I’m not even going to justify the late last installment of chapters. I have one word though. Or two. They are “Papers” and “Ugh.”
Siriusly Bothered, Severely Annoyed, Remuneratively Curious
Chapter 002: Knees and Legs
Alessa entered and looked around the Great Hall taking in the sea of students from where she stood. She relished the feel of a hundred enchanted candles floating overhead, the star-filled enchanted ceiling, the House tables. It was almost amusing to note that the Marauders were already up to their knees in their pranks this early in the year. And in their victims’ cases – usually someone with a green and silver tie – that tended to be quite literal as they had to go to their table with wobbling, literally jelly-like legs.
Most of the time, Alessa found their pranks amusing.
The damage control, not so much.
Alessa let out a long suffering sigh, but walked over to pull Black form a highly undignified sprawl between the legs of the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor tables.
“Really, Black,” she heard over the snickering Slytherins. Alessa was amused but not surprised to hear the typically prim and proper Asian. That is, prim and proper except where a certain Marauder was involved. “I knew you would go after anything with legs, but I was not aware that you were desperate enough to go after furniture.”
The laughter from that table rose in volume, but not quite enough to drown the growl from Sirius’ throat.
“I had no idea you were such an easy target, Black,” Alessa commented drily. She watched in amusement as he tried to steady himself enough to walk. Of course, he totally ignored the hand she was offering. Blacks and their pride.
“My spells are just that good,” he huffed. He was still glaring daggers at the Snakes’ direction, and Alessa knew he wanted to hex a particular fifth year Slytherin prefect right then and there. Instead, he took a tentative step.
And promptly lurched forward.
Alessa’s hand shot out to steady him, regardless of his protests. (That only made her want to gag him, but she wasn’t quite merciful enough stop helping. It would do wonders to his ego afterwards, she was sure. And would serve as excellent fodder for teasing later on.) “Well, that would be better if it hit someone other than yourself.”
His only reply was an annoyed scowl.
She grinned and assisted him to his table, where he was promptly greeted with a round of friendly teasing…and a lump of flying goop. She started laughing with Potter. It couldn’t be helped, really. Not with the way Black had yelped, (“My hair!” Seriously, Black?) and his glare did little to nothing when an unidentifiable glob of something was dripping own his handsome face.
And if she were to be honest, a sulking Sirius Black was quite a sight indeed.
“Sorry mate,” Potter managed to get out between laughter. “That was meant for Snivellus, but your big head got in the way, so there really was no choice.”
“I guess this means you’re as much a target as everyone else, Black,” Alessa grinned.
“Aw bloody hell no. I do not look anything like Snivelly!” Another glob of goo oozed down his hair and landed on the table with a splat.
And then uncontrolled laughter.
“Oh sure, laugh at my expense,” Black grouched as he tried, unsuccessfully, to wipe his precious hair free of the…she didn’t even want to look at the gooey thing long enough to see whether it was black, green, grey, or some other color. She was just glad it wasn’t on her hair.
Being around the Marauders could be pretty interesting. Especially when they were each other’s targets.
“Potter, you’re making a mess. And Black, that’s gross!” a familiar fiery haired yearmate of theirs scolded in her best prefect voice. It did nothing to hide the smile tugging at her lips.
“It’s not my fault!”
Lily Evans ignored him, turned to her, and smiled in a they’re-total-nut-jobs-but-they’re-not-so-bad sort of way, as if her House mates behaved like lunatics every day. Which, going by their reputation, they did. “I’m so sorry for causing you trouble, Lightwand.”
She shrugged. “I’ve been in this school for six years, Evans. Five of those were filled with Stink Pellets, Dung Bombs, Screaming Sticks, Black and Potter. I think I’ll survive a little goop. But really Black, that’s disgusting.”
Black threw his best mate a sour look, but Potter didn’t seem interested. His brown eyes were darting back and forth between the two girls. “You know each other?”
“Well, it’s kind of hard not to know the name ‘Lily Evans’ after the stunt you pulled with the candles last term, Potter,” Alessa snickered. Evans looked positively mortified. Then she tried killing the boy with her glare.
Potter keep staring at her expectantly.
In the end, Evans answered in a huff. “We spent most of the ride on the Hogwarts Express together. You know, when you weren’t being an annoying git and causing trouble.”
Alessa saw him flinch. Whatever he was going to say was cut off when the doors opened and admitted a file of eager-looking eleven-year-olds. Some of them were staring around in wonder, looking around at everything and trying to digest the fact that they were, in fact, in a magical school. Most of them found something else to occupy their attention.
With a smirk, Alessa realized how Sirius Black looked in the eyes of the uninitiated – tall, dark, and covered in goop. And let’s not forget the backfiring Jelly Legs Curse he got on himself. She had a hard time stifling her laughter.
Black looked like he had something to say, but he suddenly found himself forcefully seated on his table courtesy of an unseen Stinging Hex to the arse.
Alessa all but dived to her table. She didn’t even need to look at Professor McGonagall to know that she was giving the people from her House her signature glare. Alessa hoped the Transfigurations professor missed her mad dash to appear innocent. Either way, she positioned herself at the end of the Ravenclaw table so that talking to the Gryffindors only involved mild acrobatics on her part.
