| I sprinted across the grounds at top-speed, my red tie whipping in the breeze, my book bag banging against my leg. My hair was a mess, I knew; and so were my clothes, probably.
“Hey, Edwards!” Someone yelled, “What’s the hurry?”
“I’m late!” I yelled back, still running.
“Again?” One of my Ravenclaw friends asked incredulously. I stuck my tongue out at her as I sprinted past. I pushed open the door to the greenhouse where I was having class. Class had not yet quite started, but Professor Sprout had just risen to talk about what we were doing when I rushed in. I surveyed the room quickly. Remus Lupin, who had been my best (well, only) friend since second year, was sitting at a table with Pettigrew and Longbottom. I quickly rushed to the only table where I would fit (two boys were sitting there already) with a mumbled “Sorry, professor.”
She nodded in acceptance of my apology and started to tell us about the trees we would be working with. All in all, our goal was to get seed pods from this carnivorous tree that would probably try to kill us in the meantime.
“Sounds like fun.” I muttered under my breath and turned to my table-mates. The more handsome of the two had dark brown, curly hair that hung a bit in his eyes and dancing hazel eyes. The other, who was also rather handsome, had jet black, messy hair and dark, chocolate brown eyes. The one with the brown hair turned to me and smiled. He started to offer his hand over the small, angry tree, but thought better of it when it tried to stab him with a three-inch long spike.
“I’m Sirius Black and this is my best mate, James Potter.” He said. I nodded.
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Carmen Edwards.” I returned. James smiled.
“Nice meeting you. Remus is our other friend, but he’s up there.” He told me. I nodded.
“Yah. I know Remus.” I told him. They both looked surprised.
“Really?” Sirius asked, “How?” I blinked at him in surprise. Apparently his memory didn’t reach all the way back to 2nd year, four years ago. Well, I wasn’t about to jog his memory so, I just told part of the truth.
“He’s my study partner. In Ancient Runes.” I told them. They nodded sagely.
“I see.” Sirius said.
“Well,” James said, “Let’s get to work. The sooner we start, the sooner we can get this over with.” Sirius and I agreed.
“Well, James and I will try to pin it back, and you go after the pods.” Sirius told me.
“Oh, how very chivalric of you.” I muttered sarcastically. He just grinned. I rolled my eyes and plunged my hand into the heart of the tree, managing to twist off the seed pod. We worked in silence for a few moments.
“So.” Sirius started, “You’re name’s Carmen Edwards, huh?”
“Yah.” I returned, diving in to get another pod.
“So… can I call you Eddie?” He asked cheerfully.
“No.” I returned flatly.
“Why not?” He asked, letting go of the branch he was holding back.
“Argh! It’s not gonna matter what you call me once this branch succeeds in impaling me!” I exclaimed frantically.
“So, theoretically, I could call you, like, schnookums, or something?” He asked, unconcerned.
“Sirius Black! Just grab the dang branch!” I shrieked desperately. He grabbed it just in time. The six-inch long, dagger-like spike had only just started sinking into my skin, leaving only a little bit of blood. I yanked my hand back from the bush and looked around. Many of the students were staring over at us. I looked up the rows a bit and saw Remus, his eyes closed in exasperation, shaking his head and sighing.
“Maybe Carmen and I should switch.” James put in, not so helpfully.
“Yah, sure.” I returned, rubbing my arm. Professor Sprout bustled up and smoothed a cream over the puncture wound. Instantly, most of the pain was gone and my arm was no longer numb. James and I switched places and I grabbed a handful of branches and yanked them back. James plunged his hand into the tree and came back with another pod.
“So, can I call you Eddie?” Sirius asked again.
“No!” I returned, “You can call me Carmen, just like everybody else.”
“But I’m not like everybody else!” He protested, sounding very much like a first-year. I rolled my eyes, but smiled. I couldn’t help myself.
“Well, I can’t argue with that statement.”
