Go Out With A Bang
“What is taking them so long?” James asked impatiently as he paced up and down in front of the stairs.
Sirius, looking at ease as he leaned back against the table with his hands resting in his pocket, shrugged. “Relax mate. They’re girls. Of course they’re late, it’s only natural for them.”
“You heard Brice. Mary is helping Lily to pin up her hair.”
James stopped pacing. “But it’s way past seven thirty. Lily and I should have have met up with McGonagall at the Entrance Hall ten minutes ago.”
He ruffled his hair nervously, making it look even more untidy, and his eyes continued to shoot to the stairs and back.
Sirius got up and walked over to his friend. “Prongs,” he said while placing a soothing hand on his shoulder. “Chill out, mate. They’ll be down here in a minute, so just rel-”
He stopped talking mid-sentence when James – who was staring stubbornly at the stairs – dropped his jaw. Sirius followed his gaze and also felt his heart skip a beat.
Mary and Lily were holding hands as they solemnly descended the stairs together. Sirius only half-noticed Lily who was looking spectacular in her light-coloured dress robes, but he was unable to stop staring at Mary.
According to his prejudiced eye, she looked like a goddess in her blue dress robes, which accentuated her body nicely and was making her eyes light up like sapphires.
Sirius reached for her hand and pulled her into his arms. He wanted to say how amazing she looked, but somewhere in the process his brain seemed to momentarily have been disconnected from his mouth and he was only able to stare at her.
When he had repeatedly cleared his throat and finally managed to get his voice back, all he could stutter was: “Wow… Mare… amazing… You look… Wow…”
Mary blushed and gently squeezed his hand. “You like my dress?”
Sirius smiled and let his free hand roam over her back. He sensed she was shivering slightly under his touch, but in a good way. “Like it? I’m speechless.”
“You’re not looking too bad yourself either” she said, taking a step back to admire his dark grey dress robes.
“Oh believe me, no one will spare me a look when you are standing next to me. Speaking of which, you know what this means, don’t you?”
“Eh… That we are going to have a wonderful time?”
“No. Well yes, but… It means I won’t be able to let you out of my sight for a second.”
Mary giggled. “You’re exaggerating, but I like it.”
Sirius grinned and pulled her into a quick kiss until James – who had been cuddling with Lily himself – interrupted them and said they should go downstairs right now if they wished to avoid getting cursed by a furious Transfiguration Professor.
And sure enough, when they finally managed to find a way through the crowd of excited students to reach McGonagall, their Head of house wasn’t looking happy. Her nostrils flared and her arms were crossed as she tapped her foot in an impatient manner.
She happened to be wearing a different hat, a rather festive one with bright red and gold feathers, but there was nothing celebratory about their Professor at the moment. “Potter, Evans, Black and Woods, you are late. This is unacceptable. Twenty points from Gryffindor.”
“But Professor!” James and Sirius protested simultaneously, but a single look of McGonagall silenced them. “Well,” she demanded, glaring at the four of them. “What are you waiting for? Off to your posts!”
Sirius and Mary exchanged a nervous glance with James and Lily before hurrying past McGonagall. “Oh and Miss Woods?” McGonagall called after them.
“Yes, Professor?” Mary asked nervously.
“Marvellous dress robes.”
“Thank you, Professor,” Mary grinned before walking on to the Entrance doors.
Once outside, Sirius continued to look at his girlfriend thinking he was the luckiest man in the world. Mary, noticing his admiring gaze, laughed and gave him a gentle push. “Stop staring like that!”
“I can’t help myself, that dress is hypnotizing. Are you sure no spell has been cast on it?”
Mary didn’t reply. Instead her eyes widened at the sight of the line of people waiting in front of the doors. Sirius couldn’t see what was so special about that. Who hadn’t seen a row before?
But when he followed her gaze more closely, he realized that she wasn’t staring at the guests, but at Allison – who was ticking off names on a long scroll of parchment – and more specifically, at the boy standing next to her, who was no other than Peter.
Allison, spotting them first, waved them over. “There you are! Can you make sure students won’t bring any fireworks into the castle? You’ll have to put the objects in there-” she pointed to a large bag on the ground. “-Or Filch will go ballistic. He has threatened to skin me alive if it does happen.”
Mary gasped, but Allison merely laughed. “Honestly, I’d like to see Filch try. Nevertheless… Do keep an eye on things, please,” she said matter-of-factly before continuing to check names on her list.
Mary and Sirius each walked to one side of the row to check if the guests were carrying any “forbidden goods”. He made sure he was standing closest to Peter and Alison. “Pssst,” he whispered to Peter. “Wanna tell me what’s going on?”
