Chapter 6 : Planning Dates to Hogsmeade
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As I slowly regained consciousness, stabs of pain erupted up and down my entire body. I hadn’t anticipated how hard last night was going to be. Despite having a werewolf’s power diluted by the strength of a massive dog and stag, Remus was still extremely strong and powerful. I dread to think what his transformations were like prior to us being there with him.
Last night was the first time James and I went with Remus to help with his transformation. We had both finally mastered animagi during the summer holidays. Peter was nearly there, and with bit of help from me and James, it would only be a couple more weeks until we could all be together.
Yesterday had been such a strange day. The thing in the library with Thalia, and then helping Moony through full moon. That was the second time this year when Thalia and I had ended up in a very close encounter. I could safely say we definitely weren’t enemies. Something like friends, I guess. Or was it more? I didn’t know, I guess I was in limbo.
I almost kissed her then; luckily James had come along at the right moment. She probably didn’t even like me like that. I didn’t even like her like that! She was good looking, though. I hadn't really realised that before yesterday.
I shook my head before remembering the pain. Since when did Sirius Orion Black turn into some romantic fool? That sort of thing is for people like Remus. Even James, look at the way he is about Lily, knowing everything about her: noting any slight change to her. Blacks, after all, were trained from birth to have a stone cold heart. My parents were the perfect example of this.
I didn't agree with practically any of the Black family ideology, but the not accepting love thing had a lot of benefits. It avoided painful heartbreak, and I had been through enough of that thanks to the delightful upbringing I was forced to endure. I would have to find something or someone frivolous to get my mind off her.
What was the name of that Hufflepuff in my Care of Magical Creature’s class who I partnered with in third year? We did a project on unicorns together. Well she did it; girls enjoy that sort of soppy stuff more, so I let her write it all. She was blonde and short, I think. Ah that was it. Anna Whitby. She was perfectly nice, reasonably intelligent, and pretty. She would do, I guess. I would just have to get to know her now.
I lay in bed for another half an hour, waiting for a sign of movement from James or Peter’s bed, but there was none. Deciding that one of us had to be the decent friend, and visit Moony in the Hospital Wing, I wrenched myself out of bed ignoring the stabs of pain all over my body.
I clumsily dressed myself and hobbled down the stairs to the common room. Luckily, it was empty. I didn’t want anyone questioning the scratches lining my face. I managed to get through the portrait door before I collided with a mass of auburn hair. I keeled over in pain from the impact of the collision.
“Oh, I’m ever so sorry. I didn’t mean to run into….Black what are you doing up so early, it’s not even seven yet?” I heard Lily Evans's voice somewhere above of me.
“I could say the same thing to you,” I replied curtly, reeling from the pain as I tried to get back on my feet.
“I was just at the owlery, sending my sister a birthday card. Not that she’d appreciate it mind...” Lily murmured and appeared to drift off into her own thoughts. “Anyway, why are you covered in scratches? What were you and Potter up to last night?”
“We were strolling around the castle, laying the foundations for our next prank,” I said nervously, hoping my lie would work. We were always wandering school when it was dark; we thought it was the ideal time to discover new passageways. And to also sneak into the kitchens and not be caught. The few times we went in the day, we had always bumped into Professor Dumbledore.
“Hmm, I suppose that is believable, considering it’s been more than a week since there’s been a prank from either of you,” Lily said, apparently buying my excuse. “I guess I should take you to the Hospital Wing then. I suppose if those scratches left a scar on your face, you wouldn’t be too pleased?”
Considering Lily was being vaguely civil towards me for once, I thought it would be best to accept her offer, and we set off for the Hospital Wing in silence. We were probably too surprised we had managed to conduct an ordinary conversation with each other to continue it on the way there.
We were just rounding the corner to the Hospital Wing doors, when I remembered my original purpose: to visit Remus. Lily was definitely smart, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she put two and two together about Remus’ condition when she saw him completely covered in bruising and scratches. I had to get rid of her.
“Lily dearest, don’t you think it’s rather unnecessary to accompany me straight to the door of the hospital wing? After all, I am a grown man, and I’m sure you’d rather be spending this delightful Sunday morning catching up on beauty sleep. Not that you need it. You’re as beautiful as the sun.” I was probably laying it on a bit thick with my inane rambling. Hopefully it would still work.
