"Do you guys reckon they'll question us about the Invisibility Charm?"
Remus looked around the table. He and the other guys were sitting in the library. This was their fifth year at Hogwarts and they were preparing themselves for the OWL's they were supposed to pass at the end of this year. Well, at least Remus was still trying to prepare himself properly. It was a little different with the other Marauders, who didn't seem particularly interested in finishing their Charms homework.
Peter was reading one of those comic books about a centaur with superpowers he was addicted to. Sirius couldn't care less. His Charms book might be opened at the right page, but he had been doodling on a scrap piece of parchment for the last hour. And James hadn't looked down at his homework at all. He had been busy gazing at another table near the back of the library, where their Gryffindor classmates Lily Evans, Mary Woods and Brice McDonald were studying.
None of the guys had bothered to answer his question, so Remus was forced to repeat it. "Do you expect they'll include the Invisibility Charm?"
James slowly tore his gaze away from Lily, who was currently putting her shiny red hair up in a loose bun. "What?"
Remus repeated his question for the third time and James shrugged. "Who cares? The OWL's take place in June. It's February."
"It can't hurt to start studying on time for once," Remus said and he looked over at Sirius. "What do you think?"
Sirius looked up and huffed. "What if they did? I'll pass the whole lot with honors, I'm sure. And the Invisibility Charm is not that difficult."
"That's not true," Remus countered. "It's about turning objects or body parts invisible. That's doable, but anything but easy."
"Course it is, Moony," James said, picking up his wand from the table and pointing it straight at Sirius's nose, who was sitting across him. "I'll show you: Occaeco."
With a flick of his wand, James made Sirius's nose disappear completely. Peter had an uncontrollable fit of laughter and even Remus couldn't help but snort: the lack of a nose even made a good looking guy like Sirius look ridiculous.
"See?" James grinned. "Piece of cake."
Sirius, who was laughing the hardest of all, crumpled the piece of parchment he had been doodling on and chucked it at James's head. "Give me my nose back."
Sirius's voice sounded higher and slightly nasal, which made the other guys laugh even more. "Alright mate," James said once he had managed to calm down slightly. "But only because you asked nicely."
He muttered the counter-curse and Sirius examined his newly restored nose. "Thanks. You know, that was-"
He was about to say Professor Flitwick would have been impressed with James's magical abilities, when his eyes fell on a skinny-looking guy, who was standing in the aisle between their table and a large book case. "Snivellus…" he whispered maliciously, his grey eyes glinting.
The other Marauders followed his gaze and spotted Severus Snape, who was watching them from behind a book shelf and by the looks of it, had been doing so for quite some time.
"That annoying little prick," James growled. He waved his wand in a complicated-looking way, which made all the books from the top shelf of the book case fall down with a loud crash.
Severus could not duck or step aside in time and several books landed right on top of him. Several students in the library, including Lily, Mary and Brice, looked back at the sound of rapid falling books. Right when Severus wanted to crawl back on his feet, Sirius lazily flicked his wand, making a particularly heavy Potions-book drop on top of Severus's head with a loud thud.
Severus's skin turned even paler than usual and his dark eyes were glinting behind his long black hair that was hanging in front of his face.
Sirius wasn't impressed. "You better reconsider the next time you're about to eavesdrop on us, Snivellus, or I'll drop some Doxy droppings on your head instead."
Many students had abandoned their homework to witness this far more interesting event. Peter was watching James and Sirius excitedly, with his mouth hanging open. Remus on the other hand frowned when he shot a look at Severus, who was gritting his teeth, which was never a good sign.
"You're going to regret this, Black," Severus hissed furiously and he reached for his wand.
"One against four, Snivelly," James said nastily. "Think about it, before you-" His eyes shot to the aisle next to the one where Severus was standing, where Madam Pince was putting some books back on the shelves.
He quickly waved his wand and the books at Severus's feet zoomed back to the shelf where they belonged, erasing all the evidence of what had happened only a minute ago.
Madam Pince was now rounding the corner. Her eyes narrowed when she spotted the Marauders sitting at the table with their wands out and Severus standing in the aisle, his wand raised, not to mention all the other students watching the scene tentatively. "What is going on here?"
"Nothing," Sirius said confidently, using his signature smile. "James was just pointing out to Severus where he can find the book on Magical Plants from Mongolia."
Madam Pince looked from Severus to James and back. "You are standing in the Potions section. Herbology books are found at the other end of the library."
