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Chapter 5: September 13th
Culprit of the vandalism of the Hogwarts Memorial revealed to be Lorcan Scamander.
“Lily, no, wait, you’re not supposed to add the rat’s tails yet!”
I absentmindedly dropped the fistful of rat’s tails I was holding into the cauldron in front of me, registering Hattie’s words only after the made contact with the liquid below.
I watched as the cauldron hissed angrily, and the mixture inside turned into a thick grey sludge.
Whatever. It was only potions.
Hattie shook her head at me disapprovingly, stirring her cauldron delicately. Her potion, of course, was exactly the vibrant blue that was indicated in the instructions. Hattie was perfect in potions, as she was in almost all of her subjects.
As for me, well, I’d just be glad to drop the class next year. The less time I had to spend sweating over a cauldron, the better.
“What is with you today?” Hattie asked me. “I mean, you’re never brilliant at potions, no offense, but this is your fifth mistake and the class isn’t even half over!”
“That’s only because it’s double potions,” I grumbled, grimacing at my mess of a potion. It was supposed to be a simple enough Calming Drought. It might still work, come to think of it. After all, there’s nothing much calmer than death. For the drinker, at least.
I could totally pitch that point to Professor Incastra.
I glanced at Hattie’s potion, which was now beginning to turn violet, and then back at my grey sludge.
On second thoughts, it would probably be best if I just stopped now, before I could cause any more damage to the potion, or even worse, myself.
I sighed, picking up the bottle of Horklump Juice to put it away, but my hand slipped over my cauldron, and the entire contents of the bottle fell into the menacing looking (sort of) liquid below.
I opened my mouth to let out a string of expletives, but to my utter surprise, the potion began to turn to a pale violet, as detailed in the last step of the potion.
Hattie looked over at me, her mouth falling open in surprise.
“Wh-What did you do to it?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Poured a whole bottle of Horklump Juice into it. I didn’t know it would turn out like that.”
Hattie’s eyes narrowed. She picked up her bottle of Horklump juice and proceeded to dump the contents into her own cauldron.
Which promptly let out a blast like a gunshot and a cloud of smoke enveloped her. I waved my hands frantically to try and clear it away while Professor Incastra hurried over to us, a thin frown on her lips.
Covered in soot and coughing, Hattie straightened up to find that her beautiful potion had completely vanished. Not a speck of it remained in her cauldron.
“Miss Ryans, what on earth do you think you were doing?” she said angrily, clearing the rest of the smoke with a wave of her wand.
“S-Sorry, Professor,” Hattie muttered. “My hand slipped and I accidentally poured my entire bottle of Horklump juice into my cauldron.”
“I would have expected better of you.” Incastra shook her head in disbelief before turning to me. “And what atrocity am I to find in your cauldron this time, Potter?”
Normally, this would be the time in which I prepared myself for a lecture, but today, I showed her the contents of my cauldron proudly.
“Miss Potter?” She breathed, shocked at what she saw. “Are you sure you and Ryans didn’t switch brains today?”
I grinned, shaking my head. “No, Professor. It was all me.”
“Well, this is an absolutely perfect Calming Draught. Ten points to Ravenclaw for your stroke of brilliance. I suppose this means I can expect more from you in the future,” she said with a small smile, turning away.
Hattie did not stop smirking from the time we left potions to the time we got to the Great Hall.
“What!” I said finally, turning to face her.
“Guess you weren’t so lucky after all,” she said happily.
I could tell that she had forgotten her own failure in the light of what had happened next. Since I had successfully completed the potion in only half the time, Incastra had given me another potion to complete. I had melted my cauldron in a grand total of three minutes, causing Incastra to give me detention as she believed I had cheated to make the first potion correctly. And of course, I still had to write home and ask for another cauldron. I had lost count of how many new ones I had had to buy over the years.
At Hattie’s remark, however, I simply rolled my eyes. I knew Hattie was competitive, which I quite frankly didn’t understand, seeing as I never sought to beat her in classes, nor did I ever think I could.
