Chapter 5 : The Welcoming
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I slammed the door shut so hard the glass nearly shattered, before turning around still fuming. I hated the fact that Potter could so easily get under my skin seemingly without even trying!
“So…How did it go?” asked Edith, trying very hard not to grin.
I however rounded on Quinn.
“YOU broke up with HIM?” I asked her in unfathomable anger.
Quinn flinched and shrank into her skin, her eyes looking very guilty.
“Umm…” her uncanny quivering voice said. Mind you, I could be very intimidating when I wished to.
“What?” echoed the other three in exclamation.
“It didn’t happen like that!” insisted Quinn. She looked more like her proper self now sans the raccoon-eyed makeup forgiving her reddened eyes, slightly blotchy cheeks and cropped hair.
“Quinn! I can’t believe you let me go out there and nearly beat up Sirius Black!” I said crossly, “He might’ve been worse off for all I’d known!”
“Well he didn’t look it…” said Mary earing dirty looks from the rest of us.
“Luckily, Potter was the only one I made a fool of myself in front of. Again.” I shook my head dismally.
“That sounds interesting,” Edith prompted with a smug smile. I ignored her.
“What happened Quinn? Tell us the whole story,” Cait encouraged Quinn in a softer voice.
Quinn and Sirius had been on again off again relationship since its ill-fated beginning. They didn’t really get along with each other up until fourth year. Then, a Marauder prank, a broom closet and some sort of dare was involved and -BAM- they were snogging each other around every other secluded corner.
None of us understood them together. After all, Sirius Black rarely ever had girlfriends. He did flirt- a lot-and many girls fancied him so he was never low on options but he rarely ever committed to a girl long term. So naturally we were rather worried about Quinn. She however insisted we give him a chance. What were we supposed to do?
In retrospect though I had believed he liked her. He was affectionate and engaged around her (mind you this is the girl whose skirt he once set fire to! Accidentally, but still.) Sirius Black was different around Quinn. It didn't have the same tell-a-tale signed of his usual time-pass flings. They did argue and fight over stupid little things. They played childish games with each other and tried to make the other jealous but their time apart didn’t last long and they got back together quickly developing a rather tiresome pattern. Over time we thought of them as that sort of couple: they break up and make up but never fall apart.
Looking at Quinn now, as she fought her memories and emotions, I felt terrible for her.
Quinn never cried over boys, she hardly every cried for anything. In that regard she was starkly unlike myself. I could hardly ever have a proper conversation without my eyes stinging and having to dash away. Pathetic.
Guilt, anger, love, heartbreak, joy, pain, it seemed all the emotions I could feel were wired directly to my tear ducts. Quinn especially didn’t cry over Black, because (I supposed) she knew it was never truly over between them. So it startled us all to see tear tracks on her face even as she wiped them off hastily and tried very hard to swallow it all down.
Was it love? Had she fallen for him against all her determination not to?
My mind wandered as I watched Quinn’s short hair (now back to her usual strawberry blonde) hover awkwardly buoyant about her face without the usual weight to tame its movement.
Was it love? I questioned subconsciously again. If so this was surprising and dangerous. Love is an outlandish thing for Quinn, who didn’t believe in it because her parents married for love and then ‘fell out’ of it. So it was peculiar to have her admit to feeling something she vehemently denied as fantasy.
My mind reeled spinning one imaginary tale after another. I imagined uncharacteristically romantic Quinn confessing to rude and unemotional Black on a personified bridge under the dramatic light of a seemingly everlasting sunset. But even without the ridiculous theatrics of my novel-indulgent mind, if a realistic variation of those events had happened I feared it to be a big mistake.
Because if there was someone less inclined to fall in love than Quinn, it was Sirius Black.
I looked helplessly at Quinn while she stared vehemently out the window. Edith had done a good job getting Quinn to look like herself physically. Her maroon buttoned top with the lace-edged white collar added a pop of colour and went well with her new short hair. Emotionally however, I had no idea if Quinn would ever be back to herself. Her hands were balled around Cait's handkerchief in her lap. It was dry, for Quinn wasn’t one to cry much. Yet she looked like she was aching inside and it hurt me to sit there and not be able to help her.
