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Old May 28th, 2012, 5:46 am
marauderfan  Female.gif marauderfan is offline
Second Year
Join Date: 02nd August 2006
Location: Beyond the veil
Age: 29
Posts: 261
Re: The Brave at Heart

Well... I've made it through the busiest semester of my life during which I barely had any time to sleep, let alone write, and now I've graduated! And it's summer, so I have a lot more time to write and I'm hoping to post much more regularly. Here goes!

(And as always, thanks to my loyal feedbackers for all your comments!)


Chapter 26: Second Hand News

The following week brought many great things, including the purple on my hands from last week’s Herbology class finally fading on Monday, Charlotte’s eighteenth birthday on Tuesday, and Slytherin Quidditch tryouts the next day.

At lunch on Wednesday, I tried to convince Mandy to come with me and try out for the Quidditch team again this year, but she wasn’t interested. So when we finished lunch, I was walking out of the Great Hall when I heard loud footsteps running up behind me, and turned around in time to see Hector running with a Quidditch robe just before he threw it over my head, grabbed my shoulders and started marching me somewhere. “Quidditch tryouts!” he shouted.

“Yeah, in two hours,” I said, my voice muffled by the robe over my head. I reached up and pulled the robe off. “Hector, this reeks. Please tell me you’ve washed your Quidditch robe since last year?”

“I think so.”

I threw the robe back at him. “I’ll be there, I promise. I just have a few things I need to do first.”

After an hour of trying to write a remotely intelligent-sounding essay for Defence Against the Dark Arts, I grabbed my Cleansweep Five and hurried to the Quidditch pitch. I was still an hour early, but it would give me some time to practice. When I got there, however, Gryffindor were in the middle of their tryouts. I practiced by hitting rocks and pinecones instead.

I was alerted to the start of Slytherin’s tryouts an hour later, when I heard Hector’s voice shouting, “Off the field, Potter! We have it reserved now!” James, still up in the air with a Quaffle, threw the Quaffle at Hector, soared down and grabbed it again before touching down on the ground lightly.

“Sorry about that… too close?” James laughed.

“No one in Slytherin cares if you show off,” I said archly as I walked by James. “We’re so not impressed.”

Hector began tryouts with the Chasers, and I sat in the stands with other team hopefuls. I saw Elliott Jasper among the group gathered, and hoped he was just there to watch and not try out! After six people had tried out for the two remaining Chaser spots, Hector ended up choosing the same ones the team had had for the past two years: himself, Derrick and Corlon.

After that was Beaters, which was good because I was tired of waiting there nervously. Three of us walked out onto the pitch to try out. I went first, and felt I did reasonably well. Hector gave me a thumbs-up as I landed afterwards; I actually had a chance this year. A third-year named Byrd followed me. He also looked like a bird; he was a short, squat kid with yellowy hair, long arms and a long beak-like nose. He hit the first two Bludgers thrown at him off in the opposite direction, but then seemed to find his confidence and did rather well. The last one to try out was Nott, and he was just as bad as last year.

Hector chose Byrd and me for the new Beaters, and Nott objected to Hector’s choice and complained for a solid fifteen minutes that he had not made it on the team again. Meanwhile, Hector ignored him and called the potential Keepers down to the field; I cringed when I noticed Elliott Jasper was one of them, and I watched the tryouts intently.

Much to my horror, all of the people who tried out let in over half of the goals, except Jasper, who blocked almost all of them. As Wilkes came back down to the field after his tryout to await Hector’s final choice, I ran down from the stands too. “Not Jasper,” I said frantically to Hector. “You can’t pick him, he’s horrible. You remember when we used to fight all the time – it’ll be just the same. Please don’t.”

“You saw the tryouts, Mel,” he said. “He’s clearly the best one of the lot. Who else would you pick?”

Jasper had outperformed the others by far, but I wouldn’t ever admit it to him. Hector stepped away to announce Jasper’s position as Keeper, and the excitement I’d felt about the upcoming Quidditch season was partially replaced with trepidation because of the new Keeper.

Three people tried out for Seeker. Warrington, last year’s Seeker, did well. He was a good player but I knew he was responsible for causing a lot of fouls last year. After him was Selma Yaxley, who did very well but then yelled shrilly at Hector about why he would regret it if he didn’t pick her, while Regulus Black tried out. Hector eventually picked Regulus, and then had to deal with Yaxley and Warrington shouting at him as he left the field.

