Snape didn't appear in class the next day. Nor the day after that. In fact, he didn't return to class for a full week and the official theory was that he had been expelled. Or at least, that was the theory James and Sirius hoped was true. Gary, the Salem boy who was attacked, remained in the hospital wing though and it was uncertain as to when he would get out. Many of the Salem students were furious, claiming that Hogwarts was a place that freely advocated violence. James found himself trying to stop the Salem students from bullying Hogwarts students. It seemed that Dumbledore and Madame Glinda's plan to unite the schools had fallen short.
Snape returned to class the next Monday, quiet and sullen. He didn't even bother trying to explain himself when people called him out for his violence. James found it quite strange. If anything, Snape was always one to retaliate. It was that flaw that had gotten him into this trouble in the first place.
Slughorn was rambling about something important as James scribbled nothing of consequence onto a spare bit of parchment. He glanced up and saw the sky begin to darken once more and frost spread across the window. With a sigh he turned to Sirius.
"Looks like the Dementors are back," He muttered.
Sirius pulled a face. "Hate those fucking things,"
James smirked. "Thought we had kicked the swearing out of you…"
"You wish," Sirius snorted, he leaned back on his chair and glanced over at Remus who was having a hard time trying to brew his Draught of the Living Dead. "You alive back there Moony?"
Remus grunted in reply. "Never been a great potions expert."
"I doubt you're going to need potions too much," Sirius replied. "Not unless they find a cure for your furry little problem."
"If that does happen, then I'll become a master overnight," Remus said, leaning over his book and making a face at what he was reading. He picked up one of the beans and tried to slice it, it bounced off the wall and hit Snape on the back of the head. Remus' eyes widened and he ducked down behind the table, terrified of the consequences. Snape turned, looking furious and holding the bean in his hand, glancing around the room.
"Lupin," He hissed.
"Snape, pipe down," James snapped. "It wasn't on purpose."
Snape snarled before turning away. Remus pulled himself up from his crouching position.
"How did you manage to get into Gryffindor again?" Sirius asked. "Did you bribe the sorting hat with a lady sorting hat friend?"
"Alas, my secret has been revealed," Remus muttered, finding another bean and trying to chop it in half.
"Can you get lady friends for sorting hats?" James asked, forming a quizzical expression.
Sirius put his chair back into its resting position looking at James with some serious amazement. "And you got 7 O.W.L's."
"Doesn't mean I'm smart," James shrugged.
"I'm pretty certain the exam marks say differently," Remus replied, stirring the brew. It was giving off a nasty odour and he sniffed it disdainfully.
The three of them turned to see Allison Redgrave standing behind them. She had been so silent all lesson, that they had forgotten that she and the other Salem students were in their class. Remus gave a small, curt nod before returning to his potion; James glanced at him, knowing that his friend wouldn't be so polite in the next day or so with the first full moon of the school year approaching.
Sirius frowned. "Allison, right?"
"That's me," Allison said. "I feel that we didn't get off on the best of circumstances. This trip was intended so we could unite our schools. We can't let the actions of a few individuals taint what can happen." With that, she gave a steely gaze towards Snape who was scribbling into his copy of advanced potions.
James followed her glance and cleared his throat. "Right, yeah,"
"So consider this, me making a fresh start on Hogwarts and Salem relationships." Allison said sticking out her hand. James tentatively reached out and shook it before dropping his hand to his side and scratching the back of his neck with his other hand.
"I never caught your names," Allison said.
"Um…" James cleared his throat. "Well, that's Remus, that git there is Sirius and I'm James." He said.
"Pleasure," Allison said.
There was a moment's silence, which became uncomfortable. James and Sirius really had no idea how to talk to this girl, fearing that anything they said or did would be detrimental in all sorts of ways.
Remus spoke up as he added another ingredient to the cauldron before wiping his hands. "How is Gary doing?"
Allison gave a sigh. "He's been better. But Madame Pomfrey is confident that he'll be out in a week or so. She seems very advanced in dealing with large cuts…" She trailed off for a moment before returning to the conversation.
"And how is his… Er… Opinions about Hogwarts?" Remus leaned on the table, pressing his hands down flat on the surface, flecks of hair falling over his eyes.
"You'll have to ask him," Allison replied. "Gary's not one for sharing."
"Sounds like someone I know," James cleared his throat. Remus gave a pointed glare before placing a lid onto the cauldron. He picked it up and moved it to the storage cabinet where it would remain until the next lesson. Slughorn was directing other students accordingly, becoming flustered when he realised that he didn't have enough storage. Sirius and James sat in silence, not sure what they should say to her. Only when Remus returned did conversation seem to strike up again.
"Can I join you for dinner?" Allison said as they packed their bags.
