James and I did a lot of reading that continued on until supper. We took up a whole table meant for six people. We didn’t really talk much. At first, I thought it was because he was still annoyed at the accusations I'd made about Gabby. Slowly, though, the tension seemed to dissipate. The silence between us eventually became comfortable, and I couldn’t help but sneak peeks at James.
I was intrigued by this studious side of him. The smile that crept onto my face couldn’t be helped. His concentrated expression and the way he absently twirled his wand was so endearing. His forehead was wrinkled in concentration while his hazel eyes scanned the pages. I realized that I’d missed a lot of the different sides of him throughout the years. I’d never taken the time to get to know him fully. He wasn’t the bothersome toerag that I’d made him out to be. I suddenly realized just how happy I was to have the chance to get to know him better, and that I really wanted to continue to be around him even after everything switched back to normal. How odd.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m starved,” James announced.
“I’m pretty hungry myself.” We gathered the books, put them back in their proper places and headed to the Great Hall. “I’m beginning to get the sinking feeling that we won’t find the answers in any book in the library. I don’t know where else to look.”
“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. There’s a million places we could look for answers, but the castle’s so damn big, I wouldn’t know where to start.”
I groaned. “I know that someone has to have written about this sort of thing at some point. Surely I’m not the only one who’s had this problem before. I bet it’s hidden somewhere less obvious.” Some place where Gabby made sure it would not be easily found, I added mentally. I was not about to get into that conversation again.
James stopped in the middle of the corridor and had a profound look on his face. He gave a short laugh and said, “I just realized that I know exactly where to look.”
“Have you ever heard of the Room of Requirement?”
“No. What’s that?”
A wide grin spread over his face. “It’s the answer to your problem, I’m sure of it. I’ll have to show you later tonight. I’ll come get you a bit after curfew. Meet me outside the kitchens.”
After supper, I walked back to the common room with the rest of the Hufflepuffs. I stayed up in my room and tidied things up. I needed to be doing something as I waited impatiently. A few of my roommates came in, but they ignored me and went to bed. Typical. I continued to clean quietly. When my part of the room was spotless, I turned to looking over my schedule for the next day and was shocked to find that I would be having Potions when I normally did. I hadn’t noticed that Gabby was in my Potions class before.
I guessed that it was a possibility that I hadn’t seen her. Potions had always been my best subject and, consequently, the one I didn’t usually socialize in. Typically, I was more caught up in the assignments given than who was in the class with me. It would be interesting to see what happened the next day with Gabby. If she took over that class like she did in Charms earlier, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to resist hexing her. I mean, I was sneaking around after hours now, why not add a detention, too? It seemed as if I had suddenly become more of a rebellious version of myself in this twisted reality.
I kept looking at the clock, which, of course, seemed to be moving way slower than it usually did. I was looking forward to seeing what this Room of Requirement was like. I supposed it had many books in it; how else could it be helpful to me?
Finally, curfew came and it was time to leave. I ducked out of the common room, and made my way to the kitchen entrance to wait. After about five minutes, the feeling that I wasn’t alone came over me. It was as if I could feel eyes watching me.
“Hello? Is anybody there?” My question was met with silence. I spoke again, but this time I could hear the apprehension in my voice. “Hello?”
Just then, James popped out of nowhere. “Boo.” I screamed and he had to cover my mouth with his hand. He was laughing at me, the bloody wanker. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. It was too good of an opportunity.”
“Are you mental? How the bloody hell did you do that,” I asked when he dropped his hand.
“I have an invisibility cloak.” He pulled the cloak completely off of himself to show me. The fabric was shimmery and fascinating to look at.
My mouth dropped in astonishment and James smiled that crooked grin of his. “Oh, of course. You have an invisibility cloak. Silly me. Where did you get it?” I reached out to touch it. It felt even silkier than it looked.
He shrugged. “It’s a family heirloom. My mates and I used to use it to get around after curfew.”
“Wait a second,” I said with a smile spreading onto my face. “Is this a famous Marauder secret?”
“Hmm. I kind of feel special that you’re telling me.”
“As you should,” he laughed. "Not many others are given such an honor."
