“Lily, I just don’t get it.”

I frowned, staring at the book before me with no unfamiliar frustration and let out a long groan. Besides me, I heard Dorcas Meadows snort amusedly while I saw Lily Evans give me an amused look (apparently, I was an extremely funny person). I frowned and gave my friend a pleading and desperate look, while I kicked Dorcas’ shin under the table. All three of us were gathered around one of the small study tables in the Gryffindor common room, trying to finish off the rest of our homework while taking advantage of the quiet and calm atmosphere of the area.

“I don’t think it’s funny enough for all that,” I muttered sullenly.

“Raye, it’s really not that difficult,” Lily laughed.

“It is!” I insisted, my eyes narrowing. Honestly, what a great bunch of mates I had- they’re encouragement and support is so touching, I could only store all my effort into keeping tears from springing to my eyes. “I’m no good with Herbology, you know that.”

Lily set down her wand on her charms text book and adjusted her seat so it was closer to mine. Her eyes concentrated on the text before me, mouthing the words softly underneath her breath as she read. A minute later, her eyes came away from the book and she fixed me with a twinkling gaze as she gave a small smirk.

“Raye, I bet if I gave this to my four-year-old muggle neighbor, she’d have this understood in a minute at the max,” she said plainly, causing Dorcas to look up expectantly. I gave Lily my best I-Honestly-Despise-You glare and tried to wrench the book away from her when Dorcas had leaned over the table and snatched my copy of Advanced Herbology Made Easy.

“Oi!” I yelled hotly, trying in vain to get the textbook back.

“The perplexities of the puffapod revolve around the blatant disregard for the rules of growth, survival and reproduction generally excepted in Herbology theory. The large, pink-tinted pods are preinstalled with seeds for similar plants, and once the pod is dropped, it pries itself open and the seeds inside bloom into large flowers within seconds, and their roots merge with whatever surface they come into contact with. Whilst other magical plants rely on some consistent temperature, surrounding, or material to enable it grow, the puffapod requires only to fall, no matter the type, quality or quantity of air around it in the process, and somehow is able to grow and sustain itself for years after,” Dorcas recited in a monotone voice, looking extremely bored at the reading, sodding genius that she is.

Dorcas stopped at this point and fixed me with a smug look while she tossed the thing back at me. I caught the book easily and placed it farther away from me, pushing my half-finished essay with it.

“And how exactly is that difficult to understand?” Dor asked, turning back to her Potions essay.

“It’s not; I just have no idea how to utilize that frankly useless information into a sodding six-inch essay about puffapods!” I cried angrily.

Lily quirked her eyebrow at me and, with a knowing glance, opened the book back to the page I was on when I had requested her help and shoved it back towards me and placed my essay on top it.

“You’re not stupid, just lazy,” she said firmly. “Get it over with, so we can all take a break, yeah?”

I made a face at her. She’d get so annoying when she was all reasonable. I dipped the quill in the nearby ink bottle and turned back to my essay with a resolute expression. A minute later, I was already searching for a distraction from irritating essays, and resorted to ask where our other close friend, Emmeline Vance, was.

“She’s got a detention,” Lily said immediately. “With Slughorn, because she exploded that potion in your cousin’s face yesterday, remember?”

Oh- right. I was rather ecstatic when she had done that. Slughorn had tried to ‘switch it up’ yesterday, and reached the conclusion that the best possible way to provide some interest in class was to change partnerships around. Emmeline, who had a fierce sense of loyalty that could overcome her otherwise calm nature, had gotten stuck with James after I had finished complaining extensively to her about the very same. By the end of that lesson, James had a weird substance growing out of his neck and face, Emmeline was looking surly after receiving a week’s worth of detention, and I was thanking whatever deity that came to mind that I had helped the girl out in charms class in first year.

I grinned shamelessly and turned to Dorcas and granted her another swift kick to the shins as I continued to smile at her like an insane idiot.

“Oi- stop doing that!” she exclaimed, rubbing her leg angrily while glaring daggers at me, a lock of her dirty blond hair falling out in front of her face as she leaned forward. “What was that for, anyway?”

