Chapter 5 : Deal
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“Quiet! You’ll wake her up idiot” a much closer voice whispers violently, that’s gotta be Sirius.
“You!” Emily shouts, ignoring his advice, I’d be annoyed if I didn’t know she’s just worried, “you did this to her! How could you?!” Okay, so maybe it isn’t just worry; that sounds a lot like anger.
“Em, it wasn’t him, calm down” I croak, making the chair next to my bed creak as I assume Sirius jumps up in shock. I’m not quite ready to open my eyes and check.
“Oh! Jem! I’m sorry for waking you, how are you feeling? are you okay?” Emily stumbles out, still talking too loudly for my liking.
“I’m fine, sorry for scaring you” I say but I can hear the tiredness in my own voice and know she doesn’t believe I’m okay at all, neither would I if it were her lying in the hospital bed.
I feel a hand brush a tear from my face I didn’t notice I’d shed but I still refuse to open my eyes. His face is there, young and healthy and smiling and I won’t risk getting rid of it, not now it’s so perfect. The hand moves to rest on the side of my face and Daniel’s smile falters, making me whimper. I want him to grin and his heart to beat.
“Jem, you need to open your eyes now” Sirius whispers to me, his voice soothing, but it makes Dan’s eyes sparkle with tears and I push away from his voice. I don’t want to hear it, not if it puts the image at risk, so I shake my head and scrunch my eyes closed tightly.
“No” I whimper and I hear someone near me start to cry. My friends. I’ve upset them by being upset myself. How selfish of me.
“Please Jem” he pleads, even he’s upset, I’ve become very selfish. He lowers his voice so no one but me can hear before continuing “he’d want you to open your eyes.”
My image of Daniel shifts, he’s looking at me in a sad way, not like he’s disappointed, more like he feels guilty. My breath catches as I stare at him, he blames himself. Stupid Ravenclaw, he’d have made a good Hufflepuff. I say a silent goodbye and he smiles a little, I’ll let him go, for his sake.
“There she is” Sirius says softly as I crack my eyes open. His face is hovering above me but he leans back, lifting his hand from my face as he does, allowing me to see behind him.
All my friends are here, looking worried and protective. Mark, Joey and Leon are all standing with their arms crossed, stress showing through their smiles, Carly’s standing in front of them with a relieved expression contrasting dramatically to her twin, who is apparently still sobbing quietly. And then there’s my new friends, Sirius is sitting in the chair next to my bed, looking mournful, James standing just behind him. A grimacing Remus is standing further back with Peter so I send him a glare which he grins at and mutters something to Peter on a sigh which I can’t hear, probably something along the lines of ‘stupid Hufflepuffs, stealing guilt’. Well, that’s what I was thinking about him anyway, only instead of ‘Hufflepuffs’ I had thought ‘wimpy werewolves,’ not that I’ll be telling him that.
That means there’s only one missing.
“Where’s Puddle?” I ask the room, my voice already sounding stronger.
“Puddle is here miss Jemima” I hear from my feet as she climbs out from under her blanket to sit on my chest.
She presses her small hand to my cheek and smiles a sad smile. “Miss Jemima has many friends” she says in a soothing voice and I look back around to my friends, old and new.
I motion to the four boys I hadn’t really expected to love and shield my mouth from them as I stage whisper “they’re not really my friends, I just keep them around for decoration.” I earn some surprised laughs and a muscle show from Sirius and James but everyone stops to laugh when Puddle copies my pose to say “I thought that’s why you kept those ones” whist subtly pointing towards Leon, Joey and Mark.
Unable to control our laughter Madam Pomfrey comes storming into the room raving about noise and tells everyone to leave because I’m ‘in no state to be laughing’ or something along those lines. Healers are boring. So everyone leaves still giggling under their breath as Puddle struts out of the room in a perfect imitation of Pomfrey, calling to me to get better soon.
According to Pomfrey, emotional breakdowns merit one week’s bed rest, and constant supervision, which is why I find myself suffering from severe boredom a mere two days in. I haven’t been allowed to go to lessons nor do my homework, which ordinarily I’d be happy with, however it doesn’t leave much else to entertain me. My friends visit when they can but they’re never allowed to stay long and turns out sneaking out is impossible too; Pomfrey is quite the opponent. So I just lie in bed, counting the bricks that make up the walls, wishing for anything to happen. Way to ruin my Friday!
