Chapter 9 : Surprises
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I turned around, and Sirius abruptly stopped laughing. “Since when do Slytherins have a sense of humour?” he asked. “I thought you all appreciated humour as much as a bag of dried flobberworms.”
“You hit the nail on the head,” I said, attempting to not crack a smile. “I hate fun.”
Sirius looked at me pensively for a moment, but Remus played along. “Yeah, fun’s pretty rubbish, isn’t it?” he said. “Quite overrated.”
“What have you done to him?” James asked me. “I don’t want you corrupting him with your fun-hating ways.”
I couldn’t keep the smile off my face this time. “Ah. Well then, I guess I’d better revise my bucket list.”
Even Sirius grinned at that, but Professor Alvers put an end to our conversation by arriving and letting the queue in for class. Alvers was a new professor; we got a new one for Defence every year for some reason. I wasn’t particularly fond of him; he didn’t seem to know his subject very well, and as if to disguise that, he had a very intense stare, giving the impression that he knew when I hadn’t read the material for the lesson.
Professor Alvers nodded at all of us as we filed into the classroom, his straggly ponytail clinging with static to his robes, and then we began our lesson on Inferi, until halfway through, when he had nothing else to say about Inferi and switched to Chimaeras, which were thankfully far less creepy. At the end of class, Mandy and I joined the Gryffindors on our way out the door, and they looked glad to see us – Peter even went so far as to sling an arm around Mandy’s shoulders.
Before long, I felt like we were actually becoming friends. Sort of. We never made any plans together, as friends do – it was just that we kept appearing in the same place at the same time, and then enjoying it. They had plenty of other friends, but they still made time for us, which I figured meant something. And after a few weeks I started to see James, Sirius, and Peter as my friends, rather than just Remus’s friends. Even Sirius was not as bad as I had used to think. He wasn’t that rude when I actually talked to him – that was just part of how he joked around.
One day a couple of weeks later, after I had given up on my Potions homework, I decided maybe I’d visit the Gryffindors in their common room – after all, Mandy and I knew their password. I propositioned this idea to Mandy.
“Do you think we’ll get kicked out?” asked Mandy as we walked up to the seventh floor.
“I hope not,” I said, shrugging. “It’s not like we’re doing anything wrong, we just want to talk with our friends, and you want to stare at Sirius.”
“Oh, shut up,” she mumbled.
I smiled and we approached the portrait of the fat lady in the pink dress. “Frabjous,” I said, and her picture swung out to reveal the portrait hole. Mandy and I walked inside.
The Gryffindor room had a much better atmosphere than ours. Gryffindor Tower was one of the tallest in the school, so the view outside was beautiful. The windows were very tall and framed by long red curtains, and all around the room were lots of comfortable old chairs and a crackling fire.
Lily Evans was sitting at a table working with a seventh-year girl I knew only by sight. James and Remus were playing wizard chess at a table near the fire; James was losing horribly because he had an eye on Lily the entire time. Sirius was leaning on the table, looking bored, and Peter was trying to vanish Remus’s chess pieces so James could have a chance at winning. He hadn’t quite mastered the Vanishing Charm yet so several of the pawns were disfigured.
“Hi,” I said, flopping into a chair. Mandy sat in a chair next to mine.
“Intruders,” said Sirius, looking up at us.
“Hey,” said Remus, looking up from the chess board. “All right?”
“How’d you get in?” asked James, once again distracted from the game. “This room is for Gryffindors.”
“This room is for people who know the Gryffindor password,” I corrected him. “And we know what it is.”
James frowned. Remus shook his head, and said, “I should be appalled at Slytherins in here, but I don’t really mind. You’re definitely welcome to join us anytime. Checkmate, Prongs.”
James turned back to face the game and groaned, pushing the remaining pieces aside. “Who wants to work on Transfiguration with me? Evans, you look like you need a partner,” he said, and moved over toward her table, ruffling his already messy black hair.
