Chapter 3 : Azure Skies (And Jumpers Too!)
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- Jean Rhys
"Lia!" James shouted as he thumped down the stairs towards the common room. His angry voice echoed through the area, causing several students to jump in alarm. He stormed in, towards where Carter and Lia sat waiting for him expectantly. Carter was glaring at him, his interruption completely unwelcome. She had been attempting to sketch a hippogriff in her sketchbook, and judging by the heavy pencil mark streaked through the drawing, James's yell had startled her more than she'd like to admit.
Lia calmly watched James walk towards them, almost enjoying the angry look in his clear blue eyes.
"Where is my blue jumper? I know you took it!" he said upon approaching them.
Lia simply raised her eyebrows. "I have no clue what you're talking about," she replied innocently, closing the Vogue magazine that sat in her lap.
"Oh, come off it, Foxe. I know you took it," he said, his eyes narrowing.
Lia gave him a reprimanding look. "You can't blame me every time you lose something, James," she said condescendingly. She shot an amused look at Carter, who had replaced her glare at James for a grin at Lia.
"Where's the jumper, Lia?" James demanded, his patience growing even thinner.
She shrugged, "You're asking the wrong person."
Before James could say anything else, Remus, Sirius, and Peter all padded into the common room. Sirius and Peter had bored looks on their faces, while Remus looked mildly amused. Lia's kleptomaniac ways were not unknown to any of them, and they had only been waiting for James's things to start disappearing this year. Lia, for whatever reason, seemed to gravitate towards swiping his things more than anyone else's. Perhaps it was because he had the tendency to give her the reaction she wanted.
"We heard yelling," Sirius announced. "Did Lia steal something again?"
Lia stared at Sirius, mouth agape and eyes widened in shock. "Why do you always assume I did something?" she asked, offended. "Honestly, Sirius. Maybe it was Carter," she supplied. Carter snorted disbelievingly in response. As if she had any interest in stealing James's things.
"Wow, Carter. Thanks for the support. Really, I appreciate it," Lia grumbled, her voice rich with sarcasm.
"I still haven't gotten my answer," Sirius reminded them impatiently. He fell into the seat next to Lia, looking at her imploringly. Remus and Peter both followed suit, taking seats nearby. James still stood, fuming.
"She took his jumper," Carter responded easily, her attention back on her drawing.
"Innocent until proven guilty," Lia cut in.
"Lia, we all know you aren't innocent," Remus said, smirking from where he sat on the couch across from her.
"Even you betray me," Lia said, narrowing her eyes at him.
"Isn't that a blue jumper tied around your waist?" Peter asked suspiciously. He pointed to the garment hanging loosely from her hips.
James's eyes widened at the sight of it. "I knew it!" he yelled. "Give it to me right now, woman," he demanded, walking over to her. He tugged on the sleeve of the jumper, undoing the loose knot that kept it in place. Lia clutched it protectively.
"I'm not sure you realize how soft this sweater is, James. I need it because I don't have any," Lia said, sticking her bottom lip out in a pout and shooting him her best puppy dog eyes. She grabbed the sleeve from him and tied the knot more firmly.
"Yeah, I really don't care," James informed her. "Give it to me," he said, grabbing at the sleeve again.
She shoved his hand away, "Fine," she replied with a sigh in defeat. She took the sweater off and threw it at him, hitting him in the face in a final act of vengeance. James fumbled for the sweater in his surprise. Carter rolled her eyes at their interaction. Honestly, sometimes the lot of them could be so incredibly immature.
"I'm heading to the showers," Lia announced, standing up. She looked behind her at Carter, who was already shutting her sketchbook and standing with her.
"And you're going with her?" Sirius asked, a single eyebrow raised in question.
"Yes?" Carter responded, her statement coming out as a question in her confusion.
"Why is it that girls always go to the bathroom in pairs?" he continued.
"Don't worry, Sirius. I'm sure you won't miss me too much," she assured him. She followed Lia up the stairs towards their room to retrieve their towels and things before they made their way to the bathrooms.
The girls walked together through the darkened halls, most of of the students heading back to their common rooms. The two preferred late night showers, when less people were around. They were hardly worried about being out past curfew; it wouldn't be their first time sneaking around.
"I can't believe him. Can you believe him? Ridiculous!" Lia ranted, crossing her arms across her chest.
"Well, it is, technically speaking, his," Carter reasoned, albeit still smiling at her friend. She was nothing if not amused at Lia's constant habit of stealing from James, Remus, and occasionally even Sirius. She had a knack for stealing from all of them, really, and then always denying it.
