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Chapter 2: Benediction
After the welcoming feast, at which Headmaster McGonagall gave a very frightening order to refrain from the use of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes products, I got the password to the common room from Vanessa and sneaked off to go for a quick walk around the castle. I wasn’t tired, and I wasn’t ready to go back to be practically locked in the common room just yet.
I hated curfew. Being stuck in the limited space with seventy plus people? I wasn’t claustrophobic, but that was enough to put any girl’s nerves on edge. The common room after hours was pretty much a glorified prison cell!
After quite a long walk through Hogwarts’ halls I was finally willing to accept my fate, and began my journey towards the Fat Lady. I was about halfway there when I felt a strong, muscled arm wrap itself around my shoulders and pull me into the body of a very well built boy; I stopped walking at that point. I felt my cheeks heat up and turned to see Fred Weasley grinning down at me.
Okay. That was a little odd. Fred and I weren’t friends. He was the captain of the Quidditch team, and we made small talk on the occasions he was waiting for Emily to come down from the girls dorms to talk to her about it, but that was pretty much our relationship. Occasional small talk.
For what felt like forever Fred just continued to grin at me. He pulled up his arm that wasn’t around my shoulders and reached behind my head to twirl my ponytail in his fingers.
I was about to shove him away, because as nice as it was pressed against his very nice chest it was starting to get creepy. It was just then that he finally started speaking.
“So,” he finally turned away from me, still pressing me to him, and started walking; one still around my shoulders, the other still reaching up so he could play with my hair. God, this guy was a flirt! “I was talking to Jimmy-boy a little earlier tonight.”
It became obvious to me at that point that I was supposed to ask what they talked about. “He’s your best friend and your cousin, don’t you talk all the time?”
“This is true.” Fred nodded. “But tonight he had something extra special to say.”
We arrived at a flight of stares and Fred still didn’t let me go. I have to admit that I was getting quite comfortable in the boy’s arms so I wasn’t exactly complaining, but the trek up the stairs was awkward and took twice as long as it should have.
It was while walking up those stares that I just took the bait and asked him the question he wanted me to ask. “And what exactly was that something special James had to say?”
“Well, it seems Jimmy-boy’s dream girl will go out with him if Little Alby learns to speak in the presence of his dream girl.”
With that said, I seriously considered shoving Fred down the stairs. Why was it I was the only one that didn’t know about Al’s crush? Was it so obvious to the world? I also felt my face burn up at the insinuation that I was Al’s dream girl.
Instead of pushing Fred, though, I asked him the question he wanted me to ask for the second time in a row. “And you’re telling me this because–?”
“Ah!” Fred stopped twirling my hair and patted my head before returning his hand to my dark brown locks. “That is the million galleon question! I want you to do James a favor.”
I glared at Fred for the pat and sighed. “What does this–favor–entail?”
“Nothing! Well, almost nothing. Practically nothing!”
I had to shove myself even closer to Fred, as if that were possible, to avoid walking into the corner we were turning.
“You just need to talk to Al every chance you get! Get him used to talking to you. Then he might actually be able to, you know, talk.” Fred looked down at me sans grin. “James really likes Jen, Camry, and I think Jen likes James. She just needs a little push, and this deal could be just the right thing.”
I sighed. “I know that. I can’t help it if Al’s uncomfortable around me, though, now can I? I don’t want to string him along. I don’t like him like that and I think it’d be more than a little cruel to make him think that I might.”
“That would be cruel!” Fred gasped in what had to be pure mockery of me. I glared at him again. “You don’t need to string him along. Just be his friend, you know? For our two friends if not for Albus.”
I looked away from Fred. It probably would do wonders for Jen to have a boyfriend, get her over those fears. I figured it couldn’t hurt to sit with Al in the common room every now and then. I could ask him to help me in Charms or something.
“Fine. I’ll do it. But if Al gets hurt it’s your fault.” Fred just grinned. What was with those Potter/Weasley boys? They were all so pretty!
We made the rest of the trip to the common room without talking, though Fred still held onto me. Because I was feeling a little flirty too, I put my arm around his waist. I almost laughed out loud because he started humming the wedding march.
We got to the Fat Lady and she sighed wistfully at us. “Ah, to be in the throes of young love!”
It was at this point we let go of each other. “Um...” he looked at me. I giggled. Someone didn’t know the password!
The portrait swung open and I stepped through with Fred. When it closed behind us I felt my heart sink, it was like the closing of a cage. I was used to the feeling, though, since it was the same feeling I had gotten every night since coming to Hogwarts first year, and made my way to the girls dormitories.
“What?” Fred shouted across the room at me, drawing a lot of attention. “No good night kiss?”
I turned around to glance at him, completely unable to help the smile on my face. I did manage to not laugh, though, and I was proud of that. “Not tonight!”
With that said, I rolled my eyes and made my way up the stairs. I opened the door to the sixth year girls room and saw that no one was ready for bed, or even in the process of getting ready.
