The first week of school was over. How that had happened, I did not know. One minute I was getting off the Express, the next it was Friday afternoon. Just like that. The bell rang and we were dismissed from our last class of the first week of sixth year. I wanted nothing more than to go to the common room with Lily and Alice but our gossiping session had to wait. I had been summoned to a quick meeting with Professor McGonagall to go over some extra Transfigurations work she wanted to give me. I swung my backpack over my shoulder and mouthed ‘see you later’ to my friends before dashing out of the classroom.
“Come in,” she said when I knocked on her door.
“Hello professor,” I sat down at her desk. She looked at me from behind her glasses.
“Miss Silverway, I trust your first week has been good?”
“It has, thanks,” I said. “Professor.” I added quickly. She gave me the slightest hint of a smile.
“Good. I called you here because there is a project that I would like you to take on, if you are interested,” she said. “Where you decide to take on this extra work or not won’t affect your N.E.W.T. results, this would be separate to your normal school work.”
The next words were out of my mouth before I could even think to stop myself.
“If I do it, will you stop forcing me to work with Black during your class?” I shouldn’t have said it, I told everyone it didn’t bother me, and I almost believed it.
But it wasn’t true. I hated him. I hated him because he had made me feel so insignificant for so long. I hated him because all I ever got from him was cold indifference. No matter how hard I tried to act as if it was nothing, working with him and being civil to him every transfigurations lessons when he couldn’t even remember my name took a massive toll on me, and I was tired of it.
“Who are you?”
His question on the first day back still stung, deep down. Over the years, I had got used to him forgetting my name, or getting it wrong. I was used to him not being fazed when someone else pointed it out to him, as if it didn’t matter to him that it was humiliating. But, it turns out, I wasn’t used to it enough.
“Miss Silverway, are you still with me?” McGonagall asked. Her voice brought me out of my reverie.
“Sorry Professor, I got lost in thought,” I apologized. She looked at me and I swear a small smile was playing on her lips.
“I said if you master the task I’d like to set you, you won’t have to work with Mr. Black again. In fact, you won’t have to work with anyone again, you’ll be free to work on your Transfiguration skills on your own.”
“I’m in,” I breathed out, a bit too eagerly.
“I haven’t told you what I have in mind yet.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll do it.” I sounded like a pathetic little child, but I didn’t care. For my own sanity and to preserve whatever dignity I had left, I needed to be as far away from Sirius Black as possible at all times.
“Very well then. How would you like to become an animagus?”
“There’s a party tonight in the common room,” Alice informed us as she walked through the door to our room. I had only just arrived from my meeting with McGonagall and was still reeling from it.
“What are we celebrating?” Lily asked without looking up from the magazine she was reading.
“That we’re back,” Alice replied.
“Is it a Gryffindor party?” I asked. I dropped my bag on the floor next to my trunk with a heavy ‘thump’ before turning to look at my blond friend.
“It is. I think Potter and his friends are smuggling in some drinks,” she smiled. Alice loved a party and now, so did I. “I heard talk of firewhisky!”
“Oooh, fun!” I beamed. “What are we wearing?” I asked, walking over and opening her closet.
“That’s MY closet,” an outraged Alice said.
“I know! What are you wearing? I need some help,” I said. She nodded and hurried over.
“I think I’m going to go with the black top I got at the end of last year” Lily said from her bed. I looked at her over my shoulder to see she’d put her magazine down.
“Oh, that was so cute! Nice one,” Alice replied. I nodded enthusiastically and marched to my closet.
“So, Alice, what are you thinking?”
“I got this blue blouse during the summer…” she pulled it out of her drawer and showed it to us. It was really nice. Lily and I both nodded in approval.
“Right, that leaves me. Alice, what do you think?” I asked. She joined me by my wardrobe and looked through some of my clothes.
“When did you get this?” she asked, pulling out a navy, vaporous blouse.
“This summer. I haven’t worn it yet.”
“Well, there you go. You’re wearing it today,” she said.
“Does it go with this?” I showed them a denim mini skirt.
“It does! You are going in for the kill!” Alice clapped. I rolled my eyes.
“I am not. I have a boyfriend, remember,” I sighed. “But I do want people to notice me, you know? No more guarded and introverted Jocelyn,” I declared. Lily eyed me carefully.
“Don’t let that idiot Black get to you, Jo. He is an absolute moron,” Lily said. Ugh, I hate it how intuitive she is.
