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Chapter 4: Take a Chance and Make it Big
Hold your head high heavy heart.
So take a chance and make it big,
‘Cause it’s the last you’ll ever get.
If we don’t take it, when will we make it?
- the Academy Is...
Greetings from Uncle Remus and Dad! (And Mum . . . Don’t forget me!)
You better be coming home for Christmas, seeing as no one ever stays at Hogwarts and you’ll be ridiculously bored. Well, actually, we used to stay sometimes, but that’s because we made our own fun. And since we’re not at Hogwarts to help you, I suggest that you come home.
You might want to invite Harry, too. I’m sure he doesn’t want to go home to his wretched relatives.
Oh, and don’t forget. Compliments! Compliments! Compliments! (That was from Remus.)
And that was very similar to the all the other letters they had sent me throughout the year. I usually got one a week. Occasionally, Mum would write one. Consequently, I’d have to ask Dad to rewrite whatever she wrote; Mum couldn’t chicken-scratch her way out of a box.
As the days wore on, I hung out with Lavender more. I formally introduced her to Seamus and Dean. Together, we five - with Parvati - became almost inseparable.
We walked to class together, we ate meals together, we studied (well, we tried) together.
And all through this time, I became closer with Lavender.
However, the day came when it was so close to returning home for Christmas that I could no longer putting off inviting Harry. I dreaded potentially having a fun-bringer-downer at home for Christmas . . . We already had one of those.
"Harry!" Potions had just let out - we’d both taken quite the beating from Snape today. Twenty points in all. Harry lost ten because Snape’s an arsehole. I lost ten because I’m dumb.
"Yeah?" he grunted. Well, I suppose I wouldn’t have been in the best mood either.
"Listen . . . I know you wanted to talk to my parents about your parents. And I know you probably don’t want to go back to your family over the holidays. So we - me and my parents - were wondering if you wanted to come stay at our house?" He looked visibly less angry than he was a minute ago. But it might’ve been because Potions was the last class and it was dinner time.
"Thanks for the offer . . . But I’ve made plans to stay here with Ron over Christmas."
I nodded. "Well, offer’s still open anytime." Mum and Dad always taught me that ‘our casa is other people’s casa.’
And as he sped up and walked faster towards the Great Hall, I couldn’t help but silently cheer at the familiar Christmas I would be sure to enjoy.
"Dad! Mum! UNCLE REMUS!!" I left all my stuff at Hogwarts, so when the Hogwarts Express pulled into the platform at King’s Cross, I leapt off and flew towards them, shameless.
That was Dad and Remus. Mum was too busy chasing Will around the platform with Lupin on her back. Will did not look pleased at all.
But he never did, so I just ignored him as always.
"How was Hogwarts?" Dad asked, as I catapulted myself and hugged both at once.
"Excellent!" And that’s when I saw Lavender coming off the train. I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement. "That’s her!" I hissed.
Then, in a discreet, synchronized manner, Dad and Remus snaked their heads around, caught a quick glance or her, and snapped back towards me.
"She’s pretty, Al." Dad clapped me on the back. Remus agreed.
So, I decided to go say good-bye to her. After all, who doesn’t want a good-bye from Aldan Black?
"Lavender!" I called. She was talking to a rather tall, bony woman. Lavender turned around and smiled at me, said something to the woman, and made her way over to me.
"Hey," she said, stopping in front of me.
"Hey." I paused, not knowing what to say. "So, I just, er, wanted to wish you a happy holiday."
"Same to you." She smiled.
Okay, do it now, Al!
Fine, just hug her!
Do it, bitch!
A bit creeped out at the inner workings of my mind, I leaned forward and hugged Lavender.
I’m hugging Lavender Brown. I’m hugging Lavender Brown! I’M HUGGING LAVENDER BROWN!
And then, I let go. "Have a nice Christmas." Then, I smiled and turned around, walking suavely away.
Yeah, I’m good.
Christmas was pretty fun. Uneventful, as our Christmases go. One year, everyone got into a big fight and left before the turkey was cut. One year Lupin started a food fight without Mum and Dad’s permission. One year, Mum decided to see what would happen if she jumped into the deep end of the (empty) pool. That year we ended up at St. Mungo’s.
Everyone always came to our house. Grandma. Grandpa. Uncle Jason. Darren and Connie, and their daughter Catherine, who was Lupin’s age. And, of course, Remus (who still lived with us, but was currently undergoing training to become a Psychiatric Healer). Sometimes, Mum’s old friend Bria would come to visit with her husband Greg. Usually Stephen would come, too.
It was the whole group this year. No food fights. No regular fights. And no St. Mungo’s.
Only our crazy dog Jake, who ran happily in from playing outside, slipped on the floor with his wet paused and crashed into the table where all the food was. No biggy.
