Chapter 1 : List Number One
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Top ten reasons I’m making lists.
10. It helps to organize my thoughts.
9. It amuses my friends to no end.
8. I like even numbers.
7. It helps me forget the mountains of homework.
6. I’m aiming to become a world-class list-writer.
5. Teachers think I’m doing work in class – when I’m not.
4. Lists help me remember important facts.
3. It makes me feel intelligent.
2. It’s my genius invention to cure boredom.
1. It annoys Sirius Black.
I tapped my quill against my cheek as I made an effort to read the latest chapter assigned for Charms class. My eyes keep wandering, however, towards the bacon and scrambled eggs piled high on the plate next to me. And to a hand holding a fork which was shovelling enormous amounts of food into an equally enormous mouth.
“So,” mumbled Sirius Black loudly through the mush of his half-chewed breakfast, succeeding in spraying large quantities of it all over the table before managing to swallow, “you couldn’t do the reading last night because you were making another list? You do realize how ridiculous that is?”
“Do you realize how ridiculous your face is?”
“That is the worst comeback I have ever heard, Roberts. Maybe you should make a list of retorts that don’t stink; that might be a list worth writing. While you’re at it, you can write a list about me, too – Top Ten Reasons Why Sirius Black is the Hottest Boy in Hogwarts.” The grin that flashed across his face was so bloody cocky that I really can’t be blamed for what happened next. I mean, the plate practically tipped itself.
Staring down at the scrambled eggs covering his lap, a look of horror replaced the previous grin. “Eryin, these are my favourite robes! And I’ll be late for class if I go upstairs to change them!”
“Well, you won’t have to worry about a list about how hot you are, unless you mean literally hot, because those eggs are still steaming,” came Potter’s voice from the other side of Black. “Actually, that colour yellow goes perfectly with your eyes. Maybe that could be added to the list.”
As Black began grabbing handfuls of egg from his lap and attempting to smear it in his best friend’s face, I quickly got up and left the table. It wouldn’t be long before those eggs found a new target. I sighed in frustration – I hadn’t managed to finish my chapter OR get anything to eat.
Just as I reached the door, Lily Evans caught up with me. She shook out her long red hair (which was unnaturally glossy, in my opinion), and linked her arm in mine. “What idiot has put that frown on your face?”
“Do you really need to ask?” In fact, Lily might need to. We’d only recently struck up our friendship; I think, after she started dating James, she began to crave some female companionship, and all of her previous friends were being petty and jealous. Of what, I have no idea, because Potter was nearly as bad as Black, but that wasn’t something I’d mention to Lily.
“Ahh, so you’ve had another run in with Mr. Black, have you?” Lily’s smirk could have rivalled Black’s. “You know you could just ignore him, right?”
“How can I? He’s in my House, my year, practically all my classes, and his best friend is dating one of my best friends! It’s like the pillock is bloody stalking me!” Okay, I was getting a little worked up here, but that....Black, he just gets under my skin. I was quite affronted when I noticed Lily trying to hide a giggle behind her hand. “It’s really not funny, Lily.”
“Well no, it isn’t funny, per se; it’s just, did you ever think all this angst and hatred could actually be a form of chemistry?” The knowing look in her eyes was completely out of place, as she had just proven she didn’t know anything at all.
I started to walk away, refusing to suffer anymore indignity (okay, so I was storming off in a huff), but Lily pulled me back, laughing. “No, no, you’re right, he’s probably stalking you. Besides, they always say that opposites attract, which means you guys have about as much chance as falling in love as Dumbledore does with a hippogriff.”
Now I was offended AND confused. “And what the heck is that supposed to mean?”
“Well,” she started, tapping her finger against her bottom lip, her eyes looking anywhere but at me. “You know, you’re both, uh, kind of similar. You have some of the same habits and traits.”
Nope, I was back to just plain offended. I looked around to make sure no one had heard her (because I might have died of mortification if anyone had). Luckily, the corridor we were currently walking through was empty. “I have absolutely nothing in common with that dung-for-brains arrogant idiot!”
Again, Lily started smirking at me. Again, my feet itched to storm away in anger. “Yes, you do. You both leave everything to the last minute, if you remember to do it at all. You’re both more often late to class than on time, neither of you understand the concept of tidying, you’re both confident, have strong senses of humour - and then there’s the whole prank thing.”
