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Chapter 9: Dancing In Circles
Summary: She was Hogwarts' Bad Girl. He was Hogwarts' Golden Boy. All of her teacher's complained about her. All of his teacher's loved him. She stayed stayed away from the limelight as much as possible. He smiled for all the cameras. They're both stubborn, have a knack for trouble, and are training to become Aurors. Has the Ministry met it's new Auror power couple or will their differences lead to the destruction of their lives as they know it?
We come so close,
To loving each other and then...
We go dancing in circles again
Love and Theft "Dancing in Circles"
Disclaimer: I don't own the lyrics or Harry Potter
I woke up first the next morning with my back hurting from the hard floor and my entire body feeling heavy. Scorpius was still asleep on the couch, lying long ways with a pillow covering his face. Natasha was asleep in our chair, her feet hanging over one edge, her head lolling back over the other side, and her mouth slightly agape. Tyler was beside me on the floor, curled up with my pink baby blanket behind his head. I took a moment to enjoy the sight before putting both fingers in my mouth and whistling as loudly as I could.
“Time to get up sleepyheads,” I announced as they all groaned and tried to cover their ears. “It’s a beautiful day that can’t be wasted inside.”
“Taylor,” Scorpius said from behind his pillow.
“Yes Scorpio my darling?” I asked brightly.
“It’s pouring down rain outside.”
I looked out the window and realized that he was right. Still, I couldn’t very well say that now could I?
“That is merely the glorious sound of nature rejuvenating itself,” I told him.
“Are you on crack?” Natasha groaned. “Ow, I think I did something to my neck.”
“My back hurts,” Tyler complained.
“Well my head hurts,” Scorpius mumbled.
“Oh shut up, we broke a few laws, we didn’t get drunk,” I told them, rolling my eyes.
“SHIT! I have to work at nine today!” Tyler announced, scrambling to get up.
“You might want to hurry, it’s ten to nine,” I told him helpfully. He spared a second to glower at me and then sprinted out of my apartment, hopefully planning on stopping by his house since he was still in his swim trunks.
“Well that will be a lovely start to his day,” I said sarcastically, pushing myself all the way up and walking into the kitchen to pick out a cereal.
“Don’t you have boot camp?” Scorpius asked.
“It’s at three today,” I said amicably. “The hours are crazy for it. Like there’s one day where I have to be there at five in the morning and then go back at eight that night. They say it’s because we have to work with all these specialty people but I think they just want to make sure that we’ll answer their every call and don’t have anything that could make us unavailable like, I don’t know, a life.”
“You have such high opinions of the department,” Scorpius said sarcastically.
“I know,” I agreed, finally deciding on the ol’ classic cornflakes. “It’s a wonder I never thought of joining before my seventh year.”
“I have to get home,” Scorpius said. “My parents will figure I crashed with you but if I’m not back soon they’ll be hounding me with questions.”
“Don’t forget what I said about Rose,” I told him.
“I won’t,” he promised. “That’s why we were at lunch with James, I figured she’d start with you guys not making up stories and she wanted to start with someone she could convince to be nice.”
“Was he nice?” I asked. “Because if not I’ll kick his arse for you today.”
“Thanks but it was fine,” Scorpius shook his head. “I mean neither of us ended up in Mungos or Azkaban.”
“Good first step,” Natasha said, nodding her approval.
“I thought so,” Scorpius shrugged. “See you guys later.”
“Have a good day.”
“When did we agree not to make up stories?” Natasha demanded as soon as the door shut. I rolled my eyes and walked over to the window where a soaking wet brown owl was pecking at the window. “Because I definitely did not agree to that,” Natasha informed me, her hand on her hip.
“Woah, we made the news!” I exclaimed.
“What?” Natasha asked, the Rose drama forgotten.
“Look: Yesterday the Ministry of Magic was taken by surprise when four young witches and wizards burst through the visitor’s entrance for no apparent reason. Witnesses say they each had on a bathing suit and their faces were hidden behind layers of face paint. “I didn’t know what to do,” Charlie Marshall, an employee in the Department of Foreign Affairs, recalls. “They just stood there for a minute and then took off running. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Yada, yada, yada, When asked whether or not they would be looking into it the Ministry said that they while they were appalled by the event the most the offenders could be charged with is Indecency in the Ministry which would result in a fine anywhere from thirty to seventy galleons. When asked if they were planning on investigating further the Ministry spokesperson said that they encourage the offenders to turn themselves in but there will not be an extended investigation assuming there are no more incidents. The Ministry is expected to pass a more serious regulation to stop events like this from occurring again.