Cait tried to give Quinn a hug but after tolerating it for a minute Quinn politely shrugged away. I knew Quinn, and when she faced a wall she wanted to be left alone to deal with it. So I sat quietly curbing my need to be a supportive caring friend and thinking of what she wanted and how I could help. It was then that I caught myself wishing something I’d never wished for before.
I wished we weren’t heading to Hogwarts where Sirius would be around every corner of the castle which then would certainly seem too small a place to live. I wished we were speeding away.
By the time the lunch trolley rolled around Edith and Mary and finished two rounds of Exploding Snap, Cait had finished the last few lines of her new song and Quinn had fallen asleep against the window.
We bought a lot more than our usual loot from the trolley and proceeded to eat through them for the rest of the journey. Quinn joined us looking less distraught and more determined to feel better. I loved that quality about Quinn that I didn’t have, the ability to not give into emotional turmoil. I, on the other end of the spectrum, could be found bawling my eyes out at two in the morning for a beloved fictional character in a novel who’d met an untimely death.
As the train headed north, the greenery outside thickened and the golden burnish of the setting sun gave way to more subtle colours of the infringing night and Quinn began to tell us what had happened in her own time.
The tale was short and void of the great deal of drama my head had concocted but the facts remained somewhat comparable.
“You. Broke up. With Sirius Black. Over the phone?” Mary paused questioning each of the facts.
“I’m now understanding the drastic change in appearance but you’ll have to do better at disguising yourself Quinny” Edith commented.
“Not helping!” I hissed glaring at them.
Hours of consoling, boy-bashing and stuffing our faces with food and we were finally getting close.
Hogwarts had always been my second home. Over time its hold on me had grown. Tuney had made my actual home less and less welcoming and Severus and I had become close friends and Hogwarts our sanctuary.
When I was leaving Platform 9 ¾ for the first time as a child I’d been scared and fearful about it and Severus had talked me through the entire train ride, the boat ride across the Lake, the Sorting and the feast. I’d experienced nearly all my ‘firsts’ of the magical world with him standing right beside me.
So it was natural, I supposed, that there was a soft flop in my stomach now as I thought of Hogwarts and realised that Severus was no longer by my side.
“Oi! Snap out of it, Evans!” Edith called out to me as I watched the darkening fields fly past the window.
“What?” I asked pulling out of my reverie.
“Your turn Lily” Cait said politely smiling at my bemused expression. She held up her exploding snap cards for clarification.
“Oh right,” I glanced at my cards. “Pass”
The game ended spectacularly after a last round when Mary’s cards exploded loudly singing her eyebrows and baby-hairs just as she was about to announce a winning hand. Had us all in stitches that one! Soon enough we had reached Hogsmead station apparently bringing the storm with us.
We changed into our Hogwarts uniforms and wrapped ourselves up in our cloaks just as the train pulled into Hogsmeade station. A huge crowd was mulling around the corridors and the older prefects were shouting at them to back away from the doors. Finally the doors opened and we could see the heavy rain splattering the platform. With loud groans and much cursing all the students made a mad dash toward the carriages which were quickly filling up.
“Fantastic! I was so looking forward to having a mud-bath before dinner,” said Edith next to me as we both ran under a large umbrella to the station to catch a carriage.
Mary joined us pulling at her yellow raincoat and rolled her eyes at Edith, “Remind me next time to lock your sarcasm in your trunk!” she yelled over the rain.
“Where’s Quinn?” I called back.
Just then Quinn and Cait appeared under another huge umbrella. Despite the protection, we were all still wet waist-downwards and already splattered with mud.
“Let’s get a carriage quickly! There’re filling up!” Quinn said standing up on her toes. There were large groups of students lined up along the platform beside the carriages and the ones that were full were leaving already.
“This one’s free! Come on!” Mary yelled opening the door. We all rushed over to her but so did two third year boys.
