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Chapter 8 : One Big Happy (if Slightly Dysfunctional) Family
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“How do you know she’s gone back?” Fliss asked in a voice that was very not out of breath. She seemed to have no trouble at all keeping pace.
“Uh,” I panted back, “I don’t know.” I gasped as a stitch caught my side.
I am so unfit...
“It’s the best bet,” I attempted again. God, I need to start doing more exercise.
“We can go a bit slower if you want,” Fliss suggested but I shook my head, and she shrugged and we both carried on. At least the running was keeping us warm, fighting off the bitter cold and the fast-forming snow storm that almost swallowed us whole. We found the right road and Fliss jogged along it fine, but I was near-enough flat out running to keep up with her.
“So I’d ask how your date went but from that snog it seemed pretty obvious,” she commented, and I could almost hear her smirking.
“It wasn’t a snog.” The castle was looming into view and I clutched my side once more. It burnt as I took a breath in. “It was a quick kiss on the cheek,” I managed to get out, “nothing happened.”
“Why the hell not?” Fliss demanded, “And are those not my shoes on your feet?” I looked down at my new shoes and tripped over them; Fliss caught my arm at the right moment and held me upright. We stopped for a second.
“Your heel broke off,” I winced, “Remus bought me a new pair. I’m sorry! We got them fixed though!”
“That’s alright.” She smiled at me and started jogging again, and I hastily caught up with her. “Where are my shoes now?”
“Oh…Remus has them,” I said, “He was holding them for me.”
“What a gentleman!” Fliss grinned. “So why didn’t you snog?”
I sighed in exasperation, partly because of her and partly because of the painful cramp that was threatening to destroy me.
“I thought he was going to kiss me,” I said quietly, my voice breathy, “we were in this…this coffee shop.” I took another big breath of air in. “And then Regulus walked in and they were at each other’s throats, so we left. The moment didn’t really come back.”
We ran in silence for a while, until we were at the open gates. Fliss slowed down to a quick walk.
“She couldn’t have been quicker than that, right? We should’ve seen her by now,” Fliss mused.
“Lily can apparate,” I reminded her. The snowfall wasn’t so bad here, but it would be getting worse by the time we were inside. The skies were already getting dark.
“Ah, yeah. I forgot she passed her test.” Fliss and I failed. We were retaking this year. Destination, Determination, Deliberation…we didn’t even understand the words.
We made it up to the castle doors and started jogging again.
“Secret passage?” Fliss asked, and I nodded at her. She veered off to the secret passage hidden behind a tapestry and stopped dead just inside it.
“What?” I asked, looking over her shoulder. I was gobsmacked to see Sirius and Mia pull away swiftly, obviously caught in an embrace. Mia looked at us both, before looking back at Sirius and slapping his cheek for no apparent reason. He stared at her strangely, before the pain hit him.
“What was that for?” he groaned, and Mia burnt red. She kissed his cheek swiftly and murmured, “Sorry,” before nodding to me and pushing past us, her face aflame.
“Looks like Ophelia isn’t the only one getting lucky today,” Fliss grinned, and I hit her arm lightly.
“You and Remus…?” Sirius asked, a little breathless.
“No,” I sighed, “no we didn’t.”
“He’s such a chicken.” Sirius rubbed his cheek tenderly.
“What were you up to, anyway?” Fliss asked, “I thought she hated your guts.”
“When I got out of detention I saw her in the hallway and we started talking, and then talking became a bit more…”
“So are you going out?” I asked, and he shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t know,” he said truthfully, “she didn’t say. We just sort of kissed. What are you two doing down here anyway, rushing about, interrupting people whilst they’re kissing?”
“Trying to find Lily,” Fliss answered, and a scowl broke her over face. Sirius’ joking manner became a little more serious.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Lily’s gone psycho,” Fliss said sourly before I could say anything.
“We’re not quite sure what’s wrong with her,” I said tactfully.
“She barged my shoulder!” Fliss cried, “For no reason!” Sirius whipped out a piece of parchment from his robe pocket and murmured something to it, tapping it with his wand. He scanned it for a moment, before tapping it again and putting it away.