“Wow,” I said, tossing the newspaper down after I finished reading it. “Well at least it looks like I won’t be losing my job.”
“I can’t believe we’re going to be the cause of a new law,” Natasha laughed, looking thoroughly impressed with herself. “I know we always said we were going to but I never thought it would actually happen.”
“Me neither,” I laughed. “I feel like we need a shrine for this or something.”
Natasha and I took our bathing suits, the prophet article, both of our buttons, and the picture the four of us took before we left my mum’s shop and put them in a shoe box that we stored on the top shelf in our wardrobe, behind a pile of sheets and blankets.
“Just imagine,” Natasha said before we closed the door. “In eighty years when we’re one hundred and have grandkids we will be able to pull out that box and show them why exactly we are the coolest people they have ever met.”
“We probably shouldn’t tell people about this, though, should we?” I asked as we closed the door.
“No, probably not,” Natasha agreed.
“So you know how I was at my mum’s house yesterday?” she asked as we walked back into the kitchen.
“Uh-huh,” I said, reaching into the cupboard to get a bowl out for cereal.
“Well her new beau is a doctor,” she said and I glanced up, amused.
“Yeah, he’s as annoying as shit. My mum and I were having an argument and he steps in saying we should take a deep breath and tap into our inner feelings of bitterness and discontent to see where the real problem lays.”
“Did you tell him that it started when you were born?” I asked.
“Sure did,” Natasha said. “He told my mum she should consider putting me in therapy so that I didn’t resort to causing myself physical harm.”
“Maybe he should consider therapy,” I suggested. “You know, to understand why it is that he feels the need to latch onto a lady made of plastic with a husband in Azkaban. Maybe he has Monophobia.”
“What’s that?” Natasha asked.
“Fear of being alone.”
“Well if he does then he and my mum would be perfect together,” she shrugged.
* * * *
“Did you hear?” Kyle asked as I walked towards him and James ten minutes before three.
“Hear what?” I asked. Kyle held out the paper and I looked at it with as little interest as possible as I replied,
“Oh yeah, I read that. Looks like they benefitted from the Ministry trying to downplay it.”
“Everyone’s talking about it,” Kyle went on. “Apparently they got badges and everything. Huge embarrassment for the Ministry but it’s pretty awesome. I wish we had thought of doing something like that,” he said, indicating himself and James.
“What, and risk losing your jobs?” I asked in mock horror. “What would your mothers say?”
“I don’t know what my mum would say but my dad would love it,” Kyle laughed, jumping off the table he had been sitting on and flagging down another Auror who he quickly began discussing the break-in with.
“So,” James said.
“So,” I repeated.
“You don’t know anything more about this than what you read in the paper this morning?”
“Why would I know anything more than what they said?” I asked, doing my best to sound confused and innocent. How the hell was he onto us?
“Well it’s just that you showed up at the Leaky Cauldron wearing a cover-up and bathing suit and you had another bathing suit in your hand.”
“So because I wore a bathing suit I automatically jumped into the ministry fountain?” I asked. “Bit of a weak assumption there, isn’t it?”
“Maybe it would be if it weren’t for the fact that there were four people and Scorpius said that you were meeting up with two of your other friends.”
“So we went swimming with four people. How unusual,” I said, making it sound like he was being ridiculous.
“And then there’s the fact that you did stuff like this all the time at Hogwarts,” he continued as though I hadn’t said anything. “And the fact that it happened about an hour after Scorpius left the Leaky Cauldron and he changed his story about where he was going afterwards three times in twenty minutes.”
“So are you accusing me or Scorpius of diving into the fountain?” I asked.
“Neither of you,” he said. “I’m just wondering what you know about it. You know, say you had pulled this off. What would you have done to make it work?”
“What, are you doing some secret investigation for the ministry?” I asked and then sighed. “If I was one of the people who pulled this little stunt, and I’m not saying that I was, then I certainly wouldn’t go running my mouth about it.”
“What, you don’t trust me?” James asked, smirking a little bit.
“I don’t know you James,” I said honestly. “We can talk and joke around but honestly, until I joined the Auror department the only things I knew about you were that you played Quidditch, you were popular at Hogwarts, and I extremely dislike half of your family members. I wasn’t one of your fan girls at school—sorry. I don’t even know your favorite color, and that’s always the first question I go to when things get awkward.”
“So things haven’t been awkward during our conversations, wouldn’t that mean that you know me better than you think?” he suggested lightly. I appraised him for a minute before answering honestly again.
