Chapter 9 : A Catalyst
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Mary gradually got better, but at the beginning of December she was still in the Hospital Wing recovering from her injuries. And still, no one found the culprit.
Madam Pomfrey had finally given into our requests of all four girls visiting at once, bypassing the stupid three visitor’s only rule she had set up. Mary wasn't even in a critical condition so it shouldn't matter too much. So we all trooped down to the hospital wing one Thursday evening, eagerly looking forward to the five of us finally being reunited.
We were gathered round her bed; Maia had supplied the food, with Bertie Bott’s Beans, Pumpkin Pasties, and Chocolate Frogs. Lily had packed an assortment of nail varnish. Alice and I brought our wit and humour along.
“So Mary, have you heard about Thalia’s new friendship with a certain Gryffindor fifth year,” Lily asked mischievously.
“What’s this? Aren’t you dating George anymore?” Mary perked up at the gossip. “And which boy? It can’t be James. He’s too devoted to Lily.” Lily stuck her tongue out at the mention of him. “And it wouldn’t be Remus, as Maia likes him. So it’s just Peter or Sirius, but which one?”
“Yes I’m still dating George; he’s a lovely person. And my new ‘friend’ is Sirius,” I replied. “We’re not really even friends. We just decided to let go of our differences and get along. Of course those three made a bigger deal out of it than was necessary!”
“But, you know what Sirius is always after. Even though you’re both dating other people, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to have his way with you,” Maia interjected with a knowing expression on her face.
“Have his way with me? What kind of era are we living in? Besides, I’ve managed to be friends with him for over a month, and he hasn’t made any suggestions, or made a move, or anything. Leave me alone!”
I had enough of being interrogated. They were all convinced that something else was going on. I guess it would seem like that to them. As far as I knew, James was the only other person who knew about our chats, and hopefully it would stay like that. News like this would spread quickly across Hogwarts, and I didn't want the whole school talking about my home life.
“Wait, Mary! You haven’t heard about Maia and Remus, have you?” I asked gleefully, glad I could get my revenge with this snippet of news.
“What? Why did I have to end up in hospital now? All this exciting stuff is happening, and I’m missing out on it!” Mary grumbled. “Honestly, why did whoever it was have to attack me then? Why not after Christmas, when the festive feel’s gone, so I wouldn’t miss out on all this romance?” She sounded more annoyed about the attackers timing rather than actually being attacked.
“Really, there’s nothing to say,” Maia replied. “Remus just asked me if I could tutor him in potions. According to him, he’s abysmal at it, and I got an O in the last test. I’m just doing him a favour, that’s all.”
“If it’s any consolation, my love life is no way as interesting as the other two. I mean, the only reason I’m dating Will is to get rid of Potter! I would rather be in your position, where you’re not having to avoid two very persistent people who are both incredibly annoying,” Lily added in, not looking too happy about her current situation.
“Lily, if you could only give Potter a chance, I’m sure he’s not that bad. Remus is friends with him, so isn’t that proof that he can sometimes be okay?” Alice asked Lily.
“Wait, I thought you were on my side about the James situation! Now you guys are all ganging up on me, and it’s not fair,” Lily moaned. “Seriously, I got so many owls from him in the summer; Dad got worried and thought I had a stalker. He threatened to call the police if it continued. I don’t know what they could have done, considering Potter’s a wizard and all. But still, can’t you see how he’s more of a hindrance to my life than a help?”
“Sorry Lils, but I don’t think you’ve got any support here. We all know that you and James are made for one another, and you just haven’t realised that yet,” I replied.
Lily and James clearly had more similarities than differences. They were both well-liked by everyone, good-looking, smart and stubborn. I guess Lily’s stubbornness was what was not letting her see that her perfect match was right in front of her.
But I could also see why James wasn’t as appealing in her eyes. Imagine if her dad had called those police men. It would have been funny to see what they would have done.
“I see how it is. But trust me guys, the day I fall for James is the day that I would go into the library and shout rude words. You all know what Madam Prince would be like if I did that,” Lily said.
“Right, you’re on then,” Mary challenged her. “I can’t wait for that moment when you eventually realise that you’ve loved James all along. And then I can witness Madam Pince’s anger which is so much fun when it’s not directed at you.” She began laughing at the prospect of that happening.
“Fine, I agree. I know that I will never, ever, fall for that insufferable Potter,” Lily said, just as the one and only “insufferable Potter” walked into the Hospital Wing and waltzed over to us.
“Did I just hear my name uttered from the divine mouth of Lily Evans?”
“Why are you here and want do you want?” Lily replied sharply.
“Got out of the wrong side of bed this morning, Evans? Don’t worry; I’ll love you either way!” James replied dramatically. “I’m only doing you a favour being here. You’re scheduled to go on patrol with Remus, but you seemed to have forgotten. So being the lovely person that I am, I offered to come and remind you, so Remus could get on with it.”
