Chapter 21 : Jitters
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‘We’re perfect for each other, love me.’
Original and thoughtful.
At least Lily managed to interrupt him by snogging him within an inch of his life. I don’t know why though- attractive was not something which could be applied to James’ voice.
“James could not hit those notes, could he?” Alice said, sitting down next to me.
A piece of chewed-up paper hit me in the back of the head. I turned around to scowl at James. “Do not mock me,” he said.
“James, you relinquished your right to be threatening when you sang a cheesy song in a high-pitched voice that we weren’t entirely sure you were putting on,” said Remus, sitting down on my other side.
“Where’s Sirius?” I asked.
Remus sighed. “Skiving.”
“Where is everyone else?”
“Skiving,” Alice repeated.
Professor Sharpe walked in and did a double take. “Miss Evans!” he half-shouted.
“When are you going to stop tormenting your friends?” he asked, exasperated.
Professor Sharpe was pretty awesome. He was fairly young, was exceptionally badass at duelling and every single one of his lessons involved some practical aspect. And he had made all of us sign a waiver agreeing that if we ‘disrupted’ his lesson, he was allowed to hex us. And his definition of ‘disruption’ varied extensively; from throwing a chair at a wall after missing James (Sirius) or mumbling to yourself as you copied notes (Alice).
Also, if you excelled at a particularly hard bit you were permitted to hex the most annoying member of class. We all invariably chose James or Sirius.
I leaned closer to Remus. “What is he on about?” I whispered.
“Last day before Christmas holiday is an unofficial holiday for sixth and seventh years. Everyone goes to Hogsmeade and does their Christmas shopping,” he whispered back.
“Then why are we in our lesson?”
“Because,” said Lily, loudly, “We care about our education.”
“Actually,” James said, “You care about our education.”
Sharpe sighed. “Miss Evans, if you promise to leave now and take your friends, I will swear to the Minister of Magic himself that you were in my lesson.”
James, Remus, Alice and I all stood up to go.
“Sir!” Lily looked outraged.
Sharpe drew his wand. “Get out, Miss Evans. I want a free day as much as your friends.”
“Professor Sharpe,” I yelled as I ran out the door, dragging Lily, “I actually love you.”
Soon we all were in Hogsmeade, and found Sirius kissing a girl in the corner of the Three Broomsticks.
“Hello Padfoot!” James said, plonking himself on the table in front of them. “Who is this then?”
Sirius disentangled himself from the girl and narrowed his eyes. “This is... is Katie.”
“It’s Margaret!” the girl said, annoyed.
He shrugged. “I was close!”
She slapped him and stormed out.
“Sorry mate!” James said cheerfully. It seemed that a free day meant James was perpetually happy.
Sirius rubbed his cheek ruefully. “S’alright. She wasn’t that good a kisser anyway.”
Alice, Lily and I looked at him in disgust.
“You are a pig, Sirius Black,” I said, offended.
He clearly wasn’t bothered. “What’s the plan for today then?” he asked. “Butterbeers, Zonko’s and Honeydukes?”
“I need to go Christmas shopping,” I said, wrapping my scarf tighter around my neck.
Alice and Lily nodded in agreement, and we looked at the boys. “What?” said Alice, “Have you already bought us our presents?”
They looked horrified, like they’d never heard of the concept of Christmas presents before.
“Remus,” said Lily, “You’re in charge of them. Make sure they buy good stuff!”
Remus saluted- slightly nervously. “Aye aye ma’am!”
“And find Frank!” Alice called as we left.
Three hours later, I had bought a couple of soppy romance novels for Lily, a necklace for Alice and a cookbook called ‘Flavoursome Formulas for Feeding the Five Thousand’ for my mother. We didn’t quite have the five thousand, but we would have seven teenage boys, and my stepfather, which was close enough.
“Phew!” said Lily once we’d met up again. “I’ve done all the easy stuff...”
“You mean, you’ve done the girls,” said Alice, passing us both a hot chocolate.
I gratefully wrapped my numb hands around it. “What are we going to get the lads?” I moaned.