"You'd think after the broom situation, a sweater would mean nothing to him," Lia muttered. She was speaking of the time James had thought he had lost his broom for a week before discovering it had been in Lia's trunk the entire time. No one knew the reason behind her thievery at the time, though she had admitted later on that she was angry at James for copying her potions essay without permission. Of course, she would have likely let him copy it if he had asked, but really, it was the principle of the matter.
"Give the guy a break," Carter told her. "You know Lily rejected him again at breakfast this morning? Dumped a glass of pumpkin juice on him and everything," she said with a sigh, feeling sorry for her friend.
"He's been trying really hard to mature this year, too, and it doesn't seem to be convincing her any further," Carter continued. "I wish she'd give him a chance already."
"When did this go down, and how did I not see it happen?" Lia asked, her voice borderline frantic.
"You were buried in some dumb muggle gossip magazine," Carter answered. The halls were mostly empty by then, and they were lowering their voices significantly. No point in drawing attention to themselves and alerting any teachers nearby that they were both still up and around.
"Please do not insult Elle," Lia interrupted, holding her index finger up in warning. Carter rolled her eyes at Lia's defensive correction.
"Okay. You were buried in Elle. Happy?"
"Yes. Now continue," Lia demanded. "What did she say? What did he say?" Lia asked, having always been interested in the ups and downs of James and Lily's relationship. She quite enjoyed the constant drama between the two. Carter blamed her behavior on Lia's withdrawal from romance films during the school year. She supposed she had to get entertainment from somewhere.
"He only asked her to walk to potions class with him," Carter said.
"For James that's almost cute," Lia admitted begrudgingly.
"I think he called her Evans again, and that's what really set her off. She really can't stand that," Carter responded.
"Oh, bad move," Lia said, pushing open the door to the girls' bathroom, "but that's still hardly a reason to dump pumpkin juice all over the poor lad."
Carter opened her mouth to reply, but was quickly halted by Lia's urgent shushing. A male voice could be heard from inside the bathroom, despite the fact that they could have sworn they were the only two inside.
Lia, forever the nosier of the two, decided impulsively to take action and investigate further. She grabbed Carter by the hand and tugged her into a nearby bathroom stall.
She pressed her finger to her lips once more, motioning for Carter to keep quiet. Carter was tempted to walk out of the stall and see who was there for herself, but then again, she might learn something useful by eavesdropping. Both she and Lia strained their ears to listen, staying as quiet as possible.
"Have you got the book I asked for?" the male voice asked, his voice deep and demanding.
"Yes, but it was in the restricted section. I believe, perhaps, Professor Slughorn is beginning to think I'm up to something," a girl responded, sounding more bored about the idea of getting caught than worried.
"Don't worry about Slughorn," the man said impatiently. "I need this book to locate it," he added.
"Are you sure this will have the answer?" the girl questioned, sounding nervous at his growing anger.
"Yes, I'm sure. Now go put it where we agreed," the man answered, obviously annoyed with the girl.
Sure that the conversation was over, Lia quickly pushed Carter up onto the seat of the toilet, effectively hiding their feet from whomever they were spying on. When the footsteps got nearer, Lia peaked from the top of the stall, only to find a young girl walking towards the door.
Lia furrowed her brow in confusion as the girl snapped what appeared to be a compact mirror shut and put it in her pocket. She squinted, hoping she would miraculously recognize the girl from behind, but it was useless. The unidentifiable girl hurried out of the bathroom, never turning so Lia could see her face. She let the door slam behind her, the sound reverberating through the room.
Still confused, Lia stepped down from the edge of the toilet and turned to Carter, "There was only one person in here."
"What do you mean?" Carter asked, stepping down beside her. "There were two people talking." She unlocked the stall door, stepping back into the large bathroom.
"Yeah, but when I looked out, there was just a girl," she replied.
"What did she look like?" Carter asked, making her way towards the shower stalls.
"I don't know. I never saw her face," Lia muttered, losing herself in her suspicious thoughts. The two girls returned to their previous task and stepped into the showers, both of their heads filled with unanswered questions about what they had just eavesdropped on.
"Wait, there was only one person in the bathroom?" Remus asked later in the common room. The girls had returned from their showers, anxious to tell the marauders what they had witnessed. Thankfully, all four of them were still awake.
"I'm telling you, Remus. There was only one person. I'm not blind, I would have seen another," Lia answered for what felt like the twentieth time. She and Carter had repeated the entire conversation that had taken place between the mystery couple. Thanks to Carter's excellent memory, they had been able to recite it word for word.