“Oh Merlin, how could have I forgotten? And tonight of all nights! I’m sorry Mary, but I have to go. If you miss a patrol, Cynthia is not happy at all,” Lily said, sounding highly annoyed.
We could all understand as the head girl. No one wanted to get on the wrong side of the head girl, Cynthia Tofts. Given that Cynthia was a Slytherin, it was even worse for Lily, being muggleborn and all.
“It’s fine, Lils. You go,” Mary said.
“I just hate that I have to leave, especially as Madam Pomfrey probably won’t let all four of us come again,” Lily despaired.
Mary smiled. “I’ll be out soon, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me then. Just go. Otherwise poor old Remus will have to do the patrol all by himself.”
“Evans, do you want me to walk with you to Remus?” James offered. “They haven’t found Mary’s attacker yet, so it’s probably best that you’re not out on your own after dark.”
“Erm, no thanks Potter. I don’t think that’s necessary. After all, I’m more than capable of defending myself,” Lily replied primly.
I was not having that. James was right; it wasn't safe. Also, if James and Lily were ever going to get together, even if Lily didn’t want it to happen, they needed a catalyst. And the catalyst was going to be me.
“Lily, come on. You know that Potter’s the best in our year at defence, and it would be rude to say no. He does seem genuine about it.” I hoped that she wouldn’t be able to back out so easily this time.
“Yes, Lily," Alice pleaded. "After all, I would be terribly worried if you were out on your own. If not for your own sake, do it for ours.”
“Fine. But seriously, I’m not falling for any of your tricks again,” Lily cried out before storming out of the hospital wing, surprising James so much he was left running after her.
“Well that was, erm, interesting…” Maia commented.
“I know. Maybe our plan is working. I think this year I’ve finally given up on trying helping Lily with her aim of never dating James. She should have seen him on the night Mary was attacked. He was so helpful, and you really wouldn’t have expected it.” I was glad that I had finally seen a nicer side of James.
“Okay, but remember to keep me updated. Just because I’ll be out soon, doesn’t mean you can stop informing me on what’s going on,” Mary declared.
“Of course we will, Mary. Now let me paint your nails.” Alice started rummaging through Lily’s pot of nail varnish to find the right colour.
We spent the rest of the evening painting each other’s nails and eating treats, before Madam Pomfrey finally turfed us out half an hour before curfew.
“I’m going to the library. I’ll meet you back at the tower,” I said. Not even waiting for their answer, I hurried off in the direction of the library. It usually took about twenty minutes to get from the library back to the tower, so I knew I would be tight for time.
I hurried down the Charms section due to needing a book from there for my homework. While walking down that corridor, I spotted the greasy hair of Severus Snape just ahead of me.
He really creeped me out. I didn’t understand how Lily could be friends with him. He was part of a little gang of Slytherins, who all wanted to join forces with Voldemort once they left school. That was why their friendship puzzled me. Lily abhorred the dark arts, and all of his friends hated muggleborns. I couldn’t see how they were still friends when they both had such conflicting views.
I did my best to not show hatred of him in front of her, as I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. But when she wasn’t around, I tended to drop the pretence. Snape didn’t even bother to be nice to me even when Lily was around.
I calmly browsed through the books on theories of the Silencio charm, choosing to ignore him this time. Curfew was coming up, and I needed the book more than an argument.
“Longwood, are you sure it’s advisable to be out by yourself after that very unfortunate attack on McDonald? Then again you are pure of blood,” Snape said snidely. “If it wasn’t for that father of yours, you could perhaps join the worthy side.”
“I should be asking you whether it’s safe to be out, as the person who hurt Mary was obviously one of your cronies. Besides, what would Lily think? I’m sure she wouldn’t be too pleased that you were trying to get her friends on the side that opposes muggleborns, like herself?”
“Do not mention Lily’s blood. That is a small mistake that we can forget, as we know what she should truly be. You should tread carefully, Longwood. Otherwise, something unfortunate may happen to you to,” Snape replied with an evil glimmer in his eyes.
That was all I needed to hear. I knew that he knew who attacked Mary, and I was determined to get it out of him so justice could be served.
I jabbed my wand into his throat. “Snivellus, if you don’t tell me who attacked Mary you will live to regret this day for the rest of your life.”
I hated taking such harsh action, but I knew this was the only way of getting it out of him. There was no way of going to Lily for help, as she would deny that he knew anything about it. Sometimes her loyalties to Snape were a little too strong.
“You’re bringing the threats out now. How terrifying, Longwood. But this is another grievous mistake on your part. Don’t think that just because you’ve got the Marauders behind you that will protect you. Unless they’re willing to venture into the darkest magic, they will be no match for us.”