“Prank thing?” My eyes opened wide in, I sincerely hoped, a look of pure innocent. She couldn’t possible know that I was the one who charmed her slippers to walk away every time she tried to put them on. Or that I was the mastermind behind why her books all suddenly began singing love songs whenever she opened them. “What prank thing?”
“Oh, you know what I’m on about, Eryin; I remember our second year, when paper planes would appear out of thin air to dive-bomb Sirius’ head; or in fourth year, when toy soldiers took to attacking Sirius’ feet every time he entered the common room. I know those were yours – I saw them on the windowsill next to your bed the week before. How about last year, when Sirius’ boxers had been floated to the top of the Astronomy Tower’s spiral and charmed so that they were out there for days? I have no idea how you got his boxers, but no one else in our year is as good as you in Charms,” I could hear the grudging respect in her voice at that bit, and I think my head may have swelled a bit with pride, “and in the end, one of the professors had to vanish them, because they were stuck so well! There were countless other times as well; and, as far as I know, all your pranks revolve around Sirius Black.”
“They were in retaliation!” I gave Lily my most exasperated look, which I thought might cover my relief over her lack of Lily-aimed-pranks knowledge. “I only did them AFTER Sirius – I mean, after Black did something to me first! That makes it fair, I’m telling you!”
Whether my telling her anything had an impact, I have no idea, because she decided to leave the prank-based discussion behind (thankfully). Instead, a challenging glint appeared in her eyes. “So, you’re completely different are you? Name one thing that is so incredibly different that even I will have to admit it.”
Oh, please, I thought to myself. And then I thought some more. And realized this might be harder than I believed. Occasionally, yes, we had been known to like the same things – snowball fights, midnight snacks in the kitchens, secret dashes to Hogsmeade for butterbeer supplies, a trip to Zonkos (although, not for anything prank-related, of course). But there were surely a hundred things we thought differently about. Merlin’s beard, so why couldn’t I think of even one?
And then I had it. Not just it, but IT; I am talking the biggest difference between us, something so humongous that we could never get passed it: “I hate Quidditch.”
Lily let out a gasp of horror. I don’t know why – as far as I knew, she had also disliked Quidditch until Potter had managed to burrow his way into her affections. In fact, from what classmates had said, she would turn up at the matches with a book. That didn’t scream ‘Quidditch-lover’.
“No one hates Quidditch, Eryin. There are those who love it, and those who don’t understand it. Who do you sit with at the games? They’re obviously not getting you involved enough.” She glared around as though the culprit might be standing by, waiting for a tongue-lashing. Instead, a group of first years squealed under her stare and disappeared around the closest corner.
I snorted in a rather unfeminine way. “As if I’d sit through an entire Quidditch game; I think I’d rather watch paint dry. I haven’t been to a game since first year, and even then I left ten minutes in. It’s bloody boring, Lily!”
Lily’s loud ‘Aha!’ made me jump. And then her beaming smile made me cringe. I knew this could not be good. “Well, that just explains it, doesn’t it? You don’t actually know if you like Quidditch, because you haven’t sat through an entire game, which will change as of tomorrow! You, Miss Eryin Roberts, are coming to the Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff came with me!” Her self-satisfied expression made me feel like crying.
“Uh, Lily, I wasn’t joking. I hate Quidditch, and I have no interest whatsoever in torturing myself, so I think I’m going so say a really big, fat, polite thanks, but no th-” And then I noticed her bottom lip. Normally, I’d pay no more attention to another girl’s lips than to notice whether they’re smiling or not. Only, at the moment, that dratted bottom lip was trembling. And now Lily’s brow was dropping dangerously low over her eyes. A tiny sniff sealed the deal – I cannot stand being guilt-tripped, especially when it comes to tears. Admittedly, I had used the tactic on others before (men were such suckers for a little sniffling), but I couldn’t deal with it being turned on me. “Okay, okay! OKAY! Stop fake-crying, I’ll go to the bloody game with you, so long as you know you are a horrible, mean-hearted friend.”
Nodding happily, Lily agreed. Little did she know that, as she pulled me into the Charms classroom, I was already thinking of excuses. Did anyone get scurvy anymore? Because I think it’s about to come back with a bang.
