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The Brave at Heart by marauderfan
Chapter 16 : What Friends Are For
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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A/N: Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has reviewed so far (especially you, APerkins!) – you have no idea how much it means to me! I’m so happy to know people are enjoying this and I’m not just posting it for my own entertainment. :P And without further ado…


*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Hogwarts welcomed us back from the Easter holidays with a week of beautiful, sunny weather. The Apparition Test was on the first Wednesday of May for those who were old enough to take it, and afternoon classes that day were incredibly dull with so few students there; we didn’t cover anything new, and it felt like a waste of time.

On Thursday night about a week later, Mandy, determined to get me back for the early wakeup Charlotte and I had inflicted upon her for her own birthday, informed me that she would wake me up at four in the morning the next day; thankfully, this did not happen.

I woke at a normal time on the 13th, and opened my presents before heading down to breakfast. I had received a lovely necklace from Charlotte, a small lunascope from Mandy, a collection of Chocolate Frogs, Peppermint Toads, and Fudge Tadpoles from Luke, and a new deck of Exploding Snap cards (the very frequent explosions were finally wearing down my old deck), a Nose-Biting Teacup, and various Honeydukes’ items from Remus, James, Sirius and Peter. The gift I got from my parents was a stunning gold watch with stars circling the face; it was beautiful, just like my mum’s, and the best gift I could ever remember getting from my family. I put it on immediately and got ready to go to breakfast.

After breakfast we unfortunately still had to go to Potions… I couldn’t get everything I wanted for my birthday.

Because nearly a third of the people who took last week’s Apparition Test had failed, Slughorn decided that we should make ‘something amusing’ in class to cheer us up, and gave us the hour to make whatever potion we liked. I stared at him, dumbfounded – how could I ever create a remotely good potion if we didn’t even have instructions on what to make? There was a greater chance of me accidentally exploding the entire Potions dungeon than inventing my own good potion.

Mandy had already started her potion. I had no idea what it was, but it smelled nice. I rifled through Advanced Potion-Making for some ideas and came across the Giggling Potion, which didn’t look too difficult, so I decided I might have a good chance with it.

Halfway through class I looked over at Charlotte’s potion. She was making a Chuckling Potion, which I hoped would be similar enough to mine that I could compare mine to hers every so often, but hers was now a clear purple colour instead of the odd green sludgy mixture I had in my cauldron. Perhaps they weren’t supposed to be similar anyway…

As I was about to add a bat liver to my cauldron, I noticed that the entire potion had solidified. I couldn’t even stir it anymore. I pounded the stirring stick on the top of the solid mass in my cauldron in frustration.

“Is it supposed to be so hard?” I asked Charlotte about my failed potion.

Sirius turned around in his chair and wagged his eyebrows suggestively at me. Prat. I threw the bat liver at him, and it hit him in the face. I was bad enough at potions without his comments, regardless of whether or not he actually said anything out loud.

As satisfied as I was to hear the smack as it hit his face, and the laughter of the other Gryffindor boys, Slughorn had unfortunately seen me. I got a detention for that night, which irked me to no end because I was supposed to be celebrating my birthday. And it was all Sirius’s fault. I went to the cupboard to get another bat liver.

“I can’t say anything around Sirius, can I?” I asked Charlotte when I got back.

Charlotte laughed. “Well, you were asking for it by saying that.”

Mandy agreed. “One could say that he can’t do anything around you without you overreacting.”

I rolled my eyes. “You’re a lot of help. He was asking for a bat liver to the face.”

Defence Against the Dark Arts that afternoon was much better. We were working our way through various methods of repelling dementors, which we had written about several weeks before. This week we had been doing the practical application of the Patronus Charm, which Charlotte and I could already do, so we spent most of the lesson talking, and occasionally sending our Patronuses running around the room to win points for Slytherin.



When I walked into the Potions dungeon for my detention after dinner that evening, Slughorn was sitting behind his desk. “Hello, Professor,” I said, trying not to sound too glum.

