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Chapter 7 : Another Day, Another Life
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Cobwebs and fake bats encircled the dormitories, Honeydukes candy sitting on ever bare surface. If it was one thing the girls of Gryffindor tower did religiously, was the Halloween sweets attack. Every Halloween, all five girls of Gryffindor tower would sit in a circle, do each other’s make up and just eat tons of sweets. Lily and Millie had their parents’ owl in some of the muggle stuff – caramel filled chocolate, melt in your mouth Turkish delight.
Me? I’d partake for about twenty minutes, play nice and then bail on the whole evening’s event. I’d run to the library, bury my head in a book and sneak sweets under the table. Madam Pince had gotten to the point where she’d close the library to everyone that she didn’t like on Halloween – she’d have the Bloody Baron standing… or floating… right outside the door to make sure Peeves didn’t enter the premises.
Rolling from my bed, I was not happy to be leaving a very comfortable weekend behind me. I’d spent the weekend stuffed in the library, in the comfiest chair in the place. Sure, I’d done some homework but I’d also decided that I should enjoy myself for once. For me, it meant a good book and a somewhat decent party on Saturday night in the Gryffindor common room. Sure, with the Marauders involved it got a little out of hand, but it was also a reason to stay out of Stevie’s way. We still weren’t talking. He still hadn’t apologized.
“Guess what, Gracie?”
“Well you’re supposed to guess… but you probably never will. They’ve set up like this weird chocolate frog sending thing in the Great Hall.”
“Yeah, you buy one for anyone and they are delivered during Charms today! Who’re you going to buy one for?”
“You, Millie. Probably Lily. Only friends I got at the moment.”
“Would you and Stevie just make up?”
“Nope. Not interested.”
“Gracie,” she whined. I’d never heard Millie whine before.
“Maybe later,” I reasoned. “Maybe.”
I headed out of the dorm, skipping my shower after a ridiculously long one yesterday. I wasn’t in the mood to put on tons of makeup, like normal, and I’m sure I probably looked like a ghost but I wasn’t in the mood.
When I walked down the main stairs to the ground floor, my mood worsened. A line of giggling school girls surrounded Sirius Black, begging him to buy them a chocolate frog. From what I picked up on my bee line to Lily, who happened to be maintaining the line with James, the chocolate frog card on the inside of the packaging was a picture of the sender.
No wonder they wanted Sirius to buy them one. I could see it. In five years, when he was doing his ‘I’m a brooding bad ass Quidditch player’ thing, it’d be a “collector’s item” or some bullshit.
“You’re not skipping the line because you’re my friend, Grace,” Lily called out to me sternly.
“Awe, you don’t want a stunning picture of me, Lily?” I asked, jokingly.
“You were gonna get me one?” I eyes sparkled, happily. “I want one! Okay, come here, but quick!”
“Do I get one, Baby G?” James asked, sweetly.
“If you give me the knut to buy you one,” I replied, my voice just as sickly sweet.
“Fine,” he grumbled, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the bronze coin.
“Fine, I’ll take six. Lily Evans, Millie Blackburn, James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin and Andrew Donnelly.”
The prefect in front of me wrote down the names, quickly. “All seventh year?”
“Yes,” I replied. The prefect was a fifth year, a Ravenclaw I didn’t know the name of.
“Except Andrew, he’s in Hufflepuff.”
“Smile for the picture,” she motioned, picking up the camera.
I smiled, regretting the fact that I didn’t put on any make up that morning, and handed over the six knuts.
“Have a nice day, Ms. Cunningham,” the prefect said, dully. It was obvious she didn’t want to be doing this anymore than I did.
“Thanks Gracie!” James smiled, throwing his arm around me as he perched on the table.
“No problem,” I smiled back at him, his happiness elevating my mood slightly. James was always in a good mood. It was slightly odd, to say the least. I didn’t know why – sure, he had good friends and a great family but he was struggling in a few of his key classes, juggling Quidditch and Head Boy duties and still couldn’t get Lily to fall for him. Yet, here he was, still happy. It was contagious.
“Did I get one, Grace?” the shrill voice that made my skin crawl called across the hall.
“No, Eloise, you didn’t.”
“Did your boyfriend?”
I laughed, “Don’t have one, Cross. Seeing as you’ve gone through most of the seventh year, I can’t really date much without getting your germs.”
She cackled, slightly, “Oh, I’m so offended. You’re so witty.”
“Is that what you say when you can’t come back with a decent reason why my statement wasn’t true?”
She puffed out her chest and pouted her lips. “I don’t get why anybody is friends with you. You’re a dimwitted, childish moron.”