Sirius Black was annoyed with me. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence; we’d spent nearly the past six years annoying each other, but today it was a pathetic, sullen Black that sat behind me in class. That in itself wouldn’t bother me (how can it, when I didn’t need to see his face?), but it was the way he keep yanking my hair every time I placed my quill on the parchment to take notes that was beginning to bug me. This wasn’t the behaviour of a 17 year old boy; it was like Black’s mind had never left preschool. Not that Sirius Black had been to preschool, or even knew what that was, but that was beside the point. Lily and James were watching us closely between sending each other what I can only assume were love notes back and forth.
For what felt like the millionth time, I spun around in my seat and hissed, “Would you quit that?” In response, Sirius gave me an innocent look – but the moment I turned away, my head was jerked backwards again.
I gave an infuriated growl, and heard Black whisper to Potter, who was sitting next to me, quite loudly, "Someone still has her panties in a twist." Well, that was that. Not only was Black now discussing my undergarments in an overly-noisy voice so that everyone in the class could hear, he had called my pants ‘panties’. What was he, American?
In my defence, I think I might have been momentarily possessed by Peeves, or some other mischievous ghost. That or my wand acted of its own accord – yes, not unlike the plate this morning at breakfast. One minute I was sitting there, trying to count to ten (my mother says this is an excellent way to rein in one’s temper), and the next I’m standing in the aisle, pointing a wand at Black’s shocked face. I listened to myself yell “Rictusempra,” and then watched with satisfaction as Black fell off his chair laughing hysterically, waving his hands around as though fighting off an invisible tickling assailant. I mean, err, the spirit possessing me watched with satisfaction.
“Excellent wand-work, Miss Roberts!” Professor Flitwick had climbed on top of a pile of books to get a better view of Black. “See how he is too busy trying to fight the laughter to use his own wand to rid himself of the charm? A very powerful witch is required to make such a strong incantation. It is unfortunate that I have to take twenty points from Gryffindor for unauthorized duelling -” he waved his hands to silence the groans suddenly omitted throughout the room, “- but you should all take note of Mr Black’s reaction – sometimes the simplest way is the best, if in a duel. Very well done, Miss Roberts, very well done indeed! I think perhaps Mr Black should, shall we say, laugh this off in the hallway. Err, Miss Roberts?” I was still staring at the tiny teacher in astonishment. “You can sit back down now.”
I had been too surprised to blush before, but suddenly my cheeks were the colour of ripe tomatoes, and I sat down with my hair swung forward to hide my face. I didn’t need to look around to know that the entire class was glaring at my head. Well, almost the entire class.
“Roberts, that was fantastic!” Potter leaned closer with a huge grin. As the professor tried to manoeuvre Black’s wildly swinging form out of the classroom, Lily’s boyfriend patted me on the head - like a bloody dog! “You’ll have to teach me that one – Flitwick was right, it could definitely come in handy! Umm, Roberts, why are you growling at me?”
I stopped when I realized what I was doing, and bared my teeth in a smile instead. The way Potter was eying me with uncertainty, it probably looked more like I was readying myself to bite him.
“Yeah, so,” Potter said uncomfortably, “Lily seems pretty excited that you’re going to the match with her tomorrow, so that’s cool, right? I mean, I think it’s great that she has someone to go with; now she won’t have to pretend to be reading a book the entire game.”
“Why would she do that?” Pretending to read a book at a Quidditch match was only slightly weirder than actually reading a book at a Quidditch match, but at least I could understand the latter; the game was so boring that I might start reading for fun, too.
“She doesn’t want me to think that she’s watching,” he said slyly. We both turned to look at Lily, who was sitting in the front row. As though feeling the weight of our stares, she turned to give us a funny look. We quickly started whistling, looking anywhere but at her. Of course, when I realized I was synchronized whistling with bloody Potter of all people, I immediately stopped and shivered. What was wrong with me? At least it hadn’t been Black – that would have been worth tearing my hair out over. Or his – that was a prettier mental image.
As Potter gave me a last grin before turning back to his love notes, I gave an inward sigh. Today was already ruined, but without realizing it, Potter had also ruined tomorrow. Lily really did appear to be excited – she kept turning with big smiles and waving at me. Well, so much for scurvy.