I couldn’t comprehend how Lily was still friends with him, and this latest outburst has just strengthened my opinion on that matter. His threats didn’t scare me, as they were just a bunch of school boys, so what was the worst he could do?
“I don’t think I’ll have to start planning my obituary yet Snivellus. Your threats are nothing more than warped fantasies that you would love to enact,” I said while attempting sarcasm.
I was to absorbed in unnerving Snape that I didn’t hear footsteps approach us.
“Thalia? Snape? What on earth is going on here?” Remus Lupin asked us both.
“Nothing that would concern you, Lupin,” Snape spat out.
“In case you’ve forgotten, I’m a prefect Snape, which means I have a right to know if something is happening,” Remus said harshly.
“It’s nothing Remus, just a bit of a misunderstanding,” I replied. I didn’t particularly want anyone to know about the altercation. It might minimise my chances of finding out Mary’s attacker.
“Fine, I’ll let it go for now, but if I catch you two fighting again, there will be serious repercussions. You’d better head off now anyway. It’s nearly curfew,” Remus replied more calmly this time.
Snape sped off as soon as Remus had finished talking; I walked away more slowly, as I didn’t want Remus to think I suddenly hated him just because he told me off.
“What was that all about Thalia?” Remus asked, catching up with me.
“Oh, nothing. Just Snape being Snape. I probably shouldn’t have provoked him now that I think about it,” I replied. I wasn’t really lying; it was more of a twisted truth.
“So I’m not going to get the real reason out of you,” Remus said. Damn, he was way too good at reading people.
“Don’t tell anyone about this. Lily hates it when we fight with Snape. She wants us all to be friends. Like that’s ever going to happen!”
“I will eventually find out, you know.”
“Yes, I know you will. You Marauders seem to know everything.” They seemed to have special powers or something.
“I guess that’s true,” Remus said with a knowing smile.
We carried on talking all the way up to the tower, and I realised I was actually glad that Remus caught Snape and me, as it was past curfew by the time we got back. I didn't fancy have a detention as well as having a confrontation with Snape.
When I walked into the common room, George was seated in the sofa by the fire with a book in his lap. I had barely seen him all day, so I gave a brief wave to Remus before before heading over to him.
“Hey, George. What are you up to?” It was rather odd to find a book in his hands, as he usually found reading a chore.
“Hey, Thalia! I found this great book about keeper tactics, and I thought I could incorporate a few into my playing,” he replied enthusiastically. “Where have you been?”
“Oh I went to visit Mary, and then I went down to the library.”
“How is she?” George asked.
“Much better. She was just complaining that she was missing out on all the exciting stuff, while she was trapped in there. She should be out before the Christmas holidays, which is good.”
“That’s great! Speaking of the Christmas holidays, my parents want me to invite you over sometime. Would you be up for that?”
“Yeah, I should be. Mother’s gone for most of it, so I’m free practically all of the time.”
“Great. I’ll owl you over the holidays with the details." George smiled at me.
“Cool. It's already ten, so I’m going to head off to bed now I need my beauty sleep,” I said, bending down to kiss him goodnight.
“You don’t need the beauty sleep, you’re already beautiful. Stay here with me instead,” George pleaded. He did seem to want me to stay, and a few minutes wouldn't do any harm.
“Only for a bit,” I gave in and went and curled up next to him. “But I do need to get to bed at some point.”
As the common room was actually empty for once, we took the chance to enjoy a rather heated snogging session. Well, we were enjoying ourselves until someone interrupted us.
“Oi Longwood, Wood! Ever heard of the phrase ‘get a room’?” James Potter piped up out of nowhere, causing us to immediately break apart, looking immensely embarrassed.
“Yes, but Potter have you heard of a thing called respecting your elders,” George shot back.
“Alright, alright, but still. If you’re going to do that, take it somewhere else. Some of us are actually trying to study, and we don’t need that sort of distraction.” It was only then when I realised that he, Sirius and Peter were sitting by a table just a little away from us. Oops! How long had they been there?
I cast my eyes over to Sirius and Peter, to see what they were doing. Peter was watching George and James, whereas Sirius seemed to be concentrating very hard on the book in front of him.
“Potter, since when did you study?” I asked. I didn’t even know that James knew that word existed. “Anyway, I’ll save you the horror of having to see people kiss, as I’m heading off to bed.” I gave George a final kiss before heading to my dorm.
While we walked to our first lesson the next day, I filled Alice in on the fact that George wanted me to meet his parents.
“That doesn’t mean I have to introduce him to my mother, does it?” I asked, hoping that the answer would be negative.
“I don’t know really. Edmund and I were never that serious,” Alice replied. She'd only dated Edmund Hill, a Hufflepuff in the same year as us, for about a month last year. They'd managed to part on friendly terms when they realised they weren't going anywhere. “If I were you, I wouldn’t bother. It would be a lot of hassle if it doesn’t work out.”