“Miss Hastings,” he greeted me. “There will be someone else joining you in detention today. All you will be doing is cleaning the dungeon. The third-years got a little out of hand this afternoon.” He laughed, and flicked his wand and some rags and cleaning solution appeared on a desk. “Your potion today was very peculiar,” he said absentmindedly as he glanced at the clock, waiting for the other person. “But I think you have potential – sitting by Miss Macintosh will pay off in the end!” He smiled genially at me, as if expecting what he said to cheer me up.

I forced a smile. “Er, great…”

“Oho! Here he is,” said Slughorn, looking towards the door as Sirius walked in; as it turned out, Sirius also had a detention. “I’ll let you get to work then,” Slughorn said. “I’ll be checking in every so often, so make sure you’re using that soap and not magic!” He chuckled to himself and left.

I poured some soap on the nearest desk and started scrubbing it. There was some odd burnt residue left over from the third-years’ class that afternoon, and it somewhat resembled my congealed attempt at a Giggling Potion.

Sirius started whistling to himself. I scowled. It irritated me how happy he was in detention when I would give anything to be celebrating my birthday with my friends. I scrubbed the desk with vigour, hoping if I worked hard I could be done just a little bit faster.

“You in a hurry?” asked Sirius, grinning as I cleaned the desk at an almost unnatural speed. He was sitting down, leaning lazily against the ingredient store cupboard, his dark hair falling casually into his eyes, as he pointed his wand at a rag that was slowly drifting along the desk. It gave the distinct impression that he was in no hurry and felt the whole thing was a waste of his time.

I couldn’t stand his arrogance. “Yes I am. It looks like I’ll have to do everything myself though, since you’re being absolutely no help. You’re even using magic, which you’re not supposed to do, and still you’ve only cleaned about three inches of that desk.”

“Oh come on, old Sluggy’s just left and he won’t be back for a while. He’ll never know.” He still had that aggravating grin on his face.

I didn’t answer and finished scraping the last of the mess off the table, still without magic, and moved on to another table. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction that he was right and it would be fine to use magic.

“Why are you so grumpy?” asked Sirius. He was still sitting in the same place, the rag pathetically wiping the same spot on his table.

“Because it’s my birthday today and I’d much rather be spending it doing something fun than scrubbing slime off the desks in the Potions dungeon with you, seeing as you’re the reason I’m in here.”

Sirius laughed. “I am? How is it my fault? I certainly didn’t force you to throw anything at me in class. That was your decision.”

“Why are you in detention too?” I asked him. “I didn’t think Slughorn gave you one.”

“Nah, this one is from McGonagall. She’s run out of things for me to do, and this needed to be done so she’s having me help out other professors. And it’s been really boring, now that James is too busy being in love to have time for fun anymore, so I’m in no hurry.”

“Why have you had so many detentions recently?”

He just shrugged. “People keep being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And by that, I mean professors keep showing up when I’m in the middle of something like hexing a Slytherin.”

“Ha, ha,” I said. Sometimes I wondered whether he said things like that to annoy me, or because he genuinely forgot that I was a Slytherin too. “Hey, Regulus is your brother, right? Does this anti-Slytherin thing keep going when you’re at home? Or is it all for show?” I laughed.

But he didn’t find this funny at all. He scowled, and the atmosphere in the room changed instantly as he retorted, “Why don’t you mind your own business?”

“It was just a question!” I cried. “If you’d rather clean this dungeon in complete silence, be my guest.”

And indeed, that was what happened for the next half hour, punctuated by my throwing snide comments at him to see if he’d speak. He did not. For a while, I felt much better, as I could say whatever I wanted and he wouldn’t argue with me. But then I grew bored of that, and tried to get him to talk to me again — not easy considering I had just spent the last hour taunting him.

“Let’s talk about something else, then,” I said. “There’s a lot I don’t know about you – what’s your favourite animal? Or your favourite Hobgoblins song? Mine is ‘Sand Witch’.”