Sirius and James shared a glance in which Sirius just shrugged but looked as though he would kill someone if she did. Remus didn't see this look, and if he had, maybe he would have regretted the words that then fell from his mouth.
"We'd be delighted," He said, stowing his books away. "James for Merlin's sake, stop gaping like a guppy fish and actually give a conversation. Use your words; I know you know them,"
"A guppy fish? Is that a term you use often in the UK?" Allison frowned.
"Never heard that phrase before?" Sirius asked.
Allison shook her head.
"Bloody Merlin's baggy left testicle," Sirius grunted as they left the dungeons. "Bloody American's."
"I have no idea why Merlin's testicles would have anything to do with this," Allison frowned.
"Ignore him," James replied. "He's not well conversed in the English language either and it makes it difficult for him to communicate what he really wants to say." He gave a smile and nudged Sirius on the shoulder playfully.
"Shut up Prongs,"
Allison ignored the last few moments, and was persistent with her attempts. "So, I can join you for dinner?"
Remus threw a dark look at his friends. He knew all too well that the real reason that they didn't want her present was because they wanted to talk to him about the up-coming full moon, which he was anxious to avoid the subject of in case any of the Salem students overheard and contacted the board of directors.
"I already said she could, so don't argue," Remus replied.
"Prongs, Moony is being annoying again," Sirius pouted. Remus rolled his eyes in return, but it didn't stop him from smiling. He cleared his throat and pushed his hair from his eyes.
"Why do you call each other such silly names?" Allison said after a moment of quiet hesitation.
If Sirius had a face of someone who would gladly commit murder before, then his face had changed to thunderous rage – one that couldn't be matched by the scariest of wizards on their bad days; he looked like he was going to kill her. As she walked in front with Remus he began to charge at her, muttering under his breath as he did so.
"NOPE!" James cried, pushing him back, his hand flat against Sirius' chest.
"LET ME AT HER LET ME AT HER!" Sirius said.
"SHE CALLED OUR NICKNAMES SILLY!"
"They are," Lily said as she passed them, stowing her books into her bag.
"James, I don't care if you like Evans, I'm going to kill her," Sirius said.
"Sirius, you're overreacting, cool it." James warned, he wrapped his arm around his friend's neck, pulling at him roughly. "Come on man, we'll get food. You like food. It's only going to be for like an hour or so, then we'll get back to the dorm."
Sirius grumbled in return as they finally entered the Great Hall. Remus had found them seats set apart a little from the rest of the students. Peter had also joined them from Herbology looking a little flustered and annoyed. Allison was waving at them enthusiastically and some of the students were looking away pointedly trying to avoid her.
James sighed and sat down opposite her, Sirius sitting beside him avoiding all eye contact with her.
"So," Allison said after a moment of silence between them. "What do you normally do at Hogwarts?"
James glanced up at her as food began to appear on his plate. His mind was cast to nights spent in the girl's toilets, making dumb potions, talking to Moaning Mytrle, sneaking out to Hogsmede in the middle of the night to get food, or going down to the kitchens to talk to the house-elves. He thought of the times that he and Sirius snuck into the Prefect's bathrooms, how they would wander around the castle, following Filch and causing a nuisance for him. He thought about how they came into contact with thousands of spiders the size of Muggle cars in the forbidden forest, or going to the Shrieking Shack to help Remus during his times of need.
He gave a shrug. "Nothing much,"
Allison stared at James for a moment, wondering just exactly what he was keeping from her. James looked down, picking up his knife and fork and cutting into his beef joint and she cleared her throat.
"What about you Remus?" She asked, looking to her left.
Remus was in the middle of swallowing some of Yorkshire pudding. He cleared his throat pointedly. "I read. I do my studies. I go for walks. Nothing special, but James and Sirius are both on the Quidditch team, why don't you talk about that?" He suggested.
Sirius glared at Remus and shook his head.
"Quidditch huh?" Allison smiled. "I hear the rules are different over here, like you have specialised roles and only three people can handle the Quaffle. What's with that?"
"Er… Yeah," James said. "I guess it's pretty weird. But it's a good game."
"Oh, no question," Allison said, picking up the gravy float and pouring it all over her plate. Sirius crinkled his nostrils and stared at her. She then picked her cutlery up, her knife in her left hand and her fork in the right. Sirius shook his head and leaned over, plucking them from her fingers and exchanging them to the opposing hands.
"Don't do that," He said, sitting back down.
Allison stared at him, biting her lips. Gingerly, she tried to cut her beef, scratching into the plate; a piece of meat flung up from her plate and hit Sirius on the forehead and she gasped. "Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry!"
Sirius looked like he was about to blow. James handed his friend a napkin.
"Calm down mate, it was just an accident."
Sirius grabbed the napkin wiping his head angrily before returning to his supper.
"I'm not bothering you, am I Sirius?" Allison asked after a moment, her eyes narrowing and scanning Sirius' body language like a hawk.
