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Sorry guys, this is just being resubmitted, fixing a few mistakes etc. This is also the final chapter which has been reworked. The next update will hopefully be a new fresh chapter!
Chapter Six: Sexual Confusion
When Joe finally was let out of the Hospital Wing the Marauders walked her to the Great Hall, tooting imaginary trumpets and in general causing a ruckus. Joe looked a little tired and smiled slightly, but genuinely, at their antics. Remus walked at her side and Peter trailed half a step behind while Sirius and James were jumping around in front of them. Remus didn’t look too energized himself; the dark circles under his eyes gave him away.
“THIS is a NIGHT of celeBRATION!” Sirius called dramatically and flung his arms out.
“The brave soldier Joakim has finally been freed form the clutches of the enemy!” James chimed and clutched his heart emotionally. Remus rolled his eyes,
“Let’s just eat, guys.” He said, but his eyes were twinkling merrily. Joe didn’t say anything; she nodded softly and followed her friends.
In the Great Hall many were happy to see her again. Joe nodded and grinned at various people as the little group of friends made their way over to their customary spot at the Gryffindor table. As Joe grabbed a seat her eyes briefly flickered over the boys’ Slytherin table. She froze and returned her vision to the green table. Black and Snape looked at her intently. She felt a little dazed all of a sudden, as if she couldn’t quite remember what she was doing and where she was.
“You gonna sit down anytime today, mate?” James asked, but she didn’t really listen to him.
“Yeah,” Joe answered her gaze still lingering on the Slytherins. She put her hand on the table and swung her legs over the bench.
“Nice ring you got there, haven’t seen it before.” Remus commented. He looked at the hand Joe put on the table.
“Thanks, it was my father’s.” Joe replied automatically. Then she vaguely wondered why she said so, because obviously it wasn’t the truth. Voldemort wasn’t her father. Joe felt a strong urge to change the topic. The haze that had overtaken her mind for a few minutes lifted the moment she put a piece of potato in her mouth.
“Ahh! Much better than hospital food!” She exclaimed loudly, the previous conversation completely forgotten.
“I agree,” James said through a mouthful of the yellow wonder food. “Nothing compares to the House Elves at Hogwarts!”
“Amen!” Sirius threw in.
“Boys.” Marlene called from the girls’ table, having overheard Joe’s exclamation. “Think with their stomachs.”
“That’s not what they—“ Cecilia started at the same time as Beryl said,
“No, they think with—“ The two shared a glance and cracked up. Marlene rolled her eyes with a smirk and Lily smacked her forehead exasperatedly. Joe grinned. She missed hanging out with girls; their sense of humour wasn’t quite as crude even if it could insinuate just the same things.
“Speaking of boys’ sexual drive…” Lily started. The boys and Joe looked up in surprise at the Head Girl’s unusual choice of wording. Marlene, Cecilia and Beryl smirked at the Marauders reactions. “…I heard you used a pretty interesting technique to overpower the Death Eater outside the common room…” Lily said loudly, and by the evil smirks the girls were now sporting Joe didn’t think this boded well. Her memories from that night were quite fuzzy. By the confused look the Marauders shared she didn’t think they knew anything either.
“Err, my memories are quite hazy…” Joe called back before trailing off. “Oooohhh.” Suddenly she remembered something about a thong. She cursed herself for not dumping her laundry on the floor for the House Elves earlier; otherwise she wouldn’t have worn a thong of all things. (It had been a last resort, and it hadn’t been comfortable even with an extension charm for certain… appendages…) Joe’s face flushed brightly and she rubbed her neck. “Heh, heh…” she laughed nervously, her eyes flickering between the other seventh years. “Err, yeah, about that…”
“I must admit I’ve been curious as to why you were in possession of a red lacy thong right at that moment. You did just before come out of your bed so naturally some assumptions can be made…” Lily was smirking in evil amusement now. Grins crossed the four Marauders’ faces simultaneously.
“Looks like Joey boy got some action, eh?” James clapped Joe’s shoulder. She grimaced. “Who was it? Sicily?”
“No wonder you barely woke up from the alarm, mustn’t have gotten much sleep at all!” Sirius exclaimed with a barking laugh.