“How was the walk?” Annily grinned at me from her bed in the corner. “Get the jitters out?”
“Almost.” I would never get all the jitters out so long as I was faced with being locked up every night.
I decided to lead the herd and get ready for bed. I grabbed my nighttime things out of my trunk, nighttime things that I had so cleverly put in at the very top of the pile in my trunk, and went into the toilet. It seemed that I was right in the thought that the other girls would follow my lead, though, as they followed me in.
Every year had their own washroom. Three stalled toilets, two large sinks, two large mirrors over the sinks, and five bathtubs with curtains around them. Each bathtub had a shower rack for towels, and a small stool for clothes next to it. The bathrooms weren’t exactly the most private areas in the world.
Fortunately for me, as well as the other four sixth year girls, I was friends with all of the girls in my year so there were no serious issues with it. There were girls in other years who had screaming matches over the toilet.
First year we created a bathroom system. We each picked a tub that would be ours, and that the other girls weren’t allowed to use. The sinks worked by priority, If I was doing my hair and Annily wanted to brush her teeth, I would have to back away so she could; if Emily had just used the toilet and needed to wash her hands Annily would have to step back; after Emily was done, Annily would get the sink back; if Vanessa wanted to do her hair, then she would have to wait for me to be done because I was there first.
The only issue with the bathrooms we ever had was with being naked in front of each other. The bathtubs turn on the second a person steps inside at the temperature that person prefers to have for a shower. That meant we couldn’t get in, take our clothes off, and then turn on the water. At first we would change in a toilet stall, wrap a towel around ourselves, and jump into the shower as fast as we could. As the years went on, and we all ended up seeing each other naked at least once, we gave up on modesty.
Which led to the first night of sixth year. Annily was the only girl in our year that took showers in the morning, because her hair was so short it was a mess when she woke up and the only way she could fix it was by showering. So she went straight to the sink, and the rest up us stripped down, completely indifferent to the fact that there were others in the room, and jumped into our individual showers.
“I smell vanilla!” Emily shouted over the water.
“That’s me! James might not have seen me over summer, but he sent me vanilla body wash and shampoo for my birthday!”
“Can I use it?” Emily had always loved everything vanilla scented.
“Yeah! I’m done with it now, so just come over here and get it.”
It was at that moment Vanessa’s hand appeared in my shower. I laughed, and handed her my body wash. She always forgot her own body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and/or toothpaste and always ended up having her mother owl them to her.
After we were all showered, and our teeth were all brushed, and all of our other nighttime rituals were finished, we were all laying in our respective beds and talking about our summers.
“Australia was great! I love surfing. It’s amazing!” Jen sighed wistfully. “I think I’m going to go live down there after Hogwarts.”
“After Hogwarts?” Annily asked as if it were a foreign concept to her. We had never actually talked about our plans for after school as a group. I guess no one had with Annily at all.
“Yeah. They’ve got this magazine down there called leFay. It’s a woman’s magazine about fashion, sex, food, and just about anything else a woman would want in her magazine.”
“Why?” I had to ask, I couldn’t believe Annily sounded so unprepared for the comment. “Don’t you know what you want to do after Hogwarts?”
“I never really thought about it.” Annily didn’t really sound too concerned. “Why? Do you all know what you want to do?”
“I’m going to be a writer for a fashion magazine.” Jen’s answer was quick. She’d known since before Hogwarts what she wanted to do afterwards.
Emily sighed. “I’m hoping for professional Quidditch, but I’m not counting on it or anything. I’ll work at the Ministry in the Department of Magical Transportation with my Mum.”
“I’m going to be a Healer.”
I looked over at Vanessa. One day she just told me that she was going to be a Healer no matter what, and refused to say more on the subject.
I looked over at Annily. She wanted to know my plans for after Hogwarts. “Not sure. I’ll probably be a potion maker for the Apothecary in Diagon Alley or something.” I did have a part-time job there the last two summers, so it probably was where I was going to end up.
I nodded. It was bleak, but I had no other ideas. I could work at the ministry, but what would I do there? Send letters to underage kids who use magic? Put splinched couples back together after they apparated illegally? Now that was bleak.
“What about you?” Jen asked. “Why haven’t you thought about it?”
“My Dad has lots of money. I can afford to drift for a while.” That she could. “I guess I shouldn’t say I haven’t thought about it at all, I just try not to because I have no idea.”
“I can relate.” I really could, too. I had no idea what to do after Hogwarts. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to pass any of my NEWT courses. OWLs had been tough enough to last me a lifetime.
I giggled when Emily let out a loud yawn, making it clear to all that talking was no longer allowed. She was a light sleeper, and did not take kindly to being woken up before she needed to be. After a round of “Good Night”s, we all turned out our lights and went to bed.
I tried really hard to ignore the fact that I was stuck in a limited space with seventy plus people.
No Camry/Albus interaction in this chapter. Not much of anything really, but it’ll pick up after this chapter is over. This chapter was mostly just for me, so I could get a handle on Camry’s voice.