“It is just so wrong, you know? Just because I didn’t grow a massive pair of boobs in fourth year doesn’t mean I’m not an interesting person. Someone worth remembering.” I took a deep breath in. I wasn’t about to get emotional over this.
“Hey, we know that. But boys are boys, Jo.”
“Which is why you’re dating an actual man!” Alice declared.
“Yes. He’s not a silly sixteen year old, he’s an adult, and he noticed you,” Lily said.
“And he remembers you,” Alice chimed in, beaming.
“You’re damn right he does,” I wiggled my eyebrows and they burst out laughing.
“Plus, you now do have some impressive boobs, my friend. I bet you my entire eye shadow collection nobody will be forgetting you anymore,” Alice said, shaking her upper body in a silly way. Lily chortled.
“You are obsessed, Alice.” I rolled my eyes.
I hate to say that Alice was right. When I emerged from the girls’ staircase, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that at least four guys were checking me out. I felt a nervous smile on my lips, and took a deep breath as I stepped into the common room.
“Hello Jocelyn, did you have a good summer?” I turned around quickly and came face to face with Gryffindor’s Keeper, Matt Wood. He was a nice bloke and he got along well with Lily.
“Hi Matt, yeah, I did. You?”
“Awesome. So, are you just going to stand by the staircase all night?” he smiled. I could feel the blush spreading, but I’d be damned if I was going to make a fool of myself.
“Give a girl a chance to arrive to the party!” I said, smiling. He chuckled and then he offered me his arm.
He led me to the table where various drinks were displayed, and I busied myself pouring a small glass of fire whisky. I hadn’t tried it before and was praying to Merlin it was similar to muggle whiskey. The thought made me miss Jax intensely, but I pushed the image of his handsome face to the back of my head, determined to have a good time.
“Whoa, someone’s in the mood to party!” Matt said eyeing my choice of drink.
“I just never really liked butter beer that much,” I admitted.
I saw Lily and Alice out of the corner of my eye and had to use all my willpower to not roll my eyes. It was evident they had waited to come downstairs on purpose, so something like this would happen.
“So, Jocelyn, how’s first N.E.W.T.s year treating you so far?” Matt asked me casually.
“You can call me Jo.”
“Alright,” he chuckled. “So, go on, Jo.”
“So far so good, but then again it’s been a week, so who knows,” I shrugged. He tilted his head to the side.
“I hear you’re quite the witch,” he told me.
“Really?” not that it wasn’t true, I just couldn’t believe anyone in school would be talking about me.
“Yeah, everybody knows you’re the Transfiguration Boss Lady. Don’t try to act all humble with me,” he smiled openly.
“I guess word gets around,” I said, shrugging.
“To be fair, you are quite a mystery, but people aren’t blind, you know? And the gossip of your O.W.L. exam spread like wildfire. I can’t remember last time someone aced a N.E.W.T. level transfiguration spell during their practical O.W.L.” he looked genuinely impressed and I felt myself blushing again.
“Oh, that. I forgot about that,” I said lamely.
I had stood out due to my academic achievements since first year, but that never went hand in hand with popularity unless you were, of course, James Potter or Sirius Black, so I tried really hard to keep a low profile when it came to my grades and results. I had struggled enough with my lack of popularity to add ‘she’s a know-it-all’ to the list of issues.
“It’s really impressive, I like a smart girl,” he said, beaming at me.
“Thanks Matt,” I returned the smile, feeling a bit better.
The conversation became easier and easier after that. Before I knew it, we had been talking for over an hour. Matt was funny and engaging, and he listened as much as he spoke. Eventually, we joined the group of people Lily and Alice were talking to and enjoyed the rest of the party all together. It was a lot of fun. When I went to bed that night, I realized that for the first time ever I had made it through a Hogwarts party without feeling invisible, shy or leaving it early. Big Win.
Sundays were my favourite day of the week. Nobody, and I mean literally nobody, was awake before 9am. The grounds were empty and quiet, and the air was fresh and smelled of dew, grass and the fast approaching autumn. I had been running for almost an hour, but I still didn’t feel like it was enough. I had so much energy to burn, so many thoughts to sort through.
The past three weeks had been a whirlwind. After our conversation at the party, Matt now made an effort to talk to me often between classes. He even volunteered to be my partner during Charms a couple of times, and him and his best friend Cal sat with Lily, Alice and I for a few meals. As it turns out, when people realize you have expanded your social circle, even by one person, they take it as an invitation to associate with you.
