at Slughorn, while Reyna’s eyes went wide, the cogs of her brain ticking away. In less than a heartbeat, her expression was gone and she promptly answered. “Renee Waters.”

“Well then, I’ll be adding your name to the detentions list. No late comers in my class!”

“Yes, Sir,” Rae murmured as she sunk into the seat in front of me, next to Melody.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied Angus Barton with his hand in the air, clearly wishing to inform the Potion’s Master that ‘Renee Waters’ was not in fact, Reyna Wilkins’ name.

Before I could act however, Alice, who had noticed as well, flicked her wrist and muttered “Silencio” at the boy sitting next to Regulus Black.

I flicked my eyes to Slughorn, hoping he hadn’t noticed anything, but he was busy putting his quill back in the inkpot. When he was done taking note of ‘Renee’s’ late arrival, he waddled back around his desk and continued with the class, still unaware of Barton’s hand.

“So, as I was saying, Felix Felicis here, takes six months to brew, making it a very tedious potion - Yes, boy? What is it?” The professor asked, clearly not impressed at another interruption to his lesson.

I shut my eyes with my hand over my mouth, unable to keep back a laugh. Chuckles echoed around the room from the other students, while the Slytherin was sitting there, practically yelling at the Potion’s Master, although no sound was escaping his throat. Opening my eye a crack, refusing to miss this, I saw him point wildly in the direction we were sitting. As Barton turned and fixed us with a glare, it suddenly didn’t seem quite so funny anymore.

He had that look. The same one I’d seen in the eyes of Sirius’s cousin, Narcissa, my first year. Merlin, that had been traumatic.

I’d been lost (I think one of the staircases had moved without me realising) and was running late for Transfiguration, when I’d rounded a corner and ran straight into the back of her while she’d been trying to chat up some boy. Her eyes when she’d rounded on me had been enough to almost cause me to cry, and certainly enough for me to take the long way to class for the rest of the year just to avoid her seeing me in the corridor.

“Mr Barton, if you aren’t going to say anything, please refrain from putting your hand up while I am trying to teach. As I was saying…"

I froze for a moment, peering at the professor curiously. Surely he knew there was something wrong with the Slytherin. He was pointing at his throat and violently gesticulating all over the place. If Slughorn was really so blind as to not notice that something was amiss, then he’d be the last person I’d want around in a duel. Not that he was at the top of my list anyway…

Regulus Black rolled his eyes, and pointed his wand at his friend, muttering the counter charm, before both of the boys turned in their seats and stared pointedly at me, Alice, Reyna and Mel, obviously knowing it was one of us who had covered Rae’s arse for her.

Surprised that the first thing Angus didn’t do was yell at Slughorn, I eyed him warily, not really paying attention to the rest of the lecture. This of course, resulted in me turning to Alice with no idea of what was going on when I noticed students rising from their seats.

“Um…”

“Draught of Living Death.” She rolled her eyes, knowing exactly what I was going to ask her. “We need Moondew, crushed snake fangs, Wormwood, Asphodel, Valerian roots, Sopophorus bean and – ew, sloth brain.”

I pulled a face. “I’ll get them, but there is no way I’m handling that brain once it’s out of the jar.”

Alice looked at me pointedly, clearly suggesting that I, in fact, would be, but I jumped out of my seat, heading to the ingredients cupboard before she could say anything. Mel joined me in the line behind Caradoc, while Reyna set up their workspace.

“So what’s in the cauldrons?” I nodded at the three potions set up at the front of the class.

“Draught of Living Death, Felix Felicis, and Amortentia.”

“The love potion?” I asked, eyeing the cauldron with the steam tendrils rising out of it. Two Ravenclaws were giggling currently in front of the cauldron.

“That’s the one. Most powerful there is.”

I wish I hadn’t been late now. Hearing what the Potion’s Master had to say about Amortentia would have been interesting.

Mel and I eventually made it to the front of the line and were in the midst of grabbing the ingredients we needed when suddenly, I was shoved violently to the side. Recovering myself before I fell and dropped all of the jars, I turned to find Angus Barton seething at me.

“Careful there, Nyx. We don’t want anything… nasty happening to you now do we? Would be a shame if the jar of Bubotuber pus fell out of the cupboard and onto you, now wouldn’t it?” he muttered, tone full of sarcasm.

I scowled at him. His face was too close for comfort, and I had a hard time not staring at the pimple that was emerging on the side of his nose.

“Leave me alone, Barton. I wasn’t the one that jinxed you.”

“Don’t lie to me, Nyx. I know it came from you,” he said, his voice changing to a falsely cheerful tone, “but don’t worry, I won’t tell Slughorn.”