Perhaps I had been a little more quiet than usual, however, because Hattie’s smirk faded almost immediately.
“Seriously though, what was going on in Potions today?” she asked me.
“What do you mean?” I responded, surprised at her sudden change in tone.
“No matter how lucky-or unlucky-you got, you weren’t yourself. What’s up?”
I was taken aback. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing up. But Hattie knew me better than I knew myself half the time, so I wasn’t about to argue with her.
But of course, as was typical, the answer was obvious.
“It’s the newspaper,” I said after a moment. “The first issue is due to come out tomorrow, and I’m not even close to ready.”
The first edition was going to be a small preview of what the newspaper could be. There were only two articles, both written by myself, and an ad to recruit others for the newspaper. Ellie was taking pictures for me, but so far, she had only given me one out of two. I was getting nervous.
I had a couple other people on staff now, though, which was nice. A third year Hufflepuff, Rebecca Spears, and a seventh year Gryffindor, Leslie Smith had both joined up. Leslie was taking care of the formatting of the newspaper and Rebecca was eventually going to start an advice column. I was a bit apprehensive about letting a thirteen year old give advice, but in the end I let her, deciding it would be funny if nothing else.
Okay, so maybe I exaggerated a little when I said that I wasn’t close to being finished. All I was missing was Ellie’s second photo.
But it was enough to make me want to drink the entire cauldron of my Calming Drought.
I relayed the information to Hattie, watching as the expression on her face went from concern to mirth.
“Really, Lily? Ellie promised you she’d get the picture to you today, and it’s only one little thing.”
“I know, but it has to be perfect! What if something goes wrong?”
Hattie sighed. “It won’t, unless you keep saying that it will. You’re just asking for trouble. Calm down.”
“And I have detention tomorrow on top of everything else,” I whined, realizing that I would be spending an evening bottling horned slugs. “And for once, it wasn’t even my fault.”
“I’m sure Ellie will have the photo for you soon, and you’ll easily have the newspaper done before your detention tomorrow.”
I opened my mouth to say something else, but two girls rushing towards us made me close it again. When they got closer, I realized that it was Beth and Ellie, both panting and looking very pleased with themselves.
“Lily, Lily,” Ellie panted, putting her hands on her knees to try and catch her breath. Her camera was hung around her neck. “I’ve got it.”
Beth held up two photos in her hand. Usually, pictures had to be developed in a special potion before they could be seen, and before they moved, but Ellie had a fancy camera, so that the potion was contained inside and the pictures were ready instantly.
I felt a huge sense of relief. “Thank you,” I said happily.
“You won’t believe what we had to go through to get these though,” she continued.
They had been taking pictures of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team for me. The other teams were all holding tryouts, but since only one member of the Ravenclaw team had graduated last year, our new captain, Mark Macmillan, had decided that his best friend would be a perfect beater and there was no need to hold formal tryouts.
Note the sarcasm.
Most of the rest of the House was enraged, of course, so I decided to write an article on the first practices of the team. And if it was just slightly condescending…well, I couldn’t be blamed for that.
“So what did you have to do?” I asked Ellie, a small smile coming to the corners of my lips.
“We went down to the Quidditch Pitch,” she began, but Beth finished the sentence. The two of them were known for finishing each other’s sentences, almost like they were twins.
“But we couldn’t find the team,” Beth finished.
“So we went to the changing rooms-”
“But Macmillan kicked us out.”
“We waited outside for ages.”
“And when they finally came out, Macmillan told us to leave.”
“We weren’t going to give up that easily, though-”
“So we hid in some bushes around the Pitch-”
“Which was bloody painful, mind you-”
“But we got our photos.”
“And in the end, it was all worth it-”
“Because we saw Ben Tooke shirtless!” they finished together, both grinning stupidly.
Hattie and I both laughed. We were used to this strange back and forth between Beth and Ellie by now, and it really did make their stories incredibly comical.
“Can I see them,” I asked between peals of laughter.
