style='font-size:13.5pt; mso-bidi-font-weight:bold'>Disclaimer:<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">
I do not own JK Rowling’s characters. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> </span>She
invented them and the wonderful world of Hogwarts. I am just happily visiting
her world for a while.
Author’s note: For those who may be
wondering about Sirius and his Penrose cousins, read my fic “That’s What Little
Boys Are Made Of”. Sirius has not been
invited back to Cornwall …!
‘good deeds’ bit had given them some trouble at first. After all, they couldn’t be too blatant
about it – like offering to help Filch clean the classrooms. But Professor Kettleburn had really
appreciated their offer to care for the animals on his day off -two Clabberts,
an ancient Kneazle and a Hippogriff. He
even gave them five extra marks each.
they quickly discovered that opportunities for other good deeds presented
themselves quite unexpectedly. James
put his flying skills to good use one afternoon when he wandered down to the
Quidditch pitch during a spare period, only to find Madam Alfi giving lessons
to the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor first years, some of whom were clearly having
difficulty despite her instructions. He
hastily abandoned any ideas of practising goal-shooting, and instead offered
politely (with just a little trepidation) to help her with a couple of
youngsters who were having real trouble.
to his surprise, the offer was accepted. Alfi preferred to supervise the complete beginners, so she gave
him the more assured fliers and asked him to put them through some basic
exercises. Which he did, discovering
that he actually enjoyed teaching and demonstrating some slightly more advanced
moves. Or, as Remus put it later, ‘just
showing off to the new kids’. James
protested that he was not showing off: Peter retorted that he’d heard a couple of the Gryffindor first years speaking about
James in very glowing terms, so of course he had been showing off. The ensuing wrestling match was only
abandoned when Remus knocked over Peter’s bedside table. The crash brought a sixth year prefect
hammering on their door to demand they either shut up or go down to
generally had little to do with his Penrose cousins. Lucy had started at Hogwarts this year and followed her brothers
into Hufflepuff, thus rendering herself almost invisible to Gryffindor fourth
year boys. Tony wasn’t bad, but he was
now in seventh year and supposedly studying for his N.E.W.Ts. The Black-Penrose paths seldom crossed, and
Sirius generally preferred it that way.
He suspected the feeling was mutual.
his newfound spirit of virtue, however, he had recently smiled warmly and
greeted Lucy when he saw her in the corridors, and had casually chatted once or
twice with Tony. This, Sirius
considered, was about as much as could reasonably be required of him in meeting
chivalry demanded action when he and Remus happened across Lucy and two friends
cowering in terror behind a third floor statue while Peeves hurled books and
pieces of a broken chair at them. The
boys repelled the poltergeist with well-aimed double jets of water into his
eyes, then helped the girls gather their wits and their books. A few quick spells mended bags and cleaned
up a bottle of spilled ink, after which they escorted the tear-stained first
years downstairs to Madam Pomfrey.
Brenda and Sally promptly developed abiding crushes on Sirius, while
Lucy decided on Remus. She agreed
Sirius was good looking too, but insisted she couldn’t possibly have a crush on
her own cousin. Fortunately for all
parties, it was some time before this adoration became known, even within
was James, possibly emboldened by the approving glances he’d received from
several older girls because of the efforts he was making with his appearance,
who hit on an excellent idea.
was why he carried Lily Evans’ bag between Potions and Divination that Monday
morning. It wasn’t really that heavy,
but it was quite a way between classes, and Lily had smiled very nicely at him
when he offered to help her. And that
gave him a funny warm feeling that lasted all through Professor Tetley’s interminable
class, even though he’d been made to sit next to
David Morris. But he was
able to carry Lily’s bag back to Gryffindor later.
went one better next day. Just before
lunch they had Care of Magical Creatures with the Slytherins. As usual
they met up with the
Slytherins in the entrance Hall, and Sirius noticed Portia
Staples stop to rub her ankle ruefully.
She’d fallen and sprained it on the weekend, and Madam Pomfrey had
insisted she keep it strapped heavily.
The trip down to the animal pens and Professor Kettleburn’s lesson would
take some time.
a hand?” Sirius asked, nodding to her heavy bag and giving her a friendly grin.
