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Chapter 16: Of Firewhiskey and Freefalls
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Of Firewhiskey and Freefalls
Image by TheMarauderchick @ TDA
Wednesday couldn't come fast enough, in Myra's opinion. All her bags had been packed what felt like ages ago, and on the morning of her departure she was up before even her mother, pacing in front of the fireplace. She tried to appear patient, but spent most of the time impatiently counting down the minutes until she would leave. It was going to be nice to get away from home and enjoy the luxuries Hestia's house had to offer. It'd help her mind on to happier things.
"Excited?" Chelsie asked as she finally emerged from the bathroom and stepped into the kitchen.
"Very." Myra was itching to get her wand out to light the hearth. Chelsie was very strict about using magic outside of school while she was under-age, but Myra often got away with it. Mostly because she made sure no one saw. On the odd occasion her father happened to see, he feinted temporary blind- and deafness. Myra did not want to do anything that might make her mother decide to keep her home, however – so her wand remained tucked in her pocket.
"Incendio," Chelsie incanted at last. Warm and orange flames burst from the Never-Out Wood .
Myra reached into the pot on top of the mantle, grabbed a small handful of the silvery powder and tossed it into the flames. It turned instantly green, and she stepped into them. "Hearthstone Castle," she said loud and clear, instantly being transported past a myriad of fireplaces. A long minute later she was pushed out into the Jones' entrance room in their great house in Cumbria.
Taking in the small but extravagant entrance, Myra would think she had stumbled into the home of a proper pure-blood family if she didn't know better. The Jones' home looked exactly like any pure-blood home in Britain, but while the Jones' lived big, they were accepting of Muggleborns, half-bloods and Muggles. The 'house' was a good way of keeping up appearances, so as to not be labelled as blood-traitors.
In Myra's eyes, a home was a comfortable sized house with four walls and no more than two, maybe three, stories. That was what she was used to. But the Jones' home was a huge castle, five stories tall including the cellar. The entrance room led out into a courtyard that was surrounded by a round fore-building, a tower house, a domestic block and a grand hall that was used as the ballroom. Outside the entrance there was a grass yard enclosed by tall hedges, with a gravel path following the structure. Outside the hall was another yard with cobblestone and a road. One long cornered structure enclosed the grass beyond the cobblestone, and it held the stables – currently without horses. It also had living spaces, a part of which was occupied by the house elves, and the kitchen.
Mrs Jones had once said that her husband's family had bought the castle three centuries ago from Muggles. Rich, stately Muggles lived in ridiculously big houses with huge gardens and plenty of staff. The staff needed somewhere to live, and it was common to have small houses or living spaces for the gardener's family, the stable master's family, all the kitchen help as well as maids . The family of house elves that had been with the Jones' for generations had more than enough room in the structure by the stables.
The castle was placed in the middle of a circular garden, or rather park, with luscious flower patches, ponds, bushes and trees. There were sculptures and statues, and even a small aviary. The park itself was marked by hedges, trees and a moat. And to the south was a gigantic field that, according to Hestia, was the jewel of the estate. It had been a private horse track, but since Hestia started playing Quidditch, Mr Jones had it transformed into a Quidditch pitch. It was properly spelled with heating charms in winter and cooling charms in summer, and year-round Muggle repelling charms – any serious player's dream.
"Good morning, Misses," piped a squeaky voice the moment Chelsie joined Myra out of the Floo.
"Good morning, Dippy," Myra replied, recognizing the house elf that always greeted guests. Chelsie nodded and smiled.
"Mistress Jones and young Mistress Jones is comes soon. Can I take Misses bags?"
"Of course." Myra handed her luggage over to Dippy, who disappeared with a loud crack.
"I can't get past how big this place is," Chelsie muttered, her voice carrying easily around the tall room.
"I know," Myra agreed. "I keep noticing something new every time I'm here – and I've been here a lot."
The door to the courtyard opened and in walked Mrs Jones, followed by Hestia. "Mrs Kinney, Myra, welcome!"
"Thank you, Mrs Jones. Happy birthday, Hestia!"
"Thank you, Mrs Kinney!" Hestia grinned.