It was easy for me to tune out Yaxley and Warrington, but I was still upset about Jasper being picked for the team. I saw all kinds of potential trouble coming from this. During second year he used to make me run off crying all the time, but as I’d become more confident through the years, he’d had a lot less impact on me and it had sort of waned; last year we’d only shouted and humiliated each other. But I wasn’t particularly looking forward to a repeat of any of it. Although it was true Jasper and I hadn’t really gotten into a fight in months, I had a feeling it might start up again now that we’d be working together and seeing each other’s failures more often. We’d simply have to learn to get along.

Charlotte’s infatuation with Professor Thornhill ended the instant she got back her first Defence Against the Dark Arts essay marked with a D the following afternoon. “Dreadful?” she cried, turning to me, as if I could tell her she was seeing it incorrectly. “It wasn’t that bad! How can he expect us to already be at NEWT standard, those aren’t for months! What an a***.”

I could sympathize; I’d gotten a P for Poor, which wasn’t much better. I had thought it was a reasonably good essay, too. “Well, it’s only the first paper,” I said, trying to justify it to myself as much as to her. “And think about it this way – we did so badly that we can only improve from here on.”

Mandy said nothing about her essay, leading me to think she’d probably gotten at least an Exceeds Expectations and didn’t want to make us feel worse.

Charlotte turned her parchment over and began doodling a caricature of Professor Thornhill on the back, adding devil horns and a tail. I reached over and drew a pitchfork in his hand. Mandy coughed pointedly, and Charlotte slid her essay parchment underneath her notes just as Thornhill walked by. It had been a close call. Then we decided we’d actually take notes.

After dinner that day, Mandy and Charlotte and I got a table in the library, spread out books everywhere, and griped about how much work we had. I wrote a few sentences and was feeling particularly proud of myself for being so productive, and then Vanessa Saltz and her posse walked by. It seemed they only picked on people who were alone; they apparently were smart enough to not pick on us because we were in a group, but rules like that didn’t apply to Charlotte.

“Vanessa, that spider decoration in your hair is so realistic,” said Charlotte. “It looks lovely, where did you get it?”

Vanessa just stared back, and I could see the gears turning in her mind. She didn’t want to let Charlotte know that she was bothered, but she clearly was. Lydia, who was also a seventh year Ravenclaw almost as vain as Vanessa, scanned the top of Vanessa’s hair but wouldn’t touch her. Vanessa shook her head, frantically moving her hands through her hair and hyperventilating, trying to get the spider off. Charlotte, in the seat beside me, was dying of laughter.

By the time Vanessa had figured out there was in fact no spider in her hair, Madam Pince, the librarian, had noticed the commotion at our table, and headed over to investigate. Lydia purposely bumped into our table as they left, upending an ink bottle all over my half-completed essay, and then went to talk to Madam Pince, probably to get us into trouble.

That was unlikely to end well. Vanessa could act sweet if she wanted to, in a sort of fake way that I could see through but Madam Pince probably wouldn’t. And Madam Pince would believe her over anything Charlotte would say, because it was guaranteed Charlotte would be rude about it.

“Let’s go,” I whispered to Mandy and Charlotte, and we hurriedly collected our things and dashed out of the library.

“Did you have to do that?” I asked Charlotte once we got into the corridor. “They were actually going to leave us alone, and you went and did that. I thought Vanessa might have been done bothering me, since I broke up with Luke and I think she liked him, but now she’ll just be after me all over again.”

“Calm down,” said Charlotte. “No, she’ll never be done bothering you. Maybe if there was nothing interesting in your life that she could make fun of, she would… but you’re a much more interesting person than she is, so she’ll always have something to pester you about.”

“Still,” said Mandy, “that was close. I’m amazed we didn’t get in trouble!”

We turned a corner and came across James and Lily walking down the hallway on patrol, looking out for first and second years breaking their curfew. Lily was laughing; they appeared to have not noticed us yet.

“Why are you laughing?” asked James.

“Because… that was funny, I guess,” said Lily awkwardly.

“But you never laugh when I say things.”

“I’ll try not to do it again.”

“Lily…” he whined, making a face. Lily giggled. She actually giggled, at something James said - it was a miracle that should have been noted in the history books. Lily waved at us as they walked by, and James said hello.

