- Chapter Eleven -
In the Library
"I want to get back at the Slytherins," said James suddenly, stopping dead in the middle of the lawn.
They had headed into the grounds after lunch and were walking around, talking idly among themselves. Above the four boys, a watery September sun spoked out from behind a cloud and a light breeze moved around them.
"Yeah, I've been feeling like that myself," said Sirius bitterly. "You know, if we don't do something now, they'll think they can carry on walking all over people."
James shrugged, gazing over the grass at the Whomping Willow in the distance. "I was thinking of just getting revenge on Snape, actually," he said. "I've already said I don't like him and he's still hanging around with Lily..."
Remus frowned and looked at the Willow too. "So you're going to get revenge just because he's friends with someone you happen to like? Doesn't that sound a bit... spiteful to you?"
Both James and Sirius looked at him.
Remus stepped away from them. "I mean, of course you're not spiteful... I just think that maybe you should find another... another motive for taking it out on Severus."
Sirius pulled a face. "You mean Snivellus?" he said disgustedly.
"I- I- Well... well, yes."
James considered it for a moment. "Does the fact that he's an arrogant, slimy toerag count?"
In spite of himself, Remus smiled. "Possibly..."
Sirius grinned. "Well, that's settled then. We now have two reasons for hating Snape. Do you need any more?"
Remus looked at Peter, then back at the others. "I guess Snape did laugh at Peter. And that wasn't very nice of him-"
Peter nodded, more eager to join in the conversation now he was sure he didn't need to take a side. He didn't want to side with Remus and risk upsetting James and Sirius, but if Remus agreed with them...
"He probably deserves to have something horrible happen to him," he said squeakily. "But, if we are going to do something, what can we do?"
James frowned. "It would have to be something humiliating for it to work properly. And it'd have to be impressive..."
"A spell?" Sirius suggested. "Snivellus probably doesn't know much magic, yet. We could learn something he doesn't and use it against him."
"What kind of spell?" asked Remus thoughtfully. "We can't use anything too complex... Where will we find something?"
Peter blinked. To him, the answer was obvious. "Um... the library?" he said slowly. "We must be able to find something in there."
"You know what, Pete, you're right. The library would be a good place to start," said James, nodding. He turned around and strode back the way they'd come. "Hurry up. We can look now if we're quick."
Remus, Sirius and Peter scrambled after him.
"N-now?" asked Remus, as though the idea was ridiculous. "But... but..."
Peter checked his watch, then Sirius grabbed his wrist and checked it too.
"Uh, James?" he said, dropping Peter's arm and ignoring the smaller boy's protests. "James, Peter's watch says it's almost the end of lunch. We're going to be late for History of Magic."
James didn't stop walking. "Since when have you cared about being late?" he called back over his shoulder.
Sirius sighed, dragging Peter and Remus after him. "I was saying it more for Remus' benefit than my own. He's already been late to two classes today. He'll get detention if he's late to another one."
Remus tugged his arm out of Sirius' grip. "Too right, I will. And I don't really want to spend my first day here sitting in a classroom writing lines, thanks."
They reached the Entrance Hall.
"We won't be late, I promise," said James as they hurried up the marble staircase. "At least, we won't be if we're quick. Come on!"
Remus sighed. "Oh, all right... But if we are late-"
"If we're late, I'll take the blame," interrupted James firmly. "But I'm ninety per cent sure we won't be."
Peter followed the others down the corridor. "Only ninety? That's not exactly certain, is it? And where is the library, anyway? Do you know where you're going?"
James sped up. "Not really, no. But it must be around here somewhere..." He peered around, hoping to see something that would give him a clue.
Where was the library?
"We could do with a map, huh?" Sirius joked as they began moving again. "It's annoying being a first-year."
"Yeah," said James, leading the other three down another corridor. "But give it a couple of weeks and we'll know our way around... Hey, look! This must be the right place!"
They came to a halt outside a room full of books. The open door read 'Hogwarts Library' and, below that, a smaller sign bore the words 'Librarian: Irma Pince'.
"What's the time, Pete?" Sirius asked Peter as they moved through the door into the room.
"We have ten minutes left," replied Peter, who was looking around him.
Remus looked delightedly at the shelves.
There were hundreds of books. Thick books and thin books and big books and small books... Books with leather binding, books that were faded and dusty...
He couldn't help being amazed.
Sirius nudged him. "Oi, stop gawping, gormless. We'll have time to look another day. I thought you didn't want to be late."
Remus stopped gazing at the books and turned to Sirius with his arms folded. "I'm not 'gormless', thank you very much!"
"Whatever," said Sirius shrugging. "Now, come on. Let's get spell-hunting!"
The four boys split up, each heading towards a different section of the library. Peter scurried off to search a shelf behind a group of Ravenclaws, while James checked the row of books two shelves behind.
Sirius and Remus both went to look in the area furthest from the door.
"Let's just find as many books as we can," Sirius told Remus before they moved to opposite ends of the aisle. "We can look through them later."
Remus nodded and the pair of them began to search.
By the time the bell rang, signalling the end of break, all four boys had a decent stack of books each, although Remus' pile was the tallest.
"I found some good stuff on hexes," said James, as they hurried out of the library. "At least, I think it's good stuff - I haven't actually read any of the books yet. The titles look good, anyway."
"Same here," said Remus, holding up a copy of 'Confronting the Faceless'. "And I got this out for a bit of background reading."
