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Chapter 31: intuitive friends and double date disasters
September flew by and before I knew it all the girls in every single one of my classes couldn’t stop gushing about the first Hogsmede weekend. Even Lena was talking about it on our way back from Care of Magical Creatures one day.
“So, Xeno is going to meet me at the Hog’s Head…” She ambled on as we trekked back towards the castle. Lena still wore her Beauxbatons cape, which made her stick out on the castle grounds like a pale blue, blonde elf.
“The Hog’s Head? Isn’t that place a little,” I tripped over a stray root, “um, shady?” Lena shrugged, and pulled her long, white blonde hair into a messy bun.
“I like it. The owner’s actually pretty fascinating if you can get him to talk to you.”
“Yeah,” I muttered. Sirius had left his sweater in my bed and I pulled it closer around my shoulders as we trudged up towards the castle – smelling all the different scents of him; aftershave, the woods and then the distinct wild animal smell that came from being friends with a stag, a werewolf and a rat. “Well, I hope you don’t expect me to help you figure out what to wear or anything. I’m pretty much shit at all that girly stuff.” Lena giggled.
“I went to an all-girls school for five and a half years. In France.” She pushed my shoulder forward. “I’m sure I’ve got it covered. What about you? Any big Hogsmede plans?” I shook my head.
“I’ll probably just go to Honeydukes to stock up on some Sugar Quills,” I shrugged dismissively. There was a full moon coming up, and so all of the Marauders had been laying low with Remus. I hadn’t heard anyone speak about Hogsmede plans. Lena looked at me curiously, and I raised my eyebrows at her. “What?”
“I just figured you’d have some sort of plans with Sirius,” she stated calmly with a shrug of her caped shoulders.
I gulped and froze in my tracks.
“Par, uh, pardon?” I immediately began fussing with my hair and avoiding eye contact. “Sirius, uh, Sirius Black? Why would I have any sort of, um, uh, plans with Sirius Black of all people?’
Lena looked confused. She had realized that being friends with me was sort of frustratingly ridiculous, but she handled it well.
“I thought you two were together?”
“You thought we were,” my voice was getting way too high, “together?”
“NO.” I pressed on walking, putting distance between the two of us.
We stopped for a moment before walking into the castle. Lena grabbed my hand and turned me towards her. She looked at me quizzically for a second.
“Why don’t you want anyone to know you guys are together?”
I was at a loss for words. How did she figure this shit out?
“I told you,” I rubbed my temples, “we aren’t together.”
Lena sighed and crossed her arms in front of her chest. We didn’t say anything for a while. I looked at Lena, who looked a little… looney. Her hair was in a messy, lopsided bun, her cape was pale blue and she had decorated the fringe of her Ravenclaw scarf with different sparkling beads. Her eyes were glowing an electric sort of green and she had…
“Are those radishes?” I pointed at her earrings. She smiled, and nodded her head.
“Made them myself,” she shook her head lightly and they danced beneath her earlobes. “Do you like them?” I nodded.
“Sirius and I aren’t… officially together.” The words quietly escaped from my mouth. She nodded.
“I figured. You’re a little wacky when it comes to boys, ey?” I shrugged.
“Mainly just Marauders.”
James was literally hopping on his seat when I got to the library that night. His cheeks were a bright red, his nose was running, his hair was an amazing mess. But aside from his physical features and breathtaking hair, he looked a little… well, sick.
“Are you ill?” I asked, cautiously, as I placed my books down at our table.
“I HAVE A DATE WITH LILY EVANS,” he shouted. I stood next to my chair, momentarily shocked away from sitting down. Madame Pince quickly came over to us, her hands on her hips. From across the library, I saw Lily Evans flush completely red and bury her head in her homework as our roommates accosted her.
“Um,” I carefully sat down and tucked one leg underneath my lap. “Congratulations?” James was pushing off Madame Pince, who tutted away furiously.
“Sorry, it JUST,” Madame Pince and Lily Evans turned angrily towards him, “just” he whispered, “happened. You’re the first person I’ve told!” He looked like a little kid on Christmas. Had I mentioned that ‘Happy’ James Potter really freaked me out? Like, James happy was probably in my top ten list of most terrifying things. Ever.
“Are you ill, though?” I prodded, feeling more like his girlfriend/mother. He shrugged me off with a dismissive wave of his hand. Clearly, there were more important things to be discussed right now.
“I just caught a little cold, running sprints last night. I got caught in the rain and had to sprint back to the Castle. I should be fine by this weekend.” His tone was dismissive. I rolled my eyes at him.
“You should probably lay off the physical activity for the rest of the week if you want to even make it to your date.”
“Well then, I should probably stick you in a giant plastic bubble so that you don’t do anything to harm yourself before then,” he countered. I stared at him.
“Pardon?” The word was crisp in my mouth as I glared at him through squinted eyes. He held his hands up in surrender and scooted his chair closer to me.
