Chapter 3 : List Number Three
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10. His hair – no one’s hair should be that perfect.
9. His arrogant attitude.
8. The way he treats Snivellous - err - I mean, Severus Snape.
7. The way he walks into a room like he owns it.
6. His arrogant friends.
5. The fact that he plays Quidditch for Gryffindor.
4. His eyelashes and how unnaturally long they are.
3. His arrogant laugh.
2. The mischievous sparkle in his eyes.
1. The way his smile makes me want to like him.
After the rumours of what happened at the lake spread like wildfire throughout Hogwarts, it was suddenly unbearably awkward in the Gryffindor common room. For one, Lily was still not speaking to Potter, regardless (or perhaps because) of the numerous times Potter tried to approach her. This situation wasn’t helped by Sarah, at all. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying herself immensely, and had taken it upon herself to try and comfort Potter over his very public breakup.
The biggest problem was that Potter seemed to sincerely have no idea why Sarah’s attention would bother Lily. He was heard more than once grumbling about ‘crazy women’ who have ‘no bloody clue what they’re on about’. This was most commonly said after Lily had (silently but with no less effect) stormed into the girl’s dorm for the night.
And I, of course, was stuck listening to Lily’s complaints of ‘stupid men’ who had ‘no more sense than a sack of trolls’. While this was enlightening (not), I was beginning to fray at the edges. Lily was a new mate, and she hadn’t realized yet how little I enjoy talking about girl problems. Or boy problems. Or anything connected to the four living nightmares that are Potter, Black, Pettigrew and Lupin. (Actually, that’s not really fair – I didn’t have a problem with Peter and Remus, precisely; it was just that the four boys seemed attached at the hip, and anything attached to Black probably had fungus growing on it.)
I was, however, in debt to Lily. After we’d taken a long time cleaning up in the Prefect’s bathroom (where house-elves brought us fluffy, warm towels and plenty of chocolate biscuits), Lily returned with me to the Gryffindor Tower and promptly hoisted Black in the air by his ankle, a trick she said a childhood friend had taught her. That little spell could have come quite in handy if she had spoken the incantation out loud, but apparently it was non-verbal (drat!) and she didn’t want it spread around the school. (As I’d seen Potter and his friends use it, I understood that she’d mistakenly shown her boyfriend, and he’d let it slip to his pals – I made a mental note to try and torture it out of them at some point.)
As Black swung upside down, going ever redder in the face, I attacked in the only physical way I knew would break him – I began tickling his sides from behind, while yelling at him to reveal the hiding place of my wand. After begging his friends for help (who were all rolling around on the floor, tears streaming from their eyes), he finally told me to look underneath the cushions of the chair he’d just been sitting on. While this was completely unimaginative, I appreciated how simple it was to retrieve it, and then use it to let Black down.
Collapsed on the floor, Black’s infectious grin appeared back on his face. He was leaning his head back, looking at me upside down. ‘Hey Roberts, move closer, I can nearly see up your robes.’
My poor wand arm was suddenly possessed by one of the malevolent ghosts that always seem to be haunting me – I have no idea how it managed to make Black sprout goat horns, but one minute his head was horn-free and the next it wasn’t.
The problem was, Black actually LIKED the horns – he was up and running around the room ‘bahhh-ing’ before I could even blink. I made a very unwomanly-like snort of frustration before following Lily out of the room (seemingly, after James had got past his fit of laughter, he’d tried to speak to Lily, who cast a partial body-bind and ran up the stairs).
I might have been able to handle Lily’s constant rants about James and his inability to act like a grown wizard if the teachers hadn’t declared war on the students – weapon of choice: essays after essays after bloody long essays. Every class seemed to start with a speech on how important NEWT year was, and how the grades we received would determine our career choice, and by proxy, the rest of our lives. Blah, blah, blah. What the really meant was they planned to smother us with rolls of paper and useless, boring text books, and expect us to thank them for it at the end.
And because of Lily’s incessant need to talk things over with me, I was finding it harder and harder to find time to study. She could pop out an essay in under an hour, smarty-pants that she was; I needed full on silence to get anything done, and that was the last thing I was getting in the common room.
