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Chapter 1 : The Group in Black
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The Gryffindor common room was unnaturally quiet for a Friday afternoon. Most students were out enjoying the first day of proper sunshine in over three months. In fact the two that were in the common room would have rather been out in the sun than in the stuffy room. It was only Madam Pomfrey who kept them from venturing outdoors. A tall seventeen year old sat in a high back armchair beside the open window reading a book on Dangerous Magical Creatures of the Far East, not one of the comfiest available but one of the few that was situated directly beside a window. Across from him sat a shorter and pudgier teenager attempting to put together what appeared to be an alarm clock but to the trained eye of a prankster, you would clearly see how fragile and breakable the clock really was and hollowed back that could hold up to fifteen dungbombs at a time, the victim of such a prank would be left smelling as fresh as cow dung for roughly a week.
“Of all the times I had to get hit with a table, it had to be this one.” The pudgy one, called Peter, said, carefully placing the clock on a table and staring longingly out the window.
“Sorry again mate, but look on the bright side, at least the wardrobe and couch landed on me.” The taller of the two joked, but the laugh didn’t quite reach his eyes. Years ago he, Remus, wouldn’t have laughed at such a thing but as he attended Hogwarts he learned to make a joke of it, for his friends’ sake, though he always wished it were another way.
“No, no. It’s just that of all the injury’s I’ve had this has to be one of the minor ones and of course she had to see it this time.” Peter’s attempts to reassure Remus were, as you can guess, in vain.
A relaxed silence settled over the two and they both went back to what they had been doing previously, both deep in thought. Remus and Peter were always the quieter of the group not having to fill each and every moment with words and gossip. The other two, James and Sirius, were the more boisterous two of the group.
“Can you believe in a few months were not going to be here?” Peter looked away from the window to focus on Remus. “I know you don’t like it but were never going to be going back to the Shrieking Shack or sneak out to Honeydukes or prank the Slytherin’s.” Remus smiled.
“Never going to do dentition again or break you lot out of detention.”
“Or hear Prongs go on about Lily.”
“Or hear Sirius go on about complete nonsense.” Remus joked.
“POTTER, CAN YOU NOT CONTROL YOURSELF FOR FIVE FREAKING MINUTES?” Lily cried throwing open the portal and storming into the room. Both Peter and Remus’ heads shot ever to the entrance.
“Oh come on Lily. You know you love it.” James said walking in after, Sirius not too far behind, threw himself onto one of the sofas.
“LOVE IT? You just hexed Snape for no reason.”
“I told you the reason. He provoked me.”
“Oh I’m sure he did.” Lily said in a tone that suggested she thought otherwise. The entrance door opened again, this time Hazel Cartwright walked in, falling back on the sofa that Sirius lay in.
“Oi! I’m lying here.” He cried.
“Move your fat ass then!” Hazel replied watching the couple argue, just as they had been doing for the past ten minutes.
“I swear on my life he provoked me!” James said, hands in the air.
“Oh really then what did he say?”
“I’m not going to repeat it!” His face was turned up in disgust, as if the mere memory of the words was enough to disgust him.
“SEE? You can’t even think up a good enough taunt.”
“Lily, I told you he provoked me. Just ask Padfoot!”
All eyes turned to Sirius who had been attempting to push Hazel onto the floor, but to no avail. ”Hey mate, don’t get me involved in your marital problems.”
“Sirius for the last time we’re not married!” James said.
“Same difference – engagement, marriage.”
“PADFOOT!” James shouted.
“Okay jeez, he did actually say something, a very rude something, which should never be repeated again, ever. Not even when we’re all old and grey and in rocking chairs with little midget grandchildren.” Sirius said with such a serious face.
“Midget grandchildren?” Hazel asked. “I’m not having midget grandchildren! I’m going to marry a tall man so my children will never be midgets.”
“They’re still going to be small when their born, Hazel!”