“Why aren’t you as loyal as Emmeline is?” I demanded, still smiling since I had felt about no guilt after kicking her.

“What are you talking about?” she growled, still rubbing her leg.

“I remember you were paired with Black in potions yesterday, and I don’t see you in a detention because of some stupid thing you did to save my honor,” I said pointedly.

“Yeah, ‘cos I’m not an idiot. Now stop trying to put off that sodding essay and complete it already before my leg falls off.”

“Pansy,” I taunted, sticking out my tongue at her. Nonetheless, I turned back to my essay, and returned quickly to my bad mood as I stared helplessly at the words before me that honestly made no sense at all.

About a half hour later, I slammed the book shut and stored my finished essay in my bag, thinking that if I didn’t get an ‘O’ for perseverance alone I’d drop out of the class in protest.

“I’m finished!” I announced proudly, nearly skipping over to where Lily and Dorcas lounged. After finishing their own work they had both decided to go and relax near the fire, as the entire Gryffindor tower was nearly deserted today and all the nice couches and arm chairs were still very much unoccupied.

“Really?” Dorcas mocked, her voice matching my enthusiasm. “Wow, that’s so fantastic! You really should’ve said it louder though- some people in the Ravenclaw dormitories might not have heard the news yet.”

I grinned good-naturedly and threw my quill at her face with a wink, my smile only widening when I saw that a couple of stray ink drops had found its way onto Dor’s face (odd how forgetting to properly clean stationary could lead to such convenient things, isn’t it?). Dorcas was lying on the couch, her long legs nearly touching the end of it, and her arms over face. There was about no room for me.

I strode over to where she reclined (picking up my quill on the way) and promptly sat on top of her outstretched legs, signaling her to make room. She moved her legs so I could recline back as well and she resituated her legs on my lap. I happily smiled at Lily who at least gave me a congratulatory smile, and, despite it looking slightly forced, the effort was commendable.

“Is Emmeline ever going to come back or is she going to spend the night there?” Dorcas asked.

We both turned to Lily, who was a prefect and therefore the person we, that is Dorcas, Emmeline, and I, expected to be privy of all knowledge pertaining to detentions and house points and the like. Lily gave as a familiar exasperated look before answering.

“I’ve told you before that just because I can hand out detentions, I don’t get an alert whenever someone in the school manages to receive one detailing the situation.”

“But you’ll know when it’s over and such won’t you? Is there a time limit as to how long he can keep her there or anything?” I asked her.

Lily frowned, adjusted her position so she would be sitting upright- a sure sign that she was being attentive- and pulled a thoughtful face.

“Actually, I don’t believe there is,” she stated, a small amount of wonder in her tone. “Theoretically Slughorn could keep her there all day, but most teachers obviously choose not to. It’s nine though, so she’ll probably come back soon enough. She left about two hours ago and it can’t span longer than that.”

“Speaking of those not present, I notice that you haven’t spoken with your cousin in a long time,” Dorcas said, her arms still covering her face from view, though from the sharp tone I could discern that her interest was piqued. My eyes flitted downward uncomfortably and shifted to the side before answering.

“Duly noted,” I responded sardonically. “Any other epiphanies you would like me to record?”

“I’m being serious, what’s the matter?” she persisted. I noticed Lily looking rather interested as well but I opted to take the avoidance path and dismissed both of their worries on the matter.

“It’s nothing terrible, we’re just arguing again,” I explained, not completely truthfully, a fact which I was sure both of those sitting nearby were well aware off. “By the way, I’m off to grab Emmeline and drag her back here before she runs into the aforementioned prat who I reckon isn’t very chuffed about having odd things sprout on his facial region.”

Dorcas and Lily both mumbled their alrights and, after taking moment to generously flick my quill over Dorcas’ face, I gallivanted out of the common room, quite happy with my day now that my Herbology homework–which, I might add, is not even due until Friday of this week, giving me two days of Herbology-free leisure—was complete. I was about to turn the corner when I felt myself come into contact with a tall, and sturdy form. I stumbled back a couple steps, looking up to see who it was when I someone who bore a striking resemblance to Sirius Black had came into view (I say someone who only looks like him, because I can’t be entirely sure- my vision’s just been about knocked out since the inconsiderate sod just about killed me moments ago).