"What is it?" asked James curiously.
"A book on Defence Against the Dark Arts."
"It looks complicated."
Remus frowned at the faded cover. "Not really. It's a lot easier to understand if you know the basic principles."
"Do either of you know where the History of Magic classroom is?" asked Sirius suddenly. He hadn't been listening at all to James' exchange with Remus. "Because, if we don't find it soon, we're going to be late again."
"And I don't think we'll be let off detention this time," added Peter, who was trying to stuff his books into his already-full bag.
"Give it up, mate," James advises him. The bag looked horribly like it was going to split. "I'd just carry those books, if I was you."
Peter nodded and tucked the books under his arm.
By some miracle or another, they reached the History of Magic classroom just in time to start the lesson.
Frank Longbottom gave the boys a thumbs up as they settled themselves in a row at the back. The girl next to him smiled cheerfully.
James dumped his books in a pile next to his bag, which he hastily kicked under the desk. Next to him, three loud thumps told him Sirius, Remus and Peter had done the same.
History of magic, however, turned out to be the most boring lesson so far.
Professor Binns, their ancient and shrivelled teacher, was a ghost who floated through the blackboard to enter the classroom. His voice was a dull drone and the class soon fell into a stupor.
Peter nearly fell asleep on Remus' shoulder.
James doodled absently on a piece of parchment, staring across the classroom at Lily Evans' red hair as he did so.
Sirius was chewing his quill and Remus was reading the last of 'Great Expectations' under the table.
Frank and his best friend Alice were playing Exploding Snap on top of their desk, not seeming to care about being caught.
Professor Binns, meanwhile, noticed nothing about his students that could force him to stop the lesson. He seemed so immersed in talking about Emeric the Evil and Uric the Oddball that he didn't have room to think of anything else.
In fact, James half wondered whether the teacher fully knew they were there.
He didn't even stop droning when Frank and Alice's cards exploded, emitting a very loud bang and a lot of sparks.
The explosion was, however, enough to rouse Peter from his open-mouthed doze. He sat up with a yelp and looked wildly around him until Remus pointed out that the cards had made the racket.
Then Peter returned to staring into space, while Remus - who'd finished his book - resigned himself to taking notes.
Sirius, still chewing his quill, did not move and nor did James. Staring at Lily Evans' hair, it seemed, was not something he could be easily distracted from.
At last, the double lesson ended and the class fled from the classroom, so eagerly that they looked like a stampede.
"Merlin's beard, that was the dullest thing I've ever had to sit through," James overheard Frank say to his friend as they went to dinner.
"I never want to face that lesson again," agreed Alice, yawning widely and pushing a dark strand of hair out of her eyes.
"You'd have thought Binns would've been fired by now," grumbled Sirius as they bolted their food at the Gryffindor table. "His lessons are more boring than a load of flobberworms. No kidding."
"I almost fell asleep," said Peter through a mouthful of broccoli.
Remus was reading his notes, eating one-handedly and frequently missing his mouth. "I think you did fall asleep, Peter," he said. He turned a page and examined his own slanting handwriting. "These notes aren't much good. I wasn't listening for the first half of the lesson so none of this makes sense."
"I wasn't listening to any of the lesson," said Sirius. "Why waste your time on something that boring? But it serves you right for reading dull muggle books under the table."
"Dull? Who said the book was dull? Anyway, at least I wasn't just chewing my quill." Remus spilt peas all over the table for the third time in a row.
James brushed some of them off his lap, unperturbed. "You know, Remus, if you stopped reading your notes and focused on actually eating, maybe you wouldn't keep showering us with vegetables."
Remus looked at the mess he'd made, as though he'd only just realised it was there. "Sorry," he said, tucking his notes inside his bag, which he hadn't bothered to drop off at Gryffindor tower. "I wasn't really concentrating."
"We know," said Peter, who was also pea-spattered. He watched as Remus tried to remove the peas from all the places they'd fallen. "So... About those books we got in the library..."
"I haven't looked at them yet," said James and Sirius simultaneously.
Remus, however, finished dealing with the peas before saying, "I've read some of the books before. And my dad taught me a couple of hexes before I got the letter to come here."
Sirius stared at him, open-mouthed. "How come you didn't mention that earlier?" he exclaimed, shaking his head. "We wouldn't have had to go to the library then."
Remus just shrugged. "Well, they're... not very advanced spells," he said modestly. "They're just things I happen to know. I've never actually used any of them."
"What do they do?" asked James, eagerly leaning forwards.
Remus bit his lip. "Er... I don't know exactly. But I know the general effects. There's one to stop someone speaking, I think. And there's one that'll turn things a different colour..."
Sirius sniggered. "Let's turn the Slytherins' robes orange," he said, imagining the look on Snape's face when he realised his robes had been dyed.
But, surprisingly, James cut across him. "Wouldn't they notice, though?" he said. "Wouldn't they see they're robes are orange and tell a teacher? And that teacher would just put it right again. It'd be a waste of a prank."
"He has a point," said Peter reasonably.
"He does," agreed Remus. "And it would be a waste of the spell."
Sirius sighed. "What can we do them?" he asked. "Do you know any other hexes, Remus?"
Remus stood up and swung his bag over his shoulder. "Let's continue this in the common room," he said.
Thanks for reading! I can't thank you enough if you've read the whole story so far. There's more to come - I promise!
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