She looked a little astonished, and then – to his
great relief – returned the smile and allowed him to take the bag from
Sirius” she said. “It’s too hard to
take them back to the dormitory between classes, so I have to carry the lot
– we can never get back up to Gryffindor either,” he commiserated. They walked slowly down to the lesson,
discussing the Founding Four and the strange design of Hogwarts Castle, and she
seemed grateful for his supporting arm as they negotiated a small flight of
arrived a little late. Portia
apologised, explained about her ankle and said Sirius had been helping
her. Professor Kettleburn smiled
rather vaguely and said he was glad to see she had a nice strong friend. James doubled over in a sudden coughing
fit, and Sirius promptly went bright red, but the smile from Portia and the
filthy looks he got from the other Slytherins more than compensated. He couldn’t work in Portia’s group, but at
the end of the lesson, he politely offered to help her back up to the
castle. Snape and Avery immediately
don’t think she needs a Gryffindor’s assistance,” Avery said coldly. “Portia,
I’ll dotake that. I
forgot about your ankle – I should have helped you before.”
stiffened, drew herself up and looked Avery up and down very slowly. “Yes, you should,” she replied haughtily,
and earned the Gryffindors’ undying gratitude with her next words. “Sirius offered first. Anyway, he tells much better jokes than you
do.” And with that, she turned her back
disdainfully on Avery, smiled warmly at Sirius and held out her bag. Remus hustled the spluttering James and
Peter away before they could spoil the moment.
Over lunch Sirius endured much teasing about the
girlfriend?” chuckled David Morris, slapping him on the back. “Not bad, Sirius,
not bad at all! Bit of all right, that
one. Even if she’s in Slytherin.”
“Did you SEE Snape’s face!” enthused Peter.
– thought he was going to Curse you,” said James, dumping huge mounds of mashed
potatoes onto all their plates.
what about Avery,” said Remus. “That
look when Portia said she’d prefer you to him!”
she’s got excellent taste,” retorted Sirius. Later that evening, as they
reviewed their progress, the incident was voted an unqualified success. After all, said James cheerfully, it was
easy to be nice to your friends – it was much harder, but also more fun, to be
nice to those who were supposed to be your enemies.
, feeling very
tired after spending several late nights in certain activities not
directly relevant to his officialstudies , couldn’t be bothered protesting that Portia was really
quite nice, and she’d never been an enemy.
* * *
The research was progressing well, though
it led them in unusual directions. It was James who found what they needed.
“Look at this!” he whispered to Sirius, handing him a
plain-looking book bound in green leather.
The pair had entered the library using James’ cloak, and were now
ensconced in the Highly Restricted section, ears ever cocked for the faintest
sound of Filch or other trouble. The
search for particular sorts of charm had led them to this distant corner of
dusty shelves, and eventually to certain books that were definitely not on the
approved reading lists for fourteen year-old wizards.
Sirius glanced at the pages indicated, and stifled a
snort. “Madam Pomfrey didn’t say
anything about that in her lectures!
Anyway - ” he looked up, “I am not
making a love potion! This year,
anyway!” he amended.
“No – but look at the stuff on massage – there …” James jabbed a finger at one of the
pages. Sirius read on, then nodded.
“Good idea … should work … yes, activates when rubbed … lasting effects … extra sensations for … hell, we don’t need that sort of stuff, James!”
His eyes widened as he flicked over a couple more illustrated pages, and
he wordlessly held the book out to James, whose expression promptly mirrored
his own fascinated embarrassment. “Ah
– yes – er …. well, we’d better go check some of those other texts. That isn’t the ordinary contagio charm. And I need
to look up a bit more on slow release potions.”
James replaced the book with a sheepish grin.
“I know. But I think it works on
the same principles as contagio. OK – I’ll see what Cartoffle has to say –
he’s usually pretty good. You check
the potions – maybe there’s something in those Healer texts.”
A few moments later James had located Cartoffle’s
enormous tome, while Sirius was rifling through several complex texts that he
was sure only Professor Heldin and Madam Pomfrey would ever read. Two HushQuills worked silently as certain
sections were hastily copied .
Finally James sat back with a contented sigh. “Think that’s all we need.
We’ll try it tomorrow night with some of your potion.”
“We may have to test it on people later. You could always
ask Susan or Lily to volunteer!” Sirius
grinned suggestively, then yawned.
James rolled his eyes and cuffed him lightly. A few moments later, only the stealthy opening and closing of the
library door hinted at their passage.
