Search Home Read Write Forum Login Register
MACABRE - CH 5

One look at Sirius' face when he pulled the heavy wooden door to their room open was enough for James. Getting up from the edge of his bed and pulling the cloak out from under one of his pillows. "Who's up for a drink?" he asked, grinning.

Remus and Peter followed without hesitation, Peter pausing only long enough to snatch the map from its hiding place before catching up again. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” he whispered as the rest of them crowded around him on the landing. Four little blips were moving up the girl’s staircase – presumably consequence to Lily rounding up the girls that were still out of bed and sending them away. They waited on a few seconds, Peter handing the map over to James before descending the stairs and pushing out of the portrait hole.

“Craddock or the witch?” Sirius whispered, looking to James.

James shook his head and gestured to their left. “You said the Auror’s are patrolling the halls at night?” he asked. Sirius nodded silently. “Then it’s Craddock.”

Craddock was the occupant of the painting concealing one of dozens among Hogwarts secret passages. He was also, unfortunately, an ill-tempered soul with a deviated septum. His snores would have woken the entire castle if he wasn’t so far out of the way but they were nothing when compared with his furious shouts on the occasions that they’d accidentally woken him up.

“I wonder if you can stun a portrait,” Peter asked under his breath, creeping around a corner warily.

No one answered him – not making another sound until the collective intake of breath when they reached their destination. The massive gilded frame sparkled slightly in the moonlight as Remus – the steadiest among them – endeavored to swing the portrait upwards without disturbing the sleeping Wizangamot justice.

He succeeded, allowing Sirius, James and Peter to step through the jagged cutout first following them only when he was sure they’d escaped without notice.

The way ahead was well worn, a neat cutout in the canopy of spider webs overhead. Sirius, the tallest among them, shot spark into the air, singeing anything that threatened to entangle itself in his hair. In front of him, James was handing the map over to Remus for safe keeping - evidently sure that no one had been following them.

It was merciful, perhaps, that what took nearly twenty minutes of walking through the meandering cobbled paths of Hogwarts took less than ten by this far more direct route. Peter and Remus' obviously convivial conversation grew tiresome within matter of seconds but nether James or Sirius felt compelled to interrupt them until the flat path turned into shallow, stone steps, arching into a wooden ceiling - the underside of Rosemerta's floorboards. The room above them was dark and quiet. No one needed to be told to extinguish their wands while James pulled the cloak out of his pocket, draping it over his shoulders with an unnecessary flourish before gesturing for Sirius to lift up the loose board. Peter was boosting him up through the void before silence fell again.

Quiet didn't last long as a disembodied arm began setting bottles in a neat row for them to take. Their little heists were a finely honed machine - something they'd done so many times before it no longer required any conversation.

They left Rosemerta light by almost twenty bottles, carefully replacing the heavy plank before heading back up to the castle through their passage way.

"Don't you ever worry she'll figure out it's us who've been doing the knicking?" Peter asked when he was sure his voice wouldn't carry into the bar. They'd left Rosemerta, as they always did, almost twenty bottles light.

Had his hands not been full, Sirius may have reached up and thumped him aside the head. Fortunately for Peter, eighteen oddly shaped bottles didn't carry themselves and, with his pocket stuffed, his hands were still otherwise occupied. James opted to say it for him, rolling his eyes."If you're not up to it, the rest of us can make it without you." It wasn't a real threat, but where Peter was concerned, James needn't have bothered - Peter never would have disappointed James by choice.

Mercifully, Remus elected to change the subject before Sirius' snickering and James' sarcastic commentary made it worse, shifting the bundle in his arms and looking back over his shoulder. "What is the occasion for the early trip?" he asked politely. Hanger on though Peter might have been, no one was more out of place during activity of questionable morality than Remus. He relished in the thrill but never the risk - far and above, the most responsible among them.

"Early?" Sirius asked, deflecting the question. "It's been a full day since we got here. We've been remiss in not doing it sooner."

"Is that the case?" he remarked, raising an eyebrow.







