Chapter 3 : Visible
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I’m dressed and ready within half an hour and decide the best thing to do is get a cup of tea from the great hall and think things over. I write a short note to Puddle explaining where I’m going and promising to visit her soon and head out of the room, already fixated on the prospect of tea, so fixated apparently that I nearly miss the lounging form on the couch in the common room, hands tucked under his shaggy head of hair in a way that radiates arrogance and charm.
“Good morning, Sunshine” his voice drawls out, managing to sound charming and sarcastic and patronising all at the same time. Why did he have to be hot?
“No” I say, as I walk past him, not even stopping to ask how the hell a Gryffindor found his way into the Hufflepuff common room, I can’t be bothered for any of that crap. I want to drink tea, and grumble about the time.
“Good to see someone is as much of a morning person as me” he says as he rolls himself of the couch in one smooth movement and starts to follow me. I don’t even glance at him as I step through the door leading out of the common room, some hot people are better ignored, and Sirius Black is definitely one of them.
I hear his padding feet behind me as I turn corner after corner, and as hard as I try, I just can’t ignore his presence. Honestly, annoying me at any time is dangerous, doing it before seven in the morning is fatal, and he is stepping awfully close to his own grave. Distracted by my murderous thoughts I almost storm into another boy I really don’t want to see. Despite my growing anger I force my face to show a bored expression as James Potter grins at me.
“Only you could look so beautiful so early on this fine day, Darling.”
“No” I say, and storm past him. These boys are playing a very dangerous game, one they may not survive.
Continuing my walk, determinedly ignoring my companions, who are apparently content to trail my progress through the hallways, I slip into a side passage way to lose them and realise my mistake too late. These boys know the passages too; maybe even better than me, I won’t lose them in here. Even so, I take a long route, turning corners and ascending stairs until I know I’ve earned ten burgers from exercise. But still I can hear their footsteps, infuriatingly loud. I refuse to speed up my pace, to let them know they’re getting to me and take the next exit out of the passages only to run into a third unwanted face. The most repulsive yet too; Peter Pettigrew.
“Hey-” is all he gets out before I practically growl out my “no.”
They planned this with that bloody map of theirs. Filthy cheaters! I work so hard to shake my tail and end up adding to it! Well, someone is going to die now, that wasn’t fair. But how can I kill someone I promised not to hurt? Answer; I can’t. And I can’t break a promise to a friend either, so instead of committing murder I grit my teeth and storm onwards, trying to still my shaking nerves, and I’m doing well, until I round the next corner to hear Remus Lupin call out his, no doubt rehearsed, greeting.
“Morning, Sweet, I found us a table.”
“But, Jelly Bean, you can’t expect us to sit on the cold floor” Potter calls from behind me, catching up fast now I’ve stopped walking to face the boy blocking the doors to the great hall.
“Yeah, Pancake, what if you were to get ill?” Lupin gets out, linking his arm with mine as he looks down at me with mock concern. Should have worn heels, stupid, tall boys.
“Then I’d have to nurse her back to health, wouldn’t I, Cupcake?” Black sings, taking up my other arm just before I can reach for my wand. Clever dickhead.
“Come on, Baby, let’s sit down” Potter says to me, but it works as a command for the two boys holding onto my arms to start walking me to the spot I usually sit at for meals. I try not to wonder how they know where I sit, probably just coincidence.
“No.” I say, putting as much menace into the word as I can muster; which at this time of the morning, is a lot, but only Peter shows a flicker of fear, the others simply grin more.
“Don’t be so silly, Poppet” Sirius says, releasing my arm and sending a look towards Lupin, which I can’t translate into real words. When he lets go of my arm too I get confused and before I can run strong arms are around my small waist, lifting me into the air and setting me on the chair. I growl at Sirius but he keeps one arm wrapped around me, pulling me closer, and enjoying my anger by the looks of things.
The arm around my waist keeps me tethered to my seat as the other boys take their positions at the table; Lupin on my left, and Peter and James in front of me. All I have to do is wait until they drop their guard, then I can bolt, but going by the gleam in the eyes of the idiots around me, I can pretty much assume they won’t let me get anywhere near the doors, never mind to the safety of my bedroom, so I stay seated, and pour myself a cup of tea.