I continue to grumble about mistreating students when I hear the door creak open to allow McGonagall entry to the room. My intrigue increases when she heads straight towards me, wearing an apologetic smile. I’m about to assure her my forgiveness when an idea pops into my head. McGonagall is deputy head of the school, and I have her in my hand, time to put that power into action
“I’ll forgive you for it if you get me out of here” I rush my words, knowing full well Pomfrey is seconds away from banishing the professor for interrupting my healing. “I need to get out of here, I’m going crazy. Please” I beg.
I don’t get an answer before speeding footsteps sound through the room, closely followed by the shriek of “don’t harass her when she’s resting!” I roll my eyes and sigh; does the woman never take a break?
“I merely wanted to know how Miss East is doing” she calmly explains before looking to me with a satisfied look on her face. “I can see she is coming along nicely, so she’ll be able to attend the detention I have arranged with Horace.”
Pomfrey frequently tries to interrupt my almost saviour, but she continues to speak as she leaves the room, not even raising her voice as she gives me a final command to get ready and head to the potions classroom.
With a rushed apology to my healer I throw the blanket from me and practically run from the room to my dormitory. A detention is a detention, but it’s also a Friday and no way am I staying in school uniform for longer than I need to, and I can hardly turn up in my pjs. So I change into a comfy pair of black jeans and my baggiest top and survey my appearance. Not bad, I always hate how baggy tops make my waist look bigger than it is but the ‘of the shoulder’ fit at least makes my collar bones look good. As long as I’m comfy.
After brushing my tangled hair and pulling it to the top of my head in my usual messy bun, I pull on some fluffy socks and head straight to potions, who needs shoes anyway?
I suffer through stares and whispers as I walk the halls. At first I ignore the people that stop walking to look at me, assuming they either found out I broke down or are oddly surprised by my casual attire. Most of the idiots were wearing shoes, how dull.
Then I start to care.
I don’t like being surveyed, and that’s what’s happening here. I start to walk faster and keep my head down but the groups seem to grow in size, like they’re following me. I try to convince myself not to run as green and black cloaks catch my eye; Slytherins. I’ve never been scared of them before, usually I just have fun taunting them from a distance. Now they’re too close and I feel cornered.
I keep a steady pace, heading to potions and avoiding halls with an exceptional amount of students. Don’t get me wrong, I’m good at duelling, but I can’t hold up against a gang of angry Slytherins and if they hit a lucky spell and I lose my wand I’m finished.
That’s double shit if anyone’s counting.
I’m almost there when I turn a corner to find a herd of malicious faces grinning at me.
“Fuck” I breathe when I catch sight of none other than Lead Bitch Bellatrix leading the group. She must have heard me because she emits a strange kind of cackle that has me a little fearful. This is one girl I do not want to face, good thing I’m not an idiot or I might actually try to fight her. Instead I plan an immediate escape route.
“Look who it is!” she calls out in mock surprise as I scan the walls and floor for a passageway, without any luck unfortunately. “It’s the filthy halfbreed.”
At the word I stop looking for a way out and smile at her, putting all my hatred into it. She doesn’t even flinch. Well I’m afraid that sort of response won’t fly with me.
What makes you tick Belly?
“And look at you! The muggle definition of crazy bitch, oh sorry, witch” I spit back, hoping to get a rise out of her, anything as payback for that horrific word. She’ll regret even thinking it by the time I’m done with her. I bear my teeth at her in a malicious grin. “You’d better be careful or I might rip your head off next full moon.”
“What?” she asks, not from fear either, the glint in her merciless eyes isn’t telling me that. “You mean like you did to your filth loving brother?”
No matter how much I try to still myself; I flinch. That’s as good as admitting defeat here, and she knows it. But what can you say to hurt a crazy pure blood? I try to count the people in the hall, and I fail pretty quickly. Too many is the best figure I can come up with.
“I asked you a question, werewolf” she states, grinning.
