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Chapter 3 : Troublemaker
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[James & Marlene]
"Grace, please tell me what's wrong!" Remus begged, looking worriedly at his best friend, who was curled by the fire with her head turned away from him. He had no idea what he had done to deserve the cold shoulder, and for the past week he mostly put up with it, thinking it was some sort of a phase Grace would get past, but she hadn't and he was starting to get worried.
He didn't receive an answer, which only served to worry him more. He sat down next to Grace and stared intently at the side of her face he could see. She would have no other choice but to acknowledge his existence. Remus watched as her poker face slowly crumbled and she burst into giggles. He leaned back slightly, surprised. What on earth...
Grace continued to giggle and turned to look at him. "I'm still mad at you." She said as she took a deep breath and tried to take a hold of herself. "But if you could only see your face." She chuckled again and shook her head slightly. Remus raised his eyebrows and straightened again. He put his hands on his lap and looked at her seriously.
"Now will you tell me why you are mad at me?" Remus asked, eyeing her disapprovingly as she snorted with laughter again.
She slapped a hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry. I just can't take it seriously when you're looking at me like that."
Remus frowned. "Like what?"
"Like you expect me to tell you someone had died." Grace replied as she removed the hand from her mouth. She took a deep breath and struggled for composure. Remus watched critically as her face slipped into amusement a couple of times before she finally regained control of herself.
"Okay, here it is." She gave him a sulky look, and Remus shrunk slightly. "You never hang out with me anymore. All you ever do is study or hang out with the boys. It's not fair!"
"Huh?" Remus blinked. He hadn't realised that. "But we hung out..." He trailed off, his eyebrows scrunching up as he tried to remember. Realisation dawned on him like a slap on the face. He looked at Grace with wide eyes, speechless. "I'm so sorry, Grace. I didn't realise.."
"That you completely ditched me?" Grace inserted bluntly.
"Yeah.." He sighed. "You are still my best friend, you know that, right? I'm sorry for being such a prat.."
"Well, I haven't felt like your best friend for a while!" Grace said as she crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. Remus nearly chuckled at the childish action but he knew now was not the time.
"I know!" Remus exclaimed. "And I'm sorry for that. I really am. But it's not like you are all alone either. You are always with Toni and Marlene!"
Grace narrowed her eyes. "What, you think I'm going to wait around for you to remember I exist?"
Remus deflated slightly, feeling ashamed. Grace was right to be angry with him. How could he be so stupid? Grace didn't deserve to be left behind just because he had found new friends. She had been the one to stand by his side for the past four years and for him to repay her like that... his mother would be ashamed.
"I'm sorry." Remus said sincerely. "I was stupid. We'll hang out much more from now on; I promise."
Grace stared at him for several moments, the serious expression still on her face. Finally, she rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah." She said as she smiled and reached out to ruffle his hair. He leaned back automatically, which caused her to grin. "I forgive you but if you dare to do something like this again, you'd have to work harder for my forgiveness!"
"Finally!" Marlene grumbled as Grace walked in their dorm. "I thought you got lost on the way back here."
Grace rolled her eyes as she flopped on her bed, burying her face in the soft, squishy pillow. She was tired and drained - it was Friday - but still happy that she and Remus smoothed things. She had really missed him this past few weeks, and she was glad that things would get back to normal, or as normal as they could be when so many changes had occurred.
"Vhat are we going to do tomorrow?" Grace looked up slightly at the sound of Toni's voice being so close. The dark-haired girl was standing next to her bed, and Grace had no time to react before she jumped on top of her. Grace grunted a bit of air was knocked out of her lungs and jabbed her elbow towards Toni, but the bugger was too quick and managed to move before Grace's elbow could collide with her stomach.
"I don't care." Marlene announced from the bed next to Grace's. "All I can think about is the delicious dinner we'll have in twenty minutes."
"We could always try to study a bit." Grace offered, even though she knew the response she'd receive. Her two friends acted as if they were allergic to books and ergo, the library. While Grace wasn't the most studious person in their year - she gladly let Lily and the Ravenclaws battle for the title - she still did her homework and read books. How was she supposed to become a healer if she didn't read?
Predictably, Toni and Marlene snorted in amusement and gave Grace disbelieving looks. Grace rolled her eyes and rested her head back on the pillow, letting out a soft breath as she tried to relax as much as she could with Toni still on top of her. She knew that if she pestered the girl to get off her, she wouldn't move just to spite her. So she'd endure it for a while until Toni got bored.
"You are awfully uncomfortable." Toni grumbled as she shifted a little bit, hitting Grace here and there.
"And you're awfully annoying." Grace replied. "Ouch, watch my stomach, you daft cow! You are pressing my bladder!"
"Vell, I'm sorry!" Toni snapped back as she slid off her and pushed her aside slightly so they could both fit on the bed.
"Don't you have your own bed?" Grace asked in annoyance as she turned to glare at Toni, who flashed her an impish grin.
"I have but yours is more comfy." Grace resisted the urge to kick her off the bed entirely and sighed in resignation to her faith. Toni continued to grin happily, hogging most of the Grace's bed.
"I feel excluded." Marlene said blandly.
"Well, join us!" Toni exclaimed brightly.
"Wha- No!" But it was too late. Marlene jumped on top of both of them. Grace grunted against as Marlene landed on her stomach while Toni only laughed.
"You two are going to be the death of me." Grace grumbled sulkily as she pushed Marlene away from her stomach and took in a deep breath. Their response to her not so cheerful predicament was bright, shining grins. Grace groaned and covered her face with one hand.
