Author's Notes: Edited 01/08/2009. Thanks to Peggy (Medieval Mystic: USER ID: 796384) for getting the beta'ed chapter back to me, which is now in place of the previously unedited chapter.
Chapter Thirteen: Coming from Sirius, that's as good as a marriage proposal.
Life at Hogwarts carried on pretty much the same as usual in the weeks that followed, the only exception being that Remus and I were now a couple. Since officially becoming boyfriend and girlfriend, we spent a lot more time together than we had before, though still a lot of it was spent working in the library with our friends.
On the days I didn't study with Remus and the others, I either had prefect duties or hung out with Stephanie, Michelle and Heather in the Ravenclaw common room. It was nice though, as my life fell into a happy routine, and I embarked on each new day with those I cared about around me.
As the weather got colder and summer finally changed into autumn, the nights became longer and I found myself spending more time in the library and less time down by the shores of the lake; due to the weather turning colder.
Additionally - as the seasons changed - the first Hogsmeade visit of the new school year drew closer, as did my worries about my parents seeing me with my first boyfriend. It's not that I thought my mother and father wouldn't approve of my relationship with Remus – I knew they'd adore him as much as I did – it was more the thought of the fuss they'd make; especially mum.
However, I was soon given a distraction from my own anxieties as Stephanie finally got her greatest wish; Sirius had asked her out on a date.
It was the Monday morning before the Hogsmeade visit and we'd just arrived in the Great Hall for Breakfast when Sirius and Remus approached the Ravenclaw table.
As usual, Remus gave me a kiss on the cheek and then sat down on the bench beside me; picking up a slice of toast as he did so. However, unlike every other morning, Stephanie was joined by Sirius, who casually slung his arm over her shoulder.
"So, Steph," he began, a Cheshire cat-like grin upon his face. "You want to come to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?"
Stephanie's eyes widened with shock as she took in Sirius' words as she realized she'd just gained her heart's desire. "Yes, Merlin yes," she answered him, her spoon falling from her hand and clattering into her cereal bowl.
"Excellent," Sirius replied, before cupping her cheeks in his hands and planting a huge kiss on her lips. "Right, I best get some breakfast. I'll see you in Herbology class."
And with that, Sirius rose from the bench, strode over to the Gryffindor table and then began whispering to James. All the while, Stephanie sat glued to her seat, gently rubbing the spot Sirius had just kissed and murmuring, "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness," over and over again.
I turned to Remus with a delighted smile on my face and found he looked somewhere between amused and utterly bewildered.
"Erm … yeah, I best get something to eat too," he announced hesitantly, looking at me like I'd grown three heads. Then, he cupped my cheeks in his hands, but rather than kissing me full on the lips like Sirius had done to Stephanie only moments before, he brushed his lips against my cheek and then hastily leaped up from the bench. "I'll see you in Arithmancy, Jenn."
I brushed my cheek where Remus had just kissed, wondering what had caused such a strange reaction in him, when Stephanie tapped me on the shoulder.
"Sirius Black just kissed me," she said, a dreamy look in her eyes.
"Yes, I noticed, I was sitting right here," I replied with a giggle. "He asked you to Hogsmeade with him this weekend, too."
"Oh Merlin! He asked me to Hogsmeade! This weekend! That's only five days away!!! What am I going to wear?!?!"
Before I could reply and offer some advice , Stephanie leaped from her seat and dashed out of the Great Hall.
"Now, where's she going?" Heather queried, a look of half amusement, half annoyance on her face. "We've got Herbology in less than fifteen minutes."
The rest of the week flew by in a blur of classes, homework assignments and prefect duties. In preparation for our N.E.W.T.s, extra work was coming thick and fast, and I found myself spending more time in the library than ever before. Not that I really minded; I enjoyed studying and most nights I was accompanied by Remus and at least one of my friends.
In addition to the usual goings-on of Hogwarts, the week was broken up by random outbursts from Stephanie worrying what she was going wear to Hogsmeade and what would happen if Sirius decided he actually only liked her as a friend and never kissed her again.
As she'd done for me when Remus had asked me to Professor Slughorn's party, I reassured Stephanie that everything would be okay.
"Sirius Black does not make a habit of asking girls out," I reminded her. Even though Sirius had a bit of a reputation for being a ladies man, he was actually very picky when it came to dating. "Coming from him, an invitation to Hogsmeade is as good as a marriage proposal."
However, much like how I'd acted a few weeks before, all the reassurances in the world didn't ease the nerves associated with going on a date with a guy you really liked. By the time friday arrived, Stephanie was nearly hysterical.