Remus and I were supposed to be studying. That's why we were in the library at the time. But no, we weren't. He had asked me about the incident in Herbology class. I told him what happened, and ended up telling him about how all afternoon, Sirius would show up out of seemingly nowhere and how he insisted on calling me “Eddie”. He shook his head.
“You know, if you didn't keep telling him how much you hated it, he wouldn't insist so much on calling you that.” Remus explained patiently. I sighed.
“So, you're saying that I should pretend that I like it and that will make him stop?” I asked.
“Not necessarily, but it's probably worth a shot. But then again, nothing's ever certain with Sirius.” he told me with a shrug.
“Oh, you're so helpful!” I exclaimed sarcastically. He laughed and ducked his head.
“Yah, yah, I know.” He returned. “I guess the two of them are starting to wear off on me.” He said with an embarrassed shrug. I laughed with him and we turned to our Ancient Runes homework.
I liked having Remus for a friend. We had met in 2nd year, through a crisis actually. A crisis involving both Sirius and James. I smiled as I remembered the incident. It was storming hard that day, down pouring, thundering, lightning, the works. He had come running into the entrance hall just as I was heading to dinner by myself. I was half muggle and didn't have any friends.. He was sopping wet and had a panicked look on his face. I had rushed over to him and asked him what was wrong.
He had then begged me for help. “Please,” he said, “Please help. Name your price, and I swear you'll get it. Just help!” I rushed outside with him as he explained the problem. Apparently, his two friends, James and Sirius, had climbed a tree outside the greenhouses, having no idea that it was, actually, an incredibly large specimen of Devil's Snare. They were now trapped in the tree.
“Wouldn't it be best if we went and found a teacher?” I asked as we ran out into the storm. He shook his head.
“Not if it can be helped!” he responded. “You see, they climbed it to spy on how Longbottom got the puss from the boubor tubors for their homework, because they weren't paying attention in class. I did all the work. It's against the rules to climb trees outside the greenhouses; besides, they were trying to cheat.” He explained. He had to almost shout over the sounds of the storm. I was very taken aback. I had never heard him talk that much, ever!
We sprinted around the corner and saw James and Sirius trapped in the tree. If the situation weren't so desperate, it would have been comical. Sirius's ankle was wrapped in an incredibly thick vine and he was hanging upside down. A large branch had wound it's way around James, effectively pinning him to the side of the greenhouse. They looked like a couple of drowned rats. Fearful, pained, drowned rats.
Remus and I set to work, using what charms we knew to extricate them from this mess. It took us around twenty minutes to get them down and by the time we reached the Gryffindor Common Room, we were soaked to the bones. Remus sent the other two boys to see Madam Pomphrey, giving them instructions to tell her they had accidentally ran into the Whomping Willow. Then, he turned to me.
“Thanks for helping. And I did promise I'd repay you. What do you want?” He asked. I smiled slightly.
“A friend.” I returned simply. He seemed surprised, but smiled kindly.
“I can do that.”
“Eddie! Eddie, wait up!” I heard Sirius call, on the way to our first class in the morning – charms. I turned around. Sirius was racing towards me. I rolled my eyes and met him. He looked like he had just crawled out of bed. Probably did.
“What do you want, Sirius?” I asked. He pushed the hair back out of his eyes and finished buttoning his shirt, which he had been hastily putting on as he ran. I wondered if any of the teachers had seen him running through the castle half-naked and given him detention for it. I rolled my eyes and tied his tie for him, for he was doing an abysmal job at it.
“Thanks. James usually helps me with that.” He said as I finished tying it for me.
“And where is James?” I asked.
“Sick. Actually, not sick, sick. Just, recovering from a hex.” He explained as we walked down the hall together. “Which was why I was calling you. I wanted to know if you wanted to share my desk during our classes. I know you usually sit alone. But, well, we could help each other, or something.” He suggested. I coughed to hide my smile. I knew very well that when James and Sirius sat together, they did everything but do their work, much less help each other with it. But, then again, it did sound better than sitting alone again. I was genuinely flattered as well.