Beth handed them over. In one of them, the entire team was doing some sort of drill where they were all passing the Quaffle to each other, and in the other one, Macmillan was yelling at the two other chasers, his face bright red.
“I love the second one,” I said. “It’s perfect. Thank you both!”
“No problem,” Beth said, before she and Ellie turned to sit with Madison at the end of the table.
Hattie looked at me, and we both burst out into laughter again.
It amazed me sometimes, how a little bit of laughter could cure the gloomiest of sentiments.
I took a deep breath as I raised one hand to knock on Professor Longbottom’s door. In my other hand was a scroll, which was the sample issue of The Hogwarts Journal. I had to admit that it turned out quite nicely. That seventh year Gryffindor, she was a whiz with the formatting. It looked professional. After I got it approved, I would simply duplicate the scroll to create enough copies for everybody, and Hattie, rather grudgingly, had agreed to help me with that part. With any luck, the House Elves would be delivering the papers by tomorrow morning.
I tapped the door twice with my knuckles, then took a step back to wait. Professor Stan had never specified exactly which Professor’s approval I needed, so I had chosen Longbottom. He could never say no. I put on my sweetest smile as the door swung open.
“Hello, Lily,” he said brightly when he saw me. Since my parents and Professor Longbottom were such good friends, I had known him since I was a baby. He had called me Lily for so long that he was never able to switch over to calling me Potter at school. It was the same for the rest of my family. In fact, most of the Professors called us by our first names rather than risk having ten students turn around when they said Weasley.
“Hi, Professor,” I replied. “I have the first edition of The Hogwarts Journal with me. I’m sure Professor Stan told you about that. I was wondering if you’d be able to look it over and approve it for me?”
Longbottom’s smile faltered. He ran a hand through his hair, then smiled again quickly.
“Er, this isn’t the best time for me, I’m afraid. Why don’t you leave it here and you can collect it in the morning.”
I hid a grimace. I had really wanted to finish it tonight, so it could be distributed in the morning. And moreover, what could he possibly be doing that he couldn’t read over two articles? It wasn’t like Professors had any sort of lives outside of planning lessons and marking papers.
“I was really hoping to get it done tonight, Sir,” I said, trying to be polite. “It’s only two articles. I could-I could just wait outside your office if you like.”
Longbottom glanced backwards into his office, then back at me. “Very well. Just wait here, then. I’ll only be a minute.”
I nodded, trying to hide my curiosity as he closed the door. I heard footsteps and muffled voices, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
I was not going to eavesdrop. No. Lily Potter didn’t do that. And yet, I was moving towards the door and laying my ear against the keyhole.
“What did she need?”
I threw a hand over my mouth to cover my gasp. That was Lorcan Scamander’s voice. I was sure of it. But he was supposed to be suspended. What the hell was he doing in Longbottom’s office?
Out of nowhere, there was a tremendous crash. I jumped backwards away from the door, and just in time. Longbottom threw it open and ran out, not bothering to shut it behind him.
I glanced around me. The corridor was empty. In a split second decision that was either the stupidest or smartest thing I’d done in my life, I slipped through the ajar door and closed it softly behind me.
Lorcan sat in an armchair in front of Longbottom’s desk, looking slightly surprised. His mouth hung open, but he closed it quickly when he saw me.
“Lily?” he said questioningly. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
I rolled my eyes. “Me? You’re the one who isn’t supposed to be here. I thought you were suspended.”
He looked slightly bemused. “I am suspended. Why does that mean I shouldn’t be here, though?”
“Erm, because suspended means being taken out of school.”
Seriously, how stupid was this kid? I didn’t remember him being this thick. I was starting to believe his whole story of bumbling about the grounds while drunk.
“It’s an in school suspension, Lily,” he said slowly. “Means I just can’t go to classes or see anyone. I’ve been doing odd jobs with Filch all week and sleeping in the hospital wing.”
It was my turn to look confused now. “So you’ve been in the school all week? And no one saw you?”
“Yeah. Well, who willingly hangs around Filch? That old tosser was constantly around me.”