My smile vanished when a thought occurred to me. “We’re going to use that now? Both of us?”
“What? Are you afraid to share a cloak with me, Evans? I thought we were friends.” He said it in such a way, that it reminded me of the James I knew. It brought me back to all the times he challenged me throughout the years, which I could never seem to resist.
I raised my chin. “No, of course not. Let’s do this.”
He grinned again before throwing the cloak over both of us. We had to stand rather close as to not let our feet show. We were facing each other, and my chest pressed up against his lightly. My cheeks grew warm. Suddenly, I couldn’t quite meet his eyes.
“I think you may have to turn around and lead the way. I don’t know where we’re going and this is quite a silly way of walking.”
James cleared his throat. “Er, right.”
Since we were so close, I could smell his skin. I couldn’t lie to myself about how intoxicating his scent was. I didn’t really pay attention to where we were going because I was battling the sudden butterflies in my stomach. My head was filled with thoughts that I’d never had about James before. Thankfully, he pulled the cloak off before I acted on anything I would most definitely regret.
When I looked around, I noticed that we were on the seventh floor. The portrait of Barnabas the Barmy was on the wall to the left of us and a blank wall to the right. “Is this where it is? I don’t see anything.”
“Lily, Lily, Lily.” He shook his head in mock disapproval. “It’s called magic. I’m not so sure that you’re aware, but this is a school of witchcraft and wizardry.”
“Yes, I’m aware, you prat. What do we have to do? Wave our wands about or something?”
James steered me to a spot in the middle of the corridor. “What I need you to do is, starting here, begin to pace a little ways down there,” he pointed to a spot a few feet from where we stood, “and come back here. Do this three times while thinking about how much you need to find a hidden book.”
I turned and looked at him. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah,” James let out a bark of laughter. “Why?”
“This isn’t some kind of prank to make me look like a loon or anything? Are your mates hiding somewhere ready to burst out laughing at me?”
His laughter became louder. “No. Trust me, this will work.”
“Okay, but remember: I have no compunctions about hexing you if this is a joke.”
James held his hands up in surrender. His smile was contagious even though I tried to squelch mine from showing. “I swear to you, on my honor, that this is not a joke.”
“How convincing. The honor of a Marauder. Okay, I believe you.” I did as he said and looked at the wall opposite of the tapestry. Where there was a blank wall before, now sat a door. “Whoa.”
“May I present to you, the Room of Requirement.” James held open the door for me, and I walked into an impossibly large room.
“Whoa,” I breathed, again.
“How did you find this?”
“Padfoot and I were smuggling some things from Hogsmeade in fifth year and needed a place to hide them. Filch was on our tail, and we just happened on this room. A bit of pure luck. Amazing, right?”
“I don’t think that amazing is strong enough.” There were all items imaginable stacked up in haphazard piles. I saw cages, robes, candles, bowls, jewelry, wigs, statues, and that was only at the entranceway. The room seemed to go on forever in all directions.
“The only problem is,” James said with a bit of a wince on his face. “I wouldn’t know how to find exactly what you’re looking for.’
I gave him a confident smirk. “Well, that’s easy. As you said,” I tried to imitate James’s voice, “’This is a school of witchcraft and wizardry.’ Accio…book-about-alternate-universes?” It came out as more of a question than an actual conjuring spell.
When nothing happened, it was James who smirked. “That doesn’t work in here. Actually, I’m not sure that would even work anywhere. ‘Accio book-about-alternate-universes’? Really?”
I ignored that last part, aside from an annoyed look. “Why won’t it work here?”
“I don’t know. It just doesn’t.”
“Great. So we’re going to doing this the old fashioned way?”
“I’m afraid so.”
I sighed and cheered in a weak voice, “Yay to more research.”
Author’s Note: I’m so sorry about the wait. After the holidays, I had tons of school and work. I just didn’t have any time. I know I promised in my last chapter that this one would be long, but I promise the next one will be long. Altogether Chapter Five and Chapter Six started to grow to more than eight pages, so I had to separate them since I had so much more to write. I know there wasn’t much action in this one, but he next is going to have drama galore, I promise. I’d still love to hear what you think, so reviews are welcomed!