Beautiful CI by Magpie @ TDA!!!
My morning routine has been the same since my first year.
In the ridiculously early hours of the morning, I’m woken up by the sleep-talking jargon of my best friend, Corinna Stebbins. This girl is literally psycho. As in, worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock movie (I’m a Half-Blood, if you can’t tell). But seriously, I wouldn’t be too surprised if she stabbed me in the shower one day.
I’m allowed to say things like this because we’re best friends.
I try for a good while to fall back asleep, but give up. I shower, get dressed, wrestle the knots out of my hair, and coat my eyelashes in Miss Bauble’s famously long-lasting mascara. My eyelashes are naturally pretty long, but I’ve always liked the feeling of putting on makeup, like I’m turning my face into a piece of artwork.
Suddenly, the memory of the huge, snarling werewolf shoots through my mind. The shock and horror causes my hand to slip, producing a long, black smear across my left cheekbone.
“Ah, that’s nice,” says Corinna as she enters the bathroom. “Very avante-guard.”
I can’t help but giggle, and relax a bit. Corinna’s sharp mouth has earned her a sense of notoriety around the castle. Everything I know about sass, I’ve learned from her.
I wash of the mascara smear and continue with my routine, rubbing moisturizer into my cheeks and slipping on my shoes. Then I lie back on my bed and wait for Corinna to get ready for the day. I consider telling Corinna about the events of the previous night, but decide against it for some reason. First of all, she’d be seriously pissed if she found out I was wandering around near the Forbidden Forest in the dead of night. Also, Corinna was on vacation in France last Christmas during the breakup, but she sent me a long letter packed with phrases like “time to move on” and “strong, independent woman.” She’d probably be disappointed if I told her about my slip last night.
But I do feel better, more confident, in the light of day. Screw Sirius Black! He has a stupid nose!
No, he doesn’t. He has the nose of a god. In fact, he has the everything
of a god. And I would know. The first time we shagged was about two weeks before the breakup, and it hurt like bloody hell. Anyway, it’s true what girls say about sex complicating everything. Within days I started to feel insecure and even more jealous than usual, and I think the same thing must have happened to him. We started picking fights with each other over everything. Our arguments got progressively stupider and stupider, and our make-up sessions more and more intense. We were like a hurricane. I don’t even remember what started our last fight – but I remember how quickly it escalated. We both said some pretty terrible things to each other.
I guess you could say I’ve seen a side of Sirius Black that most people will never see. He always seems so cool and relaxed. I’m sure none of the girls in his little fan club could ever imagine how vicious he can be.
Corinna bursts out of the bathroom, announcing with gusto that we’re running late, and sprints out of the dormitory with me at her heels. She’s not even fully dressed – as she run she hops along one foot, stuffing the other into a shoe with an inconspicuous kitten heel (Corinna has a Napoleon complex).
Same as always.
Over breakfast, Corinna tells me happily about her five-star Potions essay. Honestly, I don’t really feel like listening. Corinna’s my best friend, and she always means well, but her brain seems to be wired a little differently from most people’s; It doesn’t seem to register to her that chopped up beetles and pickled slugs might not make the best mealtime conversation.
I glance around the Great Hall, and catch Sirius’ eye for a split second. I look quickly back down at my plate of toast and fruit, blushing. When I look up again, Sirius is deep in conversation with his little gang.
Oh, I seem to have forgotten my manners. Let me introduce you to the Marauders, the four most popular boys in the castle.
James Potter is Gryffindor’s star chaser. This year he’s also been made Gryffindor Quidditch Captain, to the delight of Hogwarts’ female population. He has dark hair that’s intentionally arranged to look like a rat’s nest. For some reason, girls love it. I guess the haystack look is catching on. Potter is an arrogant little pustule who loves hexing undeserving third-years and harassing Lily Evans.
Remus Lupin is Gryffindor Prefect, but I’ve always thought he belonged in Ravenclaw because he’s an absolute genius. He scores consistently higher than everyone, even Lily Evans and Corinna, in almost every class (though Lily, who also belongs in Ravenclaw, takes first place in Potions). Remus has dark blond hair, large, innocent eyes, and a mysterious air about him that drives girls crazy.
Peter Pettigrew is a bit of a puzzler – compared to the others, he really hasn’t got anything going for him. He’s a short, plump kid who always seems to be standing in the others’ shadows. You’ve got to feel sort of bad for him. It must be tough to be dead ugly, and constantly compared to three boys with the looks and talents of Greek gods.
Then there’s Sirius Black, as you know. He’s got neat, dark hair, high cheekbones, and a moody, dangerous air about him. I guess girls like him because of the whole bad-boy thing – in fact, I know
that’s why girls like him, because that’s what originally attracted me to him.
Merlin, I was such a bloody fool.
“Come on, Ass,” says Corinna, pushing her plate away and jumping to her feet, “we’ll be late for Charms.”
One of Corinna’s favorite nicknames for me is Ass. Adorable, right?
“Sure, Dock,” I mutter, careful not to let her hear the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
reference. Corinna’s Muggleborn, which gives us a lot of common ground, but I can’t slip many jokes by her.