“I think that a lot of people think they know you a lot better than they do. You talk all the time and yet you don’t usually say all that much. You ramble about your family and you tell anecdotes but when was the last time you told someone something that they could use against you with the press?”
“Just because I don’t leave all my cards on the table doesn’t mean people don’t know me,” James said slowly.
“Just because we talk occasionally doesn’t mean I’m going to show you all of my cards,” I retorted.
“Touché,” James conceded.
“I still can’t believe you came up with that before we did,” he mumbled.
“Who is ‘we’?” I asked.
“Kyle, Sam, and I. And Freddy too I suppose. Louis may have joined in as well. And if—”
“See there’s your problem,” I told him. “I’m not saying that I had anything to do with this but if I did the reason it would have worked would be because we would have our group set. We don’t really add people in based on who wants to come.”
“So I’ve noticed,” James said. “You aren’t the friendliest of groups are you?”
“Normally I would just say that we’re not but you seem to have something on your mind so spit it out,” I told him.
“Well it’s just that you seem to keep your life very segregated,” he said mildly.
“So what?” I asked.
“So nothing it’s just that when you came running up to the table yesterday you pulled Scorpius away to talk.”
“Because I didn’t want to be overheard.” I shrugged, not sure what the problem was.
“Right,” he agreed. “But why couldn’t we hear?”
“Because there are some things that are just between friends and not the entire world,” I replied.
“Aren’t you trying to become friends with Rose?” he pressed.
“Ah, I see where this is going,” I said. He looked back innocently with one eyebrow cocked but I wasn’t fooled.
“What I was talking about with Scorpius is none of your business and if he wanted to tell Rose he could have asked us and we would have said no chance in hell, I’ll admit it. But I promised to try to get along with Rose so that she doesn’t think Natasha and I are serial killers or trying to steal her boyfriend. I did not, however, promise to become friends with her.”
“Are you even willing to consider inducting her into your little group?” he asked.
“It’s not just up to me,” I told him. “And honestly it’s less about me and the others than it is about her. But forget about me, I haven’t done my time with your cousin yet. How did your lunch go with Scorpio?”
“Fine,” James shrugged.
“Fine?” I repeated. “Is that all I’m going to hear about the meeting. ‘It went fine. We acted like we got along and didn’t kill each other.’ That doesn’t tell me anything.”
“Is that really what he said about it?” James asked, looking amused.
“Well I paraphrased a bit but basically, yes,” I told him.
“Fine,” James conceded. “He’s a decent kid and I may have overreacted a bit when I first heard that they were dating. Rose kept it civilized and made small-talk and then you came over and he spent the rest of the time telling us stories about Hogwarts because every accusation about what you said could lead to some story so that he didn’t have to tell us what you guys were up to and then he left pretty quickly after you came.”
“Sorry.” I winced slightly, only just realizing that pulling him away probably wasn’t the best way to go about helping him not die from a Weasley Mob Attack. “I didn’t mean to ruin your lunch.”
“It was fine,” James said. I narrowed my eyes at the word and he laughed. “I didn’t know you knew him though.”
I nodded. “We were really good friends through Hogwarts,” I said. “We all dealt with…a lot back then. We needed each other to get through it.”
“So I gathered,” James said slowly.
“I’m not going to pretend I know your family,” I quickly changed the subject back to comfortable territory. “Because aside from you, Fred’s family, and Dominique I’ve never had a legit conversation with any of you but I just need to know—how bad is this going to get? I mean, are people going to be judgmental to the point where we should have a St. Mungos room booked? Tyler already offered to set one aside…”
“Before I met him I honestly considered beating the crap out of the kid,” James admitted. “Truth is I only really got over it because I had some time to clear my head and realize that Rose wasn’t stupid. But for the rest of the family it’s just going to depend. Uncle Ron doesn’t like him—”
“So I’ve gathered,” I said grimly.
“But I think Aunt Hermione will give him a chance,” he went on. “Fred had a bunch of issues with him at Hogwarts and Albus hates his guts but Albus is also trying to get back in Rose’s good graces so—”
“Okay, I don’t need a rundown of you whole family’s view on the situation, I just want the overall reaction,” I said.
His family was huge. I love Scorpius and all but not enough to listen to James tell me exactly the way he suspects fifty people to react to the situation.
