Ingrid Carmichael, Sophia Lerrenti and Angel Pointer join me in my compartment. Lily is still patrolling the corridor so I’ve been staring out of the window for the last hour thinking about the atrocities that occurred over the span of the summer holidays. Part of me wonders how many of us have returned to school, if there will be empty seats in the Great Hall. Ingrid sits next to me and blabbers on about something. I just nod and smile at the right places with the occasional “Mmm, really?” put in for good measure. These are the popular girls, and I have to count myself as one, but Merlin do they annoy me! This summer 21 people have died because of Deatheater attacks and all they can talk about is… well I don’t know, I stopped listening as soon as she said hello. “It’s just dreadful isn’t it?” She asks. I’m surprised by her compassion. Perhaps I was wrong to judge her so harshly. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you over the train.” I lie.
“I said it’s dreadful that so many people don’t use the right conditioner.”
Ah. No, she’s still a cold, unfeeling bitch. “Yeah. Dreadful.”
“You know, your hair doesn’t look conditioned.”
The compartment falls silent. This is bloody ridiculous, this is why they stop talking? My hair??? “What do you mean?” Angel Pointer asks, with her mouth slightly open.
“I mean I was at the beach last night and so I have sandy hair.”
“Jessie… That’s sort of disgusting.”
I stand up and grab my bag from the rack above. “Tell Lily I’ll be with Lupin and that lot.”
“You’re going to sit with them?” Ingrid’s face is a picture of disgust.
“But they’re so… awkward. They think they’re way funnier than they actually are.”
Sophia feels the need to butt in. “Sirius Black’s alright. Gorgeous too.”
“Well of course he’s okay, but the rest of them…”
“Potter’s very good-looking too.” Angel says.
“Alright, he’s good-looking but he’s only popular because of Black. The point is, we’re top Alphas. They’re bottom Betas. Popular enough for everyone to think they’re funny and everything, but they’re not cool.”
“Apart from Black.”
“Apart from Black.”
I take a deep breath. I exhale. It doesn’t work.
“You’re all absolutely pathetic.” I snap and leave the compartment.
The boys are only three doors down. I pull open the door. Black is lying across a whole line of seats and Peter is by the window on the opposite side. They stop talking immediately. I feel awkward, like I don’t belong. I suppose I don’t without James or Lily there, and I forgot that Remus might also be patrolling. “Do you mind if I join you?” I hesitantly request.
Black pulls his legs up and gestures for me to sit next to him. “No, it’s fine. Why aren’t you with your Pitches?”
“They’re idiotic. Pitches?”
“Pretty bitches.” Peter clarifies.
“Ah. Thank you.” I reply with a smile. “When are they going to be back?”
As if on cue the door slides open to reveal, James, Lily and Remus. “Jess!” James grins and ushers Remus and a rosy Lily to join us. He remains in the doorway. “I have an announcement.” He uses his most important sounding voice which carries for miles. “I, James Potter, Head Boy of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have done the impossible. I have conquered the heart of the fair, beautiful, intelligent, bewitching- see what I did there?- kind, generous, stunning- I couldn’t help but do it again- and wonderful in every single way, Lily Evans! Yes I have done it. I am her boyfriend. Her frigging boyfriend!” He punches the air. I squeal and force Lily into a hug while Potter gets bundled by the boys. From the other compartments I can actually hear people claiming galleons in bet money. “Tell me everything.” I demand.
“It’s private.” Lily protests, but then looks at James. “Oh, who am I kidding he’ll tell anyone within a ten mile radius. He just sort of asked. Said he’s had a lot of help from you actually. You let him practice on you?”
“Yes, I know that. How did he do it then?”
“Merlin’s beard Jess, you are such a sly little double agent!”
“You love me.”