Or so we thought. Will came running into the room going absolutely nuts. "No! Oh my God! What are we going to do! Mum! Dad! The food fell! Now everything’s ruined!" He turned angrily to Jake and began yelling at the poor, old frightened dog.
Will’s gone mad.
Dad came running in. He saw the mess, and the scene that Will was causing. "Relax, Will. It’s fine. We can make more food."
But Will wouldn’t have any of it. "No! Now there’s a mess! And everyone has to wait longer."
"Will, relax!" My Dad picked up his ‘listen-to-me-I-sound-stern-even-though-I-know-that-you-know-that-I’m-a-big-teddy-bear’ voice.
But Will kept freaking out. My Dad threw a nervous glance around the room and Remus came over to help him immediately. He smooth-talked Will and managed to manoeuvre him out of the room. Mum came running into the room and looked at the mess, the whimpering dog, and Remus guiding Will out of the room.
"Well, what the hell happened now?"
Oh, did I say ‘uneventful’? Yeah, I lied.
"Go on, move. Yeah, I said you!" I poked the knight at the corner of the chess board.
"You’ve got to tell me where, you bloody idiot!" The knight was not a happy little knight.
Seamus laughed. "Your chess pieces swear like you," he remarked.
Someone - I don’t know who - had gotten me a set of wizard chess pieces for Christmas. I certainly don’t know why. Not a single person in my family played chess. And I knew for a fact my Mum detested it more than most things.
So why did someone want to put me through that sort of pain?
"Can’t we just play exploding snap with Dean and Lavender and Parvati?" I whined.
Seamus shook his head. "You’re magical! Learning how to play wizard’s chess is mandatory!"
If I had to play chess for my life, I would lose.
It was the fourth of June - the last day of exams. I was beginning to drift even further into thoughts of summer, and Harry, Ron, and their friend Hermione were acting quite strange.
They were sitting around the common room, looking nervous and sitting up straight. Every time a moderately loud noise went off, they all startled. But, whatever they were up to was their business. Sure, I was curious, but I was bloody lazy, and I really didn’t give a crap about what my peers did for fun.
It was nearly midnight when I decided to retire to bed.
And when I woke up the next morning, everything was in shambles. Neville was shaking me violently awake. Harry was unconscious in the hospital. So was Ron. And Neville was rambling on and on about a toad . . . Or something like that.
I tried to ignore his pestering, but soon Seamus and Dean were awake, and began to question Neville.
Apparently, last night, Harry, Ron and Hermione had gone into the forbidden passageway (which held a three-headed dog - something I knew from my own troublesome snooping.) However, they hadn’t just peeked; they slipped into a trap door and battled their way through obstacles to save something called the Philosopher’s Stone from Snape, who actually turned out to be Quirrel, who actually turned out to be Voldemort.
Over the next few days, the story was embellished upon. I didn’t really think the story needed embellishing - the whole thing had to be a gigantic lie in the first place.
But, when I overheard Minnie talking about it to Dumbledore one day, I was forced to admit that the righteous little bugger had done what he’d gotten credit for.
Perhaps it was rather feminine of me, but I was jealous of Harry Potter and his accomplishments, and how he didn’t even appreciate and bask in all the attention he was getting.
Naturally, I had to go out with a bang, as well. So I enlisted the help of my mates.
It was the last day before we all headed back onto the Hogwarts Express. The nineteenth of June, nineteen-ninety-two, to be specific. And I was going to save Lavender from drowning.
"You ready, mate?" I was standing by a cluster of trees near the lake, where Parvati and Lavender where casually strolling. Seamus was rubbing my shoulders, rather like a boxer’s manager would before a big fight.
"Yeah! I feel good! I feel real good!"
No one realized how dumb of an idea this was. We were just a bunch of twelve-year-olds who thought we were bad to the bone.
Lavender looked casually back at us, and Dean gave her a nod.
Lavender’s foot flew out from under her and she went tumbling into the lake.
It was just after lunch, and everyone had come outside to get some sun . . . Things were right on schedule. I would be as talked about as Harry in no time.
Okay . . . So saving your mate from drowning isn’t quite as cool as saving the world from an evil Wizard . . . But my charming personality would easily make up the difference.
"Don’t worry Lavender," I called, exaggerating my voice to sound a bit more masculine and super hero - ish. "I’ll save you!"
I ran towards the edge and dove fantastically into the deep water, where Lavender was splashing around and yelling. Dad taught me how to dive when I was seven . . . Mum had offered, but I’d seen her mess up and belly-flop into the water too often.
As I hit the water, I heard lots of voices as people gathered along the edge of the lake to watch.
Oh, this is perfect!
Just as I was about to grab Lavender’s hand and swim her safely to the edge, a geyser of water erupted in the middle of the lake.