On top of that, Black’s way of trying to make Potter cheery again involved upping the pranking antics. This meant that I had to be on the constant lookout for unusual objects littered around the room, including quills that exploded into mini-fireworks, books that always seemed a few inches from reach, no matter how close your hand got, and a variance on the Muggle-made whoopee-cushion: it would continue making farting noises for hours after it was sat on.
Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t have my own fun now and again. When Black was being particularly noisy one day, I slipped a sweet into his bag that caused his tongue to stick to his mouth for a full day before Madame Pomfrey managed to unglue it. Peter sat on my favourite chair by the fire and received a nasty shock in the way of a full-on tail (which the rest of his friends thought was absolutely hilarious, beyond what anyone else had done).
For the most part, however, I respected that other students were studying too, and tried to keep my pranks to a minimum. Black and his pals were not nearly so considerate.
That was how I found myself going to the library in all of my spare periods; partly to avoid having my nose turned into a snout, and partly to avoid long whingey talks about whether I thought Potter could really be interested in other women.
I was walking back to the Tower after a particularly productive study session when I turned the corner of a hall to hit smack into another student. My things went flying - all my books, ink pots and scrolls tumbling through the air. A less appealing object to appear from the depths of my bag was a dung bomb that I had been saving for a rainy day (or a sunny one, or cloudy; it didn't really matter at all about the weather, actually, as it was intended for the next person to interrupt my essay-writing).
This particular dung bomb was actually flying directly towards the other student, whom happened to be someone I knew of but had never spoken to - Severus Snape. Our eyes, both wide with surprise, followed the flight of the dung bomb. I wanted to turn away (this all felt like one of those corny film moments where everything is suddenly slow motion), to avoid seeing it make impact, when Snape whipped out his wand and pointed it directly at the projectile (and subsequently my face).
His speed was astonishing, but apparently his aim was a little lacking - instead of getting just the bomb, he managed to knock me backwards as well. Directly into the wall behind me. Which was made of stone. And to top off what was quickly becoming the absolute best day of my life (err, sarcasm!), the dung bomb hit me squarely in the chest, exploding to cover me with an eye-watering stench.
And suddenly I understood the term 'seeing stars'. As I slid down the wall in a semi-conscious state, I was looking directly at Orion's Belt (or was Snape just accessorising today?). I turned my head a fraction and watched the Big Dipper dip even lower (as Snape bent over me, muttering something that sounded vaguely like an apology - but then, I was quite obviously concussed and might not have been hearing him correctly). I started thinking it had been a mistake to drop Astronomy; I was obviously more informed than I thought. Then my attention was caught by an incredibly bright star - the brightest star in my hazy star-filled galaxy delusion. My muggy brain clawed around desperately for its name, as the star sped towards me. Ah yes, that's right. The Dog Star.
I began giggling like a Confounded idiot (or so Black told me later, when he'd helped me back to the common room). Apparently I started patting my leg and calling, 'Here, puppy! Heel!'
As the stars began to clear away, I saw Black frozen in the process of turning the corner. I admit, it obviously looked worse that what it really was - I was half-sitting, half-lying against the stone wall, with what had to be a ridiculous look of confusion on my face. Snape was still holding his wand pointed loosely in my direction (although I was pretty sure he'd grumbled something about getting me to the Infirmary, and about how angry Lily would be - again, concussed, because there was only one Lily that I knew of in Hogwarts, and for all she preached on about inter-House connections, she wouldn’t be caught dead talking to a Slytherin).
'What the ruddy hell have you done to Roberts?!' And with that, the shock of the moment was over, and Black had his wand in Snape's face.
'She fell over,' Snape sneered. 'You Gryffindors are so brawny, your brains are too small for such little things as coordination, balance, the ability to walk...'
