Chapter VII - Snuffles
I stared at my empty plate, contemplating what exactly counted as a healthy breakfast. Eggs were the first things that came to mind.
I reached for them, staring down the pancakes the whole time I was ladling them onto my plate. Why did they put pancakes next to the eggs? My life would be so much simpler if the table was split into sections according to food groups. That way I would be well out of the pancake’s temptation.
“Woah. What did the pile of gluten and buttery goodness ever do to you?” Mel asked as she slid into the seat opposite me.
“Existed,” I scowled at her before pausing, peering at her suspiciously. “What?”
“Should I be saying congratulations to the happy couple?”
I’d forgotten that today marked nine months with Henry. It now made more sense, him grinning at me like a fool, spinning me around in the air and asking if I’d go to Hogsmede with him when I’d seen him yesterday.
I poked my tongue out at Mel in a very ladylike manner as the mail arrived, the owl’s soaring in through the open windows, dropping parcels and letters over the tables of students. Wren glided down towards me, landing on the edge of my plate and folding in her wings, almost knocking my coffee over as she did so.
She took one look at my eggs and turned her break up, far more interested in the pancake Melody had just placed on her plate. Of course the Chaser had no problem with the bird eating her breakfast. Mel was the reason I never met Wren’s standards after all, and I swear it would be entirely her fault if Wren ever got too fat to carry letters, which looked more and more likely with every half plate of food Melody let her choose from.
I untied the letter from the bird’s leg, saw my mother’s handwriting and threw the envelope in my bag for later.
“Where are Alice and Rae?” I asked, pushing the plate away from me, Wren still perched on the side, now helping herself to Mel’s pumpkin juice (she’d never been one for my coffee.)
“Frank caught up with Al in the common room, asking if she wanted to meet up sometime today and go over some essay they have due. I have no idea. All I know is that we’ll probably find them in some corner of the Three Broomsticks with Herbology textbooks as an excuse for sitting so close to each other.” She rolled her eyes before scratching the back of Wren’s neck.
I chuckled. “Right, and Reyna?”
“Dunno. She said she’d be down soon. I think she wanted to fix the hole in that cardigan of hers; it’s cold out today.”
I agreed as I peered at the ceiling. There were no clouds and the sun was weak. Cool air was making its way in through the open windows. Autumn was in full force now, and I smiled to myself at the thought of the reds and golds, oranges and yellows of the falling Scottish leaves.
Reyna eventually joined us, indeed without a hole in her cardigan, and we made our way towards the line that had formed in the entrance hall where Filch was checking over students and confiscating items before he let them leave.
“You’d think he’d be more worried about us brining stuff into the castle, as opposed to taking it out,” I muttered as the line slowly progressed, Mrs. Norris sitting off to the side, watching the proceedings.
“Right, because when has Filch ever made any sense?” Reyna gave me a pointed look, wrapping her grey cardigan tighter around her.
I grumbled in response, watching Leah Crawford being given the all clear at the front of the line and hurrying to join Rebecca Simmons and Mary Macdonald. The short brunette saw me and waved, and the three of us waved back at Mary as Rebecca and Leah smiled before turning to go.
Fifteen minutes and a confiscated quill later – seriously, what trouble did he think I was going to get up to with that? – we were given the okay, and made our way out onto the grounds, wandering along with the long, scattered line of students heading towards the gates.
Crisp and cool, the air whipped around us while the mid-morning sun attempted to warm the day. The Whomping Willow was trying to shake off all of its leaves with a few of the green ones still strong enough to hold on. I let my eyes roam the grounds, taking in the effects of autumn while we continued down the gravel path, stones crunching underfoot. Red caught my eye as I glanced at the lake, and I paused, peering at it.
“Watch it,” a Ravenclaw snapped as they ducked around me, muttering to their friends.
Mel pulled a face at them as they passed while Rae tapped me on the shoulder. “You alright? What’s up?”
“Nothing,” I answered quickly, starting at her touch. “I just forgot something.”
She raised an eyebrow as she shifted her weight, and I felt as though I was being scrutinized, as though she didn’t believe me. Which was probably fair, as I hadn’t forgotten anything at all.
“Want us to wait for you?” Mel spat her blonde hair out of her mouth as she fought with the wind.