“There isn’t a consensus,” James said. “It just depends on the person but Rose’s dad and her brother will probably be the hardest. I would guess that Fred needs to be mellowed a bit before the meeting if you want that to go well. He’s not usually rash but—”
“Scorpius strikes a bone,” I nodded. “I kind of started that one. But since the only other option was to let Fred continue being a prat and have Scorpius land in the hospital wing for a few days I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“His family was on the other side of the war,” James tried to explain. “The wounds cut deep. Whether or not the Malfoy’s really believed in what Voldemort was doing the second time around is up for debate but in the end they did help him. They did fight with him.”
“It’s bullshit,” I muttered under my breath. “This entire war, the different sides, the way people think they can take it out on people who weren’t even a part of it—it’s total and complete bullshit.”
“Tell that to my dad,” James said, raising his eyebrows at me. I groaned.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” I said apologetically. “It’s just…it wasn’t his choice you know? It wasn’t any of my friends’ choices but they’re paying for them.”
“Tell you what,” James said after a beat of silence. “If you look up the war, like really read about it and figure out what happened I will do my best to help Rose get my family to come around, okay?”
“Why do you want me to look up the war?” I asked, genuinely confused.
“How many History of Magic classes did you attend?” he asked.
“You know about all that?” I asked, biting my bottom lip. We were known for getting drunk, sneaking around, and getting away with more shit than most other students but I wasn’t expecting him to know what classes I attended.
“The whole school knew about it,” he laughed. “And Scorpius added some behind the scenes information about the rumors that were circulating.
I winced. “What did he say?” I asked.
“You flooded the Greenhouses and Neville’s office when you didn’t finish a paper in time,” he said.
I nodded in admittance—Scorpius seemed to have kept it pretty mild. “Normally it wouldn’t have mattered but he said it was the paper or two months detention because I got caught stealing some of his stash. I would have gone with the detentions on principle but they conflicted with some other…duties.”
“I’m sure,” James smirked.
“He told me to turn it in next class, probably as a way of ensuring that I showed up, but since it wasn’t ready…well I needed to figure out a way to get the class cancelled.”
“So you thought you’d take care of it yourself,” James grinned.
“Hey, my mum always said I wasn’t enough of a go-getter. This way she couldn’t be mad at me.”
“Was she mad?” James asked.
“Sort of,” I said. “But it was more of an act. You see, since his office got flooded after the greenhouse I said that I had left the paper on his desk in between the two floods. They were able to track the greenhouse to me but not his office so they called my mum in about the greenhouse and Tyler’s mum in for the office. Tyler’s mum was pissed off so my mum had to calm her down. She was annoyed at first but after she heard the whole thing she scolded me in front of the teacher’s and then sent me a care-basket filled with chocolate the next day.”
“My mum would never have done that,” James said, shaking his head. “Sounds more like an Angelina and George thing.”
“Well makes sense considering—”
“Considering what?” James asked curiously when I stopped short. I shook my head and smiled.
“Nothing, it doesn’t matter,” I said a little awkwardly.
“What…okay,” James conceded and I felt a wave of relief. I don’t normally slip up that easily.
“Can I have everyone’s attention please?” Harry called, his voice magically amplified. “Thank you,” he said in a normal voice after everyone had quieted down. “I’m sure you have all either seen or read the papers today and heard about the…incident that occurred yesterday.” James glanced over and smirked at me. I purposefully kept my gaze on Harry, looking as unconcerned as possible.
“There won’t be a full-fledged investigation but anyone who knows anything is encouraged to let the ministry know and anyone who has involvement is urged to turn themselves in,” Harry continued, completely oblivious as to what was going on by an empty cubicle about twenty feet from him. “In the meantime we have far more pressing matters to attend to so those of you on a case get to work and those of you going to boot camp the portkey will be leaving in two minutes. Good luck.”
As soon as Harry finished talking everyone started moving away from their little gossip circles and back to their desks and maps.
“Don’t worry,” James said, jumping off the table he had been sitting on. “Your secrets safe with me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, smirking right back at him.
“Fine, fine,” he agreed. “Stay anonymous if you want.”
“It worked for seven years,” I shrugged, walking beside him as we entered Harry’s office.
“You really want to keep it up for another seven?” he asked but I didn’t have a chance to answer as the red shoe started turning blue and we both barely got a finger on it before we were whisked away along with more people than I was expecting.
I staggered as we hit the ground but managed to stay standing as Kyle, Abigail, and an older Auror that I wasn’t expecting to be with us all stumbled to the ground. Before I had a chance to ask what the four older Aurors were doing here a tall man in a bright purple track suit approached us and I got the very distinct impression that it would be best to save my question for later.