“I’m sorry, Potter,” said Lily. “I’m helping Tara study, this is important information and it’s probably all going to be in her N.E.W.T.s.”
“N.E.W.T.s?” asked James incredulously. “It’s only November!”
“Yes,” Lily said, a touch of irritation in her voice, “some people care about their grades and actually work hard; I suggest you do the same.” She turned back around, her head held high. James held his hands up in defeat and turned back to us, noticing that we had been watching. He sighed, and smiled uncertainly.
“Oh well,” he said. “I’ve got no reason to work on Transfiguration now, who’s up for something fun instead?”
“Me,” said Sirius. “I’m bored.”
“What about your work?” Remus asked. “We’re all working, so you’re not going to miss anything if you do your work now too.”
James appeared to consider this. “All right, Mum,” he said resignedly as he reached around in his bag for a book. “Padfoot, have you got your Transfiguration book?”
“Padfoot?” I asked, confused. They would sometimes refer to each other by nicknames and I still hadn’t quite got who was who yet.
“Sirius,” James clarified without an explanation. Sirius lifted a book out of his bag and dropped it on the table unceremoniously, an inch away from my fingers.
“Everyone, I vanished a chess piece,” Peter told us excitedly. But I saw a piece on the floor right next to him.
Eventually the six of us all got to talking and enjoying ourselves, and even occasionally working on our Transfiguration, and I appreciated Gryffindor friendliness. I improved quite a lot that day; all four of the boys were very skilled in it, despite how little they said they studied. Peter was a bit behind the other three, but he was still better than I was. And it didn’t help that Mandy kept recounting the story of the time I had turned my table into an alligator.
“Moving on, please!” I said. “Something I can do, for once. Charms, anyone? Ancient Runes?”
“None of us are taking Ancient Runes,” said James. “I think Evans is, though,” and he turned around so fast in his chair that I heard his neck crick. “Evans?”
Lily sighed. “What, Potter,” she asked, rolling her eyes.
“You sure you don’t want to come sit with us? Melanie’s in Ancient Runes, you two can work together on it.”
“I’m busy!” She sounded exasperated. “Sorry, Melanie, nothing against you… I can work on that with you later if you want.”
“Lay off, Prongs,” Sirius muttered to James.
I nodded. “I’ll be just fine with this rune stuff.”
“Potions, everyone,” said Mandy brightly. “Something we’re all rubbish at!” She set her book on the table with a thud.
As we all moved on to Potions, James took one last glance at Lily, who seemed flustered and her auburn hair was coming out of its neat ponytail. Sirius followed James’s eye and said, “Are you ever going to give up on her, mate?”
“Never,” said James firmly. “Some day, Padfoot, when you fall in love, you’ll understand.”
Sirius leaned back with a silly grin on his face as he imitated a rather dramatic swoon, and then said, “I highly doubt that. Always the idealist, you are.”
As he said it he looked up briefly and his eyes met mine. I turned away quickly and pretended I hadn’t just been listening in on their conversation about their love lives.
I felt bad for both James and Lily at the same time. Lily had been constantly annoyed or asked out by James Potter at least three times a week since fourth year, and he tended to act like a prick around her. It had come to a climax last year when James had publicly embarrassed Snape, bringing Lily to actually yell at the both of them in an uncharacteristic explosion of anger. But James never got more than indifferent rejection from Lily, whom he genuinely cared about. I couldn’t decide who I pitied more.
I looked at Mandy, who was slightly red in the face but persistently tackling her Potions essay. She and Remus both had something written down – I had nothing. As silence descended upon our group, I started writing on my blank parchment.
Remus finished early, and left the table to go read in peace. But when Mandy finished, she had no more work to do, and began asking Sirius random questions about a different essay.