He was silenced by the need to immediately conjure a shield between himself and Black, as the latter had begun firing hexes at the slimy Slytherin faster than my slightly-crossed eyes could follow. I helpful tried to wave the galaxies in front of me away with my arms, and nearly lost a few fingers for my effort. I slowly and carefully pulled myself up against the wall, all the while threatening to curse the floor if it didn't stop heaving underneath me. I tried 'hemm'-ing to get their attention, but the sound was lost under their furious shouting. The spells were bouncing off shields and walls and even the ceilings, but I was much too dizzy to bother dodging.
Finally, I gave into animal instincts and screeched as loudly as humanly possible, 'Oi, dung-for-brains!' Neither of them even battered an eye.
What finally ended the duel was the daftest thing I’d ever witnessed; behind their defensive shields, the two boys had been hurling insults at each other. I assumed it was a ‘mine is bigger than yours’ thing, so I gave up trying to interfere. When Snape used my name, however, my ears definitely perked up. Perhaps literally, I don’t know.
‘Your precious Roberts looks ready to faint, Black – this is the best timing you’ll ever get. I hear you like your girls fainting at your feet. Bit below your usual standards, though, isn’t she? I wouldn’t touch her even if she wasn’t a mudblood.’
I’d been called that before. In fact, I wasn’t what most people understood a mudblood to be; my dad was a wizard, my mum was a Muggle, so really I was a half-blood. However, idiots will be, well, idiots. I was slightly more miffed at his insinuation that I wasn’t attractive. I mean, what girl ever wants to hear that? I kept my face cool; it was obviously a reaction the slimy git was after. Unfortunately, he still got one.
Black's expression became scary, and his eyes flicked towards me; in that moment of hesitation, Snape hit him with a full body-bind. While Black toppled backwards, Snape gave a last derisive snort and disappeared towards the corridor leading to the dungeons.
I could tell my feet were planning mutiny so I stomped them a couple of times in a clear warning. When they seemed firmly attached to my legs again, I made my over to Black's prone body (every girl's fantasy, right? Not!).
His eyes rolled around to look at me. I couldn't decide if I was angry with the bloody idiot who'd thrown hexes first with no intention of asking questions after, and also decided revenge took precedence over my (un)well-being - or pleased that Black cared enough to bother at all. When I looked back later on, I realised Black probably just appreciated the excuse to curse one of his least favourite people, but at the time, I was by turns pretty flattered and mildly scornful.
Sighing, I collapsed into a crossed-leg position by Black's head. I put my finger on my chin in a thoughtful manner (actually, my finger landed closer to my ear - the knock into the wall hadn't improved my coordination). ‘Well, that was a move worthy of a first year. I mean, allowing your enemy to distract you with words.’ I shook my head in disappointment. ‘That could get you killed someday. Just pathetic.’
His eyes narrowed slightly. I’m sure if he had full use of his body, Black would have a few choice words to say, but I decided to take advantage of his immobility.
‘While I have you here, Black,’ I said, as though he’d dropped by for tea and biscuits, ‘I actually have something I’d like to say.’
Although his facial muscles didn’t move in the slightest, I decided that he was waiting politely for me to make my point. ‘You may not have noticed, given the size of your overactive ego, that our two best mates are currently not speaking. This is mildly frustrating for me, because I happen to like a little thing called peace, and equally adore silence.’ I was starting to get worked up. ‘In fact, I think I’m entitled to some Eryin-time. I’ve spent six bloody years watching Potter and Lily gravitate around each other, the battle of wits, the dance of the majestic peacock. I stood by while you idiots pulled prank after prank, disturbing my precious world with your pathological need for attention. I am a NEWT student. My essays will be read for years to come and my exam results will change the world. I WILL NOT LET YOU MAKE ME FAIL.’
I stopped for a moment to ponder my own insanity, while Sirius stared at me (I couldn’t understand how he could look scared without moving his face). I wondered if he was trying to curse me with the power of his mind.
That reminded me to grab his wand. I had to lean over him to reach it, and my face came uncomfortably close to his. His eyelashes were inches from my nose for a second, and I felt a pang of jealousy over their length. I found my hand unconsciously creeping forward as if to touch them – thankfully, it was the hand currently holding Black’s wand, which then poked him directly in the eye.