Remus let it drop and, mercifully, no one else picked the subject up again. By the next morning, it was nearly forgotten and, by that afternoon, there were too many other things to discuss. "Oy, Sirius!" James barked, waiving a hand in front of his friends face and nearly landing his elbow in a pie. "Can I interest you in a little conversation about a thing I like to call mischief?"

"I have detention this evening," Sirius reminded him.

"If you're going to miss out on a bit of mischief for something as silly as a detention you're a complete tosser," James argued.

"The detention came straight from Dumbledore," Remus pointed out, sliding into the seat next to Sirius. "If he skives off, we'll all regret it, won't we?"

"And on that note," Sirius muttered, getting to his feet and grabbing his school bag from the bench beside him. James rolled his eyes, evidently resigning himself to the reality of the matter.

"Are you aware you have feathers in your hair?" he asked, his attention turned to Remus again. Remus explained but Sirius didn't hear it, already on his way out of the Great Hall.

The Astronomy Tower, he supposed, had it's own particular charm but that charm was lessened, somewhat, by the fact that most of the hours he'd spent here had been polishing telescopes by hand with a bit of Madame Glossy's Silver Polish and a few spent rags.

It took the better part of two very quiet hours, Professor Sinistra flitting in and out only once, to shine them appropriately but the work was a small price to pay in exchange for getting to skip both the heartfelt lecture from Dumbledore and a few hours with Snape. He was coming out the bottom of the staircase when someone else materialized, as if from no where.

"Well, Sirius, how funny that I should see you here," Dumbledore announced jovially, clapping a hand on Sirius' shoulder.

"Funny indeed, Professor, that you might find a student serving a detention you assigned where and when you assigned it," he muttered under his breath. Dumbledore wasn't a subtle man, but it annoyed Sirius when he tried to play the part of the accidental mentor rather than the overbearing Headmaster - perhaps more when he'd spent two hours serving a detention he'd only complied with because he thought it would get him out of having this conversation. Still, it was clear that Dumbledore had something he wished to say and, in six years at Hogwarts, he'd yet to see that desire be foiled by anyone - nature included. Arguing the point just didn't seem pertinent.

Dumbledore just smiled merrily back at him, directing him into the corridor. "Could I trouble you to take a walk with an old man?" he asked, aiming his wand at the pail, it's weight abruptly leaving his hand as it blinked out of existence. Idly, Sirius wondered what became of all of the things that Dumbledore vanished but before he could carry that line of thinking too far, Dumbledore was speaking again. "I hear you've gone to live with the Potters," he said matter of factly. "They're great friends of mine - George and Mary - and they do have an affection for you. I've wondered though, what inspired your decision to leave home?"

"Not one to beat around the bush there, are you?" Sirius asked in spite of himself.

"I find, in situations such as this, being forthright is an underestimated virtue," he replied, unperturbed.

"Suffice it to say, my family and I have very little in common," he answered finally.

The response was cold and unemotional but Dumbledore took it for what it was, his smile dipping into sadness for a fraction of an instant before stopping outside his office and squeezing Sirius' shoulder. "You're correct, Sirius - you've never had much in common with your family and that, I feel, is a great gift to us all." He waited a few more moments before stepping up the stone gargoyle and away from Sirius. "You will forgive me, Sirius. I'm afraid there is a bit of correspondence I've been neglecting, though I do think I see your friend Mr.Lupin just around the corner. I trust you can find your way back to your common room without getting into trouble."

"What was that all about?" Remus asked a few seconds later, confident they were out of ear shot.

"The man never misses an opportunity to pontificate," Sirius explained, opening the nearest broom closet door and tossing his supplies inside. He was agitated - stiff for reasons he couldn't quite explain and made all the more uneasy for the tension.

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine," he answered quickly, shaking off the creeping discomfort in his muscles with a shudder and picking up his step.

"Lily told me a bit of what happened the other night," Remus said, jogging a bit to catch up. "You spoke to your brother?"

"I wouldn't call it speaking to him," Sirius spat, rounding on Remus. "And I wouldn't exactly call Lily apprised of all the details though it's probably not all together unlike her to run her mouth over things she doesn't understand."