But he remained silent. As superficially fun as he was on a daily basis, he had walls of iron around him, and there was no way I could get through. Where I was often transparent, he was guarded; I had no idea what was going through his head. He was a complete mystery to me. And I really wanted to know, but it wasn’t my business.

“Well, you’re an open book, aren’t you,” I said sarcastically. “Look, I’m sorry I asked you about Regulus. I was just joking, I didn’t realise… I shouldn’t have. I won’t bring it up again. But are you really not going to talk to me at all anymore just because of that? We are friends after all, are we not?”

He became very interested in a large soap bubble on the table. I pointed my wand at his desk and cleaned it instantly, and he finally looked up at me.

“Why are you so grumpy?” I asked, imitating his question from the beginning of the detention. “Even I’m happier than you, and I’m in detention on my birthday with Mr. Mood Swing, who won’t speak to me. And I don’t believe you’ve wished me Happy Birthday yet.”

Sirius sighed. “It’s just family drama, Melanie,” he said quietly. “Reg and I aren’t on good terms right now, I’m sure you’ve noticed.”

I was startled to hear him speak again, and considered giving him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder but then decided better of it as it might not be appreciated. “As far as family drama goes, that’s not too bad, I suppose,” I said to fill the silence. “My great-aunt Astrid once set a fire in our house when she was trying to take a family picture.”

At that moment, Slughorn walked in to check on us and make sure we weren’t using magic. He glanced at the tables and said it was looking nice, and turned to go again.

Surprisingly, after he had left, Sirius grinned at me. “I told you it wouldn’t be a problem if we used magic. I had my wand out on the table the whole time and he didn’t say anything.”

“Well he saw that you weren’t using it, and you’ve been working slowly enough that he probably figured you hadn’t used magic at all.”

“That’s not the way to get someone to talk to you again,” said Sirius. “You’re not very nice.”

“You had the stupidest reason for not talking to me.”

“Yeah, you mentioned that a couple of times while you were begging me to talk to you again.”

“I did not beg.”

“Sure seemed like it. It’s all right, I understand — you missed talking to me.”

“Missed you like a wart.”

We continued cleaning the desks again and I was in a much better mood. I was working on one of the last few tables when Sirius said, “Come here.”

I looked over at him and he was not working, but hunched over by the desk, apparently looking at something on it. “What’s that?” I asked as I came to look, but just then he stood up and cried “Aguamenti!” I was standing less than a foot away from him at that point, and got completely drenched by the fountain of water.

He roared with laughter at me standing there dripping, until I had the sense to go get my own wand and sent water after him. A prolonged water fight ensued, and after we were both absolutely soaked, we had a competition to see who could hit a target on the blackboard from the furthest distance away. This tended to be messy, especially once we had gotten to the point when we were standing in the back of the room, as far as we could get from the blackboard. We must have spent an hour shooting water all around the room and laughing.

Slughorn unfortunately chose this point to stop in again and check how we were doing. Sirius and I quickly stowed our wands as we heard the door opening, but there was no hiding the several inches of water on the floor.

“What’s this?” he asked. “Trying to flood Hogwarts to get out of your detention?”

“Professor, I’m sorry, you told us not to use magic, so we couldn’t clean up all the water we spilled,” said Sirius.

“We spilled a bit of water because were cleaning so enthusiastically,” I said. “And look, it worked, we’re almost done.”

Slughorn decided he needed to supervise the rest of our detention, so after he dried off the floor and his shoes, he sat at his desk and graded papers while Sirius and I scrubbed the last desk together.

“Well that was fun,” said Sirius as we left. “Who’d have thought it.”

“Yes it was, after you’d stopped sulking in the corner while I did the work.”

“You seemed quite happy to do the work yourself. You were cleaning the tables so fast you were blurry.”

“Maybe that means you need to get your eyes checked.”

“I can see just fine, thank you. You were the one who kept missing the board when we shot water at it,” he said, grinning.