The Fat Lady grumbled at their nocturnal habits but admitted them to
Gryffindor Tower. Ten minutes later
they were both asleep.
* * *
doesn’t take long for suspicions to be aroused when four boys, known for their
trouble-making since first year, suddenly become models of virtue. Particularly when the ringleaders seen to
have undergone some sort of spiritual
Gryffindor classmates were divided on the matter. Mavis O’Reilly wondered fearfully if the Potters and Blacks had
been sent Final Owls, warning that the boys’ future at Hogwarts might be in
jeopardy if they accrued any more detentions.
Julian thought that Sirius and James might have had Severe Warnings at
least, while Malcolm Stewart believed that the Head Boy (a Gryffindor) might
have had Had Words.
were more suspicious. David Morris and
Jeffrey Houghton reckoned the four of them were definitely planning
‘something’, but had decided to keep their heads down while they did so. They were rather looking forward to the
Lily, Susan and Amanda thought it might be a
little more complicated than that, and had their own ideas about who knew
what. Peter, they agreed, definitely
knew something was going on but wouldn’t – or possibly couldn’t – say. And anyway, even if Peter could be
persuaded to talk, he’d been known to give out false information before now to
divert suspicion. No use tackling
Remus, who was a lost cause as far as divulging secrets: he had at least a
dozen politely different ways of saying absolutely nothing. Which left James and Sirius.
two were most certainly Up To Something, but there hadn’t been a single,
solitary clue. Certainly Sirius had
been reading some advanced texts on Potions, but that was nothing new – Sirius
really loved all that stuff. The
hand-lotion he’d made for them last year was even better than the one you could
get at Diana’s Grotto in Hogsmeade,
and he’d promised them some more for this Christmas. James had been burrowing into Charms texts with unusual vigour,
but then he had got a perfect mark for that last horrible essay …
The only things they all agreed on were that all the
Professors were getting decidedly twitchy about the Gryffindor ‘angels’. And that whatever was brewing, it was bound
to be worth watching.
they’re planning a spectacular fall – like Lucifer!” laughed Lily. “Just don’t try and tell me those two are
going to be perfectly good from now till the end of seventh year.”
neither,” agreed Susan. “I believe in
magic – not miracles!”
they angelic continued to present themselves neat,
clean and tidy. They no longer looked
as though they’d dressed mere seconds before appearing for breakfast: their
robes had obviously been neatly folded or hung in wardrobes, not merely rescued
from wherever they’d been tossed the previous evening. Even their shoes appeared to have suffered
regular attention. True, Sirius did
wear the tartan socks, but at least they were a matched pair. He’d previously tended to favour Frazer
tartan on one foot with a black and gold striped Wasps one on the other. And while James’ hair was probably beyond
redemption in this world ( or the next, as Minerva had once ruefully
noted), he did at least make sterling efforts to comb it into some sort of
it was their impeccable behaviour that was most alarming. They handed in their assignments on
time. Being Black and Potter, these
were of excellent quality. They arrived
at classes promptly and were models of decorum - no faces, jokes, pranks, or
untoward comments. They correctly
answered all questions put to them; they smiled at the professors and their
fellow students; they were helpful in the extreme. No-one had seen them out of Gryffindor
tower after hours;
no-one had seen them down near the Forbidden Forest; most alarming of all, they
completely ignored the Slytherins, and refused to react to any of the slurs and
insults thrown their way.
they didn’t ignore all the Slytherins.
Professor Kettleburn, vague about so many day to day matters,
had remarkedobserved casually that
Black was happy to work with Portia Staples during his classes. And Alfi Abernathy had been slightly
surprised to find Potter talking amicably with Henry Tebbitt and Joanna
Cornwell, new members of Slytherin’s Quidditch team, after practice one
evening. But Snape, Avery, Rosier and
their group might have ceased to exist, for all the notice ntthat was paid to
been one small incident between classes, it was true, but Filius had appeared
on the scene unexpectedly. He later
informed some slightly incredulous staff members that Lupin had apologised
politely for bumping into Rosier, while Black and Pettigrew had merely sighed
heavily and turned away. The only
remark had come from a bored-looking Potter, who told Rosier and Snape not to
be so rude – it was “very juvenile”.
“Potter calling the kettle black?” quipped Alfi.