In Charms we’re still working on the Aguamenti
charm, which I mastered a week ago. Okay, admittedly I’m no good at Arithmancy or any of that fancy stuff, but I’m pretty much a kickass spellcaster. Among my other talents are getting emotional, and screwing things up. And I’ll be here all week, people!
Corinna’s obviously got the spell down too, but she keeps practicing just to show off. At the table behind me, Frank Longbottom (Gryffindor) keeps sending ice chips flying at his partner, Barnabus Cuffe (Ravenclaw). Barnabus is too busy protecting himself from the hailstorm to correct Frank’s technique, so Corinna leans over to help out. I fill up my fishbowl once more, and lean down on my elbows to watch the little goldfish float lazily around in its transparent tank. Little bugger.
The memory unfurls in my mind. The wolf, growling, bearing down on me, exposing its long teeth. Running, panting, sweating, full of adrenaline. Sirius approaching…touching me…kissing me…
“Aislin,” says Corinna, poking my cheek. “The Gryffindor boys are staring at you.”
I blink, coming back down to earth. “What?”
“Turn around,” says Corinna in a low voice.
I turn around in my seat, and narrowly avoid getting hit in the face by a spray of sleet. Assuring Frank Longbottom that I’m fine, I glance around at the classroom – and notice the four Marauders quickly looking back down at their desks. It seems almost as if…
“Were they looking at me?” I ask sharply, turning back to Corinna.
“Yes,” says Corinna in her bossy-voice, “that’s what I just said.”
“Sorry, Yoda, I wasn’t listening,” I say with a smirk.
Corinna hisses and points her wand at me threateningly. I flinch. She laughs and puts down her wand, giving me an impromptu oral quiz on History of Magic. I answer the questions – most of them correctly – but my thoughts loop back around to the Marauders. Why were they looking at me? Did Sirius tell them about last night? I cringe, trying not to imagine what his version of the story would be.
I hear a loud burst of laughter from the back of the classroom, and turn around. The Marauders are staring at me openly now. Remus looks pensive, but the other three are guffawing loudly. Sirius’ eyes are full of malice.
“Ignore them,” says Corinna, squeezing my hand under the table.
I turn back around, feeling uneasy. I don’t understand how Corinna is so above all the school drama stuff. I’ve always been jealous of her in that respect: she’s so damn strong. And in terms of relationships, she can move on from a guy in the blink of an eye. She’s told me that her personal motto is “I don’t have time for heartbreak.” I’ll never understand how she does it.
The week after she broke up with Andrew Davies (a seventh-year Ravenclaw) two summers ago, she went shopping, took up Wizard’s Chess, and snogged two older blokes.
The week after Sirius and I broke up last Christmas, I sobbed for nine consecutive hours, ate three pounds of chocolate, and refused to take off my pajamas.
To each his own, I guess.
When the bell rings for lunch, I ditch Corinna on the way to the Great Hall, and go to the library instead on a sudden impulse. I look through the rows of used textbooks, searching for last year’s Defense against the Dark Arts book.
I spot it, and grab it. It’s a very old copy – it feels like it might disintegrate at any moment. I hold it carefully in one hand, flipping through the pages until…
I jump, dropping the book. It falls to the floor with a bang that echoes through the near-empty library. I quickly stoop down and pick up the book, turning it back to the page I’d just seen. My heart beats very quickly as I look down at the neatly labeled diagram of a werewolf. The evil looking eyes, the arched back, the fangs… That was definitely what I saw last night.
“Aislin,” says a voice nearby.
I jump and whorl around again. Remus Lupin is standing right behind me, and seems to have been looking over my shoulder.
“I see you’re interested in werewolves,” he says lightly.
I blink at him, open-mouthed. “Er… Yes.”
“They terrify me, personally,” says Remus, taking the book out of my hand and placing it back onto the shelf. “Sorry about Charms, that must have been uncomfortable for you.”
I shrug, wondering why he’s being so nice to me. Not that he’s ever been not
nice to me before – he’s a Prefect, too, after all – but I’d always thought that he shared the other Marauders’ obvious disdain for me.
“Sirius can be a little immature at times,” says Remus good-naturedly.
“Tell me about it,” I mutter under my breath.
Remus hears this, and chuckles. “Well, what can I do to make it up to you? Have you eaten?”
I shake my head suspiciously. Is he going to try to poison me?
“Have you ever seen the Hogwarts kitchens?” says Remus, walking toward the library door, clearly expecting me to follow him. I do, because I have no will of my own.
“No,” I say faintly. “You have?”
“Loads of times,” says Remus, “It’s great place to go if you ever get hungry in between classes. There are loads of house-elves working in there, and they’re always thrilled to feed students.”
I follow Remus through the castle. He seems more down-to-earth than James or Sirius, but still walks a bit like they do: slowly, with a little strut. I guess the arrogant-douchebag walk is just something you pick up after hanging out with James and Sirius for a while. When in Rome, right?
“So, I’ve noticed you’re not taking Arithmancy anymore,” says Remus after a while. “Didn’t like it?”
