Chapter 2 : Chapter 2. Including The Masses
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At The Risk Of...
Chapter Two. Including The Masses
Sometimes I wondered if Hestia was designed—as in, I often speculate that she was drawn up and then given qualities that manage to accentuate her features.
Hestia Jones was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, only because she was perfect in her imperfection. She was not skinny, nor was she fat. She didn’t have spots on her face, but did have a dent near the left side of her forehead, as if she’d run into something as a child. Hestia’s eyes were captivating and yet as normal blue as anyone’s.
When she wasn’t wearing dark blue eyeshadow, she had smudged black eyeliner and mascara covering her lids. There was no way to duplicate this look—trust me, I’ve tried and failed miserably. Her long black hair was always messy, and I pitied the fool who actually attempted to comb it through. By that, of course I’m referring to Dorcas, but that’s neither here nor there.
Hestia and I became friends rather quickly, with little conversation after we both discovered we shared a love for chocolate frogs. Yes, it was a common and frivolous object to base years of friendship upon, but that never seemed to matter to either of us. And when she was sorted into Gryffindor after me, I was so overcome by joy that I think the tears were more about that than the fact that I’d just been sorted myself.
It was impossible to stand beside Hestia and not feel one’s self-esteem drop significantly. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never been so downtrodden as to dislike her for this, but it was a constant day-by-day struggle to be best mates with the most gorgeous girl ever to grace the halls of Hogwarts.
If there was anything about Hestia that was more memorable than her beauty is was her inability to pay attention to her surroundings. It wasn’t so much that she was self-involved. She did care. She just…didn’t sometimes.
And if there was one thing that was billed first on the list of things Hestia Jones didn’t give one shit about, it was academics. I didn’t discover this until third year of course. Even so, had I known beforehand, I’m not sure it would have mattered. There was something magnetic about Hesty, and even though I couldn’t always depend upon her one hundred percent when it came to Arithmancy coursework, I knew that when push came to shove, she was behind me.
The fact that Hestia was so skeptical about humanity was just an added bonus.
We sat there in the library that Friday, she was skimming the pages of a month old Witch Weekly while I was taking hurried notes on our newest Transfiguration assignment. It wasn’t that I was so enthralled with school work that I actually enjoyed it, but over the years I did develop a tendency to turn to homework when I was stressed or upset. It provided a calm in the storm during the most taxing of days.
“I want to lose half a stone, I think,” Hestia told me after staring quite intensely at Josette Voight, the current singing sensation. I let my eyes quickly glance over her eccentrically put together outfit and her frilly hairstyle. I felt my stomach churn at the idea of Hestia losing any more weight.
“You’ve been consistently dropping kilos since 4th year, Hest, I think you should cool it for a while,” I divulged. She rolled her eyes at me, clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth and blowing out an indignant puff of air.
“Stuff it,” She said more to herself than me. “Have you started work with the rat pack, yet?”
“Later this afternoon,” I sighed. I accidently rubbed some ink with the side of my hand, causing me to curse under my breath. She of course took this the wrong way.
“Won’t be too bad,” Hestia flipped some hair behind her shoulder.
“I know,” I conceded.
Suddenly the library doors were torn open, and the sound of thundering footsteps raced toward us. I saw Marlene, her hair unusually straight today, meaning she had taken the initiative to straighten it. This could only mean one thing.
“You were with Ryan,” I noted without initiating eye contact with her. The blonde scoffed at me before taking a seat haphazardly across from me. She took a few moments to compose herself.
“Where else would I be?” She gave me a look. Hestia laughed at some article in the magazine and then uncrossed her legs. She shifted towards Marlene then, and put her chin on her hand.
“I’m all yours,” she said. Then she seemed to rethink it. “On second-thought, my thoughts are tending to go over to the old Slytherin quidditch captain. He was a fox.”
“House traitor,” I said in a cough. Hestia hit me lightly. “What? I’ve got a cold.”
“Anyway,” Marlene pushed forward on the table slightly, as though the added pressure might take our attention and hoist it over to her. It did, but that’s beside the point.
“Get on with it,” I said, turning the page in my Transfiguration text.
“Ryan’s friends with that muggleborn, Rayce Saunders,” Marlene said. “And Rayce being the usual show-off he in when birds are around, managed to bring up some sort of game that they used to play when they were kids. It’s like—aw, bugger, what did he call it?”
“Does it matter?” Hestia pulled her hair back, leaving behind a few stray strands to just casually frame her face. I could never be sure if she did this on purpose.
“Yes,” Marlene insisted. “I want to play!”
“Then you should find out what it’s called, shouldn’t you?” I laughed to myself. Madame Pince shot a look over to our table and I returned to my book quicker than lightning with a studious expression.
