Chapter 15 : Preparations
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The late April weather was considered warm for Scotland at this time of the year, and I hated having to be indoors. I had spent lunchtime down at the quidditch pitch with Alice and Mary, watching George. I didn’t usually attend practises, but George had been so busy recently it was the only way I could see him. Alice had come along too, spending most of the time ogling Frank. I think we have different definitions about what keeping company means. At least Mary had been talkative whenever she flew past the stands.
Alice and Mary were lucky enough to have Care of Magical Creatures. They were eagerly anticipating whether they would tan or not. I, however, trooped into the sunless classroom, not particularly looking forward to Arithmancy. As usual, Lily was already there. “Thalia, did you see the announcement they put up in the common room?” she cried out from our table in the corner as soon as I entered.
“No, what did it say?”
“There’s a Hogsmeade trip this weekend, and you know what that means!” Lily had been waiting to see when the poster would go up; hoping that Maia would reveal what Remus asked her.
“Do you know where they could be?” Both of the seats in front of us were empty as the lesson began. I slid into my own seat, not wanting to get into trouble.
“Well, if we go by their conversation in the library, Remus will be confirming that he’s taking Maia out to lunch.”
“Do you think she’ll tell us then?”
“Girls, could you refrain from talking during the lesson,” Professor Montrose scolded.
“Sorry, sir,” we both cried out in unison. He gave us a brief nod before turning back to the number chart he was drawing on the board.
“I don’t know,” Lily whispered to me, still keen to carry on the conversation. “She hasn’t turned up yet. She knows that Montrose hates anyone turning up late, so she’ll need to give us an explanation for that.”
“Yeah, I suppose,” I muttered back. “It is strange that she's so late though.”
As soon as I finished speaking, the pair of them hurried into the classroom, both blushing red but grinning. I think Lily was right about Remus asking out Maia. Montrose gave them a stern look and told them to sit down.
They took their seats in front of us, slightly closer together than usual. I tried to hold back my gushing at the pair of them, but it was proving to be too hard.
“Thalia, if you want to get a detention for not completing the number chart that’s fine by me, but you might miss out on questioning Maia,” Lily hissed at me. I gave her a sheepish look in return before looking down at the parchment again. It would be a shame to miss out on that.
When the bell rang to signal the end of the lesson, Lily and I were among the first out of our seats. We strode over to Maia's desk, and Remus gave us a knowing look as he left.
“So, Maia, how come you were late?” I asked while she packed up her bag.
“I was just talking to Remus. Lily left lunch early to go to the library, and Remus decided to wait with me, seeing as we had Arithmancy together.” Maia’s cheeks blushed red. She really was a terrible liar.
“I left twenty minutes before this lesson began and still got here with five minutes to spare. How on earth did you manage to arrive so much later than me?” Lily glared at Maia at that point and even more red seeped through to her cheeks. I wondered how long she would be able to feign ignorance.
“We were just talking, you know,” Maia replied. “He was telling me about how James and Sirius had had a stupid argument. Peter’s sided with James over it, so Remus was left with Sirius who had been moping around and was no fun.”
Ah, it all made sense now. Usually the four of them were inseparable, but they had barely been talking for the past week. James was constantly angry and Sirius downcast. It did seem odd that something could have divided them so drastically.
“Do you know what they fell out about?” Lily asked.
Aha! She pretended she didn’t like James but then went and inquired about the argument. I would have to remember this as evidence for the future.
“No. All he said was that it was a mistake and they should just forget about it. Nothing else.” Maia shrugged and motioned towards the door. We headed out of the classroom and into the chaos of the corridors.
Lily decided to return to the subject in question. “But that still doesn’t explain your blushing! Did he grab and kiss you all the way down the corridor and that’s the reason for the blushing?” Honestly, Lily, how on earth would saying that help?
“Er, not quite that,” Maia said gingerly. “He did ask me out to lunch at the Three Broomsticks in repayment for the Potions tuition. Only as friends, mind.”