“Yeah, I guess.” We stopped to join the queue of students outside the classroom.
There was actually a Slytherin in fifth year Muggle Studies much to everyone’s surprise. Verity Boyle kept to herself, and rarely spoke. The rest of the class was mainly Hufflepuffs, Gryffindors and the odd Ravenclaw. Ravenclaws didn’t tend to take Muggle Studies, due to it not being academically challenging enough for them.
Professor Beaumont had given up magic for a year and lived as a hippy in India during the 60’s, hence his rather strange tendencies. Most of the lesson was spent listening to him talk about his life as a muggle. Our homework was usually based on his favourite aspects of muggle life, such as muggle bands, this thing called meditation, that he claims calms the soul, and muggle books on the meaning of life.
Even James and Sirius had arrived today before Professor Beaumont decided to grace us with his presence.
“Hello, class. Come in, come in,” he said dreamily, while we all filed into our seats.
“Today we will begin discussing nineteenth century literature. I’ll tell you beforehand that this genre is not as enlightening as our usual topics, unfortunately. However, Professor Dumbledore a well-rounded Muggle education,” Professor Beaumont finished, not sounding as cheery he usual.
I was suddenly very interested, as this was my favourite era of books to read. I couldn’t wait to delve into the words of Austen and Dickens.
“I thought it would be fun to put you into pairs. Both of you will read a book and do a presentation on it. Won’t that be great?” he asked us, gleefully. Beaumont was definitely strange. I mean, who got excited over presentations? And also, who picked our pairs out; I was going to end up with someone I strongly disliked at this rate.
“I've already made a list, so listen for your name: James Potter and Verity Boyle, Amelia Bones and Henry Hill, Alice Westall and Oscar Stewart,” he said while carrying on rattling down the list, “And finally Thalia Longwood and Sirius Black. Now go and find your partner, and discuss which book you want to read.”
I cast my eyes over at Alice who seemed relatively happy, with her partner. I wouldn’t mind either, as Oscar Stewart was a very studious Ravenclaw, so you could count on getting at least an E.
I looked over at Sirius, who had slumped over his desk. It didn’t look like he would move any time soon, so I headed over to him instead.
“What’s up with you? You look as if someone’s died.”
“It’s just the thought of spending Christmas with my delightful family,” Sirius said sarcastically.
“Well at least you know I won’t be having an enjoyable Christmas either. I’ll be either ignored, or trained on how to become a lady of society,” I replied. “But come on we have work to do Mr Black. Just because I’m with you, doesn’t mean I won’t do everything. Which book shall we read?”
“How about A Christmas Carol? I can sympathise with Scrooge’s hatred of Christmas then.” Sirius started laughing away. Apparently he found it hilarious.
“Be serious now,” I said without thinking.
“But I already am,” Sirius said which resulted in him laughing even more. Honestly, he was acting like a five year old.
“Haha, very funny. But no to A Christmas Carol. I’ve already read it, and it was dull in my opinion. How about Pride and Prejudice?” I asked hopefully. The book was my favourite. As soon as Professor Beaumont mentioned the project, I knew I wanted to read it.
“If I agree to a girly book like that, I expect you to write the bulk of the presentation. I’ll just read it out and be awesome,” Sirius said, sounding not too pleased with the choice.
"I know you can read it, but being awesome? That will be a hard task for you!" Sirius responded with a dark look, and then cast his eyes back to the board. Boy, someone was in a bad mood today!
We sat in silence for a while, until Sirius decided to break it.
“So are you going to the famous Potter Christmas Ball?”
“Of course. I go every year as our dad’s used to be friends. Are you going?” I was intrigued. James’s friends had never made an appearance there before.
“Yes. James invited me. He thought I might need to seek refuge at his house.”
“I’ll look forward to seeing you there then,” I replied with a smile.
“Yeah, me too. You better save me a dance!” Sirius joked.
“I hope you’re a better dancer than James. Last year when I was forced to dance with him, he spent the entire time treading on my toes.” I wondered how my poor toes ever recovered from the trauma.
“Don’t worry. I’ve been trained in most forms of ballroom dancing, so I’m more than capable.” Sirius sounded very sincere about it.
“Then, I’ll be looking forward to it even more,” I replied, and I was. Since I had become friends with Sirius, and sort of with James, the ball this year should be much more enjoyable.
Author Note: Look a rather quick update for me! So this chapter had a lot going on it, well a lot of characters I mean, so I hope that you didn’t find the scenes changed to quickly:) Thank you to everyone who's left a review so far, it means so much to me, and makes my day :D Any predictions for the next chapter, as there's some exciting stuff in it.
This has now be updated thanks to the ever wonderful pixleanin who really is amazing!
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