“Oi! Bert and Ernie! Back off! This one’s taken!” Mary said shoving off the boys as they made to move past her into the carriage. We couldn’t help but laugh at their confused and terrified looks as we climbed in. Once settled in we began to dry off our clothes.
Finally the carriage gave a small jolt and began to move.
“Bloody Scotland and its bloody rain! Seriously!” Mary complained loudly pulling off her shoes roughly and drying her wet socks with magic.
“It could be so much worse!” said Quinn next to her checking her watch, “Remember that time we had to sit in the-” but she was cut off by a loud wail coming from outside.
“WAAAAAAIIT! HOLD ON!” a pair of small chubby hands grabbed on to the carriage door and we lurched to a sudden stop.
There was a loud burst of laughter from the other side.
“So when you said you had a plan, that’s what you meant?” the voice asked amid his laughter.
We all froze suddenly as we recognised the voice, but none more horrified than Quinn, whose eyes seem to draw out of their sockets.
“Well, I got it to stop, didn’t I?” the carriage door opened, and a round faced boy with a pointed nose and wet mousy hair plastered to his head appeared at the doorway.
“Alright there, girls? Mind if we join?” Peter Pettigrew asked squinting against the heavy rain. Before Quinn could give a coherent reply he’d turned over his shoulder.
“Hurry up, Padfoot!” he yelled.
“Umm…” Mary leaned over to Quinn with a deadpan look, “you were saying?”
An EXTREMELY awkward twelve minutes thirty-five seconds later (I’d been staring at my watch the entire time) we arrived at the Hogwarts front doors and quickly hurried into the entrance hall. I simply stood there as people getting out of the carts rushed past me into the Great Hall.
Closing my eyes I breathed in slowly. I was home. Only then did I feel complete.
“Come on!” Quinn dragged me pleadingly inside and I jogged alongside her trying to keep up. She and Edith pushed the Great Hall doors open and I followed in.
“Lily!” I turned around and saw Austin Bradbury jogging up to me. My stomach gave a pleasurable squirm. I’d had an unrelenting crush on him since third year. Fellow red-head, who knew what it was like to stick out awkwardly like a sore thumb, except he was gorgeous of course. All blue eyes, bright smiles and dimples. And quite the gentleman too. I had hoped he was head-boy this year, but the Prefect badge still shone on his robes as always.
“Austin! Good summer?” I said a little breathlessly
“How are you?” he said at the same time. We both broke into a grin at that at which point Quinn gave up trying to persuade me to the tables and made her way there alone with the girls.
“Good! Great…” I tucked a stray lock of my sure to be messy weather-beaten hair behind my ear. “How about you… didn’t you go to Venice or something?”
He blushed, “Yes! It was grand. Definitely a lot of fun!”
With a internal sigh I wondered why in the world I haven’t shared a carriage ride to school with Austin Bradbury in all my years at Hogwarts.
“Yes?” I snapped out of my fantasy.
“I just said I hope your OWLs went well,”
“Oh yes! Yes, very well. Thank you so much for all the notes you gave me last year! Really helped,”
Well, Potter helped too.
Yes Conscience, what a great time for you to bring that up!
But he behaved like an arsehole afterwards so Potter’s uncanny act of kindness doesn’t really count, does it?
“It was nothing,” he smiled again showing those irresistible dimples, “I’m really glad you did well! I hope Severus wasn’t too upset I advised you against studying from Moste Potente Potions, that's more for Masters rather than OWLs” he laughed but suddenly my mind pulled away from Austin.
The memory of Severus still hurt me. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach, the feeling you get when you suddenly miss a step. I turned away from Austin and scanned the hall, the seats were filling in quickly. The Slytherin table was almost full but I couldn’t find him. As hard as it was to admit and try as I might to push the thought away, I missed him. I missed Sev very much.
“Lily? Everything ok?” asked Austin.
“Yeah!” I said turning back to him with fake chipper-ness, “I should go… I’ll see you around then?”
“Of course!” he chuckled and waved me off.