“Don’t start getting delusions of grandeur,” I said. “I didn’t miss any more than you did.”

“So will I be seeing you again for another detention in the near future?” he asked, as we were still just standing in the corridor talking and should probably get on our way.

“If you continue to be a prat and make fun of my potions, there is all likelihood of that happening, unfortunately. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go celebrate my birthday.”

“Well great, I think I’ll continue making fun of your potions then,” he said. I shook my head, laughing. “I’ll see you later,” he added. “Oh, and Melanie? Happy birthday.”

“Thanks.”

He gave me a brief hug and then turned to go. I left the detention with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.



The moment I walked into the Slytherin common room, Mandy, Charlotte, Alanna, Hector and Russell surprised me with a cake! It seemed they had used the time while I was in detention to plan a surprise party for me.

“Why’s your hair all wet?” asked Mandy. “You’re soaked!”

I looked down and realized that I was indeed still dripping water on the floor. I had forgotten all about it as Sirius and I were having too much fun in detention!

“Oh… yeah. Sirius and I had a water fight,” I said, drying my robes quickly with my wand.

“I thought you had a detention,” said Charlotte, raising an eyebrow.

“Sirius?” asked Mandy. “What was he doing there? I didn’t know he’d got detention too.”

“You had a water fight in detention?” asked Hector. “Why don’t I ever get such fun detentions?”

We went off to sit in a corner of the common room and ate cake and talked. I didn’t even mind the fact that I’d had to wait through a detention to celebrate – the day had actually turned out very well. My birthday was made even better when Elliott Jasper showed up asking how I’d ever managed to find friends to celebrate with, and Russell used the Body-Bind curse on him and left him lying motionless in the middle of the floor like a board, to everyone’s great amusement. Oddly enough, the best part of my birthday had actually been the water fight in detention with Sirius. I didn’t know how I had disliked him so much before – he was rather fun to be around.

As it turned out, Sirius and I did end up meeting for more detentions. I was able to keep myself out of trouble, but he wasn’t, and he involved me in his mischief. It was because we were passing notes in Transfiguration; I had just opened a scrap of parchment Sirius had lobbed across the room and accidentally laughed out loud at its contents. We had been writing silly comments back and forth about the lecture Professor McGonagall was giving us about an Animagus who could turn into a bat. Sirius had written: Unfortunate consequences of turning into a bat which the Animagus Nolan neglects to mention: Melanie Hastings will steal your liver and throw it at someone’s face.

I laughed and then saw Sirius grinning at me from across the room. But McGonagall caught on to what was happening, and gave us both detention. And it wasn’t bad at all – I found myself actually looking forward to our detention, and then we spent the whole time talking and it didn’t seem like a punishment. Our plentiful conversation was not just a way to pass the time, but because we found we really enjoyed each other’s company when we weren’t arguing. In truth, we probably could have finished the work in half the time had we not been so caught up in conversation and friendly banter, but we were in no hurry to leave!



Mandy informed me one day that she had met the man of her dreams. I told her that she had met Sirius years ago, but surprisingly it was not Sirius to whom she was referring. She wouldn’t tell me who it was, because she said she’d had enough of my teasing her about Sirius and she wasn’t going to let Charlotte and me tease her about her new flame.

It didn’t take long to discover who the man of Mandy’s dreams was. Throughout Charms the afternoon following Mandy’s revelations, when we were supposed to be turning vinegar into wine, Mandy was batting her eyelashes and smiling coyly at the oblivious Hufflepuff Francis Madley. It was rather funny for a while, but then I became embarrassed for her and helpfully hit her over the head with the thick book Quintessence: A Quest.

Mandy came to her senses and turned back to the glass flask of vinegar on the desk in front of her.

“Try making it a bit more obvious that you like him,” suggested Charlotte. “In addition to fluttering your eyelashes, I would advise drooling, maybe walk over and tell him you want to have his children—”

Mandy’s flask of vinegar exploded as she rounded on Charlotte, who laughed.

