Chapter 6, A New Professor
James watched the last First Year, a 'Wiseacre, Ioan' was sorted into Ravenclaw and Sirius muttered, 'You can tell what his nickname will be… Three galleons on his mates calling him 'Wisearse' by the end of the week.'
James grinned, and was about to reply but Professor Dumbledore was clearing his throat as the Ravenclaw applause died away.
'Ahem. Welcome! Welcome back, and welcome to Hogwarts!' He said with genuine enthusiasm sparkling behind his half-moon glasses. Dressed in robes of midnight blue this evening, he swept his arms wide before continuing, 'I believe I have one or two announcements to make before we begin our long awaited and excellent feast. First of all, I would like to welcome a new member of staff; as Professor Jericho, after an unfortunate accident over the summer has decided to return to his native country.'
Remus' head turned from where he had been admiring a Hufflepuff girl's rather entrancing hair; it seemed to shimmer in waves down her back, and he was wondering how he hadn't noticed her before. At some point, probably during the Sorting, a young woman had joined the Top Table and Remus tried not to stare; she wasn't your bog-standard Professor.
'Replacing him, as our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher will be Professor Jenson.'
There was a slight pause after he finished, expecting the usual polite applause for a new teacher, but for a moment there was silence and then.
'Oi, Oi!' shouted Benjy Fenwick from the Ravenclaw Table.
Laughter and applause broke like a thunderclap across the Hall, and it soon became obvious that the pretty, blonde, blushing woman was getting more than the usual 'polite applause'. James eyed her carefully, she must have been mid-twenties and definitely hadn't taught before; she looked quite nervous, 'Merlin, why haven't we had someone like her before!' he said loudly, over the laughter, looking at Sirius for approval.
Sirius was staring at the woman, his face completely void of emotion, but James thought he could read something like hunger in his eyes. He didn't seem to hear James' comment, but Peter replied, 'She's Fenwick's cousin.'
'How'd you know that?' Frank Longbottom asked from further down the table.
Peter shrugged; he had overheard Fenwick telling Barny Cuffe at the end of last year that his cousin might be applying for a job at Hogwarts sometime in the future, and he knew the Fenwicks' cousins were called Jenson. He put two and two together; he had always been good with information like that, but anything school related seemed to drop through his mind like a sieve.
He was the Marauder's source of much of the information they gathered on people they were planning to prank; people talked around Peter, somehow assuming that since he had a reputation for being stupid, he was probably deaf as well. The Marauders had capitalised on that hundreds of times over the years and their fellow students still hadn't learnt.
James didn't question Peter's knowledge, knowing that it explained Benjy's shout; he would have never done that to any other teacher and Benjy already had a girlfriend. Not to be outdone though, James stuck his fingers in his mouth and gave a piercing wolf-whistle. Then he turned to Sirius and said, 'Challenge?'
Sirius took his gaze away from their stunning new teacher and said, with a mischievous light glinting in his eyes, 'Challenge accepted.' Then he turned his eyes back on the blonde woman at the Top Table, but now he had a look of studied concentration on his face.
Remus saw a smile almost break through Dumbledore's stern expression before he patted the air for silence, 'Thank you Mr Fenwick, Mr Potter, for your enthusiastic welcome. I'm sure that if I ever feel the urge to learn to whistle, I shall come to you.'
James' Head of House, Professor McGonagall, gave him a thin-lipped, disapproving shake of her head. James grinned back like a Cheshire Cat.
'Now, where was I?' Dumbledore resumed, 'Ah, of course; I would like to remind all pupils that the Forbidden Forest, is indeed, forbidden! I hear from our Groundskeeper that a few more interesting creatures have taken up residence there over the summer. Mr Filch would also like me to remind you that a list of items that are banned within the castle will be pinned on his office door from tomorrow morning, for those who wish to update their knowledge of it. Professor Slughorn would also like me to tell you that Dungeon Six is out of bounds to all except the Seventh Years, who I'm sure will find out the reason soon enough.'
James shared a look with Sirius, who had stopped concentrating on the new Defence teacher.