“You remember Allison said she wouldn’t mind going out with me?" Peter replied. "I… hadn’t forgotten about and... well, I eh… I… asked her. And to my surprise, she said yes.” He shrugged. “And here we are.”
“Good one, Wormtail,” Sirius beamed as he patted Peter on the shoulder. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I tried, Padfoot, but you and Prongs weren’t paying attention. Moony did know about it, though.”
“You asked out a girl for the first time! How could I have missed that?”
“Because you guys were caught up in other… things,” Peter said, gesturing in the direction of Mary, who was currently trying to confiscate a batch of enchanted snowballs from a fifth year Ravenclaw.
Sirius snorted. “I see your point.”
“Hey! Am I doing everything by myself here?” Allison snapped.
“Eh no…” Peter mumbled and got back to work. Sirius momentarily frowned at Allison, wondering if she had always been this bitchy, before getting back in line. He urged the next group he was supposed to inspect to come closer.
It was a group of fourth year Hufflepuff girls who were all giggling nervously as they got closer to him. He shot them a quick look and, guessing these girls wouldn’t have any forbidden items under their tight dress robes, shot them his trademark smile. The girls giggled madly and when they hurried past him, Sirius could clearly hear one of them whisper: “He smiled at me. Oh Merlin, he’s so cute!”
Sirius chuckled to himself while successfully confiscating a Dr. Fillibuster’s Spinning Fireball from a seventh year Hufflepuff called Steven Ashby. However, he did not throw it in the bag like Allison had told him to, but put it in his own pocket.
This piece of firework might come in handy in the future. Sirius grinned to himself as he pictured the explosive sight should he and James decide to toss the fireball in Snivellus’s morning pumpkin juice.
When everyone was inside, Sirius and Mary paid a brief visit to Hagrid, who was watching Jackie closely, while Allison and Peter cleaned up the mess left behind by the students.
“Ah, will yeh look at this beauty?” Hagrid said while throwing another big chop of meat into Jackie’s cage. “I woul’ love teh keep her for another while. Bu’ Dumbledore says that’ ain’ possible.”
“Obviously. It’s a dragon for crying out loud,” Mary said, eyeing Jackie suspiciously.
Hagrid looked at her in surprise. “Yeh don’ like dragons?”
“They breathe fire, Hagrid. That doesn’t sound like the description of a suitable pet to me.”
Hagrid chuckled and gave her a friendly pat on the shoulder, which would have made her tumble over if it weren’t for Sirius who caught her in the process.
“Ah Mary, I don’ blame yeh, but yeh wouldn’ be so cynical abou’ dragons if yeh knew how adorable they can be. Anyway, is almost eight o’clock, shouldn’ you lads be headin’ inside fer the concert?”
“Yeah, we should,” Sirius intervened quickly as he noticed Mary was not quite done discussing this delicate matter and pulled her along. “See ya, Hagrid,” he called over his shoulder. “I’ll drop by again later tonight.”
While they were walking towards the castle, Sirius asked: “Why did you have to say that?”
She shot him an incredulous look. “Because I’m having a bad feeling about all this. Keeping a dragon so close to the students? I agree with Lily and McGonagall, no good can come of this.”
Sirius shrugged. “There are more than enough experts around to keep an eye on things. It’ll be fine.”
Once they had entered the school and walked into the Great Hall, they spotted Lily and the others near the stage on the left side of the Hall. James had just walked onto stage and was about to introduce the Raging Rascals to the partying crowd.
“Listen up people,” he boomed, using Sonorus. “You think you’ve seen it all. Fairy lights guiding your way to Hogwarts, a choir of enchanted snow sculptures and even an Antipodean Opaleye as the honorary member of our welcoming committee. But… What would a Hogwarts party be without music? Plenty of artists begged me and Lily to come here and perform. However, we thought Celestina Warbeck (the crowd “boooed” loudly) and Musidora Barkwith and her exploding tuba (more “booos”) were far too soporific and I’m glad to hear you all agree. That is why I am more than happy to introduce the band of the moment! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, prepare yourself for an awesome performance of…” he paused for a few seconds. “The Raging Rascals!”
The crowd went mad by simply hearing the band’s name. When James had jumped off the stage and the Raging Racals started off their gig by playing their biggest hit song “Wild Pumpkin Pie”, the crowd cheered and started to dance wildly.
Lily, Mary and most of the other Muggleborns at the party simply watched the concert at first (they had to admit this was awesome music) before joining in with the others.
Far too soon for their liking Greg Bobtail, the lead singer of the band, announced that their next song would be the final number of the night. When that song had come to an end, the Raging Rascals bowed for a round of massive applause.
After the band had said their final goodbyes, James climbed back up to announce the remaining time of the party would be filled with popular Muggle music. Part of the crowd sighed disappointedly while the other half remained cheerful. However, as soon as popular songs by the Bee Gees and the Beatles loudly resounded through the Hall, all students cheered loudly and continued to dance.