At that moment, little Professor Flitwick came by, and upon seeing the bits of glass and spilled vinegar in front of Mandy, suggested that we practice instead of chatting. As he walked by, I managed to turn my vinegar into a dark red wine, although it still smelled like vinegar.

“Oh fine, show us all up when Flitwick is walking by, that makes me look even stupider,” said Mandy, drying the spilled vinegar from her robes.

“Don’t complain, I’ve got to be good at something. You saw me in Potions last week.”

Charlotte laughed. “Since you mention it, I’ve always been curious as to how you managed to get an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on your Potions O.W.L.”

I had always wondered that myself. “Very low expectations,” I said.



When I walked out of Charms, I nearly ran straight into Luke. He would usually meet me after my Charms class, because he had a free period then, but he didn’t often stand quite so close to the door. “Hi!” he said. “How was class?”

Mandy and Charlotte walked on without me, and I joined Luke instead. “Good, same as always really. How are you?”

“I was studying for Arithmancy,” said Luke. “So I’m pretty tired of that. But it’s great to see you!”

“Yeah, I can imagine you’d be tired of thinking after that. Do you want to fly around the grounds with me for a while? I haven’t been out on my broom in ages, and it’s gorgeous out.”

Luke considered it, but eventually declined, saying he wasn’t really in the mood for flying since he’d be having his Quidditch practice that evening anyway.

Instead we went to sit outside by the lake for a while and talked, and eventually the conversation turned where I wished it wouldn’t. “Are you all right?” he asked. “It seems like you’ve been a lot more distant since the holidays… or just not as happy.”

“I’m fine.” It was sweet of him to notice, but it also kind of bothered me. Had he caught on that I wasn’t as interested in him as I used to be? It wasn’t that I disliked him – he was a wonderful person, but I’d always been worried about whether he really liked me, and constantly trying to impress him. I’d done everything I could to avoid a row, and it worked – we’d never fought at all. But that phase had passed, and I was tired of trying to be the perfect girl for him. I wasn’t that girl.

Back then, I hadn’t been really comfortable with who I was. I wanted to be less prone to arguments, to be liked. And maybe it was my friendship with the Gryffindors that had changed me, but squaring off against them all the time in a friendly way had made me rather proud to be a Slytherin – proud of who I was. And they could deal with my smart mouth just fine, so I couldn’t have been that bad.

Besides, Luke was very predictable, and as much as I hated to admit it, our relationship had simply gotten boring. I had lost interest. And then out of the blue, I said, “I don’t think this is going to work out. Us, I mean.” It was like I was listening to someone else saying it using my voice.

“What?” he asked, sitting up straight.

“I mean… you’re basically the perfect guy, but I just… I don’t know. I’m sorry… it’s over.”

He stared at me. “You… you want to break up?”

“Er… yes.”

“This isn’t because of that Vanessa girl, is it? She’s been smarming up to me for weeks and trying to sneak Love Potions into my pumpkin juice at breakfast, but I promise I never did anything, I like you, not her—”

“No, it’s got nothing to do with her.”

“Okay… then what’s wrong? You don’t seem like yourself.”

I sighed. “This is me being myself. I haven’t been myself since I met you.”

He smiled uncertainly. I guess he had taken it to mean that I was just mad about him, when really I felt I’d just been pretending to be someone else since we started dating. Luke may have liked the person he was with, but that wasn’t me. I shook my head.

“You’ve changed,” he said simply.

I cringed. What had I gotten myself into? I hadn’t wanted to do this today. “Luke, it’s just not going to work. I’m sorry…”

I felt so awkward. I had to repress the urge to walk away and hide. The next few minutes were very uncomfortable, as I tried to explain myself better and he struggled to understand why I was ending a perfect relationship in which we’d never even had so much as one argument.