“Mandy, go talk to Remus, or someone else who’s not writing a paper,” I finally said, after Mandy remarked loudly that she liked Sirius’s new quill. She sat there indecisively, and I nudged her. “Oh, go on, he doesn’t bite,” I said, and Peter, James, and Sirius laughed a bit louder than seemed necessary. Mandy smiled, rolling her eyes, and walked across the room to join Remus.
I continued struggling with my paper, while across the table James and Sirius were effortlessly flying through theirs; the side of James’s left palm was blackened with ink smudges, a struggle I could appreciate as a fellow left-hander. And when finally we all finished, it was approaching dinner time. All four of us packed away our books, stood up and prepared to leave, and Remus and Mandy saw us and returned from their unsuccessful chess game. I slung my bag over my shoulder and started to leave the common room.
“Wait,” said Lily, calling me back. “Did you want to work on Ancient Runes with me later?” I walked back over to Lily’s table, where she and her friend were cleaning up the various parchments, quills, textbooks, and a few gum wrappers. Mandy waited for me.
“Sure,” I agreed, “that sounds good, how about after dinner?”
“Sounds good. So… you and Potter are friends now?” she added uncertainly.
“Yeah, I suppose. I’m not allowed to be friends with him and you at the same time?”
“I know you don’t like him,” said Mandy. “But Melanie isn’t James. She’s not going to be asking you out every five minutes, so I’d say it’s safe to be friends with her.”
We all laughed. “That wasn’t the issue,” Lily said. “I was actually just surprised; maybe Potter isn’t as much of a bigot as I thought he was. He’s just never been particularly kind to Slytherins in the past.”
“We’ve always had rivalry, just a sort of friendly one,” I said. “The whole group of them really – they’ve never been that cruel to us. I think they reserved that for Snape and his cronies.” I paused, seeing Lily tense up. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned him, I know how things ended with you…”
“Severus is part of the past for me,” said Lily. “He’s chosen his way, and I don’t care anymore.”
“You two are Slytherins?” asked Lily’s friend Tara, eyeing Mandy and me.
“Oh, I completely forgot to introduce you,” said Lily. “This is Tara, she’s a seventh year. Tara, this is Melanie and Mandy, they’re Slytherins in my year.”
“Hi,” we all said. Tara looked slightly confused as to why there were Slytherins hanging around in the Gryffindor common room, but didn’t say anything.
Mandy seemed to notice, and told Tara, “We met on the train in first year, and Lily and I know each other from Slug Club,” she paused to make a face.
Tara laughed. “Yes, I’ve heard plenty of stories about that…”
“Shall we go down to dinner?” Mandy asked.
We left through the portrait hole and went down on our way to the Great Hall. At the entrance Mandy and I hesitated, glancing over at the Slytherin table.
“Come on, join us over here today,” said Lily, and so we all walked to the Gryffindor table.
Dinner was the most enjoyable it had been in a long time. Lily was such a friendly person, and all of her friends who sat with us at dinner were equally nice to us. Afterwards I worked on Ancient Runes with Lily, but then I had to race back to the Slytherin common room before any prefects would catch me out after curfew. Upon reaching my dormitory, I collapsed on my bed and tossed my bag carelessly onto the floor.
Mandy was sitting on her bed, watching me over a pile of parchment. “Hey,” she said.
“Hi,” I responded.
“I’m confused,” Mandy announced, and I had a feeling she had a lot to share. She continued, “Where do we belong? I feel so at home with the Gryffindors, but sometimes I don’t know if I trust them. And we see our housemates less now – Charlotte still spends all her time with other Slytherins, and… I just don’t know how to balance it all anymore. There isn’t enough time to be everyone’s friend all the time. Some of the House rivalry runs a lot deeper than just competition.”
I nodded. I’d had good friends outside of Slytherin House before, but these days Slytherin was acquiring a bad reputation because it was commonly known that Voldemort had been a Slytherin at Hogwarts, and the increasing tension was palpable as Voldemort’s power grew stronger. “It does kind of feel like we’re in between Houses sometimes,” I agreed. “Maybe that’s not a bad thing, though. I think inter-House unity is only a good thing.”