So he was calling her Lily now. That was an improvement over calling her by her last name, as he’d done for the past six years. You’d think he would have figured out something like that before. And I also thought that even though Lily still insisted that she didn’t like James, it was without much conviction. Maybe she actually was starting to like him, but she’d just gone so long saying that she didn’t, and now her pride stopped her from saying she’d changed her mind.

That was also a lucky escape,” said Mandy after they had passed by. “They were too busy talking to notice us, which was good because we were just discussing how we ran away from trouble in the library.”

“Yeah, keep talking about it, maybe we’ll run into McGonagall too,” I said.

The following day Mandy and I ran into Lily again as we walked into the castle for Transfiguration after taking a break outside after lunch. Lily and Remus had been sitting under a tree together, but Lily looked at her watch and they both got up; Remus walked off to join his fellow Marauders and Lily began walking into the castle, her long auburn hair dancing in the breeze behind her as she walked.

“Hi,” she said brightly to us as I held open the castle door for her. “How are you two?”

“Great,” said Mandy. “Enjoying being outside all we can before it starts getting cold.”

Lily smiled. “Yeah, good day for that. I almost didn’t want to come back inside. You’re headed to Transfiguration too?”

“Yep,” I said. “Wonder if McGonagall would hold class outside today instead.” Lily and Mandy both laughed – the idea of stern Professor McGonagall leading the class outside to teach because it was sunny was ludicrous. Maybe Flitwick would have done it for Charms, though.

We reached the queue for Transfiguration, and as we lined up, James came up beside Lily and tapped her on the shoulder lightly. “Sorry... you dropped this,” he said, holding out an ink bottle, which he must have been carrying since before entering the castle because it would have broken if it had fallen on the corridor floor.

“Oh. Thanks,” said Lily, and took the bottle from him, stowing it in her bag. She glanced sideways at him again, or where she thought he was, but he had already gone to wait further back in line with his friends.

“That was nice,” said Mandy.

Lily scowled. “Maybe. I’ve spent too much time with Potter recently though. Patrol was awful yesterday.”

“Why?” I asked. “What did he do? When I saw you, it seemed you were having a great time…”

“Oh, I don’t know… nothing in particular… just spending that much time with him was something I could have done without. It was fine until he tried to get me to sneak out of the castle with him. He said I take my position as Head Girl too seriously – but we’re supposed to take it seriously!”

Mandy pounced on this opportunity for matchmaking. “You need to find someone else to go to Hogsmeade with in a couple of weeks. If you’ve already got a date, maybe James won’t bother you.”

“Oh, he wasn't bothering me, not like that. He's actually been really polite to me lately, none of the old arrogance. He hasn’t asked me out in a while – although he does say stuff like how he loves patrol because we spend so much time together. He said he hoped we could be friends, but I don’t think he meant it.”

I wondered how on earth she could be complaining about that, and Mandy sighed, a sappy grin on her face. “Lily, that’s so sweet!" she said. "If a bloke said that to me, I’d love it! And I bet if anyone other than James said that to you, you’d love it too.”

“I suppose,” said Lily. I shook my head. Lily was one of the sweetest people I’d ever met. She had an infectious smile, she was brilliant, and responsible… It wasn’t surprising that half the male population of Hogwarts was in love with her, but she was unattainable, especially to James, who was probably the one person she lost her patience with and snapped at. (For a while I’d even suspected Snape fancied her, but I must have been wrong – Snape never really liked anyone.) James had set lofty goals, if he intended to get Lily to change her mind about him.

And it might take a miracle for Lily to change her mind about James, although it was clear to me that James had changed quite a bit since this time last year. He seemed much more responsible, and slightly less blatant about his rule-breaking. Even though I’d thought Dumbledore was mad when I’d first found out James was Head Boy, it seemed Dumbledore had had very good judgment on how James could handle responsibility.

One person I wished would change his mind about me was Luke. After that time he’d asked me out during Herbology at the beginning of the year I’d gone back to avoiding him. This generally worked, but I ran almost straight into him as we both left class one day.

“Sorry,” I said grumpily, without any attempt to be friendly, and kept walking. I was so past the point of caring whether or not he thought I was a nice person. He hurried to catch up with me.

“Melanie, can we talk for a minute? I promise it won’t take long.”

“Okay,” I sighed, turning around. “One minute, you said? Go ahead.”

