Unofficial Portkey Archive

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban by hermy_madness

Alice Evans and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Things That Go Bump in the Night

Alice had log since decided that people were peculiar, just take Harry and Hermione for example. Harry had admitted that Hermione was right, albeit not to her face, but she knew he had taken the glasses to McGonagall. Similarly Harry knew that she knew he had done it… And yet the two of them still insisted on being frosty and curt with each other for the next few weeks. It wasn't that they weren't speaking they would just be terribly polite in front of each other, or pay a disproportionate amount of attention to Ron and Alice. It got tiring after a while.

By the end of January Alice was getting fed up of it, neither of them had attempted to heal the rift, largely due to the fact that both were ridiculously stubborn and proud, and they were both miserable as a result. It was a Monday night and Alice was exhausted after a particularly tense weekend, made even more so as it had been their last opportunity to do any research for Hagrid's hearing which was to have taken place that afternoon. She was only half concentrating on her Potion's essay, flicking a glance out of the window every so often to see if any lights had come on in Hagrid's cabin and then across to Harry and Hermione who were sitting on the opposite side of the table from her and very deliberately facing slightly away from each other. Ron, as usual, was half asleep over his own essay and didn't seem to be paying attention to anything much at all.

Alice was just about to say something to the two of them when a sudden tapping at the window caused her to swivel sharply in her seat; at the same moment Ron jerked upright sending bits of loose parchment fluttering to the floor.

"That's one of the school owls," Hermione observed after they had all stared at the bird outside for a moment. As though in answer to this statement the owl leaned forward again and pecked sharply on the glass as it had obviously done before.

"Quick let it in," Harry scrambled round the table to lift the catch on the window before anyone else could respond to his instruction, "it must be from Hagrid!" He gave the window a shove and with a juddering effort it eventually complied allowing the owl to hop gracefully inside and then flap across until it landed on the table, crushing Alice's homework under foot, or claw, as it did so. As the bird gazed round with unblinking amber orbs at the four of them, the Gryffindors gazed back, all suddenly nervous as to what news the missive tied to its leg contained. Eventually, unable to bear the suspense any longer Alice reached across and tore the note away, scanning the text hungrily as the others crowed round in silence. As her eyes travelled across the few brief, hastily scribbled lines, Alice felt happiness begin to bubble up inside her.

"He got off!" she whispered.

"What?!" Giving up on trying to read it over her shoulder Harry snatched the letter away.

"Hagrid got off," Alice turned excitedly and repeated in a louder voice for the others' benefit. An enormous grin began to travel from one side of her face to the other. At her words Hermione let out an excited squeak and flung an arm around Ron and Alice's necks simultaneously and crushed the three of their bodies together whilst doing an exuberant victory jig. As Ron began protesting that he couldn't breathe she dropped them and rushed over to give a similarly excited Harry a hug too. Clearly in the emotion of the moment all previous arguments between the two of them had been forgotten either that or they had come to an unspoken consensus that Hagrid's triumph outweighed their petty argument.

"Come on!" Harry exclaimed excitedly once Hermione had eventually let him go, "we need to go and see him!" He had barely taken two steps however when Hermione grabbed his arm and swung him around.

"Harry, don't you think you should go and get the cloak? It's getting dark outside and… one of the teachers might spot us. You know you're not meant to leave the castle."

"Ugh!" Harry gave a groan of frustration, pivoted on the spot and raced towards the dormitory stairs. Within what seemed like seconds he was back, cloak in hand and the four of them were creeping across the frosty castle grounds towards Hagrid's cabin, trying and failing to keep everyone's feet under the cloak. It was just as well it was getting dark and the grass was quite long as anyone looking out of the castle window would have been able to see four pairs of seemingly disembodied feet striding across the grounds… and that would be bound to raise questions. As it was they reached the cabin without incident and Harry threw off the cloak to bound up the steps and pound on the door. There was a moment of silence and he had just raised his arm to repeat the motion when they heard a chuckle from within.

"Was wonderin' when I'd be seeing you lot." There was the sound of feet stomping across the wooden floorboards and then the door was flung open to reveal Hagrid's ruddy, smiling face.

"We got your letter!"

"Congratulations Hagrid!"

"Yeah, well done mate."

The third years were tripping over each other in their delight for him. Hermione, without waiting to even get inside, threw her arms around his waist - which was as high as she could reach. "We knew you could do it!"