I headed into the great hall the gloom of Severus’s absence ebbing away slowly as I headed to the Gryffinfor table finding a saved seat between Quinn and Edith.
“How’s Loverboy?” Mary smirked at me twirling a finger through a blonde curl.
“What? That’s horrid! Don’t call him that!”
“Ooh, defensive already!” Cait snickered. I gave them both a dark look.
“We were just talking.” I said quietly.
Edith dropped the fork she was balancing on her glass, “Give it up Evans, you’re as pink as a baboon’s bottom!”
Mary and Cait snorted. Quinn was too preoccupied trying to hide behind me to avoid Sirius’s direct line of vision.
“He has a girlfriend,” I told them only half hiding my jealousy.
“Yes, you sound completely platonic about that!”
“Quiet please!” Professor Flitwick stood up on his seat at the staff table, “The Sorting Ceremony is about to begin,”
Finally, the most interesting part of the day.
Speeches. Without a doubt the most boring formality on the planet! Seriously, I can actually feel my brain cells dying in protest.I let my head rest on my hand as I contemplated banging it on the table in an attempt to stay awake.
Professor Sydney Algernon Dumas, our new DADA teacher, I could tell was a self-obsessed book-dependant moron. It was clear by the first fifteen minutes of his speech that he’d never slain so much as a Flobberworm in his life let alone the collection of dark creatures so described in his books.
“When is this poof going stop talking?!” Sirius muttered irritably next to me voicing my thoughts.
I shook my head and shrugged to show my boredom.
“We might be here all night!” I murmured back.
My eyes wondered across the table and fell on Evans. I had to bite down to stop myself from grinning. We definitely had a moment on the train. I could feel her trembling in my arms as I’d held her. It made my heart race in exhilaration. Things seem to have changed between us, and I intended to pursue to see just how much. She is quite a girl.
I guess it wouldn’t be wrong to say I liked Miss Evans from the start. She’s pretty, considerate (Not to me, but still) she looks insanely adorable when she’s angry and narrows her eyes at you. She does crazy things when she’s angry, like that time she started yelling at me about animal rights when I made Parker ‘Porkie’ Platts regurgitate slugs.
“I’m confused, who’s rights are we talking about here, the pig’s or the slug’s?”
“Urrgh! You arrogant bat!”
Can you believe it? She called me a bat! An arrogant bat! Who says that?
She made it too easy. Lily Evans has this idea (no doubt an idea seeded in her by one loathsome Snivellus) that I was put on this planet for the sole purpose of making her life miserable and that I’m responsible for anything that goes wrong in my general vicinity.
I usually am, but that’s not the point. She simply refused to see any good in me!
As I’ve said before, most of the time she wishes I’d spontaneously combust or something.
And me? Well, to be honest, she’s been floating around somewhere in my head since third year. What’s a lad to do?
I watched from across the table as her eyes wandered, no longer able to watch boring old What’s-His-Face drone on. She sighed slowly and rolled her head onto her shoulder letting her red hair fall over in a soft curtain around her. At that moment her green eyes waltzed absently over Remus and latched onto mine.
It took a millisecond for her to realise it. Instantly a brilliant blush coloured her cheeks making me smile. She clenched her jaw and straightened up, her eyes swiftly darting back to the stage.
I grinned wider at her unease and kept watching her boldly.
Come on Lily… we both know there’s more to this than you let on isn’t there…?
I saw it in your eyes. The contempt you once had for me is gone… instead I see doubt when you see me. What are you wondering…?
Look at me…
Sirius shifted uneasily next to me. She must have been watching out of the corner of her eye because she mistook the movement and thought it was me. In a split second Lily Evan’s reflexes gave her away and her eyes dashed quickly back to me.
I couldn’t help but smirk as our eyes met again. She blushed furiously this time and looked down hastily taking a sip from her goblet.
Making her uneasy was a delightful sport of mine, especially because I rarely succeeded since she usually ignores me. But, I have a feeling that will soon change…
She looked lovely of course, chewing nervously on her lower lip and pretending to listen to the moron on stage. She has these beautiful pink lips I always imagine must be soft as silk. I will have to kiss her sometime and find out.