“Sirius cut the Hippogriff crap. If you’re worried about me seeing Remus, I already know about his ‘condition’,” she said putting speech marks on either side of her head. “He asked Professor Dumbledore at the beginning of the year for permission to tell me, as he knew I would figure out why he skipped prefect duties once a month,” she continued talking while trying to ignore the expression on my face. She was doing a good job at it; as my mouth hung open in shock.
“You…you… know?” I managed to mumble, hopefully not too incoherently.
“Of course I know. At first, I thought it was just an illness. But last year, when his monthly disappearances became too regular, I figured it out. Plus, with Severus constantly going on about his theory it wasn't hard to work out. I didn't say anything, because I knew that if Remus wanted to tell me, he would have.”
I scowled at the mention of Snape. He had always been intent on ruining Remus' life when it really should have been mine and James' considering what we did to him.“And you’re not afraid, and you didn’t tell anyone?” I questioned, wanting to be sure where her allegiance lay.
“Of course I’m not afraid. I know he’s perfectly safe the remaining twenty-seven days. Besides, I was brought up by a muggle family, without all the werewolf prejudice. I just used to think of werewolves as things that belonged in horror books,” she replied, looking unperturbed.
“Sorry I accused you, Lily,” I said. “It’s just you can imagine what most people’s reactions would be – to run away screaming to all the passers-by what he was.”
“No, I understand you have to protect your friends. Like I do for Thalia…” Lily started saying before cutting herself off suddenly.
“Like you do what for Thalia?” I questioned. I guessed yesterday that something was up with her. Plus there were rumours abound about her mother, and her father’s rather suspicious death.
“Oh nothing. Just forget I mentioned it.” Lily brushed aside my comment and opened the door to the hospital wing. “Come on then, Black. Let’s restore your beauty and visit Remus.” She promptly walked into the room and engaged herself in conversation with Madam Pomfrey.
Sensing the topic was closed for the foreseeable future, I followed her in, and the door of the Hospital Wing slammed shut behind us.
By Monday morning my face had fully healed, and my body was no longer aching in pain. To mine, James's and Peter’s delight Remus was back among us. We couldn't see a single scratch or bruise on his body, thanks to Madam Pomfrey’s magnificent healing skills.
When we got down to the common room, there was a crowd by the notice board. I pushed through the hubbub of people, and found the source of the commotion.
“Yes!” I shouted back to James. “There’s a Hogsmeade trip on Halloween!” This was perfect! We could go to Zonko’s and buy all the things we would need for our evening of pranking.
“Yay!” James yelled back, and started jumping up and down, resembling a three year old. When he did things like this I worried about his mental state.
We chatted animatedly about what we would buy all the way down to the Great Hall. It was only when we entered it James suddenly stopped talking and scoured his eyes up and down the Gryffindor table. Then, when he found his target, he sauntered over to his target sitting at the northern end of the table.
No need to guess who it was. Lily Evans who had the Daily Prophet propped up by a flask of pumpkin juice and was enjoying her egg soldiers in peace, completely unaware of what was about to happen.
To be fair, I didn’t know what James was up to either.
I prepared myself for whatever mess James was about to create, since I’d have to help clean it up.
“Lily, the sweetest flower of them all! Will you do me the honour of accompanying me to Hogsmeade?” James said while getting down on his knee. What on earth was he doing? It looked like he was proposing! I had been through it with him a ton of times already. He needed to play it cool, not the obsessive maniac he was now.
“Potter, what did I say last time? Never in a million years, I said. Did I not make that clear enough for you?” Lily looked outraged at the mere idea of spending an entire day with James. “Besides, I have a date already.”
“But, who?” James replied looking utterly devastated.
“Will Cavendish,” she replied curtly.
I couldn’t help but burst out in laughter. No offence to James, but he had no hope against that boy – he’s a sixth year Ravenclaw, a prefect and quidditch captain. He also got top grades in every subject, and was well liked by everyone, including the teachers. Basically, Will Cavendish was the perfect person for someone like Lily.