"Ah now," he looked sheepish behind the jubilant smile, "I couldn't have done it without yeh."

"Don't be silly," Hermione released him and immediatelybegan bustling about making cups of tea in his oversized kitchen. "You never did anything wrong, they were always going to see that in the end."

Alice wished she had had this confidence whilst they were researching for the hearing. Hindsight was a wonderful thing.

"What happened then?" Ron asked eagerly. "Was Lucius Malfoy there? Oh I wish I could have seen his face! Did he say anything?"

"Aye, Lucius was there," Hagrid chuckled at the red head's enthusiasm, "didn't look too pleased either I can tell you, reckon he thought he'd lined enough pockets with gold that the outcome was certain - there's a cake in that cupboard Hermione. We need ter celebrate." He waved a giant hand in the direction of the sideboard and continued explaining to them exactly how Malfoy senior had reacted to the verdict, much to Harry and Ron's amusement, as Hermione removed a tin from the cupboard and sniffed gingerly at the cake it contained. Evidently it was found to be satisfactory because moments later she was carrying a tray to the table laden with five enormous mugs of tea and the cake all neatly cut up on the least chipped plate she could find.

"What about Buckbeak?" Harry asked several minutes later. Alice paused midway through trying to chew a mouthful of particularly tough and rubbery cake, as her eyes fixed on Hagrid's face which suddenly seemed to have lost a little of its sparkle.

"Ah… well, they said if Beaky ever got found he'd have ter be…" Hagrid drew one enormous finger across his beard roughly where his throat was; they all got the idea. Hagrid looked glumly into his mug of tea.

"But it won't come to that," Hermione smiled encouragingly at him as Alice patted his arm, "Buckbeak is safely somewhere in the Forbidden Forest. No one will ever find him in there."

"So anyway," Alice felt they should probabl change the subject, "I'll bet that Umbridge woman wasn't pleased?"

Her question had the desired effect, Hagrid's beetle-black eyes regained their usual twinkle as he grinned mischievously. "Yer right there. Once Madam Bones read out yer new statement the hearing started goin' my way and you could tell she wasn't happy about it…" As the light faded outside he continued relating with exultant detail how exactly the hearing had played out and Umbridge's reaction to her defeat. By the time they made their apologies and left it was almost pitch black and they had to stumble across the grounds under the cloak without a light. Once back inside they shuffled as quickly and quietly as they could through deserted corridors hoping against hope that no one would catch them. It seemed that there luck for the year must have finally begun to change Alice thought as they reached the bottom of Gryffindor Tower uninterrupted.

No sooner had the thought flitted blithely through her head than she heard the click of heels against the flagstones. The third years all stared at each other in horror. The corridor they were standing in was extremely narrow, it was possible that they could flatten themselves against the wall and allow whoever it was to pass, but the cloak wasn't big enough to cover four of them if they did this. And if anyone did collide with them in the corridor… Alice could only imagine what a teacher would have to say if they discovered four students with an invisibility cloak.

"We should turn back." Hermione looked panicked.

"And go where?" Ron nodded down the long corridor behind them, whoever was approaching would hear them running.

With a glance at Harry, Alice could almost see the plan forming behind his eyes, he met her own hazel ones and she nodded in agreement. "Just follow my lead," he hissed to the others as the footsteps approached the turn in the passage. Before any of them could protest he whipped the cloak quickly away from them and stuffed it under his own robes just as none other than Professor McGonagall rounded the corner. Catching sight of them she stopped abruptly.

"What on earth are you four doing roaming the corridors at this time of night?" Her mouth set in a line that Alice had long since learned to recognise as potentially dangerous. She hoped Harry knew what he was doing.

"We were in the Library Professor," he blurted. "Some of us," at this he threw an exaggerated glance at the girls, making sure their head of house saw, "lost track of the time. We were just going back to the common room." Alice had to wonder if Harry had considered a career in acting once he left Hogwarts.

"Well," McGonagall seemed to be weighing up how heavily she should discourage such dedication to learning, "it's not safe to be wandering around at night. Next time I suggest that if the four of you wish to be as assiduous in your studies you take some books to the common room." They all nodded and mumbled an assent, scarcely believing their luck and trying not to grin. "As it is, it is fortunate that I bumped into you Mr Potter, I was just on my way to return these to you." She held out a familiar pair of battered spectacles. "It would seem that they are indeed a pair of ordinary glasses, with no particular magical properties that we could trace."