I had an overwhelming urge to punch him, but that would require touching him, which I really didn’t want to do. Regulus Black was watching me over his friends shoulder. He wasn’t participating in the confrontation, but I knew if things turned bad, he’d be the first to hex me. He was like his brother in that sense, (and possibly the only sense, other than the fact that they both got on my nerves) it was always jinx first, ask questions later.

“'Won’t tell Slughorn?' Is that because your worried of him getting mad at you for wasting his time again? Or because you’ll go mute for a second time if you try?” I mocked.

“Can’t keep your story straight can you, Nyx? First you said it wasn’t you, and yet now you’re admitting to it?” Barton laughed. A few students around us were whispering now, pointing and pausing to watch our argument, but the Professor didn’t notice.

“I didn’t jinx you; but this conversation is irritating me so much, I’m tempted to,” I replied calmly.

The laugh died and his face grew angry. His nostrils flared and eyebrows narrowed as he spat, “Send another spell at me, and you’ll wish you were dead, Mudblood.”

“Take it back, Barton.” Mel snapped before I could retaliate. She stepped forward from where she’d been watching behind me, her face furious, and her hand on her wand.

“You can’t tell me what to do, blood-traitor. You’re just as bad as she is.”
A group had crowded now, and my respect for the Potion’s professor was dwindling, as he was still unaware that less than half of the class were in their seats.

“Call me all the names you like, just know that Keira’s more talented at magic that you will ever be…” Mel hissed the words, and despite the fact that they weren’t directed at me, I still felt nervous. She was mad. Really mad.

“Let’s go, Mel.” I tried to push her away, hoping the small crowd of people would part and let us through. She resisted for a moment, but eventually let me drag her back to the desks, although she never took her eyes of the sneering face of Angus Barton.

Alice had set up the cauldron and I dumped the ingredients down next to her, still watching the Slytherins out of the corner of my eye.

“You alright?” I turned towards her, only to find her face so full of concern and worry that it was almost revolting. “I’m so sorry, Keir. I can’t believe he called you – you… I’ll go tell him it was me.”

“Don’t you even think about it.” I yanked on her robes as she went to get out of her seat. “I’m fine. Honest. Sticks and stones, right?”

“Sticks and stones, my arse,” Reyna cut in from the bench in front. “I swear to Godric, that boy better look out, because the next time he comes within a hundred feet of you, I’ll curse him so far into next year not even Madam Pomfrey will be able to help him.”

I smiled slightly, reminding myself that no matter how much it hurt, or made me feel sick inside, it wasn’t worth getting upset over. Barton was a Slytherin with bad hygiene, while I was dating the Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain, who would be more than happy to hex him into next week for me.

My smile widened as I wondered what seventh year jinxes Henry knew that Barton wouldn’t know the counter-spell for.

*


Henry was at Quidditch tryouts on Friday evening, and I found myself in the Library. Slughorn had been so disappointed in the class’s Draughts of Living Death that he’d set a ridiculous essay to be completed over the weekend. I figured that since I had Quidditch tryouts tomorrow, I might as well start it now.

Wandering through the towering shelves, I looked around for an empty table. Instead, I came across a Huffflepuff couple snogging each other senseless. Quickly hightailing it out of there, I scampered down the main row of books, before ducking behind the next bookcase.

“Well, hello there.”

I started, turning to find Lily laughing as she put a thick volume back on the shelf. “Who are you hiding from? Or are you just that excited about your homework?”

“Ha! Not quite.” I attempted to peer around the bookshelves, and up the aisle to see if the dark haired Hufflepuff girl and her boyfriend were still there. “There were two people snogging – " Lily rolled her eyes and the action made me cut my sentence short. “What?”

“Bloody Doe. I told her and Edgar to find an empty classroom if they were going keep that up. Madam Pince will have a fit if she sees them.”

“Doe?” I asked curiously. I couldn’t place the name.

“Dorcas Meadows. She’s in my year. A brilliant witch, but bloody hell, she and Edgar are useless when they’re together.”

What parent in their right mind named their child Dorcas? That was just cruel.

“Right,” I muttered, my mind trying to remember the last name of Doe’s apparent boyfriend Edgar.

“That looks like Potions homework. What’s Slughorn teaching you at the moment?” The red head came and peered over my shoulder at the parchment resting on top of my books. “Draught of Living Death? That’s not too hard…”

“Speak for yourself! The only reason we have this essay is because no one could make it right.”

“Did you follow the instructions?” Lily asked curiously.

“Yes?”

“Ah. There’s your problem.”

I turned to face her so she was no longer looking over my shoulder, an expression of exasperated confusion on my face. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would it be wrong if I followed the instructions?”