"That's what I said," James said quickly.
"Fine then," Pince said. "You lot get back to work or I will remove you firebrands from the library myself."
She walked off in the direction of the restricted section. When she was out of earshot, Severus stuffed his wand back in his robes and shot a malicious look at James and Sirius. "This isn't over yet."
Sirius huffed. "Woooooh, I'm so scared. Not."
Severus scowled and stalked off. James rolled his eyes. "Loser."
He looked at his unfinished Charms-homework. "Oh, this is hopeless. I need someone to copy this from."
As if by magic, Mary was just walking into their general direction.
"Hi guys," she said as she started to look for a book on, apparently, Potions in the book case next to their table.
"Hey Woods," Sirius grinned confidently, checking her out.
"Looking cute today."
"Keep your eyes where they belong, Black," Mary replied shortly before looking over at James. "I saw you messing around with Severus again. Do you have to keep doing that?"
James chuckled. "What can I say? He deserved it."
Mary turned her attention back to the books. "Well, it pissed Lily off. She came this close to giving you a detention." She shot a look at Remus. "You're a Prefect too, you know. Telling your friends off when they're acting like idiots might be a good idea."
Remus blushed slightly and he avoided Mary's gaze when he said: "The thing is… He was eavesdropping on us, so basically, he was out of line too."
"Ah, so you do agree James and Black were out of line?" Mary asked, looking amused.
Remus laughed. "Maybe, I don't know…"
"Hey Mary," James interrupted, looking back from staring at Lily, who was just leaving the library with Brice. "Exactly how angry was Evans?"
Mary laughed. "Let me put it this way: keep this up and she'll never go out with you."
James shot her a surprised look. "So she does want to go out with me?!"
"Now I didn't say that."
He sniggered. "Nah, you'll see. One day I will conquer that fierce redhead's heart."
"Dream on," Sirius muttered. Remus snorted, and Peter laughed before his eyes dropped to a scroll of parchment sticking out of Mary's shoulder-bag. "Hey Mary, is that your Charms homework?"
"Yes, it is, Pete. Why?"
Peter flushed at Mary's curious stare and he shot a nervous look at James, who took over. "Ah Mary, if you could help me out with this assignment, I'd be forever grateful."
"You want to copy my homework?" Mary asked, her eyebrows raised. "Again?"
James shrugged. "Well, you keep getting all these good grades, so… No seriously, this will be the last time I ask, promise."
He shot Mary the sweetest look he could muster, cocking his head to one side and squinting his eyes a bit. It looked anything but cute to Sirius (rather frightening actually), but it seemed to work on Mary. After shooting him a long look, she laughed. "Fine," she acceded and pulled the scroll of parchment out of her bag. She was about to hand it over to James when her eyes found Sirius. "Hang on a minute… Is he going to copy it too?"
James shot a quick look at Sirius, begging him to remain silent. "Well, technically, he'll be copying it from me."
Mary was already stuffing the parchment back into her bag. "Never in a million years will I be doing Black's homework."
Sirius couldn't hold himself back any longer. "Woods, why do you hate me so much?"
She stared at him, her jaw clenched. "What's not to hate?"
He rolled his eyes, understanding what this was all about. "Oh Merlin, this isn't about McDonald again, is it?"
Mary crossed her arms. "How's your latest conquest doing?"
Sirius glared back, ignoring the other guys who were exchanging exasperated looks. "We broke up."
"Fine, I did."
"After how long? One month? Dear me, that must have been a record. The girl deserves a statue. Wasn't she French?"
"Exchange student from Beauxbatons."
"And she had to go back home eventually?"
Sirius gritted his teeth. "That's what exchange students do."
Mary scowled. "How convenient for you."
Sirius was getting really annoyed with her now. "Look, what's it to you?"
"To me?" Mary echoed. "Nothing, I suppose. A good friend of mine might care, though."
She was clearly referring to Brice, who Sirius had broken up with the day after that Beauxbatons-girl arrived. The French chick hadn't been the most important reason to break up with her (Sirius had tired for Brice's obsession to solve crossword puzzles all day), but he already suspected she would not believe that excuse. And Mary's behaviour just confirmed his suspicions.
Meanwhile, Mary had turned around and was stalking off. "You stay here," James hissed at Sirius before he jumped up and hurried after Mary.
"Wait up," he said as he tried to hold her back. "What if I let you copy my Potions homework in return?"
