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Chapter 3 : three
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Looking up and down the long corridor, Sally sighed. It was empty. She smoothed down her top, fiddling with the buttons on her front nervously. She was going out. Socialising. It was even called a ‘social’- she was pretty sure she didn’t have the qualifications for this. All she wanted to do was to play Quidditch, not go out. She’d only come because James had said ‘compulsory’ and because she’d assumed that one appearance at a social meant she wouldn’t have to go to any of the other ones.
She rubbed at an imagined scuff mark on her patent leather ballet pumps and leaned against the wall. She’d really tried hard tonight, which meant she was wearing her only non-sensible pair of shoes, newish jeans and a red cotton blouse and her hair was neatly tied back in a ponytail. The third year that had beaten Sally to seeker came around the corner, with a short girl who was wearing an even shorter skirt. They stood slightly apart from Sally, clearly not wanting to be tainted by association. Sally ignored them.
James Potter arrived five minutes before half past, and trailing behind him was the rest of the team. Sally was sat in the corridor, opposite the hunchbacked statue, leant back against the wall and her eyes were closed. Sirius Black gave her a light kick, and she started.
“W-what?” she said, blinking.
“Were you asleep?” he said, amusedly.
She rubbed her eyes. “I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
He held out a hand to help her up- behind him, Potter was trying to count heads, but his words seemed to be slurring slightly. “I’m afraid you probably won’t get much tonight...” Black broke off as James staggered slightly, causing Remus to put out a steadying hand.
“Look at that disgrace,” Sirius continued, indicating his friend and shaking his head. “That sad excuse is our captain, and our Head Boy. I’ve got a good mind to write to Dumbledore and complain. What kind of a school is this, anyway?”
Potter heard him and stuck his tongue out, as Remus took over the attendance. Black went over to help James stay upright, leaving Sally again. She looked around the corridor. The team (and friends) were making a hell of a lot of noise, but there was no sign of Filch, any teachers, or even a Prefect. There was about twenty of them all together, including a few reserves- most of whom were too young to come. Sally watched with interest as Remus tapped the hunchbacked statue with his wand, whispering something she couldn’t hear. With a loud creaking, the statue split open, revealing a black crevasse in the witch’s back, which grew wide enough to fit a person down.
“Everyone’s here,” Remus called, gesturing at the hole in the statue. “Let’s go!”
Sally ended up at the back of the mob, following the noise down the passageway. “Lumos!” she said, lighting her wand on the first try. It took about twenty minutes until the tunnel ended, but it probably would have been quicker if the majority of people in front of her weren’t stumbling. They finished up in Honeydukes, Sally assumed, judging from the sweet smells of chocolate and toffee.
Sirius was at the top of the passageway, holding open the trapdoor for the team. “Thought we’d lost you for a second there, Wood,” he whispered.
Sally smiled at him. “Not likely.”
He grinned back, letting the trapdoor down softly. Any noise he made was covered up by the rest of the team though- they were making more of a racket trying to be quiet than they had been earlier. Sirius jogged off to join his friends at the front of the column, and Sally stayed at the back, content to follow them.
They ended up in the Three Broomsticks, with Madam Rosmerta seemingly unaware that the majority of her patrons were underage. Sally found a corner and a stool, and squished herself in. Really, she was happy enough to just sit there and watch the rest of the team as they chatted and laughed and drank. Georgia Jones had a frothy moustache from her ale, and was also having to fend off James’ wandering hands. Remus was sitting with a few of the younger kids and was teaching them a drinking game- Pettigrew was with them as well, but he was sound asleep. Someone knocked over Remus’ drink, and he leaped up, but the pint left a brown stain all down the front of his shirt. She couldn’t see Black though and Sally felt a pang of worry, searching the familiar faces again.
“Who are you looking for?”
She jumped and swore in surprise.
“You’re quite on edge, aren’t you?” Black said, laughing.
Sally pushed him half-heartedly. “I am when people wake me up suddenly or deliberately scare me.”
Black agilely hopped up onto the stool next to her. “Enjoying yourself?” he asked.
To her surprise, Sally nodded honestly. “I am actually.”
“Good,” he said. “Wait- do you even have a drink?”
“Have you had a drink at all tonight?”
“No? Should I have?”
Black snorted. “That is the idea, you know? Socialising, having a drink with your mates...” he trailed off, and jumped down from his seat. “Stay there.”
He left and Sally settled back, almost surprised again when he returned with two pale orange pints which smelt of spices and sugar. He passed one to Sally, and managed to get back onto his tall stool without spilling any, a feat which she complimented him on.
“Thanks,” he said.
She smiled. “Thanks for the drink. What is it?” she said, sniffing it experimentally.
Black shook his head. “I have no idea. It tastes amazing though, and it’s got rum in.” He looked immensely satisfied with himself, and Sally raised a questioning eyebrow. He shrugged. “I just really like rum.”
