What was that bloke's name again?
After History of Magic on Wednesday Lisa headed to the Library, not wanting to go back to the crowded common room. She sat down, carefully avoiding passing the Invisibility Section, as usual. Wanting to unwind a bit after the stressful first days of term, she picked up Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes.
Halfway through chapter one, rushed footsteps echoed between the shelves and Dorcas threw her arms around her.
"I heard yesterday from McKinnon," she said breathlessly. "How are you?"
"I'd be better if I could breathe," Lisa croaked, because Dorcas was crushing her windpipe. The Slytherin apologized hastily and backed off.
"You look like hell. Was it that bad?" the dark-haired girl said with concern.
"What, the torture? No, it only made me feel like I was being burned at the stake."
Lisa expected some sort of quip, but Dorcas only squeezed her hand gently. "I'm sorry."
The Gryffindor shrugged. "I was sort of expecting it. There'll be worse things when we leave Hogwarts."
"Maybe. Which is why I want you to keep me in the loop." Dorcas reached into her bag and placed a green notebook on the table.
Lisa raised an eyebrow. "You want me to keep a diary?"
"I got Black to show me the charm the Marauders used on the schedules. You write in this one," Dorcas pulled out an identical notebook, but with a red cover, "and it appears in here. Next time something like this happens, I don't fancy learning it from rumors."
"Black? You mean Sirius? Since when are you two so chummy?"
Dorcas shrugged. "Since I needed help and he was in my line of vision. Speaking of chummy, how are things with Lupin? He wrote in your letter, I know you spent most of winter break together," she added with a mischievous smile. "You've been all depressed since Slughorn's party and I thought the two of you weren't speaking. Tell me."
Lisa looked down at her book and blushed. "There's nothing to tell. We had a falling out after the party, because I pushed too hard. I found out he lived near by, went and apologized and everything is fine now."
"What falling out?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Did something happen?"
"Please, Cass. I'm tired, I'm still sore all over and all I want to do is relax with a good book."
Dorcas pulled out her unfinished Defense Against the Dark Arts essay and quietly scribbled next to her.
When Lisa left the Charms classroom the next Tuesday, someone was waiting for her outside.
"Hey Lisa," the tall blond said.
"Hi," she replied, struggling to remember if she'd met him before. He looked familiar, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
"So, um, you're free Friday, right?"
"On Friday. Your friend Alice said you only have one class. So the rest of the day you're free?"
"Er... I guess?"
"Great! I'll pick you up after, then!" he said hastily and ran off.
She gaped after him. Pick her up for what? And who was he?!
"Was that Seth Tenley?" Marlene asked behind her.
"I don't know. Was it?" Lisa said, confused.
"It was," Alice chimed in. "And I think he just asked you out."
"Oh, you'd make such a cute couple!" Marlene squealed.
"Who'd make a cute couple?" Lily asked, exiting the classroom with Mary, who was still awkward around Lisa despite the fact she had reassured her it wasn't her fault.
"Lisa and Seth Tenley. He just asked her out," Marlene informed her, as the girls made their way through the crowd to their next class.
Lily turned to Lisa with a strange look. "What did you say?"
"Erm... I think I might've accepted," she said, still confused. "He just said he'd pick me up after Care for Magical Creatures and ran off! He didn't say anything about it being a date!"
"It was implied," Alice said.
"But I didn't know what I was agreeing to!" Lisa protested. "He said you told him my schedule, by the way! When did that happen?"
"He asked me in the corridor, I couldn't just say no," Alice replied sheepishly and Lisa groaned.
"What's the big deal? He's cute and a prefect. Can't hurt to go out with him," Mary chimed in, looking at her feet.
"If your heart's not in it, I don't think you should," Lily said knowingly.
"Aw, come on! Lisa's been out with like three blokes in her life! Let her have a bit of fun!" Marlene insisted.
"I just think that there's someone... better... for you out there." Lily gave Lisa a meaningful look. Ever since Lisa told her about Snape and the Library, Lily had put one and one together and figured out Lisa's feelings for Remus. Not that it was that hard.
"Well, unlike the 'you and James' situation, no one better has proclaimed their love to me," Lisa pointed out.
"Some things don't need to be spoken," Lily said simply.
