Three weeks pass in awkward avoidance and inquiring glances from Lily whenever I talk to Sirius without exactly looking at him. She leans over to me one Charms lesson and whispers in my ear. “James and I have a bet going.”
“Really?” I ask, making a quick note about the theory of the charm in particular.
“Yeah, he thinks Sirius likes somebody.”
“Any idea who?” I ask casually. Amazingly nobody seems to have noticed us at the party. Perhaps because it’s not interesting gossip compared to the horrors that are happening every day or more realistically because everyone was too drunk to remember. Everyone but him and me, that is. “Do you think Sophia…” Lily begins. I turn to look at where my skinny friend is practicing the wand movement vivaciously. “She likes him.” I say with an air of superiority. “I can’t speak for Sirius though. Are you going to be setting them up then? After your failure with me and Stebbins.”
“I don’t understand why you won’t give Matthew a chance, he’s a lovely guy! And I don’t know. James seems to disagree with me about Sirius. So… I was wondering… You and James are such good friends, could you maybe worm it out of him?”
I sigh. “Fine. But you owe me Evans!”
“No I don’t.” She grins, flicks her wand; her wind chime begins to tinkle musically and starts singing “A spoon full of sugar…”
“How do you do that?” I ask with a shake of my head.
Before long we have our wind chimes singing a round. “Helps the medicine go down-”
“-Medicine go down-”
“-Medicine go down-”
“Ten points to Gryffindor, for the synchronised singing.” The Professor says and taps the blackboard so that our homework appears. It’s a very unusual homework. We will be sorted into groups and have to create a choir of singing inanimate objects to perform in front of the class for the next lesson. “I will now assign groups.” The teacher scans the room. Her eyes fall on me. “Braddock, Evans, Black, Snape, Potter, Lupin, Goldman and Crofts. You will be one group. Mulciber, Avery…” She continues. I close my eyes in frustration and clench my jaw. Why has she grouped us together? Why Snape and not Peter? Lily seems to have had the same thought as she is suddenly pale. I glance around the classroom to see James and Sirius sharing a similar look with Remus and Peter. The other two girls I don’t know very well. Teresa Goldman is a shy Hufflepuff who always seems a little distracted and her friend Georgie Crofts is a very lively Ravenclaw. “Lils?” I ask quietly.
“He’s going to get murdered.” She mutters under her breath so quietly that I can barely hear. I pretend that I didn’t. Snape will be in trouble later this week. James won’t be able to resist the chance to antagonise him.
We pack our things away and while she’s doing so I slip away to the Slytherin bench. I slap my hands on the desk in front of Snape. “Look. None of us want to be in a group with scum like you.” I say harshly. “None of us like you. We think you’re a coward and a prick. Stay away from us. Fail this homework- I don’t care- just don’t you dare come near us or you will be hexed into oblivion. And this is me warning you, because Lils doesn’t want you on her guilty conscience.” I add, “I’m being nice.” Just so that he can tell.
Snape doesn’t say anything. I turn my back on them when I’m suddenly knocked. I feel a tingling in my gums and put a hand to my mouth. My teeth are growing. I squeal in panic. Mulciber is laughing but Snape seems irritated- perhaps because it’s another nail in his stupid coffin. “Oh dear!” Avery sneers. “Not so pretty now are we?” My wand is in my bag at the bench. I can’t hex him back and I have to defend myself.
I slap him.
“Miss Braddock!” Professor Hornet cries, finally drawing attention to the scene. I shove my hand in front of my face in an attempt to hide my ever growing front teeth- much to my humiliation I feel hot tears streaming past my nose. “How dare you assault a member of your class!” The teacher continues and I am filled with angry indignation and no way to vent it. I stick my middle finger up at her in my only protest; I get detention.
“But Professor!” Lily protests. “Her teeth!”
“Shut up, mudblood.” Mulciber grunts.
“Mr Mulciber, please refrain from using such language.” Hornet says calmly. My teeth are far past my chin by now. “Take her to the Hospital Wing somebody.”
Lily sits next to me on the bed as I have my teeth shrunk. It’s a strangely long process as the nurse doesn’t want to break anything else but soon enough I look like myself again. “I swear…” I mutter darkly. “I swear I will murder Mulciber. And Avery too.”
“I’m pretty sure they will have been taken care of.” Lily says carefully.
“Well he did call you a mud... you know.”
“He can go screw himself.”
“I’m sure he does.”
The nurse bustles back over and dismisses me, Lily too.
As soon as we leave the Hospital Wing I see an anxious James pacing the corridor. He spots me, rushes over and gives me a huge hug. I laugh a little. “You’re okay? They didn’t do anything else to you, right?” Asks James in an angry tone of voice.
“No,” I assure him. “It was just Avery and Mulciber being idiots.”
“No… he didn’t actually do anything.”
“Oh. Well. Um. Never mind!”
Lily frowns. “What did you do?”
“Nothing.” He lies. “Just…”
“We’re going to help him see things from a different perspective. The wheels are already in motion.” Sirius says, stepping out from the window. He has stayed so quiet that I haven’t even noticed him. “You total idiot!” My best friend flicks her long red hair back and James lets me go so as to jump between them. “Get out of my way James.”
“Evans…” He warns.
“Are you going to stop me slapping that idiot around the head? Do you think I can’t manage it?”
“No, no you definitely can…”
And suddenly everything is about them. I slip away as the crowd begins to form. Too much drama for one day. I don’t want people commenting on my teeth.
The three of them soak up the attention and from the corner I watch as a teacher has to separate them and give them detention. James, Lily and Sirius. Typical.