The whole situation was slowly driving her mad.
enduring three weeks of this incomprehensible behaviour, she found herself down
at the Three Broomsticks on Friday evening, sitting at a table with , Filius, Ivy and
, as well as Alfi Abernathy.
for you as usual, Professor?” asked Madam Rosmerta, taking their orders. “Or will it be a Strawberry Switch tonight?”
said Minerva firmly. “I’d like a
Firewhisky please, Rosmerta. McTavish’s
Aged Peatfire, if you have any.”
was a shocked silence. “Will that be a
inquired Rosmerta politely, skilfully maintaining
I think,” said Minerva
, and Rosmerta departed rapidly. . The others regarded their colleague with mixed
“Are you all right, Minerva?” asked Filius. “Is anything wrong?”
“Nothing is ‘wrong’, Filius,” she said firmly. “And THAT is what’s worrying me!”
worried because nothing’s wrong?”
said Alfi, rolling her eyes at Horace but smiling encouragingly. “Isn’t that a little – well – strange?”
only thing ‘strange’ Alfi, is the behaviour of certain members of my
House. James Potter and Sirius Black,
to be precise. And their cohorts,
Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.”
they do seem to have become quite well-behaved lately,” said Horace
cheerfully. “Excellent workers, both of
them. I’ve enjoyed teaching that class
these last few weeks – they seem to have finally given up tossing crocodile
hearts or setting off Zoomers.”
over a new leaf, have they?” said Ivy, and Filius chuckled. “I was so glad of their assistance the other
day – that Spangled Tetrapod suddenly started shooting its seeds everywhere –
quite unexpected, it shouldn’t have done that for another week - and of course
hurt when you touch them. Potter was able to get a net over it very
quickly, and the four of them stayed back to help me clean up. They Summoned all those seeds from where
they’d gone under the benches and into the other plants – very clever, they
brought the drinks: Minerva downed a large sip of whisky. “They have NOT turned over a new leaf,
Ivy,” she said firmly. “They are only
well-behaved because they have an ulterior motive. They are up to something.
I know it.”
regarded her sympathetically, and sipped
their own drinks.
Alfi after a few
moment, “they have
Had Black or Potter
acquired a girlfriend? Minerva rather
hoped not: so far, erratic teenage hormones seemed to have had little effect on
the group, though she was sure it was only a matter of time. Black and Lupin were certainly good looking,
and Potter had really shot up these last few months and now resembled an
amiable, bespectacled beanpole. But would a girlfriend cause this change …?
She took another
mouthful. An excellent drop, McTavish’s
should have it more often. Further
conversation with her companions revealed that the two boys had been seen
sitting with all the Gryffindor girls, as well as with Lupin, Pettigrew,
Houghton and Morris.
“And of course,” said Ivy
happily, “Black’s taken to working with Fiona
Martin in my class. Such a nice girl,
really very nice indeed.
And I’ve seen him walking
back from Professor Kettleburn’s classes with Portia Staples and Janice Timms –
you know, from Slytherin. Quite pretty,
that Portia. And Potter has been
sitting with Jill Evans or Liz Chauncey. Though Liz also likes working with young
Lupin of course.”
The others joined in,
assuring Minerva that she was imagining things – that the two boys were just
settling down – that they were both very popular and were simply sitting with
different friends in turn – that she was making mountains out of
molehills. That there was nothing at
all to be worried about. Minerva was
not convinced, but said nothing more.
It was pleasant to spend the occasional evening away from the
school. She had a second whisky. Another large one.
Despite the evening chill,
the walk back to the school was very pleasant, although Minerva didn’t recall
there being so many corners or rough patches on the path
, . and
Luckily Alfi managed to grab her elbow when she stumbled on one of them. Nevertheless she walked quite steadily from
the main door to her rooms, even if for some reason the key didn’t want to fit
into her lock. The bedside candle was
definitely too bright, but the bed was wonderfully soft and she didn’t really
have the strength to argue with Poppy Pomfrey.
Such a sensible woman, Poppy … The Matron had mysteriously appeared as she was struggling with
her nightdress, firmly insisting that Minerva swallow some foul-tasting green
liquid and drink a large glass of water; she had then helped her into bed. Black and Potter – Potter and Black ….
Madam Pomfrey extinguished
the candle, shook her head ruefully and shut the door behind her. “Good thing it’s Saturday tomorrow,” she
muttered to the waiting Alfi. “Though
she won’t be down for breakfast, I expect.”