James seemed to have been having the same thoughts as me, as he got up and walked to the other end of the table, where Remus and Peter were sitting. For the next half hour, he seemed to compensate for his emotional distress, by wolfing down every bit of food in reach. None of us knew what to say, so we had the rare event of a silent breakfast.
Luckily, by the time we made our way to the dungeons for double Potions, James had perked up enough to start cracking jokes.
“Shame about Evans turning me down, mate. Otherwise, you could’ve asked Longwood and we could’ve gone on a double date together,” James sniggered. Trust him to think he could get rid of his own embarrassment by embarrassing me.
“Hahaha, very funny,” I shot back. “What was that about the story with you and that veela?” I was glad Thalia had given me ammunition against him, and it had worked. James immediately stopped talking, and resumed the same silence from breakfast.
“Hey, what’s been going on with Padfoot and Longwood?” Peter questioned.
“Don’t you worry your little head about it,” I replied trying to sound patronising. “It’s just James being a git like usual.” I didn't want to be mean to Peter, but it was the only way I could get him to drop the subject and not question any further.
Peter lapsed into silence, unable to muster a response to my jibe. Remus had a knowing look on his face, and shot a quick wink at me. He always had a way of analysing the situation and figuring out what was actually going on.
The rest of the morning passed by like a death march. It didn’t help much that I had Potions and History of Magic in the same day, and they were possibly the worst lessons in the school. At least I had Care of Magical Creatures last, so I could use the time to get to know Anna better. After lunch, Remus was off to Arithmancy, and Peter headed up to Divination. James and I bid farewell to them and headed across the grounds to the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
The class stood around chatting for a few minutes before old Professor Kettleburn hobbled towards us. It was rumoured that the reason for his limp was that he got in fight with a vampire. Instead of going for his neck the vampire went for the leg. Luckily, that meant he remained a human, albeit one with a bit of leg gouged out.
“Err, today we will be looking at err….oh that’s it. Bowtruckles.” Professor Kettleburn was a nice person, but he tended to forget what he was saying half the time. “Now divide yourself into twos or threes, and follow me to the forest. Now, now, Miss Kerr don’t look so worried. We’re only going to the edge of the forest, so we can find the trees with magical properties.”
James and I immediately followed him into the forest, no question that we wouldn’t go together. I know I should have used that time to get to know Anna, but I thought it might have seemed a bit strange to go in partners with someone I had barely spoken to since last year. I tried to look for her, but it was to no avail. The area of the forest we were currently was so thick in foliage, it was hard to see that much ahead of you.
“Er, now, erm… who can tell me what you should feed Bowtruckles, to tempt them out of their trees? Ah, yes. Miss Whitby.” Professor Kettleburn said sounding surprised that someone was actually listening to him.
“Wood lice or fairy eggs sir,” Miss Whitby answered. I snapped my head in her direction. That was Anna. I knew I remembered her as being intelligent, and I saw that she looked proud of the fact that she knew the answer. I suppose that Hufflepuffs were always pleased with some form of achievement. Shut up, Sirius, you might be abusing your possible future girlfriend here.
James gave me a weird look. Oh damn, I really should stop having these mental conversations with myself. My mouth had a habit of moving almost like I was making the movements of the words I was thinking.
“Correct. Five points for that. Right. Now I have some wood lice here. We’re going to use them in an attempt to draw the Bowtruckles out, so we can sketch them. You'll have to finish it for homework, so try and do as much as possible now, as drawing them from memory isn’t an easy job.” Kettleburn’s instructions were followed by a very audible moan from the class. He rarely ever gave us homework.
James grabbed a bucket of wood lice, and headed for the tree nearest to us. He beckoned me to follow, but I had a better idea.
“Err, sorry Whitby, but could you possibly help me with getting the Bowtruckles out of the tree, as I didn’t fully understand the concept of it?” I asked, feigning stupidity when of course I knew how. I didn’t get an O in my end of year test for nothing.
“Yeah sure, and call me Anna,” she replied, flashing a smile in my direction. See? Smart, and she had a nice smile.
“Yeah, call me Sirius.” I shot a smile back at her.
We spent the rest of the lesson chatting happily away, while James’ occasional looks of annoyance slightly tinged the good mood I was in.