Added to my friend's worries were my own fears of what would happen in Hogsmeade the following day. I was still working myself up over my parents' reaction when they found out Remus and I were dating; not to mention how Sarah would react when I introduced my family to my first boyfriend. I actually cringed inside at them mental image of my younger sister asking Remus when we were going to get married!
Deciding to speak to Remus about it that night after dinner, I tried to push the concerns to the back of my mind and help Stephanie pick a set of robes to wear the following day.
"How about the ones I borrowed for Professor Slughorn's party? They didn't really suit me, but I'm sure they'd look great on you."
"Remus had already seen you in them; there's no way I can wear them now."
"That's just ridiculous," Michelle pointed out. "Sirius isn't going to care if you're wearing robes you've already lent to Jenn."
"Possibly not, but I will," insisted Stephanie. "I've been dreaming about this day since I first laid eyes on Sirius Black; I want everything to be perfect."
"Steph, I know I don't know as much about guys, fashion and make up as you do, and I know Remus is my first boyfriend, but trust me when I say, Sirius hasn't asked you out because of what type of robes you wear. If he's anything like his friends - which I hope he is, or he wouldn't be worth dating in the first place - what Sirius cares about is what kind of person you are on the inside and what things you have in common."
"Yeah, you've got nothing to worry about," added Heather. "He doesn't agree with all that pure-blood supremacy rubbish his brother spouts, and you're a Muggle-born. You both like Quidditch, even if you don't play. You have a few classes together and mutual friends. You'll be fine."
"And, if you really can't think of anything to say to him, just take him to Madam Puddifoot's tea shop and snog his face off," Michelle teased.
"Sounds like a good plan to me," Stephanie agreed with a slightly maniacal smile.
The morning of Hogsmeade trip dawned cool, crisp and clear. For late October, the weather was surprisingly bright and I felt sure none of us would need a heavy traveling cloak.
Sitting up in bed a looking around the dormitory, I found that Stephanie had already risen and left the room, Heather was just waking up, and Michelle was sound asleep; having had a long night's Quidditch practice the evening before.
"Morning," Heather called over in a whisper, being careful not to wake our sleeping friend.
"Good morning," I replied, stretching out my arms and throwing off the bed covers. "What time did Stephanie get up?"
"Early, as far as I know. She mentioned something about setting a magical alarm last night, and I clearly heard her say five o'clock."
"She's insane. She's going to be worn out before we even get to lunch time."
Nodding in agreement, Heather rose from her own bed, then we both grabbed out toiletries bag and headed to the bathroom.
Half an hour later, when we arrived in the Ravenclaw common room, it was to find Stephanie sitting – fully dressed in a lace trimmed set of pink robes, hair fully styled and make up perfectly applied – in front of the fire, with an anxious look upon her face.
"Merlin's beard, what's kept you so long? And where is Michelle? If she's not out of bed soon, we're going to be late!"
"Calm down, Steph. It's only just turned half-past eight; we've got plenty of time."
"No we haven't. I'm still unsure if these robes look alright, and if they don't that will mean having to re-think my hair style and make up choices. Not to mention we need to have breakfast too."
"Honestly, Stephanie, you look perfect. And even if you do change your mind about what robes you want to wear, we've still got plenty of time before Filch opens the gates at ten."
"An hour and a half is not enough time to eat, change robes, re-style my hair and reapply my make up. Do you know what time I had to get up to look this good? FOUR O'CLOCK THIS MORNING!!"
Unable to do anything else while my friend was in such a hysterical state, I reverted back to what I knew best; spell-work. Waving my wand, I cast a simple calming charm; usually used when people have just received a mild shock – although it was also perfectly acceptable to use for quelling the nerves of a girl about to go on a date with Sirius Black!
The panicked look vanished from Stephanie's face in an instant and she sank back into her seat looking mildly sedated.
"Right, let's break this down logically," Heather began, sitting down next to Stephanie and taking her hands in her own. "Your robes look beautiful, Steph; pink really suits you. You hair and make up compliment your clothes wonderfully; I don't know how you coordinate things so well, and an hour and a half is plenty of time for Michelle to get ready and then for us all to have breakfast."
"I suppose you're right. I'm just so nervous about today. I've been thinking about going to Hogsmeade with Sirius Black since I was in my third year and I just don't want anything going wrong."
"As you told me on the night of Professor Slughorn's party, the chances of anything going wrong are about as high as the chances of the Slytherins making daisy chains this summer," I joked. "You and Sirius will have a wonderful time and you can tell us all the gossip tonight when you keep us awake until one in the morning as you gleefully babble on about it."