The grin that Harry had been holding back suddenly blossomed across his cheeks as he slowly reached out his hand and reclaimed his father's glasses. "Thank you Professor." They seemed to be the only words he could manage. Sneaking a glance at their teacher Alice elbowed Hermione gently and nodded to attract her attention. In an uncharacteristic show of emotion McGonagall seemed close to tears herself as she watched Harry cradle the spectacles.

"Right then," she sniffed suddenly and cleared her throat, "run along to your common room now all of you; you should all be in bed." They didn't hesitate to comply.

"Mate," Ron laughed as they dashed through the portrait hole minutes later, "I don't know how you manage it, but you always seem to manage to get us out of scrapes with McGonagall, could you not just do it more often… like when we have an essay due that I haven't done?"

"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed reproachfully, but she was laughing too. For the first time in a while things seemed to be looking up for them all.

For the rest of the week it was easy to forget the shadow of Black hanging over Harry and the castle. Harry was in a perpetual good mood, his Patronus lessons with Lupin were going well, he had a tangible connection to his parents and there was a Quidditch match to look forward to at the end of the week. His humour was infectious and Alice had to admit that it was one of the best weeks she had spent at Hogwarts in a long time.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, if a little frosty, but there was heat and laughter enough in the Great Hall that morning to banish even the most stubborn of chills. Alice was particularly entertained by the enormous raven-headed hat that the second year Luna Lovegood was sporting and received a radiant smile when she told her so on the way down to the pitch. The day flew by in the usual fashion: Gryffindor won an outstanding victory, followed by one of the impromptu common room parties the Weasley twins were becoming famous for. By the time she crawled into bed, her stomach far too full of pumpkin juice and custard creams, Alice was quite content.

It seemed only minutes later that she was being abruptly and unexpectedly woken from a dream that had been full of swooping lions and ravens playing Quidditch by the sound of several distant shouts echoing around the corridors. Close at hand the terrified whispers of Lavender, Parvati and Sally-Anne hissed around the darkened room.

"Did you hear that?"

"Someone screamed."

"What's happening? Do you think someone's been murdered?"

"Oh don't be ridiculous," Hermione's biting tones cut across the darkened dormitory and silenced their anxious twittering. "No one's been murdered, don't be daft."

"What happened?" Alice asked, turning in the direction of her friend's voice.

"Someone did scream," Hermione responded. Now that she wasn't chastising the others Alice could hear that there was the tiniest hint of fear in her voice. The five of them sat in the pitch black, straining for the tiniest hint of noise. Just as she was about to slip out of bed feeling that whatever it was might have passed there was the sound of feet pounding on the stairs and someone battered on the dormitory door. Sally-Anne squeaked and Alice could hear her diving under the bed covers. Without waiting for any of them to respond to the door, whoever was on the other side of it burst in.

"Is everyone alright in here?" By the wavering light of the candle they held she could see that it was Felicity, one of the prefects. She was very pale.

"Yes," Hermione called from the back of the room as the rest of the girls, bar Alice, continued to sniff and whimper, "what's going on?"

"Come on," was the cryptic response, "you had all better get down to the common room."

Quickly, and with many curious glances at the prefect and each other, the five Gryffindor girls scrambled out of bed and pulled on their dressing gowns and slippers. In their rush to get to the door they nearly tripped over one another as they jostled with each other. As Alice tried to keep up with Hermione, Lavender's rabbit slippered foot landed heavily on hers and she winced in pain. Going down the stairs they joined several other groups of Gryffindor girls, all in similar states of dress and confusion as themselves. When they reached the common room they found the entire house there, surrounding an almost ghostly Ron - his hair standing out in an even more brilliantly orange halo around his head in comparison. Next to him sat Harry, Neville, Ginny, Fred and George, all trying not to look worried and panicked in various degrees and all failing miserably.

"What happened?" Hermione rushed over with Alice hot on her heels. "Ron was that you that screamed?"

"I didn't -" he began to protest.

"You screamed Ronniekins," Fred ignored his brother.

"Like a girl," George nodded in agreement, though she could see that they were both still rattled about… whatever had happened.