"Today, class, we shall be studying the most interesting creature," Kettleburn said with delight in the next Care for Magical Creatures lesson. "This is the first time I've been able to bring them into Hogwarts, but I assure you I have it completely under control," he added, gesturing to the big trunk in the front of the classroom. It shook menacingly. "Now, before we start, who here can produce a corporeal patronus?"
Some of the students exchanged confused glances and less than half raised their hands. The charm had been made part of their curriculum in Defense Against the Dark Arts, as Voldemort was rumored to be amassing an army of dark creatures, but not everyone could master it.
"Right then. Those who can, cast the charm now. Those who can't... stick close to your friends."
Remus took a small step towards Lisa.
"You really can't?" she asked curiously. He shook his head with a small smile. "Damn. I was hoping I could hide behind yours." She sighed.
"Because... my patronus is... well, you'll see," she said uneasily and performed the charm. A shiny rabbit sprang forth and hopped happily around the two Gryffindors.
"A bunny?" Remus asked, amused. "What's so bad about that?"
"It's... it's just... so weak looking," she admitted, embarrassed. "I was so excited to learn this charm, hyped up about it like you wouldn't believe... then this fellow popped out and... well, I had hoped for a big animal, you know, a protector. And what I got..." She gestured towards her patronus with a sour smile. "Let's just say a rabbit wouldn't exactly be my first choice," she finished.
"It's not the shape and size that determines how strong your patronus is. I'm sure it'll keep us both safe," Remus reassured her. She managed to give him a more genuine smile.
"And now, for the big reveal!" Kettleburn said theatrically, opening the trunk with one swift motion.
And out of it came... a bunch of flying black blankets.
"I got them from a fellow I knew in Borneo. They are called Lethifolds, and in my opinion, they make excellent pets and lovely window curtains! Just make sure to put them back in their box before you go to bed, as they have a tendency to try to eat you. Now, the Lethifold feeds mostly on mammals, so we'll try feeding them today."
With one swift motion, Kettleburn pulled the cover from a bucket in the corner, revealing to the students' horror and disgust it was full of dead rats.
"Now, each of you grab a rat and give it to the Lethifold. Be careful though, if you get too close, it might wrap around and suffocate you," he said jovially, distributing the dead animals. Most students preferred to throw it from a distance, which seemed to work out well.
"Old Kettleburn's lost it," Lisa murmured to Remus. "He could get us all killed, if even one of those gets loose!"
"That's why he had us cast patronus charms. They work as well on them as they do on Dementors," he whispered back.
"Keep your voice down! If he hears you next thing you know he might think they'll make 'excellent pets' and guards for your home!"
Remus tried to stifle a laugh, but failed miserably. Kettleburn eyed them with scrutiny.
"If you could pick, what would your patronus would be?" he continued in a lower voice, as she picked up a rat and threw it at the Lethifold, which made a disgusting munching sound as it enveloped it in its... folds.
"I don't know... I suppose a lion would be cool..." she replied uncertainly.
"I bet no Gryffindor's ever thought of that one before," he quipped lightly, picking up one of the juicer rats. "It's supposed to be something that suits your personality. So in your case, a sentient firecracker."
"And what would yours be? A Smart-Answering Quill?" she snarked back, making him snigger again.
Kettleburn was about to scold them, when one of the Lethifolds got a hold of Evelyn Foss and the whole class had to concentrate their few patronuses on helping her.
After the lesson, Lisa and Remus chatted about what kinds of pets they would like to have (other than Dementors and Lethifolds) as they were leaving the classroom, when Seth descended on them from the left and grabbed Lisa's hand.
"Ready for our date?" he asked, grinning widely. She was uncomfortably aware that Remus was right next to her.
"Listen Seth, about—"
"You'll tell me later. We have to hurry, while the coast is still clear," he interrupted and dragged her off without another word, leaving a bemused Remus to stare after them.
"Seth, wait!" she tried to say, as he was pulling her down the corridor and up a few flights of stairs, but he didn't stop until they found themselves in front of the statue of Gregory the Smarmy.
"You're going to love this, I promise." Seth grinned and pulled out his wand.
"Seth, stop!" She pulled on his sleeve, finally making him look at her. "Listen to me. When you asked me out... I kinda didn't realize you were asking for a date."
