I sighed and turned around to see James Potter barging second years out of the way to reach me in the corridor.
“What do you want, Potter? I’m busy,” I said, as he fell into stride with me.
“I just wanted to let you know that I’m holding Quidditch tryouts tomorrow- we need a new Seeker.”
Of course. Another boring team spirit exercise I was no doubt going to be dragged into.
“And why, may I ask, I being Keeper and all, would I be required to attend these tryouts?”
“Well, I want the whole team to agree on the new member,” James said with a lopsided grin, “And being the bitchiest member of the team, I figured we might need your seal of approval.”
I wasn’t even going to be offended by that- to be fair, it was true. I was basically the captain of this team, minus the formalities. Potter wouldn’t dare make a decision without me. Or Black, for that matter. Unfortunately.
“Hmph,” I sighed, slightly pacified, “And what if I don’t want to go and freeze my arse off for several hours watching pathetic second years attempting to catch a Snitch?”
“Well, if that’s the case, McKinnon, then I’ll make sure we’re on the lookout for a new Keeper too.”
“Fine,” I growled, “I’ll be there. Now piss off and go annoy Lily, I’ve got places to be.”
“Keep your nose out Potter, if you like your face the way it is.”
“Hey, Lily,” I said with a grin as we sat in our dormitory that night, “Gryffindor’s holding Quidditch tryouts tomorrow night.”
Lily looked up at me from her book, confused. “And?”
“And James is gonna be there...”
Mary snorted and Lily scowled at her.
“I gathered that,” she sniffed, “Him being Captain and all.”
“Well, it’s an excuse for you to come and check him out in his full glory...”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” she snapped and Mary burst out laughing.
“Oh, nothing,” I winked, “Just that you get to see him in his Quidditch robes, that’s all. You’re unusually quick to jump to conclusions about naked James Potter.”
“Who said I was thinking about him naked?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said mockingly, looking around the dormitory, “Who said naked?”
Lily turned a bright scarlet colour to match her hair. “I do not- don’t...quidditch robes...I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
Dorcas joined in Mary’s laughter, and I struggling to bite back a laugh myself by now.
“Oh come on, Lils, we’ve all seen you getting a good glance at him when he’s playing...” Dorcas pointed out.
“I don’t blame you...” Mary added dreamily.
“SHUT UP!” Lily slammed her book down irritably, “JAMES POTTER IS ABSOLUTELY NOT FIT!”
“No one said he was,” Mary pointed out with an evil grin.
“Yeah,” Dorcas added, “Don’t know where you got that idea from...”
“Clearly it’s on your mind quite a lot,” I sniggered.
“Marlene!” I yelled, spotting the tell tale swish of blonde hair and Gryffindor Quidditch robes from across the stands as she headed off the pitch.
Marlene turned round, swinging her broomstick over her shoulder, to see me hurrying down from the stands and across the pitch towards her as she walked towards the changing rooms.
“So you did come after all, then?” Marlene asked amusedly.
“Yeah, well...” I defended myself, slightly affronted, “Just for...you know...moral support...for my friend...”
I trailed off. Who was I kidding?
Marlene raised her eyebrows. “Why would I need moral support? I wasn’t doing anything except watching the tryouts for Seeker.”
I flushed and quickly tried to change the subject as a triumphant grin was starting to slide onto her face that I definitely did not like the look of.
“So...Who got the place, then?”
“James hasn’t decided yet,” Marlene sighed, rolling her eyes, “He wanted Black’s opinion, of all people, but of course Black didn’t turn up, probably off snogging some skank somewhere...”
“Marlene!” I cried, “You can’t call people that!”
“What?! It’s perfectly clear that anyone thick enough to want to approach him for any means other than to give him a black eye just has to be desperate...”
She stopped dead as James strode towards us, his Gryffindor robes spattered with mud and looking particularly pleased with himself. “Alright, girls? What are you doing here, Evans?”
“Well, I was..er...I was just...er...” I searched my brain for an excuse, but it was coming up with nothing.
“It’s alright Evans, I know it’s a struggle for you to string two words together in my presence,” James called as he entered the changing rooms.
I hate him. I. Hate. Him.
Marlene followed him in. “You can just wait out here, Lily,” she gestured to a bench nearby, “I won’t be long.”
I sat waiting for a few minutes, the wind tangling satisfyingly into my hair, until a piercing scream echoed from inside the changing rooms. What the hell was happening in there?
I chanced a glance around the door, and immediately regretted it.
There was James Potter, with nothing but a tiny towel slung loosely around his waist, beads of water running down his chest.
“GALLOPING GARGOYLES POTTER, PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!” I yelped, clapping my hands over my eyes as he began to remove his towel.