Let me just clear something up here; I’m not a werewolf, and they know I’m not. That doesn’t stop them from calling me one though. They know about my brother’s research though and like to taunt me with his death; Slytherins to a T. Honestly I’m surprised they even read the newspaper to find out about him, anything to torture a fellow student I guess.
“I heard you” I say, wishing for a witty comment to strike back with, but I’m too scared to come up with one. I fight back the urge to let my teeth sharpen into points to bare at them, encouraging them to believe I’m a werewolf is not a wise move and could end up as trouble for Lupin; not a risk I’m willing to take.
“Hey cuz” I hear a vicious voice say from behind me. Of course, I bet he can just smell fights, and if it gives him the opportunity to piss off a pureblood and save a damsel, even better. Me being the damsel.
He stops just in front of me, protective fool’s gonna get himself hurt.
“I can’t be bothered to spit words at her, you take the back, and I’ll take the front?” I suggest, keeping my voice low so only he can hear.
“I want Bellatrix” he says, complaining, but there’s a reason I offered him the group without her. Actually there are two, and only one of them includes a worry for Sirius’s safety.
“No, she insulted my brother, she’s mine” I grumble out.
The only response I get is a slight nod before we both draw our wands and spin to stand back to back. Once again facing Bellatrix I throw her a grin and lift my wand.
There! That’s what I wanted. That flicker of fear.
Feeling confident, I throw the first curse.
I was right to feel confident. I can’t wipe the grin from my face as Sirius and I run hand in hand through corridors and passageways, sneaking up on Slytherins and sticking them to the floor with short term sticking charms; I’m not so cruel as to use a permanent spell.
By the time we reach potions class I’m sweaty, out of breath and very late.
“Well” I say between breaths “it was fun running with you, but I have a romantic evening with a slug so I’ll be off now.”
“That foul man! And I thought I was the only one he loved enough to call into detention” he sighed, shaking his head.
“I can share him between the two of us I guess” I say, holding my hand dramatically to my still panting chest as though bestowing the greatest kindness when really I’m glad for the company.
“Make that three dearest Jem, for I too have been called here” James interrupts in a haughty tone that surprises a laugh out of me.
“As pleased as I am to hear you children indulging in hypercorrect grammar you had better get inside here and start sorting these” Slughorn says, leading the three of us into the dusty potions classroom and pointing to 5 crates of supplies so large it makes me step back.
“I thought you two sorted all this crap on Wednesday after I went to the infirmary” I whisper to James who’s staring at the crates with wide eyes. At my words he blinks and looks down towards me, still slightly bewildered.
“We were a little preoccupied worrying about you” he says in a low voice, “McGonagall found me just a few minutes ago to say I should come help you. I guess she found Sirius too.”
I smile in spite of myself. I definitely misjudged that professor. Maybe I’ll pick up on homework in her class from now on. I mean, transfiguration comes pretty easily to me, I wouldn’t be an animegus otherwise but that doesn’t mean I listen to her lectures. Peeves would never have been happy with me if I respected her or any other teacher here. That’s a pretty basic rule of befriending a mischievous poltergeist.
“McGonagall is a ninja, she knows all” Sirius says, throwing his arms around me and James.
“Does she know about Padfoot, Prongs and the rat?”
“Hell no! We’d be expelled for that one” Sirius says as quietly as me, stopping Sluggy from overhearing and sending us to be expelled.
“Good, you understand why I don’t want anyone knowing about a certain grey wolf then” I say pointedly. If I’m brought down, I’m bringing them with me.
“Understood Fangs” Potter chuckles.
“No” I say immediately, “I am not getting one of your stupid, obvious nicknames. I am not risking this secret for that.”
“Would you rather we go back to the sickly terms of endearment, blueberry pie-cicle?” James taunts. I can see Sirius batting his eyes at me and pouting from behind Sluggy too; as if it wasn’t bad enough already.
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, worse than Fangs, so, no, I wouldn’t rather that” I admit with a sigh. I’m losing.
“Then we will work on your animegus name!” Sirius says too loudly and I cringe as Slughorn turns from the crates to see us in a line smiling scarily at him. For three good liars, acting innocent on short notice isn’t something we seem to be good at.
“Get to it then” he says, shaking the suspicious look from his face and plodding away through the door, already forgetting us.