Just as she was beginning to wonder if any of them were going to provide an answer, Ginny spoke up. "I don't understand what happened though."

"Ron was attacked in his bed." Neville responded solemnly. "By Sirius Black."

There was a moment of horrid silence and Alice swore she would have been able to hear a pin drop on the far side of the room. Every single Gryffindor seemed to be holding there breath, waiting to see what would be said next.

"What?!" Alice's horrified whisper echoed loudly in the silence. "How? Inside the castle?"

Ron nodded shakily, the flickering light of the fire amplified the dark shadows under his eyes giving him and ill and haunted look.

"He wasn't hurt though," Neville added.

"No, the girly squeal scared him off," joked Fred, "if only the Dementors in Azkaban had known that."

"Are you alright Harry?" Hermione looked across in concern.

"Oh thanks," Ron protested sarcastically before anyone could answer. "I get attacked by some psycho-nutbag-mass-murderer and all you want to know is if Harry is alright. Really, some people!"

"You know what I meant," Hermione flushed in a mixture of embarrassment and irritation. "I was just -"

"Oh I know what you were just," huffed Ron, but Alice could see that he wasn't really angry at her; he just needed some normality and for Ron that meant fighting with Hermione.

"What happened then?" Hermione asked gently, clearly trying to placate him.

"I heard this ripping noise - it must have been what had woken me up - then I looked up and he was standing there, Black, he must have slashed through the curtains round my bed because he was standing there holding a knife. He looked at me with these horrible, mad eyes… then I shouted out -"

"Screamed," the twins interjected.

"Yeah, well anyway, then everyone else woke up and he turned and ran. I don't know where he disappeared to."

Ginny wasn't the only one to squirm uncomfortably at this last remark and cast fearful eyes around the room as though Black might still be lurking in a dark corner. Alice watched Fred place a comforting arm around his sister as others around the room checked for signs of any lurking, escaped murderers. For a few moments there was nothing but silence as everyone exchanged worried glances and tried to digest the news.

Suddenly the door to the portrait hole burst open causing several more people to scream - Ron nearly jumped out of his skin. It was only Percy Weasley however, looking extremely self-important in his paisley pyjamas with his Head Boy's badge firmly pinned to the front, and followed by an upset looking Professor McGonagall.

"What on earth has been happening in here? Weasley," she rounded on Ron, "your brother says that you were attacked by Sirius Black; is that true?"

"Yes Professor," Ron began to explain.

"Right," McGonagall was breathing heavily by the time he had finished. "Right… right, well then. Everyone back down to the Great Hall. Stick together. I want no wandering off. If Black is inside the castle then you must all be on guard." For a split second everyone just stared at her blankly. "Move!" They all scurried to obey.

As they approached the exit to the common room Alice saw the Professor lay a firm hand on Harry's shoulder in a way that implied that she wasn't letting go until they had reached the Great Hall. It was only at this point that Alice realised that the portrait hole itself had been damaged. Shuffling quickly past it so that she didn't fall behind, she craned above the heads of the others to get a look. From the outside the wall around the portrait hole was covered in scorch marks, the sort produced by a blasting curse of some type. The back of the Fat Lady's portrait also appeared smashed and damaged around the edges, but as it was swung open she couldn't see the full extent. Over the noise of footsteps and agitated whispers however, she could hear someone weeping piteously.

Noticing that the others were getting ahead of her somewhat Alice forced the Fat Lady's plight from her mind and scurried after them. She caught up just in time to hear Ron declaring loudly to Hermione: "- And if we spend all day in the Great Hall again I am not playing Eye-Spy, alright?!"

Alice smiled. It was good to know that even in the midst of upheaval, some things never changed.

As it turned out they did have to spend another day holed up in the Great Hall, although Hermione was banned from choosing the games they played to occupy themselves. Sirius Black however was nowhere to be found.

"If only we had had the Map back," Harry complained as they all trooped back to Gryffindor Tower the following night, "then we could have made sure that he was gone."

"I'm sure the teachers did a thorough enough job Harry," Hermione informed him seriously. "Hogwarts is one of the most secure places in the country."

"How did he get in then?" Harry challenged. Hermione had no answer to that.

As they reached the common room they paused in front of the portrait hole. The damage to the stone work was still in evidence, bearing witness to the violence of the previous evening. The Fat Lady though had vanished, replaced by a portrait of a pair of grizzled old wizards. As the four of them approached the portraits challenged them.