“I swear I heard someone saying the exact same thing about you like last week.”
“Fuck off, Cunningham,” she grumbled, before the clicking of her heels headed toward the food tables.
“That was uncalled for, Gracie,” Lily sighed.
“Sorry, Lily just wasn’t in the mood for it, today.”
“It probably doesn’t help that you and your “boyfriend” aren’t talking, huh?” James asked from beside me.
“Probably not,” I sighed, “but I wasn’t the one who freaked for no reason.”
“He still hasn’t apologized?” Lily asked.
“Nope,” I responded. “I’m going to get some food. Either of you want anything?”
“A piece of toast!” Lily chimed, “With butter and jelly.”
“Uh… nasty. I’ll have a bacon butty, please, with ketchup and HP sauce,” James responded, before turning to Lily and beginning to poke fun at her for her taste in breakfast foods. Lily went red, shrugging. You could tell she liked the attention.
“Okay,” I walked away, though I knew neither heard me or cared. I headed for the Gryffindor table, avoiding the Hufflepuffs at all cost. I knew that Andrew was feeling the pain of me not being around Stevie at the moment but it seemed he wasn’t around very often anymore.
“Hi Gracie,” Peter squeaked, softly.
“Hi Peter, how’re you?”
“I’ve been better,” he smiled, a sad little smile. He leaned forward a little, “Marc and I are having a bit of a fight.”
“Oh, Peter, I’m sorry,” I apologized as I buttered my toast and started chomping on the burnt bits.
“Yeah, I know. It sucks. You know how it is, though. You’ve been hanging around here a lot. You and Stevie… you’re fighting?”
“Well, yeah, but that’s different. Stevie and I aren’t together.”
I laughed, “God no.”
“But you two…,” he spoke softly, quietly, nearing a whisper, “were sleeping together.”
“It happened once and it… wasn’t like that. It was complicated, ya know?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I just… assumed.”
I laughed, friendly, “No problem. So are you doing these stupid card things?”
“Well, yeah, I sent one to the Marauders and to you. I wanted to send one to Marc but I couldn’t. You know, they’re delivered and Lily and James are standing right by the table.”
“Lily and James are too involved into their conversation to ask,” I laughed.
He laughed too, “about time.”
“I have to go,” I smiled, finishing my toast and buttering and “jelly-fying” a slice for Lily. I stuffed a few pieces of bacon into a roll and coated it in sauce.
“Sure, bye, Gracie. Thanks for talking… and understanding.”
“Anytime, Peter. You know I’m here for you, when you need anything, okay?”
I smiled, walking away, carrying food for my two friends. As I reached them, they were absorbed in whatever conversation they were having.
I slid the food into their hands, and walked past them to the prefect who was doing the chocolate frog thing.
“Hey, could you do me a favor?” I asked, sweetly.
“Uh, sure, I guess. What is it?”
“Do you have a Peter Pettigrew on that list? Of people he’s sending things to?”
“Sure… one second…” she looked through her papers, quickly. “Yes, James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and you.”
“Could you add someone to that list?” I asked, pulling a knut from my pocket. “Marcellus Yaxley, Slytherin, seventh year.”
She looked at me oddly but wrote down his name anyway. “Are you planning on getting him killed?”
“No, it’s complicated. Just do it, okay? And don’t let Lily or James see that list.”
She nodded, looking confused.
It was a risk. Worst case scenario, if someone found out other than me, Peter and Marc, I could come up with something about it all being a silly mistake. Who cares if it was “forbidden”? Everyone deserved to be happy and I was sick of seeing poor little Peter sad and getting picked on for not getting anything. He was getting something; I was sure… just not the same kind that Sirius was joking about.
I looked at my watch, realizing that I only had five minutes to get to the Charms class room upstairs. I was particularly proud of the fact that I’d managed to have a conversation with four people, scoff at Sirius Black’s ridiculous antics and eat a somewhat rushed breakfast before getting to class.
New Gracie record? I believe so.
“Hey Gracie,” a voice spoke behind me as I began to ascend for the first floor classroom.
“Oh hello Remus, how’re you?” I asked, sweetly.
Five! Hell yes, this was defiantly a record.
“I’m wonderful, actually,” he smiled a care-free smile, something that I hadn’t seen in a while.
“Would you mind me asking why you’re so deliriously happy on such a shit Monday?”
“I don’t actually know. Just a good day, I guess,” he smiled, “and I’m done all my homework a few days early.”
“Lucky you,” I laughed, remembering the pile of Transfiguration that was awaiting me.