“Oh shut up Sirius, I’m not going to actually have kids, I mean please, who wants to go through the pain of labour. No thank you. Regrowing my bones was bad enough. I think I’ll adopt instead. That’s pain free, right?”
“Getting back to what I was talking about,” Lily cut across, “why can it not be repeated?”
“Because it’s personal. Look if someone was making fun and saying rude stuff about Hazel you’d react so just drop it.” James walked over to the staircase without another word.
“Looks like someone got up the wrong side of the bed this morning.” Sirius whispered to the room, breaking that awkward silence that had settled. Remus’ mouth twitched, Peter chuckled, Lily gave a half sort of laugh and Hazel guffawed away.
“Come on Hazel we promised we’d go see Hagrid. You three stay out of trouble and tell that idiot when he returns I’m sorry I ever brought it up. Honestly, it’s like dating a four year old with an attitude problem.” Lily said heading for the door.
“Right-o Head Girl! See you lot tomorrow in Hogsmeade.” Hazel jumped of Sirius’ legs and followed her best friend.
When the Portrait hole had closed Remus turned to Sirius. “What did Snape really say? It must have been bad because James tries not to react to him anymore.” Sirius glanced around to make sure James really wasn’t there.
“He brought up his parents deaths and said Evans was only dating him out of pity.” The other two stared in silence. Since Mr and Mrs Potter passed away just after Christmas, James had become very reluctant to talk about them, all of the house knew not to bring it up after Lionel Harris the Ravenclaw captain had made a passing comment about it, thinking James wasn’t behind him. Harris wound up in the Hospital Wing with a broken nose, two cracked ribs a dislocated jaw and a twisted ankle.
Pete whistled. “That was a low blow.”
Remus shook his head. “I give it an hour, and then we go up and check if he’s alright.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Sure.” Sirius said distractedly.
“Something bothering you Padfoot?” Remus asked.
“What do you think Hazel would say if I asked her to Hogsmeade?”
“Hazel? As in Hazel Cartwright, the only girl apart from Lily who can keep up with your crazy scheme and is a challenge to beat in an argument.” The look of disbelief on ol’ Mooney’s face said it all, was THE Sirius Black experiencing feelings?
“That’s the one.”
“Are you feeling alright mate? You don’t feel sick or have a temperature do you?”
“What do you think it’s weird?”
“Just a little, given the fact you both argue nearly as much as Prongs and Evans.” Peter piped up.
“It’s just playful banter.”
“Okay let me ask you a question mate, do you like her?” Remus said leaning forward to see his reaction.
“Well I don’t … it’s not that I could … have you SEEN her mate? … I mean it’s me … and she’s Hazel … it’s more like physical attraction … I don’t like people Mooney, not that I don’t like people I do, I mean you need to socialise don’t you and well you go a bit crazy when you don’t , eh? It’s not that I don’t like people I just don’t like, like people in general. You can’t not like people, I mean I spend enough time with you lot don’t I, and well I talk to others too, so clearly I must like people … in some way. Imagine not liking people it must be what being Jerry Hambles is like because he never talks to people so I’m quite sure he doesn’t like people but what have people done to him? It’s not our fault we don’t fit his criteria, you can’t just single him out and insult him for being a loner. He probably just thinks were all weird, which could be true. You know my Uncle Alphard used to call me weird, well when you compare me to the rest of my family I guess I am weird. But there’s also Andromeda so I can’t be THAT weird, it’s not like I -”
Peter and Remus were gobsmacked, Sirius Black was rambling, Sirius had never rambled like that in all of their years of knowing him, at least not about a girl. They could barely believe their eyes.
“Okay, let me rephrase that question, do you like Hazel Cartwright in way that’s more than a just friends way?” Remus asked. Sirius stopped his rambling as he considered what his friend had just said.
“I … I guess I do.”
A smile broke out on the twos’ faces. “Well then mate, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go for it.”