"Who goes there? What's the password? Can't pass without a password."

"Erm…" They all stopped in confusion. "Is the password still the same?" Alice asked tentatively.

"Of course it's not," the fiercer of the two wizards barked back. "Sirius Black might know it and then where would we be if we kept the same password?"

"Well that doesn't make sense." Hermione declared. "If Black had known the password he wouldn't have had to break in would he? He could just have told the Fat Lady."

The portrait's blinked for a moment, taken aback by her brusque logic.

"Still can't get by without the password."

"But we don't know the password!" Ron moaned. He was tired and grumpy and this clearly wasn't improving his mood any.

"Well then you can't get passed. Isn't that right?"

"Right you are Cyril. No password, no passing." He smiled evilly at the third years. Ron looked like he wanted to reach through the painting and strangle him.

"So now what are we going to do?" Harry turned to his friends. As though in answer it was at that moment that Neville came puffing up the corridor behind them.

"What are you all doing hanging about out here?" He stopped casting confused glances between the four of them and the portrait.

"Cheery and Happy won't let us in and we don't know what the password is," Harry answered sarcastically as he gestured towards the two wizards.

"Oh," Neville's face lit up. "I've got a list of the week's passwords here," he retrieved a slip of parchment from his pocket and showed it to them. "I got them from one of the Prefects."

"Ha!" Harry crowed taking the parchment from him. "Neville, have I ever told you that you're brilliant." Neville blushed as the other three congratulated him too.

"Right, well," Harry cleared his throat and turned with a triumphant smile towards the now sour looking wizards. "Water Beetle."

As the portrait swung forward to admit them they could hear its occupants complaining resentfully. "Spoilsports."

That night Alice lay in bed she couldn't help speculating about what could have happened to Ron, or what might happen to Harry, to any of them, if Black returned. It was all too easy to let her imagination run away with her, lying there in the dark with just a sliver of moonlight edging through the crack in her curtains, listening to the rustle of feathers as owls swooped and dived past her window and the gently sigh of the other girls sleeping. Imagining that they were made by the soft sweep of robes across a stone floor, or the exhalation of a breath as someone prepared to strike - snap out of it Alice. Irritably she rolled over and forced her mind to think about something else.

The next day the array of tired faces at the Gryffindor table told her that she wasn't the only on who hadn't slept well that night. For Harry and Ron however that didn't seem to have been a problem as they both appeared as energetic and chipper as usual.

"Hey Alice," Harry materialised at the table next to her in the Great Hall during lunch, grinning idiotically from ear to ear.

"What is it?" She glanced suspiciously at Ron who had followed him in and was wearing a similarly self congratulatory expression. "What have you done?"

"We had a little errand to run, and we felt that you should be presented with the rewards of our endeavours." Before she could ask what on earth he was talking about he produced a piece of parchment from behind his back with a flourish. "Here you go."

"The Map!" Alice exclaimed taking it gently from him. "How on earth did you get this back?" she asked, impressed and stunned in equal measure.

"It was simple," Harry boasted. "McGonagall couldn't find anything untoward about it. She doesn't know how to work it so to her it was just a plain piece of parchment. I said I was running low on parchment, pointed out that I hadn't been able to get to Hogsmeade to buy any -"

"Fibber," Alice commented.

"Well she doesn't know that does she? Anyway I think with everything that happened the other night, she was feeling bad and the guilt trip worked, so there you go," he gestured happily to the Map now resting on the table in front of Alice."

"Harry Potter," she wasn't sure whether to encourage such behaviour or not, "you are entirely unorthodox but thank you!"

"You're going to give him a big head," Hermione's wry voice reached them from across the table. As they looked across at her she shrugged and carried on eating her lunch.

"Don't you approve Hermione?" Asked Ron, sitting down and tucking into the sandwiches with gusto.

"I just don't think you should have lied to a teacher again. The Map was confiscated as a punishment after all."

"Yes, but to punish me, not Alice," Harry reminded her. "Besides I did all my detentions. Please don't be angry Hermione," he smiled winningly at her. "Please?"