“It’s called Sardines I think,” Marlene couldn’t contain herself. I could see just with the way she was fidgeting and slightly bouncing about that she was excited.
“That sounds disgusting,” Hestia shook her head. She sighed. “But I’m bored, so I’m in.”
“Gee thanks,” Marlene stuck out her tongue.
“Anything for you, doll.” Hestia gave her a sweet smile.
“I’ll play too, but it would depend when,” I explain. “I’m meeting Potter and the bunch in a few. Maybe after?”
“Well we’d need a big group,” Marlene explained. “We could play with just the five of us girls, but I’d rather we invite more. Wanna invite Potter and his crew, and I’ll make sure Ryan and Rayce know, and Dorcas will want Trent Bagshaw there, and Mary will want what’s-his-name boyfriend there.”
“His name,” I smiled. “Is Tate Bilby, he’s in Ravenclaw, and they’ve been dating for three months. Why don’t you know his name?”
“We can’t all be amazing friends like you, Lils,” Marlene beamed at me.
“Kiss-ass,” Hestia coughed. We both looked at her. “What? I have a cold.”
“Wait a second,” I suddenly shot up. “You just lied!”
“Deal with it, Red,” Hestia rolled her eyes.
“No! Don’t you see? You lied! Maybe this virus thing is gone?”
“Evans! You’re a vision!”
“Bugger off, Black. I have something important to say,” I walked into the Potions classroom with a firm posture and a one-track mind. “Hestia Jones lied to me a few minutes ago. The virus must be gone. Thank you and goodnight.”
I turned to walk away but was stopped. Suddenly I was overcome by sadness. My body sagged and I felt weak in my bones. My posture turned to slack and I felt my face not want to give any emotion off whatsoever.
“What’s going on?” Peter asked with a hint of terror in his voice. “I feel so…”
“Gutted,” Remus answered for him.
“Side effects,” Severus finally spoke up. It was the first time I’d seen him close up in months. “I figured this would happen. I’ve been looking into Veritaserum and one of the studies showed that patients who were exposed to high levels of it would occasionally resume their lie-telling capabilities, but upon doing so would be put into a state of varying mood-swings.”
“You already studied stuff?” Sirius whinged. “I thought we weren’t starting until now!”
“Way to make us look bad,” Peter clapped Severus on the back in an almost friendly manner.
The Slytherin scowled and sneered, “You do that all on your own, thanks.”
“Wow, Snape,” James Potter finally spoke up. “He wasn’t trying to take the mick.”
“Yes well,” Snape didn’t continue.
A moment to acknowledge Mr. Severus Snape: The young man stood at seventy-one inches tall and held a certain gait to him, his back hunched forward a bit and sometimes his neck seemed to droop, as though his head was just too heavy. His eyes were dark and intense. I’d always found them to be full and vividly emotional. Mary called them “Beaty” one time and I gave her a thick-ear.
Severus recently had his hair trimmed for the first time in five years, having chopped it to his chin in second year only to be teased by James and his crew. I often pictured him with shorter hair and thought it might, perhaps, improve his looks traditionally speaking, but he refused. On January 12, 1978, Severus Snape’s hair was to his shoulders. It was still long and somewhat stringy but no longer appeared to be dirty most of the time.
After fifth year, Severus seemed to put more thought—just a tad bit more, mind you—into his appearance. I couldn’t quite say why, but if I had to guess it was because of his new friends. Mulciber, Avery, Black, and Knott. Those gits were a terrible influence. I can’t honestly say I hate anyone—even without this virus plaguing me—but if I could hate anyone it would be them.
Today, though James and Sirius were in post-quidditch practice gear, the remainder of our group dressed casually, out of uniform. Peter Pettigrew wore a Chudley Canons shirt that clashed with my hair. I’m not sure why I noticed this, but I did, and made a somewhat conscious effort to avoid standing next to him for that purpose. I can be a bit weird sometimes…
“I think since we aren’t sure if this is going to resume or not,” James took charge. He pushed his spectacles up his nose a bit and then folded his arms in front of him. “We should divide the researching. Now, Snape, you said you already researched Veritaserum. Thank you for taking initiative.”
“Wow,” I breathed.
Everyone in the room stopped to look at me. I flushed under their gaze and stuttered a bit on my words, “It’s just that…y-you sound so mature. I’m just not used to it, I suppose. Sorry. Continue.”
The other three Marauders kept their gaze on me for a moment or two after James began talking again but eventually their attention returned to Potter. Severus, however, managed to give me a look that not only made me feel like a ditz, but also sent a splatter of guilt spilling into my stomach. I averted my eyes so as not to hold his stare any longer than necessary.