“Don’t know why. Well it was after…” We notice that the compartment has now gone quiet and all the boys are listening. Lily coughs and then continues. “After the meeting, and he’d actually done a really good job, especially as he’s never been to one before, and anyway we were packing away when Remus left and we were alone and then he sort of said all this gooey romantic stuff-”
James interrupts “-That was some of my finest work!” He clears his throat. “I said, Evans. You know how I’ve been asking you out all these years? And then she said yes. And so I said that I meant it every time, and it killed every time she said no. I told her that I was in love with her and if I had to I would wait forever to be with her because she is more radiant than the sun and I don’t know what I would do without even a chance of having Evans in my life. And having her care for me too, even if it was just for a moment, because that moment would be better than every other moment I had lived. Then she, Evans, she actually looked sheepish and said that she was sorry, but she thinks I’m not that bad now. And I said that that was progress, what would she say if I asked her out later this year and then-”
“-Then I said I was hoping he would ask me out sooner. So he said, go out with me Evans and I said okay.”
I sigh. “James! That’s not how we rehearsed it.”
“Oh.” He says. “It must have been how I did it with Padfoot then.”
Black grins. “You heard him.”
“Shut up.” I snarl.
Lupin gives me a sympathetic smile. I return it, gratefully but wary. He swaps places with Lily so that she can sit next to her new boyfriend. “Are you alright?” He asks in his calm and measured voice.
“Yes thank you. You look tired Lupin. Are you okay?”
“Oh yes. Just had a few late nights.”
“I think it must be contagious, James and Black haven’t slept well recently either and I don’t think Peter has too.”
“Well we are very close.”
“Yes, you are.”
“So are you and James.”
“Not to the same extent. We can never be on the same level I suppose.”
“I don’t have a dick.” I reply. It’s very crude and Lupin looks shocked. “Sorry.” I mumble. He smiles acceptingly. “You don’t know me very well, Jessica, but I have said far worse things. Where do you think Sirius and James learned how to swear?”
“Peter and me, yes. I assure you, I have been far more callous and so have all of them. Even Lily. Especially Lily.”
“I know that. When she goes off on one there’s no getting her back.”
“Prefect duty always was entertaining.”
“I can imagine.” I smile. “Lupin? I think I just lost most of my friends.”
“The Pitches? Why?”
“They didn’t seem to care that 21 people were murdered this summer.”
“Ah. Yes. I can see how that could lead to argument.”
“It’s foul. They should care. They should be made to care. People are dying. Actual people.” This time it’s me that sends a hush across the compartment. “One family had a baby. Three months old and one of those bastards killed him. A little baby. Barely able to sit up on his own and they call that a threat? What can a baby do?” Nobody speaks.
Peter shifts on his seat uncomfortably. “A baby?” He finally asks.
I nod. “It was in the paper.”
“I wish there was something we could do.” Peter sighs.
James and Black exchange a look. “We heard my parents talking this morning.” James begins. “There is something. There’s this Order… Order of the…. foetus?”
“Phoenix you idiot.” Black replies.
“Yeah, Order of the Phoenix, and it’s this, well, Order.”
“What my learnéd friend is trying to say is they’re going to bring him down. You Know Who. They’re trying to kill him and anyone who hates him can join.”
“I say we give it a go.” James’ face is determined. His jaw is locked in position, he is leant forwards and his hands are clenched into tight fists. He’s going to join no matter what. “I’m in.” I say, before I can even think about it. Black scoffs. “What?” I growl.
“You’d be no good.” Black replies in haughty tones.
“What, you think because I couldn’t cast a patronus until the last lesson I can’t fight?”
“Yes. What if they send dementors?”
“Then I’ll suffer. You are such a pig!”
Lily sits up straight. “Me too. I’m joining.”
The pink tinge of righteous anger drains from James’ face. “No, no way Evans.”
“Why ever not? If it’s alright for Jess, then it’s okay for me.”
“I can’t ask her not to do something if she really wants to, I’m not her boyfriend, I’ve got no right. But I am yours- at last! So please don’t join Evans. I need to protect you.”