“At a girl, Sweetums” Potter croons, helping himself to the platters of food in front of him, cueing the other boys to do the same thing.
“What do you want?” I grind out, addressing Potter, knowing he leads the group.
“She speaks!”Lupin shouts between bites of toast. How is this the only response I get? The boys go back to eating and I sit, steaming away, wondering what the hell is going on. I pranked James, yeah, but I also removed the spell, and kind of apologised. How do I deserve this?
The next half hour passes with me in stony silence while the boys chat casually, occasionally giving me some sickly sweet compliment and tagging on one of those terms of endearment at the end just to hear me growl, all the while, Black’s arm doesn’t waver once in its pressure, and I keep noticing myself leaning more and more into him, just to pull away abruptly and see his half smirk from the corner of my eye. That smirk is enough to earn a throttle, and I am just about to oblige when the hall fills up with my friends, who all stop dead when they notice who I’m with.
Em shouts, loud enough to echo across the hall as she storms towards my table, grabbing the full attention of all the students and teachers in the hall who were already intrigued enough by the famous Gryffindor’s new seats. “Jem! You promised not to prank them!”
My head hits the table with a loud thud. Why? Why me?
“She what?” I can almost feel the grins spread across the faces of the boys as Sirius questions my blind, slow friend.
“She promised not to-” She begins slowly, trying to understand the five people before her. Four of them with faces alight with glee and the other repeatedly banging her head against the table. That’s me, by the way. Not even caring if I get brain damage.
“Oops” she says, finally catching on, and I lift my face to stare at her guilty face through my hair.
“Yeah, oops” I reply, not daring to look at any face other than hers, not the teachers, not the students and not the boys. Why bother when I already know what I’ll find there?
Let me walk you through my day. And if you laugh at me, I will kill you.
Word spread fast that I am a skilled prankster, and the results were really not good. First off, teachers treated me with extreme caution, by which I mean they glared at me all day, and refused to let me anywhere near the four grinning Gryffindor boys, which is difficult to do when those same boys seemed to want nothing more than to follow me from class to class, spilling my ink, ruining my work and ultimately pissing me off. And they knew I couldn’t fight back, because I’m a Hufflepuff and I made a promise. Stupid, annoying loyalty.
Secondly, students started to notice me. Which, I get, some people love, but after being practically invisible for my entire life to suddenly being the topic of all conversations, the transition was a bit shocking. And I really don’t like it. Apparently being the ‘hot rebel Hufflepuff’ attracts male attention, and the amount of times I’ve been asked out on a date today is enough to make Morgana blush. Not that I did; I was too busy steaming away at the boys, thoroughly enjoying my pain. They deserve every time I’ve ever framed them for a prank, every detention they’ve ever gained from my lies. But they don’t seem to see it that way. And so I’ve been struggling away all day.
You’re right to feel bad for me. No one else does.
Emily spent today repeating ‘I told you so’ with a smug look on her face; to her I’ve finally been reprimanded for all my evil doings. Carly had fun discussing my ‘new dating options’ and by discussing, I do mean just talking to herself, cause I wasn’t listening, too busy distracted by Mark, Leon and Joey’s permanent scowl at my new attention. Apparently no one is good enough for me and they like to scare off anyone who gets too close to their precious Jem.
So not a good day.
“THERE’S MY LOVE!” shouts a voice from across the hall and I cringe into my seat in response. I just wanted to eat my pasta and leave, and now Sirius Black is striding towards me, grin plastered across his face and mischief glinting in his eyes.
“I really, really hate you” I spit at him, venom present in every syllable.
“Don’t be so silly, diamond” he tuts, “let’s go, the boys are waiting.” He motions over his shoulder towards his three friends waiting by the doors, grinning at me.
“No thanks, I’m good” I say, staring at my half eaten plate of food, “still eating, maybe another time.”
“Ha! You haven’t touched that in twenty minutes, let’s go, Flower.”
“She said no, Black” Mark spits out.
“Get lost” Joey says, placing a hand on my shoulder. As if sensing the threat three extra bodies appear behind Sirius, all of which grinning in a frightening way. A warning.
“Problem?” Potter asks sweetly.
Before my friends can cause any trouble I just say “no” and force some now cold pasta into my mouth.