“You’re right, maybe I should just give it time,” said Mandy, and then smirked. “And at least the Gryffindor boys are good at Transfiguration – at least we get that out of it!”
“Yeah, I’ve improved loads!” I said. I got out my wand, pointing it at a piece of parchment on the floor to Vanish it, but sparks flew out of my wand and hit Mandy’s small mirror on her bedside table and cracked it.
I looked up at Mandy, stuttering an apology, but she didn’t seem concerned. She just grinned and said, “Seven years bad luck!”
I laughed. “I give up.”
“You’ll get better.”
“Peter is better than me, and you saw how well he did at Vanishing Charms this afternoon.”
Charlotte, Alanna, and Rachel entered the dormitory at that point. “Did you hear?” Charlotte announced without preamble. “Remember Lucius Malfoy?”
I nodded eagerly. “Of course I remember him, he’s one of Nathan’s best friends.”
“Well, he proposed to Narcissa Black! I got this long letter from her today. And she said yes! She’d better invite me to her wedding.”
“Oh, Narcissa!” Mandy exclaimed. “I miss her! I’d been wondering how she was doing.”
Charlotte grinned, encouraged by our excitement, and read us the letter. Identical doe-eyed, sappy expressions appeared on Mandy’s and Alanna’s faces, and Rachel and I had a rare moment of shared appreciation of the silliness of our respective best friends. But whether or not we were gazing at the letter in Charlotte’s hands with silly grins, we all appreciated the news of some of our old housemates.
The next morning I walked into Transfiguration and took my normal seat next to Mandy. The Gryffindor boys came in late to class, though. I figured they had been off playing some prank. However, during class when we were practicing a new spell, we had time to talk to them.
Mandy was talking with Sirius, so I moved over next to James and Peter, since they were the next closest. “So what were—” I broke off. James had a huge gash on his arm and several more on his face. “What happened?” I gasped. I noticed similar scratches on Sirius; Peter seemed very tired, and Remus looked ill.
“Oh… um, just fancied a stroll in the Forbidden Forest.” He grinned.
“All four of you?”
“That’s why you were late to class?”
“I see… well, what was it like?” I asked.
“Oh, well… forbidden, dark, you know. Lots of trees, animals with claws.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I always knew you were all weird, but I thought you’d have more sense than that. That’s your idea of a fun pastime? Be careful, I’ve heard there are werewolves in there!”
He laughed. “I’ll keep my eyes open for that. If we do happen to see one, I’m sure we’ll be careful.” Peter giggled and then looked back at his snail. I looked up to see McGonagall glancing in our direction, and turned around to face my table again before she could tell me off for not paying attention in class.
Sirius and James mastered the spell very soon, winning ten points each for Gryffindor, and spent a good amount of time after that talking, and occasionally distracting Mandy when she was getting close to turning her snail into a saucer. By the end of class she was quite frustrated with the both of them, and during the last five minutes of class when we both finally mastered the spell, she even called Sirius an arrogant berk, something I had known he was for ages, but that seemed to have been lost on Mandy.
As we gathered our stuff, I raised my eyebrows at Mandy and told her, “I’m impressed.”
“You just called Sirius a berk. I never thought I’d see the day.”
Mandy giggled. “I know, it was terrible of me,” she said. “But he wasn’t laughing at my jokes. Well, I’m off to meet Russell now.”
Friendship with the Gryffindor boys was an interesting venture. Sometimes, though, it didn’t work out quite as well as we had intended – or at least, as well as Remus, Peter, and Mandy had intended. House rivalry was sometimes just too much fun.
Remus, Peter, James, and Sirius sat across the room from us in Charms, and after I’d quickly mastered the Silencing Charm on the raven on my desk, so that it sat there opening and closing its beak mutely, I couldn’t help but feel smug as I looked over at the boys. They all had noisy birds perched on their table, although they had neglected the birds and were instead laughing at Peter, whose raven was flying around his head as he ducked and waved his hands helplessly at it.