"Do you have time for a cup of tea?" Mrs Jones and Chelsie had been friends for as long as their daughters had, but never got together often enough. It was usually only when their girls made them meet.
"I would love to, but I have to decline. My summer intern opened the Apothecary half an hour ago. Hard worker, but dead clumsy. I should get there before he blows up the place." Chelsie excused.
Mrs Jones laughed. "You better hurry then."
Chelsie gave Myra a quick hug. "You be good, okay?"
"I will, mum."
She turned towards the fireplace, but turned around, remembering. "I begin my holiday on Monday. If Hestia wants to, she's welcome back with Myra on Sunday to stay with us for a few days. I know the girls have discussed that too."
Mrs Jones glanced at her daughter, who nodded eagerly. "That's fine with me. Getting away from here would do Hestia some good."
Chelsie smiled. "I'll see you girls on Sunday then. Good bye!" She activated the Floo, and with a whoosh of green flames, she was gone.
"I trust you still know where your rooms are, Myra," Mrs Jones said as she guided the two girls into the courtyard.
"I do, Mrs Jones," Myra answered politely.
"Then I will leave you two to whatever activities you have in mind and start working. Do behave yourselves. Lunch will be served at one o'clock." Mrs Jones hurried through the door, leaving the two girls alone.
"Happy birthday, Hestia!" Myra said, enveloping her best friend in a tight hug. "Gotten any presents yet?"
"Not yet. I think I'll get some at dinner, but I expect I'll get most of them on Saturday."
"Good. You're certainly not getting mine until Saturday, either."
Hestia pouted playfully.
"Ashley and Anna are coming as planned? Anyone else?"
"No, just them. Mum and dad wanted me to invite our entire year. Or better yet, the entire school. Mum's wanted me to do that for ages. I finally gave in and promised her I'd invite a lot more people for my 'of-age' birthday. It got her off my back."
Myra laughed as the two of them found a bench near the house, within view of most of the park. Every time Myra visited Hestia, they spent most of their time here, around the 'house'. Even though Hestia had grown up there and could probably find her way through all the greenery blindfolded, Myra loved to explore and spend time on the grounds. There were all kinds of magical and non-magical animals hiding there, even the occasional gnome. Myra was in heaven.
For a few minutes the two girls just sat there, taking in the morning warmth and enjoying each others' company. Until Hestia broke the silence with a big question.
"How have things been since I was at your house?"
Myra didn't react at first. She just continued staring into the landscape. "The same," she answered truthfully. "But I'm sure I'll be cured after a few days here!" she finished optimistically.
Hestia stared sideways at her best friend, but didn't ask any more questions. Myra was sure she would, but she only asked, "Do you want to see the new peacock chicks?" When Myra's face instantly lit up, Hestia laughed. "Come on then!"
Being at the Jones' worked wonders on Myra. She was able to distance herself from everything that had occupied her mind at home. She got some hints about Mrs Jones' new book, tasted the wonders of house-elf cooking, and when Saturday came, look forward to a party with all her friends – the first time they'd get back together since the holidays started.
Half of the house-elves worked on getting the hall decorated with a definite Quidditch theme. The other half worked on the food – so all Hestia and Myra did was walk around, making sure everything turned out right, while they waited for Anna and Ashley to arrive by Floo.
"Are you sure you don't want anyone else at your party?" Mr Jones asked around noon when he came to check on the girls and the house-elves. "It's not too late to invite someone. Cutting it close, but not too late."
"I'm sure, dad," Hestia said firmly. "Next year, I promise." Her dad shook his head, bemused, but didn't argue the point further.
Around four in the afternoon, Myra and Hestia began getting ready, and at six Ashley and Anna finally arrived. They were promptly escorted from the entrance to the ballroom by Dippy, and the party finally began.
The room was spectacular. The ceiling and walls had been magically rounded and glamoured to look like the gilded inside of a Golden Snitch. The details of the chandeliers, tables and chairs were in navy blue; along with the gold of the room it reflected the colours of Puddlemere United – Hestia's favourite team. A wireless was tuned to a music channel. One table held enough Butterbeer for them all to drown in, and another table held appetizers.
"Wow," Anna breathed, craning her neck around to take in the room.