“I’m not going to ask you out again, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Interestingly enough, I had been worried about that… “I have a new girlfriend now.”

“Oh?” I asked, for the first time actually interested in the conversation. “Who?”

“Monica Turpin.”

“Great… I’m really happy for you!”

“Thanks,” he said. He smiled, his alluring blue eyes twinkling. Once, ages ago it seemed, I had been enchanted by that smile. “I just wanted to get closure on this so you don’t have to keep running away from me.”

“Oh, but I was getting such a good workout from all the running,” I said. There was no point in denying that I fled every time I saw him. I really needed to stop being so awkward. But he laughed; apparently he found it funny instead of awkward. “Well, I appreciate it,” I said. “Take care. And… for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

I continued walking up the hill, relieved. I would never have to worry about something as silly as this again. I had thought so last year, after we’d made up during the end of year exams, but this time it was final. It had been quite an ordeal with Luke, which I never could have predicted when we started dating. At least it had taught me a lesson.

The second time Camilla came alone to see me, I was still unprepared for her actually speaking to me, after months of her giving me disapproving looks while Mark talked to me last year.

“What?” I said rudely.

Camilla hesitated. “It’s about Mark,” she said. “But if you don’t want to hear it, I’ll leave you alone so you can keep doing your… ah, homework,” she concluded disdainfully, her eyes resting on the balancing stack of Exploding Snap cards on the table, surrounded by untouched textbooks and quills. So, we’d never actually gotten around to working…

“What is it?” I said, dropping the impatient tone I’d taken with her a few seconds before.

“I just… I wrote to him,” she said. “He’s at home! His parents wouldn’t let him come back to Hogwarts because they were worried about the Dark Lord, and wanted to keep an eye on Mark.”

That wasn’t unheard of – a Hufflepuff had left last year for the same reason. “Is he all right?” I asked. “Does he want to come back?”

“Well I think so, why wouldn’t he want to come back? He told me to be careful though. I don’t know why – it’s not like the Dark Lord is going to just stroll into Hogwarts. I’m not worried anyway – I’m a pureblood.”

“Good for you. You’re the only one who’s not worried about Voldemort.”

She flinched when I said the name. “But Mark shouldn’t be worried either!”

“There’s probably a lot going on out there that neither of us knows about,” I said finally. “I think Hogwarts is safe, at least for now, but Mark’s parents want to protect him and they think they can do better. I also think it might have to do with protecting him from some students here – students who might be Death Eaters in training. But since I know you don’t really trust me, at least listen to him.”

She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Okay,” she said eventually. I smiled encouragingly at her, and she left.

Mark’s predicament got me thinking again about the possibility of Mark’s idol Mulciber being a Death Eater, as I had suspected last year. Maybe Mark was better off than he realized. I turned back to the table in front of me, where Charlotte and Mandy were working their way through a Transfiguration assignment.

“Charlotte, have you told anyone that Lester is a Death Eater?” I asked quietly.

Mandy looked up from Transfiguration Made Easier, and Charlotte set down her quill. “Other than you two?” she asked. “Yes, I told Slughorn. I figured having a professor know would be a good idea – and he went and questioned Lester about it, but Lester just denied it, and there’s no way to prove it of course. So either he was just faking all along, and told our family just to feel important… or he actually is a Death Eater and is good at hiding it. I honestly don’t know.”

“Do you think he and his friends are making Hogwarts unsafe?” Mandy asked.

Charlotte shook her head. “I don’t know. He doesn’t really talk to me about it… even less so now, because he knows I told Slughorn. But he’s my brother, I don’t think he’d put Hogwarts in danger. He does bully other students around some, though… I have no idea of half of the stuff he gets up to, and although he respects You-Know-Who, I doubt he’d try to make Hogwarts unsafe.” She sighed. “Mandy, you have no idea how lucky you are being an only child, with fewer people to constantly worry about.”

Mandy sighed. “It’s not like I haven’t got anything to worry about. Everyone’s worried about something right now, because of Voldemort. And anyway, I don’t feel like an only child. You two are essentially my sisters. But it’s true – at least neither of you are Death Eaters.”

We were interrupted when Alanna ran over to us, carrying several textbooks, her blonde hair flying everywhere and her eyes wide. Rachel followed, walking up behind her and looking slightly bored. She caught up to Alanna, flipped her hair over her shoulder, and looked over our heads at a lamp on the wall, a haughty expression on her face.