I turned back to Mandy, who was struggling as well. “Don’t wave your wand so gracefully, it’s more like – this,” I Silenced her raven as well.
“Excellent, Miss Hastings! Ten points to Slytherin!” exclaimed Professor Flitwick, a short tiny wizard who had to stand on a stack of books to see the class properly. He waved his wand at Mandy’s raven to lift the charm and have her try it again.
Mandy grinned at me, then went back to attempting the Silencing Charm on her raven. I smirked across the room at the Gryffindors. Who had just won ten points? Not them.
When Mandy attempted the charm again, altering her wand motion, Sirius strolled over to our table and grinned mischievously. “I know how it’s done. Allow me,” he said, and Mandy dropped her wand and gladly moved aside. Sirius muttered something, pointing his wand at Mandy’s raven, and all of a sudden, its cawing was magnified ten times, and it started flying around her.
“Did you mean to do that?” Mandy inquired.
“Yep,” said Sirius. “Don’t know if you’ll be able to fix it though…” He laughed.
“You lousy git!” said Mandy, talking loudly over the raven’s magnified noise. “Go away!”
Well, if that was how Sirius was going to be… “Allow me,” I said, smirking. “Silencio.” I pointed my wand directly at Sirius.
His eyes got wide. “Hey, wha—” he began, but couldn’t finish. He continued to open and close his mouth for a moment.
“That ought to keep you quiet for a while,” I said coolly. “I wonder if you can handle it? Now go away and leave Mandy alone. By the way, you look like a fish.”
James, Remus, and Peter had been watching and were all howling with laughter. Lily looked up, probably thinking some foul trick had been played during class, and saw Sirius silently mouthing like an idiot. She laughed as well and raised her eyebrows at me in surprise.
Professor Flitwick noticed the disturbance in the classroom and made sure Sirius went back to his own seat. Despite Sirius’ silence, the room still sounded like a zoo as Mandy’s magnified raven continued to screech, until she made me switch with her.
After class, as I walked out the door with Mandy, Lily Evans ran up behind me. “That was great! It really did us all a favour,” she laughed. “In fact, I loved your idea and did the same thing later on in class when Potter asked me out again.”
“Great! That should teach him.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Unfortunately, I don’t think it will… Oh well,” her face brightened, “it was hilarious to see the expression on his face! I caught him by surprise.”
Before I could respond, I suddenly found myself hanging upside down in the air by one ankle. My bag slipped down onto the floor, where I saw Sirius standing nearby, pointing his wand at me. I frantically pinned my arms to my sides to hold up my robes, but based on the smirk crossing Sirius’s face as his eyes darted up towards my legs, I hadn’t been very successful. With my free leg I tried to kick him, but he was slightly too far away.
“Your socks don’t match,” he informed me.
“BLACK!” I exclaimed; it was the best I could do. “What is this for?”
“You brought this upon yourself,” said Sirius, “with that silencing charm and all.” He had paced a step closer while he was talking, and I seized the opportunity; without hesitation I reached out a hand and grabbed a handful of his hair.
“Hey,” he muttered, trying to step away, but I had a good hold of him.
“Only if you let me down,” I said. “Besides, aren’t we supposed to stop all this jinxing?”
“Oh yeah,” said Sirius, flicking his wand at me; I swung back down onto the floor and subsequently let go my tight grip on his hair.
“Am I going to have to give you both a detention?” asked Lily blandly; Sirius and I looked at one another and started laughing. Before that point, I had sensed that Sirius was mildly opposed to the company of us Slytherins, but for some reason, that was the moment it all changed.
Mandy and I did our homework in the Slytherin common room, although at Lily’s request we ate dinner with her at the Gryffindor table. We were seated well away from the boys, but Lily kept glancing down the table at them.
