Chapter 6 : Not for the world, but for tea
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“Stop it” I whisper angrily at them. I have nothing to be nervous about, I remind myself, they’re my friends, they’ll understand. When my hands don’t stop even after my pep talk I give up trying to persuade them and look around the library instead.
Usually we hold these meetings in the common room but this year I suggested we invite one member of each house to join in, and as okay as I am letting Slytherins into the party, I do not want any of them knowing the password to get into where I sleep. I’m trusting but I’m not stupid.
But, in all honesty, I’m not worried because of the change of location, though I am sure I’d feel a tad safer were I sitting in my favourite armchair surrounded by the colour yellow, no, I’m nervous because there will be a Gryffindor at this table, and I don’t know which one.
Sure, it could be Lupin, it could even be Peter, but there’s a little part of my mind that is whispering ‘but you know it won’t be’. And my god that voice is loud for a niggling whisper. It took all my persuasive control to get Emily to let the only people in the entire school who prank as much as I do into the party we’ve spent months planning. And let me tell you it wasn’t easy. So if Potter or Black turn up and annoy her I won’t be able to look her in the eye ever again. Besides, I still don’t know quite what to do about Sirius.
With that line of thought my hands speed up, switching from a weird spinning tango to a very fast Irish jig. For Merlin’s sake! That kid will be the death of me. I’ve only known him for what? Three or four weeks? And I can’t get the numpty out of my head. And thanks to my own brains flaw I can’t get mad at him for possibly acting the same way because then I’d be a hypocrite! Besides what the hell am I feeling anyway? I mean I don’t li-
“Hey, um, Jem?”
I am immediately torn away from that thought as I blink and turn to face the one and only Lily Evans. Oh thank God .
“Lily! Hey!” I say, trying to sound as though I haven’t been freaking out for the last ten minutes. I know I’ve failed from the understanding look she gives me as she pulls up a chair and sits down.
“Frightened I might have been one of the boys?” she asks knowingly and I immediately like her. I mean, I’ve never not liked her, but I’ve also never really known her enough to like her. But all I need to know for now is she is understanding; good in my books.
“Yeah” I admit, grateful to feel my hands calm down enough to regain control of them. “It took a lot of work to get them invitations to this thing, I don’t want them ruining that.”
“I understand” she says, laughing lightly. “They like to push their collective luck.”
“So I’d noticed” I reply laughing along. “Ordinarily I’d have made sure they couldn’t show up, but now with them knowing me and my promise to Emily, that doesn’t seem as possible anymore.”
“Yeah, I heard about that” she says, a little guiltily. I’m really not surprised either, at this point I pretty much assume everyone knows about it. And I know exactly who to blame for that.
“Don’t worry about it” I say, smiling kindly. She returns the smile and we take seats at the table next to one another. I take a deep breath before moving on to stage one of my plan (well I didn’t intend for this to be part of the plan, but hey, when life gives you lemons).
“Lily?” 3, 2, 1. Here goes nothing. “Would you be okay if I asked James out to this party?”
“What?!” She replied, near shouting and immediately caught herself. “I mean, yeah of course, don’t ask me.”
I hid my smile and carried on, “are you sure? You don’t look like you like the idea.”
“No!” She shouts again, and if I wasn’t sure before, I sure as hell am now.
“Lily, that boy is crazy about you” I say calmly, in a voice not unlike the ones my teachers use to describe something obvious in a kind way. “You need to know that, because he is incredible, childish, immature and sneaky sure, but incredible . And you are never ever going to find someone like him again.”
“I know” she whispers, looking down at her hands, “I know that”.
“Then for God sake, ask him out!” My turn to shout, it would have been funny if I weren’t so confused.
“I can’t do that, I’ve been turning him down for years, what if he doesn’t like me that way anymore? What if he just flirts now as, I don’t know, as a reflex?”
I open my mouth to tell her that for a talented witch she was really, very thick but I’m interrupted by the scrape of chairs as the rest of our planning party join us. I look at us all, Lily for Gryffindor, Rosie for Ravenclaw, Jonas for Slytherin and me and Emily for Hufflepuff. This, unsurprisingly, leads to an immediate complaint from Jonas.
“How come there’s two of you from Hufflepuff?! How’s that fair?” I’m not known for an incredible amount of patience with Slytherins, so I can’t help but snap “shut your gob Jonas, or you’ll lose your entire house an invitation and Peeves won’t leave you alone for a month.”
Jonas just stares at me, so do the rest of them actually. So they all learn I’m not some easy going Hufflepuff and they still get shocked when my anger is directed at them, well, there’s more where that came from!
“You bit-” Jonas starts but is cut off by a snap of my wand and a sealing spell on his stupid loud mouth.
“That’s better,” I say sweetly and turn to the rest of the stunned students, some reaching worriedly for their wands, and I make the statement I’ve been rehearsing again and again in my head all morning. “I think we should let everyone come to the party.”
I’m met by exactly the response I’ve been expecting and I just let the outrage and questions roll over me, even Jonas gets a few angry squeaks out.