I raised my gaze from the floor to be level with his, thoroughly unsurprised to find him frowning down at me. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall besides him, looking about ready to have a conversation. His expression remained dark as he stared at me.

“Alright Hughes?”

I raised an eyebrow appraisingly, my chipper mood now sour since I’ve seen him.

“Yeah,” I responded flatly, glaring at him immediately. Our relationship had always been tension-filled and quite tentative, and though we had made something akin to ‘progress’ throughout it, the events of fifth year had completely destroyed it.

“Where you off to then?” he asked, with more than a hint of derision in his voice.

“I’m off to find your mum and chat about how agreeable your company is,” I snapped irritably. “Where do you think?”

“Have you always been such a rude bint or is it a newly developed trait?” he asked, sounding considerably angrier than he had at first. He stood sturdier, no longer leaning on the wall, all signs of playfulness or casualness out of his voice as he spoke. His dark locks fell over his eyes languidly as his piercingly gray eyes, now somber and so opaque, focused their gaze on me.

“Side-effect, actually,” I spoke finally, looking away from his gaze. “Your presence tends to bring out the worst in everyone,” I finished with a resolute nod. “And terribly fun though this conversation is, I’d rather not have it, thanks.”

I angrily brushed past him, feeling incomprehensibly angry with the tosser I had just left behind me, and rather unsure of what I had said to spark such annoyance in him as well- not that I regretted it, mind, only that I was curious. Nevertheless, I felt guilt tug at my stomach and I spared a moment to turn around and look back at Sirius for a second, if only to see if he still looked so angry, and saw him staring at nothing in particular, his expression as unnervingly intense as ever. He looked up just as I had looked over and I caught his gaze, frowning when his expression turned ever gloomier.


* * *

Emmeline and I wandered back into the common room late, as we had both decided that a visit to the kitchens was in order, as we had not went there for weeks and were both extremely hungry. I had found out of the place just last year, when I was trying to get the invisibility cloak from James (as my mum and James’ dad had both assured my it was rightfully partially mine). He had adamantly refused when I had first suggested it exercising that particular right, and I had to follow him around the entire day cloaked in a concealment charm until I finally found it in his trunk.

When we arrived back at the dormitories, we saw Dorcas lying still on my bed whilst Lily seemed to be merged with my closet and dresser, muttering to herself as she shifted through it.

“What are you looking for,” I asked curiously, trying to peer over Lily’s shoulder as she rummaged through my robes.

“Where on earth do you keep your socks?”

“My dresser, bottom drawer,” I replied immediately. “It’s really not all that difficult to find.”

Lily immediately wheeled around and glowered at Dorcas who looked rather unperturbed at the sight, impressively enough.

“And I do recall that you were supposed to look through the dresser,” she said sharply.

“And I do recall me saying I wouldn’t do anything until you tell me why you’re going insane over a pair of socks.” Dorcas shrugged. She closed her eyes and looked ready to fall asleep on my bed. She yawned largely and disappeared for a minute underneath the covers and remerged with a nice expression on her face, looking comfortable and relaxed in my bed.

I tilted my head questioningly. “Are you out of socks?” I asked simply.

Lily whirled around quickly, her eyes blazing and cheeks flushed. She glared at me rather impressively (I put a good amount of energy into resisting the urge to grab Emmeline’s hand and demand she stand between Lily and I and use her formidable height to protect my small and flimsy body) before turning back on her heal to go to my dresser. She sent me another annoyed look before immersing herself within my linins once more, as if I was the reason her mood had gone so sour.

“If you ever talk to that cousin of yours again, you can tell him to stuff that giant-”

“What did he do?” Dorcas asked immediately as Emmeline and I walked up to my bed, to ready ourselves for what would inevitably be a long-winded oration describing all of James’ worse points and how they do destroy Lily’s hope for a calm and peaceful life. This, as exaggerated as it seems, is more or less rather accurate.