His smile faded somewhat. "Is there someone else? Alice swore you were single—"
"I am. There's just..." She looked down in embarrassment. "There's this guy and... I sort of like him..."
"Has he asked you out?"
"Er, no... but—"
"So what's the problem? Am I not good-looking enough?"
"Seth, this isn't about looks—"
"Then what's it about? That guy hasn't asked you out, but I did."
"I don't even know you!"
"That's what dates are for, right?" His face brightened up again. "All I'm asking for is a shot. Maybe you'll like me more than him after this." She gave him a skeptical look. "Come on, one date. It's not like I'm asking you to marry me."
Lisa looked at the hand he offered her and hesitated. One date didn't mean any kind of commitment, after all, and she wasn't lying to him – she told him straight up she had feelings for someone else. And it wasn't like that someone would do anything about it, with all of his secrets and turning away... Actually, maybe this could be just the push he needed to get him over that hurdle. And it could be fun.
'What the hell,' she thought, as she placed her palm in Seth's.
Remus was sitting in the common room with his friends, trying to concentrate on his textbook, but it wasn't working. As much as he was trying to relax and appear calm, he couldn't sit still and fidgeted with the corners of the page nervously.
He tried not to think about it, but it just kept drifting to the forefront of his mind. When he saw Tenley just take her away right from under his nose, there was this powerful, frightening instinct inside him to reach for her other hand and tell the Hufflepuff to back the hell off. He couldn't even believe how close he was to doing that, how close to the edge she brought him. He wasn't supposed to think of Lisa like that, it was impossible, unattainable, out of the question. Yet, despite all of his force of will, his eyes slid over the words on the page in front of him without comprehending the meaning, and his mind painted him unwanted pictures of her and Tenley down some dark school hallway...
Remus felt a little sick. Trying desperately to find anything to distract himself with, he threw a glance around the common room. All the sixth year girls were gathered on a table near by, all but Lisa, and he realized with a painful pang that everything in the damned room reminded him of her, and was it him, or was Lily giving him sympathetic glances from time to time?
"What's the matter with Moony?" James asked, looking up form his broom polishing.
Sirius threw a glance at the girls' table and immediately saw the problem. "Oi, McKinnon! Where's Fawley tonight?"
Alice and Marlene exchanged glances and giggled.
"She's got a date," the latter said with a smirk.
Sirius shot Remus a quick glance, but he was still hiding behind the book.
"A date? Who with?"
"Seth Tenley asked her out on Tuesday."
"Seth Tenley? That scrawny Hufflepuff bloke?"
"He's not scrawny, she's just slim! Don't let jealousy make you bitter, Sirius!"
James looked at each of his friends in turn.
"What's going on?" he asked.
Sirius and Peter exchanged worried glances, and Remus stubbornly staid behind the hard cover of the book.
"It's Fawley," Sirius said after a little hesitation. "Moony's got a thing for her."
"What?" James moved his eyes from Sirius to Remus. "Is this true?"
Remus was quiet, which was all the proof James needed.
Around 11:30 the portrait hole swung open and Lisa walked in. She glanced at the chairs near the window where the Marauders were sitting, but Remus didn't look up.
"Tell us everything!" Marlene insisted, pulling her over to the table where the rest of the girls were waiting.
"It was... okay," Lisa said awkwardly. "He took me to Hogsmeade." Marlene, Alice and Mary gasped. "Yeah, he found a secret tunnel behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy. We went for a walk and then t—"
James snorted loudly. "The statue of Gregory the Smarmy... that's the most obvious passage in the entire school."
Lisa stared at him in disbelief, but Marlene rolled her eyes.
"What's it matter? What's important is that they had a good time. Did you go to madam Puddifoot's? It's the dating spot."
Lisa was about to answer, when James interrupted them with another sneer.
"That tosser can't show a girl a good time, even if he danced around just with McGonagall's hat on."
"Don't insult him!" Lisa stood up angrily. "What did he ever do to you?"
James laughed again joylessly. "I'm not the one going out with him. If you want to subject yourself to being with such a pathetic excuse for-"
"He's pathetic!?" she shouted, enraged. "At least he doesn't wind up in detention every other day, because the girl everyone knows he has zero chance with hexed him for the millionth time!"