At the end of the lesson I was confronted by an angry James.
“What the Merlin was up with that?” he questioned me. “Since when were you and Whitby friends?”
“Look, she’s a nice person, and I need a date for the Hogsmeade trip,” I said.
“Why not take Longwood? You guys have been getting along very well recently.”
Trying to think of an answer, I set off for the castle with James following in my wake.
“Maybe I just fancied dating a Hufflepuff right now,” I said.
“Come on now, Sirius. I’ve seen you do this before. Anna’s the kind of girl you use for distraction.” James tried a bad impression of my trademark smirk. “My real question is, what’s she distracting you from?”
I guess I would have to admit the real reason then. Either way, James would eventually get it out of me, and I would rather it be pain free.
“You’re right about Thalia. Ever since that day in the library, she stuck in my mind.” I heard a snicker next to me and stuck my elbow in his ribs. “Stop laughing, James. I know it’s cliché, but there’s something intriguing about her, that’s all. I just don’t want to ruin it with her, like I do with everything else.” I hadn’t even realised that I meant half the stuff I had just said, until I finished saying it.
“If you want my advice mate, don’t bother hanging around like I’m doing with Lily. You actually stand a chance with Thalia. Just ask her to Hogsmeade," James said, encouraging me along.
I had to give him a point there. This ridiculous thing between him and Lily had been going on for far too long. Maybe I should ask Thalia. Even if she said no, I could pretend it was a joke or a dare. James and I were always doing things like that, so I was sure she’d believe it. Who, after all, could resist the charms of Sirius Black?
“Thanks James. Who would have thought, I’d take dating advice from someone who’s been chasing the same girl for four years?” I laughed.
“Glad, I could help you mate… Hey, where are you going?” he asked in the distance, as I had started run off to the castle.
“Library. She usually stops by there before dinner. Meet me there later, and I’ll tell you how it goes,” I shouted over my shoulder.
I slowed my pace down as I neared the library. Madam Pince didn’t tolerate running in her sacred space. When I entered the library, I went row by row scanning my eyes down the many aisles, hoping to catch a glimpse of her chocolate brown curls.
A flick of brown in my eyes, and I stopped. I gazed down the aisle, but Thalia was talking to someone, so I decided to wait. I didn’t want an audience.
“Yeah, that’ll be great George. I’ll meet you in the Entrance Hall at ten, right?” she asked.
Which George was she talking to, and why was she meeting him? I tried to snap out of the worried sensation I was getting. It was too unfamiliar for me. This kind of stuff was reserved for James, who had been in love with the same girl for four years, so it wasn’t too weird for him.
“That’s right, I’m already looking forward to it,” this George replied. I knew that voice. It was George Wood, the Gryffindor quidditch captain.
“Me too. As long as we don’t go to Madam Puddifoot’s, it will be great,” she joked. I knew Thalia was friends with him, but I didn’t realise that they were that close.
“Don’t worry, we can save that for next time,” George joked back.
Downtrodden, I quickly headed out of the library and down to the Great Hall, not even waiting for James. I just needed to get away from both of them. Instead of heading for the Gryffindor table, I walked towards the Hufflepuff one.
“Hey, Anna. I know we don’t really know each other that well, but I did like talking to you today. So I was wondering if you’d like to go to Hogsmeade with me.” It all came out in a rush, and I prayed she wouldn’t say no. I’d already faced one rejection today. I know I didn’t get around asking Thalia, but it felt like a rejection anyway.
“Er, yeah. Sure, that’d be great Sirius.” Anna beamed at me.
“Good.” I said, more relieved than I expected to be. “I’ll meet you in the Entrance Hall at ten thirty.” I deliberately said, so I could avoid seeing Thalia and George together.
“Yeah that’s fine, I’ll look forward to it.”
“Me too,” I replied, glad I’d bagged a date. I headed back to the Gryffindor table to face the wrath of James for not getting Thalia as a date.
This was not going to be fun.
Author Note: A big thank you again to pixileanin, as she’s an amazing beta! Sorry I had to crush your dreams on Thalia and Sirius getting together, but it’s all for the sake of the story, so hopefully you’ll like how it turns out! If you want to be lovely you can leave a review, and thanks again for reading!
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