“Nah, I’m alright. I’ll catch up with you later,” I called over my shoulder, already pushing against the flow of students slowly trickling out of the castle, away from the two of them.
I’d made it about twenty meters before glancing over my shoulder to see that they’d been swept up with the crowd and were no longer in sight, before abruptly changing direction, leaving the path of the multitude of students and heading down towards the lake instead. I hadn’t realised how bitter the wind actually was until now, the body heat of the masses long gone. Leaves crunched under my feet as I made my way across the grass, coming to halt beside a tree.
“Want some company? Or are you alright?” I smiled as Lily started, whipping her head around to look up at me. She’d been so lost in thought she hadn’t heard me coming.
“No, no! Sit down. I’m happy to have company.” She smiled back up at me, but it didn’t reach her eyes. The slight movement of her hand caught my attention as I saw her tuck a piece of parchment into the pocket of her jacket.
I slid down the tree, settling myself on the dew-covered grass next to her, both of us staring out across the lake. Her black jacket made a striking contrast to her red hair and I sat there in silence, envying it slightly.
We didn’t say anything for a while, both of us just sitting there, watching the lake and the grounds. I knew if she wanted to talk about it, she would in her own time, and if she didn’t, I didn’t mind. I just wanted her to know that I was there if she ever changed her mind.
She shifted where she sat, re-crossing her legs the other way and leaning her head up against the tree, closing her eyes. “My sister’s getting married, you know? Tuney’s engaged… to Vernon.” She pulled a face; her nose scrunched up as though there was a bad smell associated with the name.
I didn’t know her sister; hell, I hadn’t even known Lily very long, and I had no idea how to reply to that. So I just stayed quiet, waiting for her to continue.
“It has nothing to do with me. She can marry whoever she wants, you know? I just - It’s Vernon Dursley for crying out loud! She can do so much better than him and it kills me that she doesn’t see it.” The Head Girl opened her eyes, staring at her hands while I continued to sit there, not saying anything. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the piece of parchment she’d had with her before. She opened it once as if to read it, before deciding better of it and re-folding it again.
“You and - Tuney? - get along well?” I asked.
“Petunia. And yes. Well… no. Probably not. But we did, and sometimes still do, and –“ Lily paused, sighing. “We’re sisters.”
It was as if those words explained everything, the fights, the disagreements, the support, the disapproval, and the undying love that they’d never admit too. I didn’t have a sister. I didn’t have any siblings, but I did have Mel. And Alice. And Rae. And we fought, and bickered, and argued, pinched each other, borrowed each other’s stuff without asking and never remembering to return it… We were sisters in a way, and if I tried and thought about Alice marrying anyone other than Frank, someone who loved her and was worthy of her and made her happy, I wrinkled my nose too.
But that was unfair.
I didn’t know Petunia, or Vernon, and for all I knew, he could make her happy, and love her and be worthy. But I did know Lily, and I trusted Lily, along with her judgment of character, and had a feeling that Vernon was none of those things at all. The idea that Petunia, someone I didn’t even know, could possibly be selling herself short, made me feel very small in the world. And rather sad.
It must have shown on my face too, because Lily asked, “Are you okay? I’m rambling, aren’t I? I should be quiet. You don’t really want to hear about my sister’s engagement, do you? No, of course not. Sorry.”
“Lily, don’t be stupid. I’m more than happy to listen to you discussing what colour to paint your toenails if it would make you happy. I’m here for when you need someone to listen, and when you need to talk. We’re friends, right? That’s what friends do.” I gave her my best encouraging face, and she chuckled half-heartedly.
“Thank you. But if I ever do start discussing my nail polish at length, you have permission to hit me. Just make sure that I don’t paint them green first.”
I nodded solemnly before letting my expression break into a grin. “Why not green?” I asked out of curiosity, as she beamed back at me.
“Because I’d look like Christmas.” She gestured to her hair, and I snorted in an attempt to hide my laughter. She rolled her eyes, but didn’t seem to have the same sadness there as before.
“There isn’t much you can do, no matter who she marries. I think the thing she’d want the most is your support,” I said thoughtfully, wondering how I’d feel in the same situation. She nodded thoughtfully before rubbing her hands over her face.
