I wrench the dormitory door open, a towel hanging carelessly over my dripping wet hair and my hand ruffling it dry. After taking a couple steps down the spiral staircase, I lean against the stone wall, panting.
“Bloody hell, that shower took way longer than it should’ve…” I mutter softly to myself. I reach up to pull the towel over my eyes, as if that could somehow stop the images from running through my head.
Damn, the architects of these bloody dormitories. Why make the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms structured so differently? Like, literally what does this achieve?! Forget about tripping over myself and running into walls every couple of seconds, I ended up having to open my eyes way more often than I…
Suddenly, my mouth goes dry and I swallow.
Sirius Black, you are such a buggin’ idiot. You’re secretly glad, aren’t you, you perverted git. Go hex yourself, bloody hell.
I rip the towel off from around my neck and hurl it to the floor.
“Curse it all. I can’t wait till I get back to my body.”
I ruffle my hair one more time, but before I can take another step down the stairs, I hear the dormitory door open above me and turn around to see Sonata poking her head out. “Cecilia! Sis, where are you going?” she asks, moving to run out the door after me.
The sight sends a jolt of panic through me. I run a few steps towards her and shove her back through the door. “Just getting some fresh air, don’t bother me!” I yell hastily before pulling out my wand and pointing it at the door. “Colloportus!”
“Hey!” she whines, her voice muffled through the wood. “I still need to talk to you about Sirius!”
I raise an eyebrow, intrigued.
Then again, as much as I’d love to find out exactly what Sonata is tormenting Cecilia with, now is definitely not the time.
I turn to run down the stairs, but barely make it a few steps when suddenly a black barn owl flies through the window in front of me and perches itself on the edge of the window. Huh… I narrow my eyes at the pure black bird as it prims its feathers, ruffled from the long flight.
Something’s familiar… about that owl…
“Wait, wait, wait!” I hiss before the owl can take flight again. I swiftly grab the letter from its talons. “This letter. It’s for Sirius Black right?”
The owl gives me a disapproving hoot.
I raise an eyebrow. “Alright, I promise to give it to him,” I insist. “Happy?”
The owl eyes me beadily. Then with another hoot and ruffle of its feathers, the owl turns and flies back out the window.
Yeah, because I am him.
I glance down at the wax seal on the letter and heave a relieved sigh. Blimey, that was some good luck. If this letter accidentally got delivered to Cecilia…
Ah, geez, forget about it. More pressing things to worry about right now.
Like my blatant disregard for punctuality.
Stuffing the letter into my back pocket, I hurdle the last few steps to the floor and turn the corner to the Common Room. But instead of seeing my face sporting an adorably pouty Cecilia expression (probably made slightly grotesque by the fact that it’s on my face), I see… something else? I squint my eyes through the dim light of the Common Room at the silhouettes on our usual couch in front of the fire.
Wait a minute…
Oh, c’mon, mates. You’re kidding me, right?
I fold my arms and lean against the wall, watching them with a somewhat amused look on my face. Well, half amused, half mildly grossed out. Moony does know that’s my face he’s kissing right? Well, maybe calling it actual kissing is stretching it. But, seriously, how long are they planning to stay frozen like that? Do they have a Permanent Sticking Charm on their lips or something?
My grip tenses on my arm.
Right, I’m starting to get actually annoyed here. The more I watch them, the more I’m starting to feel like this looks less and less like an accident. So much for giving those two the benefit of the doubt…
I shove my hands into my jeans pockets and trudge over to the couch, my eyes looking down at exactly the one sight I did not want to see tonight.
“So, what are you two doing?”
“Sonata, what are you—oi, leggo, mate!” I dig my heels into the ground against Sonata dragging me across the grass and finally wrench my arm out of her usual vise-like grip. “Getting a little too excited, are you?”
Sonata turns to me, her arms folded across her chest. “I just wanted to get here early so I could talk to you! I told the others to meet out here at midnight, but you were taking so long in the bathroom that it’s almost ten till!”
“Well,” I spin around, flip my hair with a dainty hand, and reply dryly, “you know I need time to get ready before going out. How else am I supposed to stay so goddamn pretty?”
Ironically, I really was just in the bathroom staring at the mirror for the ten minutes Sonata was waiting for me. Not that I was doing anything remotely perverted! It’s just rare that I get the chance to take a good look at Cecilia without her giving me a weird look or something.
I know everyone else thinks that Cecilia and Sonata are identical down to the last freckle, but there’s something about the introspective look in Cecilia’s eyes that is just so incredible. It doesn’t matter that she always has them hidden behind thick-rimmed glasses, I can probably still pick her out of a crowdful of twins. Every time she comments that I don’t notice her? Puh-lease. Cecilia, I notice you before you even bloody notice you.
“Ooookay…” says Sonata slowly, a bewildered look on her face. “Anyway, remember that talk we had the night I came to Hogwarts?”
“Er, yes and no.”
“Blimey, sis, all that studying you do is really getting to you huh?”
“I would agree with you immensely, but let’s not get into that right now.” I wave her comment off absently. “What did we talk about again?”
“Hmm, well.” Sonata looks up thoughtully. “Most of it isn’t all that important right now, but after I mentioned the engagement, I asked whether you and Sirius were dating and you said no, remember?”
“Ouch, sorry, I said what?”
“Hey, you guys made it!” Sonata suddenly waves behind me, completely disregarding my comment.