“Perfect” Black grins and winks at his friends before continuing to say “let’s go then, Pumpkin,” wrapping his arms around me, lifting me up in the way a husband would carry his wife and walking briskly from the hall, my friends shouts following our exit.
“Better run” Lupin says, nodding his head towards my angry friends.
“Good idea” Potter agrees, leading the way down hall after hall, passageway after passageway, until we finally end up outside an ugly portrait of a fat lady. Being the spy that I am, I easily recognise the entrance to the Gryffindor common room and begin to squirm in Black’s strong arms. Putting me in there is like throwing me to the dogs, especially after today.
“Ha! She knows!” Lupin exclaims, noticing my reaction.
“Of course I know, idiot” I growl back, cruel boys.
“Peppermint tea” Sirius tells the woman in the portrait and she looks ruefully at him.
“Sorry hunny, password changed.”
“What?” Lupin asks, no wonder he’s shocked, he’s a prefect and he doesn’t even know it.
“It changed; you can’t come in without the password.”
“For god sake! It’s Angelico!” I shout, if only to shut up the rising shouts around me. I realise my mistake, shortly afterwards.
“How did you-” Lupin starts, utterly confused.
“I really love this woman” Sirius grins, carrying me through the door into the room I’ve only explored at night. Let’s leave it at this, its covered in Gryffindor colours. Red and gold plaster the walls, decorations everywhere; it makes my common room look calm. And that’s yellow . “She’s just as sneaky as us!”
“Yeah, and regretting it” I mutter, causing Sirius to bark a laugh.
The common room is packed, explaining why there were so little Gryffindors in the great hall before, and all of them are looking at me. Embarrassed to be stared at whilst in the arms of one of their house heroes, I hide my face by tucking it in the crook of his shoulder and I can feel his answering chuckle.
“I hate you” I groan, earning yet another shaking laugh, only this time the other boys join in.
I feel Sirius carry me across the room and hear shuffling as some people vacate what I assume is a sitting area, and judging by the sudden warmth, it must be in front of a fire. I stay in my curled up position on his lap for a long time.
I lift my head from Sirius’ shoulder only when the noise of the common room dies down, and the only words I can decipher are coming from either the boy holding me in his lap, or his friends spread around us. Embarrassed by my reaction upon entering the room, I lift my head at a snail’s pace, not wanting to gain any more attention; I’ve had enough of that today.
It doesn’t work.
“Morning, Kitten” Sirius whispers at me, successfully avoiding letting the others know I’m moving again.
“Don’t be stupid, I wasn’t asleep” I whisper back, glad not to have the whole group’s attention.
“I did not!” I whisper loudly, if that’s even possible, but the other bodies around us don’t move much, and I can’t see them all that well anyway, my head still pretty much burrowed into Sirius’ hair, I’d move if I weren’t so comfy.
“Quiet, you’ll wake the others” he says, his breathy laughs stirring my hair.
“I don’t snore” I say, lifting my head to look him in the eye. He looks kind of crumpled, like he’s been asleep, how long have I been up here?
“I know, but my friends do” as though to prove his point, Peter starts up snoring from his curled up position underneath the coffee table. Gross.
I can’t have been asleep. That’s ridiculous. But now the only people in the common room are us five, and that backs up Sirius. Not me.
Unable to take the uncertainty I grab my wand from my pocket and mutter out the sun seeking spell, and to my horror, its results don’t support me either.
“Shit” I breathe, and because I’m a Hufflepuff, because I feel bad, I turn to look at Sirius again. “Sorry, for sleeping on you, if must have been uncomfortable.”
“Not at all, Love, sleeping with beautiful women is my forte” he says, a smirk I can only describe as flirtatious, lighting up his face, just as mine tinges red.
“Cute” I say, voice breathy from just waking up or being stared at, I don’t know, but it makes his dark eyes gleam, whatever the reason. That’s one thing I’d never really noticed before. Every guy I’ve dated in the past has had interesting eyes; last year I dated a Ravenclaw with eyes bluer than any I’d ever seen before, I could swim in his eyes, but the dark pools staring at me now have his beat. I can’t swim in them, I’m too busy drowning. I realise I’m staring at him but I don’t look away. I don’t even blink. Still drowning.