"Okay, there are ways that people can talk without being face to face. Let's not forget that," Sirius reminded them all, thinking of his and James's own mirrors.
"What's more important is the book that whoever she is got from the restricted section. A teacher has to sign for that," Peter said.
"Yeah, she said Slughorn signed for her," Carter repeated. She shook her head at them. Had they even bothered to pay attention the first time they had told the story?
"Of course it was Slug," Sirius said, his face screwed up in disdain, "I'll bet it was one of the kids in that stupid little club of his."
Carter nodded in agreement. "It wouldn't surprise me. Those kids can get away with anything just because they're in the 'Slug Club'," Carter muttered, adding air quotes to the end of her statement. The Slug Club was almost as annoying as Severus Snape, who was about as aggravating as anyone could be.
"I don't even understand what he sees in 'em. They're all so arrogant; it's incredibly annoying," Sirius complained, losing sight of the original subject as usual.
"You've got it wrong," Lia informed him. "James is arrogant. They just know they're good at what they're doing," she said, defending the club.
James sat up straight, leaning around Carter, who was seated next to him, to stare at Lia incredulously. "First you steal my stuff, then you insult me. I'm not sure I like where this friendship is headed, Foxe," he said, glaring at her from a rather awkward angle. Lia rolled her eyes, still slumped back into the couch. Carter, however, glared back at James, shoving him into his seat.
"There is someone sitting here, you know," she said, clearly annoyed with his overdramatic antics.
"Well," Remus said, returning to the original subject, "I'm not too concerned. For all we know, it could have been her secret boyfriend or something. Let's get some sleep. It's past midnight."
"You mean we're just gonna drop it?" Carter asked, appalled at the idea of letting the suspicious conversation go.
"It's not like we have much to go on here, babe," Sirius replied lazily. It was unsurprising that he was so lax about the subject. It didn't involve him, so he hardly cared. Carter glared at him for both his statement, and the use of the pet name.
"I'm gonna have to side with Carter on this, guys. It was really weird," Lia interrupted. "She acted like she was nervous talking to him. I don't usually sound nervous talking to my boyfriends," she said. She was partly defending her friend, but mostly still a bit uncomfortable with what they had witnessed in the bathroom.
"Whatever it was will have to be laid to rest for now. We don't have enough evidence to make accusations. Or any evidence, really," James said.
"Yeah, we don't even know what she looks like," Peter pointed out.
"Fine!" Carter said rather abruptly, crossing her arms and standing up. "I'm going to bed."
The others followed suit, although unwary of what had caused her sudden outburst. Sirius stepped towards Carter, who was making no move to go to her room.
He nudged her side gently, standing behind her. "Don't get yourself worked up about it, okay?" he said quietly before following the rest of the boys up the stairs.
The library was typically empty Saturday mornings, as most students avoided homework until later in the weekend. However, inside sat Remus and Lia, who were both huddled over charms textbooks.
"I'm telling you, Lia. If you would just pronounce the 'O', we wouldn't have a problem," Remus said, looking patiently at the frustrated girl who sat next to him.
"I am saying the 'O', Remus," Lia replied, annoyed at his incessant and repetitive instructing.
Remus rolled his eyes, not wanting to help any further. Lia was probably the most frustrating person to tutor, as she was equal parts stubborn and impatient. He trudged on reluctantly because of the promise he had made to help her study for her charms class. Unfortunately, they had been working on the same spell for over an hour, leaving both parties irritated with each other.
In an attempt to prove Remus wrong, Lia raised her wand and said, "Engorgio!" Much to her dismay, the quill sitting in front of her did not get any bigger.
"You aren't saying it right," Remus informed her, burying his face in his hands.
"How am I supposed to do nonverbal spells if I can't even get this right?" Lia moaned. She pushed the quill aside and slumped into her chair. Remus sat up straight, looking over at her sad expression, and feeling a bit sorry for her.
Lia had never been particularly good at spells. She'd had a habit of mispronouncing them since her first year, and despite how often she studied, it seemed impossible for her to bring her grades up past a C.
"It's okay. We'll try again. You've just gotta practice," he said quietly, moving the quill so it was in front of her again. She smiled weakly, thankful he was still willing to work with her.
"Now," he began seriously, grabbing her hand for dramatic effect. "I know you can do this. I believe in you."