After looking at him for a moment and trying hard not to laugh at his ridiculousness she glanced across at Alice who nodded with a grin. Finally she relented. "Fine," she chuckled, throwing up her hands in mock surrender. "Do what you want. I give up, you're incorrigible." They all laughed. Finally something was going right.

Once things in the castle had calmed down a bit, Alice decided it was her duty as friend to corner Hermione and force her to confront an issue she had been avoiding with all her usual stubbornness and determination. Finally she found her opportunity one lunchtime when they were on their way to meet Harry and Ron in one of Hogwarts' many courtyards.

"Do I have to?" Her best-friend whined plaintively.


"But -"

"Hermione," Alice glared at her sternly, "we've talked about this. He is going to say yes, you have nothing to worry about, just get out there and ask him!" Really her best friend could be annoyingly stubborn sometimes.

"Why can't he do it?" Hermione peaked nervously round the door frame before pulling back quickly and flattening herself against the wall out of sight. "I mean… he is the boy after all."

Alice felt like bashing her head against the stonework but refrained with great difficulty. "It's exactly because he is the boy that you have to do this," she explained much more patiently than she felt. "You're more coherent, organised, and less laid back; if you don't do it now you'll be waiting months before he gets up enough courage to do it - no matter how much he wants to right now."

"I…" Hermione couldn't seem to find an argument against this so she changed tack. "But Ron's with him."

"Don't worry about Ron, I'll get rid of him."

Hermione's mouth opened and then closed again without making a sound. Alice grinned triumphantly, she knew she had won. "Right then, come on!" With a forceful shove she propelled Hermione through the doorway and out into the courtyard where Ron and Harry were sitting. There was no one else in sight.

"Hi Harry," Hermione stopped in front of him, entirely ignoring Ron and with her voice much higher than was natural.

"Oh Hermione," Ron began, "I was going to ask you about that homework that Prof - Ow!" He protested loudly as Alice grabbed his arm.

"Come on Ron, I want to show you something."

"Hang on a second then," he sank his weight backwards and was easily able to hold her back. "I just want to -"

"It's kind of important." She shot a meaningful glance in the direction of Hermione, who looked panic-stricken, and Harry, who just looked confused.

"Alright, alright, keep your hair on. If you'd just tell me what -"

"Ron!" She stepped heavily on to his foot and nodded all too obviously in the direction of her friends, raising her eyebrows meaningfully as she did so. Finally the penny dropped.

"Oh. Oh right," an idiotic grin spread slowly across his face. "Oh I get it."

"I'm so pleased for you," she drawled sarcastically and began to tug on his arm again. This time he followed without protest.

As they crossed the courtyard Alice didn't look back once, she didn't want to put Hermione off even more than she already had been. She could however hear her begin to speak.

"Harry… CanIaskyousomething?" The words were a jumbled rush.

There was a brief silence and Alice wasn't sure if they were waiting for Ron and her to disappear; she sped up. A second later though she heard Harry's voice.

"Yeah… look Hermione, I think I know what this is about and well," she heard him clear his throat, "there was something I wanted to ask you too. The thing is I really…" With a feeling of slight disappointment Alice realised that they had moved out of earshot. Still she reasoned, she would rather give them privacy to do this themselves. Once they were back inside the castle however, Ron had other ideas. The minute they reached the corridor he pulled his arm from her grasp and, much as Hermione had done minutes earlier, concealed himself almost entirely behind the door frame.

"Get away from there," Alice hissed at him, "don't be so nosy!"

"Is she going to ask him to Hogsmeade? Won't that be weird if Harry has to hide under the cloak all the time?" Ron whispered back, ignoring her completely.

"Of for goodness sake," Alice was beginning to get the giggles at the ridiculousness of the whole situation, "you're like a three year old. Give them some privacy." He didn't move. "Ron!"

"They might need us for something."

"I'm sure they'll manage fine on their own." He frowned at her obstinately, his jaw jutting forwards like a disappointed child. "Besides, I rather think Harry was about to do the asking." She tutted as Ron turned back to look again. "Come on idiot," she slapped him gently on the back of the head. "Move!" Finally, and with a comical look of bitter resignation, he complied.

As they sat waiting for their friends in the common room, Alice revised her opinion; Ron wasn't so much like a child as an eager puppy. Every time someone came into the room he would look up hopefully and then sag back into his seat in disappointment as he saw it wasn't them.