"Your house-elves really outdid themselves this time," Ashley said in awe.
"They did, didn't they?" Hestia smiled, helping herself to Butterbeer.
"Hey, look here," Ashley said. She reached into the top of her bra and pulled something out. "There's a Cooling Charm on this. It was starting to hurt. Can I risk a spot of magic?"
"If you must. But be quick."
Ashley pulled her wand from her robe pocket and pointed it to the item in her hand. "Engorgio." Whatever it was grew into a bottle of Blishen's Firewhiskey. Anna's and Myra's eyes widened in surprise, and then they smiled.
"Why did you do that?" Hestia asked in annoyance.
"Why not? It'll be fun. It's not like we haven't tried it before."
Myra could see that Hestia really didn't mind that Ashley had smuggled it in, but she tried hard to hide it.
"Never mind. Let's eat. Look – these are Forky's specialty. You've got to try them, they're amazing."
The bottle of Firewhiskey was put away for now. They started on the appetizers, and when they were gone, the main meal appeared; which was turkey in various forms. Next came time to open presents. The mood became lighter as the evening progressed, even without the spirits. But when the birthday cake came out so, finally, did the Firewhiskey. Myra and Anna served everyone with large pieces of butternut pumpkin flavoured sponge cake made to resemble a full Quidditch set including seven broomsticks, Bludgers, Quaffles and a Snitch, as Ashley poured out small tumblers of Blishen's for each of them.
"To me, then," Hestia said and held up her glass. The friends all clinked their glasses together with a chorus of 'To Hestia'. A shudder went through the group once they'd downed the fiery amber liquid, and Anna coughed. "Refill!" Hestia called out, surprising everyone.
If the party was going slow before, it took off very quickly now. When the bottle was half-empty the four Gryffindors were long past tipsy. They were sitting around the table singing along to the wireless, sharing the verses and chorus between them.
"No oooone will love you like IIIIIIIII dooooo!" Myra screeched along with the beginning of the chorus. "No one knows you like IIIIIII doooooo!" Ashley joined in on the second line. Ashley could actually sing. Her voice was crystal clear and strong, even in her inebriated state.
"No no no, don' sing when I do, Ashley," Myra complained. "You make me sound so horry- horrible."
"That's why she should sing louder," Hestia giggled. "To drown you out."
"You can' sing either!"
"You'r'll stupid. We need boys," Anna suggested. She leaned forward in her chair, half of her lying across the table. "Cute boys."
"That we do," Myra conceded, looking around the room, as if she expected a bunch of wizards to suddenly Apparate in.
"I have a boyfriend," Ashley said smugly.
"We don' care," Anna whined. "We care what we don' have."
"I miss Lowell. Mum and dad haven' let me see him all summer. I won' see him until school starts again."
"Oh, shut up," Myra snapped. But Ashley didn't shut up, instead she launched into the song again, singing with such feeling that it was clear she was thinking about Lowell Llewellyn. Myra glanced at Hestia, as she moved to the cake table, helping herself to another slice of Quaffle. Her face was closed off, though some of her feelings shone through because of the amount of Firewhiskey consumed. She seemed sad.
Myra stood up on unsteady feet, and found her way over to her best friend. "Is somethin' wrong?"
"I'm fine." She sounded frighteningly sober.
"I am!" Hestia snapped her head around, looking livid.
Myra's eyes widened in surprise, and she raised her hands in protection. Ashley stopped singing, and she and Anna stared at the outbreak.
"Let's dance," Hestia suggested as an up-tempo song came on. She put down the plate with cake on, moved towards the wireless and began some form of dance, totally out of beat with the song.
"One more shot first," Anna called out and refilled their glasses. She, Ashley and Myra immediately swallowed theirs, but Hestia continued dancing as if she hadn't heard them. Myra brought the glass over, Hestia downed it and tossed it away, breaking it.
For several songs the girls danced. None of them were particularly good, but they tried everything. Sexy dance, crazy dance, ballet, swing... Eventually they just hung on each others' shoulders in a circle, moving back and forth, too tired to stand by themselves.
"We should ask Henry to come over," Anna mumbled into Hestia's shoulder. "Why didn' you ask Henry to come?"