Marlene, who was staggering around the changing room looking pained, with her hands also clamped firmly around her eyes, was yelling just as loud as myself. “I thought we agreed, Potter, absolutely no nudity in the changing rooms!! That’s what the shower blocks are for!!!”
I chanced a glimpse through my fingers and was relieved to find that James had at least put some trousers on. He was stood there looking completely exasperated.
“Merlin, ladies, the way you two are carrying on you’d think my half naked body wasn’t the sexiest thing on earth...honestly, Evans, you should be drooling at my feet!”
“Oh, shut up, Potter,” I snapped, “Why do you always have to be such an idiot? C’mon Marls, let’s go.”
Marlene peered over the top of her hands, breathed a sigh of relief and lowered them from her face. “But I’m not changed yet!” she protested as I grabbed her arm and proceeded to drag her from the changing rooms.
“I don’t care!” I said, getting more and more irritated by the smug look on Potter’s face by the second, “We’re going, right now!”
I finished off the last sentence of my Transfiguration essay, and let my gaze wander into the crackling fire. It was the first time in the last few days I’d actually been left alone so I could hear my own thoughts, and it left me rethinking recent events over in my mind.
Should I have been chosen as Prefect? Thinking about it, I had always assumed someone else would get the badge- not that it had been a topic that had plagued me much until it had arrived in the post this summer. My parents, of course, were thrilled- they had always thought, what with my being a werewolf, that Dumbledore would have preferred to keep me in the background of school life.
Could I be trusted, though? Dumbledore obviously thought so, but I wasn’t so sure. I could barely even control my own friends, for Merlin’s sake, let alone everyone else in the school. James, especially, is completely uncontrollable. I suppose I just don’t have the courage to stand up to them.
And how long would it be until my secret was out? It had been kept tenuously for six years now, with many close shaves, but it wasn’t like Sirius and James were particularly adept at keeping things from people- in fact, neither of them seemed in the slightest bit concerned what it would mean for their education if someone actually figured out where we snuck off to every month...and as for Peter...well he was, trustworthy, admittedly. But could he be counted upon not to be tricked into letting something slip? He never had been the sharpest tool in the shed.
No, not one of my friends seem to be in the slightest bit bothered by the fact that they run around as illegal Animagus once a month, accompanied by a fully fledged werewolf. And as for that Map...well, as proud of it as I was, the Map could get us into as much trouble on its’ own...how James and Sirius could be so blasé about it all I would never understand...
I was so deep in thought, when a soft voice behind me spoke I almost jumped out of my armchair.
“Er, Remus? Are you all right?”
I turned around in my chair to see Dorcas hovering hesitantly above me, biting her lip anxiously.
“Yeah, fine,” I said hurriedly, averting my gaze as I gathered up my parchment and quills hastily, “Did you want this seat? Sorry I’ll just be, er...going...”
“No, don’t go!” Dorcas looked horrified, scrambling on the floor awkwardly to pick up the books I seemed to have dropped in my hurry to disappear, “I just came over to see if you were okay...you just liked you were going to punch someone, or something.”
“Oh,” I said, pausing and rubbing my face, smearing ink across my cheek in the process, “Nope, er, nothing wrong, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary going on here...”
Ugh, why could I not even behave like a normal person?
Dorcas made a nervous laugh, looking almost terrified by my odd behaviour. I was surprised she didn’t back away slowly and go report me to Mrs Pomfrey to be taken to the hospital wing immediately.
She made no sign of attempting to make any more conversation, so I sat back down awkwardly, and continued scribbling away at my History of Magic notes, even though I’d already finished them. I half expected Dorcas to leave at once, but she sat down opposite me, a puzzled look on her face, as if the more she stared at me the more she would understand why I was acting so weirdly.
“Erm...was there anything you wanted?” I coughed, without looking up from his parchment.
I sounded so blunt, she probably thought I was some sort of maniac. For gods’ sake, Remus, she’s a girl, not an alien...
“Oh,” Dorcas blinked, “Er, yes there was. I wanted to ask you about that Transfiguration paper McGonagall set...”
Of course she did. Why else would she want to talk to me, of all people? I watched as she pulled her essay from her bag, not really taking in a word she was saying.
What if Dorcas found out what I truly was? Would she still be fine with sitting across from me now, talking to me like a normal person, someone whose past and future was not overshadowed by the burden he carried? Or would she be scared, back away, those big, dark eyes full of fear?
Just imagining it made my stomach squirm, made me feel contaminated, dirty, separate from James and Sirius who were at perfect liberty to flirt with as many girls as they wanted, because, no, they had nothing wrong with them...
“So, Remus, what do you think?”
“Er...sorry, what was that?”
Dorcas gave a heavy sigh. “Maybe I’ll just go and ask James...”