I turn to see the rest of the marauders meandering towards us across the grass. As they draw nearer, Moony catches me looking at him and he holds my gaze for a moment. Before I can even help myself, the image of him kissing Cecilia pops into my mind again. Or I guess the image of him kissing me. To be honest, I’m not really sure which I’d rather not think about more. Bloody hell, just the thought of it makes me cringe!
It’s almost as if he knows what I was thinking about because he gives me an awkward, yet apologetic smile.
I just shrug and look away. I mean, I know he didn’t do it on purpose or anything, but still, it’s not like I’m bloody happy about it.
“Ah ha!” Sonata exclaims upon their arrival. “I knew you all would come out! Especially after I told you lot it’d be oodles of dangerous fun.” She grins. “Did Filch see you sneak out?”
James laughs at her question heartily. “Us, get caught like lil' ol' Filchy-poo? Hey, I know you're new here and all, Cecilia #2, but you should know us better than that. Ain't that right, Padfoot?” he calls over his shoulder at my body.
“Yeah, of course, mate. Do you even need to ask?” Cecilia responds in a duh-voice that was actually uncannily like my own.
I conceal my smile behind my hand. Guess being in my body is a little more than contagious.
“Alright, so!” Sonata claps loudly to get everyone’s attention. “I called you all here for a little game. You know, a little something to get acquainted with the group.” She glances over at my body with a mischievous look and suddenly I have a really bad feeling about this.
“We’re going to play Murder in the Dark!” she announces.
I hear James whoop, Lily giggle, Peter gasp, and then my voice ask in confusion, “Er, how do you play?”
Everyone looks over at my body in surprise and I resist the urge to slap a hand over my eyes.
“Sirius, you need to stop hanging around my sister in the library and get out more!” Sonata says with a giggle.
I’m about to make a snarky comment in reply, but she pulls out a small cloth bag from her pocket and continues, “So, in here I have seven slips of paper. Five of them are blank and remaining two have either ‘murderer’ or ‘detective’ written on them. You will each pick a slip of paper and then slink into the Forbidden Forest to wander about. The murderer is going to try and find the others in the forest and ‘kill’ them.” Here she makes air quotes with her fingers.
I roll my eyes. She can’t possibly think we’re that clueless.
“Bonus points if you make the most obnoxious death scream!” she adds playfully. “The murderer will continue doing this until one of the remaining people finds a ‘dead’ person and yells ‘murder in the dark!’ Then we’ll all gather back here and the detective has to figure out who is the murderer,” she finishes and looks around at us, grinning. “Everyone got it?”
I hear a murmur of assent from the rest of us, having all played the game several times before.
But, of course, I hear my voice pop up again. “So… we’re going to be wandering the forest on our own then?” Cecilia asks slowly.
“Right, I forgot!” Sonata claps her hands together and calls out to the rest of us. “No pairing up! You all have to move around on your own!”
“Oh,” Cecilia says in a steady voice, “alright then. Sounds… fun.”
Wait a minute.
I immediately look up at Cecilia to find her staring back at me with what I can only identify as complete and utter horror. Bollocks! How could I forget how bloody terrified of the dark she is? Screw the rules. I’m going to have to find her the moment this game starts.
“Well, what are we waiting for then?” says James in a cheerful voice. He bounds up to Sonata and plunges his hand into the sack to grab a slip of paper. “Let’s get this game started!” He grins at me in Cecilia’s body. “Best death scream gets out of paying for our stock of Dr. Filibuster’s fireworks for the year. How ‘bout it?”
Since the others are still in hearing range, I reply with a smirk and a look that clearly says, you are bloody on, mate.
I step up to take my slip of paper myself, but before I even get there, Sonata puts the bag on the ground and gestures to Cecilia.
“Sirius, can I talk to you for a second?” Sonata nods towards the open grass area and then calls out to the rest of us, “Go ahead into the forest! We’ll be right there!”
My eyes narrow at Sonata and Cecilia, who looks confused, but nevertheless follows her sister towards the grass clearing by the edge of the forest.
Sonata alone with my body and a clueless Cecilia? Bloody hell, this can’t be good.
I blindly grab a piece of paper from the sack and shove it into my pocket before slowly meandering towards them along the edge of the forest.
“…just wanted to know if you’re okay, Sirius.”
“Er, what do you—I mean, yeah, of course I’m okay.”
There’s a short pause and I can just imagine Sonata giving Cecilia a skeptical look at her reply. But… hold on. Sonata isn’t going to ask about that is she?
“So, Lucius hasn’t confronted you at all since school started?”
SHE DID. ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
“Lucius… Lucius Malfoy? Why would he want to talk to me?”
“Stop acting so clueless, Sirius! After you told me about what happened with Regulus—”
“Sonata!” I burst out into the clearing and immediately the two of the spin around in alarm. “Uhh, could you…” I rack my mind for some excuse for interrupting them. “Could you explain the rules to me again? I don’t get what the detective is supposed to do during all this.”
Sonata folds her arms. “Sis, you were supposed to be paying attention!”
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” I lie distractedly. I shoot Cecilia a look over Sonata’s shoulder and give a nod towards the forest as Sonata starts reiterating the entire set of rules to me.
Cecilia takes a few steps into the forest before turning to look back at me. She opens her mouth as if to ask me something and then thinks better of it. I give her a questioning look in reply, but before I know it, she’s disappeared into the forest.
I swallow as I turn back to Sonata, my thoughts still trained on Cecilia.
Has she figured it out?
I’ve been trying to keep all of this hidden from her so that she doesn’t have to get involved, but… damn this whole body-switch dilemma. Maybe without me even knowing it, she’s already in too deep.