She looked interested. "You want to make a deal?"
"Yep, we'll swap."
She chuckled. "Two Potions assignments."
James shot her a puzzled look. "What?"
"You said you wanted to make deal? I'm negotiating. The question is: how desperate are you?" She pulled the scroll of parchment from her bag and dangled it in front of James's nose. "Well?"
James groaned. "Alright."
Mary grinned, cast the parchment at him, winked and headed out of the library. James walked back to the table. "Well, I have Mary's Charms homework, but we'll be paying a high price for that."
"And what is that, Prongs?" Peter asked.
James looked at Remus. "Moony, I need to copy your Potions essay."
Later that day, the guys were hanging out in the snowy courtyard. Remus was throwing snowballs against one of the statues, James was playing around with a Snitch while Peter watched him in awe.
Sirius was talking to a sixth-year Ravenclaw girl he had been hanging around with lately. She had to go to her final class of the day and kissed him goodbye, saying she would be waiting for him in "their" broom cupboard later that night. Sirius was just telling Remus he might really like this girl when he got distracted by Mary who was crossing the courtyard, closely being followed by Billy Levin, a sixth-year Hufflepuff guy.
"Oh, but just this once, Mary," Billy was saying. "I promise you'll have a wonderful time."
Mary smiled politely. "I already told you I don't want to go with you. I can't, I have other plans."
"Meaning you're already going with someone else?"
"In a way, yes…"
"But we would have such a good time. I happen to know this place in Hogsmeade-"
"Billy," she said coercively, trying to making herself clear. "Look, it's not that difficult: you asked me to go, I declined. Whether I'm going with another guy or not won't change anything about that."
"Is he bothering you, Woods?"
Sirius had walked up to Mary and Billy, but she didn't seem to appreciate his help. On the contrary, she looked furious. Billy drew his wand immediately, looking defensive. Sirius's reputation of being cunning, unpredictable and most of all: an excellent dueller, was well-known around Hogwarts. "This is none of your business, Black," he said.
Sirius also drew his wand. "Leave her alone."
"Black," Mary started, "I can perfectly handle this my-"
Billy had tried to disarm Sirius, but he had been too slow for his opponent, who had cast Levicorpus on him with remarkable ease. "I'm going to explain it to you again," Sirius repeated while lifting the guy up a little higher, so that Billy was now floating several feet above the ground. "Apparently Woods doesn't want to go on a date with you, so leave her alone."
Billy looked embarrassed while he tried hard to keep his trousers up. "Alright," he muttered.
"What's that?" Sirius called. "I didn't hear you there, mate."
"I'll leave her alone!" Billy panted, his face turning redder by the minute.
"That's more like it," Sirius grinned, raising his wand at once, causing Billy to crash down on the ground. "Now bugger off or-"
"Mr. Black!" Professor McGonagall was standing near the entrance of the courtyard, looking irate. "What do you think you're doing?"
Sirius quickly helped Billy back on his feet, who pushed him away roughly. "Well, Billy here was bothering Mary, you see and… Well, I just thought I'd help eh… out."
McGonagall looked at Mary. "Miss Woods? What do you have to say about this?"
"Er…" a blushing Mary replied, looking embarrassed.
McGonagall had heard enough. "My office. The both of you. Now."
She turned around and walked to the hallway that led to her office. Sirius and Mary followed, both feeling apprehensive, but probably for different reasons. When Sirius passed James, his friend patted him on the shoulder and said: "Nice one, Padfoot."
Sirius winked back and walked up the stairs with his head held up high. Mary on the other hand was staring down at the floor. She finally looked at him when they were standing in front of McGonagall's office. "Why did you do that?"
Sirius shrugged. "That guy was bothering you, anyone could see that."
"I'm not a helpless damsel in distress!" she hissed, flicking her long hair over her shoulder while her blue eyes glinted with fury.
"Whatever," Sirius said, rolling his eyes, before opening the door and entering McGonagall's office. The Professor was not pleased with them. She gave them a huge sermon on the possible dangers of the Levicorpus-charm and that their behaviour had been simply intolerable. She sent them off to the common room eventually, but not without giving them a detention. They were supposed to spend the next night at the greenhouses, where Professor Sprout would put them to work.
Mary refused to talk to Sirius all day. She sent him several hateful looks at breakfast and accidentally on purpose dropped an Ashphodel-leave in Sirius's draft at Potions, so that the fluid in the flask he put on Slughorn's desk in the end looked a murky green instead of bright yellow, causing the eyebrows of their Potions Professor to raise in alarm.