"I don' like him."
"I like him," Myra said.
"Oooo, you like him," Ashley jested.
"Noooo, I don't like him. I like him. He like my brother."
"That's just nasty," Anna joked.
"Sure sure. I need to sit." Myra disentangled herself from the mass of arms around her and made her way over to the table. Shortly after Ashley followed.
"I've been thinking this summer," Ashley said, flopping down in the chair next to Myra.
"Oh yeah? Did it hurt?"
She stuck her tongue out. "You don't know what Lowell and York did while they were together, do you?"
Myra scrunched up her nose and narrowed her eyes in thought. "Lowell? And Abigail York? What?" Then it hit her. "Did they have time for anything else than a kiss 'hello'?"
"That's what I've been wonderin' too. You know," Ashley tried to lower her voice to a whisper, but wasn't entirely successful, "I haven't had sex with Lowell yet."
Myra blinked several times. "Then what the hell have you been doing all those evenings you both gone off somewhere?"
"Snoggin'." There was suddenly a whoop from across the room, as Anna and Hestia found some excess energy and was dancing like their lives depended on it. Ashley continued. "Snoggin' our freaking socks off."
"I'm not! It's not that I don' want to, it just hasn' come to that."
Myra blinked again. "Why?"
"I don' know. He hasn' pres- presue-" Ashley paused for a moment, and then pronounced the word slowly, "pressured me at all. I'm curious about what he and York did. Maybe they're still at it."
"I doubt that. She doesn' have the attention span to keep him interested for long enuff. Maybe he juss really really love you and are waiting for you to do it."
"First thing when we go back, I'll take him off to the bathrooms on the train and shag him silly."
"Yes, yes, you do that!" Myra gave the thumbs up. "Juss make sure I don' find you on bloody patrol."
"Hm, won' Lowell have to patrol too?"
"Yeah, guess you can' shag him them."
"I can shag him?"
"You can' shag him."
"You keep saying that. But won' patrol get in the way?"
"It will! You can' shag him!"
"No, you can' shag him!"
"What are you two on about?" Anna called out. She was bumping her hips with Hestia.
"Ashley can' shag Lowell on the train!" Myra explained.
"Good for them!"
"NO! SHE CAN' SHAG HIM, I'VE SAID SHE CAN' S'WRONG!"
"NO! Oh, you..." Myra mumbled some very bad profanities and helped herself to more Firewhiskey. The bottle was almost empty now, just a few swallows left.
As Hestia and Anna danced out the last of their energy, Myra and Ashley sat watching them, singing along. "Unicoooorns! Unicoooorns! I'm riding a unicoooorn! On my white shining unicorn I'm coming for yooooooouuuuu!"
The bottle eventually emptied, and the girls spent the last hour of the party dishing out secrets and badmouthing everyone they knew. Thankfully Myra restrained herself from mentioning Remus' secret. In fact, he hadn't been on her mind at all that evening.
Around three in the morning, the Firewhiskey was gone, the cake was soppy, and all energy was gone. They got a house-elf to Apparate them to their bedroom, where they barely managed to get out of their clothes before they fell asleep, snoring loudly.
At noon the next day, Mrs Jones woke them after several unsuccessful tries. It was clear that they had been completely knackered, but Mrs Jones was kind enough not to say anything about it. She only guided them to the dining room and left them there. Large amounts of delicious breakfast appeared on the table, but it did nothing to spark hunger in the girls. Myra felt her stomach churn horribly at the sight of toast, croissants, fruit, jams, cheeses, and various other breakfast treats. Before any of them got sick enough to leave, four vials of Sober-Up potions mysteriously appeared in front of each of them. Without a word, they emptied the vials and began to try and eat.
Ashley and Anna stayed for a few hours after breakfast, but their parents came to pick them up in time for Hestia and Myra to get ready to back to the Kinney house.
Mr and Mrs Jones went with the girls to the entrance to see them off. "Please, give our best to your parents and sister, Myra," Mr Jones said formally.
"I will, Mr Jones. Thank you for letting me stay here. I had a wonderful time!" Myra shook his and his wife's hands.
"Not at all, Myra," Mrs Jones said. "You're always so well behaved, it's no problem at all. I daresay you're making Hestia behave better while you're here."