A black tentacle shot out of the water and it wrapped tightly around Lavender’s waist. She screeched and slammed her head around, causing her blond hair to fly as the giant squid lifted her out of the water.
Why do all the best ideas turn out to be crap?!
"Lavender!" I cried. I could have run. (Or, technically, swum.) I could have made it to the edge of the lake and clambered out to save my own arse. But I didn’t.
Because that’s just not what a good friend does.
"Let her go!" I cried at the giant, inky black squid. I dove under the surface, picked up a rock, and tossed it at the squid as hard as I could. I doubt it felt a thing.
Lavender was still screaming bloody murder (and I certainly didn’t blame her) as the squid lowered it’s long tentacle.
And then the squid put her safely on the ground. Just like that. No bargaining or blood.
The people in the crowd begun murmuring and whispering to each other. I swam quickly to the edge of the lake and climbed quickly out, running to Lavender’s side before Dean or Seamus or Parvati could get there.
"Are you okay?" I asked worriedly.
Lavender smiled and nodded, which was slightly offset by the fact that she was shaking. "Apparently it’s a nice squid."
I nodded. "Apparently."
It was a rather cool day, considering that it was the end of June. So - in a true gentlemanly fashion - I picked my jacket up from the ground and put it over Lavender’s shoulders. She smiled appreciatively.
Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!
I began to lean in and - "Lavender! Oh my god! Are you okay!?"
At this point, the rest of our friends had made it through the throng and to us.
However, despite my efforts of kissing Lavender being thwarted, I had succeeded. I was quite talked about, as well as my girlfriend-to-be-eventually.
"Aldan Black . . . He was that First year who tried to get rid of the giant squid because it had his girlfriend."
"Yeah, Sirius Black and Anna Xanthis are his parents."
"Didn’t he fight the squid until it gave his blond friend back?"
"I heard he single handedly killed the squid. That’s why no one’s seen it."
Perhaps it wasn’t as cool as, "I heard he saved the entire world from a really evil guy. Twice." But it didn’t really matter. I was much, much cooler. And better looking.
Perhaps I was a bit overexcited, but I couldn’t help it. At the moment, I was sitting in the horseless carriage with Dean, Parvati, Lavender and Seamus. We were on our way to the Hogwarts Express and on our way home.
Don’t get me wrong . . . I love Hogwarts, but I love home, too.
Where there were no deadlines. Where there were minimal rules. And where I would get to hang out with my friends every day without having to worry about getting up for classes the next day.
It was just a short ride to the trains, and we all hopped happily off. Parvati, Dean and Seamus made a joint excuse and scurried off.
To an outsider (or Lavender) it might be confusing. But to me, it made perfect sense. Since the previous day’s plan had gone so swimmingly, I had decided to enlist my friends’ help once again.
I had told all three of them that I wanted to ask Lavender to be my girlfriend. Parvati squealed excitedly and jumped up and down happily. (That moment was, incidentally, my first real look into the mind of a girl.)
So, when the three booked it away from the carriage, that left Lavender and I alone.
"So . . . Lavender . . . Excited to be going home?"
She shrugged and tucked some of her pretty blond hair behind her pierced ear. "I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like I mind my Mum and Dad, but we live in the middle of nowhere and I’m going to miss all the, you know, hustle and bustle here."
"You should come to my house to visit!" I yelped excitedly. I did so without asking Mum and Dad - they surely wouldn’t mind. "There’s always stuff going on at my house."
Lavender smiled. "I don’t think my Mum and Dad would-"
"Dean and Seamus and Parvati could come too! Maybe they’d be okay with that?" If Lavender could come visit over the summer, it would make my summer the greatest ever . . . So far.
She smiled. "I’ll ask. So . . . Where did they go off to?"
I played dumb and shrugged. "I dunno . . ." I looked around, scanning the compartments and saw three heads poking around the corner of one.
Now, Aldan! This is your chance! DO IT!
"Lavender?" I felt suave and sure of myself. Not nervous at all . . . Okay, that was a lie.
She doesn’t suspect a thing . . .
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
Lavender stopped in her tracks and turned to look at me. Now, after being friends with her for nearly a whole year, I had observed what each of Lavender’s reactions meant. She wasn’t shy, but she certainly wasn’t overly outgoing like I was.
But the way she smiled coyly and looked at the ground was new to me. It was immensely shy. It was like if-Will-was-a-girl shy.
A/N: Hello all! How I have missed you and my own bed! But I am back from the dangerous, freezing (and seriously fun) riptides of the Atlantic ocean and back to my computer. I thought this was a nice look into the conceited (yet oddly unselfish) mind of Aldan. Hopefully the next chapter will come a little quicker . . . :D