Perhaps I had judged Lily’s plans too quickly. She did make Maia admit what had really happened. I couldn’t help but let out a little squeal of excitement, and I was glad that Lily had joined me in doing so.
“So how did he ask you? And where did he do it? Ah, this is so exciting!” Lily gushed.
“Well, he had already mentioned earlier that he wanted to do something like this, so it was mainly him confirming it. It wasn't anywhere special, just in a corridor on the way to Arithmancy.”
I was about to reply, but I head my own name being called out. “Thalia, I’ve been looking for you everywhere! Do you mind if I borrow her for a bit?” George asked the others in mid-run to me.
Lily winked at me. “Of course, have fun Thalia.” Lily continued to pester Maia about the details as they carried on walking down the corridor. I almost wanted to stay with them and find out more about Remus and Maia, but I supposed that I should see what George wanted.
“Are you alright, George?” I didn’t exactly want to go and demand what he wanted straight away, so I had to turn to the awkward small talk.
“I’m fine.” He grinned at me. It must be something big. “So I was wondering whether you wanted to go to Hogsmeade together this weekend.”
I thought it might be that. I never really got the emphasis about going to Hogsmeade with a date. I mean, going with your friends was just as fun, if not more, because it required less effort looks wise. But then again, it would be a little weird saying no to my boyfriend, as we were meant to go on dates.
“Yeah, it sounds great. Shall we meet in the Great Hall at eleven?”
“Sure. Listen, I’ve got to run. I have a Herbology revision session in a few minutes.” He gave me a brief kiss on my lips before hurrying off to the greenhouses.
With all of revision sessions and quidditch practises, I felt as if I barely saw him. Even though I sometimes went to watch him at the practises like today, I still couldn’t talk to him as he was flying around saving goals and whatnot.
I trudged up the first set of many stairs to the common room; hopefully talking to Maia about Remus would cheer me up.
“Thalia,” I heard my name cried out again. I turned around thinking it was George again, but I was surprised to see someone else.
“Sirius,” I said curtly and gave him a nod as a sign of recognition. I couldn’t help but feel tinges of guilt. It was partly towards George for kissing someone else when dating him, but then towards Sirius too. I knew now that I had overreacted and blew the situation miles out of proportion. “How are you?”
“I’m ok.” His voice was more subdued than usual.
“Does the fact that you’re only ok have something to do with James?” I inquired; perhaps I would find out what the fight was about through him.
He gave me a weak smile before replying. “It may do. Do you have any solutions for winning over a stubborn person?”
“You obviously did something he didn’t agree with, so he’s not going to forgive you straight away. Give him time. You will be friends again, Sirius.” That was what I had learnt through Lily, anyhow.
“Thanks, Thalia. I’ve got to go and do some Charms homework, I’ll see you around.” With one last smile he headed down the corridor towards the library. Well, that was odd. I had managed to actually have a civil conversation with him
Saturday came around much quicker than I thought it would, I mused, while spreading marmalade on my toast. “So what are your plans for the day?” I asked Lily, Alice and Mary. Maia had rushed back to the dorm for her purse so I felt they could reply safely without clueing her in to what they had in mind.
Lily and Mary looked in no fit state to reply, due to both of them hating mornings with a great deal of passion, so it was left to Alice to do the talking. “Just the usual stuff, wandering around, going to The Three Broomsticks. Possibly spying on Maia and Remus.”
Mary livened up at the last part. “It’s not possibly, it’s definitely. I would never miss an opportunity to see what they were up to!” I had to try and not laugh at her, because spraying crumbs of toast over Lily would not brighten her mood.
I swallowed the last bit of it before replying. “I suppose it’s the only fair thing to do considering that you extended the same courtesy to me and George.”
“What was that you were saying about me, Thalia?” George asked while slipping into the seat next to me.
“Nothing much, just talking about last time we went to Hogsmeade.” I smiled at him. He leaned in and kissed me on the lips. Hmm, I suppose this made up for him not being around that often.