At eleven o’clock, Sirius and Mary patrolled the courtyard for an hour, just like Lily had asked them to do. When Sirius was telling some fifth year students off for making out behind a bush and send them back inside, Mary couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t you think you’re being a hypocrite here?”
“Why?” Sirius asked, while parting another group of bushes by wand to check if there were more couples hiding out behind the low branches.
“Well, let’s see. How many times have you been caught doing the exact same thing?”
“I lost count back in fourth year.”
Mary rolled her eyes and muttered something unintelligibly and he laughed. “Are you jealous because you haven't been one of my secret courtyard girls?”
“No,” she snapped.
“Because if you insist,” he teased while pulling Mary closer to a nearby bush. “I’m sure something could be arranged, madam.”
“No way! Besides, it’s almost midnight. The courtyard seems completely deserted and we should head back inside if we don’t want to miss out on the countdown.”
Mary and Sirius hurried back to the Great Hall to find their friends. It was exactly five minutes to twelve and she quickly joined Brice and Lily, who were dancing madly to the popular Jackson 5 track “I want you back”.
When the chorus of the song was about to start, Brice wrapped her arms around Lily and Mary’s shoulders and said cheerfully: “Lets sing together!” And they did. As the chorus resounded through the Hall, the three of them, their arms still around each other, sung loudly:
Oh baby give me one more chance
(show you that I love you)
Won’t you please let me
(back in your heart)
Oh darlin’ I was blind to let you go
(let you go baby)
But now since I see you in his arms
(I want you back)
James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Timothy, Allison and other pureblood students watched this spectacle closely. Although they had heard songs of Jackson 5 before, they did not know the lyrics by heart. Brice, a pureblood student herself, was an exception. She loved all kinds of music. As long as it was good music, she didn’t care whether it was made by Muggles or wizards.
That was probably why Brice was looking so disappointed when the music died away abruptly. All the students looked at the stage where Dumbledore had conjured large bright red numbers in the air that were counting down from one minute to zero.
The tension in the Hall rose as the last seconds of 1977 were ticking away. When the numbers came down to fifteen, the entire Hall, students and teachers alike, started to countdown together:
“Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven!”
Sirius reached for Mary’s hand and pulled her closer to him so that they could herald the year 1978 together.
“Four! Three! Two! One! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Mary kissed Sirius before hugging him close and whispering “Happy New Year, love,” into his ear.
“Happy 1978,” he replied softly before ginning her a passionate kiss. Then he walked over to his friends and wished them all a happy new year as well. He looked over at the stage where Dumbledore’s numbers had now formed the number 1978.
The DJ continued with Abba’s “Happy New Year”, making Sirius laugh aloud when he spotted Brice's scowl. Everyone knew she hated Abba with a passion.
A few songs later the happy atmosphere of the party changed rapidly. Someone had managed to smuggle a spinning fireball into the school after all and made it explode near the back of the hall. A few students were seriously injured, including the prankster himself. The remaining crowd of students panicked and hurried away from the scene.
The teachers as well as Lily responded quick enough. She ordered Sirius to go and get James – who had gone outside to check on Jackie – and he was about to run off when he saw Mary. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah, fine. Go find James. I’ll join you as soon as I can,” she said while trying the comfort a fourth year Gryffindor-girl who was crying hysterically.
Sirius nodded and sprinted to the Entrance doors. As soon as he got outside, he spotted James standing right near Jackie’s cage, animatedly talking to Angus. “Prongs!” he yelled.
His friend looked around and from one look at Sirius’s face, he knew something was amiss. “What happened?” he called as he ran towards him.
“Some jerk made a fireball go off!” Sirius yelled back.
James groaned and was about to storm off to the hall when he turned around. “Padfoot, you stay here.”
“Keep an eye on Jackie, will you?” Angus’s raspy voice suddenly sounded right behind him. “I’m going to have a look inside, so now this dragon is your responsibility.”
Sirius watched Angus walking away before heading over to Jackie’s cage, although he was cautious enough to keep his distance. He had to keep an eye on Jackie and its surroundings. At first nothing out of the ordinary happened.
He had looked back over his shoulder repeatedly to confirm most of the students had gathered in front of the doors, apparently awaiting further instructions from the staff. “Well, as long as they stay on the grounds...” he mumbled to himself as he turned back. And then his heart stopped.
A girl had been quietly approaching Jackie’s cage. She wasn’t walking straight, but swayed from left to right and was clutching a bottle of elf-wine to her side.
It was obvious to him this girl was very drunk. Sirius’s eyes shot from Jackie to the girl and back. The dragon was watching the girl intently and snarled while snorting repeatedly, making smoke come out of her nostrils.