I didn’t want to work with Severus in the first place. He’s been a sore spot on my heart ever since last year when I told him I forgave him for calling me a Mudblood. I told him that I understood why he felt he had to do it.
“You felt pressured because of those gits,” I said, referring to the Slytherin slimes that had been standing a few feet away and patted him on the back after he had been dropped by Potter. “I understand, and I trust that it won’t happen again.”
I’d given him the benefit of the doubt, and he’d spat in my face.
“You don’t know anything, Evans.” He said darkly. He began to walk away and I turned to call after him, confused. That’s when I saw that Mulciber was standing not too far off. Ever since, I’d wondered if his presence had forced Severus’s apathy. I secretly hope it did. I don’t know if I could bear him treating me like that for no real reason.
“Move on, Lily,” I said to myself. The boys looked again in my direction but I shrugged and they proceeded. The uncontrollable truth telling was back.
“Though I don’t necessarily like being in the library for more than a few minutes at a time,” James continued.
“Unless to snog against the stacks, that is,” Sirius guffawed.
“Shut it, Black. We all suspect you’re overcompensating, no need to continue,” Snape spat. Sirius smirked in a nasty sort of way.
“I don’t like where this is going,” Remus took the words out of my mouth. “Just keep going, Prongs.”
“Right,” James said. “I think we should focus our efforts on figuring out if we can isolate any specific ingredients that we know from veritaserum that may affect anyone in gas state. Maybe if Snape and Lily brew a potion, we could charm it and set it into a gas form for mass distribution?”
“Brilliant,” I said. “Assuming it works. But good idea, Potter.”
“I have one every now and then,” He shrugged.
“Becoming modest, too, I see.” I smiled at him.
Snape groaned. “Enough with the flirting. So, I’ll research some more. We done here?”
“I wasn’t flirting,” I replied in a whisper at the same time that James said, “Yes.”
“Cheers,” Severus said slightly sarcastically. He seemed to spring out of the classroom with agility, as though dodging things. I watched him go sadly, the forlorn feeling that had washed over all of us earlier still seeping through me.
“Merlin, I miss him.”
“Don’t,” Remus patted me on the back. He kept his hand there. I knew that it wasn’t anything romantic, just a reassuring gesture. It meant a lot.
I turned around, “Thanks, but I can’t help it. He’s a part of me.”
“Sucks, doesn’t it?” Potter mumbled as he moved past me.
“Seguing from that in a completely normal way,” I grabbed my bag and began to stroll to the door. “Marlene wants to play some game called Sardines. It’s a muggle game that she heard about from Rayce Saunders. It sounds like fun.” I paused. “I know nothing about it, but she made it sound fun. Anyway, do you lot want to play with us?”
“Maybe,” Peter smirked. “When and where?”
“No idea,” I told him as we exited the Potions classroom in a clump, the five of us. “Talk to Marlene. She’s planning some huge game of it.”
“I’m famished,” Sirius strode through our pack and made his way to the front, leading us to the Great Hall for supper.
“Padfoot, you’re always famished,” Remus chuckled.
“Too true,” Sirius affirmed, nodding his head. They strode a bit quicker and I had to walk fast to keep up.
“Evans,” Potter called. He was a few steps back. I slowed down to get to his pace.
“Look, Potter, I’m sorry that I insulted you before,” I told him. “When we were with Dumbledore, I mean. I shouldn’t have said that bit about you being a bad Head Boy; you’re a great one. You’ve surprised me on more than one occasion with your maturity and practicality and your ability to lead the others. As much as I hate to admit it, and trust me, I really do, but…you’ve grown up. I’m proud of you.”
“Aw shucks,” Potter bit his lip. “Evans, you’re going to make me pretend to blush.”
“One, you can’t pretend to blush. Two, are you mocking me? We’re having a moment, Potter!” I rolled my eyes and raised my voice simultaneously. He laughed at me.
“I’m really happy to know that you’re coming to your senses and seeing that I’m not a git,” He said to me. I grinned.
“Not a total git, you mean.”
“Always have to correct me…”
“Well, if you were right every now and then, I wouldn’t have to,” I told him. I was surprised I was allowed to say this. It wasn’t necessarily true, but I suppose because it was true in my head—rather, that I really believed it—that it counted as true.
“For what it’s worth, Lily,” he stopped walking. I had to step back after I’d already continued ahead. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at me. “I plan to be as civil with Snape as possible.”
“That means a lot to me,” I paused for a millisecond. “James, thank you.”
“Yeah well,” he shrugged. “I owe it to him, I s’pose.”
I didn’t bother asking him what he meant. I didn’t really care, honestly. I felt that he did owe something to Severus and if I wasn’t going to get an apology out of him, then I’d take what I could get.