“Err…” Joe looked unsure at the girls. Beryl opened her mouth.
“Unless, of course, he’s secretly a cross dresser…” she jeered. A big portion of both Gryffindor tables fell silent for a split second, having overheard Beryl’s voice carry across to the boys’ table, before Joe buried her burning face in her hands and the Gryffindors started guffawing.
“Oh screw you all.” Joe muttered disgruntled, but a small smile graced her lips.
Joe was incredibly glad to soon be on a broom again when the team made their way to the next Quidditch practise. It wasn’t that she’d been kept from flying for a long while. She’d just been a bit banged up during the Death Eater attack after all. For some reason though, the time from before the attack seemed very long ago, as if the hazy memories during the attack acted as a barrier for a before and an after. Joe changed without embarrassment among the other boys in the locker room before the practise. She’d sort of gotten used to it. It wasn’t as if anyone was stripping down all the way when they got into their uniforms anyway.
It was the after-practise time in the locker room that was the issue, really. The showers, especially. After a particularly gruesome practise in the warm sun the sweaty players piled into the changing rooms. Joe dropped her broom on the floor by her things and continued into the small bathroom. The bathroom in the locker room only held one toilet and a sink, in difference to the public men’s room around the castle (where people looked at you funny if you went into one of stalls in favour of using the urinals). While mentally praising the privacy of one-man bathrooms Joe locked the door behind her and unzipped her trousers. With a grimace she went about her business, all the while privately mortified at weeing standing up with that thing.
When she was done she tucked away that thing, zipped up and exited the bathroom. Most of the guys had already started undressing and getting into the showers. Joe as usual stripped quickly while not looking at or speaking to anyone. Most of the guys where laughing and joking around but Joe wasn’t nearly comfortable enough to do that.
“So Sirius where’d you disappear off to before practise?” James was calling across the shower room as Joe entered with a towel around her waist. She’d managed to refine the art of not-looking-but-not-obviously-looking-away when she entered a shower room full of naked muscular boys. As casually as possible she hung her towel on a hook on the wall and strolled over to the only free shower by Ben the Keeper.
“Cecilia and I were inspecting broom cupboards on the third floor, if you know what I mean.” Sirius called back. Ben whistled appreciatively.
“Fleet’s got fiiine legs,” He commented.
“Not to mention her rack,” Joe said with a suggestive grin. Cecilia did have an unusually large chest, something not even Joe (who had no interest whatsoever in her) could miss. Apparently Joe’s remark had been well placed because the other boys in the room chuckled and agreed heartily. Even Sirius did, which lead Joe to believe that he either wasn’t the jealous type or it was as she suspected and he and Cecilia weren’t exactly dating.
“So you’re a breast-man, are you Joe?” James was asking as Joe grabbed her towel and dried off quickly. The other boys were still in the showers but Joe tended to hurry as much as possible, not wanting to stay in there a minute longer than absolutely necessary.
“A what?” Joe asked in confusion just as she was about to exit the room. She looked over her shoulder at James who had his back turned to her. Her eyes flickered briefly over the others but they too were turned against the walls.
“You prefer nice pair of jugglers over, say, a nice pair of legs, or a nice arse.” James clarified over his shoulder. Mmmhmm, he had a nice bum.
“Oh, no.” Joe said automatically (because really, she had no interest whatsoever in breasts) before she caught herself. She cursed herself for getting distracted. “I mean, I think any nice body part can be quite attractive. Stomachs are totally underrated, for example.”
“Hear, hear!” Nigel called as he passed her on his way into the shower room. Joe took her opportunity to slink into the changing rooms, quickly redressed and was out of the locker room just as the others finished their showers. Joe hummed cheerfully as she strolled up towards the castle. The sun was shining warmly even if the air was starting to get slightly chilly. Joe’s humming was cut short with a slightly unmanly squeak as a heavy hand landed on her shoulder. Quickly she spun around and found Snape and Black behind her. Her mind was going fuzzy again and she felt a little disoriented.
“Hello, Joakim.” Snape greeted her with a feral grin. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Yes, indeed.” Black greeted silkily. “We were just discussing you. You seem to have quite the affinity for Defence, would you mind helping us out with a fellow Slytherin who is struggling a bit?”