* * *
James let his Quidditch
team-mates walk on ahead after Monday evening practice, and bent over to fumble
with his bootlace. Sirius paused
beside him, swinging his broom idly.
“I think they’re
definitely getting a bit worried about us,” he
murmured. “Madam Alfi’s been giving us very funny
smile nicely,” said James. “That really
Professor Lieder asked me if I was all right the other day.”
James gave an amused
snort. “Maybe you should start looking
pale and ill. That way they’d have
something to worry about.”
“I’m disgustingly healthy.
Hungry mind you, but
very healthy. We need to visit the
“Perhaps you should borrow
some …” He broke off as a pair of
bright yellow boots paused beside him.
all right, Potter? Black?” inquired Alfi
Yeah – just fixing my
bootlace, Madam Alfi,” said James, rising to his feet.
good. You haven’t been quite yourselves
lately. Anything wrong?”
“No – nothing’s wrong,” James assured her
earnestly. “We’re fine, honestly.”
“That’s good. I was worried that several weeks of
excessively good behaviour might have been too much for your health.”
James looked completely
puzzled; Sirius frowned. Three years
of mutual mischief had perfected their ability to look instantly innocent,
ignorant, incredulous or indignant – whatever the occasion demanded.
“What do you mean?” James really did that well, Sirius thought,
keeping his own features suitably bewildered.
“Well – seems you haven’t
been getting your usual detentions. I
think poor Filch misses
And you’ve been very helpful to people, and
you’ve been working extremely hard. Some
people might begin to wonder what you were up to.” Alfi Abernathy
could also look totally innocent especially the front
of them - . – as many an
opponent had found to their cost.
“We’re always helpful!” beamed
doing that. “You know that, Madam
“Oh indeed I do,
Black. Indeed I do. But there’s an old saying about leopards not
changing their spots.” She paused,
eying them thoughtfully “So – how would
you like to help me next weekend? Say,
Sunday afternoon. The Ravenclaw –
Hufflepuff match should be finished by then, I hope.”
at her, genuinely
puzzled. “Help you? How, Madam Alfi?”
“You’re doing Muggle
Studies aren’t you?” The
boys nodded. “Well, that car of mine needs a really good
clean and polish. I’m going to sell it
and buy a motorbike. So I wondered if
you’d give me a hand. I’ll show you the
engine and explain some Muggle mechanics.
Might even give you a ride in it.”
Sirius’ eyes lit up in
delight. “Really, Madam Alfi? Do you really know about the engine
and all that? Will you show me how it works? Do they
go faster?” James rolled his eyes
“Don’t get him started,”
he said. “He’ll forget to do any
polishing, just stand there and drive you barmy with questions. Then he’ll want you to pull the whole thing
to pieces so he can see how it fits together again.”
“S’all right. You don’t need to come if you don’t want
to!” Sirius grinned. This was definitely a Good Deed he’d enjoy.
elbowed him. “We’ll both be there,
Madam Alfi. Glad to help.”
“Excellent. I’ll see you then – it’s the end part of the
old stables. Now, you’d better
scoot. Wouldn’t want anyone saying
you’d stayed out after hours, now would we.
You might get a detention.”
Alfi watched the two
figures racing up towards the castle, and smiled to herself. She genuinely liked those boys – a ‘likely
pair of lads’ as her father would term them.
Highly intelligent, plenty of spirit, a sense of fun, and a great deal
of Quidditch talent. Especially that
But Minerva was right:
something was definitely up. Her sixth
sense didn’t need to consult Professor Tetley – they were just too innocent.
* * *
Sirius paused near the
Ravenclaw table as he left the Great Hall after lunch next day. He bent over and said a few quick words to
Fiona, then grinned cheerfully and strode off after James. Fiona shrugged at Liz’s inquiring look,
and said it was ‘just something about music’.
Later that evening she met
Sirius in the little music room at the end of the corridor. The piano was closed: he gestured her to a
chair and swiftly explained what he needed.