Looking pacified at last, Stephanie nodded her head in agreement, and then she, Heather and I waited for Michelle to arrive in the common room.
"So, what's the plan for today?" Michelle asked as we made our way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. "Seeing as you two have dates."
"Well, we'll have to check with the guys first, but I assumed that Remus and I, and Stephanie and Sirius would spend a few hours alone together, then we could all meet up in the Three Broomsticks later. If you two are okay with that?"
"Yeah, sure. I've got no objections," Heather agreed. "Are you okay with that, Michelle?"
Our friend nodded her head, and with the arrangements for that day made, we entered the Great Hall; which was alive with the buzz of cheerful chatting of students waiting to visit Hogsmeade.
Noticing the Marauders already sitting at the Gryffindor table, Stephanie and I went to check that the plans we'd made were alright with our respective dates.
As we approached, Remus rose from the bench and allowed me to have his seat, as Sirius pulled Stephanie onto his lap and greeted her with a deep kiss.
"Do they have to do that in public?" I moaned, looking up at Remus with a slightly amused smile on my face.
Where as yesterday, Remus had seemed bewildered by Sirius' actions towards Stephanie, today he had a wolfish grin on his face as he said, "Why do you object to public displays of affection?" Then, without leaving me any time to reply, leaned down and pressed his lips to mine, passionately.
When we'd finally stopped kissing, and Remus straightened up again I was left feeling more than a little light-headed and breathless.
"Well, if that's your definition of public displays of affection, I can't say I have any objections," I sighed huskily.
After arranging with Remus and Sirius what we were doing that day, Stephanie and I returned to Ravenclaw table and joined our friends for breakfast.
"You two are so lucky having boyfriends that are lovely as Remus and Sirius," Heather said, a slight tone of resentment in her voice. Last year, she'd briefly dated Jason Medley, and I think for the first time since their split, Heather was starting to miss life as a couple.
"You know, David Fellows said something similar to me in Quidditch practice last night. You should try and get his attention if we see him in the Three Broomsticks later," suggested Michelle.
"You know, I might just try that," our friend agreed with a mischievous grin.
Soon enough, Professor McGonagall was announcing the Filch had opened the gates to Hogwarts castle, allowing third years and above access to Hogsmeade village; as long as they had valid parental permission, of course.
With an excited grin, I said goodbye to my friends – after arranging a time to meet them in the Three Broomsticks later - and then made my way across the Great Hall, where Remus was waiting for me by the doorway.
"All ready to go?" he asked, fastening his traveling cloak around his shoulders.
"Yeah, I sure am," I replied, fastening my own cloak and wrapping the scarf Sarah had knitted for me around my neck. Even though it was still a little too warm to need it, I knew my sister would be disappointed if I didn't have it on.
Taking Remus' out stretched hand, we made our way down the sloping driveway and to the gates, where Filch was standing with a long scroll of parchment.
"Names please," he grunted as we approached him.
"Jennifer Knightly," I replied. Then the caretaker scanned the list and after satisfying himself with the knowledge I had parental permission, marked my name off the list, then turned to Remus.
As soon as Remus said his own name, Filch's head snapped upright, and he glared at the both of us.
"I know you, you hang around with those trouble makers Potter and Black. I hope you're not visiting the village with the plan of going into Zonko's. I haven't forgotten what you lot did to those Slytherins a few weeks ago."
Feeling a bravery and rebellious streak I hadn't possessed before I began dating Remus, I turned to Filch and said, "Actually, my boyfriend and I were just planning on spending a quiet morning looking around the shops. Is that okay, Sir?"
Looking from Remus to I and then back to Remus again, Filch's scowl deepened, but then he nodded his head.
"Just you be warned though, if I get one sniff of a Dungbomb from you, Potter or Black, I'll have you in detention quicker than you can say Gallopin' Gorgons."
Repressing a laugh, Remus and I nodded in understanding at Filch and then made our way along the path that lead from the castle to Hogsmeade village.
"So, where do you want to visit first?" I asked as we strolled hand-in-hand.
"Well, I wouldn't mind going to Scrivenshaft's; I need a new quill, and the bookstore is a good place to visit."
"We can't go into the bookstore. What if my parents see us?"
"Would that be a problem, then? I didn't know they minded you dating."
"No, it's not that. They're fine with me dating; they saying it's a natural part of growing up."
"Oh, so it's me then?" Remus accused, looking self-consciously at his second-hand robes.