She will quite rightly slap me in return but hell, it would be worth it.
The game of pretending to not pay attention to someone is always fun. She’s trying to look interested in the speech, but her eyes are glassy as she’s watching me out of the corner of her eye. Her mind is reeling. I stubbornly keep looking at her. She gets even more nervous, her eyelids flutter, she chews on her lip some more, her nail scratches on the wooden table. Learning that you can have that effect on a girl you’ve always fancied… well there’s nothing quite like it.
I truly don’t know when this happened; when the rest of the female population just merged together and I became more interested in Lily Evans.
A while ago she was just one of the herd. An odd, a muggle-born fascinated with floating candles and moving portraits, an eager maybe a tad overenthusiastic student and of course, friends with Snivellus, the prick who was always looking to get us in detention.
She was a nerd through and through, loved books and swore by them and she didn’t really enjoy practical jokes back then, especially ones that involved a nifty charm that flushed her best friend down the toilet.
Don’t look at me, Padfoot came up with it. But I thought it was hilarious!
Anyway, Third year rolled around and it was like half the student population had morphed into completely new beings. Girls had breasts, their skirts got shorter, blouses got tighter and they wore heels, lip gloss, nail polish. I mean, whoa!
We just changed our toothbrush and bought new underwear! That’s it!
So I guess that was pretty much when I started noticing Lily Evans in a whole new light. Her eyes, her laugh, her lips. And that hair! Who knew I had a thing for red-heads? You think I’d get over it but I don’t why, I never gave up on her.
I’m realising now, it’s very hard to describe this sort of attraction without coming across as a voyeuristic creep! Believe me I’m not!
Let’s just say, Lily made me feel this sort of warmth inside. Like… like home. I don’t know how else to describe it.
Of course it’s easy to fancy a seemingly perfect girl like her, and I wasn’t the only one. But I was the only one she determinedly loathed. Any other guy would back off. But me? No I just keep going even after nearly three years of rejection.
Why, you ask? Well, because where people have supportive friends, I’ve got three idiots, who have somehow convinced me that this is just unspoken attraction on her part. In other words: we’ve got passion!
Lily: “Potter, I wish you were a codfish so I could throw you in the lake and know that the Giant Squid would have digested you by morning!”
The three idiots: “She wants you!”
“Where are they?” Sirius hissed impatiently again, “This was supposed to be the fun part!”
It was that time of the year, when we remind everyone why we call ourselves The Marauders. I checked my watch.
And as the word left me I heard it, a distinct rustling high above in the rafters. There was a soft hum like a storm brewing in the distance. Several sharp-eared students began to look around distracted, others followed their eyes.
It was hard to see them in the deep-blue velvet of the night sky reflected in the Great Hall ceiling, but they were there. As more and more students began to notice the disturbance, a faint whisper ran across the hall puncturing the bored silence and soon people were craning their necks trying figure out what was happening.
“What is it?” Kyle Matthews asked his neighbour curiously.
“I don’t know, I can’t see…”
Most of the students were now distracted and looking to the high ceilings causing the boring Professor to falter in his speech and the professors to look around curiously too. And then without warning they came swooping down upon us.
“Owls? But… we never get mail at the feast!”
Remus and I exchanged a grin.
The four of us had spent an entire summer together inventing the best ammunition for this prank. Eggs. Not just any eggs, eggs filled with paint!
Hundreds of owls swirled around over us each carrying an egg. And then it began, the owls simultaneously began to drop their deliveries upon the students. As the first few eggs began to hit the student body below, everyone began to scream.
It was suddenly raining paint-filled eggs.
The eggs hit the students sitting duck below and splattered them instantly in vibrant colours.
“It’s paint!” someone yelled observantly.
As I watched, a bright purple egg hit Edith smack on the head and cracked. Purple paint poured out flowing thickly over her brown hair. She fingered it suspiciously and then laughed proceeding to dab some on her neighbour, Mary.