“Sure, sure why not?” Joe found herself answering without hesitation.
“We will of course help you with anything you might need help with,” Snape added. “That’s what friends do, right? Exchange favours.”
“Yes, yes they do.” Joe blinked her eyes furiously, her head felt so unclear.
“What were you doing with them?” James asked from behind her. He was frowning. Joe shook her head and realized that in the distance Snape and Black were walking towards the castle, and just behind her stood the rest of the Gryffindor quidditch team. Joe cleared her throat.
“Just schoolwork. Defence.” Joe said.
“Why’d you want to do that with them?” Sirius asked incredulously. “Didn’t you get in trouble with McGonagall for fighting them in the Entrance Hall?”
“Oh, that. Well, y’know, can’t keep a grudge forever. Water under the bridge. It was just a misunderstanding over how my uncle got me into Hogwarts or something stupid like that.” Joe waved his worries away.
“If I do recall correctly the term “mudblood” and serious allusions to gay sex in our dormitory were mentioned.” Sirius argued. Joe gave him a freaked out look.
“…is there something you’ve forgotten to tell me guys?” She looked at James and Sirius warily. Behind the two the rest of the team were starting to snort with ill disguised amusement. “Is that what you do when Remus…” she trailed off at the wide eyed looks James and Sirius were sporting. “…err, never mind. Let’s just forget I ever heard about that. Gotta go feed my cat now! Bye!” Quickly she hurried towards the castle. Those guys were really something… They seemed very close after all, and she’d wondered what exactly they were keeping from her, but really…
After getting back to the common room and feeding her cat (she had actually had to do that, it wasn’t just an excuse) she went up to the dorm and started changing into her school robes again. Only Sirius was there, he must’ve slunk past her while she was feeding the cat. Joe strolled around the bed in only her boxers (wow, never had she thought that sentence would apply to her; usually it was her uncle) and dug through her trunk in search of a pair of clean slacks. Sirius was sprawled on his bed reading a school book, Transfiguration to be precise. When he realised what Joe was doing he looked up with a questioning gaze. Joe looked back at him and nodded towards the wayward slacks she withdrew from her trunk as an answer to Sirius’ silent question. It must’ve seemed odd, she supposed afterwards, getting undressed again so soon after having a shower in the locker rooms because Sirius held her gaze even after she withdrew her trousers. Sirius look was an odd gaze. Almost calculating. She didn’t want to loose the gazing contest so she stared back and took in his appearance at the same time. He really was a good looking boy, that annoying voice at the back of her head reminded her as usual. Confident, smart, well sculptured. His lazy sprawl and untucked and slightly unbuttoned shirt didn’t add any unattractiveness. But why was he staring at her? He didn’t, God forbid, fancy her, did he? That would be so backwards. She was attracted to him because he was male, and he’d be attracted to her because he thought she was male, while she really was female… That would be even worse than the Sicily situation!
“What?” she finally gave in and lost the unofficial competition. She had freaked herself out. She had to know now.
“Why were you really with Black and Snape today?” he asked, not unkindly. She was almost relieved she’d been the only one with slightly inappropriate thoughts in her mind.
“Oh, that, well, y’know. They can’t keep up with their Defence studies, so I help them and they owe me one. Could be useful to call a couple of Slytherin in on a favour. They play dirty.” She grinned. Sirius smiled lopsidedly. She liked his smile.
“Guess you’re right. You don’t have the same history as we do with them after all.” He said darkly. He was so much like Susanna sometimes. They both had their minds in the gutter most of the time, serial dated (or rather, in Sirius case, serial snogged), were incredibly smart and easily put two and two together. They weren’t scared of confrontations and they both enjoyed a good laugh and had a great sense of humour (Susanna would’ve loved the flying chocolate frog prank). Once Joe had jokingly said that if Susanna had been a guy she’d be deeply in love with her, and it scared her slightly that Sirius was so much like her.
“Guess I don’t.” Joe agreed. “Gotta get dressed. Are the others down at dinner?” Sirius nodded and then his stomach growled. Joe chuckled. “I’ll hurry. Let’s get there quickly or you’ll starve to death!” Sirius laughed his characteristic bark. Too bad she was a girl in a guy’s body.