"No," Sirius grunted.
"Oh, because it looks like I am,"
"So, Peter, tell us about what happened in Herbology," Remus said loudly trying to deter the conversation away from a confrontation. Peter opened his mouth to speak but was cut across by Allison.
"I can't think of anything I've said or done that's made you angry with me, so you'll have to explain." She said crossly.
Sirius stared at her pointedly before wiping his mouth with his napkin and slamming it onto his plate. "I'm not hungry," He said, getting up.
"Okay, we'll see you later mate," James said watching his friend take off.
"What's the matter with you?" Remus flopped onto his bed. "I mean, I know why I'm pissed off, but that's just natural. What's it with you?"
Sirius folded his newspaper and looked over his knees to see James swinging from the bed posts. Peter threw his bag to the floor before climbing into his own bed.
"Nothing," Sirius said, putting his newspaper to the side.
"You seemed to be really annoyed with her," Peter said from his pillow. "The only people I see that genuinely piss you off is your family."
"And Snape," James said.
"And Snape," Peter corrected.
"And to an extent nearly all the teachers bar McGonagall and Dumbledore."
Remus threw his pillow at James, causing him to topple off the bed and onto the floor. He jumped up again, straightening his robes and sitting down.
"Come on mate, what's the deal?" He asked taking off his glasses and cleaning them on his tie. "Tell us what Sirius Black has against Allison Redgrave."
Sirius sighed and pulled himself up. "I have a bad feeling about her."
Silence fell across the room before James broke a smile. "A bad feeling?"
"Yeah, call it a dogs instinct or something," Sirius said. "I just don't trust her."
"We're not exactly asking you to trust her mate," Remus said. "Just to be civil."
"Wait, Allison is at least two years younger than us…" James said, leaning forward.
"She's fourteen?" Peter asked, interrupting, a frown forming on his face. He glanced over at James.
"I assume so, since she looks about fourteen…" James replied attempting to get back to the point at hand.
"She just turned 15," Remus replied.
"Really?" James asked. "Then why is she in our classes?"
"She was moved up a year because her birthday lands on a funny day and they couldn't work it around the calendar." Remus replied.
"Oh…" James' paused. "How do you know this?"
"I listen to people during conversations,"
"Anyway," James said shaking his head. "The point is, she's younger than us. She is no threat. And even if she was, we have a freaking werewolf on our side."
"Right here, James," Remus said, the corner of his mouth twitching slightly.
Sirius shook his head. "Ignore it. It's probably nothing. Just don't share any secrets with her."
"Yeah because our plans were to reveal our deepest darkest secrets to her and hope that she doesn't inform Dumbledore," James scoffed.
"Dangerous dark secrets?" Frank had appeared from nowhere, a small cactus in hand and a massive textbook in the other. "Not hiding any vampires in the forbidden forest are we?"
"Now that would be telling," Remus replied.
Frank gave a smile and sat down, putting his cactus to the side. Sirius' stomach gave a huge rumble.
"Hungry Padfoot?" James asked. "Want to go and get something to eat?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
Remus shook his head and took Sirius' newspaper, falling back onto his bed. "You guys go. I need some sleep."
"Oh, that reminds me, what are we going to do about next Thursday?" James stopped and looked around. "Only, it wouldn't matter, because we'd do what we normally do, but Sirius, Peter and I all have detention and we don't know what time we'll get out, unless we can bribe McGonagall with shortbread or something."
Remus looked over the newspaper. "It'll be fine. Don't bother."
Sirius tilted his head.
"You sure?" Peter asked.
"Yes, now go away," Remus said.
James made a face before pushing Sirius and Peter out of the dorm. Remus shook his head and leaned back on his pillow.
"What on earth were they talking about?"
Remus was startled and then remembered that Frank was also in the room. He cleared his throat. "I'm going home for the weekend. Just to visit ill family members. They promised they would see me off."
"Oh," Frank pursed his lips staring at Remus. Feeling as though he had dodged a bullet, Remus fell back onto his pillow and unfolded the newspaper to see an interesting article about the recent claims to a conspiracy within the ministry. Then Frank spoke up again. "If anything, I can come down and see you off. I don't have detention."
"No," Remus replied, his face turning pink. "That's really, no, you're okay Frank, seriously. Don't worry about it. I wouldn't want to trouble you."
"No trouble at all," Frank said.
"Er… I appreciate it Frank, but it's really very okay," He cleared his throat.
"I was just offering,"
"And I thank you for it," Remus replied, giving a soft nod. A moment of uneasy silence passed between them. "I'd rather not have people fuss over-"
"No, I understand."
He fell silent, sensing that he had caused some hurt. With that he fell silent. Then trying to break the ice that had frozen between them, he asked a question. "How is Alice?"