That night after dinner, Sirius made his way over to the greenhouses. The path that led to the greenhouse where Sprout was expecting them was covered in fresh snow. There was only one pair of footsteps that had left their mark in the snow before him. They had to be Mary's.
Sirius reasoned she was already waiting for him with Sprout. He was right. When he entered the greenhouse, Mary was having a cup of tea with their Herbology Professor. "Ah," Sprout said when she spotted him. "Mr. Black, glad you could join us. And only two minutes late, I'm impressed."
Sirius pulled off his robes and walked over to the desk. "I'm sorry, Professor, but I was helping Peter to finish his homework and I kind off forgot the time."
He smiled apologetically and Sprout nodded. She had always had a soft spot for Sirius's charm. Contrary to Mary, who rolled her eyes.
"That's quite alright," Sprout said. "Now, I have a nice little task for you two. Those plants over there are Alihotsies. I need you to gather the fresh Alihotsy leaves and put them in these baskets. Professor Slughorn uses them for Calming Solutions."
Mary and Sirius walked to the middle of the greenhouse where about twenty large Alihotsy plants were lined up. They each grabbed a basket from a desk and were about to get to work when Sprout said: "Remember, do not eat the leaves of stick your fingers in your mouth before you washed your hands. Eating Alihotsy leaves causes hysteria. Well, I leave you to it." She smiled, gave them a final nod and left.
Sirius and Mary started to gather the leaves without saying a word. They worked in silence, but Sirius did notice Mary was glaring at him now and then. He could sense she was aching to get into another fight, but he didn't want to give her the pleasure of saying something first. He just waited, suspecting she wouldn't keep her mouth shut forever. And indeed, after another few minutes of casting him furious looks, Mary said: "Tell me, Black. Why exactly did you help me out?"
"Levin was bugging you," Sirius replied matter-of-factly while he inspected the freshness of a leave he had just gathered. "So I decided to help you out. Unless you wanted to go out with him after all?"
Mary snorted. "Merlin, no. He's so annoying. Keeps following me around."
She shook her head, laughing, and Sirius noticed (not for the first time) that she had a beautiful smile. "Seems like you did need someone to come to your rescue after all."
"Excuse me? Did I ask for help? I had it all under control."
Sirius shrugged. "Forgive me for being the courageous type."
"Yeah right," Mary snapped. "Like you really wanted to save me. You were just looking for someone to mess around with. Apparently bullying Severus wasn't enough for one day, huh?"
Sirius shot her a look. "You shouldn't be so kind to Snivellus."
"He's called Severus, Black."
"Whatever. Really, he's not as innocent as he looks. And he hates your Muggle-born guts."
"He likes Lily, though."
"Which makes him all the more hypocrite," Sirius observed.
Mary was standing on her toes to reach the top of a plant and Sirius couldn't help but stare at her long legs. She sighed when she dropped a few leaves in her basket. "I cannot believe I'm in detention with you."
"Believe me when I say this is not my ideal detention either," Sirius muttered.
Mary studied a leave more closely. "My dad is going to be furious when he hears about this."
Sirius knew Mary looked up against her father. She hated to disappoint him and was always trying to get good grades to please him. As far as Sirius knew, Mary's parents were very strict. He imagined them to be like McGonagall and Hornswoggle, their humorless Defense against the Dark Arts-teacher. He rolled his eyes. "This is only your what – second detention this year?"
"I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's not like you were the one who jinxed another student."
"My dad isn't going to care about that."
"Don't you think you're a little obsessed with your father?"
Mary huffed. "That you're consequently failing in making your parents proud!"
Sirius scowled. "Love, my parents stopped being proud the minute I got sorted into Gryffindor."
Mary shrugged, muttering something intelligible and Sirius got back to gathering leaves, a little less subtle than before. She has no bloody idea, he thought angrily when he dropped another few leaves in his basket. He noticed his current Alihotsy-plant didn't have any fresh leaves left to offer and he made his way to another one, but he wasn't being careful and suddenly: "Ouch!"
Sirius had been bitten by the Venomous Tentacula.
Mary poked her head around a plant. "What happened?"
Sirius swore loudly and rubbed his painful lower arm. "That bloody Tentacula!" he growled, pointing to the perpetrator, which now seemed to be slumbering peacefully on the shelf behind him.