“You’re right, you know? I owe her that, no matter what I think about Vernon. It’s just hard. We haven’t talked properly in years. We’ve tried, but we just don’t live in the same world anymore. The closest thing we’ve had to a decent chat is when she asked about Snape, and I said we weren’t friends anymore. She was pleased about that, said that I wasn’t as happy when I was around him, that I was worried about him, and that’s why I stuck with him for so long. Maybe she’s right. I don’t know. He and I aren’t friends anymore, and that’s all that matters. He’s been a right sod too, lately.”
“Really?” I asked, curious after what Marlene Spencer had said the other day in the Library.
“Yeah.” She nodded eagerly. “Cornered me after Potions the other day, and he kept going on and on about how sorry he was, about how I should forgive him so we could go back to being friends.” My eyebrows shot up at her words, but she continued without me interrupting. “I told him I shouldn’t have to do anything, let alone forgive him, that he was the one who insulted me while I was trying to stand up for him. Why he thinks he can be friends with me and those Slytherins who are rolling in dark magic and all for supporting You-Know-Who, I have no idea.”
I shook my head slightly as she spoke, my disbelief growing more and more. “He really said all that? Just expected you forgive him? Even though he supports He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? The same guy that wants everyone dead? He’s mad! Surely he knows he can’t have it both ways…” I stared at her, waiting for her to tell me she was joking and that Snivellus had done no such thing.
“Expected? Not likely. He practically demanded it.” Lily shook her head in exasperation before her face took on a more thoughtful look. She sighed. “We had a fight actually. Ages back. When we were still friends. – so what? Fifth year? – Yeah, he was trying to get me to go to some meeting he and his friends were having. It was all about the Dark Arts and You-Know-Who. I said he had to stop the obsession, or our friendship would be ending pretty quickly, and he dropped the subject, but I knew he still wasn’t pleased with me. I didn’t really care, but after he called me… well, yeah. After he called me that
, I’d had it. I was over his mood swings and snide remarks about Tuney, his obsession with dark magic and those creepy friends of his that had no problems hexing me in the hallways because I’m muggleborn.”
I stared at Lily Evans as she spoke, her eyes focused on the lake while she shifted through her memories. An overwhelming feeling of awe filled my chest as I realised what she’d gone through for years without anyone knowing. Why she was telling me now, I hadn’t a clue, but I was flattered that she’d consider me a close enough friend to do so. She continued talking about Severus Snape for a while, to the point where it was closer to midday than midmorning, and I sat there, occasionally making comments when she paused, but mainly in silence, just listening as she released all the feelings she’d been harboring for who knows how long.
“And yeah, that’s when Potter appeared in the doorway and Snape ran off without another word. It was almost funny actually, how terrified he was of James at that moment. Though it must be said, James looked furious with him for even attempting to talk to me, let alone cornering me after Potions. But Snape left and he walked me back up to the common room before excusing himself. It was… nice, actually.” She murmured the last part to herself and I tried to hide the smile that had appeared when she’d referred to him as James.
Lily sat there with her lips pursed and I had a feeling she’d forgotten I was there, but she eventually turned her head towards me, a soft smile on her face and her bright eyes glowing with an emotion I didn’t recognise. It wasn’t there long, however, as she exclaimed “Godric!
” looking at something over my shoulder.
I spun around to find a large black shape incredibly close to my face and jumped backwards slightly before I realised what it was.
“What are you doing here, boy?” I laughed as the dog wagged its tail, walking over to position its self between Lily and I.
It was huge, with shaggy black fur and bright eyes that looked like they were laughing. Could dogs even laugh? I had no idea.
“What are you doing on the grounds?” Lily began to coo at the animal, scratching him behind his ears. Its tail thumped against the ground appreciatively. “How much do you want to bet he’s from Hogsmeade?”
“Evans! Have you seen – Oh. You found him.”
James Potter came around the tree, smiling at the redhead, while she continued to scratch the dog. Peter and Remus quickly appeared as well, looking like they weren’t worried about the dog at all, and that they’d rather be somewhere else.
“Steal someone’s dog, Potter?” Lily raised an eyebrow at him as she rose to her feet. The dog whined when she stopped scratching him, and I reached over and rubbed down his back. His tail quickly began thumping happily again.