“Sure.” I said with a shrug. “It beats sitting alone, anyway. C’mon, or we’re gonna be late!” I called and we sped down the corridor to the charms classroom. As I sat down with Sirius, I noticed that quite a few of the girls were glaring at me. I looked over at Sirius, who grinned broadly.
“Thanks for making the sacrifice to sit with me, Eddie.” He said.
“What are you talking about?” I asked him. He grinned and again and settled back down into his seat.
“Well, you haven’t made any friends by sitting with me, but you probably have made a few enemies.” He told me, lazily amused. I raised my eyebrows, expecting him to explain. “Jealousy, dear girl. Every other girl in the classroom would die to be in your position.” I rolled my eyes. “But you’re not affected by it, are you?” he asked. I snorted.
“Heck no,” I returned. He smiled.
“’Course not. That’s why I asked you to. Although, I don’t think you’re entirely immune to my charm, are you?” He asked me, leaning back in his chair.
“Sirius, if your head gets any bigger, you’re not going to be able to fit through the doorway.” I told him flatly. He let out a bark of laughter, which attracted the attention of all the other students, still filing into the classroom.
“I like you, Carmen!” He exclaimed. For some strange, inexplicable reason, I started blushing. Maybe it was just because he had used my real name for once. “You’re sharp! Unlike most of the idiots around here. Take Patricia Patil, for instance.” He said, motioning to where she sat, staring off into space, a dreamy look on her face. “Or Reginald Lovegood. Now there’s a nitwit, for you. Can’t even spell his own name, which is why he goes by ‘Reg’. Only one syllable for him to deal with.” He said. I rolled my eyes and shook my head, but didn’t have time to respond. Professor Flitwick had arrived.
I was surprised that Sirius did not do anything to get either of us in trouble all day. In transfiguration, he helped me quite a bit. I was horrible at transfiguration, but he was brilliant at it. When Professor McGonagall wasn’t looking, he hissed instructions to me. Once, when I was struggling with a particularly complicated spell, he took my wand from me and demonstrated several times the correct way to do it. Then, he placed his hand on top of mine on the wand and guided me through it. It helped so much.
As we walked from transfiguration, the last class of the day, to the Common Room, we chatted. I talked with my girl-friends and discussed things with Remus, but I had never once just chatted with someone before. We talked about nothing in particular and had great fun doing so. We reached the Common Room and I started to walk up the stairs to my dorm to get ready for dinner.
“Hey, Carmen?” He called after me.
“Yah?” I asked. He shrugged.
“Want help with your transfiguration homework? We could work on it together tonight after dinner, if you want.” He said with another shrug. I smiled.
“Sure. Right after dinner then?” I asked. He nodded and I turned to leave again.
“Oh, and hey Carmen!” he called again. I turned back around.
“Yes, Sirius?” I asked, none too patiently. He grinned.
“Just wanted to invite you to sit with James, Remus, and I tonight at dinner. That is, if you want to. Then again, if you’d rather sit alone, that’s fine too.” He told me. I rolled my eyes.
“Thanks. I think I will.”
After dinner, Sirius and I went to an empty classroom which we had borrowed for the evening to work on our transfiguration homework.
“All right,” he said and produced from, who-knew-where, a cage-full of birds. “We’ll work with these.”
“Where did you get those from?” I asked with trepidation. He smiled.
“I just got them from Hagrid. Don’t worry, I didn’t pinch them from anyone. He let me borrow them for tonight.” Sirius explained.
“And what if I kill one on accident?” I asked, thinking about my horrid ineptitude with transfiguration.