At dinner she sat with the boys but felt a bit awkward. She was still a little freaked out. Seriously, whatever they got up to between them wasn’t any of her business – but it was a bit out there. And in their dorm? She wondered with a shudder if her bed too was contaminated. She was pretty sure that in reality the blokes weren’t having those sorts of relations but still… you never knew. Something weird was going on after all. When most teachers had left the hall and the dinner was mostly over with Joe took the opportunity and slunk over to the girls’ table. The boys were really into a quidditch discussion as usual and she doubted they’d miss her. With a bright, albeit fake, smile she decided to take her chances and sit down with Sicily and some of the sixth years.
“Mind if I join you?” she asked cheerfully and sat down even before they could answer.
“Joe!” Sicily exclaimed happily. “What a great surprise!” She leant towards him with a mischievous smile. “Want to set up a time for a little rendezvous?” she whispered in her ear. Joe gave a strained smile.
“About that… I don’t think it…would be… eh, such a good idea.” Sicily pouted prettily and tilted her head slightly.
“Oh if you’re worried about getting tied up… well, you don’t need to be in a relationship to have a little fun.” She was smiling again. Joe was sweating profusely now. How the hell was she supposed to refuse this girl while all her friends were watching and listening in?
“Err, huh, well, you see, the thing is…” Joe was running out of things to say, not that she’d had anything to begin with. Suddenly one of the other sixth year girls, Harriet, Joe thought her name was, gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. She stared at Joe with shining eyes and let out a little giggle.
“He’s gay!” she breathed out. What! Joe wanted to yell. “It makes perfect sense!” she almost jumped up and down. The other sixth year girl (Glenda?) nodded enthusiastically. Sicily turned in astonishment to Joe.
“You’re gay!” she whispered, not really in accusation, more as a general statement. Joe wanted to beat her head repeatedly against the table. “Gay” seemed to be the theme of the day. “What was that stuff about you getting laid right when the alarm went off for the Death Eater attack, then?” Oh, God.
“Err, I just got caught with a thong… in my pocket. It’s, em, Susanna’s, my best friend back home.”
“Oh,” Sicily looked like Joe had just killed her puppy. Suddenly she looked worried instead. “Wait, isn’t gay-ness illegal or something?” God, Joe hadn’t even considered that part. Harriet shook her head with a grin.
“Nope! Homosexual acts have been legal since ten years back!” she quoted. “I know, my uncle’s gay.” Sicily heaved a sigh of relief.
“You live in England though,” Glenda said slowly. “This is Scotland.” The girls shared worried glances and Joe silently wondered how this would play out. She very well couldn’t deny her supposed homosexuality now, she’d let them prattle on for too long. God, the holes she dug for herself!
“Is it illegal here?” Harriet whispered wide eyed. Glenda swallowed.
“I-I think it is.” Shit. Even if these girls needn’t worry about her, Joe still worried about her mates. (Well, she didn’t know for sure what that deal with Sirius in the dorm had meant, but still.) And she could possibly end up in trouble if people just thought she was gay. Suddenly Sicily turned around sharply and faced Joe with an expression of importance.
“If you ever need a cover story, I’ll be happy to provide one. I’ll stand witness in the Wizengamot if I have to.” Joe frowned.
“What about Jacob?” Sicily looked down at the table and muttered something. “Come on, you obviously care for each other on some level, why are you so intent to strike up a relationship of any sort with me?” Joe pressed. Glenda and Harriet looked intrigued as well.
“Because I,” she didn’t seem to know quite what to say. “Our families are sort of… forcing us together.” Sicily started, and soon she was picking up speed. “And I don’t like having our families choose my boyfriend for me!” Sicily burst out angrily. The three other Gryffindors mouths simultaneously formed “o”s.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Glenda asked slightly hurt. Joe suspected that wasn’t a very good question to ask right at that moment so she ignored Glenda and asked her own question instead.
“But you care for each other!” okay, so it was more of a statement. All the ire seemed to pour out of Sicily at once.