They were silent for a moment, before Sally realised she should say something. That was how you socialised, wasn’t it? “Are all socials like this?” she asked.
Black nodded, taking a deep drink of his pint. “Yeah, we all meet up, then come down here until closing. They’re usually smaller than this though- just the main team and no friends. Less hassle, but we say its for better team bonding.”
“How come you could get away with a party this big tonight?”
“Ah, James managed to sweet talk McGonagall into letting us have one big social at the start of the year on the condition they won’t catch us having another.”
“So the rest of the socials...”
Black grinned. “We just don’t let them catch us.”
Sally laughed, and across the room, Potter threw back his head and laughed so much at something he started to hiccup.
Black shook his head. “What a mess. It’s never fun being the responsible sober one.”
“You don’t drink?” Sally asked, surprised, trying to remember. She was pretty sure she’d seen them all drunk before.
“Oh no, of course I do, but James and I take it in turns at socials to be the responsible ones. I drew the short straw tonight. Remus helps out as well,” he said, nodding at the table across from them. “He’s got the constitution of a giant though, so lucky for him, he doesn’t have to go easy on the rum,” he said forlornly, swilling his drink around in the glass.
“Don’t cry into it Black, you’ll spoil it,” Sally said, and he grinned.
It was past midnight by the time they reached the castle grounds. They’d been kicked out of the pub at closing time, about half eleven, and now Sally and Sirius were bringing up the rear of the party. Remus was leading, and the middle was a mess of drunkards who were singing an extremely rude version of the school song.
The main party was actually very far in front, but the two of them had to keep shepherding any stragglers- which was actually the Captain and a younger kid. As they got closer, Sally realised it was the third year who beat her to Seeker. The lad was propping up James as they staggered up the path, but he suddenly let go to be sick, and James fell heavily, landing on his side and rolling down the path a little way.
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “That is really going to hurt in the morning.”
James managed to get to his knees before groaning loudly and vomiting as well. Up ahead, Georgia turned around and laughed at him. Sirius shook his head at his friend and jogged up to him.
“Come on mate, better out than in.” He patted him on the back lightly, while James coughed. “Sally, can you get Daniel, please?”
Sally gingerly walked up to the boy, who was hunched over, his face ashen. “You alright, mate?” she said, trying to adopt Black’s easy going tone.
“Does it look like it?” Daniel said, spitting onto the grass.
“Are you finished?” Sally said, more snappishly. She had no time for rudeness, not when she was trying to help and could easily just leave him on the side of the path.
“Give us a hand up,” he said, instead of answering, and Sally managed to heave him to his feet, keeping a cautious hand on his arm the rest of the way to the castle, while Black half-dragged James behind.
“There’s a side door,” Black hissed as they stood in front of the huge oak doors. “Round to the right. Is it open?”
Sally left Daniel propped up against the wall and lit her wand, shining it towards where Sirius was pointing. There was a door, half-hidden in shadows, and not one she’d ever noticed before. She gave it a kick and it swung open easily.
“Yeah, it’s open,” she called back, and heard James retch again.
“God’s sake, how do you even have anything left to bring up?” Black said crossly, and Sally stepped out of their way as they stumbled through the door.
She went back for Daniel, who was in exactly the same position as she’d left him, and looped his arm across her shoulders. They made it back to the common room without incident, apart from James falling down one of the moving staircases. Sirius helped Daniel to the top before he went back for James, who seemed quite content to lie on the stone floor, curled up on his side.
“Sleepy drunk?” Sally said with a smile, after it took both of them to get him up. “My brother is exactly the same. He has a few and then hell or high water won’t wake him.”
They left James sat outside the common room, while they both got Daniel into his dormitory. “He’ll be alright,” Sirius said, as he staggered across the room and straight into the curtains of a four poster- which judging by the yell, was already occupied.
Then it was James’ turn, and Black had to pull him through the portrait hole, with Sally on the other side pushing in order to get him in.
“Why is he so heavy?” Sally panted, and Sirius shook his head.
“I’m telling him he needs to go on a diet,” he said, heaving Potter on to the nearest sofa. Sally swung his legs up after; they were like lead weights.
She pushed her hair back from her face, and sighed, checking her watch. Nearly one in the morning, and Flitwick’s essay was still untouched. She counted the hours. Maybe... five hours sleep tonight? And that was only if she got to sleep straight away. She felt too awake and alert, but Black yawned, and Sally found herself copying him.
“I’m just going to leave him down here,” he said. “I can’t be arsed dragging him up all those stairs.”
Sally nodded in agreement, and spotted the team’s Keeper also sprawled across an armchair, his mouth wide open. “I’m off to bed,” she said. “Thanks, I had a good night.”
“Despite being awfully sober and having to look after terrible drunkards?” Black said, also starting towards his staircase. Sally smiled.
“Even despite that.”
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