It was like being in a completely different school. No longer did I walk the corridors with Lily and Alice, quietly fading into the background when people said hello to them. No, people said hello to me now. I was still getting used to it, but it felt good, and most importantly, it felt natural. I wasn’t forcing anything or going up to people to try and become friends with them. Things were just evolving day after day on their own.
Lily and Alice were delighted. They loved the spotlight, and instead of feeling upset it was shining on me for once, they just rejoiced in the fact that it was now big enough for us three.
As my feet pounded the grass, I went through the latest gossip in my head. Alice had hooked up with some Ravenclaw guy on Friday evening, and I wondered whether we were about to be introduce to Alice’s future husband number 17. Chuckling to myself, I decided to head back towards the school and do some stretches. Enough running for one day. Lost in thought as I was, I didn’t see him until it was too late.
“Silverway?” I looked up and straight into a pair of breathtaking hazel eyes.
I hated to admit it, but James Potter was almost as handsome as his side-kick. They easily made the top two spots of every list every girl in school ever made about boys.
“Oh, I didn’t see you there, Potter,” I said.
“Ehm… what were you doing?” he asked.
“Running,” I said in a ‘isn’t it obvious’ tone.
“Because I like it.” I shrugged.
“Do you always train like this?” he asked. I frowned. What?
“How long were you running for?” he asked me.
“Erhm… not sure. Maybe an hour and a half? Why?”
“Well, you’re in great shape,” he said. “Athletic shape, I mean”
“Thanks? What’s this about, Potter?” I highly doubted he had come up to me to tell me I was in good shape. He barely ever spoke to me at all, probably afraid someone would find out he used to be friends with a nobody.
“Ehm… well, I remember you like flying and I’m told you are now very good at it,” he looked at me intently. “And I’ve got two open spots on my team. And I thought maybe you're interested.”
“Are you asking me to try out for the Quidditch team?” I was dumbfounded. “Wait, who told you what?”
“I don’t kiss and tell, Silverway,” he smirked.
Merlin, was it me or was he looking better than usual this morning? I never thought I would ever look at James Potter this way, but I guess being friends when little doesn’t make you immune to absurdly good looks if you go on to pretend you don’t know each other at school. But that’s a story for another day.
“Look, I know you can fly, and rumour also has it you ride a Nimbus 700. Is that true?” he said, shrugging.
“I do have a Nimbus 700,” was all I could say.
Stating a fact was easy. My mind was running away with thoughts of me on the Quidditch team and it was scaring me. I looked around mildly alarmed by the possibility of someone overhearing, but the rest of the team members were busy with the equipment a safe distance away.
“I… what positions are open?” did I want a chance at a spot on the team? I loved Quidditch with a passion but playing as part of a team was something I’d never done before.
“Does that mean you’re interested?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never played competitively before. I could be crap.”
“That’s why we have tryouts, to find out.”
“What are the positions?” I insisted. I couldn’t deny that I was furiously curious.
I knew the biggest transformation this summer had brought upon me had nothing to do with looks, but with my new found confidence. I had been stepping outside of my comfort zone day in and day out, and it had all been really good so far. Perhaps this was the cherry on the top. Or, if I was terrible at the tryouts and people saw it, it could be the first ever-recorded death by embarrassment.
“I need a Beater and a Seeker,” he replied. My mouth formed a perfect O at that.
“What happened to Leroy?” he was a seventh year and had been Beater for the past three. He was very, very good.
“Leroy and Lucie both quit the team together, they’re under too much pressure with N.E.W.T.s work. And, they are dating, so every spare second they get they want to spend sucking face instead of training,” Potter made a face of disgust so intense it was almost funny.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I am not,” he said indignantly.
James Potter was an arrogant idiot (or toerag, as Lily loved to call him) most of the time, but Quidditch was his passion. When it came to it, he took it seriously and was very committed. The idea that someone might want to ditch it voluntarily was atrocious to him. I was inclined to agree, in spite of myself.
“I’m not sure I can be your Beater Potter. But I’ll try my luck with the Snitch,” I said. This wasn’t a step outside of my comfort zone; this was a freaking leap of faith. Merlin, I was scared.
“Are you sure? I was kind of hoping you knew how to swing a bat.”
“I find that mildly offensive,” I said. He chuckled.
“Try out for both, let the team decide. We’re the pros, after all.”