“Please refrain from doing that when I’m eating as I felt a little bit of vomit rise up in my throat,” Mary joked, and I broke away from him.
“If you’re going to be like that, we’ll go as I’m done with breakfast. Shall we?” I asked George and he nodded in reply. I grinned at the others, before making my way out of the hall.
We gave our names to Filch who ticked us off of the register and ambled down to Hogsmeade. Once we got there, George decided to break the silence. “Er, Thalia, I meant to tell you earlier, but I can only really stay here for an hour or so. I have another NEWT revision session.”
“Another one,” I grumbled to myself. I hoped I could actually spend time with him, not just a quick drink in The Three Broomsticks and a kiss in an alley.
Apparently George heard my grumble. “This is important, Thalia. I won’t always be able to survive on quidditch. Even then, it’s not definite whether I’ve made the team for Puddlemere yet. I have to do well on these NEWTs.”
Damn. He had made me feel all guilty for thinking that now. “I’m sorry, George. It’s just I feel I barely see you what with the revision sessions, quidditch and then your normal schoolwork.”
“I know, I feel the same too, but we’ll just have to deal with it for now. It will be over soon.” But then you’ll be gone, I couldn’t help think. “Look," he said, "I’ll try and make it up to you now.”
George grabbed hold of my hand and led me down a deserted alley. He wrapped his arms around my neck and began to kiss me. I suppose one part of my prediction was coming true. It would have to do for now. After all, George was a good kisser.
We somehow managed to lose track of the time, and George ended up having to run back up to Hogwarts. I guess he had made it up to me, as that hour was certainly well spent. I walked out of the alley, hoping dearly that no one I knew had spotted me down there. The Three Broomsticks was only a few doors down so I hurried inside, hoping to find the others.
The barrage of noise created by all the customers overwhelmed me. I scanned the crowds of people and found that my three friends had unfortunately ended up at the table by the toilets.
“Hi,” I greeted them, slipping into a seat between Alice and Mary.
“How come you’re back already? I would say you had a lover's tiff, but judging by how your hair is ruffled and your lips are swollen; that would only have happened after a heated kissing session, am I correct?” Mary asked.
Oops. I probably should have checked in the mirror before joining them. I patted down my hair self-consciously before replying. “No, we didn’t have a tiff. George had another NEWT revision session, so he had to go back early.”
“No comment on the heated kissing session, so you must be right about that, Mary,” Lily joked.
“Haha, you’re so funny," I joked back. "How’s the spying on Maia and Remus going?”
“We haven’t seen them yet,” Alice replied. “We thought that if they came in here Maia was probably going to have to go to the toilet so we could corner her then.”
“Wow, you’ve even implemented a strategy to the spying. I didn’t realise you were all so dedicated.” I noted the empty glasses on the table and decided I may as well put myself to some use. “Who wants another drink?”
After a chorus of yes pleases from the others, I battled through the crowds of fellow Hogwarts students until I reached the bar. “Four butter beers please,” I said to Rosemerta who bustled off to get them. I saw Peter standing not far from me, so I decided to go and speak to him. I had meant to talk to him more ever since that incident at Christmas, I just never got round to seeing him.
“Are you alright, Peter?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He smiled at me. “James keeps on making me run after Remus whenever he thinks he sees him. The only problem is he thinks he sees him more often than he actually does.”
“I know the feeling! I wouldn’t mind spying on them a little, as it is fun, but the lengths the others are going to are a bit extreme.”
Rosemerta returned and placed two glasses of butter beer by Peter. Sirius hadn’t been invited along with them then. “I’ll see you around Thalia.” With that, he headed back to the table where James was sitting. I could see what he meant about James’ dedication as his head kept on gawking out in all directions looking for the pair of them.
Once Rosemerta gave me my own order, I had to perform a juggling act through the crowds of people, attempting not to spill a single drop of the amber liquid.
“Here you go.” I handed out the butter beers to all of them, receiving a chorus of thanks this time round. Alice suddenly let out a little gasp, and I saw Remus and Maia walking in, laughing with one another. They couldn’t stop smiling and headed over to a table on the opposite side of the room so they were out of our sight.