Eventually he got up and left, and I rolled over in the grass, resting my head on my hands as I watched the giant squid float lazily on the surface of the lake. I hoped it would be a few days before I’d see Luke again. He hadn’t gotten too angry with me, but I had no idea what it would be like next time we saw each other. He wasn’t the type to get angry, but I still worried it would be unpleasant.

After I’d spent awhile outside throwing bits of grass and leaves into the lake and watching the giant squid reach out one of its tentacles and grab them, I went back inside and downstairs to the Slytherin dungeon.

I walked into my dormitory and sat on my bed, and the second after Mandy said hello, I wailed, “Mandy, I just broke up with Luke and it was so awkward, I had never broken up with anyone before, so I didn’t know what I was supposed to say, and now if I ever see him again I’ll have to run away—”

“Calm down,” Mandy interrupted, putting her arm around me. “You’ll be fine. You’re not even in the same house as him, so you won’t see him that much. He’ll get over it.”

“What about Herbology? I sit near him in Herbology! Maybe I’ll pretend to be ill.”

“No, you won’t. We don’t even have Herbology for almost a week. You don’t need to pretend to be ill. I’ve been through this before, just go on like normal. But I’m here for you if you need to talk.”

I sighed. “Thanks.”

Charlotte called to me from where she was sitting on her bed. “For now, you should come play Exploding Snap with me, Mel.”

“Okay,” I said, looking around for my new cards. “Hang on, I can’t find—”

“Your cards?” she asked. “I took them. They’re nice and new, they’re so much better than mine. So come on.”

We had a good time playing Exploding Snap until the hangings on Charlotte’s bed caught fire from the exploding cards and we decided to stop.



Over the next few days, I kept seeing Luke around and we’d make eye contact sometimes, and that was about it. It could have been worse. Charlotte got into a couple of arguments with her brother Lester, but never wanted to discuss them with Mandy and me. I had the feeling it might have to do with Lester continuing to experiment with the Dark Arts with Mulciber and Snape, though I wasn’t sure. And there were always the whispers about things happening outside Hogwarts, the evolvement of a war. But they were only whispers then.

I walked into the Gryffindor common room one evening to work on Transfiguration with the boys. When I went in they were all sitting in chairs by the fire, gathered around something. Before any of them had turned around or had the chance to see me walk in, James said, “Hey, Melanie!”

I was surprised – how had they known I was there already? “Er, hello,” I said, walking over to their chairs. Remus was folding up a large piece of parchment, which Peter took and hastily hid it behind his back.

“What’s that?” I asked, looking at Peter, who could not have given it away more that this parchment was something he was trying to hide.

“Not for you,” said James.

“I didn’t ask if it was mine…”

“What’s up?” asked Remus.

“I thought we were going to work on Transfiguration?”

“Oh, that,” said Sirius, yawning. “Well you can, but I don’t need to study, I know all of that stuff.”

“He says that,” Remus told me, smiling, “but I know for a fact he was reading for Charms until two in the morning yesterday.” Sirius frowned at him.

“Cute. Did you sleep with the book under your pillow too?” I asked Sirius.

“Ha ha,” said Sirius. “Don’t you have work to do?”

“Good comeback, Padfoot,” said James, as Remus and I got out our copies of A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration and sat together at a table. James, Sirius and Peter continued to sit by the fire and do nothing.

“How are you doing?” Remus asked me.

“On my Transfiguration?” I asked, turning a page of my textbook.

Remus laughed. “No, I meant in general… I heard you and Luke broke up…”

“Oh,” I said, looking up. “Yeah. I’m actually doing well. I just don’t like running into him in the corridors, but otherwise fine.” I shrugged.

“That’s good.”

I smiled. “Thanks for asking…” I looked back at the other boys, now charming the rug by the fire to do tricks. “What was that piece of parchment you and Peter were trying to hide?”

He looked at me with a puzzled expression. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Oh well, I had at least tried. We both went back to our studying, occasionally sharing random stories or discussing Transfiguration concepts, and after a while went back to join the other boys by the fire. As we cleared away our study materials from the table, Lily came by from another table and curled up in a nearby chair, leaning against the back of it. After she’d been there about a whole minute, James messed up his hair unnecessarily and sauntered over to Lily. “Hey, Evans,” he said happily, and she looked up warily.