Sirius shook his head causing his two friends to stop smiling. “Richard Harris already asked her.”
“That’s shit, mate, but Richards an asshole and I’m sure she’ll realise that as soon as she goes on one lousy date with him.”
“Thanks Wormtail but I think I’m gonna go for a fly.”
“Don’t’ come in after curfew or I’ll be forced to take points off you and/or give you detention.” Remus said as he picked up his book.
“Sure thin, Mum.” Remus gave him the finger while Peter chuckled away to himself, pulling out another alarm clock from his bag at the ground.
Hogsmeade was packed to capacity the following day. It felt like everybody and their mother, grandmother and great grandmother, were out shopping. The guys had agreed to meet up with the girls at twelve in Honeydukes but it was proving to be ridiculus with the amount of third years running around.
“Move you little squirt.” Sirius finally roared at the third year in front of him who had been staring open mouthed at the chocolates for the past ten minutes, blocking the aisle. The poor kid was so scared that a little wet patch appeared on his pants.
“Ew gross.” James muttered as they finally made their way passed.
“I swear we were never that bad when we were that age. And we weren’t that short either.” Sirius said loudly attracting several head to stop and stare.
“Oh I beg to differ.” Lily said sneaking up behind them.
“Where’s Cartwright?” Sirius asked immediately.
“Did she leave you to walk down alone?” James asked.
Lily laughed. “No, we walked down together I just dropped her off at the new restaurant Madam Puddifoot's before coming to meet you guys.”
“The asshole brought her there?” Sirius asked highly affronted. At the last Hogsmeade he brought Brittany Anders, who insisted they go to Puddifoot’s. The group laughed at Sirius’ expense remembering how he had turned up at the Three Broomsticks when they were halfway through their first round of drinks shouting about pink flowers, chairs, water, cutlery, napkins, food, windows, doors, walls, people. He sat shaking for ten minutes straight and muttered utter nonsense for a further twenty minutes before finally taking the half full pint of James’ firewhiskey and downing it in one.
“Who brings a girl to Puddifoots? Especially Hazel I mean have you heard the way she goes on about that place, you’d swear it was infested with Dementors or something.” Sirius said, muttering something along the lines of ‘Too much pink.’
“An asshole like that brings a girl to Puddifoots.” James muttered just loud enough for the rest to hear.
“What? Can we please get out of here? Preferably before I die of an overdose of third years, it’s very contagious you know.” James said already heading for the door.
“Where too?” Lily asked reaching for James’ hand.
“The Three Broomsticks, where else?” Sirius cried racing ahead of the couple like an excited toddler.
Inside, the pub was reasonably empty only a few tables were actually full, looked lie only a few group had decided to stop off. They sat down over in the corner away from everybody and ordered their drinks, when they spotted a curious group of adults enter the pub. There was three of them, they were dressed in all black, with darkened sunglasses on and carried black briefcases, and sat at the table right beside them.
The group ordered drinks they had never heard of that looked like they would burn your insides out from the fizzing. The Maurauders and Lily tried to relax but the strangers had them on edge, they had this strange aura about them. In fact they were so wary that their conversations were really short, not very loud and nothing personal. The strangers made them feel like they had done some crime. Lily wanted to jump and exclaim that she had taken the last of the sherbet lemons Christmas five years ago.
Eventually the group in black decided to leave at which time the pub was filling up, though everyone had given the strangers’ table a wide berth.
“That was very strange.” Peter said, as the door shut behind them.
“Hey they left something.” Sirius pointed to a lump on the table in a black bag, it was the only evidence that the strangers in black had been there.
“Don’t pick it up.” Lily scolded as Sirius moved to take it.
“Why? How could it hurt?” James asked moving to step around Sirius to get it until Lily gripped his arm.
“We don’t know what it could be. They were such an odd lot it could be absolutely anything dangerous.” Remus said from beside her.