“That’s why I’m here. If you follow my instructions exactly, we won’t have to worry about that. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.” He told me. We started with some more of the simpler work, to get ourselves warmed up. Then, we progressively moved to the harder spells. The last spell we were to do involved me changing the bird into a dog. It was a very complicated spell, and I kept messing up. After about fifteen agonizing minutes, I looked up. Sirius was supposed to be helping me. He hadn’t done anything to help with this spell. I saw him watching me, with a far off look on his face, leaning against the far wall.
“Sirius!” I exclaimed. He snapped out of his reverie and grinned lazily. “You’re supposed to be helping me!”
“O’ course. So sorry, Eddie.” He said and hoisted himself from the wall against which he was leaning. “Where were we? Oh, that’s right.” He strode over to me, and without breaking stride, put his left hand firmly on my shoulder and his right over my right hand on my wand. It was incredibly difficult not to notice how close he was to me, nor the fact that it didn’t feel bad at all that he was that close. Just then, the door to the classroom opened and Remus walked in, reading as he walked. He looked up and stopped short as he entered. He turned a brilliant shade of scarlet when he saw us. We separated, blushing, and walked over to him.
“Sorry,”he mumbled, embarrassed, “I didn’t think anyone was in here.” Both of us then started laughing. The odd moment was over and it was now hilariously funny. Remus, however, didn’t see how this was all that funny and glared at Sirius for laughing at him. I sighed.
“Oh, Remus! You’re impossible!” I exclaimed, tugging on his chin-length blond hair. He blushed again, but smiled.
“Yah, yah, I know,” he said. “Would it be prying to ask, um, what the blazes is going on?” he asked. I laughed and Sirius grinned.
“Transfiguration homework.” Sirius told him, in a lazy, amused voice. Remus rolled his eyes.
“Why did I even ask? Shoulda known I wouldn’t get a real answer from you. Well, I have to go find Frank and tell him we have to find another classroom.” Remus returned with a shrug.
“Frank?” Sirius asked blankly. Remus rolled his eyes.
“Frank Longbottom. We’re study partners in potions. Bloody brilliant at it, he is.” Remus returned.
“Well, we were actually just getting ready to leave for the library. So, you can use this classroom if you want.” I said, with a meaningful look at Sirius.
“Yah, you can use this one.” Sirius told him, walking around the classroom, turning the birds from their transfigured state to their original forms. He gathered them into the cage. “Eddie,” he started, looking from me to Remus, “I'll meet you in the library.” He said and then left. I looked over at Remus. He crossed his arms across his chest and raised his left eyebrow.
“Transfiguration homework, huh?” he asked skeptically.
“Actually, yes.” I returned. He just rolled his eyes. “Trust me, Remus. Nothing happened!” I exclaimed. He smirked.
“You didn't kiss him? Not even once?” He asked, chuckling.
“No, I did not!” I exclaimed indignantly. He closed his book and shook his head, walking farther into the room. “What?” I asked, warily. He had that look.
“Nothing.” He returned, a bit too innocently.
“Yah, sure. Spill, or I'll hex it out of you!” I threatened. He laughed again.
“You might have had innocent enough intentions with, um, transfiguration homework and all; but, I saw how Sirius was looking at you all through dinner.” He told me. I blushed and shrugged.
“Yah, well, he didn't know I existed until yesterday!” I exclaimed. Remus shrugged.
“So?” he asked pointedly. “He's a great guy; and, yah, so he might not have noticed you the past six years that we've been here, but he is sure making up for that now!”
“Yah, maybe.” I agreed reluctantly, “Well, what do you think?”
“Well, I think you'll never be bored. That's for sure. Never a dull moment with him.” He said with a shrug. I rolled my eyes.
“Thanks for the warning, but that is not what I meant.” I said meaningfully.
“Oh,” he said, nodding. “You mean how do I, personally, Remus Lupin, feel about you two?” He asked. I nodded. “Well,” he said, grinning, “Since I did set the two of you up, I don't mind it a bit.” I gawped at him.
“What are you talking about?” I demanded. He rolled his eyes.