“Listen, the only way I could get her to come was to tell her that I had to third-wheel it with you and Padfoot for Butterbeers. So she agreed, but only to the double.” My mouth fell open and he placed a strong arm on either side of me. I tried not to get chills. “Please, Hope.” His eyes bore into mine and I watched his glasses slide down his nose. “Please.”
“Get away from me you germy weirdo,” I grunted – scooting my chair away from him. “First you accost me in my study area, then you try to talk to me about all my personal feelings and now you’re using me to get dates?” I crossed my arms across my chest. “Sirius and I aren’t even dating, so she probably didn’t even believe you. She probably expects it to be just the two of you.” James looked at me with a bored expression.
“You seriously think that the female population of Hogwarts hasn’t noticed that Sirius Black hasn’t snogged any girls since he’s been back this year?”
I blushed. Some of the guys probably noticed too, I’m sure.
“You are so clueless.” James turned back towards his work. “I mean, he’s in your bedroom almost every single night.” I raised my eyebrows at him. “Yeah, I know where he goes at night. Get over it. He follows you around like a puppy,” he chuckled at the inside joke that I was keen enough to get, “and just because you guys don’t hold hands or act like a couple doesn’t mean people haven’t noticed.”
Another one of my greatest fears, other then a happy James Potter? People noticing me. I knew, I knew people noticed me. I had spent the summer in a coma, and before that I had been that token weirdo girl. But people noticing me for being Sirius Black’s…. whatever I was? That was absolutely terrifying.
I tried to focus on my Potions essay, but thoughts kept pounding in my head.
“So, will you do it then?” James questioned me, after a few moments of silence. I glared at him.
“You owe me.”
“Big,” he smiled.
So Saturday morning, I lay in bed and listened to the girls in my bedroom rush around like madwomen in preparation for Hogsmede. I kept my curtains closed, which they were used to, and listened to them all babble about clothes, make up and hair problems.
By noon, it sounded like they were all gone. I tentatively opened my curtains and gathered my towel and clothes to go grab a quick shower. I was surprised when I opened the bathroom door and saw Lily Evans sitting on the edge of the sink, checking her pores in the bathroom mirror.
“Um,” I mumbled, beginning to exit.
“Oh!” Lily scrambled off the bathroom counter. “Sorry, I’m uh,” she paused, “a little bit of a mess right now.” She whimpered.
“Um,” I scratched my forehead. “I need to shower?” It came out as a question. Bloody hell, I was awkward. I didn’t know what to do, I had never been in a situation like this before. I quickly de-robed and hopped in, then put the water on full blast. “Are you ok?” I shouted over the stall to Lily. I mean what was I supposed to do? Shower in silence while she checked for blackheads? Is that what girls actually did? I heard her sigh as I began to lather up my hair.
“I guess,” she didn’t sound okay. And the whole sitting with her feet in the sink was kind of freaking me out too. “I just,” she paused. “It sounds so stupid to say it aloud.”
“Go for it if you want,” I shrugged – even though she couldn’t see me. “I don’t judge.”
There was silence for a moment, before I heard her blurt out, “I am so nervous.” I rinsed my hair and turned off the shower water.
“Excuse me?” I popped my head out of the shower. She was turned towards me, and handed me my towel. “Thanks,” I muttered and wrapped myself up. I pressed the excess water out of my hair.
“I’m so nervous. About this whole date thing.” She bit her bottom lip. Her wavy hair was a mess, she was dressed in ratty sweatpants and an old striped jumper, and she didn’t have a lick of makeup on. She looked great, as usual, where as in the same outfit I looked like a creature from the Black Lake. “What if he doesn’t like me?” She turned her emerald eyes up at me.
I tried to bite back my laugh, but couldn’t. Laughter ripped from my lips, and I actually had to double over. I combed a hand through my hair, catching it on several knots, while I tried to contain myself.
“Are you serious?” I walked over to the sink and gave a spare hairbrush a once-over before placing it back down with a shrug. “You’re talking about James, I assume? You don’t have some other secret date you’re going on before meeting us all for Butterbeers? That would make more sense.” She shook her head and looked down at her hands – which were wrung together nervously. I chuckled. “I’m sorry, I’m not meaning to laugh at you, but you have to be bonkers to be worried about whether or not James will like you. The boy is madly in love with you. I mean he saw you in your underwear and I think it literally made his life.” I watched Lily’s skin turn bright red and her eyebrows furrow together.
“He TOLD you he saw me in my underwear?” She screeched. I threw my hands up.
“We have a weird relationship, me and James.” I shrugged. That was the tip of the iceberg concerning that issue.
I walked out of the bathroom and decided on my outfit. Ah, always a difficult task for such a high matinence lady such as my self. I grabbed a pair of dark brown courderoys, a loose purple tee-shirt and a navy blue hoodie. I had towel dried my hair and quickly did my eyeliner. Yep, wasn’t getting any better then that.