Remus rolled his eyes, ignoring Sirius' fury. "Oh come off it, she's not exactly running her mouth - telling one of your best mates. She was worried about you. Your family doesn't make a fat lot of sense to people who haven't seen it for themselves," he argued, his tone even.

"And I suppose you explained it to her, did you?"

"I told her not to stick her nose into other people's business, actually," he answered, rising into anger now. "But I thought, since I had the information, I might try to find out a bit more about why this good friend of mine has been acting like a git since we got back to school. Obviously a misplaced effort on my part, my apologies."






A steady application of alcohol made getting to the next Hogsmeade weekend remarkably easy. Remus, level headed as he was, forgave Sirius his outburst without another mention. Lily, having tried to corner him a half-dozen times since his argument with Regulus, seemed to lose interest in sympathizing with him after a particularly comical altercation between Snape and James and Regulus hadn't been bold enough - or perhaps interested enough - to pay their side of the castle another visit. It left an inordinate amount of time free to do things like throw licorice snaps at James during Quidditch practice and tease Peter as he tried to mix up a batch of Cupid Crystals for Erin Brooks.

Still, it was a surprise to find the Great Hall in a flurry of activity and mittens on Saturday morning. Going into the tiny village that skirted Hogwarts lost it's appeal when it took place under the watchful gaze of the entire staff - it was far more entertaining, Sirius felt, with somewhat less company. The knowledge that the common room - if not the entire tower - would be a veritable ghost town still held it's charm as he considered the mountain of vinyl stacked haphazardly in his trunk.

"Are you coming then?" James asked from across the table, a waffle suspended midway between his plate and his mouth.

Sirius shook his head instead of answering, gesturing toward the ceiling with his spoon.

"Afraid of a little rain, Black?" one of the Slytherins asked, pushing past them.

"It's not good for the leather," he answered glibly, turning back to his cereal.

An hour later, he found himself having the same conversation.

"Come off it, Sirius - It's a Hogsmeade weekend," Erin Brooks was arguing. Perched on the arm of the sofa Sirius was lounging on, she'd been pleading with him since she came into the common room twenty minutes ago, his mild interest turning into vague irritation after about fifteen.

"It's always a Hogsmeade weekend," he pointed out, thumbing the newspaper in his hand and examining the margins.

"It is not! Besides, what are you going to do here by yourself?" she asked, slapping his leg playfully. He looked up to find Lily looking, as usual, annoyed.

"You'll find that Sirius can, and often does, do precisely what he likes," she interjected, seizing her friend by the arm and tugging her toward the portrait hole.

"I think we'd both find you a touch more entertaining if you gave in to what you wanted a bit more often, Lily," he replied, winking.

"Does it occur to you that you're lecherous?" she asked, glowering at him again.

He'd managed to avoid speaking to her since their, some might say, truncated conversation a week ago and he was no more eager now to have the conversation she'd been looking for that night. "I never think much of it at all," he answered, grinning as she stalked away, Erin in tow.

"I don't think it's considered a talent, putting women off like that," Remus commented as he came down the stairs.

"It ought to be when it's those two," Sirius remarked, swinging his feet onto the floor and sitting up. "Staying or going?" he asked.

"Going, I think. Though, I suppose I'll be getting my night out soon enough."

Sirius nodded his agreement before getting up. "Do you think Peter will be up for it by then?"

Remus laughed. "For your sake, one can hope. Maybe you ought to ask him to stay behind - coach him a bit?"

The suggestion had been half-sincere, but Sirius glowered at him ironically nonetheless. "Are you in on something with the Brooks girl? Trying to corner me in a back alley?" he asked, inclining an eyebrow suspiciously.

"I wish," Remus intoned, his eyes wandering across the room to look at her as he pulled on his jacket.

"Do you want me to bring something back for you?" Erin half-shouted, leaning back in through the portrait hole and looking at Sirius. "Something from Honeydukes or butterbeer maybe?"

Considering her for a fraction of a second, he grinned before slapping Remus on the back. "I've something you could take to Hogsmeade for me," he answered with a wink.

Track This Story: Feed


Write a Review

out of 10

JOIN HARRY POTTER FANFICTION


Get access to every new feature the moment it comes out.

Register Today!