He stood taller than any of us and had white hair that showed he was older than those standing before him. In his hand was a clipboard with a piece of parchment clipped in place and an open inkwell balanced carefully beside the parchment. I couldn’t help but imagine his reaction if the board were to just…tip. His parchment would be ruined and silk tracksuit very possibly permanently stained. I forced the thought to leave my head as soon as it entered. I was already facing a possible seventy galleon fine if anyone (James) were to turn me into the Ministry. Probably best not to add a huge dry-cleaning bill on top of it. I’m not made of Galleon’s.
“Get up,” the purple jumpsuit guy said impatiently, noticing that three of us were on the ground. Abigail shot straight up; wiping the dirt off her robes quickly, her face a faint pink color. Kyle grumbled about a warning and the older Auror glared at the shoe as though it had personally offended him while the other three full-fledged Aurors laughed at him.
“Alright you lot,” he said. “Changing rooms are in there, we’ve got workout clothes for you all. I trust you remembered your sneakers and if not you’re running barefoot. Girls go to the right, boys on the left side. Apparently we’re splitting you up now because the minister didn’t think it was appropriate for us to have you change in the same room.”
From his tone I could tell that he thought the idea was ludicrous and I suppose that since we would have to change together during missions it kind of was. Abigail and I were the only two girls doing the training so we had a large changing room to ourselves. I picked out a baggy shirt and a pair of shorts that fit me best from the pile and slipped them on, glad Natasha had insisted I bring a sports bra.
“Anything you need tennis shoes for, you’ll want a sports bra for,” she had said when I protested.
“Why don’t they just have us bring our own clothes?” I asked Abigail as we both changed.
“It’s supposed to stimulate being on a mission,” she said, rolling her eyes. “We have to make do with what we have and deal with it. Though when we’re going to be running around on a track with an angry ex-Quidditch coach for a mission I don’t know.”
“Wait,” Abigail said, grabbing my arm when I started to make my way out. “You don’t want to be the first one out because if you are then he’ll notice you and target you the entire training session. Trust me, I’ve been there. Let the guys go first.”
I was surprised that she bothered to give me advice but I listened to her anyways and we both lingered by the door so that we would hear the boys when they left.
“Hey question,” I said while we waited and she nodded curtly to imply I should continue. “Why are the qualified Aurors doing boot camp with us?”
“Well they’re supposed to do it every year,” she said. “But most try to get out of it, claiming they’re in the middle of a mission or they can’t leave their surveillance or whatever. I mean, they do meet with Murphy during the year and everyone stays in shape on their own but during boot camp he’s way worse. Still, Harry and Ron make sure that anyone who hasn’t been in a while gets drafted.”
“Do they do the whole week with us?” I asked.
“Yep,” she nodded, popping the P. “This is my chance though.”
“Your chance to…”
“Prove that I should be moved up,” she said. “I’ve been in training way too long and now they can see when they compare me to the veterans.”
I nodded slowly and peered out the door. “Um, Abigail he’s walking towards us and he looks mad,” I told her, moving away from the crack I had been looking through so that she could see.
“It looks like the guys had the same strategy we did,” Abigail muttered. “Don’t worry; he’s going towards their changing room first.”
“Out, hurry up, do you think you’ll have this kind of time when you’re in the field!” the trainer, Murphy, yelled.
“Let’s go,” Abigail murmured, opening the door and rushing me out.
We nearly ran into the coach who seemed to be making his way towards our changing room but stopped short just in time. Abigail gave him an awkward smile and grabbed me by the arm, walking as fast as she could towards the center of the grass where the boys were congregated.
“Alright lads…and girls. I want you to do what I say when I say it and we’ll get through this a lot quicker. If you work hard it will go by a lot faster. If you’re sloppy I will keep you here all night if that’s what it is going to take for you to get it right. This isn’t a test, it’s not about how fit you are, it’s about how fit I can make you. The real test will come when you are out there. It’s Survival of the Fittest in its finest hour. Don’t treat this like a joke because if you do I will kick you out on your sorry arse and you can enjoy a sorry-ass paycheck and a crappy tombstone. We’re starting easy, everyone line up at the starting line we’re doing a mile warm-up.”
“How fast?” Kyle asked.
“Go easy,” he replied. “It’s just a warm-up.”
“So ten minutes?” one of the full-fledged Aurors, I believe his name was Dave, suggested with a grin.
“Ten minutes is walking,” Murphy replied. “Over eight and you owe me another lap. On my whistle then.”