I have no patience for guys who complain that they can’t buy girls anything. Honestly, if nothing personal comes to mind, then you can buy chocolate, jewellery or some sort of bath stuff. Except bath bombs. Don’t ever buy bath bombs. They’re dark magic.
But every girl has a problem. What on earth do you get guys? I’ve grown up surrounded by lads, and I generally cop out and get ‘novelty’ presents, like a teddy bear each. I was just lucky that I’d sorted this year out for my lads in about August.
“We are all strong, independent women,” Lily said, “If we all brainstorm, we can think of something.”
I wiped the snow off the nearest bench with my wand and we all sat down, shivering. “Start with James,” I said. “What does James like?”
“Being a git, pulling stupid pranks, hexing Slytherins, Quidditch,” Alice listed, ticking them off on her fingers.
“Yeah, there was that shop we just passed that sold stuff specifically for ‘gits,” I said, gesturing randomly behind me.
Alice flicked me the V’s. “Get him some good Quidditch stuff,” she said.
“Like a book on Quidditch?” Lily asked.
I rolled my eyes. “No, good Quidditch stuff that he might actually want. Okay, next: Frank.”
“Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch.... isn’t his favourite team the Montrose Magpies?” Lily said.
“They’re playing the Harpies in January,” I said. “I’ve got tickets. There are probably some left...”
Lily hit me. “That’s a good idea for James too! Why didn’t you mention that earlier?”
“James doesn’t like the Harpies or the Magpies,” I said, but my Quidditch expertise was disregarded.
“Who have you got the tickets for?” Alice asked.
“Lads at home,” I said. “The Harpies tend to have fairly... revealing Quidditch robes, so they all support them.”
“So we can just get them all tickets to the game! Eva, you’re a genius.”
“Remus doesn’t like Quidditch though!” I said. “Don’t all leave me now!”
Alice and Lily stopped, their expressions pained.
“He’ll love the game,” Lily said, one foot inching towards the Post Office.
“And we can’t leave him out!” agreed Alice.
My shoulders slumped, and I regretfully followed them to the Post Office, who sold all the tickets to everywhere and everything.
Unless it hadn’t been invented yet.
James, Frank and Sirius would love the tickets, and hopefully not just because the Harpies were slut royalty. But I wanted to get Remus something which meant something to him, which he’d appreciate and like.
“He is already going to your house,” Alice pointed out as she pushed the Post Office door open.
“It’s like you’re a couple!” Lily said.
I scribbled a quick note to the boys angrily, telling them the train times Remus and I would be getting and tied it to the foot of an owl labelled; ‘extraordinarily speedy’. “Don’t think that I don’t know what Alice is doing,” I said.
“What am I doing?” she said innocently, feeding another owl tiny, very smelly, treats.
I whacked her with my pen. “You’re not big, you’re not funny and you’re not clever.”
“I think you’ll find I’m all three of those things.”
I didn’t want to ruin her childlike dreams.
Later that night, Lily, Alice and I were packing for the holidays. Well, Lily was. Alice had confided that since Lily had become upset with her style of packing, she had given up and Lily did it all for her. She was a bit of an organisational freak.
I was under the impression that I didn’t need to pack. It wasn’t like I was going somewhere without any clothes of my own, and it wasn’t like I needed anything desperately. I had the train tickets, some toiletries and the Christmas presents. And that was it.
Lily, Alice and I had all swopped our presents, and Lily had done some charm which made it impossible to peek. It was not fair. I wasn’t going to peek.
Okay, I was. And so was Alice. And so was James and Sirius and Remus and Frank.
But we can’t now, because Lily is a goody-two-shoes spoil-sport.
“Why are the twins so quiet?” I asked, trying to catch Bott’s Beans in my mouth. On their two beds were shadowed body-shaped lumps.
“I put the full Body-Bind on them,” Lily said, folding her robes and checking for dust meticulously.
I take it back. Lily is freaking awesome.
“Why?” said Alice.
Lily shrugged. “They just had that look of being annoying. It’s all down to you, anyway Eva. If you haven’t screamed at them that first day, we would never have started to be evil back to them.”
“I come in useful sometimes!” I chirped, catching a bean in between my teeth and sitting bolt upright to show the others. “Ook! OOK!”