I am the first to breathe a sigh of relief and break our line formation. “Two years of being an animegus and hiding it well, and the moment I get close to you boys I almost get caught.” I say as I pace around the room, picking up a spare cauldron, filling it with water then bringing it to the boil. “You’re such idiots!”
“Two years?” They say in shock, and in unison.
“Stop that! I hate it when people speak in unison; it’s creepy and makes me scared” I say, still roaming the room, contrasting to their very still forms. Again: creepy. I keep bustling around, my speed increasing with the weight of their stares. Deciding this is easier dealt with now I release a slow breath and I turn to face them.
“Okay, yes I became an animegus when I was fourteen, I had help” I say, pausing my feet in front of them and only fidgeting a little bit. Big mistake.
“Well played Miss East, well played” Sirius says slowly enough for me to grasp at the competition implied. I shouldn’t have stood so close; something I realise as their expressions change and they split up to begin pacing circles around me, no +doubt to intimidate me.
“In case you’ve forgotten, I’m not allowed to prank you so a competition would be unfair and boring” I say, knowing full-well they wouldn’t be bored in the slightest but saying it anyway to comfort myself.
“Oh Jem, my Jem, you’re such an amateur” James says tutting at me.
Sirius finishes his friends thought, wearing the same disappointed expression on his face. “You promised not to go against us, not prank with us.”
“Which is good for you, because we all know you aren’t quite as devious as us.”
“Too Hufflepuff-y good good to step up to the big leagues”
“Such a waste.”
“Think of what we could have taught you!”
At this point I get sick of them circling me, talking down to me from their height thanks to their stupid long legs, and stalk forward to the first of the crates. “It is a shame really; you could have taught me how to bring alcohol into the castle without teachers knowing!” I say, mocking them as I snap open the crate at begin lifting out countless bottles of fire whisky, blueapple fizzler and frozen mapleshot, checking them for damage and setting them aside to be moved and hidden in my room.
“Or you could have shown me the perfect way to sneak ingredients onto Slug’s list to be ordered so I could have the herb tea I’ve been craving without having to pay Hickles the extortionate amount of money he charges in his stupid tea shop in Hogsmead” I add as I move to the next crate to pull out the needed herbs and drop some into the water now bubbling away in my cauldron.
Having finished my point I turn to the boys now staring at me, shocked once again, only this time I’m pleased. I have to wait a while before they find something to say so I keep stirring my tea, trying my absolute hardest not to be smug. And failing.
“So” James starts, and I’m so sure he’s going to apologise that I turn round to face him but I don’t find what I expected. No, instead I find them staring at the alcohol and putting two and two together. There goes my smug face.
“This party you’re having” Sirius finishes, grinning.
“No” I say immediately, “no you cannot come to the party.”
“Why not?!” Sirius moans, sounding much the huffy three year old.
“Because!” I shout before I find a good reason and resort to the first thing that pops into my head “it’s just for Hufflepuffs.”
“Jem, there’s enough alcohol here for half the school and you expect us to believe only your house is going?” James quite cleverly points out the flaw to my lie.
“Okay… so the odd Ravenclaw and Slytherin comes along too, so what?” I say, trying and failing to keep my voice level.
“Slytherins?! You invite Slytherins !!” Sirius shouts, understandably outraged.
“Yes! They aren’t all pricks and they like a party, if they don’t behave themselves Peeves kicks them out anyway, or he’s supposed to…” I say, loosing myself in the memory of last year when Peeves had fun leading a group of rowdy, drunk Slytherins around the castle at night straight into the path of McGonagall who went memorably ballistic at the sight of underage drunks roaming around singing the Hogwarts theme song at the top of their lungs at half three in the morning.
“Why no Gryffindors?!” James shouts, matching the whiny tone of Sirius to a T.
“Well…” I start slowly, “when Gryffindors drink… you get kind of… righteous.”
“WHAT??” They say together then immediately start defending their ‘noble’ house. When they start retelling stories of drunken, definitely non-righteous times I fully accept they’re mad at me, and that I don’t particularly care, I return my hands to my stirring rod and herbs while keeping my eyes on them, pulling ‘interested’ faces (much like I do in class).
