“Hey Cecilia, try some of the spotted dick!”
“Haven't you heard of it?”
“I'm insulted. Just because I was homeschooled doesn't mean I didn't live in England all my life.”
“C’mon, then have a bite of it!”
“No, I’m not biting any dicks at Hogwarts. No way.”
“You're so stupid. It's not actually a dick.”
I spin around on my bench to see who had interrupted James' and my pointless conversation.
Unsurprisingly enough, it’s Sirius. But something about his clothes is off… His robe is half hanging off his shoulder, his already loose tie is almost completely untied, and the collar of his shirt is definitely a little less than neat.
Hmm… very suspicious.
“Where have you been?” I ask, raising my eyebrows at his appearance. “And I know it's not a real one. I just don’t like how it tastes,” I add as an afterthought.
Sirius flattens his messy hair and half collapses on the bench next to me, mainly because it was closest and he didn't seem to have any energy to move another step. Any other day and he would've purposely gone to the other side of the table.
“One of my exes grabbed me and kissed me again,” he mutters, rubbing his mouth with the sleeve of his robe.
“Again?” James asks with widened eyes.
“Again?” I ask with widened eyes. Though the meaning of my repeated phrase didn't refer to the fact that it happened for the millionth time, but instead to the disbelief that it would even happen a second time, let alone a first time!
Sirius lets his head fall onto the table and replies through a muffled groan, “Yeah, it was that 7th year Slytherin girl from April last year.”
“Oh, you mean Anna?”
“Andrea, James. She almost slapped me for that last time,” Sirius corrects him tiredly.
“Ah, right, Andrea.” James grimaces. “Blimey, she was a tough one.”
Sirius just groans even louder. “No joke, mate. She grabbed me from behind the statue of Tilgany the Treacherous One and just completely caught me off guard. And you know how she's half a foot taller than me right? Didn't exactly help. Anyway, I promised her a date on February 30th as a belated Valentine's Day thing and just ran off. Good thing she's not exactly the brightest girl in the world…”
I lean down so I'm on the same level as Sirius' head on the table and ask slowly, “So… exactly how often does this happen usually?”
Sirius pushes himself off the table and shrugs. “I dunno. Maybe once a week?” he answers nonchalantly as he pulls a plate of toast towards him and takes two slices. “Pass me the marmalade, will you James?”
“Every… week…” I breathe out in shock.
You have got to be kidding me. I turn towards Lily and gesture towards my pathetic state, giving her an exaggerated look that clearly said PITY ME.
She returns it with look that clearly replied, “You know it's going to happen all the time so why bother?”
Hmm, I don't know, Lily. Maybe it's because I have to live with this guy for the rest of my life?!
I shoot Sirius a malicious glare as he starts to spread the marmalade on his toasted bread with a lazy hand. Maybe if I send enough evil rays at him, he'll develop a bowel disorder… or something.
After a moment, I decide that my psychic powers aren't exactly good enough to do so much as bend a spoon and turn my attention back to my unfinished breakfast. I’m just about to grab the milk jar when I hear a voice behind me bellow, “Oi, Sirius Black!”
Sirius nearly shoots through the roof in alarm and mutters furiously, “Bloody he—HIDE ME!”
And before I can utter even a word of complaint, he dives under the table. Blimey, he must do this all the time because he shot under there like a bullet.
I spin around on the bench to see some random guy prancing up to the table with a goofy grin on his face. Confused beyond my imagination, I slowly turn back to everyone else at the table only to see half-annoyed, half-amused looks on their faces. What… now what’s going on?
James is first to speak up to the stranger, who for some weird reason plops down right next to me. “Hey, Rize Hertz! How's it going, Mr. Quidditch Captain? Looking for someone?” James holds in a snort at his last few words.
Quidditch captain? This guy?
Rize props his elbow on the table and glances around. “Yeah, I was wondering where Sirius is. I could've sworn I saw him at this side of the table a second ago.”
Funny you'd mention that…
I heave a huge sigh and look back to my breakfast before saying in a deliberately loud voice, “Yeah, he was at this side of the table a second ago… before he dived under it—OW!” I cough loudly to cover up my yell and kick Sirius back for elbowing my leg.
“He's seriously not here?” Rize takes a good look around again. “Then who else that good-looking would have black hair around this area of the table?”
I glance around for myself. Surprisingly enough, he's got a point actually—wait, did he just say good-looking?
James grins even wider at his captain and says heartily, “I don't know, Rize. I just… don't… know!” And with that last word, I see his body tense up as he offers a huge blow right into Sirius' shin with his foot.
Not a second later, I hear an “OW! DAMMIT JAMES, YOU ARSEHOLE!” down by my feet.
Smooth move, Sirius.
“Huh? Sirius?” Rize peers under the table. “What on earth are you doing under the table?”
I open my mouth to answer dryly when I suddenly see Sirius’ hand shoot out by my legs to grab my fork from the table.
“What—hey, I was eating with that!”
But before I can demand his exact intentions, Sirius comes crawling right out from under the table with my fork. He sits his rear down on the other side of me, well away from the overly eager Quidditch captain.