“What was that?” I asked.
“She’s in the common room,” Sirius said, ignoring my question, “Come on then. We’re going after her, right?”
I looked at Fliss and she shrugged back at me. I rolled my eyes but the three of us continued up the staircase.
We got to the Common Room and Fliss said the password, and as we walked in we saw Lily sitting in an arm chair next to the fireplace in silence.
“Lily?” I said cautiously, but Fliss pushed past me to stand next to her.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” she asked in a strong tone. I winced and Sirius looked at her in shock.
“Me?” Lily sneered, standing up from her seat, “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you?”
“What is wrong with me then?” Fliss asked, a little taken aback. Lily threw her hands up in the air and let out a shriek.
“Oh God Fliss, you don’t get it, do you?” She shook her head roughly and glared at Fliss. “You are an honest to God, dirty, horrible, whore.”
Sirius and I gasped, and Fliss looked like she’d been slapped round the face.
Okay. Lily does call Fliss a whore sometimes, or something of the sort. But it’s always said in a non-serious, blatantly obvious joking manner. This time, however, it was not. Not in the slightest.
After a moment, Fliss came back to life.
“And why exactly do you think that?” she spat.
“You know our history! You know! And just when I thought maybe I could see things in a different way…when I could see the real him…you had to just go and be your regular self.” The spite in her words was easy to pick out. Fliss flinched and Sirius looked at me with a confused face, but I just shrugged my shoulders.
“Fine then! Fuck you, you stupid, arrogant, ignorant princess! You don’t deserve him! He’s about a million times better than you’ll ever be!”
At that moment the portrait hole burst open again and this time Remus, James and Peter came running in. They stopped when they saw Fliss and Lily glaring furiously at each other.
“Guys? What’s wrong?” James asked tentatively. Lily bristled and I mentally smacked James on the forehead for being so obtuse.
“Fuck off, Potter,” she snarled, “I’m going to the library.” She pushed her way past all of us and stormed out of the Portrait Hole, scaring the first years that were just about to enter.
James looked confusedly at Fliss, but she just shook her head.
“I think I’m gonna go to bed,” she said softly, barely concealing the tremor in her voice, and she high-tailed it up the stairs.
Sirius, Remus and Peter turned to look at me.
“What?” I asked.
“We could ask you the same question,” Sirius said, “What the hell was that about?”
Oh, they must have a clue. Sirius especially, he witnessed the whole thing!
“I don’t know,” I said, faking a frown, “What makes you think I know?”
“Well, you know everything about both of them,” Peter said, sounding logical, “So really you should know what they were arguing about, right?”
Damn. He’s right.
“I don’t know this,” I shrugged, “I’m as in the dark as you guys are.” We stood in silence for a moment, before Sirius checked his watch.
“Shoot! We’ve got to get going, the prank!” Peter and Remus nodded and they looked round at James, who was staring into the fire with a strange, unreadable look on his face.
“James? Are you coming?” Remus asked gently. James snapped out of it and looked at the guys.
“The prank? Yeah, let’s go,” he said, and he looked at me meaningfully for a moment. He knew the fight was about him. And he knew that I knew it was, too.
James is smarter than I thought…
Fliss and Lily have never had a major fight before. The biggest one after this would be the one in year five that lasted about half an hour because Lily took the last chocolate bar on Halloween, even though Fliss had said she only ate chocolate and didn’t like any of the other sweets.
I’ve decided that I don’t like it when neither of them were at meal times with me and it’s just me and the Marauders. As much as I love the guys and their funny little jokes and sayings, there’s way too much testosterone and boy-talk for my liking. Lily, Fliss and I would normally balance it out by gossiping or talking about work.
They were in the middle of a conversation about Jennifer, Stacie and Amber.
“Yeah, I mean, Jennifer is hot but she’s pretty evil,” James concluded, “No one should go near that thing. I’m surprised you did, Padfoot.” Sirius shrugged.