When he blew it Kyle, James, and two of the younger Aurors immediately took off. I kept pace with Abigail. An eight minute mile meant two minute laps. That was a piece of cake. A few yards behind us were Jack and the other two Aurors. We didn’t talk as we ran but we finished at seven-thirty. Hey, he said to take it easy. To everyone’s surprise James and Kyle wound up coming in last. After racing the first three they had started walking slowly to let us all pass and they crossed the line at seven fifty eight. They both groaned, having been aiming for seven fifty nine. Murphy’s bushy mustache twitched in annoyance.
“Alright,” Murphy said while we all stretched out. “Split up four and five. We’re doing drills. Lisa and Daniel are going to be timing you.”
Abigail immediately left my side and rushed towards the group of three fully-fledged Aurors who were talking with Jack. I rolled my eyes and made my way towards Kyle and James who were talking to the fourth qualified Auror who had looked around and shrugged upon realizing the other group had already been formed.
“I think I just got ditched,” I grinned at them.
“Don’t mind her,” James replied. “She’s obsessed with getting moved up. She’ll do anything she thinks will get her noticed and she thinks the more time she spends with them the more people will think of her as Auror material.”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to be with us then? So that she looks better in comparison?”
“Probably,” Kyle shrugged.
“But I’m not sure how much input this guy has. He works with Aurors pretty much year-round. This part of boot camp is more about getting us in shape than seeing how fit we are,” James said.
“Mind you, if you’re not in shape you’re going to be dying,” the Auror added.
“Great,” I said sarcastically. I hadn’t run in three days. Well, unless you count our mad-dash escape at the ministry but considering how winded I was I’m not sure how much help that will be.
“I’m Ryan,” he added, holding his hand out for me to shake.
“Taylor,” I introduced myself.
“Alright, blondies group at the far end with Daniel, other group with Lisa.”
For the next three hours we did nothing but conditioning. The first one was like an obstacle course—mini hurdles, speed latter, sprint back. After that we did fifty-yard sprints, racing the person beside us. I was on my fifth sprint and had just gotten thoroughly creamed by Ryan when Teddy showed up.
“What’re you doing here?” I asked, slowing up. “I thought you were out for two weeks.”
“Healer’s cleared me early,” he shrugged. “It really wasn’t that bad but Harry’s benching me for two weeks anyways so I’m stuck with you lot until I get all my strength back.”
“Ooh, sucks for you,” I grinned, jogging back to the start.
Teddy, apparently, had missed the vast majority of the training for the day but he at least had to endure all the push-ups, sit-ups, and mountain climbers the rest of us did. By the time we were done I was way beyond exhausted and I threw myself down on my back between Teddy and Kyle as soon as Murphy said we could stop. Teddy laughed and I gave him the worst glare I could manage.
“You missed the first three hours,” I told him. “You’ve got nothing to be laughing about.”
“You might think this is pointless,” Murphy said, starting to speak without warning and successfully stopping Kyle’s laughter. “But the truth is this is as important as anything else you will be doing this week. You are going to be in situations where you can’t use your wand. Wizards are going to be trying to corner you in areas that you can’t apparate away from and if you are lucky enough to get to an apparition spot, the less out of breath you are, the less likely are to splinch yourself.
“If you’re chasing down a Wizard in a Muggle area, a ten foot distance could be the difference between capturing them and never seeing them again. When you get discovered behind a group of trashcans, battling your way out with your wand will be a lot more risky than navigating your way out. This stuff is hard but this stuff matters. I’d suggest taking tomorrow off but we’re back here on Wednesday so be ready. Good work today, you’re all free to go.”
My entire body was covered in sweat. My hair felt as though I had just come in from a rainstorm, my gray t-shirt was a shade darker than it was when I started and I literally had to peel my socks off. It was disgusting.
I put all of my sweaty stuff in the plastic bag I brought my tennis shoes in and changed into another baggy outfit for the ride home. There was no hope in salvaging my hair so I merely re-did my bun and cleaned up a bit of my waterproof mascara that had smudged despite its supposed waterproof-ness.
“Hey Anonymous,” James called out as I was leaving. “The safe places to apparate are the other way.”
“I’m taking a cab,” I said, turning around to face him. “I hate magical transportation.”
“It’s blue by the way,” James called out as I began to walk away again. “My favorite color,” he clarified.
I laughed. “Good to know.”
I hopped the fence and hailed the first cab that ambled by fifteen minutes later. I was so surprised that I almost missed it but he pulled over and I gave him the address.
“You a football player?” he asked, looking at my hair that was thrown in a messy bun and the work out clothes I had on.