“What happened?” Mandy asked Alanna, alarmed.

“Nothing,” said Alanna, looking a bit confused. “Nothing happened, why? What did you get on your Transfiguration project?

I almost laughed when I realized that was why Alanna was so frantic – it was the first time she’d seen us since getting our grades back, which meant she had had to wait several hours to compare her marks with everyone else’s. If she had done well on something, she was typically much calmer than this.

“Erm… Acceptable,” said Mandy quietly.

“I told you,” said Rachel to Alanna, tugging Alanna’s sleeve. “Of course you did better. I’m the only one who did better than you, so you’re fine. Let’s go, I don’t want to just stand around all evening.”

But Alanna looked to Charlotte, who said, “Come on, you know me better than that. I’m still not saying anything about my grades. I never have, and I never will – it’s none of your business. Do you want to join us though?”

“Er… What are you working on? I have so much to do! I’ve been working for days on my Potions essay. I rewrote it twice. Every time I read it over there’s something I realize I can do better, so I’ve got all these books. Are you making a card house out of Exploding Snap cards or working?” she asked shrewdly, seeing the stack of cards on top of Mandy’s closed textbook.

“We’re just about to start working,” said Charlotte.

Rachel looked over at me and Mandy, making eye contact with us for the first time all evening, then started to tug on Alanna’s sleeve again. “I think we’re going to go, actually,” she said, and the two of them walked across the room to a different table.

Rachel had never said outwardly rude things to my face, but I’d always had the feeling she talked about me behind my back. It was funny - I had a feeling that if Vanessa Saltz didn’t hate Slytherins so much and Rachel didn’t hate non-Slytherins, the two of them could have been great friends, because they were actually very similar. Well, maybe they would be friends. It would be interesting to see if two people who thought everyone else beneath them could actually be friends, or whether each would hate the other for thinking she was better.

I turned back to our table of work and realized I only had half the materials I needed to write my paper. “I think I’m going to the library,” I said.

“It’s too late,” said Mandy, glancing at her watch. “Curfew is in about five minutes, you won’t make it back in time.”

“Yeah, but James and Lily won’t care, they’d never get me in trouble,” I said. “I’ll be fast.”

Mandy shrugged and I set off for the library. I was yawning as I walked the entire way there – I considered that maybe I shouldn’t bother and should just go to the library first thing tomorrow morning, because it was late and I was probably too tired to write anything good. But I was already halfway there, I may as well just get my books now.

I got into the library just as Madam Pince turned off the lights. I asked her, “Is it too late for me to just…” I gestured towards the shelves.

“The library is closed,” said Madam Pince. “I’m not going to stay around an extra hour while you decide on your books.”

“I’ll just get them really quickly—”

“That is how the books get damaged,” hissed Madam Pince as she swooped over towards the door. “You don’t just snatch them off the shelves – you have to be careful with them! I have seen many books meet a terrible fate – pages torn out, spine bent, covers falling off – because people don’t treat them with care!”

“Right,” I sighed, resigned. “I’ll be back tomorrow then…”

I walked out of the library empty-handed and headed back to the Slytherin common room. Halfway there I heard Sirius’s voice as I rounded a corner. “All right Melanie?”

I turned to stop and talk to him, but instantly felt the smile slide off my face when I saw Sirius and Althea standing too close together. He had his arm around her and she was grinning up at him in a stupid way – as any girl would be if Sirius had his arm around her. I didn’t even know they knew each other. It was very surprising for two reasons – first of all, that Althea had come out of her shell enough to talk to a guy, much less Sirius Black; and second, that Sirius was interested in her at all. Seeing him and Althea together bothered me a lot… Althea was so sweet and would just get hurt when Sirius predictably would dump her and move on to someone else in a week. Or what if that didn't happen – what if I had to go through months of seeing this?

“Hello,” I said to them very coldly. “You’re in the hallways after curfew.” Without a second glance at them I abruptly walked past. I was baffled by the combination of feelings that arose in me – I hadn’t expected something like this to bother me so much; after all, Sirius had always been a flirt. And maybe they were just standing and talking, and I was making a big deal out of nothing. But then I pictured Sirius in the hallway with me instead of Althea, and my heart felt a pang… I was jealous of her. Even as much as Sirius exasperated me, I would give anything to be in Althea's place right now. I realized that this was exactly how Mandy had felt during the summer, seeing Sirius and me at James’s house. Only now, I was jealous. It had come full circle.