I opened my mouth, then closed it, unable to come up with a good response. “That still doesn’t explain why you’re in Longbottom’s office,” I said finally.
“Because Filch said he needed a break-and you don’t even want to know his reason why. Professor Longbottom offered to make me clean pots to use in the greenhouses.” He pointed to a large stack of pots and a filthy rag that I hadn’t even noticed next to him.
Before I could speak, Lorcan opened his mouth again. “And now that I’ve finished answering your questions, would you do me the common courtesy of answering mine?
I grimaced. “I wanted to know why you were in here. I had dreams of some twisted scheme in which you were part of some elaborate plot of the Prophet so they could have a news story.”
“You’re not completely wrong about that,” Lorcan said darkly.
There was a moment of complete silence in which I was shocked and Lorcan looked utterly horrified.
“What did you just say?” I asked, my brain whirring
“Nothing,” he answered quickly. “Nothing. It was a joke. Forget about it.”
“Sounded like more than just a joke to me.”
Lorcan’s face was turning red, but he was spared from answering by the sound of footsteps.
“Dammit, Peeves,” came a mutter from somewhere outside. My eyes widened, and I searched the room desperately for somewhere to hide, but I was too late.
The door was thrown open, and Professor Longbottom had a full view of both me and Lorcan looking very red and cringing away from the door.
Crap didn't cover the situation.
He spluttered for a moment, then strode into his office and thrust my newspaper in my hand.
“Take this and go. And if I ever find you lurking in my office again, you’re going to be in serious trouble.”
I nodded, leaving quickly.
Thank god Longbottom had never been the best at dealing out punishments.
Back in the common room, I was surprised to find it more or less deserted. It wasn’t that late yet. Still, it made it easier for secret telling.
“You won’t believe who I just talked to.”
She took one look at my manic grin, then opened her mouth to speak. “Lorcan Scamander?”
My smile turned to confusion. “How did you know?”
“Who else would you be so happy about?”
I really needed to work on that whole being so easy to read thing.
“Yeah, well, you won’t believe what he told me!” I retorted.
Hattie waited patiently.
I started speaking quickly. “I joked and said that I thought maybe he was part of some scheme by the Prophet and he didn’t actually do it and then he said I wasn’t completely wrong.”
Hattie rolled her eyes. “So he was joking, obviously.”
“You didn’t hear him!”
“Lily, it’s nothing to go off of. He admitted to the crime. Don’t you think he would have told someone if he had an accomplice or something?”
“You’re blowing this way out of proportion. Stick to the facts. That’s the truth. And don’t you want to report the truth?”
I sighed. “But facts can be distorted.”
“Leave it alone. You’re just going to do something stupid and Stan won’t let you write the newspaper anymore. How did you talk to Lorcan, anyways? He shouldn’t be allowed to see anyone if he’s suspended.”
Seriously, did everyone know he was still in the school except for me? “I, er, sort of snuck into Professor Longbottom’s office.”
“See! You’re already breaking rules because of it! Just leave it alone!”
“I can’t.” It was true. I couldn’t let the facts go unnoticed and do nothing about it. It wasn’t what any good journalist would do. And if I had to bend a few rules to do so, then so be it. It would be worth it in the end. More than that, I would have an exclusive that even the Prophet didn’t have. They would pay me for my articles. Me! At the age of fifteen.
What could possibly go wrong?
“Whatever. Can we just do the whole duplication thing and go to bed? Please?” Hattie turned to the piece of parchment I had set on the table.
I nodded, but my mind was elsewhere. There was a lot to this so called crime of Lorcan Scamander. And I swore that I was going to find out what.
A/N: EXCITING NEWS EVERYONE :D I was made a TA! No more waiting in the queue! Which also means I can no longer use that as an excuse to not write, so maybe quick updates? Actually, I’m really enjoying this story. My muse is being cooperative right now so I’m hoping for updates every other Saturday. Wouldn’t it be so cool if I could actually manage that? :P Thank you all for reading as always! And you should totally take five seconds and leave me a quick line in that box down there ;)