Mary walked over to him. "Let me see."
She reached for his arm and Sirius offered it to her reluctantly. He watched how she gently tucked up his sleeve. "Do you know what you're doing?"
"I read a book on Healing Venomous Tentacula-bites not too long ago," she said, smiling slightly.
Sirius remembered that Mary was determined to become a Healer and work at 's when they were out of school. She carefully touched the red skin where he had been bitten. "It's only a light bite. I think I can fix this. You better sit down."
She guided him over to one of the tables while she was looking for the herb she needed and he sat down, feeling bemused. This was the first time Mary did not shout or shot angry looks at him, but was actually kind. Sirius didn't even know she had it in her to be nice.
Mary returned with her wand and some calendula. She sat down next to him and gently stretched out his arm. "Keep it as level as possible."
Sirius nodded, speechless when he realized that this was also the closest he had ever been to Mary. Her fingers were softly grazing his skin and, although he couldn't exactly explain why, her touch just felt right. He spotted a few miniscule freckles on her nose and cheekbones. It looked really cute and without thinking, Sirius suddenly heard himself say: "Why won't you go out with me?"
Mary looked up from carefully dapping the calendula on his Tentacula-bite. "What?"
Too late Sirius realized he had made a mistake. Their little moment of intimacy was gone and there was nothing he could do to reverse it. Except admitting he was wrong, which clearly was not an option. He had no choice but to go back to being his confident, but slightly arrogant self. "Oh, come on Woods, we would make a cute couple, you and me."
Mary sighed, shaking her head. "You are unbelievable."
Sirius grinned. "Think about it. No girl is immune to my charm, not even you."
She snorted. Not exactly the response Sirius was hoping for, but at least she didn't get angry. "Oh please." She had finished taking care of the bite and got back up.
Sirius examined his Healed fore arm. "Thanks," he said. "But you know, one day you will be falling for me hard, and I'll be right there to catch you."
This time Mary burst out laughing. She was about to go back to the plants when she reconsidered. She came back and stood right in front of him. Looking back over her shoulder so that Sirius had a perfect view on her backside, she said. "You're seeing this, Black?"
Sirius shot a look at her perfect body. "Oh yeah," he grinned appreciatively while he stared at her well-shaped bum.
"Well, you better take another good look, because it is something you'll never get your hands on."
And with that, a chuckling Mary picked up her basket and got back to work. Sirius couldn't help but laugh. While they were finishing to gather the leaves on the final plant together, he repeatedly tried to get back into the flirtatious talk they had before, but Mary did not fall for it again.
When they had finished on the final plant and washed their hands, they brought the full baskets of leaves to Professor Sprout, who thanked them for their work and sent them back to the castle.
Sirius and Mary pulled on their robes and left the greenhouse. They were about to walk up to the castle when Sirius noticed that the cute Ravenclaw sixth-year girl was waiting for him as planned, leaning back against the wall of the greenhouse. "Hey there," she said in a sultry voice.
Mary raised her eyebrows, but Sirius shrugged and said: "Hi Carrie-Anne."
Carrie-Anne walked over to him and kissed him and Sirius kissed her back, but briefly, feeling a little uncomfortable with Mary still watching them. She was shaking her head when she said: "I take it you're not coming inside just yet."
Sirius looked down at Carrie-Anne, who winked seductively and he shook his head. "Nope."
"Suit yourself, then," Mary replied and she started to walk back to the castle on her own. She turned back one more time, just to shoot him an amused look and to mutter "Unbelievable…" before she walked off for good, this time without looking back.
Sirius knew Mary didn't look back again, because he had been watching her constantly, hardly paying attention to Carrie-Anne, who was now kissing his neck. He couldn't tear his gaze away from Mary's silhouette approaching and, eventually, disappearing into the castle.
Not only because he thought she was beautiful, but because Sirius had only just realized something. What happened between them in that greenhouse had proved something. Mary could be nice and fun to hang out with if she wanted to, which made Sirius believe she wasn't such an insufferable girl after all.
But what had surprised him the most, was her mild response when she spotted Carrie-Anne. That could only mean one thing. Sirius suddenly grinned to himself. Mary did not hate his guts after all. Not really…
~*~ The End ~*~
Author's Note: Except it's not really the end, of course. Curious to find out how this ends? I suggest you check out my story My Everlasting Love, which can also be found on my profile ;-) -Mara