I leapt backwards, away from his still-frozen face, afraid that he might whack me or something. Of course, that didn’t happen for some very apparent reasons, but he was glaring daggers at me when he finally managed to open his eyes again.
‘That was unintentional, Black,’ I said in my most formal voice. ‘I am currently concussed and I have yet to return to my normal coordinated self.’ To give kudos where it’s due, the boy didn’t roll his eyes at me, but that might have something to do with the death glare he was still sending my way.
I carefully placed both of our wands on the ground next to me, and raised my hands in the air. ‘To get back to my point, I am sick of Lily. And I am sick of the pranks you and Potter keep pulling. I want to be able to study without worrying about the footrest eating my feet. So I want to propose something to you.’
Black’s eyes widened and I had to laugh. ‘I said propose something, not propose! Please, I could do so much better.’ (Ninety-nine percent of the female population of Hogwarts would disagree, but they hadn’t seen Black sniff his dirty socks to see if they were wearable for the tenth day in a row.) ‘I will remove this body bind if you promise to keep all girls, with the exception of Lily, away from Potter. And I mean ALL girls, including Sarah Macdonald. In the meantime, I will convince Lily to take back that troll you happen to call your best mate.’
This conversation felt a little one-sided, but I didn’t want to unbind Black until I was sure he wouldn’t hex me. ‘Further to that demand, you are also forbidden from cursing me in retaliation for this. Do you agree to my terms?’ That should do it, I thought.
My mind was a little fuzzy still, so it took me a full two minutes to understand why Black wasn’t responding. ‘Oh Merlin, I’m sorry! Give me two blinks if you agree.’
With that done, and my terms agreed to, I picked up my wand and waved it at Black’s body. As he gave a massive stretch, I had to turn my head away when his top rode up. Yum, the girly part of my brain said. The sensible part of my brain quickly shoved the other part in a closet and locked the door. It then took the key, melted it down, made it into several buttons and cast those into the deepest part of the ocean.
‘Cheers for that speech, Roberts,’ Black said, sitting up. ‘It was really inspirational. And I’m totally dedicated to your cause. In fact, I might get t-shirts made up. “The Mission of the Majestic Peacocks”. We can sell them to fund our campaign.’
He prattled on like that for awhile – I have no idea how long, because all the blood had rushed to my head when I tried to stand up, and I was currently trying not to hurl my lunch all over the floor. It could have been seconds, it could have been days. I only know he stopped because his body was suddenly in front of mine. I was suddenly tempted to lose all self-control and puke all over his smarmy face.
‘That slimy git got you good, didn’t he? The next time I even see a hint of grease from his disgusting hair, he won’t be able to walk for a week.’ He put his hand under my arm and dragged me into a semi-upright position, and then began leading me to the Infirmary.
I tried to shake him off, not least because I’d die of mortification if anyone saw me arm-in-arm with Sirius Black, but he was insistent. I tried to explain I would be fine when the floor stopped jumping around, but that just caused him to speed up. At least he’d spelled my things to follow behind us.
I managed to convince him to leave me at the door, as it was too difficult to explain why the trouble-maker of the school would be with someone concussed without looking guilty. He grudgingly passed me my possessions and turned away.
‘Roberts?’ he threw back over his shoulder. ‘Make sure you grab a shower before you head back to the tower. We can’t have the common room stinking of dung bomb.’
I’d completely forgotten about the stench that was clinging to my robes. Very possibly I’d gotten used to the smell, which was more disturbing than anything else that had occurred in the past hour. I might have let out a little groan. ‘Go to hell,’ I called after him.
Not willing to let the last word go, he laughed and responded, ‘Don’t forget to add this to your list about why I'm the sexiest boy in school - "He always shows up in the nick of time to save me from possible Slytherin murder plots". Also, don't enjoy watching me walk away too much, Roberts; Madame Pomfrey might think you have a fever.’ With that, he pranced off with a distinct sway to his hips.
Because his back was turned, he also missed the hand gesture I sent after him.
[AN: I'm trying to get these chapters out as soon as possible for you guys, and attempting to keep a few chapters ahead of myself! As with any story, if you like it, let me know! I love hearing back from people. Cheers!]