'Now, that is enough rambling from me!' He beamed at them once more and finished, 'Enjoy!'
Food appeared on every plate and wonder similarly appeared on many of the new First Year's faces. James grabbed the nearest steak and kidney pie and dug a serving spoon into it.
Lily watched as Black and Potter both shovelled down third helpings of dessert; it looked as though they hadn't eaten all holiday.
'Urgh, I don't know where they put it all,' she said to Mary as James pushed one last spoonful of treacle tart and custard into his mouth.
'My mum would say they've got hollow legs,' Mary replied, 'I see Peter's not keeping up.'
'If anything, I'd say he's lost weight; he isn't half as bad as he was last year!'
Remus' slightly more sensitive ears caught Lily's words and grinned for Peter's sake; he'd tell Wormy later that the girls were already commenting on him. He'd say Mary had said it though, in case James got jealous.
He sat back again, sighed at his full stomach and asked Laura what subjects she was continuing this year.
The feast ended with the usual crowd of people trying to all get out into the Entrance Hall at once and Lily watched distastefully as Black and Potter were greeted by their little 'Marauder Fan club' as she called them. In the process she somehow lost the rest of the Gryffindor girls in the press and found herself next to Emmeline Vance, who she usually sat next to in Charms.
'Emma!' she said, giving her a quick hug as they were pushed forward, 'How was your summer? How's Benjy?'
Emmeline returned her hug enthusiastically, and blushed at Benjy's name being mentioned; obviously something had happened over the summer.
'It was lovely! We went to Spain, and my parents got me an owl for my birthday. I passed all my exams!' she replied as they squeezed out through the doors, failing to answer Lily’s first and most important question.
Then a water-bomb exploded across a group of Third Years in front of them, splashing Lily's face.
'POTTER!' Lily screamed as the little make-up she was wearing was ruined.
But it wasn't Potter; Peeves appeared, floating half-way up the staircase and cackling madly.
'Alright, Peevesy?' the person Lily had first suspected, called up at him.
'Oooh, Potter and Black and Loony Lupin are back!' Peeves shouted gleefully, waving his arms and spilling more water-bombs down on the crowd, to the sound of several screams.
'Causing havoc, Peeves? Carry on, carry on!' Black yelled as a carefully aimed balloon flew past his shoulder and struck a new Ravenclaw First Year firmly on top of the head.
Lily always noticed that, somehow, Peeves' disruptions never seemed to affect the Marauders, not since Third Year at least. For a month in Third Year, the four boys had apparently challenged Peeves to see who could cause the most mayhem; they had ended up in detention for two months afterwards. But, apparently Peeves had accepted that they were on a par with him, and now not a drop of water touched the Marauders as they marched up the stairs. It was like the parting of the Red Sea.
Emmeline spluttered water beside Lily and said a quick, 'Good night! See you tomorrow!' before making a break for Ravenclaw Tower as more ammunition flew towards them.
Lily dashed up the stairs as Peeves lobbed the last balloon into a bunch of Hufflepuffs emerging from the Great Hall, wondering what the fuss was about. She made it to the top without sliding through the cascade that was now running down the steps and was about to ask Potter if he had given Peeves the water-balloons, but the Marauders had already vanished.
'Lily! There you are! Did you see-' Laura stopped as she caught sight of Lily's wet hair and running make-up, 'guess you did then!' she giggled. The rest of the Gryffindor girls had apparently been watching the display from higher up the stairs.
'Black warned us something was going to happen, but you had disappeared!' Alice explained their lack of moisture, 'here, let me dry your hair.'
'I hate them!' Lily grumbled as her hair warmed and turned a little frizzy, but there was nothing to be done about it without a mirror.
'Come on!' Dorcas called as she started heading up the next flight of stairs, 'I'm knackered, and Lils can sort out her hair out in the morning!'
James, Sirius and Peter were laughing behind a portrait on the third floor, even Remus was grinning; they had dropped a packet of Gigham's Giants in the Entrance Hall as they came in and, as intended, Peeves had found them. The best part was; no one could blame them, plus Peeves now owed them one.