James held his hand to his chest, pretending to be wounded by Lily’s words, but his eyes were dancing and giving him away. “Evans! I’m shocked that you’d say such a thing! As a matter of fact, we found him in the village and thought the manky old thing could do with a proper feeding. And a bath too…” He added, with a warning growl in reply, but it didn’t seem to faze him, opting to laugh instead.
“You homeless, boy?” I asked, still scratching him. He turned to look at me, his large eyes curious. “Has he got a name?” I turned towards Potter.
“Yeah. Padf-“ But Remus cut him off.
“Not that we can tell.” He gave James a pointed look as he wrapped his arms around him, cold in his thin sweater.
“Right. He’s nameless and homeless and dirty, aren’t you, mate?” James laughed again as the dog grunted at him.
“I don’t think he likes you much, Potter.” Lily sat back down, chuckling. “What shall we name him, Keir? Every puppy needs a name, even this one,” she cooed.
He rolled over onto his back and let us scratch at his stomach, obviously enjoying himself.
“How about Elvendork?” James suggested.
“You’ve got to get over that name, James.” Peter laughed while Remus gave the Quidditch player a hopeless look.
“What? It is unisex! You can’t deny it!” the Head Boy replied, throwing his hands up in exasperation at Peter’s comment, but you could still see the smirk on his face.
The dog just stared upside down at James from where he was lying before snorting in disapproval.
“Snuffles.” I laughed. “Let’s call him Snuffles.”
Lily giggled, nodding in agreement, while the giant animal continued to lie there on the grass, more than happy to be the centre of our attention.
“So, Snuffles,” I addressed the dog, and its head lolled towards me, “have you got a home?” It barked happily for a moment, before rolling to its feet and setting off across the grounds.
“Hold up!” James called as he looked between Lily and the mutt, clearly torn. The Head Girl laughed at him while climbing to her feet.
“Come on. Let’s go find him. He can’t go wandering around the grounds by himself,” she said, starting off after Snuffles, who was trying to catch the falling leaves in his mouth. “Filch will skin him alive if he tries to get inside the castle.”
I saw the three boys walk slightly faster at that.
“Oh, Potter, he’s adorable.” I heard Lily laugh as she began to jog ahead, quickly gaining ground on Snuffles.
James joined her of course, while all Remus had to do was quicken his pace slightly and his long legs kept him not far behind them. I held back, smiling at the scene of Snuffles jumping in the air, the swirl of orange and red leaves on the breeze and Lily’s laughter as James tried to run backwards before the dog tripped him up, dashing out of James’ reach before he could grab him.
“You alright there, Nyx?”
I tore my eyes away from the scene and found Peter waiting for me.
“Oh! Yeah, I’m good. Thanks.” I laughed as I made my way over to him, where he nodded before turning back to watch his friends.
“Is it weird,” I asked after a moment, “knowing that this time next year, you all won’t be here?”
He seemed surprised that I was talking to him, but quickly answered, a smile on his face. “Yeah, a bit. Don’t know what I want to do, you see. Makes the idea of leaving all the more daunting. I don’t think I want to get messed up in the war, unlike the rest of them.” He gestured to his friends, where James had just tackled Remus into a pile of leaves, Snuffles running around the two brawling men, yapping and barking in glee. “But you just can’t guess, I suppose. Everything changes so quickly these days, you know? Besides, I can’t say I don’t mind always being around the birds here at Hogwarts. Some of those Hufflepuffs are rather fine.”
I chuckled, looking back at his friends before I remembered something was missing from the picture. “Pettigrew –“ I began before he cut me off.
“Peter. Or Pete,” he added as an afterthought.
“Right. Peter, where’s Sirius?” I asked, peering at him out of the corner of my eye.
He opened his mouth to reply before the question sunk in, leaving him slightly pale and hesitant, but he quickly replied. “Uh, kitchens. We sent him ahead to get food for Snuffles. He has a soft spot for dogs, you know?” He nodded earnestly.
“What time is it?” I asked, watching as the dog rubbed its self on Lily’s legs, earning it a deep scowl from James while the Head Girl wasn’t looking.
That got my attention.
“Half-past eleven?” I asked cautiously, a slight panic forming in my stomach.
“Damnit!” I swore, thanking him before sprinting back up towards the path.
Snuffles was beside me in an instant, running along, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth as he raced against the breeze.