“Because sometimes your trial and error is better than blindly following the book." She grinned and I just raised an eyebrow.

Of course you play around with dangerous potions. Of course you don’t follow the very specific instructions that are there for your safety. Hear that, everyone? You’re just supposed to go nuts and hope for the best.

“Come on. I’ll show you my notes,” she said, waving her hand at me.

So I followed Lily over to a table, where she sat her books down next to a blonde Ravenclaw that I’d seen a few times before. She was in Henry’s year, but Merlin help me; I had no idea what her name was.

“Marls, you’ve met Keira, right?”

The girl grunted in reply, before briefly looking up from her parchment to give me a slight smile. By the time I’d smiled back, she was scrawling away again, and I gave up, sitting down next to Lily.

She pulled my essay over in front of her, and began talking me through the process of Potions making. I sat there, slightly overwhelmed at how much she knew. Everyone knew she was one of the best in the school at the subject, but I suppose I’d never really appreciated it until now.

Pausing to write something she’d said in the margin of my textbook, I asked, “How do you know all this?”

“Snape."

I looked at the blonde Ravenclaw who hadn’t even looked up from the notes when she'd spoken. I went to ask what she was talking about, but Lily sighed and I kept my mouth closed, hoping she’d explain without me having to probe. But instead she began to chew on the end of my quill absentmindedly, leaving me in the dark.

Seeing that she was lost in her own uncomfortable looking thoughts, I tried to think why this conversation would be off topic.

Potions had led to Snape, and Snivellus had led to the awkwardness; which meant that something had happened to cause Snape to become an out of bounds topic…

Godric, I was so stupid!

Everyone knew about that. Everyone had heard Snape call her… Well, what Angus Barton had called me the other day. And if I had thought that had hurt, I didn’t even want to imagine what it had been like coming from a friend – and one you were trying to stick up for, no less! Merlin, if he was stupid enough to think he could call her a name like that, and then just be all ‘oh, so sorry. Didn’t mean it at all. Just insulted you in the worst possibly way there is, but don’t take it personally will you? I just hang around with a crowd of people that wants you dead’ and think everything could go back to normal, he didn’t deserve Lily.

Hell, even before he’d said… that… he hadn’t deserved her; he didn’t shower anywhere near often enough.

Marlene was trying to hide a sad smile, while the red head was absently doodling on my parchment, lost in thought, but when Remus Lupin pulled up a chair, the sound brought her back to earth.

“Merlin, sorry, Keira. I didn’t mean to draw on your essay… I don’t know what’s gotten into me today.” She frowned at the parchment and I laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

She clearly was still upset with what Snape had said to her, and I didn’t blame her. What Barton had called me hurt, but compared to what it would have been like coming from your best friend – and while you were trying to stick up for them! – it was nothing.

“Don’t worry about it. If I say the drawing was from you, Slughorn will probably give me extra marks anyway.”

“What are we all talking about?” Remus smiled at the break in conversation.

“How I saw a Hufflepuff couple making out in the shelves before and that I feel sincerely sorry for the next person who borrows any of those books.”

Lupin raised an eyebrow, clearly not believing a word, but he humoured me by laughing slightly anyway. Marlene was already scribbling away again on her parchment, and Lily snorted at what I’d said, letting our previous topic of conversation drop.

“Where are Potter and his boyfriend? Is it wise that you left them alone, Remus?” The Head Girl raised an eyebrow.

“Potter’s got a lifetime ban from Madam Pince, and while leaving them alone probably wasn’t the best idea, there was no way I was going to get my Runes work done in the Common Room,” he replied with a trace of irritation.

“Lupin, you’re in my History of Magic class; what was the exact figure for the number of deaths in Hogsmeade in the 1612 Goblin rebellion?” The blonde Ravenclaw looked up from across the table, her first recognition that Remus was there. She wasn’t being rude; she was just working and probably didn’t appreciate the interruptions.

I spied the same Hufflepuff that had been snogging in the shelves making her way towards our table. What had Lily called her again? – Dorcas. Right, I was out of here. There was no way I was risking her recognise me as the sixth year that had run in on her and her boyfriend.

“I’m going to head back; early night tonight. Thanks so much for the help with Potions, Lils. Honestly, you’re amazing. It was nice meeting you, Marlene.” The blonde gave me a small smile, looking up from her work for half a second to meet my eye. “I’ll see you later, Lupin.”

And with that, I ducked around another desk or two, avoiding the eyes of Dorcas the Hufflepuff, as I made my way towards the Library door, determined to get some sleep before I made a fool of myself tomorrow morning.


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