“What can I say? When I was with her she was normal. And hot. It was only when we broke up she decided to be a stalker,” he said thoughtfully.
“You think she’s hot?” I asked, appalled. How could that fake she-devil ever be described as hot? Sirius, Peter and James nodded but Remus rolled his eyes.
“She is pretty fit,” Sirius said. We all looked at him.
“Fit?” James questioned.
“What has her physical fitness got to do with this?” Remus asked in confusion. Sirius’ chest swelled considerably, the way it does when he’s feeling smug.
“It’s new muggle slang,” he boasted, “I heard these two Muggle boys describe a girl as fit when they were walking down the street during the holidays! It means hot, I think, not physically fit.”
“So you thought you’d bring it up in casual conversation?” I asked with a slight giggle.
“Why would you change the meaning of the word fit?” Remus asked, and I could tell he didn’t like this new meaning much.
“I don’t know,” Sirius answered, as if to say why would I know? “But it’s pretty cool, right?”
“It’s a bit weird, truthfully,” James commented.
“It sounds degrading,” Remus said in an annoyed tone.
“Would you mind if someone called you fit, Ophelia?” Sirius asked me desperately, and I squirmed.
“Um, I’m not sure,” I hedged, “probably not, though…it does sound a little degrading…” Remus beamed at me and Sirius rolled his eyes.
“Just because you want to agree with Remus,” he accused. I turned pink.
“That’s not it!” I defended, but all four immediately became distracted as Jennifer, Stacie and Amber sauntered into the Great Hall.
“Okay, everyone ready?” Remus asked conspirationally, suddenly sounding authorative, which made me think that he was the full force behind this particular prank. This made me pleased, sort of…and also confused.
“Got it,” Sirius nodded, eyeing them with distaste.
“What if they don’t sit together?” I whispered as they came close to us, and I lowered my head to make sure they couldn’t see me properly.
“They always sit together,” James whispered back. And sure enough, a few seats up from us at the Gryffindor table they sat down together in a perfect line, giggling and gossiping and generally being girlish. Remus nodded to James and he discreetly pointed his wand at them.
He’s learnt how to be discreet, then…
Then Sirius’ wand appeared next to his and Peter’s was next. Then Remus placed his wand with the other’s and muttered something under his breath, and all four wands started to glow green at the tip.
And then they pulled away.
I looked to the three girls but they were unchanged.
“What happened?” I asked. Remus smirked.
“Just watch them,” he said. I turned my gaze back to them and slowly a green ball was forming above each of their heads. The substance looked sticky and disgusting, and slowly started to drip down on them. They didn’t notice, but a few people round the hall had, and they were starting to point.
And then suddenly it was like someone poured a huge, endless bucket of the slime on their heads, completely drenching them within seconds and coating their skin and robes and hair in thick grime. They started screaming and stood up wildly, trying to get rid of it, only to find that it followed them wherever they went.
The Marauders started laughing hysterically. Shocked, I let out a giggle as the whole hall erupted. Jennifer turned to look at me and her glare was so frightening I actually moved back a little in my seat – the look was almost as if she was going to jump on me and claw my eyes out.
“What is the meaning of this?” I heard McGonagall screech as she stormed over from the teacher’s table. The slime cut off abruptly and the three girls were left standing in one big puddle. Jennifer started to cry and she pointed over at the Marauders.
“It was Ophelia!”
Or, you know, at me.
My mouth gaped. McGonagall looked around incredulously to me and frowned. I could do nothing but stare back. I probably should have shaken my head, told McGonagall that it wasn’t me, but I didn’t.
“A-Are you sure it wasn’t just the Marauders, Jennifer?” McGonagall asked uncertainly, looking back between her and us.
“It was all five of them, I saw her!” Stacie cut in, also bursting into loud sobs. McGonagall was quiet for a moment.
“You five, come with me,” she said briskly, and we all stood up and followed her out of the Hall. I did so numbly, Remus rubbing my arm to calm me down, which actually had the opposite effect. McGonagall didn’t say a word all the way to her office, and when we got to it she gestured for us all to go inside.