“I know, I know, but Dumbledore clearly wants his favourite house invited and I’ll bet he’ll convince the other teachers to leave us be so long as we leave an age line at the door so none of the younger students get it. That way we won’t need to sneak back to dorms, all houses have representation for the house cup drinking competition and we can always work out a way to keep people out like Bellatrix and her ilk. And that’s about all I have to say on that so I’ll let you guys argue away. Enjoy Em.” I give her a wink and except Lily’s grateful smile before I take the spell off Jonas and strut away.
As I head away from the fights breaking out at the table and I allow my fear to leak out of me with a big sigh. Part one done. I’d been debating over what sort of deal I’d offer to the boys regarding the party. This was the best idea I had come up with, it kept the boys happy, involved a new house, allowed the rest of us some slack from the teachers, I’d have fun with some matchmaking and there was still the extra surprises.
I continue to contemplate my not so evil plans when my attention is drawn to several gleams only just visible through gaps in the bookcase far from me but within sight of our little planning table. Eyes. I sigh and leave Emily’s and Jonas’s way-to-loud-for-a-library voices behind me, heading towards the exit, away from the eyes.
Just once you’d think they’d be able to leave the work to someone else, I did them a favour, one I didn’t even have to do and still, all the hiding and mistrust lives on. I get that trust is one thing they don’t seem to specialise in but the least they could do is hope! I mean I promised to do my best for them, and if I hadn’t proved my trustworthiness by not sticking them to the ceiling every time I get mad then what I just did has to constitute as pretty damn good at keeping a promise. God I’m sick of my temper flaring up this often, I’d have to take up yoga or something at this rate.
Once I’m hidden from view I circle back to the back of the library, looping round the bookcases, weaving around chairs and tables as quickly and as quietly as I can. It takes practiced skill to move like this, and practiced eyes to spot it.
I jump out of my skin.
“How about that time?” Sirius asks, his smirk practically glowing. I’d like to punch that face, I decide.
Even yoga wouldn’t help this.
“What?” I growl, letting a little wolf seep into my tone. See, temper again.
“Was I scarily hot that time?” He says, still smirking. I can’t stop my hands from balling up at my sides and pulling back to throw a swing. I also fail to stop James from taking my hand in his and pull it to his chest so I can feel his laugh through his shirt, rumbling over my skin.
“I’m not sure you were,” James says, still chuckling. “Seeing as she was about to whollop you.”
“Dude, scarily hot people can still be wholloped by Jem, I think she seeks our race out just for that.”
“You’re damn right I do,” I say, glaring at them both, “you deserve it the most.”
I take a second to calm my heart rate and breathing. I’m not fool enough to misunderstand where my anger stems from; I’m mad at myself for being caught, and a little upset, who knew my ego was so big and easily bruised? I guess I’ll have to practice my sneaking to avoid being caught quite so easily next time, because with these boys you just know there’s gonna be a next time.
“What are you doing here?” I demand, my breathing a little more even.
“Lily wouldn’t let us come to the meeting” Sirius says, pouting like a baby.
“You know there’s a damn good reason she didn’t let you go to the meeting, it’s hard enough getting all the houses to agree on something when the people are friendly, throw you lot in with your big mouths there’s no way it would end well. And then you thought you’d eavesdrop? You couldn’t just leave the planning to the grown-ups?”
“Yup! That pretty much covers it” Sirius says, his pout turning into a grin. I don’t grin back. For Merlins sake! What a waste of a good lecture, they have a natural force field for this shit. Sirius continues on, oblivious to my swearing inner voice. “But seeing as your new found love of all things Gryffindor has us all invited we don’t need to listen any longer, shall we go find some people to annoy?”
“Why bother?” I ask, “you’ve already found someone to annoy, and I can say first hand you’re doing a damn good job of it already.”
“Oh Jem Jem Jem, you may as well get used to it, I suspect you’re stuck with us now!” In spite of myself I laugh at this, then I laugh more at his stunned expression as a I link arms with him. I could feel the other boys trying not to stare at that small connection, but I knew what I was doing and I wasn’t about to back track now. Time to see if my flirting skills were working today.
“I suppose I am,” I say, walking off arm in arm with probably the hottest guy in this whole damn school, “Fortunately I’ve got a thing for scarily sexy guys that just won’t quit.”
Judging by the smoldering smile I get in return, I comfort myself with the fact my skills may not be as rusty as I’d feared.
I go ahead and ruin it with relish, “but I do not love all things Gryffindor, you got nothing on me.”
Sirius laughs, head thrown back and grinning widely. “Prove it.”
“Where the hell are we East?” Sirius shouts as his foot gets caught on another step and he once again falls onto me. He’s done it enough times for me to believe he’s no longer doing it as an accident.
“Get off and shut up” I say, shoving him off me, letting Potter catch his weight and try not to tip over himself. I’ve been leading them around in circles and only Lupin seems to realise it, clever boy. But I’m not willing to let them find their way back so I lead them once again round the stairwell and down hallways, making sure their blinding spells don’t slip.