I looked at him again. Bad idea, he was distracting. His hazel eyes were intense, and his untidy hair gave him the bad boy vibe I liked so much. Same kind of vibe Jax had. Ugh, the last thing I wanted was to start thinking of Jax. Focus, Jocelyn, do you want to try out for the Quidditch team? I asked myself. This was the first time we had open positions in two years. This wasn’t likely to happen again before I graduated. And I did love Quidditch. Okay, fine.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” I nodded. “Do I have time to change?”
“I’m afraid not, but you’re wearing sports gear anyway. Do you mind?” his eyes traveled up and down my body and, I noticed with a jolt, not as quickly as if he'd just been checking my clothing.
For a split second, I thought about covering myself with my arms but then I realized there was no reason to. I was wearing perfectly appropriate black running gear and if James Potter liked the way the fabric hugged my body, I was going to take it as a compliment. So, I kept my arms by my sides and nodded.
“Nah, let’s do this.”
As I approached the team and the people who had come to try out today, I felt increasingly nervous. I loved Quidditch, and I loved nothing more than cheering for Gryffindor every match. Was I fooling myself thinking I had a chance to actually join them and play?
I hadn’t brought my broom or my wand with me, so I had to borrow one of the spare ones available. It was pretty crap, but it would have to do. As I stepped out and in front of the team, I felt all their eyes on me. I could do this.
“Jocelyn Silverway, tryout for…” I looked at James questioningly.
“Silverway is trying out for both positions at my request, so let’s start with Seeker,” he told the others.
They nodded. Black looked at me with an almost lazy expression on his face, as if he couldn’t be bothered to even watch my tryout. It made me angry.
I hit the ground and soared. As soon as they were out of my range of vision, I relaxed. I had always loved flying. Much like running, it gave me a chance to escape. I used to think flying for an audience would make me nervous or uncomfortable. After all, I was not used to people paying attention to me. But I found that all my shyness, all my doubts and reservations vanished when I was riding my broom. I flew, and flew, twirled and dived, took my hands off the handle, even stood up on it, and kept going as the team threw challenge after challenge at me.
By the time I landed, I was destroyed. Maybe trying out for two positions after a long run had not been the smartest idea. Panting, I got off the broom and put it upright to support myself on it.
“That was quite the show,” said Annie. She was a Chaser, like Potter. I smiled at her.
“Thanks, Annie,” I said weakly.
“Thank you everyone for trying out for the two positions today. We will discuss as a team and put up the announcement this evening in the common room,” said Potter to the small crowd.
I nodded in acknowledgment and turned around to leave, but I had barely managed a step when I felt someone grabbing my arm. I turned around and found myself staring into impossibly grey eyes.
“You know, if I’d ever seen you fly before I would have never forgotten your name.”
I couldn’t do anything else but stare unattractively at him. Five long years. It had taken five years for Sirius Black to speak a sentence to me that wasn’t humiliating and longer than a couple of words. He was watching me, clearly expecting me to say something. What did I want to say? What could I say?
I stood a little more upright despite my tired body’s protests and looked at him with all the dignity I could muster.
“If that’s your attempt at an apology, let me tell you it sucks,” I was extremely glad my voice sounded a lot calmer than I felt.
“I have nothing to apologise for,” he said, haughtily.
“Right,” I turned around, ready to leave. He sidestepped me and stood in front of me, blocking my path.
“Wait, wait. Fine, okay. I’m sorry I found it hard to remember your name. Happy?” he ran a hand through his long dark hair.
“Happy? What’s your issue?” I couldn’t believe this guy.
“What more do you want, Silverway? If you knew me at all you’d realize how rare it was that I even said that,” he replied, visibly annoyed.
I was outraged. How dare he be irritated? Does he think a lousy ‘I’m sorry’ makes up for years of mistreatment?
“Fine, whatever you say, Black. Did you want anything or can I go now?” I just didn’t have the energy required to fight with him or talk to him.
“I wanted to check what position you actually want on the team. Because you’ll make the team, I can guarantee you that. You flew better than anybody else despite having a borrowed broom,” I was so not expecting that.
“I… I don’t… either is fine,” I said eventually. He smirked, winked at me and left. Just like that.
I let my feet carry me of their own volition, trusting habit would take me to the Gryffindor Tower because I was too shocked to engage in any thinking, I just couldn’t. My brain had put all its power into figuring out how this had happened. Sirius Black had a conversation with me, a real conversation, with several sentences and even an apology. A lousy one, but contrary to his belief, I did know apologizing wasn’t a thing for him. I was confused, and intrigued, and oddly excited at the same time. I felt like the world was upside down. It was dizzying.
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