“Ugh, Potter and Black are looking over here again,” said Lily, turning back to face us again.
“James I’d understand, but Sirius too?” asked Mandy. She looked up, puzzled, and both boys immediately looked down and began shoveling food in their mouths. Lily rolled her eyes.
“All ready for the Ancient Runes test tomorrow?” I asked, changing the topic. “I’m nervous about the test, but I really loved yesterday’s reading.”
Lily’s cheeks flushed to match her hair. “The test is tomorrow?”
“Oh no!” Lily exclaimed. “I mean, I thought it was next week, and if I’d known, I wouldn’t have stayed up so late last night. I was writing an article which I’ve submitted to Witch Weekly, about the disparity between the sexes in the Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers.”
“Really?” I asked, excited. “You’re getting published? Congratulations!”
“Well, I don’t know yet, but I hope so.”
“That’s wonderful, Lily – you’ll have to let us know how it turns out!” Mandy insisted.
As dinner finished, Lily departed to bury herself in last-minute rune translations, and Mandy and I sought out Charlotte.
“You should have joined us,” said Mandy.
“I was with Rachel and Alanna.”
“Okay. Well, you should join us again next time we go to the Gryffindor room, you’ve only come with us a few times.”
“I’ve told you, I don’t trust them,” said Charlotte.
“Neither do we,” I said as we approached the bare stretch of wall that concealed the Slytherin common room. “Anyway, Viper.” A door formed and we walked inside. It was the sixth password we’d had in a row that was a type of snake.
Several days later in mid-November, we found ourselves back in the Gryffindor room visiting the boys, after making them promise they would not use jinxes to levitate me upside down again.
“Not even today?” Sirius asked. “But it’s my birthday!”
“You never said so before!” exclaimed Mandy, hugging him. “Happy birthday, Sirius!”
“Thanks,” he said, laughing as Mandy released him. “We’re about to have a party, actually – you should both stick around!” He disappeared into his dormitory and then returned shortly with a stack of coloured party hats, two of which were red and gold, and he gave these to Mandy and me so he could be entertained by us having to wear Gryffindor colours. James, in the meanwhile, left the common room, saying he would be back later. Sirius handed a particularly repulsive yellow and pink striped glittery party hat to Remus, who politely refused it.
“Hey,” Sirius protested, “Prongs and I spent a while trying to fix this nice hat for you.”
“It’s not my birthday. Where’s yours, eh?”
Peter suggested to Remus, “You can always just make a worse one for him.”
“Where’s James?” I asked.
“He should be back soon,” said Sirius casually. And sure enough, in about five minutes, James came through the common room door with a bag full of Honeydukes sweets, which he threw around the common room, telling everyone the occasion. I wondered how James had managed to get all this. But I put that out of my mind as I enjoyed the celebration. A group of third-year girls came up to Sirius, blushing and giggling madly, to congratulate him on turning seventeen. I laughed to myself, remembering Mandy had once been very similar. She kind of still was.
We had a wonderful evening – and I was pleased to see that Remus and Mandy made an even more horrible party hat for Sirius, which was lavender and had unicorns frolicking on it. After a while of festivities, I realised we had to be back in our common room before curfew, so Mandy and I left.
The rest of November passed by slowly. The Slytherin Quidditch team kept practicing for their upcoming match against Gryffindor, which was to be in January. James, as Quidditch captain for Gryffindor, kept reminding us how excellent his team was and how badly Slytherin would be squashed, but otherwise we got on well. Together we pulled a few remarkable pranks on the entire school, but it was difficult because the Gryffindors wished to play tricks on Slytherin, and we wouldn’t allow it.
Even Charlotte sometimes joined us when we went to join the Gryffindors, but not often, because she enjoyed her popularity in Slytherin. Our fellow Slytherins had begun to notice that we disappeared all the time. Our friends, like Hector and Russell, didn’t mind, but others were less understanding of our friendship between two rival houses.