“The firsties think your whole House is insane,” she chirped. She reached back and flicked off some of the unidentifiable glop that had begun to drip down Black’s robes to the part of the bench he was occupying. It refused to come off. “Bloody hell Potter. What is this?”
He had the nerve to grin. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“Ugh, no, I’d rather not,” Black cut in with a shudder. Alessa burst out laughing once more. “Oi, cut it out, Lightwand.”
She just grinned.
Somewhere in front, the Sorting had started. The old, tattered hat of Godric Gryffindor started singing, and then Sorting. Alessa had to keep herself from wincing every time she heard Ravenclaw and Slytherin come after each other, and wondered how close that kid had gotten to getting another House. She couldn’t wait for it to finish so she wouldn’t have to see the piece of felt for another year.
Something obstructed her view and she had to shift quickly to dodge the thick splatter of something. “You look like Filch walked in and started dancing around in a tutu.”
This time, she couldn’t stop wincing. “I’m making you pay for my therapy at St. Mungo’s if I can’t get that image out of my head.”
McGonagall was glaring at them above the hat and Alessa made a show of shooing the messy Gryffindor away. Not that it did much.
With the final House assigned to “White, Ellie!” Dumbledore stood up and looked at everyone, arms wide open in welcome. When he spoke, his voice echoed throughout the Hall. “I only have one thing to say to you.”
He smiled. “Let’s eat.”
At once, the empty dishes in front of them magically filled up. Everyone started getting busy eating and talking to their friends. Alessa cut into her shepherd’s pie and kept quiet for the most part. She did need to keep ducking every so often to keep herself and her food free from the glop Black was getting all over the place. Once she had to use an empty plate beside her to whack the dolt and get him back to his friends and away from charming a pretty sixth year House mate of hers.
“At least wait until tomorrow before getting your fans club excited,” she had said, handing the abused plate to a gawking third year with the most winning smile she could muster.
Black studiously kept his back to her after that.
When the puddings had been reduced to a few meager crumbs, Dumbledore stood again. At once, the chatter faded and everyone craned their necks to look at the headmaster. Well, almost everyone. Some Slytherin boys were making disgusted faces at Dumbledore, known Muggle lover.
How very mature.
Dumbledore either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Alessa was leaning on the latter. “Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to tell you that the list of objects forbidden inside the castle has this year been extended to include Whining Whistles, Tripping Tiles, and Exploding Eggshells. The full list comprises of two hundred thirty-two other items, I believe, and can be viewed in Mr. Filch’s office, if anyone should wish to see it.”
His twinkling eyes homed in on the Gryffindor table, and Black and Potter gave him mischievous grins. They had probably been in more detentions than any other student, Alessa thought, that they were already chummy with the portraits in the headmaster’s office.
“As ever,” the headmaster continued, “I would like to remind you that the Forbidden Forest is forbidden, as well as the village of Hogsmeade to all below third year. Also, it is my duty to inform you that as the teachers’ time and energy will be taken up mostly by an event that will be starting in October and continuing throughout the whole year, we will not be holding the Inter-House Quidditch Cup this year.”
A chorus of squawks and agitated protests rose up from the crowd, but the old man only held up a hand.
“Instead of having the usual Inter-House Quidditch Cup, we will be having a contest of sorts. I am rather inclined to believe that you would still enjoy it,” he added, giving the known Quidditch players pointed looks. “As such, I would like to remind all of you to be on your best behavior for the visitors who will be arriving shortly.”
Almost everyone automatically turned to the Gryffindor table. Pettigrew was fidgeting nervously in his seat, Potter and Black still looked like they wanted to protest but managed to look like they were out to beat the Cheshire Cat, and Lupin looked like a proper prefect, listening attentively to the headmaster. If she hadn’t seen him in action with the three others, Alessa would have almost believed it.
Apparently, the other students thought so too. Conversation started buzzing through the crowds, most getting excited at the prospect of cancelled classes, some still grouching about the cancellation of Quidditch.
The corners of Dumbledore’s lips twitched. “Several students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang shall be arriving shortly for a small friendly competition between the three schools. For this, Hogwarts has been agreed to host the first of hopefully many more like events.”
“Like the Triwizard Tournament?” someone from Alessa’s table shouted. “But wasn’t that stopped because of the number of people who died?”
“That is correct, Mr. Stebbs,” the headmaster said in response to the shouted question. “In these troubling times, it is was generally agreed that holding an event reminiscent of the Triwizard Tournament, yet one not quite as deadly, would be an excellent way to establish ties between young witches and wizards of different nationalities.”
Alessa sighed and shut off the rest of the headmaster’s explanation. She had heard enough from her relatives. The only reason the high officials of the other schools agreed to come to Britain in the state it was in was because Dumbledore was here. Otherwise, they would have had to be pretty insane to hold something as good as a death match between kids in the middle of a war. They also mentioned something about a show of faith and solidarity. She was almost willing to bet that it was more a matter of being in a good place for strategic moves — either to make attempts at Dumbledore’s life, or be taken under his protection.
It was disgusting.
Alessa sighed and looked over the Slytherin table. A familiar face was not exactly frowning, but it wasn’t showing nearly as much excitement as the rest of the general population. She felt somewhat comforted by this.
At least she wasn’t the only one who thought this whole thing insane.