Sirius walks over to the table and casually grabs the bag as the others squabble. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Wouldn’t it have affected me by now if it was going to do anything?” he asked as he sat back down.
“Well yes, but you should have left it there. What if it had exploded?” Lily exclaimed.
“Then we’d have all been blown to smatterings. I don’t set much by the term ‘What If’, love.” Sirius said as he took the lump out of the bag. “Well what do you suppose it is?”
“It sort of resembles a rocket.” Lily said as she leaned in closer to look at it properly.
“What’s a rocket?” James muttered to Peter who shrugged his shoulders.
It was true though, the object did resemble a rocket, with little stilts to hold it up. It was very wide and had a glass panel on the front. There was no buttons on it, in fact it looked like a children’s toy that had been manufactured badly.
“I want to bring it home.”
“What?” James asked incredulously.
“I said I want to bring it home.” Lily repeated as she reached for the rocket.
“I heard what you said I was just hoping you would change your words. Why on earth would you bring it back to Hogwarts?”
“I don’t know it just reminds me of being young again.” James rolled his eyes as Lily picked the toy up and put it back in its bag. “So she would head back?”
“Sure, whatever.” Sirius got up followed by his partner in crime and the rest followed.
“So do you think Hazel’s enjoying the date?”
“Padfoot give it a break.”
They were one of the first to be back in the castle and were the first Gryffindor’s to return to the Common Room.
“So how do you think it works? “
“Lily, for the last time I don’t know or care.” James sat on the armchair and you’d swear he’d just run a marathon.
“There has to be a button though. I mean, how does it even go on?” she continued as if she had never heard him.
A loud BLEEP filled the room. The group fell into silence. The sound came again and this time the rocket lit up. Lily and the boys stared at each other, backing away from the rocket. It sounded again and this time the number sixty appeared on the screen as the lights started flashing, and a countdown commenced.
“What the hell.” Remus breathed, no one hears him but their all thinking the same thing. Suddenly the room started to spin and all the objects in the room began to fly around, like a tornado passing through.
“Oh Merlin, we’re going to die in here.” Peter whined looking rather peaky.
“That thing is causing this.” Remus shouted over the noise of the bleeping.
“What do we do?” Lily yelled, looking extremely scared as she tried to not fall over.
The rocket starts to shake and the room moves with it. “Hold it down, stop it from moving.” Sirius barked as he nearly got hit by a large book. Lily fell forward and lands on top of it as James moved to help.
“I … I can’t hold on.”
“Here -” Peter shouted as he helped her hold the rocket steady. It began to speak.
“TWENTY, NINETEEN, EIGHTEEN,”
“A little help Mooney!” Sirius shouted as he dived towards the rocket.
“NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX,”
Remus jumped over the couch and managed to grab hold of the rocket.
“TWO, ONE!” The beeping gets louder and faster together until its one loud noise and headaches start to form in the five teenager’s heads, so bad that they don’t even feel the whoosh of air. They don’t feel anything until they’re landing on some gravely surface and their thrown back into mud.
“Oh my head!”
“You too Prongs?” Remus asked.
“It’s worse than a freaking hangover!” Sirius moaned as he rolled in the mud.
“Oh why did you have to bring it home James?” Lily moaned as she lifted herself from the mud, clutching her head.
“Me? You brought it home Lily. I had nothing to do with this!” James cried at an unnaturally high pitch for five people with headaches.
“Oh well that must be a first for you.” Lily hissed at him acidly.
“Oh stuff it you two.” Remus said as he glared at the two, crawling towards the edge of the mud pol where there was normal grass.
“Hey, I know this place.” Sirius said in a weird voice as he walks towards the village in the distance.
“Say what?” Peter attempted to copy Sirius but slid and fell back into the mud.
“That church, the houses, that farm, heck even that shop. It’s where my cousin, Andromeda lives.” Sirius says as helps the rest to their feet, then stares them the each in the eye.
“We’re in Godric’s Hollow!”
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