"Muuuum..." Hestia said, glaring sullenly at her mother.
"Enough of this," Mr Jones said and tossed a pinch of Floo powder onto the flames in the fireplace. "Off you go, and be good! Both of you!"
"Yes, sir!" and "Yes, dad!" both girls chimed at the same time.
Myra took her bags with her into the green flames and spoke. "The Ridgepole!" She spun away and was tossed into the familiar kitchen in Bakewell some moments later. She barely had time to step away before Hestia followed with a trunk and her Nimbus 1000.
"Hestia is here!" a bright and loud voice announced and Hestia was immediately engulfed in a hug.
"Nice to see you missed me, little sister," Myra said bitterly, but jokingly.
"Hello, girls," Robert greeted, coming in from the living room, followed by Chelsie.
"Did you have a nice time?" Chelsie said and pulled Myra into a hug.
"I did," she replied, hoping they never found out about the Firewhiskey.
"You girls hungry?" her mother asked as Robert gave Myra a welcome home hug too.
"A bit. It's been a while since we had lunch," Hestia said. "But don't stress with anything because of me."
"It's no stress, Hestia! We were about to eat supper anyway." Chelsie moved over to the cupboards and charmed utensils and bowls to help start on supper.
"Let's go put our stuff away," Myra suggested.
Marie tried to follow the older girls, but before they could leave the kitchen Chelsie called her back to help with supper.
"Your mum starts her holiday tomorrow?" Hestia asked as the door to Myra's bedroom was closed behind them.
"Yeah. Guess there will be more focus on homework then. Dad didn't mind so much if we wanted to do something more fun when he had time off work."
Hestia smiled. "I like your dad. He's fun."
"People keep saying that." Myra smirked jokingly. "Speaking of..." She opened the door and poked her head out. "Dad! Can you come help us with something?"
There was some grumbling from what sounded like the living room, and soon Robert's heavy footsteps came closer. "What can I help you lovely ladies with?" he asked formally.
"Can you conjure a bed for Hestia?" Myra asked, smiling sweetly.
"Of course, my lady." He bowed and pulled out his wand. Maybe he waved his wand with a little too exaggerated flourish – setting Hestia giggling and Myra rolling her eyes – but in any case a comfortable looking single bed appeared against the wall opposite Myra's. "Satisfied?"
"Very! Thank you, Mr Kinney!" Hestia said.
"Then I take my leave," Robert said with another bow and left the room.
Myra sat down on her own bed and quickly surveyed the room. Sleepovers at her house were a different affair than at the Jones'. There, it was guest rooms with en-suite baths; here, two beds in a cramped bedroom. Still, Hestia didn't seem to mind. She lay down on her bed with a satisfied sigh, closed her eyes and smiled.
"Supper's ready!" Chelsie called out.
Hestia groaned. "Just when I was getting comfortable."
Myra laughed as the two girls left the bedroom and found seats at the kitchen table. The table was laden with toast and leftovers from dinner the night before. Everyone helped themselves while Robert filled their glasses with pumpkin juice.
"What did you girls do in Cumbria?" Chelsie asked as she buttered her toast.
"No homework, if that's what you mean," Myra said defiantly, earning a smile from her father. "We just hung around the garden, played some games. And there was Hestia's birthday party, of course. Not much." Myra didn't want any questions about what they had entertained themselves with; in case it led to revealing that they had Firewhiskey the previous day.
"Can we play Quidditch tomorrow?" Marie asked Myra and Hestia suddenly, with a sideways glance at her mother.
"We don't have the necessary equipment," Myra replied.
"Can't we play anyway?"
"We can do some flying, but we won't be able to play."
"Okay..." Marie pouted a bit. "You'll show me that move you did during the Quidditch finals?" she then asked Hestia.
"If your mother allows it, sure," Hestia answered.
"What kind of move was that?" Chelsie asked too kindly.
"A sort of flip and jump thing to help hit the Bludger harder," Marie answered.
"She can show you, but you will not try it. Is that understood?"
"Yes, mum." Marie looked a bit dejected, but perked up again soon enough.
