A/N : Javalon14 speaking! You are reading a collaboration work between myself and our lovely xyellowconverse. This is a dual POV story, and anything written in Ali's POV is myself, anything written in Cherry's POV is xyellowconverse. It's a dream come true for me to get to work with Evan, who is my favorite fanfic author. I'm going to take this opportunity for a shameless plug: Go read my stories! :D Other than that, I hope you enjoy this project of ours. I know we're having fun with it! Read and review!
Maybe I know that he's been a-cheatin'. Maybe I know that he's been untrue, but what can I do?
- Alessi's Ark, Maybe I Know
"Ali? Ali? Did you hear a word I just said?"
Lily Evans was waving her hand in front of my face to catch my attention. I nodded to acknowledge that I had heard her and turned back to the book of magical plants in my lap. Why would anyone want to care for a Snargaluff, anyway?
"So don't you have anything to say about it?"
I shrugged, my soft black curls shifting around them as I looked ever-more-firmly at my book. My eyes had lost their spot on the page. Ah, there it was: 'Caring for your Snargaluff: Common Household Tricks and Tips'.
"Alison Marren, drop that book right now!"
Marlene McKinnon's firm voice made me jump, my book tumbling to the ground off my lap, falling shut, my page lost. I heaved a sigh as I looked up at my two best friends, who were watching me with mixed looks of concern and exasperation.
"Yes?" I sighed, not really wanting to meet their eyes, but knowing they wouldn't leave me in peace until I did.
"You're honestly saying you have nothing to say to the accusation that your boyfriend is a no-good, lowly, cheating piece of scum?" Marlene huffed.
"I don't believe in jumping to rash conclusions," I said softly. In truth, I rather thought he might be, but it was just a phase; it would pass. He wasn't a bad person, really, and he was actually quite loyal by nature. As a Hufflepuff, it was important to me to trust in that loyalty unless he gave me an express reason to believe otherwise.
"So it doesn't bother you at all that Camilla West announced to the entire Ravenclaw table that she had slept with Sirius Black and had a toast to his 'naïve little Hufflepuff toy'?" hissed Lily.
I chewed on my words for a moment. Rash outbursts can't be taken back, something my dear Gryffindor friends often forget in the heat of the moment. I had heard about the incident in question – there was hardly a living soul in Hogwarts who hadn't – but I had asked Sirius about it and he assure me that Camilla was full of hot air. She was, after all, the president of his fan club. Sleeping with one of them would be like giving legitimacy to their rabidity. Still, something gnawed at me…
"Innocent until proven guilty," I decided to say, "and since I have no real proof that he's been unfaithful, I'd prefer to assume he's innocent."
"You know what they say about assuming," Marlene muttered, but Lily cut across her.
"Admirable as that sentiment is, Ali, what's your basis for not taking Camilla seriously? I mean, the gesture was a bit over-the-top, perhaps, but she's always had a penchant for the dramatic. But I've never known her to lie about something like this. What reason do you have not to believe her?"
"Sirius said he didn't do it."
Darn my mouth. It had slipped out before I could stop myself, and both Lily and Marlene gave exasperated sighs. They should have known it was a lost cause: I didn't give up on those I trusted without a fight, and I trusted Sirius. After all, he told me he loved me. Sort of.
Actually, it was more that I asked if he loved me and he gave what I took to be an affirmative-sounding grunt. But he didn't say no.
"So basically, there's no way you'd believe he cheated, even if he did?" Lily sighed. "He'd never admit it, even if it was true."
"She could always pay some whore to seduce him and see what he does," Marlene offered dryly. Lily gave a snort of humorless laughter.
"As amusing as all this is," I said with more bite than I expected in my voice, "I've really got to finish my reading and you ladies probably have better things to do than to keep me from it."
My friends exchanged frustrated glances, but they moved down the courtyard part way and pulled out what I was fairly sure were their Arithmancy assignments. At least Snargaluffs didn't require calculations.
They had a point, of course, whether I wanted to hear it or not. If he was cheating on me, he'd have no reason to admit it. And maybe it was my fault if he was. After all, I had him on a strict set of moral rules. I was a virgin, a lady, and I wanted to keep it that way. I was proud of my solid reputation.
Sirius had a bit of a reputation, and I wasn't exactly a fool. He did have somewhat of a roving eye, but he never acted… or did he?
Marlene's sarcastically declared plan had its merits as well. After all, if he wasn't cheating, he wouldn't be tempted. If he was, well, I'd have proof. But who would be depraved enough to agree to such a deal?
I slammed my book shut, stuffed it into my bag, and contemplated my own sanity as I made my way over to Marlene and Lily.
"Hey, you guys room with Cherry Clark, right?"
Lily's nose scrunched into a look of distaste I thought had been reserved for James. I suppose it was fair game for all now she had finally started seeing him.
"What do you want with that disgusting little–"
"What, Marlene? You know it's true! Clark's the worst sort of person."
Before Marlene could say anything about how such things were once said about James, I cut across her with the best lie I could scrape up on short notice:
"She could see the thestrals in Care of Magical Creatures and I wanted to include my customary rough sketch with my assignment. I want her to look and see if I'm on the right track. Do you know where she might be?"
"Check a broom cupboard," Lily snapped, and Marlene gave a helpless sort of shrug, as if to say that Lily was probably right.
I thanked them and set off to check every broom cupboard in Hogwarts, thinking of how best to word my crazy proposal to the school's baddest bad girl.