Remus and I were hit simultaneously in the face with lime green and lemon yellow respectively. I had to wipe the paint my glasses using my fingers as wipers.
Soon the students were screaming and clambering out of the seats. Some students and even teachers were holding up their plates as shields, all dignity forgotten. Sirius and Peter covered in a mixture of blue, orange and neon-pink were gathering up intact paint-eggs from goblets nearby and throwing them at the few students still saved of splattering.
I laughed as I caught Quinn and Lily both shrieking profanities having just been splattered in red and yellow paint. Very Gryffindor! Just then another large green egg was dropped on them which momentarily silenced the duo out of pure shock as the green paint dripped purposefully over their faces.
Everyone had now given up on trying to save themselves and instead a war broke out with people gleefully throwing the un-cracked eggs at each other. Some even attempted getting their revenge by aiming a few back at the owls. As chaos broke out, the cherry on top of the cake, Peeves joined us armed with water balloons.
It was total anarchy, just how I liked it.
The troublemakers were delighted, the rule-bound were offended, the professors were disappointed and the rest were confused about whether they should laugh or cry. I for one laughed a lot!
Luke and Leo, fellow Gryffindor’s, were covered in large splotches of black and white and looked like weird Dalmatians. Peter had a large patch of green on one side of his face while Cait’s whole head was bright blue. Beatrice was screaming non-stop with pink hair and a yellow nose. Lily and Quinn still hadn’t stopped shrieking (at this point they were scaring off the owls). Mary and Edith gleefully waged paint-war against Remus and I resulting in all of us splattered with blue, violet and pink and orange.
I looked at the professors, some seemed angry (Cough.McGonagall.Cough), others annoyed, some trying to hide their amusement. In the middle of it though was Dumbedore, smiling serenely as if he was watching the Royal Ballet, decorated with a bright purple beard.
Remus put his arm around me and pulled me towards him.
“Peter and I thought we should take credit for the chaos!” said Remus loudly over the commotion.
“UN-BELIVEABLE!” yelled Lily Evan’s exasperated voice. I turned to her sharply and noticed she was staring at the house banners that hung around the Great Hall. I looked up to find them all unrecognizably splashed with every colour of paint under the sun. But amid the paint a clear sign stood out on each of the banners: a large purple ‘M’ inscribed in a circle.
I smiled at it and then turned to find Lily glaring murderously at me. Really, that only made me grin more.
“Like it?” asked Peter.
“Love it!” Sirius and I said together.
Of course the entire school will hate us today, but they’ll appreciate the joke tomorrow, especially when the staff show up to class with paint stains that proved difficult to get rid of.
Finally McGonagall took matters into her own hands and vanished the remaining eggs falling out of the sky and proceeded to save the new gormless DADA professor from two terrorizing owls. Then we were all given a lecture of improper conduct and dismissed.
I trudged up the stairs to Gryffindor Tower behind Sirius and Peter while the girls walked beside us. Edith was walking beside me, both of us joking and laughing about Andrew West and Florence Abigail who broke up over an argument about who looked worst covered in paint. Lily suddenly stepped forward and pushed Edith aside.
“It was you wasn’t it?” Lily asked accusingly of me.
“I am a lot of things Evans, you must be specific.” I replied with a grin trying not to laugh at her head-to-toe paintjob in muggle traffic light colours.
Her green eyes flashed angrily on her literally red face. I grinned wider.
“The paint, you imbecile. It was you wasn’t it?”
“Why would you assume that?” I asked innocently. Sirius laughed and I elbowed him in the ribs.
“‘M’? That’s you lot isn’t it?”
“It could be Moriarty!” I said mysteriously. More laughs from the crowd.
“Please! You think it impresses me that you know Sherlock Holmes? Frankly you should be shot if you didn’t!”
“I don’t know it!” piped Peter. Remus shook his head dismally.
Lily didn’t even spare him a look as she continued to stare daggers at me.
“And yes, it was us. Obviously, ‘cos we’re the Marauders!” Peter announced cheerfully.