After supper, Myra and Hestia retired to the bedroom. They changed into pyjamas and lay on their beds, chatting about school, their friends, gossip and their future. At midnight, Chelsie popped her head in and told them it was time to sleep. They quieted down, but didn't fall asleep until the early hours of the morning.
The next day Hestia and the sisters went out into the fields behind the back garden. It had been spelled safe from Muggles' prying eyes, so they could fly safely. Marie had a special broom that only went so high and so fast, and Chelsie supervised for a while, but went inside when she saw that things were going smoothly. As soon as their mother disappeared, Marie started asking Hestia to show her the new Beater's move, again and again and again.
Myra stayed firmly on the ground, laying down in the middle of the field and gazing up at the quick moving blur that was Hestia. For Myra it felt like hours before Hestia came down for a quick breather.
"Merlin, I'm drenched," she moaned and fell down next to Myra.
"Ew," Myra complained and playfully shook her arms as if Hestia had splashed sweat on her.
Hestia stuck out her tongue.
Myra was about to suggest they grab some drinks from inside, when they were interrupted by an excited yelp. Both girls snapped up into sitting positions, looking around for the noise. It wasn't until they looked up that they realised it had come from Marie.
Already, the younger girl was high up in the air, flying around on Hestia's broom. She seemed to be enjoying herself at first – but within seconds they noticed that the broom was flying very shakily, twisting this way and that in the air. The fun was over when the broom made a drastic turn to the right, and Marie's shrieks of delight turned to screams of terror. Myra screamed too – she was going to crash for sure. Before she could do anything – and before either of her parents was out the door, following the fearful cries, Hestia had grabbed the broom Myra had borrowed from her father and shot into the air after the wayward little girl.
But even as she climbed, it was obvious that Marie was in a lot of trouble. She was circling too fast, and was shooting up into the sky much too quickly. Who knew if Hestia would be able to reach her before she slipped off.
But Hestia was fast and soon she was side by side with Marie. She made sure that they were evened out, and then swung one leg over onto the Nimbus. Marie was startled and lost her grip for a moment. But Hestia quickly swung the rest of herself over, taking control of the broom. Without much fuss, she guided it back down to the ground. Robert may have been scared for his daughter, but managed to draw his wand to soften his own broom's landing which Hestia had let spin to the ground.
"What on earth were you thinking?" Myra snapped, anger overpowering her fear for her little sister. She couldn't believe Marie had been so stupid!
"I wanted to fly like Hestia," Marie answered, trying to sound defiant but looking quite shaken.
"Marie, I've been flying for nine years," Hestia explained calmly. At least she managed to keep control of her emotions. "I've been playing Quidditch since my second year. And this broom is not for beginners; I've had it for a year now and it took me all last summer to feel comfortable with it. Not to mention it has been specially adjusted to my body and flying form."
Marie's eyes widened at being talked to by Hestia. "I'm sorry," she mumbled with her eyes glued to the ground.
Chelsie knelt and put her hands on Marie's shoulders. "You should be! But it's okay." Marie raised her head to look at her mother. "Nothing bad happened, but I hope you never do it again."
"I won't, mum."
"Why don't we go inside; dinner's on the Ministry tonight," Robert announced, taking Marie's hand to lead her inside.
All three girls nodded.
"No more flying this week," Hestia muttered as they walked towards the house.
"No more flying," Chelsie consented.
 There might be some confusion as to the type of wood this is. It is NOT wood where the fire never dies, it IS wood that never burns out; you never have to go out and chop more.
 I don't know if that was/is the custom in Britain, but I know from some Norwegian book series I've read that that was how it was done in Norway ages ago. It seems nice to me, so whether it's correct or not, it's like that in the Lunar Phases version of Britain too.
Because the previous chapter was way past schedule, you're getting this one a bit ahead of time. It's fresh from the betas! After this, posting should go back to normal. But remember this, if, for some reason, posting takes longer than usual, I will not abandon this story without giving good and proper warning first.
Please review if you have any thoughts on the chapter!
Coming: Chapter 17 – Revelations at Hogwarts
When she had seen him again, on the train, something had happened inside of her. A breathless excitement she hadn't really felt since fourth year. But it seemed slightly different than what she remembered.