“How couldn’t we?” She muttered, half to herself, half to her friends. “We’ve known each other since we were babies, and we’re a perfect match. That’s why our meddling relatives are pushing us to get engaged and everything. We’re great together.” Joe grabbed Sicily’s hand in a soothing gesture.
“Then don’t mind them. Refuse to marry until you’re ready, if ever. You can still be with Jacob since it makes you happy. You don’t have to throw yourself at others.” Sicily gave her a watery smile and squeezed her hand in thanks. When the two looked up at Harriet and Glenda, they were giving the two amazed looks.
“You really are gay, as in gay gay.” Glenda breathed. Harriet hit the back of her head.
“Stop being a prejudiced git, Glenda.” She scolded. “Any boy can be sensitive and understanding.”
“Riiight…” Joe turned away from the two bickering girls and addressed Sicily again.
“Look if it makes patching things up with Jacob again easier, just tell him I’m gay. It’s okay, but I wouldn’t want the whole school hearing something like that.” Had she just admitted she was gay? She didn’t really say she actually was gay in that sentence, did she? Sicily looked uncertain. “Look, I’ll make sure everyone thinks Susanna is my girlfriend or something. I’ve got a thong I can use as proof. Y’know, we can tell everybody I snuck her into the castle.” Joe grinned. She knew Susanna, she’d find this just as hilarious as she did. Tentatively Sicily gave into the plan.
Since her little conversation with the sixth years her mood had lifted considerably and Joe felt up for joining her fellow seventh years again.
“Hello!” she practically trilled as she sat down with them. It was a wonder how a little scheming with a few girls could lift her spirits. She missed being a girl badly.
“What’s got you all buzzed up?” Remus asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Snuck over to the girls table, did you, eh?” Peter wiggled his eyebrows at me. Joe smiled briefly at Peter and answered Remus’ question.
“Just Hogwarts in general. It never ceases to entertain. You should hear some of the rumours that are flying about this place.” She honestly had not meant to insinuate anything about the, erm, covert going ons, but when Sirius and James suddenly looked extremely uncomfortable she realised her mistake. She’d actually more been thinking about her crazy life lately; being mistaken for being gay in a country where it’s basically illegal… It was mad.
“Look, Joe, it’s not what it looks like, okay?” James tried awkwardly.
“It’s alright, mate.” Joe answered dead serious. “I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve experienced more, eh, unusual things.” Yeah, like sex-change. It was pretty unnerving (if you weren’t transsexual, she supposed). She glanced briefly at the girls’ table and lowered her voice as to not alert anyone to what was going on. But really, James was the one who had brought it up in public. Quietly she added, “Really. Just keep it out of the dorm, please. I wouldn’t want my bed to, err, be contaminated with… something.” Sirius and James looked as if she’d smacked them hard over their heads. Remus and Peter looked torn between confusion and amusement at the possibility of the meaning of Joe’s words. Both James’ and Sirius’ faces were getting redder and redder. Sirius stood up furiously.
“We are not having gay sex in our dorm!” he shouted heatedly. There was a moment of absolute silence in the Great Hall; even the few teachers left seemed quite shocked at this sudden proclamation.
“Good to know mate,” the Gryffindor Keeper, sixth year Ben commented uncertainly in the ringing silence, but he posed it almost like a question. Then, the seventh years burst out laughing uncontrollably. Sirius was standing there, still glaring furiously at Joe and James looked ready to murder him, but the rest couldn’t help their complete amusement.
“It wasn’t really necessary to shout it to the whole school, was it?” Joe asked mildly, only further angering the two boys.
“Ohoho, if this is a prank, it’s the best one anyone’s ever played on them!” Remus exclaimed while wiping tears from his eyes.
“Whatever you say, whatever you say.” Joe said with an understanding smile. James was now alternating between glaring furiously at Joe and looking anxiously at Lily, who was pretty much dying from laughter, half lying and pounding her fist on the girls’ table, along with her friends. “But James,” Joe added quietly so only she and James would hear. “It wasn’t very nice trying to lead Lily on to ensure your reputation; she could’ve actually fallen for you.” Abruptly James flew up and tackled Joe to the floor. A small scuffle of mostly harmless fists and choke grips followed.
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