Detention. I have detention because of Mulciber. I could kill him! Professor Dumbledore walks into the classroom followed by my three friends. I frown, why are we sharing detention? The silver haired teacher smiles at us as they take their seats. “Good evening.” He says quietly. “Both Professors Hornet and Vexter are unable to attend this evening due to an incident that has occurred in the last twenty minutes. Your task this evening will be to clean the old cauldrons, the ones that first years have used in an attempt to apparently create gloop. I wish you all the luck in the world. I will have to leave you to do this alone as I too must help with the incident.”
“What incident is this Sir?” Sirius asks with an air of mischief. Dumbledore’s eyes twinkle with amusement. “I wish I knew, Sirius. It is an interesting case.”
“Professor?” Lily asks, “Exactly where was the incident? And do we know who the culprits are- I’m only asking as head Girl.” She flashes the headmaster a smile.
“So you can reprimand them? My dear Miss Evans, are you in such a position to do so tonight?”
She flushes delicate pink but maintains her cocky stance by flashing him a cheeky smile. Dumbledore exits the room and as soon as the door closes, James reaches for his wand. He flicks it in order to muffle any sounds we make but the light that sparks from his wand fizzles into nothing. “It’s not meant to do that!” He grunts.
“Let me have a go.” Sirius says and copies the same movement as James did with his own wand. The same thing happens. “Looks like you’re impotent.” I say casually before I register that the words have even left my mouth. I smile at my wit and his look of indignation. “Ouch.” Lily smirks and mouths nice one to me. He sends me a glower and I smile sweetly. “What?”
“You think you’re so funny don’t you?” He spits.
“Oooh, getting testy… Get it? Get it!”
Lily and James laugh. “Shut up!” He snaps. I can’t think of any other insulting innuendos so I just laugh with them and then grab a cauldron. James follows suit and I pull him over on his way back. “You know, it’s really not fair that those Slytherin bastards got away with it.” He grins. I dismiss him, somehow I know that they’re liked to this incident and I’m almost certain it was in aid of defending my ‘honour’. “Yeah yeah, never mind. You wouldn’t want them here now would you?”
“Nah, they got what they deserved. Don’t worry about that.”
“What exactly did you do?”
“Just some stink bombs, a levicorpus in the corridor and as of 20 minutes ago… some fireworks in their schoolbags that explode into bogeys that have a hard time being removed. Very sticky.”
“Wow. I’m impressed.”
“Of course, though you did copy me.”
“What? I never!”
“When we were nine, I think, you annoyed me so much that I pelted you with water balloons that were filled with treacle. Clearly that was your inspiration!”
“Oh well, I adapted it. Made it better.”
“Okay, I have another question for you. This bet you have with Lily, I want in.”
“How do you know about the bet?”
“Lily. Keep up James. But, what’s your side? I know she thinks he’s going to date Sophia, and you?”
“I think it’ll be someone else.”
“Then you might not be able to get my money.”
“Look, I wrote it down. It’s on a piece of paper that can’t be opened until the bet is won by one of us. You still in?”
“No,” I decide, pull on a glove and shove my hand down into the cauldron. I scrub away at the gunge. It’s interestingly therapeutic. About twenty minutes in, Lily and James get bored and start kissing while I continue working at my fourth cauldron. “Nice work.” Sirius whispers in my ear. I jump and splatter myself with mushed up tongue. “Serves you right.” He chuckles and I push him away before turning back to the bench and scrubbing determinedly. “You are such a pain in the arse.” I hiss.
“You wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Oh I would.”
“I doubt that.”
“Doubt away. I don’t care. I’m trying to work- actually.”
“Actually!” He mimics and I elbow him in the stomach, realising just how close he’s standing behind me. “Why don’t you just piss off?” I suggest glaring into the revolting cauldron.
“Do you really want that?”
“Yes.” I spin around, brandishing a scourer in my gloved hand. He’s so much taller than me, I don’t stand a chance with my measly sponge as protection. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot James watching us with a strange amount of interest. I scowl at him, an art I’ve had down to perfection since I was seven when he stole my Barbie and melted it. He shrinks back, to my satisfaction, and then continues molesting my other best friend- of course, she doesn’t see it as molesting. “You get away from me before I shove this somewhere really unpleasant.”
The door opens as I’m midway through saying it and Professor Dumbledore sweeps into the room with a smile on his face. “Miss Braddock, I do feel sorry for Sirius if that is how you treat your friends.”
I blush furiously. “Um, sorry, Professor.”
“It’s quite alright, I’m sure Sirius deserved it.”
“Oh he did.”
“Perhaps another detention is in order.”
Sirius’s jaw drops. “What? You can’t be serious sir!”
“No, I am not. Whereas you are Sirius do you see what I did there?” He chuckles and I smile appreciatively; clearly Dumbledore has great punning skill. “I do apologise, I am awfully fond of puns.” He continues.
James guffaws. “Good one, Professor.” Suck up.
“Why thank you James. Now, I believe your detention is over, and the mess in the Hall is cleared up too. I don’t know where you youngsters are getting your practical jokes these days, but the snot was most difficult to clean off of the walls… let alone Severus Snape’s hair. I don’t suppose you would know anything about that, would you?”
We keep expressions of perfect innocence plastered on our faces and carefully maintain them as he stares at us one by one. “Sorry, no idea what that could be about, Professor.” Sirius says with a particularly well-practiced poker-face. “No, I didn’t think you would.” Dumbledore’s clear blue eyes twinkle for a moment and then he dismisses us.