I turned around to see Lily standing in the middle of the bedroom, looking a little lost.
“Listen,” I tried to think of something supportive to say. Nothing came to me. Who was I to give anyone advice in a situation such as this? I’d probably just make it worse. “Um, I think I know someone who can help.”
Surprisingly, Lena did appear to calm Lily down. I mean, who else was I going to invite over? She was my only female friend. She was currently brushing out Lily’s hair for her and they were happily comparing pointers for first dates.
“So,” I stuck my hands in my hoodie pockets. “I really wanted to get down to Honeydukes and pick up some Sugar Quills before this whole, um,” I shrugged and ran a hand through my hair. Jesus, was I turning into a Marauder? “Um, double date thing.”
“Oh, of course!” Lily waved her hand at me, and Lena nodded with a smile. Both of them seemed a lot calmer. “I’ll see you in a few hours, Hope!”
“Have a nice time with Sirius, Hope,” Lena said casually. I tripped at the mere mention of his name. Ah, well, it must be love if just his name still turns me into a spaz – right?
When I reached the Common Room, I saw Sirius lounging on a couch in front of the fire. That blasted Lena, she was nearly as intuitive as Remus Lupin. She must have seen Sirius waiting in the Common Room when she had come over to help me with Lily. Sirius looked up to see me walking down the stairs and a lazy grin spread across his face. I felt my cheeks flush and my lips turn upwards. I couldn’t help it. Merlin, he was attractive – and he was waiting for me.
It was all sorts of awesome.
“Bloody well time you made it down. Though, after taking nearly two hours longer then everyone else to get ready I was expecting you in something a little more,” he stood up and took my hand – twirling me around and taking a look at me, “black tie?”
“Sorry, I left my ball gown at Gran’s,” I mumbled. “I didn’t know you were waiting either.” Sirius shrugged, and pulled my hood up over my head.
“Your hair’s still damp – didn’t your grandmother ever tell you…”
“Oh, shut it,” I shoved him. He smiled, grabbed my hands and pulled me in towards him.
“Everyone’s left already,” he whispered into my ear. I shivered.
“Not the first and second years,” I muttered. He shrugged.
“I don’t care about the first or second years.”
“I do! They’ve got the biggest mouths in the school and,” I was cut off by Sirius pressing his lips against mine. I closed my eyes and conceded defeat. I felt myself leaning into him, wrapping my arms around his neck.
We stayed lost like that for a moment, until the sound of someone clearing their throat caused us to break apart. I turned around quickly to see Lily and Lena looking at us – Lily with a look of surprise and Lena with a pleased expression.
“Ohmigod,” Lily gasped. “I thought that James just was talking out of his ass when he told me he was third wheeling with you, but,” She paused. “But, you are together – aren’t you?”
I felt a wave of panic overtake me. My palms immediately went sweaty and my heart started pounding. No, no, no.
“We’re just friends,” I coughed out. Lena looked at me disapprovingly and behind me Sirus groaned and I’m sure ran a hand through his hair.
“Hope,” Sirius spoke in a gutteral tone, “we’re clearly more then just friends.” I whirled around to face him.
“Not ready,” I muttered. “Not the time.” Sweat began falling down the back of my neck. This was like my worst nightmare. His sharp features curled together in frustration.
“When is it going to be the time exactly?” He sighed, his body heaving. I wished he didn’t look so god damn attractive when he was upset. It made it nearly impossible to stand my ground. “I love you, don’t you get that? I don’t just say that to anyone. I’m not going anywhere and no matter what you do – you can’t keep pushing me away. Last year was ridiculous and I’m not going through that again. I’m not losing you, I’m putting my foot down.” I felt clammy. What was I supposed to say to that?
“Sirius,” I reached a hand up towards his face. “I’m not your girlfriend – I’m just Hope.” He caught my hand with his own, and gently stroked my thumb.
“But you’re my Hope.” He kissed my fingers. “And I’m yours,” he looked directly into my eyes – his grey, stormy orbs speaking directly to my purple-flecked ones. “No one else’s.”
My knees went a little wobbly, and I probably would have jumped him right there – I didn’t even care about the first or second years – but two lighthearted sighs behind us snapped me back to reality.
Lily and Lena were staring dreamily at Sirius, caught up in his words. He seemed to notice them too, and I watched his stubble-dusted cheeks flush red.
“See, you’re everyone’s,” I whispered to him, leaning into his chest. “But mine especially.”
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“This is insane, and I can’t believe I’m saying it but,” James paused and grabbed my hand. “You’re my date for the rest of the night.”
“WHAT?” I squealed – not out of delight but out of pure shock and, I’m not going to lie, fear.
“You’re my date,” he muttered through clenched teeth. Was that a threat? Wonderful, just what a girl wants to hear. Disdain from her date. I’m sure every girl wants to be filled with complete and utter terror on her first date.
“First date?” James looked surprised.
Oh, that’s nice. Apparently I was speaking my thoughts aloud again.