“Now I could understand you four boys having something to do with this,” McGonagall said as took a seat behind her desk, conjuring two more chairs to sit next to the three already there for us to sit down in, “but for the life of me I cannot understand why they would accuse you, Miss Meadows.” She looked at me as if for reassurance, but I said nothing.
How could I tell her actually no, I didn’t do it, but they said it was me because they hate the fact I’m close with the Marauders and they’re not?
Yeah, that would not have gone down well.
“I see.” McGonagall looked at me disappointedly, before addressing all of us. “I can’t believe you’d go as far as to target particular students during a special occasion,” she said in an angry tone, her lips becoming a straight line, “when they have done nothing to warrant such horrible behaviour. And I am disappointed in you, Miss Meadows, for tagging along with the four of them. Mr. Lupin, I am also highly disappointed in you for not bringing a halt to the action.”
Remus glowered at the floor, before saying calmly, “they deserved it, Professor.” I looked at him quickly to tell him to shut up, but he wasn’t looking at me, he was looking straight at McGonagall. She looked taken-aback.
“And what, may I ask Mr. Lupin, have they done?” He looked at me for a second, finally. He ignored my silent pleas.
“They’re bullying Ophelia, Professor,” he said plainly, “a few weeks back they trapped Ophelia in a hallway and verbally abused her.” McGonagall was shocked.
“Is this true?” she asked me after a few seconds. I nodded meekly. “Why wasn’t I informed?”
“It wasn’t important,” I said quietly, and Remus snorted.
“If we hadn’t have turned up they would have hurt you,” he remarked, “They’d already pushed you against a wall and grabbed your arms.”
“They would have let me go,” I said defensively.
“No they wouldn’t, they’re completely psycho!” Sirius added in.
“I could have gotten out of it,” I said, although I didn’t believe it myself. Remus looked at me with a sad smile.
“I want to help you,” he said quietly, and he rubbed my shoulder gently. I sighed.
“You’re right,” I said almost inaudibly.
McGonagall cleared her throat and we all looked to her. We’d almost forgotten she was there.
“Those three girls have physically assaulted you, Miss Meadows?” she asked impatiently.
“They only pushed me into a wall,” I said.
“Only? Miss Meadows, that constitutes as physical assault. And they verbally abused you?”
“I guess they said some horrible stuff,” I trailed off.
“Threatening a student is unacceptable, Miss Meadows, and the matter will be looked into thoroughly. I shall speak to Dumbledore about this, mark my words. And, boys,” she added to the four boys that sat close to me, “I know this must have been fuelled out of revenge, but next time, try to be more discreet about it.”
Did McGonagall just give them the go-ahead to prank other people in revenge?
“Will do, Professor,” James said, saluting.
“Very well then. I shall be writing to your mother to inform her of this incident, Miss Meadows. You may go, but boys, I wish to speak to you for a moment.” I left McGonagall’s office and shut the door, but before I did I heard McGonagall say to the guys quietly, “Keep an eye on Miss Meadows. She looks as though she hasn’t slept in a week.” I heard them issue their consent and they appeared at the door, and I chose to pretend I didn’t hear her.
Once the door was closed behind them, the boys let out a cheer.
I rolled my eyes and smiled at them, not bothering to ask what McGonagall had said to them – I already knew, and I knew they weren’t going to tell me. We started to walk back to the common room.
“Thank you for telling her,” I said quietly to Remus as the rest of them chatted. He smiled at me and wrapped an arm round my shoulders.
“I knew you wouldn’t, so someone had to.”
“And hopefully those bitches will get huge punishments,” Peter grinned, obviously listening to our conversation. Sirius let out a bark-like laugh and put his arm round my other shoulder.
“Yup, those girls will be punished good,” he gloated. Peter put an arm round Remus and James put an arm round Sirius, and we talked and laughed our way back to the common room as one big happy if slightly dysfunctional family, though missing two members.
Another one up. Hope you enjoy. :)
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by Hally Potter