“I set you two up that day in herbology. See, I've always thought that the two of you should be together. So, I decided a few days ago that I was tired of waiting for you two to figure it out yourselves. So, I had Lily sneak into your dorm room and hide your herbology notes, so you'd be late. Then, I told James and Sirius to sit by themselves by the door and I went and sat somewheres else, 'cause usually, I share a table with them. So, there you are.” I blinked at him in surprise for a few seconds, and then started laughing. He joined me. I gave him a big hug.
“Thanks, Remus.” I told him.
“For what?” he asked, his eyes dancing.
“For, for being such a great friend.” I said. He grinned.
“Yes, but whose fault was it that the ink pot spit the ink out anyway?” I demanded, tossing my auburn curls in an irritated manner. I was actually on the verge of laughing hysterically, but I couldn't let him know that. I stalked from the library, slinging my bag over my shoulder.
“Yes, I know, it was my fault -” He started.
“Then stop trying to pin it on me!” I interrupted, whirling around to face him.
“I'm not trying to pin it on you - I just think that you should at least share the detention with me!” He protested.
“But I didn't do it!” I shrieked. He shrugged.
“So? I thought you would want to spend detention with me.” He returned cockily.
“Sirius Black, what is your problem?” I demanded.
“Uh... come again?” he asked, arching his left eyebrow.
“Why do you think I would want to go to detention with you?” I asked, thoroughly exasperated with him. He shrugged.
“Well, why wouldn't you?” He asked, seemingly bewildered. I just shook my head and started walking again.
“Oh, c'mon, Eddie!” he called after me. He ran to catch up and put his hand on my shoulder, spinning me around to face him. “Just take a little bit of the blame. I mean, it could be our first date, ya know?” he said with a grin. “Just our style.” I blinked at him in surprise.
“You know, Sirius, if I didn't know you better -” He flushed and grinned sheepishly. “You did set the whole thing up – didn't you?” I demanded. He grinned again.
“Ya know, you're not as thick as you put on – are you?” he asked, tousling my hair. I shook him off. “So... what do you say, Carmen? Professor McGonagall's office tomorrow night? Say... around seven?”
“Sirius Black, you are the most thick headed, stubborn, irritating -”
“I know, darling.” he said, taking a step closer to me. “I know.” He put his hand on the base of my neck and pulled me towards him. He then leaned over and kissed me lightly. Then, he kissed me deeper. Seconds later, McGonagall came striding around the corner.
“Black! Edwards!” She shrieked. We separated, blushing. “There is to be no kissing in the halls! Detention tomorrow night in my office at seven! Both of you.” She exclaimed and stalked off.
“Now there's one thing I'll be happy to share the blame for.” I told him quietly. He threw back his head and laughed.
“All right, we should probably get going before she comes back. C'mon, race you to the common room!” He called, grabbed my hand, and hauled me after him as he ran. We ran up the stairs together, running into several Ravenclaw 7th years. We both saw impending detention on their faces, so we apologized hastily and kept running. By the time we got to the empty Common Room, we were both breathing heavily.
“Gosh, I haven't had that much fun for years!” I exclaimed. Sirius laughed.
“That's what you get for hanging with me.” He said cockily.
“Well, I guess that means I'll have to do it more often, huh?” I asked him, trying hard not to smile.
“Guess so.” He returned and took a step closer to me. “Will you go with me to Hogsmeade on Saturday?” he asked. I smiled.
“Yah. That would be fun.” I told him. He smiled. “Good night.” I told him. He took both of my hands in his and drew me closer to him. He put a hand on my cheek. I looked up at him and smiled. We heard a door creaking open overhead. Suddenly, from the balcony above us we heard James, singing very off-key:
“Carmen and Sirius sittin' in a tree! K-I-S-S-”
“JAMES!” Sirius and I called together, threateningly. He laughed.
“I-N-G!” The door above closed again with a bang.