I watched her go almost wistfully, wishing I was watching her through someone else’s eyes.
“The thing is though Sirius, it’s really quite ridiculous...I know she wants to go out with me deep down...”
“Very, very deep down,” I corrected.
“Yeah, yeah, as I was saying, how exactly do I get her to go out with me?”
“Well,” I pointed out, “You’ve sort of exhausted all methods, Prongs, and none of them have worked. Correct me if I’m wrong but I have this really odd feeling that she doesn’t want to go out with you.”
“Not for lack of trying,” James grumbled under his breath, “I mean, I don’t get it...I could have pretty much any girl in the school...”
“Er, no,” I snorted, “That would be me, I think- no one wants you because you’re so obsessed with Evans. And besides, Prongs, we have this conversation nearly every single day, and it never gets you anywhere. At. All.”
“Yes, well, that’s the thing, I’ve thought of the most brilliant plan.”
“Oh, here we go...” I rolled my eyes. I really did not want to think of what ridiculous scheme he had thought of this time.
“And it involves you, Pads, you are the key component in my awesome plan of action.”
I raised my eyebrows and said in bored tones, “Aren’t I always?”
James continued persistently, “Right, here’s what you do. You ask Meadowes out to the next Hogsmeade trip, and tell her to bring Lily along for a double date with your hot seventh year friend-
“I can see several flaws in this plan already,” I butted in pointedly, “Number one, Meadowes is about as likely to go on a date with me as you are. I ditched her for that fit Ravenclaw in fourth year and she hasn’t forgiven me for it since. Number two, last time I checked, you are not a seventh year. Number three, you are most definitely not hot. Number four, if you don’t give up on this pathetic plan already, you may not be my friend for much longer.”
“Shh, shh,” James waved a vague hand at me as I got more and more frustrated, “So, you tell her to bring Lily along, and then, you meet me in the Three Broomsticks! Lily can’t just leave because you’ll be snogging Meadowes’ face off (I opened his mouth to object, but James held his hand up again to silence me. I didn’t want to snog Meadowes face off. I was pretty sure she was a pretty crap snog) so it would be rude and that means I get a whole day to convince her to go out with me!” James finished off excitedly. “So, whaddya think?”
“I think that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard since you tried to get me to dress up as a giant slice of treacle tart and sing to Evans for you last Valentine’s Day.”
Oh god, the mental scarring of the time he got me to listen to that idea.
“That was a stroke of brilliance on my part! Once she realised our shared love of treacle tart she just wouldn’t be able to resist me!”
That’s it. The last straw. My best friend is officially deluded.
“Sometimes I worry about you, mate,” I shake my head, “Really, I do.”
“So this means you’ll do it?” James asked eagerly. How the fuck did he come to that conclusion with the words “sometimes I worry about you mate”?
“I suppose,” I sighed (there was really no point arguing with him when he was in what I like to call an Evans mood), “I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this...a whole day I could have spent chasing girls...”
“YES!” James punched the air triumphantly.
Like I said- completely deluded.
“We are absolutely not on any accounts going to Madam Puddifoot’s though,” I tell him savagely, before walking away, “I’ve got to go meet Anna now, she’s been waiting for me.”
“Who in the name of Merlin’s beard is Anna? What happened to Lucy?”
“Keep up, mate! That was this morning!”
I watched from afar, reading, as James took Dorcas through where she was going wrong in her Transfiguration essay. Why hadn’t I just listened to her in the first place? Then it could have been me.
Would my entire life be like this? Every choice balancing on the fact that I’m a werewolf?
My thoughts were abruptly interrupted as the portrait hole swung open and Sirius entered, surprisingly, with no red-faced, giggling girl hanging on to his arm. It amazed me that he hadn’t slept with every girl in the school yet.
“Alright, Moony, mate?” Sirius asked, “Seen Meadowes lately?”
“She’s over there,” I replied shrewdly, inclining his head towards where Dorcas and James were sitting- what did he want Dorcas for?
“I need to ask her to go to Hogsmeade with me, that’s all.”
“No, not as friends, since when have I been friends with Meadowes, of all people? Honestly, Moony...”
“Well then, why are you asking her?” I asked defensively. “You must have some reason. You don’t fancy her, do you?”
“No, course I don’t, you idiot. It’s some claptrap plan of Prongs’,” Sirius sighed, "He reckons it’s gonna somehow turn out with Lily begging to go out with him.”
“So you’re using her?”
“No, of course not, Moony! We’re borrowing her.”
“Well, I really don’t think- “
“Listen, Moony,” Sirius clapped a hand on his shoulder, “You know how James is about Lily. Maybe you should just keep out of it until it’s over. I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Okay,” I sighed, staring wistfully over at Dorcas again and wishing I had a little bit more of a backbone.