"No, no, of course not," I insisted, leaning over to kiss Remus' cheek and reassure him. "They've met you before we were dating, remember? Besides, I'd be proud to tell them you're my boyfriend."
Looking slightly less worried than he had a minute ago, Remus nodded and then asked "So, what's the problem?"
"The fuss I just know they're going to make and how much they'll embarrass both of us. Seriously, you're the first boyfriend I've had and I know my mum is going to go over the top about it. Then, there's every chance Sarah will ask you when we're getting married."
"Is that all you're worried about? Fussy mothers and cheeky younger sisters, that's nothing. You're forgetting, I share a room with James and Sirius; I've dealt with much worse," he chuckled, kissing me on the cheek and rubbing a reassuring arm up and down my back.
"Ha, just you wait until mum and Sarah are finished interrogating you, then we'll see what's worse," I teased, as we reached the village I'd grown up and spent all of my non-school life in.
Even though Hogwarts was like a second home to me, and even after five years of attending there, it hadn't lost it's magic, something about Hogsmeade set my heart alight in a way not much else did. The village always felt safe, warm and comforting to me; no matter what the weather was like or if there were one or two posters of wanted Death Eaters on the walls. In Hogsmeade, I knew I'd only have to walk a few steps before meeting someone I'd known since childhood and that my parents were just at the end of the street.
After visiting Scrivenshaft's – where Remus bought a new quill, and the owner Mr. Oldridge kept us talking for half an hour – we headed to Honeydukes where we both bought large bars of chocolate, before finally heading to my parents' bookstore; Magical Monographs.
The store was surprisingly busy for late October, which I assumed the influx of customers was due to the first Hogwarts trip of the year, and also Christmas fast approaching.
As we weaved our way through the happy shoppers, the sound of Sarah's voice caught my ears, and before I could locate my younger sister, she'd bounded over and flung herself into my arms.
"Jenn, you didn't tell me you were visiting the village. I've missed you."
"I've missed you too, Pumpkin. And I didn't tell you because I didn't know myself until a few weeks ago."
"Oh, alright, okay. How's school been? What are sixth year classes like? How are Stephanie, Heather and Michelle? Did Michelle make the Quidditch team?" She babbled a constant stream of questions before gazing to my left and noticing a very amused-looking Remus holding my hand and smiling at her. "Hi Remus … oh, you're holding hands. Are you two dating? Wait until I tell Mum … Mum, Jenn is dating Remus!"
And with that announcement to the whole shop, she raced off; presumably to find my mum.
A few minutes later, Mum and Dad came over; both with big smiles on their faces and Dad carrying a stack of books.
"Hello, sweetheart," my dad said, embracing me in a one-armed hug as he balanced the pile of books in the other. "I'll be with you in a few minutes, I've just got to take these out back to the store-room; someone owled with a message for me to reserve them."
As Dad strolled off – the stack of reserved books tottering dangerously in his arms – Mum approached and swept both Remus and I into a tight hug.
"How lovely to see you both," she said once she'd released this. "And what's this Sarah tells me, you're dating now?"
"Yes, Ma'am, I hope that okay with you and Mister Knightly," Remus said in a much more formal voice than he usually used, causing me to stifle a giggle.
"Of course it is. You and Jenn have been friends for a long time, and I know you well enough from Hogwarts visits to know you'll treat her right," my mum replied in a would be causal way, though it held a hint of warning. "And please, call me Anne."
Remus nodded and I saw a brief look of relief wash over his face. Then Mum started asking us about school and all the formalities were forgotten.
I was just telling Mum about how Remus and I had got top marks in our Arithmancy project when Dad appeared from the store room carrying a tray of mugs.
"I made us all some hot chocolate," he announced with a grin, waiving a bag of marshmallows at me. "Why don't we go and sit over there by the window whilst the couches are free."
"Are you sure Judith will be okay on her own?" I inquired, referring to the girl my parents had taken on over the summer to help out on their busier days.
"Yes, she should be okay for ten minutes," Mum reassured and lead the way over to the seating area by the window.
We'd been chatting for fifteen minutes when Judith called out that the person who had reserved the books had arrived and wanted to collect their order. Curious to see who was intending to buy around eight books on potioneering from my parents, Remus and I followed my mum over to the cash desk, as Dad and Sarah went to take the empty mugs of hot chocolate back to the storeroom and collect the reserved books.
As Judith stepped aside to serve another customer, the person who had reserved the books came into full view, and mine and Remus' jaws dropped to the floor.
"Mister Snape, I assume?" my mum inquired.
To Be Continued …