And Sirius had been just playing with my emotions. After all that when I thought he liked me last year – now I was falling for him, but it seemed he had given up and didn’t care anymore. He’d moved on. I should have expected that. He either had no idea I liked him, or he was only interested in the chase.

I supposed it was all for the best, because I’d been trying to rid my head of thoughts about Sirius anyway. It bothered me more than I would ever admit, but out of respect for Mandy, I wouldn’t talk about it, or act concerned – I was keen to avoid another situation like the summer.

That was my plan, anyway. But Mandy had an innate ability to sense my thoughts, and the moment I walked into the dormitory, she asked “What’s with you?”

I didn’t know what to say. I knew she still liked Sirius, and although over the summer she’d said that whatever happened would happen and she’d be fine with it, I knew she had just been trying to smooth over our argument and didn’t mean it. I shook my head and flopped down on my bed. “I thought you were still in the common room working with Charlotte,” I said, hoping she’d drop it.

“No, I’m here,” she stated obviously. “Charlotte’s still in the common room. At least she was a little while ago. So tell me…”

“It’s nothing,” I said mechanically. Mandy rolled her eyes, and I gave in. “Well, I think Sirius likes Althea, I just saw them in the hallway together, but I don’t know whether he was trying to make me jealous or whether he actually likes her. And I could be just over-thinking it like I always do. But I’m pretty sure he likes her.”

I realized how incredibly stupid and desperate I sounded, and stopped talking, burying my face in my pillow again.

“You don’t know that for sure,” she said sympathetically. “Maybe he was trying to make you jealous and thinks that’s the best way to find out if you like him. Because as far as I know, you’ve never given any indication you like him, you’re always denying it. Or maybe he gave up. You can’t expect him to make every move – maybe you should ask him to go to Hogsmeade, or something.”

I lifted my head from the pillow and stared at her, and my jaw dropped. For the first time, Mandy was acting as if she didn’t have feelings for Sirius anymore – and had she actually just advised me to ask him out?!

“I can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Well… why would he go with me? There are so many other girls who are dying to go out with him… There's even a whole group of fifth years that follow him!”

“And you honestly think he’d choose one of them over you? He can't stand them.”

“Or what about Althea?” I didn’t know what to do about her. The girl was so nice I couldn’t possibly hate her, but I was starting to resent her!

“Well what about her? You said you just saw them in the hallway. That means nothing. He likes attention but I don’t think it necessarily means he fancies her.”

“Mandy, I can’t. What about you? I am the worst friend ever. Friends aren’t supposed to go after each other’s interests.”

Mandy smiled. “But I’m over him. For real this time.”

I couldn’t believe it. “That’s what you always say.”

“I’m into someone else now. And besides… after seeing the way you and Sirius act together, I can tell that he and I would make no sense together. We’ve become good friends, but I never liked him the way you do – I just liked him because he’s gorgeous.”

“The way I do?” I sputtered. “What – I… it’s that obvious?” I asked, resigned.

“Sometimes,” she said, grinning. “And I think he likes you a lot too. You two wind each other up – I’ve never seen Sirius like that with any other girls. You can keep up with him in an argument. And he always seems so happy when he talks to you – when you’re not bickering, that is.” She laughed. “Trust me. I’ve picked up on these things from watching him for so long.”

I laughed. Mandy had been stalking us for ages, apparently. As much as I appreciated her show of support for me, I felt like she might only be saying that to make me feel better. Had I not just seen Sirius with Althea? I supposed it was true he hadn’t had a girlfriend for a while, and he was much less of a flirt now than he was last year, but it wasn't enough to convince me. “So… what should I do? You’re so much better at this sort of thing than I am.”

“I told you, ask him out! There’s nothing wrong with a girl asking a guy out. And if he doesn’t want to, you’re no worse off than you are now.” Then she laughed, and said, “I can’t believe I’m giving you advice about how to get together with the guy I liked since I was eleven! You better be really nice to me for the rest of your life. You owe me. You owe me so much that I’m expecting you to pay for my first house and a lifetime supply of ice cream.”

“See?” I said triumphantly. “You still like him.”

“No, I’m just saying I never saw this coming – years ago I never would have imagined I’d be saying this to you. But I think you and Sirius are perfect for each other.”

