Bad Moon Rising
The news that Sirius and Mary were going to Hogsmeade together was spreading like wildfire. Within less than a day, everybody at Hogwarts seemed to have heard about it. Sirius had no idea how this happened - he certainly had not mentioned it to anyone else beside his friends and Mary did not seem the type to boast about these things either.
Yet Sirius was approached by other students multiple times in the days leading up to the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year. Most of them were guys were complimentary to him and wondered aloud how in Merlin's name Sirius had managed to get a girl who had despised him for years.
Not that he already had charmed Mary. Chances were he was going to eventually, but Sirius was well aware he had better wait for the opportune moment before making a serious move. But considering the uncommon Wintery weather - even though it was only early november, it had been snowing like it was already the midst of Winter - and the things he had planned for their date, he was feeling confident about finally wooing her.
James was still feeling a little bemused over the fact that Mary had finally agreed to go out with Sirius and while he remained unsuccessful in winning over Lily.
A week before Sirius would take Mary to Hogsmeade, he, James and Peter (Remus was absent because of the full moon) had been hanging out in the snowy courtyard during their morning break and were now walking to Charms together. "Should I ask her out again today?" James asked Sirius.
"I don't know, Prongs," he replied wearily while stifling a yawn.
"It's only 9.30 in the morning. Have you even talked to her at all today?"
"Er… I wished her a good morning when she was coming down from the dormitory."
"Right, so you haven't had a decent conversation yet. I would wait for that if I were you, ease her in a little first," Peter advised.
James rolled his eyes. "And when did you become the woman whisperer of wonders?"
"Actually," Sirius said, looking at Peter approvingly, "Wormtail has a point. You don't want to rush into things too much. That's what you've done multiple times already, haven't you? Lily seems like the type of girl you want to go easy with."
"I suppose you guys are right." James sighed. "Although you'd think Lily would be unable to say no to me on a day like this, since I've decided we're throwing a 'Winter Wonderland slash Gryffindor has the most beautiful girls at Hogwarts-party' in the common room tonight."
"A party?" Sirius grinned. "I'm in."
"But where will we get the food?" Peter asked.
"I dunno," James said easily, waving a hand nonchalantly, as they headed up the enchanted stairs to the Charms floor. "I guess we can get the House-Elves to make us some snacks, we'll figure it out. All we need to do now is to announce it and make an arrangement with the Elves."
"On it!" Peter said as soon as the moving stairway connected with the stone landing. Since he was majoring in Muggle Studies, Charms was no longer a obligatory subject for him and Flitwick would not frown upon if he missed a class.
Sirius and James watched on as their little friend move swiftly though a small crowd of third year-students coming from the corridor that led to the kitchens and disappear from sight. It still astounded Sirius how Peter could disappear so easily in a crowd of people, it was a remarkable talent that had served them well on more than one mischievous occasion with the Marauders.
His mind was only pulled back to the present when James nudged him and mouthed: "Look who it is."
Sirius followed his best friends gaze and spotted Regulus, who was heading towards them with a determined look on his face. "You go ahead, I'll be right there," he muttered to James and turn back to greet his little brother. "Hi," he said casually.
Regulus on the other hand looked like he did not want to waste any time on small talk. "What do you think you're doing?"
Sirius had a sneaky suspicion that his brother was referring to the girl he was about to take on a date, but he decided to act clueless for now, just to annoy his little brother. "I'm sorry?"
Regulus's dark eyes glinted dangerously. "You know what I'm talking about!" he spat. "To get mingled with people like her."
Sirius gave him a cold look. "She has a name."
Regulus made a scornful sound. "Oh yeah and what a name she has. Good-looking girl, I'll give you that, but she's just a filthy little Mudblood and nothing more."
Unable to contain himself, Sirius reached out quickly and grabbed Regulus by the collar of his robes. "Watch your tongue, bro."
Regulus made a little gurgling sound, but yet he did not appear frightened. He kicked out and hit Sirius against his shin, forcing him to let go at once.
After straitening his collar somewhat, Regulus shot Sirius a hateful look. "Right when I think you could not possibly sink any lower, you go and do something unforgivably stupid like this. What are mum and dad going to say?"