"Ron, have you got something wrong with your neck?" George asked when the twins came over to speak to them. "Or are you just stretching?"

Ron scowled at his brothers. "We're waiting for Harry and Hermione if you must know."

"Ah," Fred nodded seriously before a wicked grin spread across his face. "So they've finally gotten around to asking each other then?"

"About time too; we were beginning to wonder if we'd need to give Harry lessons in how to talk to girls."

Alice snorted in amusement, she couldn't help herself, they were just so ridiculous. "And I suppose you two think that you are a right pair of Casanovas? I don't notice many women falling at your feet."

"We keep them well hidden," George joked, "for our own safety you understand."

"Anyway," Fred leaned towards her and batted his eyelashes idiotically, "how could you resist this charm?"

"With great difficulty," Alice giggled. "But I'm sure I'll manage somehow." She smiled when he pretended to be disappointed. "Cheer up; I'm sure Moaning Myrtle thinks you're lovely."

"Oi!" Alice ducked as he swung a pillow towards her head. She was just about to throw one back at him when Ron's exclamation caught her attention.


Quickly she looked up I time to see her friends trying surreptitiously to sneak back through the portrait hole without anyone noticing. As they heard Ron's shout they froze, like deer in the headlights, before glancing at each other, flushing bright red and then coming over to join them. As they sat down it didn't escape Alice's notice that they chose the opposite ends of the sofa to do so. She tried not to laugh.

"So," George cleared his throat loudly and pointedly. "Harry… been up to much today?"

Harry turned the same colour as the seat he was on. "Not much… just… you know…"

"Yeah." Fred was clearly enjoying watching them squirm. "We do."

"Been making any plans?"

"It's good to be organised after all."

"Oh, for goodness sake," seeing that they weren't going to say anything Alice eventually came to their rescue. "You two are mean! Go and pester someone else for a while. Go on," she added when they continued to smirk at her. "Scat!" She watched them walk away, already bantering with each other again, before turning apologetically back to Harry and Hermione.

"So, what happened then?" Alice rolled her eyes as Ron jumped straight in. "Are you two going out now?"

"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed, "that's private."

"Okay," he looked crestfallen for a split second, "but are you though?"

It was comical really, the way they looked from Ron, whose face was shining with curiosity, to Alice, who although she could hide it better had to admit that she wanted to know too, in utter exasperation. As Hermione met her eye she raised a questioning eyebrow at her.

"Oh, alright!" She muttered finally. "We're going to Hogsmeade together, just to…" She struggled to find the right word and glanced towards Harry for help.

"Just to see," he supplied with a slight smile. He wasn't showing it much, but from the light in his eyes Alice could tell that despite the embarrassment he was overjoyed. She wanted to hug them both. As silence fell within the group and Ron continued to beam inanely at his friends, Alice glanced around the room.


"What?" Hermione looked up in alarm. "What's wrong?"

"Well," Alice lowered her voice to a whisper as she continued to watch the person she had spotted sitting in a corner with her friends. "Should someone warn Ginny? About you two I mean… I mean she does have a bit of a thing for Harry…"



"Ron." The girls spoke in unison, grinning wryly as they caught each others eye.

"What?! Why me?" He looked horror-struck and paled visibly underneath his freckles.

"Because she's your sister, that's why."

"Yeah, but… What about Fred and George?"

Alice snorted and raised a sceptical eyebrow. Love them as she did she would be the first to admit they weren't exactly subtle… or tactful, and she told Ron so.

"But neither am I! You're always saying it. I'm useless at all that… emotion… stuff." He blushed even as he said it, much to Harry's evident amusement.

"Much as this fails to shock me Ronald," Hermione did a passable an entirely unconscious impersonation of McGonagall. "I'm afraid you don't have an option. You're going to have to talk to her." The finality in her voice brooked no argument.

Ron groaned and buried his head in his arms.

A/N: First off apologies (AGAIN!!!) for the fact this has taken me ages to post, I've had a fairly hectic few months and just haven't been able to get around to it - that and the fact my laptop died on me and I failed in the number one rule of all writers by not having this chapter backed up anywhere, meaning I had to try and rewrite the whole thing from memory. Please forgive the delay!! On the chapter itself, my theory was that the Map wouldn't say anything to, or insult McGonagall, like it did with Snape because, if nothing else the real Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs would all have been too scared of her to try. Please R&R.