“No, boy. Lily wants you,” I lied. “Go on. Shoo!” I stopped abruptly as the dog cut in front of me. Aware of how late I was, I bent down and scratched him behind the ears quickly before trying to send him back to the others. I made to lean forward and run my hand down his back, but of course the damned dog decided to nuzzle into my chest instead.
“Woah – No, you don’t!” I pulled back quickly, and he tried to bring himself forward to do it again. I quickly stood up, taking my chest with me. “Nuh uh. Not you, dog.”
He whined once before quickly losing interest in me and running back to where Peter had joined in James and Remus’ sprawl. I waved back at Lily who called that she’d see me later, before starting my sprint back along the path, my mind on Snuffles.
Before I entered the Three Broomsticks, I’d decided I’d be wearing higher neck tee shirts to Hogsmede from now on.
“Have any of you seen Henry?” I panted as I weaved my way between tables to the booth everyone was sitting in.
“Hey! There you are!” Mel cried, looking up from her conversation with Caradoc and Benjy. “We haven’t seen you for hours; where’ve you been?”
“I lost track of time. Have you seen Henry?” I repeated, slightly more urgently than before, looking around the Three Broomsticks in case he was hiding in a corner somewhere.
“Nope. Sorry, Nyx. Haven’t seen the bloke.” Caradoc shrugged while Benjy just shook his head.
“I’ll help you look for him if you want?” piped up Reyna before mouthing ‘I can’t stand their Quidditch talk anyway.’
“Really? Thanks. I’m so late as it is. I feel terrible for keeping him this long. We said we’d meet outside Zonko’s, but he wasn’t there when I passed it. I think he’s gone looking for me or something.” I was fidgeting now, anxious to move.
“Come on then. Let’s try up near Dervish and Banges,” she said as she weaved her way through the tables far more gracefully than I had. Deciding it was pointless to interrupt the conversation of Quidditch that had quickly picked up again, I left without saying goodbye to the others. I figured I’d see them later anyway.
“Dear Merlin. It’s nippy today, isn’t it?” Rae paused in the doorway, pulling on her cardigan. “I should have brought my coat.”
“Mmm,” I agreed as I pulled her along behind me, making my way up the main street.
My boots crunched on the autumn leaves while I squinted slightly, trying to shield my eyes from the wind.
“Reckon he’s in Honeydukes?” Reyna asked, eyeing the store longingly as we passed.
“I don’t think so. He’s not one for sugary things.”
“Yeah, but he’s probably with Anthony, and he has a real sweet tooth,” she reminded me.
I paused, turning to look at the store. She was right, and hell, even if he wasn’t in there, it gave me an opportunity to grab the crystallised pineapple I needed to bribe Slughorn with.
Rae took my hesitation as a yes and grabbed the opportunity to haul me into the store. “If they’re here, they’ll probably be over by the Peppermint Toads.”
The store was packed as usual, and the Halloween sweets were already starting to litter the shelves. Wizarding world or not, all retailers were the same these days. We shuffled through the crowd, towards the other side of the shop, the sound of people calling to their friends to ‘come check this stuff out!’ filling my ears.
“I don’t think he’s here,” I said, craning my neck to try and see over the group of Hufflepuffs standing in front of me.
Reyna frowned as she looked around, her height an advantage in the crowd. “Yeah, I can’t see him anywhere. Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry about it. It was worth a shot, but if you’re happy to wait a second, I just want to grab some crystallised pineapple while we’re here. I think it’s up the back.”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll wait by the door; I can barely breath in here.” She scowled as a fifth year pushed past her.
I chuckled. “I’ll only be a minute.”
Following the path left by the fifth year, I made my way quickly towards the back of the store.
“Crystallised pineapple, crystallised pineapple,” I murmured under my breath as I searched the shelves. “Jelly Slugs, Ice Mice, Treacle Fudge, no. Crystallised – AGH!”
“I thought I might find you here.” A voice chuckled in my ear as strong arms encircled my waist.
“I couldn’t find you! I was late and when I got there you weren’t, and I went looking for you, and Rae thought you might be here with Andy and then you weren’t, but I thought – “ Henry cut off my ramble of a sentence with a kiss.
“Don’t worry about it. Anthony spotted Reyna by the door.” He smirked a little and I buried my face in his chest.
“Did he just?” I chuckled.