“Hello Potter…”

“You look tired.”

“Thanks, I try,” she said sarcastically.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean—”

“It’s all right,” said Lily, shaking her head. She looked up at James with an odd, calculating expression.

“Smooth, Prongs,” said Sirius from where he was sitting several feet away, but luckily it didn’t seem as if James or Lily heard. James sat in a chair across from Lily and they started talking. By that point Remus and I had come back to the chairs by the fire, and as soon as we sat down, Charlotte and Mandy walked in the portrait hole and came to join us.

“Hey!” I said. “What held you up?”

“Mandy was talking with the man of her dreams,” said Charlotte. “I could not get her away from him.”

Mandy raised her eyebrows. “Charlotte accidentally turned someone’s head into a watermelon in the library, so we had to take the girl up to the hospital wing.”

I laughed. “Who?”

Charlotte shrugged. “We don’t know, she had a watermelon for a head, we couldn’t exactly tell what she looked like.”

“Remind me to stay away from you,” said James, who had just walked back from talking with Lily. “I’d rather not accidentally get turned into a watermelon.”

“No, I’d turn you into one on purpose.”

We stayed around talking for a while, and then at one point Peter finally got up to drag the rug back in front of the fireplace, after several unsuccessful attempts to move it back with magic.

In the chair Peter had just vacated was the folded parchment. I picked it up and opened it; it was blank. I turned it upside down, and nothing changed. But there had to be more to it than this – why were they so keen to hide it?

I poked it with my wand and muttered, “Specialis Revelio,” hoping it would work and reveal something. And indeed, as if a hand were writing on it, words suddenly formed.

Mr Moony presents greetings to Miss Hastings, but wonders why she so rudely stole this parchment.

I gaped at it, and then looked back at the boys. “Hey!” shouted Sirius, as he realized I had the parchment, and he leapt off the sofa to come get it. I held on to it, however, and watched the writing continue to form.

Mr Padfoot thinks Miss Hastings is stunningly hot but still advises her to mind her own business.

Sirius’s eyes widened and he reached over and grabbed the parchment from my hands.

“What is this?” I demanded, flustered.

He didn’t answer me, and instead addressed the other boys, slightly red in the face. “We need to fix this, it’s got something wrong with it. It hasn’t done this before.” Remus took the parchment from him, and as he and the others saw it, they cracked up laughing. James was nearly incapacitated due to laughter, having fallen over on the sofa, and Peter was rolling on the floor.

“I didn’t know you were capable of such eloquence,” Remus laughed.

“Shut up, you lot!” said Sirius. “This is not a laughing matter.”

“It certainly is – what exactly did you say about me again?” I contradicted, dissolving into giggles myself.

The rest of the evening consisted of more fun and quite a few more jokes at Sirius’s expense, but Mandy didn’t speak to me for the rest of the evening until we left the Gryffindor common room and were headed back to our own.

“What was that about, Mandy?”

“Don’t even pretend, Melanie, I saw what was going on.”

“Nothing was going on!” I laughed. “It was that stupid trick parchment of theirs, but this time it played tricks on him.”

“That’s not what it seemed like to me.”

“What, you think he fancies me?” I said sarcastically. “Of course not, Mandy. You’re over-thinking this. And I’d just as soon fancy him as fancy a flobberworm, so stop worrying.”

She looked suspiciously at me. Charlotte asked her, “What happened to Francis Madley, huh? I thought he was the man of your dreams.”

“He is—” she protested.

“Yeah,” I said, “I didn’t even know you still liked Sirius – you’ve stopped drooling around him, so I thought you had moved on.”

Mandy scowled. “You’re going to make fun of me about everything, aren’t you.”

I grinned. “What are friends for?”


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The Brave at Heart: What Friends Are For

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