I closed my eyes, giving up.
“Peter, remember what we talked about?” Remus asked quietly.
“The so called ‘Marauders’?” Quinn spoke up for the first time, “Honestly, what does that even mean?”
“To pillage and plunder, milady” Peter said boastfully.
“Peter!” Sirius, Remus and I said sharply.
“Sorry! I can’t control it!” Peter apologised shrinking to make himself appear smaller.
“What are you, pirates?” Lily snapped pushing her paint-congealed hair out of her eyes. I could tell she was angry and looking for a fight.
It would be easy. I rarely let it go when we had an argument. That was just me, it took very little to rattle me. Lily and I frequently fought about something or the other.
She was just a hair away from it now. She’d blame me… the anger and the spite will help her push away the doubt I can see in her eyes.
Whatever she is feeling about me right now, whether its confusion or maybe hesitation… she will use this to convince herself she made a mistake.
She will use this fight to push me away.
I watched her bright unblinking eyes staring straight at me.
I’m not going to make it that easy for you, Lily. Not this time.
“It was a joke, ok?” I said in a quiet voice. Edith, Quinn and Mary looked to Lily for a reaction.
Her fists balled up ball up angrily.
“Everything is a joke with you!” she yelled her green eyes on fire. We had stopped a few steps below the Common room entrance with a crowd forming in front of the portrait hole.
“Do you see this?” she held up a fistful of her multi-coloured hair. “Do you know how long it will take to get all of this rubbish out of my hair?”
I rolled my eyes. Hate it when she’s such a buzz-kill.
I sighed loudly and pulled a small bottle filled with dark green liquid out of my pocket.
“Here,” I tossed it to her and she caught it by reflex. “A few drops will take care of it”.
“Oh sure! I’m supposed to trust the guy who just made me look like an ice cream cone. You’d love it if I went bald wouldn’t you, Potter?”
Like I said, she was still looking for a fight.
“Yeah, it’s what I dream about at night!” I said sarcastically. Sirius chortled next to me.
“That’s not all he dreams ab- OW!” he clutched his side painfully mid-sentence as I elbowed him hard in the ribs again.
“Look,” I said solemnly turning back to Lily, “Use it, don’t use it, do whatever you want. I mean, my opinions are pretty much non-existent in your mind right?”
Well, so much for not letting her get to me.
Her jaw dropped open and her eyes widened. I knew right then I’d crossed the line so I bit down on my tongue to stop myself from saying anything else.
She opened her mouth to say something but then decided against it.
“What’s the bloody hold-up?” She barked instead at the people crowding around the portrait hole.
“No one knows the password!” some yelled down the stairs.
“GINGERROOT!” Lily and Remus yelled back.
BLOODY POTTER. I should have known.
You should have known Lily.
How dare he bring that up again!
‘You’ve convinced me. I believe you’
Please. Urrgh! I cannot believe I fell for that fake sincerity. How pathetic!
I was the last to go to the bathroom. Once everyone else had used Potter’s potion (Edith bravely being the first) and gotten rid of the paint with seemingly no immediate side-effects I decided to follow and use the remaining bit of potion and clean myself of the thick layers of paint sticking to my hair.
Besides if there were any unattractive side effects by morning I’d have an excuse to kill James Potter. Win-Win.
I opened the shower and let the steaming hot water wet my hair. The caustic smell of the paint was nauseating but I was suddenly distracted by the rainbow coloured river flowing over my toes into the drain. The colours merged together creating new ones.
Ok, alright! So maybe the prank was slightly amusing. Still! This is just torture. The paint clung to my hair making thick matted locks out of it.
I finally stepped onto the carpet and picked up the potion Potter had given me earlier. There were only a few drops of liquid left at the bottom. I opened the bottle and smelled it suspiciously. It smelled like cough syrup,or at least that was the first thing that came to mind. I emptied it onto my palm then ran it into my hair with my fingertips. Suddenly I felt a warmth in my hair. I slid my hands through my hair detangling it and I could feel the paint slide off my hair as if it had no hold on it.