"I suppose you already sent them an owl to sheer the news?"
"And what if I did?"
Sirius huffed. "Have it your way, then. I moved out, remember? My parents no longer have a say in what I will or not do and that, my friend, is the best feeling in the world. Frankly, I don't give a damn how they feel."
And with that, Sirius walked away without looking back, not even when he heard a frustrated Regulus shout: "You're choosing death, don't you see? The Dark Lord is becoming more powerful every day and he will show no mercy to Mudbloods and their associates!"
When Sirius finally entered the Charms classroom, he was right on time. "Please close the door behind you, Mr. Black," Professor Flitwick said.
Sirius walked to the back of the classroom and joined his friends, sitting down in a spare seat behind Mary. His gloomy mood after the unpleasant encounter with his brainwashed brother disappeared rapidly when his eyes fell on Mary and he noticed that Brice and Lily were braiding Mary's long hair, who giggled madly when Brice was pulling too hard.
"Could the ladies in the back please desist with what they're doing and pay attention to the lesson," Flitwick said with a note of amusement in his voice.
Still chuckling, Brice and Lily let go of Mary's hair. And while Flitwick started to explain the non-verbal benefits of the Speeding Charm in duels, Sirius had trouble keeping his eyes from Mary slowly removing the braids from her hair while listening to the Professor. He was anxious to share his plans for their date.
When Flitwick left the class for a moment and everyone started talking excitingly, he finally leaned forward to whisper into her ear: "Now look what you have done. Because you were distracting me by playing with your hair, I did not hear a single word Flitwick said."
Mary turned around in her seat and arched an eyebrow. "You could have looked straight over my head, you know."
"Yeah, but you see: I did not want to. Watching you run your hands through your hair like that is so much more captivating than hearing Flitwick go on and on about the nuisance of whichever charm he's discussing today," he replied, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
When Mary noticed that James was following their conversation closely, she gave Sirius a tiny smile. "Fair enough. Short recap: when you use the Speeding Charm non-verbally, you can outwin your opponent by a few seconds, which will give you the needed advantage to win the duel."
"Right, that makes sense. Now, what I really wanted to talk to you about is next weekend."
"What about it?"
"I've been thinking... I could show you around Hogsmeade."
She did not look impressed - yet. "For your information: I've been going to the same school for six and a half years and have visited Hogsmeade as many times as you have done."
He laughed. "Agreed, but I mean really show you around. I bet there are still a few places that you know nothing about."
Mary leaned back in her chair. "Hmm, you have my attention. Fine, let's see and find out if you can show me some new things."
Sirius grinned at her and when Mary turned back in her seat to say something to Brice, he looked at James and noticed his friend had been making notes of his talk with Mary. "You wrote it down?" he asked, shaking his head in surprise.
His friend merely laughed and shrugged, but before he could have said anything about it, Flitwick returned and ordered the class to start practicing the spell.
After Charms, when they were heading to the Great Hall for lunch together, Sirius told James and Peter, rejoining them after a successful visit to the House-Elves, about what Regulus had said about Mary. "That prick deserves a good kick in the head," James growled.
Peter patted Sirius on the shoulder before saying mildly: "You're a lot better off without them, mate."
While having lunch, the three of them decided that they would sneak out of the castle tonight after the party and pay Remus a little Animagus-visit. They were aware of the fact that McGonagall (or Filch) would definitely gave put an end to the party around midnight, so it would be half past twelve at the very latest when they would join their furry little friend.
When lunch time was nearly over, Peter had to leave for his Muggle Studies class while Brice and Lily decided to head back to the Common Room and study Defense against the Dark Arts, but Mary lingered behind with James and Sirius, who were preparing exercises for their upcoming Quidditch training later that afternoon. "James, can I talk to you about something?" Mary asked.
"Eh yeah, sure."
Mary looked at Sirius, who lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "Oh, you're sending me away, are you?"
"Fine, I guess I'll know my place," he laughed and stood up. "See you at the practice field, mate," he said and walked out of the Great Hall, oblivious to the fact he was closely being watched by Cassidy Donaldson and at least six other girls.