“Just getting my fork… WHOA, RIZE!” Sirius makes a big show of just noticing Rize and gives him the most awkward half-grin I've ever seen any human attempt. “Ha… ha… didn't see you there. Definitely did not notice you a minute ago. So, uhh, yeah, what're you doing here?”
History is made in the life of Cecilia Vance: I have just witnessed Sirius Black's gloriously terrible acting.
“Just checking out how my best players are doing!” Rize grins back, evidently oblivious to Sirius’ blatant discomfort. Then, much to the playboy's dismay, Rize gets up from his seat to go to the other side of the bench and put his arm around Sirius' shoulder.
Ignoring Sirius' obvious flinch, the Quidditch captain continues, “So, you trying out this year, mate? For Beater, I mean.” He suddenly edges close to Sirius' face and says very seriously, “You're the best Beater in the house and your skills are just excellent. You know my team can't function without you on it, Sirius.”
James snorts from across the table. “You mean, you can't function without him on you, Hertz.”
I was about to say that myself actually, thanks James.
“What was that, Potter?” Rize turns to face him, an edge in his voice.
“I mean…” James continues hastily, “I’m trying out for Seeker again!”
Rize gives him an exaggerated grin. “Really? Brilliant! You know we can't win all those games against Slytherin without our number one Seeker, eh?”
James laughs loudly before looking dead serious. “I'm your only Seeker, moron.”
“I know, Potter.”
“Er…” I start awkwardly.
I look from the strange passive-aggressive tension between James and Rize to Sirius, who seemed to be half-choking from Rize’s increasingly tensed grip around his upper torso. He was simultaneously trying to shove Rize off, but from the look of Sirius’ steadily purpling face, it wasn't exactly working out.
I lean across the table to Lily, who was watching the entire scene with an immensely amused look on her face. “Hey, Lil,” I whisper. “I understand girls not being able to get their hands off Sirius, but a guy? You don’t think this bloke is actually—”
“Mental?” Remus cuts in with a grin.
I tilt my head side to side in thought. “No, I was thinking more along the lines of—”
“Yeah, I know.” Lily leans closer to me and says in a hushed tone, “That's what we keep telling him, but…”
Remus edges in as well, continuing off Lily's words, “You'll see.” He nods at Sirius. “He's about to crack.”
And speak of the devil, that's exactly what Sirius did.
Finally, Sirius decides to shove Rize full force and yell, “Okay, that’s it! Get your arm off me, mate! This is the fifty-seventh time! I’M NOT INTERESTED, RIZE!”
I expected the whole room to turn quiet from his angry shout-out, but seeing as it's already the fifty-seventh time, everyone just kept eating their breakfast. This school is so bizarre.
What I didn't expect was for Rize to get all offended like it wasn't true or something, but he did just that.
“Hey, I'm not gay or anything! I have a girlfriend! Regina! See? Over there!” He points at a girl sitting at the Hufflepuff table, who just waves and doesn’t even look up from her cereal, as if this happened so often that she just ceased to care.
Wait… this guy has a girlfriend?
James just snickers from across the table. “Yeah, you just love Sirius too. Two-timer, eh?”
Suddenly, I see a vein pop in the captain's temple as he pulls out his wand, pointing it right in James's face. “It's called interest in talent, you git. And you’re lucky it’s the same with you! So you better keep your mouth shut because if you weren't such a damn good Seeker, I'd curse you to oblivion.”
James just grins and puts his hands up in the air in defeat. “Ooh, I'm scared now, Mr. Quidditch Captain.”
“Right, you should be,” Rize mutters and with another glare, he storms away.
I just gape at his retreating back. What… a scene. So this is what Quidditch is like in the Gryffindor house? Well, probably not this specifically.
“Ahh, Rize Hertz,” James says with a satisfied grin on his face. He then slings an arm around my shoulder and explains, “Well, since you're kind of new here, I'll tell you what's the deal with him. If you haven't noticed, this guy is obviously in denial about… well, he's in denial.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Trust me, James. I've noticed.”
James chuckles. “Rize is a cool guy to hang out with and all and it's great poking fun at him, but when anyone, and I mean anyone, confronts him about his sexuality, he just explodes! It’s mental!”
“Yeah,” Sirius groans, pushing the rest of his breakfast away from him. “I’m not homophobic by any stretch of the imagination, but the way he just clings to me?” He shudders. “Bloody hell, he can be beastly.”
I raise my eyebrows at the two of them. “Wait, if he’s so attracted to Quidditch abilities, then what about you?” I nod at James.
James shrugs. “Well, he claims that he became interested in Sirius’ skills after my mate here did his signature move on the field during a scrimmage. I mean, I’m a damn fantastic Seeker, but nothing else really compares in terms of that wow factor.”
“Hmm… yeah, my signature move huh?” Sirius rubs the back of his neck thoughtfully. “I definitely owned him back then. Still do, actually.”
Signature move? Is it really that amazing that he could beat a Quidditch captain?
I turn to Sirius curiously. “What… is it exactly?”
As I suspected, Sirius just smirks at me wickedly. “Well, you're just going to have to find out, aren't you?”