“I can’t ask the
Gryffindors of course. You’re the only other one I can ask who has really pale
skin,” he finished. “I mean – I mean,
you don’t look sick or anything – you’ve just got sort of – well, you know –
pale – skin. It’s – it’s really nice,”
he added hastily, suddenly worried she might be offended. He’d always been able to talk to Fiona
about anything, but just lately, some girls seemed a bit – well, sensitive
about certain things. Especially their
Fiona flushed with sudden
pleasure. She and Sirius had been
easygoing friends since first year, but despite some teasing from the others in
her dormitory, she’d occasionally wondered if he was even aware she was a girl. “Well, I don’t use much really,” she said
slowly. “But I’ve got some stuff that
use. Though it would really be better if you
could do a Glamour.”
“Can’t do that. Madam Pomfrey would
pick it up too easily – Steven Folkes, one of our fifth years, tried one last
year as a joke and she was onto him like anything.”
“He probably didn’t work
it properly,” said Fiona scornfully.
Then she smiled at Sirius. “Though I think you’d manage it.”
“Thanks!” He grinned disarmingly. “But I can’t risk it. So – can you let me have the stuff? Do I have to use very much? How long does it last?”
him, then spluttered with laughter. “Depends,” she said. “I
think you’ll have to experiment – only don’t ask me to explain to
anyone if you’re found out ! Because I know nothing – right? I know - I’ll bring it to practice tomorrow
morning. I can show you how to put it
“Right! And – er, thanks a lot, Fiona!”
“Wish you’d tell me what it was all for!”
“Nothing much really. Just a sort of idea I had. Promise you won’t say anything though – to
any one. Even Liz.”
“I promise.” Fiona shook her head. Boys!
* * *
Remus went down to the
hospital wing as usual that Thursday after classes. His friends had an unspoken agreement that they were quieter than
normal around him on the days immediately before a full moon, but for some
reason he was feeling a little more on edge than he expected. James and Sirius had him worried – well,
not worried really – just wondering what they were up to. All this business about being good, and not
getting into trouble. They’d been at
it for more than three weeks now, and even he was starting to wonder about
them. Not that he or Peter minded the
lack of detentions, it was just that … well, even the other Gryffindors were
getting a bit concerned. It wasn’t
He sighed, changed into
old clothes and lay back on the bed, waiting for Madam Pomfrey. No use in worrying about it now, though it
did help keep his mind off things.
Whatever was going on, Sirius certainly wasn’t looking all that well
today, and he’d been realistically pale yesterday too. Maybe Madam Pomfrey would notice when they
came to see him tomorrow. Though what
she’d do to Sirius if she worked it out could be interesting …
closed his eyes and steadied his breathing.
* * *
cauldron was simmering nicely, and Sirius gave it another stir.
think its ready?” said James, eyeing the pale blue liquid with interest.
“Should be – want to test
ladled some of the
mixture into a small bowl of water, then dipped an old
paintbrush into it. “Right – over there
near the wall. Hang on, brush it clean
James wiped the floor with
an old rag, then Sirius carefully painted a thin coat of the mixture onto a
patch of stone.
“Let it dry for a bit,
then we’ll see.” He placed bowl and
carefully to one side, then sat back
and grinned at his friend. “Good
Sometimes the best
discoveries are made by accident. James
had found their hiding place just after term started, when he’d hastily
squeezed behind the pillar in the sixth floor corridor to evade Filch one
afternoon and accidentally pushed against a rosebud on the carved frieze behind
him. He’d only just avoided a squawk
of surprise when the small panel had swung open in the wall behind him. An evening expedition with Sirius and the
Cloak had led them to this secluded room.
There were no windows as such, just three archers’ slits, but that was
enough to give them air and faint light, particularly with tonight’s full
moon. Two candles and the blue flames
of the small fire beneath the cauldron
gave additional light for the present
“Right – should be dry –
let’s see.” Sirius crawled over to the
patch of floor, placed one finger on it, then carefully wiped the finger with
“YES!” James’s eyes lit up
as he scanned the patch. “Brilliant,
“Of course!” Sirius punched his shoulder.
“Try it yourself!”
grabbed one of the candles, dabbed it onto the patch, then turned it over.
“Wow. Not bad, Master!”
“Here – wipe it off – I think that stuff will stick and continue
to mark things. Which will be great.”
He handed James the rag and inspected the floor critically. “Now – the combination of charms is the
key. We’ve got to get it to release
gradually – not when they first use it, but when it’s dry and gets touched
later. So - if the first classes are
at nine o’clock, it’s got to last for between nine and twelve hours.”
“Will it work when you add
it to Filch’s stuff?” James
pushed his glasses back up his nose.