"Listen," Mary said to James when she looked back from shooting a somewhat envious look at the girls staring after Sirius. "What I'm about to do breaks all laws of girl friendship. In fact, Brice is convinced that the friend I'm referring to will have every right to hex me into oblivion, and quite frankly, I agree."
James rubbed his nose. "Ehm… So why are you talking to me now? Whatever this may be about," he added as an afterthought, looking lost.
"Because I think it's going to be best for all of us in the end."
"Right. So what exactly-"
"-James, I believe tonight is the night you should ask out Lily."
He gazed at her with his mouth hanging wide open. "What?" he spluttered eventually.
Mary laughed at his dumfounded expression. "I promise, with the hand on my heart, that if you'll ask her out, she will say yes. In a cordial way, that is…" she added, looking a bit anxious.
"Cordially. And what is… How am I… How do you think I should do that?"
Mary stared at him like he had come from another planet. "Merlin's Beard..." she said, heaving a sigh. "Okay, listen carefully: do not ask her out of nowhere, but do some small talk first. Come on man, don't look so afraid. You're not socially retarded and Lily is not a monster who'll eat you when you do something stupid. She could have done that a million times already."
James smiled. "Small talk won't be a problem. We've been doing nothing else since we're patrolling together."
"Exactly. And when the time is right, you'll ask her casually: 'Lily, I was thinking: would you like to come to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?'"
"And that'll do the trick?"
"That'll do the trick," Mary repeated as she got up from her seat and was about to walk away when James stopped her. "Wait, how can you be so sure that Lily won't just turn me down again?"
"Because she told me she wouldn't," Mary said, smiling serenely. "Oh, and can I trust you to keep this conversation between us?"
"Naturally!" James grinned, his confidence already restored, before also getting up. "And thanks," he grinned while putting his arm around her shoulder. "You're a true friend. I'll make sure you won't regret this." Mary smiled back and they walked out of the Hall together.
The 'Winter Wonderland slash Gryffindor has the most beautiful girls at Hogwarts-party' was a success. The Gryffindor common room was full of students, chatting and dancing to music while a large fire in fireplace crackled happily. Peter made sure there was plenty of food and drinks for everyone and sure enough; the table near the end of the room was literally bulging with Butterbeer, Cauldron Cakes, Chocolate Frogs, Sugarquills, Cockroach cCunchies and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans - although most of those were soon gone due to the insatiable stomach of a certain Mr. Pettigrew.
James had been less lucky with trying to persuade Lily to go on a date with him. Just now he was asking whether he might take her to an upcoming Quidditch match of the Chudley Cannons, but Lily declined politely, explaining she wasn't that much into Quidditch and that he should take someone who would enjoy it more than she would.
James shot Mary, who was standing near the window and talking to Sirius, a confused look and she casually shook her head while clearly mouthing back "Hogsmeade" in a subtle way.
Sirius looked from Mary to James and back. "What's that about?"
"Oh, nothing that would interest you," Mary said casually before sipping her Butterbeer. She watched the partying crowd for a moment and smiled. "This is a great party. It's just a shame Remus can't be here."
"Actually, I think Moony is just glad to be in bed."
"That illness of him is the weirdest thing. I've been wondering about it for years. What kind of disease causes him to have relapses every month?"
"Ehm, not sure," Sirius said, starting to feel nervous. "Would you like to dance?"
But Mary was no longer listening. Instead, she was staring out of the window while gazing up at the clear full moon in the sky. Suddenly her eyes widened. Sirius experienced a sudden sense of foreboding as he literally saw the realization of Remus's absence dawn on her face. "Oh… My…" she mumbled, looking dumfounded, but Sirius did not gave her a chance to finish that sentence.
He acted quickly and pulled her out of the Common Room, dragging her all the way along to a distant broom cupboard. As soon as they were safely inside, he turned towards her and looked at her flabbergasted face. He grabbed her hands and squeezed them gently, trying to force her to pull her mind to the present.
Sirius stared into her bright blue eyes. Event though Mary had not said a word ever since they left the Common Room, he already knew she had finally figured out the truth about Remus. "Don't say anything," he pleaded. "Promise me you won't speak of this to anyone."
Mary finally looked up at him and swallowed with difficulty. "Remus…" she said slowly, "… is a Werewolf?"
~*~ End of Chapter ~*~