“About this whole Sardines business,” I said as we continued to walk. The Great Hall was coming into view. I could smell the food and suddenly I remembered that I’d skipped lunch in favor of studying. Curse me and my diligence. I’ll blame Hestia somehow. “If there’s any sort of partner thing involved…would you like to be mine?”
He beamed down at me for a moment. “I’d love to.”
Later that night, we were in our dorm.
Hestia was plaiting Mary brown locks while Marlene read us what Rayce had wrote for her—the rules and purpose of Sardines. Dorcas was on her bed, using her trunk as a desk to write a letter. Dorcas wrote letters constantly. Cynthia Crowley and Agnes Shipler were sitting on Cynthia’s bed—Agnes lived with the sixth year Gryffindors in another room. They were heading down to the common room but somehow became caught up in Marlene’s rambling.
“It’s just like hide and go seek. That game? Does anyone remember that? Except that it’s opposite!” She sounded like a child, so excited.
“It’s kind of refreshing to see someone so excited about something,” I admitted to the group. I took a moment before saying the next thing. Even though there was only a little control left when it came to revealing things—thanks to the virus—I still didn’t want to cause any alarm with my next statement. “Ever since Voldemort entered the picture, I feel like all anyone does is live in fear and talk about how to get out of this war.”
“It’s so depressing!” Agnes agreed. She was the shortest girl in her year—probably shortest above the age of 13, but that’s besides that point. Agnes Shipler stood at 4 foot eleven inches and had a small frame. She wore tight shirts and baggy trousers whenever we had a none uniform moment on campus.
Agnes Shipler is a brunette with brown eyes. Agnes Shipler is top in her year. Agnes Shipler is contending very vigorously to be Head Girl next year. Agnes Shipler is the bane of my existence sometimes.
Agnes continued after a moment of applying some cherry flavored lippy that I could smell from across the dorm. “Anyway, back to this Sardines game, isn’t it against school rules? I mean, we would have to make sure it was sanctioned by McGonagall first. And I for one, don’t want to trespass against the good graces of our head of house.”
“You’re such a pillow case, Aggy,” Hestia groaned. Agnes rolled her eyes and stood tall—well, upright more like.
“I just don’t like breaking rules,” she contended quite defensively.
“It’s not breaking them,” Mary reminded her. “We just wouldn’t tell the staff, that’s all.”
“Yes, well,” Agnes clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth in a hot-headed fashion. “I don’t know if I can be a party to that.”
With that, she grabbed Cynthia’s hand and pulled her down the stairs. I rolled my eyes.
“No one asked her to join,” Dorcas said mildly.
I looked closely at Dorcas, seeing how her letter to whoever was reaching the end of her piece of parchment. I awed at her ability to write so much, “What do you possibly have to save that takes up twenty inches of parchment? And how is your hand not cramped?”
Before I could receive her reply, Marlene butted in to prattle on about her Sardines game once more.
“It’s backwards is what I was saying,” she changed into pajamas. “One person hides and when you find them, instead of calling them out or anything, you simply hide with them! It’s brilliant. Then, one by one everyone finds the hiding spot and the last person to find them loses. The first person who finds them wins and it’s their turn to hide the next round.”
“Brilliant,” Mary was the only one of us who was distracted with another task while listening to Marlene. She also seemed to be genuinely excited about the game.
“I don’t think we should tell many people we’re going to play,” Hestia said, finishing up Mary’s hair. They both made their way to their individual four poster beds. As they crawled under the covers, Hestia began applying some form of cream to her face. “Maybe we should have a secret sort of practice game first?”
“That’s brilliant,” Mary observed, nodding her head.
“Okay,” Marlene agreed enthusiastically. “I’ll tell Ryan and Rayce and them.”
“No,” I said suddenly. “Let’s just keep this one between us?”
“The five of us?” Hestia looked skeptical.
“No,” I was reminded of my conversation with the boys earlier. “Us and Potter, Black, Lupin, and Pettigrew.”
“And Ryan?” Marlene said hopefully.
“And Ryan, sure,” I amended.
“Sounds fine to me,” Dorcas mumbled. “But once that’s finished can I plan the bigger match? We can make it into a sort of tournament. Like quidditch, but for less skilled people who don’t like risking their lives hundreds of feet above the ground.”
“Fine by me,” Marlene smiled as she blew out a candle near her bed. The furnace in the middle of the room cackled for a moment or two. Dorcas finally finished up her letter and in the little space she had left, I watched as she signed her name with a flourish.
I closed my eyes and exhaled heavily thinking about the game and the virus and Severus and, oddly enough, James Potter.
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