As we reached the first floor classroom, I smiled that no one was here yet. It wasn’t surprising that a few people would be late, what with the commotion happening downstairs for those bloody chocolate frogs.
“Would you mind if I sat with you today, Remus?”
“Of course not. You and Stevie still not talking?”
“Nope,” I sent him a weak smile.
“Do you think you should talk to him or something?” Remus asked, kind-heartedly.
“I don’t exactly see what I did wrong. So what, I’ve been busy with homework and hanging around with you, Lily, Millie and James a little more than I ever have?”
“I know, you haven’t done anything wrong. Maybe there’s another reason for it?”
“I don’t know, that’s between you and Stevie,” Remus whispered as Flitwick walked in the classroom with about ten seats left empty. Something on Remus’ face made me think that he knew something but I couldn’t even begin to imagine what. It’s not like there could be another reason – I hadn’t stopped talking to Stevie nor had I not sat next to him in classes. I’d still seen him, essentially, everyday but I just didn’t have the time to sit around for hours doing silly things anymore.
Maybe he has a little crush on you.
The note flicked across my desk, quickly. I looked up at Remus who was watching me for my reaction. No way. There was absolutely no way that Stevie Gallagher had a crush on me. He’d seen me at my worst - no makeup, sick with the flu and vomiting up chicken noodle soup. He’d held my hair for me the one time I got deliriously drunk, which has never happened since, and he’d seen me on a Monday morning at six am. That in itself was worse than vomiting. I looked up to his regular seat, beside Andrew. My normal spot on the other side of the boy was taken up by a Ravenclaw whose name was slipping my mind. She was attractive, and if I hadn’t just noticed her and Stevie and I were talking, I might even suggest that he talk to her. He hadn’t talked to a girl, like that, since he’d come back to Hogwarts. I didn’t know why… could it be because he had someone more specific in mind? Me?
No way. I shook the thought from my mind and tried to focus on Flitwick – who was getting more and more frustrated by the random floater walking into the classroom.
“Sirius Black, if you wouldn’t mind. This class started ten minutes ago and you are interrupting once again. Take a seat,” Flitwick snapped, “and the rest of you, shut up.”
It was pretty loud in here, especially as Flitwick was actually trying to teach. I wondered if he knew that a ghost would be popping up at any moment to deliver a punch of chocolate frogs. I didn’t really understand the logistics of ghosts – they could carry things but they could also float through things to. Maybe it was if they wanted to hold something they could, but they had to think about it. I didn’t even want to start this early on.
Flitwick had the squeakiest voice on the face of the planet – probably because he was particularly short. Not that it was annoying, just hard to take seriously when he tried to get mad. It took a lot for it to happen but the Seventh years tended to do the bare minimum in his class as it was a Monday morning. Poor guy.
There was a knock at the door. “Yes?” Flitwick snapped, irritably.
The Bloody Baron floated on through, “Deliveries.” The Bloody Baron didn’t exactly look happy to be doing this. I wondered how Dumbledore managed to get them to do it. It’s not like he could bribe them with anything – they were dead. What could they want for?
As the Bloody Baron started to whittle of people’s names and chuck their frog’s at them, Flitwick retired to his desk and but his head in hands. Were we really that far behind?
Girls were giggling; boys were gallivanting around the room. Sirius Black had a particularly large amount of frogs on his desk and looked quite pleased with himself.
“Thanks Gracie!” Remus nudged me.
I began to go through the pile in front of me. There were ten in total, a number that shocked me. I had ten friends at Hogwarts?
I opened them one by one. Remus, Lily, Peter, James, Andrew and Millie were obvious. I was shocked that Stevie had still sent me one despite being furious with me. My brothers had each sent me one, which made me feel slightly guilty. I suppose I should’ve sent them one. Last, surprisingly, was Marcellus Yaxley. Why he had sent me one, I wasn’t entirely sure. Maybe he was happy that I’d kept his secret? He had just as much to lose as Peter did, I suppose.
I smiled, slipping each of the “Famous Witch and Wizard” cards into my pocket.
“Awe, Cunningham, you didn’t get me one!” Sirius yelled down the aisle.
“Nope, sorry, Black. Didn’t want to waste a knut.”
“You woulda done my set of the female Gryffindors. Can I knick James’”
“Sorry mate but it looks that Cunningham is a rare card. You don’t have on that I want enough,” James laughed, referring to the trading game that occurred, revolving the cards.
“Come on, mate, hand it over.”
The class effectively went onto the same effect. No one ever quietened, and many took advantage of the fact that Flitwick couldn’t be bothered to tackle our nonsense.