“Mhmm. He’s standing out the front chatting to her now; I left them to come and find you.”
“She thought you might be in here with him. Somehow she knows he has a weakness for Peppermint Toads.” I pulled away from his chest to give him a knowing look.
“We’ll get them there. It may take us a while, but he’ll eventually see sense.” He smiled down at me for a moment before kissing my forehead lightly. “You know, you smell faintly of dog…”
I choked on a laugh and it came out as a snort instead. “Yeah. That’s a long story.”
“I’ve got nothing but time.” He kissed me again, and I worked my arms up and around his neck, fisting my hands in his hair.
“Urgh. Get a room, the both of you,” a Slytherin sneered as they reached around us to grab a box of Jelly Slugs. “No one wants to see that.”
I pulled away quickly, my face on fire and eyes wide. Henry laughed it off, but I still took the long route between the shelves to avoid the fifth year.
As soon as we were out the door, Anthony spotted us.
“Nyx! There you are!”
He made his way over towards us, the wind pushing his hair into his eyes, while an easy grin covered his face. Rae followed him, pointedly ignoring the look I was giving her.
“We were looking for you everywhere.” Anthony reached out to ruffle my hair. I ducked, scowling at him. Henry laughed as he pulled me towards him, away from Anthony, before kissing my forehead.
“Not wanting to interrupt, but can we move? It’s a bit chilly to be standing around like this,” Reyna asked, her hair swirling around her face in the wind.
“Yeah, moving sounds like a good idea,” I said.
Henry placed his arm around me, letting his coat block some of the wind. “Where to then?”
“Three Broomsticks? I could go for a Butterbeer.” Anthony shrugged before turning to Reyna. “What about you? These two will probably ditch us at some point soon anyway.”
“Butterbeer sounds great.” She smiled, her cheeks even pinker than before. Either Anthony didn’t notice, or he chose not to comment. If it was the latter, I silently thanked him; if it was the former, I wondered how in Circe’s name he could be so blind.
The two fell into step beside each other, neither wanting to walk with Henry and I, which was quite fine by us.
“I missed you at breakfast this morning,” Henry murmured, pulling me closer to him as we made our way back to the popular pub.
“I got up pretty late. Most people were already in the line by the time I joined it with the girls. But you said we were meeting at twelve, so I didn’t think it mattered.” I twisted my neck around to look up at him and was rewarded as he kissed my nose before pulling away with a smirk, nodding towards Anthony and Rae just ahead.
“Reckon this’ll be the year?”
“It sort of has to be, doesn’t it? You’ll be gone next year.” I frowned slightly at the thought. What on earth was I supposed to do next year? I’d have the girls, sure, but it wouldn’t be quite the same with just them.
“I won’t be far away, you know that.” Henry nudged my hip with his own, sending me stumbling off to my left. He chuckled at me as I poked my tongue out at him. “I’ll always be around.”
Anthony’s loud laughter distracted me from a reply. Rae’s face was red, although due to the wind or being in such close contact with the Beater, I wasn’t sure. She was trying to illustrate something with her hands, and the Ravenclaw laughed again. I smiled, watching the two, as I made my way back to Henry’s side, settling into my spot under his arm.
“I think this will be the year,” I murmured as Reyna Wilkins threw her head back with glee at Anthony King’s reply.
“Good. It’s about time,” Henry replied from somewhere high above. I could hear approval in his voice.
The Three Broomsticks was far busier now than it had been before, but I welcomed the extra body heat as the door closed behind us. You couldn’t even see the booth Mel had been sitting in before through the crowd of students, their loud chatter filling the pub and almost drowning out the record player Madam Rosmerta had playing behind the bar.
“Can you see anything up there?” I asked Henry, who chuckled as he and Anthony scanned over the top of the crowd.
“Maybe. Come on,” he said as he began to guide me through the different groups of people, everyone parting for the popular Ravenclaw while I was pulled along behind. We were stopped once or twice with people wanting to talk to either of the two boys, but we still made decent progress through the throng.
I finally spotted our destination, a booth right in the back corner. The light above it had gone out, leaving it over looked by others. Anthony tapped it with his wand as the rest of us sat down. It quickly flared white, before settling into a happy orange glow.
“Sorry for crashing your date.” Reyna looked back and forward between Henry and I, and Anthony who smirked in agreement.