All four of us let out a little aw and couldn’t stop smiling too. “I don’t think we should go and spy on them. It would ruin their little moment they’re having,” Mary announced and earned murmurs of approval from the rest of us.
“Besides, Maia will probably tell us everything afterwards. We’ll even have time to do some extra revision for the OWLs if we head back early,” Lily said happily. I think she was the only one out of us who was happy about getting more time to revise.
“You always known how to look on the bright side, Lils,” I chuckled before sipping my butter beer. This day had taken a turn for the better, after all.
Lily was true to her word about the extra revision time. As soon as we had made our way back up to the tower, she marched us up to our dorm to collect our books and notes before we were back in the common room at a table by the window.
Lily’s head was bent down over a sheaf of parchment while she muttered away dates about goblin rebellions circa 500 AD. I honestly didn’t know how she could do it. The OWLs were in less than a month now, but considering we had just spent the day in Hogsmeade all my mind could think about was that time spent with George.
Alice played the role of dutiful student too and had a map of all the constellations and galaxies spread out in front of her. Mary was the only one who dared to join in my musings. She was playing noughts and crosses with herself on a scrap bit of parchment.
I raised my head at the sound of footsteps approaching our table. “Er, hi Thalia,” Sirius mumbled. “I wanted to thank you for your advice, and it helped a lot.”
“It was no problem. Glad that I could help.” I felt the others stare at me, but I did my best to ignore them.
“I’ll see you around.” He gave me a quick wave before hurrying up the stairs to the boys’ dorms.
“What was that about?” Lily asked. She actually allowed herself to have a break from revising?
“He just asked me how to make it up with James a few days ago. Nothing else.”
“Hmm, I’m going to keep my eye on this. I have a feeling that there’s more to it.” She stared at me before returning to her work.
Alice and Mary smirked at me, but fortunately Maia came in at that exact moment and managed to provide the next distraction. She quickly spotted us before walking over.
“Did Lily get you working already?” She grinned at us. “If I had known she would be like this I would have stayed out longer.”
“If you tell us about your date, you’ll be alleviating our boredom for several minutes,” Mary piped up.
“Yes, considering it was such an important event I’ll forget about the fact Thalia and Mary have spent the past hour just sitting here. I don’t even know why I bother. It’s not my problem if you want to fail your OWLs,” Lily moaned. “Where is Remus anyway?”
“James pulled him off somewhere as soon as we entered the castle.” Maia pulled a chair over from the neighbouring table and sat down. “Thank you for deciding not to spy us. I saw all of you in the pub, and I was expecting to be accosted any minute, but you all disappeared soon after.”
“We knew you would tell us anyway,” Alice said. “So go on, we want to know all the gory details!”
“I’m not sure if there are any gory details to tell, but it was really nice. We talked all the time and we never ran out of anything to say which was a surprise. Then we did the usual rounds of the shops, and then went to The Three Broomsticks. After that, Remus took me to this place by the Shrieking Shack which was really beautiful. And we may have kissed,” Maia said, mumbling the last part.
“He kissed you!” Lily exclaimed. “How did he end the date? I mean, if he’s already kissing you it must be pretty serious.”
“Well, he was just saying what a nice time he had and how he would love to do it again, then James came along and cut it off. So I don’t really know.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you find out,” I replied and gave Maia a comforting smile. Everything felt as if it was coming together now. Me and George seemed ok now, Maia and Remus were finally together and Sirius and I had even sort of made it up
Author’s Note: Sorry you had to wait for ages for this chapter, hopefully I’ll be quicker next time! Noughts and crosses is the British version of tick-tack-toe in case anyone else was confused. Another massive thank you to my beta, pixileanin, who is such a massive help! This chapter pushes the word count to above 50,000 so it’s officially a novel! I hoped you enjoyed the Maia/Remus developments and I would love to hear your thoughts in a review!