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Chapter 11: Ash
I woke up on the morning of the Quidditch match, stretching. I reached to the table by the side of bed, intending on reading over a few paragraphs of my wand lore book while I woke up properly. However, my hand met, not book cover, but wood.
My book wasn’t there.
It was always there. It never moved. If it wasn’t in my bag, it was on my beside table. Last night, I could have sworn I’d transferred it from my bag to the table, as I did every night.
Quickly I rose from my bed, heading over to my bag, digging through it furiously. It wasn’t there either.
Frantic now, I turned to the room at large, pulling apart my bed by magic, going through Tanya’s stuffed toy collection (Ely the bat, Lizzie the ferret, the infamous Steph the platypus from Australia, Nikki the peacock, Louise the donkey and Amy the cow), Kris’s stack of magazines, which had quite a few of Dom’s thrown in and emptying the entire contents of the wardrobes onto the floor.
Still no book.
“Where the hell is my book?” I shrieked, effectively waking everyone else up.
Tanya stared at her soft toys, which had previously been in a nice stack, and were now scattered randomly around her bed, whilst Kris and Dom looked horrified at the magazine pile that was now out of order.
“You lose something, Liv?” Kris smirked, using her own wand to rectify most of the mess I’d made.
For once, I didn’t care about the mess. I wanted my book back, now.
“Yes!” I exclaimed.
That book was everything. Without it, I had no real escape. I needed that book.
“I need to find it!” I said, my voice rising as I got more and more stressed.
“Ok, where did you have it last?” Tanya said rationally.
I thought back – that was a hard question.
“Uh, I had it in my bag during lunch, I remember pulling it out to put something else in, and then putting it back. After that though, I didn’t touch it.”
I frowned, thinking back. That was true, I hadn’t actually felt it in my bag from that point onwards, I’d just assumed it was there.
“So, you don’t know for certain that it was there when you came back to the common room last night?” Kris said, still sitting comfortable in bed, looking half-asleep with her hair all mussed up.
“Well, let’s check the common room first.” Tanya says, and the four of us troop downstairs in our pyjamas, probably not our smartest idea.
Kris lets out an odd squeak when we enter the common room to find Michaels and Pucey already there, whilst Dom tosses her hair over her shoulder, doing her best impression of a runway model.
Being Dom, she could almost pull it off. Still, the image of the four of us in the common room, turning over cushions and looking under tables must have been an amusing one, judging by the amount of sniggers we received.
We all headed back to the common room shortly after, unfortunately without my book. I had no idea where it had gone, and that was problematic.
“Well, that was embarrassing.” Tanya said, as Kris headed into the bathroom with her clothes to get changed.
“Where the hell did it go?” I said, ignoring my friends’ discomfort. I had to find it before the Quidditch match, I just had to.
I rushed to get dressed, heading down to the common room on my own whilst the others got ready, moving at their usual weekend pace.
I traced my footsteps from the day, heading to my Charms and Transfiguration classrooms, and then down to the Great Hall. No luck.
The Great Hall was fairly empty, with only the members of the Slytherin and Gryffindor Quidditch teams present, stuffing their faces in preparation for the upcoming game.
I turned to see James waving at me from the Gryffindor table, looking surprisingly calm.
“Morning.” I said, and he must have picked up on my frenzied mood, because he instantly changed from joking to serious.
“Everything ok?” He asked, and I could see some of his teammates looking at him incredulously, clearly they didn’t get our friendship.
“I’ve lost my wand lore book.” I said softly, though I’m fairly sure the rest of the team still caught what I’d said, judging from the increased amount of confused looks.
“You tried retracing your steps?” James said, and I switvched my balance from foot to foot impatiently.
“Yes.” I said shortly, not quite able to keep my frustration from my voice.
“I’m sure it will turn up.” James said, smiling warmly at me.
His smile warmed my heart slightly, but I still felt anxious without my book. It was my safety blanket, I suppose you could say. I needed it.
“Well, good luck.” I said in a rush, already planning to go check the kitchens, just in case it had somehow ended up there.
The time for the Quidditch match game, and I still hadn’t found my book. I’d seen a very smug looking Scarlett, I’d seen Charlotte, Paul and Ringo wish James good luck, I’d seen several members of the Slytherin Quidditch team try to hex the Gryffindors, but failing, and I’d found several very old pumpkin pasties sitting in a broom closet, but no book.
This was hopeless.
I headed down to the game with Tanya, Kris and Dom. I walked beside Tanya, while Kris and Dom talked about nails or hair products or some other ridiculous thing behind us. It was odd, last year, Dom and I had been the close pair, and Kris and Tanya. Now, it seemed to have reversed.
I still hadn’t gotten any closer to telling Kris and Dom about my, uh, eventful life, and honestly, I didn't feel like it. Tanya hadn’t brought it up again, so I let the whole issue sift to the back of my mind.