“Mmm, sorry Hen-hen – Oi!” I heard a thud as Henry’s foot collided with Anthony’s shin under the table.
“Cut the nickname,” he grunted, although I knew he didn’t hate it as much as he made out too.
“Right,” Anthony scowled, “drinks?”
“Please.” I nodded with a grin.
“Alright then. Butterbeers all round,” the Beater said as he got out of his chair and began battling his way through the crowd again.
“But seriously, sorry for crashing in on your date,” Reyna said again, frowning slightly. “It’s your nine months and everything, too.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ve still got this afternoon. Besides, if it meant you got some time with Anthony…” Henry trailed off, laughing at the look of sheer horror on Rae’s face.
I elbowed my boyfriend for the jibe. “Seriously, Reyna, it isn’t that obvious. Don’t worry. But Henry is right. The more time you spend with him…” I shrugged, letting it hang in the air.
“I should just give up. Seriously, it’s been forever and there are so many other blokes at Hogwarts. Why’d I have to like the one that doesn’t like me back?” Her dark hair fell over her face as she buried her face in her hands.
“Because even though he’s damned blind about it, you’re perfect for him, and he’s perfect for you too, now that I think about it. You loosen up a bit when you’re around him,” I said, placing my finger under her chin so she’d look up again.
“Keir’s right. Besides, Anthony will realise soon enough. He talks about you more and more. I don't even think he realises he does it,” Henry added with a shrug.
“Really?” Reyna asked, looking skeptical.
“Yeah, course. I’m not going to lie to you about something like that.”
I gave her my best encouraging smile, but Anthony appeared before she could say anything else.
“Four Butterbeers,” he said, placing them on the table and divvying them out between us all.
“Cheers.” I laughed as I lifted the foaming tankard to my lips, relaxing as I felt it run down my throat and the heat settle in my stomach. Sighing, I leaned back into Henry, feeling him kiss my hair. I smiled slightly as I closed my eyes, content with the moment.
The tavern was warm, the conversations of students filled the space and I could faintly smell the sticky sweet smell of the Butterbeer in front of me. If I listened closely, I could make out the conversation about Zonko’s new products that was happening at the table nearby, or the debate over who would win the first Quidditch game of the season from the booth behind me. Rosmerta’s voice occasionally cut through the crowd as she called orders, and if you strained your ears, you could hear the sound of the Weird Sisters playing.
“Yeah, fine.” I stated as Henry whispered in my ear, bringing me back to the conversation. I smiled, ignoring Anthony’s animated reply to something Reyna had just said.
“Want to get out of here?” I could feel his breath on my neck and momentarily forgot that he’d asked me a question.
I slid out of my seat, Henry right behind me, and we’d made it a fair distance into the crowd when I heard Anthony call after us, although his exact words were lost in the growing sound of singing, as Madam Rosmerta flicked the music to Frankie and The Hippogriffs.
I reached for the door, but it opened of its own accord before James Potter stepped into the Three Broomsticks, blocking my way.
“Oh! Sorry there, Nyx.” He smiled good-naturedly, making to stand aside. Until he saw Henry, that was. “Watts.” Potter’s face was expressionless now, although one could argue the laughter behind his glasses was mocking.
“Potter.” Henry nodded, equally expressionless.
“Prongs, bloody get out of the doorway, will you – “ Sirius Black paused at the sight of the Ravenclaw Seeker. “Watts.” He nodded, his face now as blank as James’ and Henry’s. Then he saw me, and a smirk lit up his face.
I think I was missing something, with the way he looked back and forward between Henry and I, as if he was in on his own private joke. The smirk deepened with a brief glance towards my chest, and Henry’s arm tightened around my waist protectively.
I could see Remus rolling his eyes outside, and Peter was peering around the door, curious as to what exactly was going on.
“Excuse us,” I mumbled, casting my eyes towards the floor and making my way to push past as the two Gryffindors appeared to make no attempt to move.
“Nyx, before I forget!” James placed his hand on my shoulder and I turned to look back up at him. If Henry could, I swore he would have growled. “Training starts next Saturday, yeah? I just put up a notice in the common room, but thought I’d let you know.”
“No problems.” I smiled at him. “Thanks for telling me.”