They had forged a deal with Peeves a couple of years ago, and were always happy to provide him with essentials that he couldn't get otherwise; Mrs Skower's' Resistant Fluorescent Paint and Ever-Bouncing Bouncy Balls had been the favourite last year. Resulting in a castle that looked as though it had been polka-dotted overnight; Filch had gone mental.
Sirius had a bet that they could cause the poor caretaker to have an emotional breakdown before they left school, but so far he was proving stubbornly resistant.
This year they wondering what kind of mayhem Peeves would be able to conjure from the selection of items they had gathered over the summer. A few things; like the Japanese Bloatfish that Sirius had in a sealed jar in his trunk would be reserved for a special occasion, but they had handfuls of Dungbombs and Erkwell's False Chalk for Peeves to play with.
There was much planning to be done in terms of mischief making to be done this year, and each year they had a reputation to not only uphold, but increase.
The girls reached their dorm, right at the top of Gryffindor Tower and Laura collapsed on her bed, wondering if Harry Greene might ask her out at some point; he was quite good-looking and on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. She folded her robes over her chair and picked up her pyjamas as Dorcas pinned up a new poster of Ludo Bagman, who had been in Fifth Year when they started at Hogwarts but was now playing for the Wimbourne Wasps as a successful Beater.
Lily looked at this new addition to their dorm and sighed, 'I don't know what you see in him Dorcas; he's not exactly intelligent.'
Dorcas raised an eyebrow at her, 'Lils, I'm not going to marry him or anything; he's just rather nice to look at!'
'It's true!' Mary seconded; she was keen Quidditch supporter and went to as many League games as she and Dorcas could get tickets for. Lily always suspected that it was something to do with the extremely masculine men flying around above her head that Mary liked to watch more than the game itself, but she enjoyed watching a game every now and then, so she never said anything.
Alice appeared in the doorway, looking slightly flushed.
'And where have you been, Miss Yates?' Dorcas asked, in her best McGonagall impression, as Alice ran a hand through her slightly dishevelled hair.
'Saying goodnight to Frank; I haven't seen him for about a week!' she protested.
'I hope you didn't make anyone else suffer, while you did it!' Lily grinned as she unpacked clothes from her trunk.
Alice stuck out her tongue and pulled off her school robes.
'Speaking of boyfriends,' Laura said, as she exited the bathroom in her flowery pyjamas, 'when are you going to actually try and have a relationship with someone, Lily?'
'I do have relationships!' Lily protested, going slightly red.
'Going to Hogsmeade doesn't count as a relationship, Lils.' Dorcas grinned at her.
Lily seemed to have awful luck when it came to boys; last year a boy in the year above had asked her to Hogsmeade, but somehow fallen down a flight of stairs on his way to meet her. A few weeks later, she had been asked by Finn Quigley in Ravenclaw, enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and then just as he was about to kiss her he had tripped and knocked them both over.
Of course, she had managed to kiss a couple of boys, but had never actually had a boyfriend, as such. She pulled off her robes and exchanged her shirt for a t-shirt reading, 'G is for Genesis' and pulled the curtains round her bed shut so she could finish changing.
'Did you see the way Black was looking at that new Professor at the Feast? I think he's got more chance with her than Lily has of getting a boyfriend!' Alice said teasingly.
'Hey! I heard that!' Lily shouted.
Later on, listening to Laura snoring softly, despite her yearly protest that she didn't snore, Lily wondered if she would ever find a boy who would actually really like her. Potter was always asking her out, but it was obviously more to annoy her than any serious matter. Anyway, Potter was the last person Lily would ever want to go out with.
She shifted her pillow and stared into the darkness, running through the boys in her year, wondering if any of them might like her enough to ask her to Hogsmeade. She sighed; she supposed it was like her Mum always said, "Someone will come along when you're least expecting it, darling, and sweep you off your feet."
With that comforting thought in mind, and small amount of wondering when that moment might be, Lily drifted off to sleep.
Elsewhere, Remus was wondering if James would ever stop going on about how good Lily looked when she was all wet...