“No it was a…boot camp thing,” I told him. “We just did it in the football stadium.”
“You don’t look like you’re in secondary school,” he said. “You go to Uni?”
“Err, yeah,” I lied. “I’m…off for the summer.”
“My sister goes to Uni,” the cab driver said. “Really likes it too. Her grades are bad though.”
I nodded, not really sure what I was supposed to say. We chatted amicably all the way back to my building and I forked over the pounds he asked for. Natasha and I always kept some Muggle cash because we liked to check out Muggle London for clothes as well. Unfortunately, the cab money took anything I had for shopping for the next month. On the bright side, I wouldn’t be able to walk for the next month so maybe it worked out.
I made my way up to our second floor flat slowly, my feet dragging with each step. The apartment was locked so I took out my wand and cast ‘alohamora’. We kept saying we were going to fix it so that the spell didn’t work but neither of us had gotten around to it. Besides, it’s not like we had any dark wizards out to get us.
I tossed the plastic grocery bag onto the floor and was about to open my bedroom door and flop on the bed when I froze, hearing noises in my room. Natasha’s giggling to be more exact.
“Tasha?” I called out, not wanting to walk in on anything I didn’t want to see. “Can I come in?”
“Uh, just a second Taylor,” Natasha said. I sighed and slid down on the floor. If she had a guy in there I was going to kill her. Sure enough, five minutes later she came out in a little sundress with her hair a mess. Behind her was a guy dressed in jeans without a shirt. I didn’t even try to hide my surprise when I saw who it was.
“Sam?” I asked.
“Hey Taylor,” he grinned, leaning casually against the doorframe. I sighed.
“Really Tasha?” I asked.
“Sorry, I thought you’d be home later.”
“Eh, whatever,” I waved it off.
“You gonna get off the floor?” Sam asked. I shook my head.
“Was boot camp bad?” Natasha asked taking in my hair and the clothes I hadn’t been wearing this morning.
“Anyone who does that voluntarily needs to be put on suicide watch,” I said by way of answering.
“Yeah, James is always useless during bootcamp,” Sam nodded.
“Wasn’t last year his first year?” I asked.
“Well yeah but you do it a few times a year,” Sam said.
“We what?” I demanded. I thought this was like our one week from hell!
“Well yeah, didn’t they tell you?” I shook my head. “There are actually three different times—once now, once after Christmas, and then once before summer. I’m pretty sure the rest of it all is spread out.”
“How do you know more about this than I do? I’m in the training!”
“Did you read the packet?” Sam asked, looking down at me with raised eyebrows.
“No,” I admitted. Sam and Natasha both laughed.
“Wait, what the hell are you doing here?” I demanded, suddenly registering just how wrong this was.
“I thought that was pretty obvious,” Sam said, indicating himself and Natasha.
“Get out,” I said, indicating the door.
“Right,” Sam agreed, kissing Natasha on the cheek and leaving.
“Tell James I said hi,” I called after him.
“Will do,” he agreed just before the door closed. Natasha started trying to back up into our bedroom but I wasn’t letting her get away that easily.
“Freeze,” I instructed. “Back up. What. The. Hell. Was. That?!?”
“Err, well, he came into Clueless with his sister and my shift was almost done. And you know, he was there and I was almost done and then, well, he didn’t have anything to do because his sister’s friend came in—you know the one with black hair who ordered one of those dresses for the wedding? She was there with Rose when—”
“Get to the point,” I snapped.
“Right, sorry. So basically we both had nothing to do so we started talking and then we came back here, and then well—”
“I can’t believe you hooked up with him!” I exclaimed.
“Oh come on, it wasn’t that bad,” she said.
“Wasn’t that bad?” I demanded. “I’m sorry; do you remember when you guys broke up? And then when you hooked up after you broke up? And then when you hooked up with him when he had a sort-of-girlfriend? And then his sort-of-girlfriend was all possessive and tried to kill you? And then when you guys hooked up and your brother—”
“Okay, I get it,” she cut me off. “We’ve hooked up a few times.”
We were quiet for a few minutes and then…
“So you guys really hooked up?” I asked. Natasha nodded. “And I’m guessing you don’t want to tell the boys…”
“Probably best,” Natasha agreed.
“Right-o,” I said, still not even trying to move.
“You want help getting to the bathroom?” she asked.
She took my hand and hoisted me up.
Normally I don’t enjoy long showers but I reveled in the feeling of the warm water washing all of the dirt and sweat off of my body after boot camp and I wondered briefly why I always seemed to rush them. It was actually rather relaxing. That is, until I heard a bunch of noise in my bedroom. I turned off the water and opened the bathroom door only to find that my apartment was infested with thirteen year old girls.