Lia giggled and tugged her hand away, smacking him on the shoulder. "How am I supposed to pronounce it correctly when you say stupid stuff like that?" she asked, trying to stifle her laughter by putting a hand over her mouth. The last thing they needed was Madam Pince kicking them out, which had happened plenty of times before. The woman was insufferable.
Remus quirked a smile, happy to see her cheered up. Suddenly he had an idea, "Try again, but try it as a nonverbal spell," he suggested quietly, bumping her shoulder with his own. She stared at him in disbelief. How on earth did he expect her to do a nonverbal spell that she couldn't even do verbally? He nodded in encouragement, ignoring her look.
Lia sighed, but turned her attention towards the quill. She moved her wand in the memorized motion, staring at the quill in concentration. Much to both their surprise, after a few moments, the quill grew twice it's original size. Lia shouted out in delight, only to be angrily hushed by Madam Pince.
Lia ignored her completely, and threw her arms around Remus in a hug. She pecked him on the cheek, still grinning in excitement.
"Onward to the next spell," she said, absolutely elated. She flipped to the next page in her textbook and chewed on her lower lip in concentration as she read. Remus grinned at her as he watched, unable to hold it back.
Before Lia could even try the next spell, however, Carter approached them. She flung her book on the table in front of them, skipping any pleasantries in her annoyance.
"I don't see why you're so angry," Sirius whispered, walking up behind her. He had a smug smile on his face, looking rather pleased with himself. Lia exchanged a glance with Remus, both of them knowing this could only mean trouble.
"Oh, you know very well why I'm angry, Sirius," Carter exclaimed in a whispered yell. "I don't see why you think it's okay to smack my bum while I'm climbing through the portrait hole!"
Sirius's grin didn't falter. He had really only done it to annoy her. That, and her bum looked quite nice in the black leather pants she was wearing. "It's not that big of a deal, babe," Sirius said just as James approached them.
"It's sexual harassment, it is. And stop calling me babe," Carter said severely. She viciously yanked out the chair across from Lia, almost knocking it over in her anger.
Sirius shrugged his shoulders. Really, she was overreacting. He slid into the seat next to her.
James took the free seat by Remus, "Don't want to get too close to the line of fire," he muttered as he dropped his own book on the table. Remus and Lia laughed quietly at his remark and the serious look on his face. The two bickering teenagers looked up at their laughs.
"Oh, don't mind us," Lia said, a ghost of a smile on her lips. "We just like to watch." The corner of her mouth twitched as Carter's eyes narrowed in a glare.
"So!" James said loudly, attempting to relieve the tension.
"Do not make me remove you from this library, Mr. Potter," Madam Pince interrupted from nearby, looking thoroughly annoyed at the group of students.
James raised his eyebrows at her. Why had she even taken the job as librarian if she hated teenagers so much? It was a mystery to him.
"What are we studying?" he asked, his voice much quieter.
"I was just working on some charms with Lia," Remus answered, gesturing towards the quill that now sat forgotten at the other end of the table. He looked around the room curiously, "Anyone seen Peter?"
He received only shrugs in response, none of them aware of where their friend had run off to.
"Actually, now that I think about it, he was still asleep in our room when I left," James spoke up. He looked at Sirius immediately, a mischievous glint in his eye.
Sirius caught on quickly, "I know that look. It's your let's-cause-people-pain-or-embarrassment-look." James winked at him in response.
"No, no, no! We are not pulling a prank on Peter!" Lia said, trying to squelch the idea before her friends got in too deep. Unfortunately, it was already too late. Sirius and James were effectively ignoring her, and making plans across the table. She groaned both in defeat and annoyance. After a few moments of discussion, their plan was in place.
"Why don't we just leave the poor bloke alone?" Remus said absentmindedly, focusing more on his textbook than whatever his friends were plotting.
"Way to really try and help, Remus," Lia muttered sarcastically.
"Lighten up, Lia, dear," James said offhandedly. She rolled her eyes.
"He's supposed to be our friend. I swear, he's more of a punching bag than anything to you two."
"We don't actually hurt him. Not really, anyways," Sirius replied, annoyed at her constant reprimanding. There were a few moments of silence where Lia and Sirius glared at one another before Carter stood up.
"Let's get on with it, shall we?" she chirped, clapping her hands together. Madam Pince glared at her severely, but it was ignored. Lia, however, looked shocked.
"What?" Carter asked in response to the look on her face. Lia simply groaned again in exhaustion, slumping back into her seat for what felt like the hundreth time.
hey guys thank you for reading chapter three !!! don't forget to check out our fic blog for more about this fic and ones in the works
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