James chuckled, about to leave, when he saw Henry’s face. “What? She’s my Seeker. Lay off, Watts. I’m not trying to steal her from you.”
“I still don’t like the fact that she’s on your team, Potter,” Henry growled and Sirius snorted in response.
Uh, yeah, hi? Anyone? Still here. There’s no need to talk about me as if I’m not.
“You still haven’t gotten over the fact that Prewett cleaned the Pitch with you during that last game. Madam Hooch confirmed it, Watts. Let it go,” James warned.
Dear Godric, if this is what it was all about, I was going to lose it. Yeah, Prewett and Henry had both caught the Snitch in what I must admit was a magnificent collision; they’d both been with Madam Pompfrey for a month. Prewett had more of his hand on the Snitch however, therefore Gryffindor won.
I thought they’d have let it go by now. It was last season, for Agrippa’s sake. New season, old grudges from the sounds of it. At least that explained why Anthony had been so quick to anger on the train; that had been bugging me, actually.
“Whatever, Potter. Come on, Keir.” And with that we left the rowdy pub, finally clearing the doorway so Remus and Peter could enter. Remus flashed me a brief smile, and I grinned back at him over my shoulder, just managing to catch Sirius still smirking at my retreating figure.
“Where are we headed?” I asked as Henry rubbed circles on my hand with his thumb.
“Just up here,” he said, and you could hear the smile in his voice. “I think there’s a spot that will shelter us from this blasted wind.”
I chuckled as he led me up a hill behind the Quidditch pitch, before making his way back down the other side. I faltered before shrugging and following him. Not yet half way down, he stopped and waited for me to catch up, before pulling me into his lap as he settled himself in the grass. As soon as you got below the height of the top of the hill, you were shielded from the wind and left to absorb the sun’s warmth, uninterrupted.
We sat there quietly for a bit, just the two of us, me in Henry’s lap, both looking out over the Scottish countryside to the mountains beyond.
“What are you thinking about?” the Ravenclaw murmured after a while, tucking a stray piece of hair behind my ear so he could kiss my cheek.
The war? How you weren’t going to be here next year? How I’d ever pass potions and be accepted into Healer training? How would my life be different if I wasn’t a muggleborn? How was Lily going to cope with her sister’s wedding? What did I do to deserve you? Why can’t this tiff between our two Quidditch teams just die like I thought it had?
“Nothing,” I said. “Nothing at all. What about you?”
I shuffled slightly so I could see his face, and he kissed my forehead before saying anything. “You, mostly. I can’t believe it’s been nine months.” His light brown hair fell into his eyes as he shook his head in disbelief. “It doesn’t feel like nine months. Although I’m certainly not complaining,” he said again, turning my chin so he could kiss me properly.
I sighed as his arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me closer, and I tangled my hands in his hair, letting his tongue swirl and fight against my own. I shifted where I sat, desperate to be closer to him, but the movement unbalanced us both, and we went rolling down the hill, still tangled in each other’s arms.
“Urgh,” I grunted as that same elbow hit the ground and Henry’s head landed on my chest.
“You okay? Are you hurt?” He was up on his elbows in an instant to save me from his body weight, and a look of concern covered his face as he looked me over for injuries.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” I chuckled, wincing slightly as I rubbed my elbow. “I think I’m still recovering from the shock, but I’ll be okay.”
“You sure?” He asked, his blue eyes relaxing slightly as I continued to laugh quietly about the whole thing. He leaned down to kiss me again, but I rolled away, giggling. Smirking, he lunged for me and I rolled away again before getting to my feet and beginning to race back across the grounds, Henry right behind me.
Half way around the Greenhouses he tackled me, laughing as I shrieked in shock. Pinned underneath him, I let him kiss me again, and we stayed there as all the warmth of the sun disappeared, just happy to be alone in each other’s company.
Please, please, please don't hate me! I know I said last chapter that the update would be soon, and it was supposed to be (because it was 60% done) but then my laptop broke and I went back to school and I had assignments and exams and more assignments, and I didn't get a chance. Anyway, I'm on holidays again now (yess! Winter break (Southern Hemisphere :P)) and in between my essays and stuff, I'm hoping to get another two chapters written. Anyway, things will move faster from here on and hopefully this chapter was halfway decent.
Remember, reviews are (almost) better than quicker updates.
- Adele. :)