“Hi.” I said walking out with one towel wrapped around my hair, the other wrapped around my body.
“Hi Taylor,” Lacey smiled.
“What are you guys doing here?” I asked.
“Oh, Katie’s mum was being annoying,” Meg Ann explained. “We didn’t really feel like dealing with any other parents either and since we’re not allowed out in Diagon Alley past dark I figured we’d come to your place.”
“Chinese will be here in five,” Natasha announced, walking into the room. She had changed into jeans and a sweatshirt.
“What?” she asked when she saw me staring.
“Nothing,” I decided, walking over to the wardrobe that we had placed an undetectable extension charm on.
I stepped inside and started sorting through our clothes. Technically speaking all of my stuff is on the left and all of her stuff is on the right but in all actuality, we wear each other’s clothes so much that it doesn’t really matter. I closed the door so that I could change and pulled on a pair of my yoga pants and Natasha’s bright pink “I know I’m Awesome” t-shirt.
I limped my way out and was about to flop down on Natasha’s bed when I remembered what she had been doing on it not twenty minutes ago. I tried to stop mid-flop but it didn’t work too well so I wound up beside the bed on the floor.
“F you,” I muttered as two of Meg Ann’s friends jumped off the bed to help me up.
“I need a bunch of bags of ice,” I told them. “And if I don’t have them in five minutes you’re all kicked out.”
Immediately, all four of Meggy’s friends jumped up to get it for me. Natasha and Meg Ann both flopped backwards beside me, Meg Ann still reading the magazine.
“So I read an interesting article in the paper today,” Meg Ann said conversationally. “Mum thought it was hilarious but dad was a bit more concerned.”
“That’s because your dad is too by the books,” I told her. “Mum appreciates the fine art it takes to pull something amazing, unexpected, and slightly illegal off. I’m assuming your talking about the Ministry fountain incident.”
“So it was you guys?” Meg Ann asked. I shrugged innocently.
“We could tell you…”
“But then we’d have to kill you,” Natasha finished for me.
“Just checking,” Meg Ann nodded. “Hey, Albus Potter and Lauren Wood have gone public with their break-up.”
“Didn’t they break up a while ago?” Natasha asked. “Sam said they had been off for a while.”
Meg Ann looked at when the Magazine was released.
“It’s from three weeks ago,” she said. “So I guess they could have. Can’t say I’m that surprised though. He’s got the whole band thing going and if he’s going to be on the road or whatever. And plus she’s working for the prophet and writing stuff about celebrities and what not.”
“Aw, that’s too bad, I really thought they would make it,” I sighed. “I like Lauren. She’s a sweet girl.”
“You tutored her for potions, didn’t you?” Natasha asked.
“I helped her with it,” I corrected. “I do not tutor people.”
“Right, my bad,” Natasha rolled her eyes.
“We have your ice Taylor,” Lacey smiled. She and the other three girls held out their bags obediently.
“Thanks,” I smiled. I put one on my right hamstring, another on my left ankle, another on my right shoulder, and I put the last one on my abs for the sole reason that it felt good. When I looked up Natasha was humming to herself, Meg Ann and Lacey were reading the magazine, and the other three were looking at me expectantly.
“So,” I said, not really sure how to make conversation with three thirteen year olds. “What do you guys think about the Albus/Lauren break up?”
That seemed to work as they all started gossiping about it and I was able to lean back and rest for a few minutes. Eight empty boxes of Chinese, multiple hair braids, a late night trip to the local ice cream shop, and I finally convinced Meg Ann that since she said they were all staying at our mum’s house they should actually go there. I didn’t want her getting mad at me since it wasn’t taking much for us to lose our tempers these days.
“I still can’t believe you hooked up with Sam again. Again…How many times have you guys hooked up since your break-up anyways?”
“Shut up,” Natasha muttered.
A/N: favorite quotes? Criticism? General thoughts?
Chapter 10 preview:
“What can I get you guys?” a peppy guy with ginger hair, round glasses, and a white baker’s hat that was falling to the right side of his head asked.
“I’ll have…the Extreme Egg Salad,” I decided. James looked at the menu for a few minutes before deciding on the Special Surprise. I grinned and the guy behind the counter whistled.
“That’s brave mate,” he laughed and James looked confused.
“You never know what’s going to be in that,” I told him. “It’s different every time. I’ve never gotten up the nerve to try it.”
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