I feel my way through the process, enjoying the fact I’m proving what I’ve been claiming for years; I can totally make tea with my eyes closed. I mean, I know my eyes aren’t technically closed but come on, my peripheral vision isn’t so good that I can stare intently at two stupid boys and see exactly what herbs I’m adding to my cauldron. So, yes, I will be bragging about this to Leon later, the numpty thought I wouldn’t manage it.
When I finally get to the end of the tea making process I curse my lack of milk and sugar, I really can’t drink tea without either of them, but Sirius and James are still ranting and raving, throwing their arms around as if it’ll improve the quality of their story telling, so I mutter a silent prayer of forgiveness and stop them mid-sentence.
“What?” they say, again in unison and I have to forcefully stop myself from shuddering. But I carry on with my offer anyway.
“I will do one prank with you, one and that’s it. In return you both need to shut the hell up and one of you needs to sneak to the kitchens and ask Puddle to grab me the milk and sugar that matches my lavender tea, and help her to carry it back. Do not let her carry it herself or apperate it back, you’re stronger than she is so act like a gentleman and carry the lady’s things.”
They look at each other like eye contact lets them speak directly into one another’s heads before turning back to me with what I hope is a yes but their eyes suggest something else; like bargaining. Sirius is the first to speak up.
“Three pranks, big ones, and four invites-”
“Five” James interrupts, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out ‘number five’ refers to one Lily Evans.
“Right, five invites to your party; then we’ll do as you ask.”
Their cocky smile suggests they know they’ve got me.
Ideally, I’d have just said ‘no’, lifted my wand and shot mouth binding curses at them, but unfortunately my promise stops me from doing that; long way around it is then.
“Not a chance, you’re only getting sugar and milk for me and stopping the boring chatter, it’s an unfair trade! A severely unfair trade” I say, ready for arguing.
“What’s unfair is you not letting us come too! Aren’t we your friends now?” Sirius asks and I see James extend the slightest of glances towards his friend like he’s surprised by the words. Maybe he just heard something in his tone that I didn’t.
Suddenly I’m reminded of the other week; being kidnapped and taken to Gryffindor’s common room. I can’t help but remember James, Remus and Peter insisting I was perfect for Sirius, and that he knew it too. Not only that, they said he was jealous. I know they lie and prank but they aren’t mean enough to convince me of something like that, or at least I don’t think they are.
But whether they’re right about Sirius’ complicated feelings or not (which I’ve already decided to ignore until I can sort out my life) I really do see them as friends, so I smile at Sirius and just say “yeah, yeah you are.” I didn’t expect the quite frankly dazzling smile to appear on his face and blind me, and judging by James’s reaction, he didn’t expect it either.
“So… we are invited then?” James asks, hope filling his voice.
Funny thing about this school, and all other boarding schools (I’m assuming), is that you don’t have too many options for fun. You can go walk the grounds. You can read in the library. You can hang out with friends in your common room or the great hall. If you’re old enough you can go into Hogsmeade for the day. But that’s about it. That’s it for six years . I’m bored!! Everyone who isn’t a Ravenclaw is bored! Other than boring revision for boring exams and going to boring classes there’s not much fun to be had; at least not for the slackers of Hogwarts like me. So we need things to do, literally anything other than work. For example; I prank, Carly gossips, Mark does Quidditch and we all plan the yearly party. I see it as providing a service to the needy; provided they’re worthy.
“Okay; I’ll make you an offer, and I promise it’s a good one” I say to them in my closest representation of a persuasive voice. “But, first you need to bring me the sugar and milk I need for my tea.”
“God you really want this tea don’t you” I hear James mutter under his breath and I can’t help but laugh. I really do want tea. But hey, cravings.
“Just go, when you come back I’ll tell you what you’ve earned.”
“How do we know you’re telling the truth?” Sirius asks, eyes narrowed.
I don’t even reply, I just give him a ‘are you serious’ look and watch over my tea. When he still doesn’t move James explains it to him. “Because she said she promises.”
Well isn’t that surprising, the boy listens. I chuckle to myself as they leave the room together but stop dead when I hear Black’s hushed words as he leaves the room.
“Mate, I’m doomed.”
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