Peter brings me back to the world with a hulking snore, snapping me out of my trance, and I allow air to flow back into my lungs as I take a huge breath. Muttering an awkward goodbye, I force myself to stand from Sirius’ lap and head towards the portrait to leave, stopping only when I hear his question. But his voice doesn’t come from the couch where I left him, it comes from right behind me, and that makes me jump big time.
“How did you know our password before we did?”
I turn slowly to look up at him, getting lost in those eyes again. Cause that wasn't the stupidest idea ever. Idiot. After almost a minute of silent staring I realise I should probably answer his question and go.
I could tell him. But I won’t.
“I have a friend who is dead good at snooping” I say. Puns never do get old, and this one would have a certain poltergeist tumbling through the air laughing. One I have to thank for keeping me updated on passwords.
“Care to introduce me?” he asks, no doubt wanting to gain some very useful information.
“I really don’t think he’d like you” I say, grinning. I can only imagine how that introduction would go, considering Peeves isn’t exactly civil to the student population, excluding me of course.
“He?” Is he seriously trying to narrow this down with gender? It doesn’t really lessen the possibilities by much.
“Yeah, he” I confirm, and a glint comes into his eye, one I’ve only ever seen once, in the blue eyes I was so fond of.
“Something wrong?” I ask him, the same question I asked my blue eyed Ravenclaw last year.
We were sitting at my house table for lunch when Mark had come running in, his face split into the biggest smile I’d ever seen him wear. He bolted to me, lifted my clean off the bench and spun me round, hugging me close the whole time. I’d been confused but happy none the less, when he told me he’d been made quidditch captain, I beamed at him, kissed his cheek, and he’d ran off to find the boys. Gone as quickly as he’d come. I’d then turned around to finish my meal and had the conversation I seem to be repeating now. As though it didn’t suck enough the first time.
“No, nothing” he says, clearly meaning the opposite. Exactly the same as last time, only this time, I’m going to find out what that damn glint means.
“Stop that, the hell is wrong with you? You we’re fine two minutes ago!”
“Nothing’s wrong with me, I just didn’t realise you had quite so many guy friends I don’t know.”
“It’s one guy and why would you know everyone I know? I’ve been invisible to you practically the whole time at this school!”
“Yeah, well, I can see you now!” he shouts. Yeah, shouts . Probably why three boys are now flanking the raging teen, instead of sleeping on the floor, snoring.
I watch as Sirius storms away from me, snarling at his friends as he passes, then marches up the stairs. Only when he’s gone do I turn to his smirking friends.
“I don’t understand” I admit, maybe they do.
“He’s jealous” Lupin says, staring at me, then glancing to the dormitory Sirius disappeared into.
“What?” I ask, no, he isn’t jealous. He’s the heart throb of Hogwarts! The only people girls choose over him are Lupin (who never stays with a girl longer than two weeks) and Potter (who has been after Lily since first year) so really he has no competition.
“He just met the perfect girl for him and then she starts talking about a guy, who also pranks by the sounds of it, is he supposed to feel any other way?” Stupid Potter, making good points.
“What makes you think I’m perfect for him?” I ask, pointing out the only flaw. I’m no one.
“You’re beautiful.” – Remus.
“You’re funny.” – James.
“You prank.” – Peter.
“And you’re loyal, which is more important to him than anything.” James finishes, and there’s something sad in his voice that makes me want to run to Sirius and tell him I was talking about Peeves, and ask why loyalty counts so much for him.
“Who” I start, choking up a little, for a boy I only just started to care about, “who betrayed him?”
“I guess we missed out smart” Lupin says, voice sombre.
“And kind” Pettigrew adds.
“That’s his story to tell, but you have to have wondered what happened for a Black to be sorted into Gryffindor?” Potter says. And I did, everyone did. I just didn’t realise the reason for it was so dark.
“Can you tell him” I pause, looking at the boys around me, they aren’t my boys, but they might just become that, “tell him that the guy I mentioned is a particularly mischievous poltergeist, who goes by the name Peeves, and I’d love to introduce them sometime. That is, if he’s not afraid of getting things thrown at him. A lot.”
Their shocked faces make me feel a little smug as I turn and leave the room, walking all the way back to my bed, across the castle, thinking it wasn’t that bad a day after all.
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