“Fantastic,” said Lily with barely a glance my way, moving across to do Alice’s trunk.
“Are you nervous about taking James home?” Alice asked.
“Why should she be?” I said, missing my mouth again.
“An over-proud mother, a magic-hating sister and a father who would much rather read the paper,” Lily said.
Alice smiled smugly. “I love Frank’s parents, they’re so sweet and caring. Although his mother can be a bit... overbearing. What about you, Eva?”
“I can already hear my mum telling Remus he’s too thin, and trying to adopt him. She’s got a thing for strays. All the lads were always at my house.”
“Tell us a bit more about your lads,” Alice said. “Any of them good looking? Got history with any of them?
I shot her a withering, superior kind of look, but she totally ignored it.
“I went out with John,” I said after a second. “Last summer. And then he cheated on me. So I broke up with him. He was a jerk. He still is a jerk.”
“Are they all wizards?” asked Lily.
“Yup,” I said, now concentrating on throwing all the manky beans at Alice. One hit her between the eyes and she scowled at me.
“Then why don’t they come here?” Lily asked.
I paused before answering. “They’ve all got background,” I hedged. “They can’t go anywhere without being prejudiced against, so we all congregated together, in one dysfunctional village.”
“What kind of background?” Alice asked. “We’re going to end up meeting them anyway.”
I sighed. That was true, and the boys wouldn’t really mind.
Lily held up a finger. “Wait- muffliato,” she said. “Now the twins can’t hear you. It’s something I picked up off Sev.”
I respect Lily’s nice-ness, but not where it concerned Slytherins, so I ignored that bit.
“Okay, so Mitchell is half-vampire, Steve is half-hag, Tony and John both got expelled from Hogwarts, and Jack and Daniel –they’re twins and their mum doesn’t know they’re wizards.”
“What did they do to get expelled?” asked Lily, looking horrified.
“I don’t exactly know- Tony insists he was framed and John did magic outside of school. A lot. It’s kind of implied that Tony took the blame for John, and then John threw it away and got expelled anyway so they argue a lot.”
“Sounds like a soap.”
“It’s exactly like a soap... but there’s less bitching, more punching.”
“Come on,” whined James. “What have you bought Eva?”
I was not telling what I had bought for Eva, because they would take the piss. I knew, they knew, and they knew I knew, and they still expected me to change my mind and say “YEAH IT’S [blank]”.
I’m not stupid.
I was attempting to pack, except as revenge, James and Sirius were levitating my stuff elsewhere. Lawrence and Shane were being slightly helpful by finding my things, but my patience was still wearing thin.
It was a matter of time before I got my wand out.
“What are you packing?” I asked James. If I could distract him into packing, then I’d only have to deal with Sirius.
James collapsed onto his bed with a groan. “NO!”
“Positive attitude there, James,” Shane said with a smile, shutting the window Sirius was trying to levitate all my socks out of.
“I DON’T WANT TO GO TO LILY’S.”
“Because she has a magic-hating family. I don’t think I can cope. What if they start insulting the school?”
“Deal with it?” suggested Lawrence. Himself and Shane were just going home for the holidays, and had adopted Eva’s policy of not being arsed to pack.
“And stop being such a girl about it,” Sirius advised. My plan was working!
James threw his hands over his face dramatically. “I’m being serious.”
“No, I’m Sirius.”
We all threw the nearest thing at him, and Sirius was covered in an assortment of books, socks and dirty Quidditch kit.
“Looking forward to going to Eva’s?” James tried to steer the conversation towards my own holiday-from-hell.
Yes, I was looking forward to spending Christmas with Eva. Yes, I was looking forward to see where she grew up, to find out a bit more about her... and on the other hand, I was bloody terrified.
There was luckily no full moon, so I’d be okay on that front-
I was just nervous.
James was still lying on his bed, hands over his head, and I could kind of empathise. But at least he knew where he stood with Lily! I had kissed Eva, then gone crazy at precisely the wrong moment and then been too chicken to do anything in the Room of Requirement.
She was amazing- but with baggage. And I had enough of my own for a lifetime- and definitely enough for two.
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