"Hey, Grac-" All three of them looked up at the sound of the door opening and the voice that followed. Lily raised her eyebrows when she looked at them, a strange expression crossing her face. "What on earth are you doing?"
"Vhy, ve're smothering Grace vith our love! Vhat does it look like?"
"I - never mind." Lily shook her head. "Grace, can I borrow Charms book you were reading yesterday? Just for a few minutes."
Grace raised her eyebrows. Lily wasn't known for particularly liking Grace, especially after she made fun of her friend Snape a couple of times. But seriously, the kid sucked at Transfiguration. And now she was addressing her in a polite manner and was even asking to borrow something from her! That was a progress Grace hadn't seen coming.
"Sure, it's in my trunk. It's on top of my clothes." Grace was slightly ashamed she still hadn't unpacked, even though she had been in Hogwarts for almost two months now. But it wasn't her fault. He never found the time between all the classes, the homework and her social life.
"Thanks." Lily mumbled as she walked towards them. She opened the trunk which was at the foot of Grace's bed and grabbed the thick book. She hugged it to her chest and closed the trunk. "I'll be going now." She said and hurried out of the room.
"Strange bird." Marlene said observantly. "Anyway, dinner will be ready in ten minutes and I want to be there on time this time around, otherwise I'll miss the steak and kidney pudding again."
"So?" Toni asked disinterestedly. She didn't look like she wanted to get up ever again.
"So, if I do miss it, I'll cook your kidneys for my dinner." Marlene said with a nasty grin as she got off the bed.
"I'm so scared!" Toni mocked but stood up as well, then she muttered something in Bulgarian. By her tone Grace could get the gist of it. Thankfully, Marlene missed Toni's mutterings as she was to preoccupied with thinking about food. It was the only thing that could get her so excited - well that and pissing teachers off.
"Off we go soldiers!" Marlene said in a deep, commanders voice as she marched over to the door.
Grace and Toni exchanged amused, almost fond looks as they followed her.
"Why, I feel so wounded that you ladies haven't invited me to join you on this fine evening!"
The reactions to the dramatically structured statement were the same. The three girls groaned in mock-despair and turned to the dark-haired boy, whose grey eyes twinkled with constant mischief and fire. James, Remus and Peter, who had joined their little group just a couple of weeks ago, were standing at his side. They all had a variation of a devilish grin on their faces.
"Because we don't like you." Marlene said bluntly, although they all knew it wasn't true. It was true that Marlene wasn't especially fond of Sirius but most of the time she didn't mind him or the others.
Sirius gasped dramatically, placing a hand over his wounded heart. "Tell me this isn't true, I beseech you! I cannot live with the thought of you disliking me!"
Marlene wrinkled her nose, unimpressed. "Sirius, you don't stop talking like that, I'm going to jam my dork in your pretty eyes."
If anyone else had called his eyes pretty, he would have made a suggestive, haughty comment but he had learned that when it came from Marlene "pretty" was more of an insult than a compliment.
"You always ruin my fun." Sirius said with a pout as he sat down next to Grace, who handed him the plate with the mashed potatoes. The others all took their seats around the girls and started to fill their plates with food.
"So, how have you girls been?" James asked jovially as he piled steamed vegetables on his plate.
"Splendid." Grace replied and smiled when Remus put another chicken leg in her plate.
"I usually associate this word with sarcasm." James said as he poured half the gravy bowl all over his food. So much for having a healthy dinner, Grace thought with a smirk.
"I'm not being sarcastic at all." Grace said as she stabbed a piece of sausage with her fork. "We've had a great time." She glanced at Remus, who was entirely engrossed in his food. No wonder. The full moon passed just two days ago and he still had the large appetite of a wolf. He had told her that it was getting harder for him to lie to his friends but he still wasn't firmly against telling them. He was too afraid they'd be disgusted by him. Somehow Grace didn't see that happening but they couldn't be entirely sure. They'd known the boys for only two months after all, and they couldn't tell exactly if they'd accept a werewolf in their circle of friends.
"It warms my heart knowing that you ladies are content with life!" Sirius said again, deepening his voice slightly.
"Seriously, vhy are you speaking like that?" Toni asked curiously. She was eating a meal she had specially requested. She had pestered McGonagall for days until she finally convinced her to make the elves cook her some of her hometown meals. In her words English food didn't agree with her much. They had all been especially offended when she had told them she found Black Pudding disgusting and didn't even want to look at it while she was eating. In their opinion she was overreacting, but she still insisted they kept it away from her while she ate.
"You have absolutely no appreciation for my artistic skills." Sirius said sulkily and fell into brooding silence.
They all went back to their dinner. Sirius couldn't stand prolonged silences, he would break eventually.
But it was not Sirius who broke the silence that that fallen over their group. It was a collective choking sounds coming from somewhere behind them. Heads turned around towards the source and their eyes fell on the Slytherin's table. The people there were making weird faces as if struggling to do something. It soon become apparent that none of them could open their mouths because their lips had somehow glued themselves together.
Grace turned to the four, most likely guilty, boys, who looked back at her with innocent, shining eyes.
"You are going to get in so much trouble!" Toni said giddily, chuckling as she watched the Slytherins.
"Nah, no one knows its us." James said as he slouched in a relaxed manner.
"POTTER! BLACK! LUPIN!"
"Told ya." Toni said an evil grin as they all watched Professor McGonagall march towards them like an angry vulture.
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