One day in late November after I had made a complete fool of myself in Transfiguration with my lack of skill, whereas James and Sirius had perfect transfigured teapots on their tables, Professor McGonagall announced an upcoming event which had not happened in a while.
“The Yule Ball,” she said, “will take place on Christmas day. It has a rather interesting history; it used to be a traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament, which, as some of you may know, was discontinued long ago because of the death toll. However, the Yule Ball is the only component that remains, although it’s not the same as it was in the past, when other wizarding schools would participate. As there will not be another for four years, I suggest if you feel like going, you stay at Hogwarts for the holidays.”
She looked as if she was most displeased with the thought of a ball at Hogwarts, but a buzz of discussion broke out in the room immediately. As the bell rang, a good number of people moved out of their seats to discuss this exciting prospect, carelessly leaving ink bottles and quills on the tables as they moved in packs out of the room. I made sure to collect all my stuff as Charlotte and Mandy and I left the room.
Mandy would likely be going with Russell, but Charlotte and I were single for the time being. I was secretly hoping Luke would ask me, but I knew there was no chance of it happening. Would it be that bad if I went without a date?
Some people came up with elaborate schemes to ask people to the Yule Ball. James would strategically place himself beneath floating mistletoe whenever Lily was near, but she ignored him every time. Once, I even ran straight into Peter and Sirius as they were levitating mistletoe over Lily from around a corner, and somehow they roped me into helping them charm the little plant. The second time we did this, it involved huddling with the two of them inside James’s Invisibility Cloak, which was certainly not built for three; there were too many elbows in a small space. It was all for naught anyway – somehow Lily suspected that James had had something to do with mistletoe following her around from class to class.
One day about a week before the Yule Ball, we Slytherin girls were sitting together with the Gryffindor boys at a table in the Gryffindor common room. We were discussing the Yule Ball, like nearly everyone else. The only ones who didn’t have a date were me, James, and Peter. James had asked Lily, but she said no; she was going with a Ravenclaw. And I had turned down Hector Branstone in the hopes that Luke Wilcox would ask me instead. I had begun to lose hope now, as Luke still had not asked and there wasn’t much time until the dance. Hector had already found another date, so he wasn’t even an option anymore.
“I’m getting kind of tired of this Yule Ball stuff,” James declared, yawning.
“Only because Lily won’t go with you,” said Peter.
“Hey,” said James defensively, “I’m pretty sure you don’t have a date either, Wormtail.”
“Yes, I do,” Peter said. “I asked her yesterday, my friend Sarah, she’s a fifth-year Hufflepuff.”
“You’re still going to go, right?” Mandy asked James.
“Yeah,” said James. “I don’t need a date. I’m going stag!” He laughed loudly, and Sirius gave him a high-five. I wondered if I had missed something, because it hadn’t been a very funny comment.
“Why don’t you ask someone?” Mandy suggested.
“Padfoot will give you twenty Chocolate Frog cards if you do,” Remus said slyly. Sirius punched him lightly on the shoulder.
“All right,” said James, smirking. “How about it then, Melanie? Do you want to go to the Yule Ball with me?”
“What?” I sputtered. “Seriously? Or is this just because of the Chocolate Frogs?”
James laughed. “No, I’m serious. We’re the only ones without dates, anyway.”
“Really?” interjected Sirius. “You’re Sirius? I thought I was!”
“Shut up, Sirius.” I said. I turned back to face James and paused. The truth was, I had been waiting so long for Luke to ask me, but with only a week until the dance, I had to accept that he would not be asking me. I needed to just forget about him, I couldn’t keep waiting. “Sure, I’ll go with you,” I said.
I laughed. “What are people going to think of you now? One of the people most responsible for playing tricks on Slytherins and now you’re going to the ball with one. I can’t believe I’m going with a Gryffindor.”
“Life is full of surprises.”
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