“Should do – I mixed a bit
in the other day and it seemed OK.
That blending charm you found for the callifly wings is great. Here – let’s put some of this batch in and
try it. If we paint it on now, we can
check it after lunch tomorrow.”
James handed him a tin
filled with thick orange paste. Sirius
added a dozen drops of the blue mixture, stirred it carefully with an old spoon
until it was properly blended, then painted another patch on the floor.
“Right. Let’s leave that to dry for now – we’ll
check it tomorrow after lunch. I put in
a dozen drops – I may need to add a few more.
I won’t add the scent until last – it’s concentrated and I don’t want to
James chuckled. “We’ve got a bit of time. Full moon tonight, so Remus won’t be up to
helping us much before the weekend.
Give it another few days after that, and all we need to do is get a
There was a wicked glint
in Sirius’ eyes. “Who said anything
about involving Remus or Peter?”
James stared at him, then
an equally evil grin spread over his face.
“Mr Black, I just had an interesting thought – it would be even better
if Remus could get the detention, wouldn’t it?”
excellent idea, Mr Potter!”
“Mr Black, as usual it’s a pleasure doing
business with you.”
* * *
PotterBlackenterednext dayBlackstill tooShe’d seen him yesterday in the
corridor, and thought he’d looked less – well, robust – than normal.
Almost like Lupin on the days after full moon. But p, and ashe
had propped an elbow on the table and was leaning his head in
his hand. He wasn’t really eating -
just ifShe watched as he pushed his plate away, almost untouched,
and take a bread roll instead. ’d insist She hoped he wasn’t sickening for something dreadful – his
behaviour had certainly been rather odd these last few weeks. Could there be
something physically wrong with him?
Though Potter looked healthy enough …
Perhaps Black was worried about something? Had anything happened at home?
Minerva frowned: she wondered whether she should talk to him later.
shown him the best way to apply itEven
so, it had required some time in front of the mirror before he was completely
- He’d never understood why
they needed all that lipstick and stuff.
And he was relieved and oddly pleased when
Fiona had winked and given him a quick thumbs-up as they passed each other
howevermuch in disgust aDamn!
It had those stupid poppyseeds on it.
Why couldn’t they just be nice and plain? He shoved the roll aside and sat back crossly.
very Is anything wrong?
All i,quite illinsidelie downmi
and James s But she’d keep an eye on him all the
same. Boys never liked to admit they
were unwell, usually preferring to leave matters until far too late, in her
Now,you rest In bed by nine o’clock, I suggest.
She was even more
surprised when Sirius turned up again before dinner, meekly swallowing another
dose of tonic and promising he’d go to bed early. Yes, he admitted, he had been working long hours lately, and
could do with a good night’s sleep.
Which was perfectly true.
Minerva was relieved to
see him eating heartily again that evening and remarked on it to Poppy, who
merely smiled and said it was good to see her tonics had worked so
quickly. Minerva shook her head in
amusement: trust Poppy to have noticed Sirius looked off-colour.
“He’s a perfectly healthy
boy normally, Minerva,” the Matron said firmly. ‘Nothing much wrong with him at all, apart from occasional
injuries. A bit tired, I expect. Dose of tonic and a good sleep – he’ll be
right as rain in the morning.”
“Glad to hear it. He and Potter have been behaving very
strangely lately – not like themselves at all.
Five – no, nearly six weeks without a detention. Not a toe out of line at all – it’s quite
unnatural. Then Black’s been so pale
lately - I wondered if he was coming down with something. Or whether anything else was wrong.”
Poppy shrugged. “Well, he’s perfectly healthy as far as I
can see. And I haven’t had a hint
there’s anything else worrying him.”
She smiled reassuringly. “But
I’ll keep my eyes and ears open, Minerva – and perhaps if Remus knows anything,
he might say something. But I think
Sirius is fine.”
The two women ate in
silence for a few minutes, then watched as their plates were cleaned away. “You know,” said Poppy mildly, “I think the
boys are probably just very busy. Or
else they’re up to something. Probably
both. In fact Minerva, knowing those
two, I think you could almost bet on it.”
Minerva ladled out their
helpings of chocolate pudding, and passed Poppy the cream. She was greatly relieved by Poppy’s
comments: after all, she’d had two boys herself. And at least Minerva wasn’t the only person at Hogwarts who was