“Come on, we’ve been walking for hours!” Peter moans at the back of the line. I stifle a rude comment.
“We’ve been walking for twenty minutes and will continue to do so until Moony stops working out where we are and lets himself enjoy the surprise.” I say, rounding a corner even I don’t recognise. Three of the foursome shout at Lupin to let it go and just walk so they can stop wandering around like lost ducklings following their mother. I smile at this and can’t help but laugh outright when a group of Gryffindors round the corner and stop dead at their lords and masters trailing a Hufflepuff now known for pranking.
“Oh man, this better be worth it” Sirius moans, “our reputations are being flushed down the bog for this.”
“Damn right they are” I say as I wink at the poor group and laugh my best evil laugh, “soon the whole world will know… GRYFFINDORS SUCK.” I cackle again and start up a little song about all the things wrong with the high house. The boys groan, but as per our agreement, they don’t contradict me. Man this was fun!
When we finally come to the surprise I leave myself one second of regret that my power over them keeping their mouths shut is fading. Then I just throw up the door with relish and immediately a grin falls to my face.
“Boys,” I say, letting their blindfold jinxs drop. “Meet your arch enemy. Arch enemy, meet your favourite victims.”
My grin lifts far enough to strain my face as I watch the boys come face to face with the devil, otherwise known as Peeves. The other expressions in the room do not mirror mine. Peeves looks evil (as usual), Pettigrew looks terrified, Lupin looks a little bewildered, Potter looks like he’s about ready to faint but it’s Sirius I stare at the longest. He’s looking at me, not Peeves, and he’s not looking afraid, he looks… well, he looks like he might fall to the floor and kiss my feet like a goddess.
I smirk at him, trying to rid the image of him kneeling before me out of my head. “I think I just proved it,” I tell him, watching as he nods and lets out a long breath.
“Well good,” I say, plopping myself down onto my couch. “It’s about time you knew who it is you’re dealing with, I’m not all sunshine and rainbows.”
“HA! You’ve as much sunshine and rainbows in your blood as I do!” Peeves spouts, ending in a high pitched laugh he uses to scare kids. He hovers over to the couch I’m on and delicately perches himself on the arm of it; pretending he can sit down in order to look dignified or whatever.
“You don’t have blood” Lupin states, shaking out of his shocked state first, his words waking up the others too, except for Peter who is edging behind Potter, no doubt looking for protection.
“Exactly” Peeves grins and I snort.
“Come on man, I’m at least 20% sunshine and a good 35% rainbows and you know it” I say to Peeves, bantering in a way I’ve been comfortable with since the moment I saved his ass years ago.
“Don’t push your luck, Hufflepuff” Peeves warns, “your storm clouds and thunder 100%, no room for anything cute and cuddly.”
“Aww Peeves, you big flirt” I say, batting my eyes at him, making him grin.
“Just what kind of relationship is this?” Well that can only be Sirius. I look at him to find storm clouds and thunder in his eyes and I can’t help but laugh.
“He’s my pranking mentor, I learned from the best, and then I became the best.”
“The student became the master” Peeves says and I smile contentedly. All I need in life is a comfy sofa; and sufficient entertainment of course.
“But I didn’t bring you here for the lessons you so sorely need” I say with a wink and a grin at their outraged faces, “you’re here to listen to the prizes you’ve earned as payment for bringing my tea things and shutting the hell up. Now, you’ve clearly already ‘overheard’ prize number one: the Gryffindor house’s entry to the party. But be aware that Peeves is the bouncer for this party and if you piss him off getting in will be the least of your worries.” This brings a threatening grin to Peeves’ face and a sick one to Peter’s; I enjoy both.
“Prize number two is, unbelievably, trickier for me to pull of thanks to your collective bad luck with women.” This expectedly receives some offended looks which I try not to enjoy too much. “James, I’m working on getting Lily for you, please restrain from the hero worship you’re considering. Lupin, I’m open to suggestions but I have someone in mind already. Peter, give me a name and don’t be too over-ambitious. Sirius… you don’t need help.” His grin is worth the shocked look I get from Peeves as he realises I find him attractive, then he turns disapproving, so I ignore him. I also ignore the stunning smile Sirius gives me, and the wink that turns my knees wobbly.
“May I please point out that prize two is limited to my powers of persuasion, I will not be dishing out love spells cause that’s hella creepy.” I give Peter a pointed stare before continuing on to possibly the most dangerous prize of them all. “Lastly…” At my pause, Potter and Black begin to grin, guessing what’s to come probably. I sigh. “Lastly you each receive my help on one minor prank and before you get excited the conditions are that I make all final calls regarding plans and the victim can’t be someone I like; so basically no Hufflepuffs.”
“Sound fair?” I ask, knowing full well it is a very fair deal and I’ve probably been over kind. Giving them no room to complain or start bitching I nod to myself and lift from the couch. “Good, now Lupin, I suspect you’ll be the easiest to start with. I need two names, one to date and one to destroy.”
I lead him from the room, leaving the others mostly in shock of my awesomeness; just how I like it.
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