“Well. Imagine my surprise when I go to my dresser to change into my pajamas today, and I look through it and my closet and find that I don’t have a single article of clothing left. Except underwear- thank god Potter’s not quite exceeded the borders of absolute debauchee by nicking those as well.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said evenly, a thoughtful hint to my tone. “Steeling your clothes is creepy enough to qualify, I think.”

“Nope,” Dorcas quipped. “’Cos he didn’t steal clothes that are particular to her. Underwear is particular, and would qualify as deserving macabre-style punishment, but clothes that could just as easily have been mine or anyone else’s only reaches the deserving of a good kick in the stones level,” she finished evenly. “Shall I oblige?”

Lily, who at this point had taken several of my socks and was now attempted to match them together, stopped abruptly, one sock clutched in each of her hands as she pondered Dorcas’ offer. Finally she shook her head. Without further explanation, she dived back into my dresser and took out more socks.

“D’you need a shirt then? And stockings and skirts and the lot?” I asked helpfully, walking over to where she sat and sitting down on the floor beside her, crossing my legs habitually.

“No; your skirt would be a little too small on me, as would your shirt. I took a skirt and shirt from Dorcas, and I’m about to steal Em’s shoes and stockings, but I just wanted a couple extra socks, and you never wear any anyway.”

There was Lily being all reasonable again.

“I ran into Black,” I said conversationally when a minute of silence had gone by. “Literally. And I might add that I was this close to falling down and possibly suffering a concussion and he didn’t even bother to apologize, inconsiderate tosser that he is. So, you are all given an excuse to fuss over me and pamper as you like.”

“You’ll survive,” Dorcas said flatly, though she sat up slightly on the bed that really was not large enough for both her and Emmeline to try to stretch out on. “Did you have another row?”

I shrugged in response but nodded to confirm her suspicions. “Yeah. Not that bad though, but he seemed really angry. Can’t imagine why in all honesty.”

At this, Lily, ever the omniscient, gave me a wry and skeptical half-smile for a second before redirecting her concentration back on my socks.

“Lie,” Emmeline sang cheerfully, kicking Dorcas’ legs to the side as she attempted to get more nicely situated. “What did you say to him, you cow?”

After taking a moment to glare at Emmeline for even considering the notion that I had altered the truth in any way to my benefit, I relented and quickly recapped the small conversation I had with Black only ‘bout an hour ago. By the end of it, Lily looked as confused as I about why Sirius was acting so odd, and Emmeline merely grinned widely at me.

“You’re so odd,” Em had said plainly by the end of it, her maniacal grin still in place. “‘I’m off to see your mum and converse about whether or not you’re a git?’ Really Raye- who says that? Funny though,” she granted at the end, nodding as though whatever small piece of humor she found in it was enough to redeem everything else.

Dorcas on the other hand had given me an oddly tempered look and continued calmly.

“Raye, I really think you ought to stay away from mentioning family in your conversations with him.”

“What?” I stared at Dorcas who was staring at me shrewdly, more likely than not analyzing the whole situation, and getting it right to the pin.

“He’s sensitive about that—our families are good friends, remember? Just stay away from family topics, however silly, it really won’t take you anywhere. Er- one of his close family members are really sick, you know.”

I nodded hesitantly, still a little confused but unwilling to dwell further into the subject. I shrugged and assured her I’d leave off the family area even for silly insults if I speak with him again, and then we moved on to discuss Lily’s plans to retrieve her garments with little enthusiasm.

“Can I borrow that cloak of yours Raye?”

I nodded, quite use to this routine; since fifth year James would periodically do something plain strange and often times uncouth. Lily would respond either by a: having a frightening row with him with a very fiery and awe-inspiring vigor; or b: calmly repairing the damage with a scary and formidable gleam in her eye that said plainly ‘if you so much as breathe too loudly near me again, so help me I will remove crucial parts of your anatomy with that utensil right there (yes, that one)’. The former was more entertaining to watch, but the latter option was by far the most effective.

“Yeah, I’ll need to get it first though. I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.”

A/N: It's finally here! The new version. Just about everything is different, apart from the characters (Though many were cut). I'd love opinions! And I'm editing the rest of the chapters right now. It's starting off odd, but it does get better as well. I hope you enjoy! And a little note is always nice as well. [=

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