Without hesitation he pulled out his wand and stormed towards the cage. As he approached the giro, he suddenly realized the girl was Cassidy. “Stupid cow,” he thought before yelling: “Cassidy, don’t move!”
Cassidy turned around, stumbling slightly at the sudden movement and trying to keep her balance. “Hey there Ssssssiriuss, look at thisss dragon. Isssn’t sshe fabulousss?”
“Watch out!” Sirius yelled when Jackie was breathing in deeply, but it was too late. A large jet of fire breathed out by the dragon only missed Cassidy by inches.
He dove on top of her in an attempt to protect her from a second fire ball. Sirius used one hand to pin Cassidy to the ground and the other to point his wand at Jackie’s eyes and cast a conjunctivitis curse. The spell worked, because although the dragon was still breathing fire like a mad woman, she was now sending rays of fire in every direction but the right one.
This gave them a little more time to get out of danger. Sirius tried to drag Cassidy away from the dragon before the effects of his spell were wearing off, but it was hard enough for as it was to remain standing.
He felt like he had no choice, picked Cassidy up in one swift movement and carried her over to a stone bench near the greenhouses where he finally put her down. “Are you hurt?” he panted.
To his utter amazement, Cassidy started to giggle. “No silly, I’m... fine,” she said before hiccoughing loudly. “That wasss… fun and you’re very cute,” she added while gently caressing his face.
Sirius sighed. “Cassidy, you’re pretty wasted. I’m getting you a sobering potion. Just wait here.”
“No, please don’t go!” Cassidy said pleadingly as she reached for his hand and pulled him back down. “I;m fine, honestly. Jusst help me get back to my feet.”
But as soon as Sirius pulled her up, she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. “What are you doing?” he said, feeling alarmed and trying to gently push her away.
“I forgot how handsome… you are,” she sighed dreamily. And before he realized what happened - although he was sure he saw Cassidy look at someone over his shoulder first - she leaned in to kiss him.
At first he was so stunned that he did not know what to do. He simply stood there, trying to comprehend what was happening, before he finally jerked his head away and shook her off roughly. This did not seem to bother Cassidy in the slightest. An evil smile crept over her face. “Ooooh, I believe we have company”, she whispered.
With a growing feeling of apprehension, Sirius slowly turned back and made eye contact with the person standing behind them. His heart stopped. It was Mary. She looked absolutely livid and shot him a hateful look before running off.
“Mary!” he yelled. He let go of Cassidy’s arm who - still tipsy - tumbled over into a nearby bush, but Sirius could not care less. He hurried after Mary and, probably because she was wearing high heels, managed to catch up with her in front of the Entrance Doors. “Wait! Just let me explain,” he panted while reaching for her hand.
“Get away from me!” she cried, pulling her hand away.
“But you’re getting this all wrong! Nothing happened. This was Cassidy’s doing, she planned it all! I… I… Please listen. Mary!”
There was a note of panic in his voice. He tightly wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to calm her down, but his grip seemed to have the downright opposite effect. Mary tried to wriggle out of his grip and when that didn’t work, she turned around quickly and hit him hard in the face.
This caught Sirius by total surprise, making him let go. Tears were streaming down Mary’s face when she finally looked up at him, her eyes full of hurt and loathing. “Leave. Me. Alone!”
She turned around and stormed up the stairs of the school. Sirius decided it was best to let her go. He did follow her inside, but at a slower pace. He realized that there was no way she would ever listen to him now.
When he was passing the Great Hall, he met up with a concerned Lily. “Sirius, what happened to Mary?”
He sighed miserably. “A big misunderstanding. Lily, I mean it. Cassidy tricked me and I didn’t realize what she was doing before it was too late. I know how that kiss must have looked to Mary, but I swear I didn’t want…” He looked up at her. “I didn’t.”
He expected Lily to get angry, but she didn’t. Instead, she hugged him close and said softly: “Somehow, and I don’t know why because your history should tell me otherwise, I believe you didn’t cheat on Mary.”
Sirius shot her a grateful look. “Look, I should go upstairs. I have to see her.”
Lily held him back. “No,” she said clearly. “Mary won’t want to see you now. She’s hurt, confused and angry. It’s better if you stay here and ask James if he needs your help cleaning up the mess. I’ll go.”
She hurried up the stairs to the Gryffindor Common Room. As Sirius watched her disappear from view, it felt like he was trapped within a nightmare. He tried to get his head around the fact he had gone from feeling ecstatic to absolutely miserable in less than an hour.
Sirius feared he had lost her for good. How in Merlin’s name would he ever win Mary back when he knew perfectly well how suspicious Cassidy’s embrace must have looked to her?
~*~ End of Chapter ~*~