"And then I said to him, 'now you listen, if you even think you'll be taking me to Hogsmeade, you'll have to'…" The blonde coming up the stairs to the Gryffindor girls' dormitory paused mid-sneer to peer at the non-descript ball of grey fur snuffling the carpet.
"What's going on?" a dark-haired girl peered around the blonde's shoulder, her eyebrows raising when she saw what the hold-up was about. "Aw, what a cute rat!"
"Cute?" The blonde grumbled as she was pushed out of the way by the other girl. "Don't touch it, Laurie, that's vermin." Her frown deepened when Laurie bent to scoop the rat off the ground and cuddled him to her chest.
"He isn't vermin, Jessica," Laurie retorted. The rat was sprawled across her forearm while she scratched behind his ears with the other hand, its eyes already half-closed. "Look how tame it is! Someone must have lost their pet."
Jessica's expression of skepticism did not lessen at all as Laurie cooed nonsense at the rat and skritched its spine thoroughly. Rodents made her nervous, with their long teeth and creepy tails, and then the thing actually began to chatter its teeth. Who knew when it would attack?
"That means he's happy!" Laurie informed her condescendingly when Jessica voiced her concern. She bent her head to nuzzle the top of the rat's head. "You are happy, aren't you, such a cut ickle ratty…"
The rat was soaking up the attention like a sponge, chattering away with his eyes squeezed shut. When Laurie ran finger tips down to twiddle the fur on his side, the rat rolled over onto its back and threw its head back to lay in a boneless slump against Laurie's breast. Laurie giggled and scratched the rat's soft belly, and all the rat's paws curled in ecstasy.
"Aw, look, it's a boy! Aren't you a big, strong boy? Yes, you are!"
"Put it down already!" Jessica demanded, able to take no more and refusing to look at the evidence of the rat's gender. "Come on, it's nearly curfew, let's go!"
"All right, all right," Laurie sighed. Tucking fingers underneath the rats forearms, Laurie lifted the limp pet to her face and kissed him soundly on the nose before setting him back on the carpet. "Go on then," she gave the rat's rear a little push towards the stairs. "Go find your owner."
Laurie watched him waddle down the first couple steps before turning to skip off with Jessica.
"…so anyway, I said I wouldn't go to Hogsmeade with him if he were the last…"
"Oi, where's Pete got to anyway?" James asked, looking around the room from his bed.
"Haven't seen him since dinner," Sirius answered, not looking up from the essay he was pretending to copy from Remus as an excuse to sit too close to him at his desk. "Sneaky bastard."
"He said he was going out on a solo mission," Remus said, not looking up from the essay that he knew damn well Sirius had done yesterday.
"Almost curfew," James remarked, sitting up a little, "he'd better…"
The door banged open at that moment, making all three of them turn their heads.
Slouched against door was Peter, clothes rumpled, tie askew, hair mussed, eyes half-lidded, and smirking in satisfaction.
"I don't believe this!" Sirius exclaimed.
"Again?" Remus asked.
"How are you doing it?" James demanded.
Peter favored them with a superior, yet cryptic, glance for a long moment before speaking.
"Animal magnetism," he said at last, then yawned hugely. "I'm for bed, all knackered out, you know. Have a good night, lads."
The other three boys watched Peter saunter across the room and collapse into his bed, yanking the hangings shut around him. Everything was silent for a few beats.
"It's cause he's hung like a fucking…well, like a rat," Sirius grumbled, inching his chair closer while Remus was still looking over at Peter's bed.
No one asked what the low chuckle from behind Peter's hangings was about.