Though blushing due to flattery, she stands her ground. “That’s very sweet Potter, but I’m joining too. I’m the only one in here who has true need to, I’m the only muggle-born. And don’t you dare try and tell me not to again.”
Her words are harsh but I see her place a hand in James’ and whisper something in his ear.
“I’ll do it.” Peter pipes up.
We all look at Lupin. “What if they don’t want me?” He asks with a meaningful look at the boys.
“Don’t give me that!” Black chortles. “It’s run by Dumbledore, he knows all about your… issues.”
I shouldn’t know but I do.
Lily couldn’t help but tell me after she found out last year.
Lupin is a werewolf.
I still can’t believe it. He’s so thin and peaky all the time. He’s the sort of boy I want to hug so I can tell him everything’s alright, but he would be mortified if he thought I knew so I keep my mouth tightly shut. Lupin hesitates and answers slowly. “Fine. If I’m allowed.”
I share a fleeting look with Lily and that seems to span infinite words and then pretend it never happened. Lupin holds his hands limply in his lap looking forlorn.
“Anything off the trolley?” A middle-aged witch with curly brown hair asks as she stops by our compartment. Lily stands up. “I’m buying, what do people want?”
We all place our orders in a loud and unorganised squabble but she somehow stores it all and shuts the door behind her. The boys seem to forget that I’m with them. “Well done!” Peter grins.
“Thanks Wormtail.” James says with an embarrassed smirk.
“So…” Black raises his eyebrows suggestively.
“Mate. It’s been a matter of hours, and you lot have been here the whole sodding time! Give it a month or two.” James Potter! How dare you! That’s my best friend you’re talking about!
“Then it’s time to get it on.” Black winks.
“Padfoot.” Lupin warns.
“Awh come here Moony!” He puts Lupin in a headlock; across the table James pulls out his wand and pink smoke billows out to form a heart around the interlocked men.
Shouts come from outside and I stand up quickly to fling open the door. As I stand Black mutters “Oh shit,”
“Just go away!” Lily shouts at a tall, large-nosed, greasy-haired boy who provokes only feelings of hatred. “Oh for the sake of Merlin, look who it is.” I sigh.
He flinches and snarls back at me. “You know what she’s done! Her and Potter!”
“Yes, Lily and James. My two best friends. You’re a right piece of scum, you know that don’t you?”
My friend rolls her eyes. “Thanks, I can deal with him.” James fumbles for his wand. “Sev, you have no say in what I do,” Lily continues, fists clenched in rage as I have seen so often when she confronts James. “You chose them, dark magic and insulting, callous, hateful names to call your friends. I chose somebody who cares about me and who actually changed. Have you noticed that? He hasn’t been a dick for a whole year.”
James puffs out his chest proudly but it only lasts a moment. Then, he puts his wand back and walks past me to stand by his girlfriend. “Look, Snape. I get that you’re upset but you have to accept this, I’m crazy about her, and I’m always going to treat her right.”
“Better than you did.” Black mutters under his breath. I wonder if he can read minds because that is exactly what I was thinking. Snape visibly recoils from James. Black carries on jibing “Come on Snivellus! Be a man. Then again with those looks, can you be classified as human?”
I snort. Hang on, did Black say that? Something I find funny? In a sort of humourless way- of course. “Shut up Black.” Snape spits. Yeah shut up. “Nobody asked for you to butt in.”
“No,” James says with a smile. “But isn’t he hilarious?”
“Okay,” Lily says irritably. “Snape, you know I could hex you so that you won’t be able to walk for a week, you’re a pathetic slimeball and when I said I never wanted to speak to you again I meant it. Get out of my sight before you regret coming anywhere near me! I’m only letting you have this gap of opportunity because we used to be friends.” She draws her wand and points it. “Don’t make me.”
He stands his ground. “Lily, you know he’s an arrogant idiot!”
She punches him. Smack on his jaw. “Bloody hell Lils!” I cry in admiration.
“Out.” She hisses. This time he flees.