As the period drew to a close, the little wizard stood on his desk. The class took notice, quickly. “Seeing as you have not had any respect for me today and we have gotten nothing done, you will be doing today’s lesson on your own. We are severely behind in this class due to lates and absences and your course work is not up to the standard that is expected. By next week I expect you all to know the charms outlined on pages 370-376 of your text books. There are three within those pages. As your homework I would like a foot and a half on each of their benefits and negatives. Also, to finish, I expect an additional foot and a half on which one you would choose if you faced the situation requiring it.”
My jaw dropped. Six feet on parchment based on three bloody charms. Many protested.
“Maybe next time it would do you all wise to shut up and pay attention instead of sitting their chomping on charmed chocolate frogs and discussing whose witch and wizard cards are more special. If you have time and your mark is not up to what you would like it to be, figure out how to charm a chocolate frog and perform it next week for me for extra credit. That is all, you’re dismissed.”
My mark in Charms was not particularly bad. I didn’t have an Outstanding but an Exceeds Expectations was surely enough to qualify as a half-decent mark.
“Millie, I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling well. I’m going to take a rain check on History of Magic – could you tell Binns if he actually notices my absence?” I asked, reaching Millie’s desk.
“Yeah, sure,” she nodded, looking at me funny. “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah, just tired and a bit of a stomach ache, actually.”
“Alright, well, I’ll see you in Defense later then?”
I dragged my butt from the classroom, heading back to dormitories. I was going to sleep awhile, hopefully be okay for Defense.
I had managed to pull myself out of bed for Defense and I had made it through dinner quite successfully. Eloise and Violet weren’t there which made things easier but unfortunately; Dillard had piled on the homework in Defense too which led me to my current situation. I had set up shop in the library, my head buried in a book as I began on my charms essay. I hadn’t been able to master the charms yet, which made writing the essay a little tougher, but I knew I wouldn’t make it to the last foot and a half tonight. Besides, I doubt I could write about which was the best if I couldn’t do any. As long as I got one, it would be okay.
As I started on my second charm, I heard a cough.
“Cunningham,” a voice ripped through my thoughts. I looked up, to see who had spoken.
“I, uhm, well. I can see that you were having problems.”
“Performing the charms? I’ve been… well, watching you.”
“That sounds positively terrifying. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal.”
“I actually came over here to see if you needed any help.”
I looked up, dumbfounded. “Why are you offering to help me?”
“I can’t get a foot and a half out for each spell. It’s ridiculous. If you lend me a hand, I’ll help you.”
“I’m not writing your essay for you, Sirius. Nice try but bugger off.”
“I wasn’t asking you to write it for me. Just give me a few ideas about the benefits and stuff. I can only get like three for each. I mean I am an expert bullshitter but that’s pulling it a bit far, even for me.”
“So basically, if I give you a few benefits and negatives for each, you’ll help me with the spells?”
“Why me? I mean, I’m sure Remus could assist you.”
“Remus is … unavailable. He’s with James.”
I knew what they were talking about. The full moon was in three days or so, which effectively meant that Remus would be out of a commission for a while. He didn’t like being in the library or doing any work in the few days up to the full moon.
I wasn’t supposed to know – I’d just started to notice a pattern sometime in my fifth year. A werewolf was something you were supposed to be afraid of but I couldn’t bring myself to look at Remus any differently because of something he couldn’t prevent. If anything, it just meant that I stayed in my dormitory on the nights of the full moon. If he did, though I doubted he would, go crazy and attack the school… I’d be the last one he’d find.
“Oh,” I nodded, seriously weighing my options. “Alright, I suppose. On one condition.”
“You do not make any comments about me at any point. Not one insult, not one misguided joke. Do I make myself clear?”
He obviously really needed my help. I smiled. “Alright, get your stuff.”
Not only had I just agreed to help Sirius Black but I had also just made it through an entire conversation without wanting to hex him or kill him. I was exceptionally proud of myself, if not slightly shocked. What could I do though? Say no, which would lead him to go beg to Remus who would get ticked off. Remus would catch up on the work, I knew he would, but he wasn’t able to catch two people up. Sirius would just have to do this on his own this time – which apparently, he could not do without my help.
It had to have taken him a lot of courage to come over him and ask me to help him so I’d respect that.
What could possibly go wrong?
AUTHORS NOTE: so thank you for reading. this chapter kind of turned into a bit more conversational than I wanted but it was important. It sets up quite a bit more of the plot which gets a little bigger in the next few chapters. So read and review. Oh, and of course, I'm not JKR. If I was, I'd be sitting on an island surrounded by lots of chocolate. Not writing this, ahaha. Oh and the lyrics are Ed Sheeran.
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