Of course, James’s fifth year crush on me was nowhere near the back of my mind, but I just wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach that one. It would be very awkward to bring up in conversation with James. If he felt differently, he’d be embarrassed. If it was all a joke and Dom had been mistaken, we’d both be embarrassed.
I knew there was no chance that he still felt that way, but some part of me seemed to want that to be the case. Every time I thought about it, my stomach twisted in a way I’d started to associate with James.
Whatever that meant, I was ignoring it, like I was ignoring everything.
Except finding my book.
“I’m sure it will turn up soon.” Tanya said to be quietly.
“Besides, you can always get a new one, right?”
I sighed; she was probably right. I just…didn’t want to, I was rather attached to my well-worn, dog-eared copy.
We arrived at the pitch to find the place thick with Slytherin and Gryffindor rivalry. As the first match of the season, it was a highly anticipated game.
Kris left us to go to her commentating post, and we wished her good luck, not that she needed it. She’d been the Quidditch commentator for two years now, and was very good at the job.
The teams made their way to the pitch, the Captains shook hands (and I swear James got his hand crushed a little there, but he didn’t show it). I watched keenly as the balls were released, my eyes switching been trying to follow the Snitch, which turned out to be near on impossible, and watching the Keepers, Quaffle and the Chasers.
About five minutes in, I decided that I had no idea how the seekers did it. The Snitch was so fast, and bloody hard to see. Giving up on following it without some form of magnifying device for my eyes, I watched the plays between the Chasers and the Keepers reactions.
The two teams were fairly evenly matched, from what I could see. I’d learnt enough from James to be able to tell these things, to a degree. I recognized a few of the plays, both from my lessons with him and my practices with the Hufflepuff team, though most were too advanced for my knowledge.
Eventually, James caught the Snitch, which didn’t surprise me in the least. Gryffindor was undefeated, after all.
The stands erupted in cheers (and a few boos from the Slytherins), and slowly, everyone filed out, back to do whatever they did on Saturdays.
I trailed behind slightly, watching everyone leave. Scarlett Peakes was a few people ahead of me, gossiping to some Ravenclaw girl with straight brown hair whose name I didn’t know.
“Wands, honestly. Why would anyone read books about wands. Well, unless it was, you know, the other type of wands.” She winked dramatically at her friend, and they both cackled, reminding me strongly of a Muggle witch caricature, the ones with the green skin and boils.
I was intrigued enough by their conversation to subtly follow them around the stands and past the greenhouses. Perhaps Scarlett was responsible for the loss of my book, I wouldn’t put it past her.
“Oh, come on, she deserves it. You saw the way James was looking at her. He’s mine, everyone knows that.” Scarlett said venomously, clearly unaware that I was listening in, hiding behind a crowd of first years talking about the latest meeting of the gobstones club.
“I know, Scarlett. She’ll figure it out eventually. Besides, I can’t figure out what he sees in her, if anything. She’s probably just his charity case.”
I stopped, tears springing to my eyes.
Was that what I was? I didn’t think so, James seemed to genuinely be my friend. Yet, I never had asked why he’d offered to help me in the first place. Was it because he once had a thing for me, as Tanya seemed to think? Or because my mother had just died.
I whipped out my wand.
“Accio book.” I whispered, and watched in satisfaction as my dear, dear book soared into my hands. Scarlett hadn’t noticed, stupid bitch, and continued on her way, gossiping about me.
Funny, I was now apparently the topic of many conversations around here, whereas last year, most people hadn’t even known my name.
Speeding up, I almost caught up to them, again pointing my wand in their direction.
“Explosia papula.” I muttered, watching in satisfaction as pimples slowly broke out on both girl’s faces, though they didn’t seem to notice immediately. The next time they caught sight of their reflections, however, there’d be a lot of screaming. When they saw their backs…well, I wanted to be very far away.
That was a spell I’d come up with myself, right around the time I’d started learning about wand making. The two, spell creation and wand making went well together. I hardly ever got the chance to use my spells, but when I did, I felt a special jolt of satisfaction. This particular one would be hard for them to undo.
With a slight spring in my step now that I’d gotten my book back and had got my revenge, I headed back to the castle, careful to keep out of the eyesight of Scarlett and her friend in case they realised I was responsible for the hex.
I didn’t see James anywhere around to congratulate him, but I supposed that would have to wait till tomorrow. He’d no doubt have a celebration to get to in his own common room, and I had to figure out what I wanted to say to him about this whole issue. I needed to know once and for all why he’d offered to help me in the first place, and about the whole thing in fifth year.
I headed back to my common room, deciding to first catch up on my work, and then try to decide what I was going to say to Dom, Kris and James. It was time I faced the music, I suppose.
A/N: Hello readers! Thank you so much for sticking with this story, even in it's un-beta'd stage. We're just over 2/3 of the way through now :)
explosia papula - exploded pimple