Five minutes later I stepped out of the shower with silky smooth hair and a grudging admiration for the Marauders’ invention. I wished my stupid D.I.Y charms book had taught me something similar.
When I came into the room everyone else was sleeping with the lamps turned off. I dumped my wet towel into the laundry basket and pulled on a pair of flannel pyjamas. My hair was still damp and I knew I’d get a cold if I left it like that. I would have dried it with my wand but I usually save that for emergencies since it makes my hair puff up with static.
There was a door next to the bathroom that led to a common corridor we shared with the boys’ dormitories. There were only two things at the centre of the corridor: A linen cabinet and a first-aid box.
I pressed my hand against the door and it opened immediately. The door had no handles or doorknobs so I suspected it just opened by touch, probably another way to keep unwanted visitors away from the girls’ dorms. The narrow corridor was lined on one side by three windows that looked out to the night, on the other side was a long stone balustrade overlooking the common room.
I walked over to the linen cabinet midway along the corridor immediately wishing I’d worn my bed slippers as my toes began to freeze against the cold stone. The fresh towels were stacked at the bottom of the linen closet. I carefully pulled one out of the stack and straightened up.
“Ow!” I exclaimed as I nearly cracked my head open against the top edge of the cabinet. Dazed I stumbled back and hit something.
“Careful,” A quiet voice said in my ear as a pair of hands caught me and steadied me. I gulped suddenly.
“You know we really should stop meeting like this,” his mouth was close to my ear. Too close. I could feel his breath in my hair. My skin tingled where his arms brushed against mine. It caught me by surprise.
All I could think about was that stupid dream I’d had a million hours ago. His voice was frighteningly similar to the murmur I remembered from the dream.
My stillness seemed to worry him.
“Are you ok?” James asked me again with that quiet whisper of a voice that I’d never actually heard him use before (except in that stupid dream).
I shrugged away from him quickly. I didn’t like his disregard for my personal space and certainly didn’t like my weird response to him being so close.
“Yeah, fine!” I said clenching my jaw.
James let his hands fall to his sides. “Sorry,” he said.
My eyes snapped up to his noticing his voice had changed. His eyes were hard as I looked at him. He seemed annoyed and looked like he wanted to say something mean but was holding it back. He finally shook his head and opened the linen closet again pulling out two towels for himself.
I sighed loudly. He ignored me.
“Look, umm… I’m sorry. It’s been a long day. Thanks for catching me.” I said shortly. I was too flustered for sincere politeness.
“Whatever,” he replied still searching the cupboard. I couldn’t make out his expression hidden behind the open door of the closet.
Walk away Lily, walk away.
My conscience knows me well. I was now feeling bad and dangerously close to saying something stupid.
“Thanks for the potion too. It worked!”
“Hallelujah,” James replied flatly.
That was it. Despite my head screaming at me to walk away, I did the exact opposite. I walked up to him with a determined stride, pushed my hand firmly against the cupboard door closing it. James turned to me slowly and raised an eyebrow.
I was angry and nervous and regretful. And I could see him reading all of it in my eyes.
“Look, I’ve apologised twice. Sincerely. I am not doing it again. I’m done making a fool of myself.” I said firmly and whipped around.
“Wait…” James said quickly his roughness melting away instantly, “I’m sorry…”
I knew he was apologising for his earlier dig. I turned back to him. Something about him, the way he looked at me told me I should accept it. Against my better judgement I chose to believe he was truly sorry this time.
I nodded. “Yes, I should hope so. That was low, even for you!”
He looked back at me and his eyes were bright hazel. My stomach flipped over as I was dragged back to that profaned dream once more. I expected him to say it would never happen again but he just stood there, staring at me with those eyes.
“Well?” I prompted.
His eyebrow arched questioningly, “What?”
“Aren’t you going to say anything?”
“Errr… you smell fantastic!”
My jaw dropped open. Dear sweet Merlin!
A/N and that's a wrap on Chapter 5. Hope you like
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