The whole common room was quiet, having become spectators in their screaming match. James' face went white and he stood up. For a second she thought he might hex her, but he just picked up his broom and marched right into the dormitory. The door closed with a loud slam and Lisa sank back down in her seat. She didn't mean to say that, and she knew she had crossed a line, but it baffled her why James would even dislike, let alone insult Seth.
Quidditch practice on Monday was just awful. James preferred to pass to Fleet, even if Lisa was in the perfect position to score and he barely looked at her the whole time. She tried to apologize to him in the locker room after, but he just ignored her.
This continued for a whole week until Thursday, when the students were leaving the dungeons after Potions. Being preoccupied, Lisa almost bumped into him at the door.
"Sorry," she mumbled, but he ignored her again and walked by without even looking at her.
"Hey Potter, what's the matter with your ears?" Dorcas called, and Lisa groaned internally. She hadn't gotten around to telling her yet.
James stopped in his tracks and turned around slowly. "One 'sorry' isn't enough, when it comes from a slag."
Dorcas drew her wand, and so did Sirius.
"I've fancied a duel with you for a while, Meadowes," Sirius said with a smirk, but there was a dangerous edge in his eyes. "Though I imagined it under more friendly circumstances."
Dorcas shrugged. "Sounds good. Just hold up until after Potter apologizes."
James looked like he would rather swallow slugs than apologize, staring daggers into Lisa.
"I don't want to have to send you to the Hospital Wing, but—" Sirius started.
"But I'll come visit you anyway. I'll bring you some nice flowers. Do you like begonias?" Dorcas finished for him.
Lisa put a hand on her shoulder. "James, I've already said I'm sorry. I was out of line. What more do you want from me?"
"James..." came a quiet voice behind them, and they turned to see Lily, looking at him more gently than she ever had. "This grudge you're holding is pointless. I promise I won't hex you anymore. Let it go."
He gaped at her. She almost never addressed him by his given name, and had never spoken to him in a tone so devoid of hostility or sarcasm. The glare in his eyes lessened significantly and for a moment, it seemed like he would listen to her.
"It's not just about that," he said stubbornly.
"What are you trying to accomplish with this?" Remus said calmly. James' eyes lingered on him, carefully studying his expression. "She apologized. It's over."
"... Fine," James said finally. Sirius and Dorcas lowered their wands slowly and the Marauders walked away.
Unfortunately, when the Gryffindors reached the Herbology Greenhouses for their next lesson, Seth Tenley caught up to them. Lisa groaned, audibly this time, told her friends to go on ahead and turned to intercept him.
"Hey Lisa," he said, grinning like an idiot.
"What is it?" she cut him off hastily.
"I had a lot of fun last week. Wanna do it again?"
"Seth, you said one date. We had it."
"Was it a bad date?"
"Was it boring?"
"Seth, you're not listening—"
"You're not saying anything I want to hear. You had a good time with me, but you're cutting me off. Why?"
"You know why." She looked at her feet. "We did it once, it was fun. But I don't... I don't want to use you."
"That guy's still on your mind, huh?" he said. She nodded. "Then let me work on getting him out! What do you say?"
"No, Seth. I'm saying no."
She turned around and started for the greenhouses, but he caught her sleeve. "Why not?"
"Why not?" Lisa whirled around, starting to get annoyed. "I have feelings for someone else! That doesn't bother you?!"
"He doesn't have feelings for you," Seth said evenly, almost causing her to wince. "Or he would've done something about it. Am I wrong?"
She stared at him, not knowing what to say. It stung to hear those words, but the small voice in the back of her head agreed.
"What's the point of waiting for him to come around? For all you know, he never will. Why not give someone else a chance?"
Lisa was silent again. He was hitting bullseye after bullseye and she had no idea what to answer him.
"Maybe this will help you decide," Seth said, grabbed her forearms and kissed her.
It wasn't a bad kiss, but it felt... it just felt wrong. It only lasted a second, before she pushed him off her.
"Don't do that again," she hissed venomously.
He immediately threw up his hands defensively. "Whatever you say. I'll let you do the snogging next time."
She threw him a half-angry, half-disbelieving look and walked away.