“Puke,” said Charlotte, walking into the room. “If I knew I’d be walking into a discussion about feelings, I never would have come in.”

“What have you been up to?” Mandy asked suspiciously.

“James was being a git, he told me off for being in the hallway. So I snuck up to the seventh year boys’ dorm room and put Dungbombs under James’s bed.”

“You’re a charmer,” I said.

“You did the exact same thing last year,” said Charlotte, and climbed into bed.

“So… who’s this new guy, Mandy?” I asked.

She glanced briefly around the room, to see if anyone was listening. I don’t know why she did – it had only been the two of us for the past fifteen minutes until Charlotte walked in, and unless Rachel or Alanna had been hiding under their beds the whole time, no one was going to hear. Mandy whispered, “It’s Remus.”

“I thought so!” I said gleefully.

“He doesn’t draw as much attention to himself as his friends do, so it took me a while to really notice him that way. He’s also really different from every other guy I’ve liked. And he’s so sweet – he always knows how to say the right thing at the right time.”

“And he’s also not the type of guy who will just play with your emotions. Can’t say the same for Sirius…”

She laughed. “It’ll get better.”

“I know. Thanks.”

“I’ve noticed Remus is really closed off about how he feels though. Very secretive. I wish blokes didn’t do that.”

“If only everyone was as transparent as we are about our feelings, then it wouldn’t lead to such drama,” I said, and we both sat there laughing until Mandy tried to get Charlotte to come talk with us. It was fruitless, though – this was a topic Charlotte tended to steer clear from, and she was pretending to be asleep and did not answer. I supposed she actually could be asleep, but that was unlikely – she hadn’t been there that long, and she’d definitely do something like lie there and listen to us. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I felt significantly better after talking to Mandy. And I still couldn’t get over my amazement that she had moved on from Sirius. After all, she had said that it was just his looks… and it sounded like she would rather see me with Sirius. I had always teased Mandy about her crush on Sirius, and a few of her previous boyfriends whom she’d dated because she thought they were cute, but I wouldn’t tease her about Remus. Although this was a very recent development, it seemed more genuine to me, and that she was finally looking beneath the surface. I felt sort of a mix between being proud of Mandy as she changed and being selfishly glad that she didn’t fancy Sirius anymore.

The Slytherin Quidditch team’s first practice of the year was a few days later, in the evening. I was thrilled to be part of the team at last, practicing with them from the beginning instead of as a last minute substitute. The only thing that brought it down was the presence of Elliott Jasper as the Keeper. Luckily, he stayed near the goal hoops, so I didn’t have to interact with him much, although I did catch him sneering and heard him muttering things indistinctly when I missed a Bludger.

I ignored him. I was going to put forth my best effort this year to not get into any fights with him. However, at one point when Hector called us all back down to the ground to discuss strategies, Jasper said to me, “It’s nice to see you acting normal for once. Because there are no Mudbloods on our team, you don’t have to act like you’re everyone’s personal saviour.”

“I’ve never thought I was anyone’s saviour,” I said, nonplussed. I supposed it was true that I stuck up for people Jasper picked on, but that was really just because I knew what it was like to be able to do nothing when being picked on, and for years I’d wished someone had been there to stick up for me at home when Nathan wasn’t around. “Will you leave me alone now, or do you not feel complete if you haven’t gone a day without saying I’m unworthy to be a Slytherin?”

Jasper laughed derisively, but had no time for anything else because Hector addressed me and Byrd, the other Beater, and began suggesting a couple of different tactics we could use in the game. I had a feeling Hector was just trying to prevent Jasper and me from fighting. I appreciated it, but I knew that if Jasper and I were ever going to get along, it wasn’t going to start with other people interfering just in time. We’d never be friends, but I hoped that maybe if Slytherin did well at the first Quidditch match this year, then maybe he’d stop sniping at me every chance he got and we might be able to tolerate each other.

Overall, practice went well, and there were no more disagreements began between Jasper and me. Hector was doing a great job as captain, and the new players he’d selected were fitting in to the team well. I had a feeling it would be a good year for Slytherin’s Quidditch team. We walked back up to the castle together as the sun began to set over the hills.


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Captain of the HMS Arts & Crafts, co-founder of Annie Is My Homegirl, Proud member of the IBP and KEBA

Last edited by marauderfan; March 16th, 2013 at 6:39 pm.
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