“Used by Miss Jones, perhaps, it’s a way to walk softly around the confused one,” read Sirius, more to himself than to his two companions.
“Broomstick?” offered Peter.
“What?” said Sirius irritably.
“Broomstick. Gwenog Jones, that second year Slytherin, plays Quidditch. She’d use a broomstick,” said Peter.
“Why would Gwenog Jones’ broomstick be an answer in a Muggle crossword puzzle, Wormy?” said Sirius in exasperation. “Besides broomstick’s ten letters; this is two words, five and three.”
“You could squash it up to fit in the boxes,” said Peter helpfully.
Remus, who until then had been lost
in a book, snorted.
“Just give up, Sirius, you’re obviously not as bright as you think!” he said.
“Where’s Prongs?” asked Sirius moodily.
“Off with Lily somewhere,” replied Peter. “Got any letters?”
“Something, T, something, N, something. Next word P, something, D.”
“Stink Pod?” suggested Peter.
“What’s that got to do with the clue?” asked Remus.
“I dunno- it’s cryptic. They never make sense to me.”
Sirius threw the newspaper down in irritation and looked out of the window; it was getting dark. He pointed his wand at the oil lamp
to light it. Then he walked over to his trunk and pulled out a bottle
“Want one?” he asked them both. Remus shook his head and returned to his book. Peter looked rather green
. He was still suffering from last night.
“Better not, Padfoot,” he muttered. “I still have a Herbology essay to write on the benefits of organic
Snargaluff pods as opposed to magically modified ones.”
They heard laughter outside their door; the next second James burst into the room dragging Lily behind him.
“Merlin, Prongs!” shouted Sirius. “Knock next time you bring Lily round. We could have been naked for all you knew.”
“Why would all three have you been naked?” said James. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Sirius raised his eyebrows sardonically as Peter blushed.
“It’s for your benefit. If Lily happened to catch any of us in the raw she’d ditch you immediately and leave you sobbing, piteously, into your lace handkerchief
James smirked. For some reason that Sirius couldn’t fathom he looked rather like a cat
that had got the cream.
Lily glanced at the crossword. “Steno pad
,” she said.
“Huh?” said Sirius and Peter together.
“Steno Pad,” she repeated. “’Way’ is street or 'st'. 'Walk softly'- pad. Put them around ‘one confused’ – meaning mixed up- 'eno'.”
“What’s Miss Jones got to do with it?” said Sirius in puzzlement.
“’Miss Jones’ is a nickname for a secretary. The use steno pads for shorthand,” Lily explained.
“Lily!” shouted Sirius, pulling her into his lap. “Ditch James and run off with me.”
“Well err... actually,” she said, smiling across at James. He nodded.
with me,” said Sirius dramatically. “Just say the word and I’ll marry you.”
Lily disentangled herself from his embrace and stood beside James.
“You’re too late, Padfoot,” said James. “Just half an hour ago Lily agreed to marry me!”