“I was terrible at it,” I say with a laugh. “I only took it because Corinna said it would be good, so it’s no big loss.”
“I’m sure you weren’t terrible
,” says Remus.
“Actually, I was,” I assure him, “Professor Galloway told me so.”
“Oh.” says Remus.
“Well, do you know what you’d like to do when you get out of school?” he asks.
Euuuugh. I know he means well, but this is the last thing I want to think about. What do I want to do when I get out of school? I want to sleep in a huge, luxurious purple bed. And wear expensive robes. And get married to a rich gentleman with a pencil moustache.
Okay. Scratch the moustache.
“Er, maybe something with Muggle relations,” I say weakly. “That’s what Flitwick suggested during career advice last year.”
“Oh, that’s interesting,” says Remus, sounding (astonishingly) genuinely interested. “I’d really like to work for the Ministry, too.”
We talk about different jobs and Departments for a few minutes. Finally, we turn a corner and come to a dead stop: in the middle of the corridor, Sirius Black and a fifth-year Hufflepuff are passionately snogging.
I feel faint.
“See you around, Remus,” I mutter, and dart off in the other direction just as Sirius starts to look up.
“Oi – O’Keefe!” I hear him yell.
“Congratulations, Black,” I say over my shoulder, “It’s about time you got some. Maybe it’ll even make you less of a prick.”
I feel bad for Remus, whom I’ve left standing awkwardly in front of Sirius and the Hufflepuff, an instant third-wheel. But there’s no sense in going back, and I can always apologize later. I hurry to my next class, Herbology, arriving right before the bell.
I have to catch my breath as the others pour into the greenhouse. What I really don’t understand – what’s really bothering me – is that I don’t really feel annoyed, or angry.
I feel jealous and sad.
“I wonder what Remus wanted from you,” says Corinna pensively after I tell her the story. “Do you think he finds you attractive, but was embarrassed to make a move in front of his friends, seeing as you’re Sirius’ ex?”
“No,” I say firmly, “it didn’t seem like he was trying to flirt, at all. He was just being nice.”
Corinna shrugs. “I’ve always thought he was cute. Kind of rugged, but then he’s got those big eyes, so it all balances out.”
“Maybe you should ask him to show you the Kitchens,” I suggest sarcastically.
Corinna rolls her eyes, turning her attention back to the plant we’re supposed to be pruning. “All I’m saying is that it’s been a while since you’ve had any romance, and Remus is a good candidate.”
“I thought I was supposed to be a ‘strong independent woman?’” I ask skeptically.
“Even strong, independent women are allowed to have a little fun sometimes,” says Corinna with a wink.
Merlin, I hate it when people wink at me. I don’t care if it’s Corinna, or some bloke trying to flirt with me, or Albus bloody Dumbledore. It’s creepy as hell. Sirius knew that I hated it, so he used to do it all the time to get on my nerves. And it worked.
As Corinna keeps lecturing me on the lifestyle of the strong, independent woman, I find myself wondering how many of those little things Sirius has forgotten about me – like my favorite foods, my pet peeves, and my other quirks. He used to know them all, know everything about me like the back of his hand. And I knew him the same way. It was such an intimate relationship; the two of us were practically one person. When I kissed him I felt like I was breathing in his soul (but not in the dementor way).
And now we’re strangers again.
It’s weird how you can know somebody so well, for so long, and then – in a matter of weeks – be completely removed from them.
“Anyway,” Corinna says, “It doesn’t have to be Remus. All I’m saying is that it would be good for you to get out a little more – even if it’s not with somebody you really like. I know you had a really good thing with Black, but it’s time to move on.”
moved on,” I grumble, “I just don’t feel like seeing anyone else yet. And I don’t need to. It’s not like I plan to get married anytime soon.”
Corinna sighs, snapping off her dragon hide gloves as the bell rings. “Whatever, Aislin. Anyway, why were you in the library?”
“Oh.” I blink. “I was just, er…looking for a book that might help me with my Potions essay.”
“You’re still not done with yours?” says Corinna in surprise. “But it’s due Thursday! We had the whole weekend to do it, Ass!”
“I didn’t feel like it,” I grumble as we start back off toward the castle.
“Wait, I’ve got it!” gasps Corinna all of a sudden. “Maybe Sirius is trying to make you jealous! Maybe he had Remus lure you down to where he was snogging whatsherface, the fifth year, because he wanted you to see him doing it!”
“Don’t get all overanalytical, shrimp,” I say, rolling my eyes. Corinna’s dead smart when it comes to book-stuff, but she doesn’t have people figured out too well.
James Potter is strolling along behind Corinna and I, grinning casually.
“…Yes?” I say disbelievingly.
“O’Keefe, I was hoping to talk to you about some, er, sensitive matters,” he says.
His smile is dazzling, even with those creepy little round glasses that scream stamp-collector. I fall back a bit with a nod to Corinna. She keeps walking at her usual brisk pace.
“Excellent,” says James, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while now, O’Keefe.”
I look around and see that the rest of the Marauders are already at the Front Entrance of the castle. So James must have purposefully fallen behind with some excuse so that he could talk to me.
But what on earth could James Potter have to say to me?