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Chapter 1: Laney Becks: World Class Pessimist
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Disclaimer: JKR created this world and everything to do with it. I just added a few other characters.
superb image by Benedictus @ TDA
My great aunt Netta is an evil person.
Netta and I live in a small town in Scotland that apparently repels sun, kind of like the bloody abyss that is my soul. All right, that might be a bit of an overstatement, but maybe that’s why I’m so miserable. Whatever the reason — no sun, having an ugly face, a diabolical great aunt that smells like musty yarn — I really just am a mean person.
Everyone’s called me Laney since forever. And believe me, I like it that way. Netta tells me that’s because my real name, Elena, is too nice for a mean, sarcastic, angry teenager like me.
The sad part is, she’s got me spot on.
Netta, crazy old lady that she is, sits around all year long knitting me fluffy pink socks because she’s got this twisted idea that it will soften me up. I told her once that I use them to make small fires when my room is cold but she is decrepit and evil, so of course, she still knits me stupid frilly socks once a week and tries to make me wear them around the house on Fridays.
To be frank, most people probably think I’m rather dull — minus the frilly socks bit of course. The only thing I’ve really got going for me is that I’m a witch. That’s the one thing that keeps me going: the fact that every September, I can escape from evil-knitting-Netta, who is a Muggle, into the magical world where I belong.
My mum and dad are both wizards, both home-schooled and wanna-be world travelers. That’s how they met. Or so I’ve been told, I don’t really know my parents. They have always been more interested in traveling the world than raising a daughter, so they dropped me at my dad’s aunt’s house and visit once every two years. For three days. Three days! And by the time I was nine, they stopped coming altogether.
Obviously, they’re both stupid planks who I definitely do not need. At all.
When I finally got my letter, extending an invitation to the greatest wizarding school of all time, I quickly developed some very definite ideas about each of the houses and where I myself belonged. And in my diabolical, eleven-year-old mind, Hufflepuff was full of annoying little pricks who sucked bollocks at Quidditch (we refer to them as ‘The fighting Hufflepuffles' now actually), everyone in Slytherin was pure evil and ready to kill me with a python, (this is still a little bit true, especially with Scorpius Malfoy and Lula Porter. I spent the whole first train ride to Hogwarts poking them with my wand, because they were so repulsive looking I wasn’t sure if they were real), all Ravenclaws were snobby know-it-alls (they think they’re oh so witty and sharp. I sometimes dead-leg ‘em in the entrance hall when they’re least expecting it), and finally Gryffindor, which was the house for the brave, the proud (boarderline pig-headed), and the wise (they are also famous for kicking some serious arse at Quidditch).
Because of my demonic parentage (seriously, I managed to convinced myself that my parents are possessed by the devil when I was six), I fully expected to be sorted into Slytherin house at Hogwarts. The other houses were too good for the likes of me.
Of course, because nothing in my life can ever just go the damn way it's supposed to, this meant that I was sorted into Gryffindor, something I did not understand what-so-ever.
“GRYFFINDOR!” the ruddy hat bellowed. I sat stock still for a moment, perplexed.
“Excuse me, Gryffindor?” I asked, slamming the hat tighter onto my head. “I don’t think so! I’m — supposed — to — be — evil!” I had bellowed the words, wrestling to force the hat down. I did not want to believe that my parents were good people with good genes.
I ended up having to be removed from the premise by a furious professor so I wouldn’t "damage the artefact".
That whole incident created a lovely impression on everyone, and it took me until second year to convince them that I wasn’t a raving, murderous lunatic.
I'm not a loser at school though, I definitely have friends. But a lot of people avoid me; I suppose I’m sort of intimidating at times. There are four Gryffindor girls in my year: myself, Dara Valentin, Rose Weasley, and Chaz Jacobs.
Since I’ve been living with these girls for the past five years, I know them pretty well.
Dara Valentin has been my best friend since second year when I threw a muffin at her head and she chucked an entire plate of bacon back at me. We were instant friends; I knew I had always liked that girl. She is a short, small and feisty brunette with a light, fluffy trim. Her whole appearance reminds me of a doll, but she hates when I bring that up and usually threatens me with another plate of bacon.
Chaz Jacobs is a different story. She is gorgeous, pretty much breath-taking (and that’s really saying something seeing as I prefer not to hand out compliments), blonde and brown-eyed with legs that go on for days. With looks like that, it’s no surprise that she’s insanely popular. She even hangs out with the seventh year Gryffindors, which is highly impressive and slightly offensive. But honestly, she is too nice for my taste. I prefer mean people. Like me.
We tend to get along better.
Rose Weasley usually to keeps to herself. Her hair is a lovely auburn colour which really should be pretty but it is so bushy that it makes that impossible. She spends most of her time with her best friend and cousin, Albus Potter, being booky berks. Albus is the youngest son of the famous Harry Potter who destroyed Voldemort.
But between you and me, you being the little berk inside my head, I think the whole thing is a bit overdone, to be honest. Albus, his older brother James, and younger sister Lily aren't Harry Potter; they are just related. So why make such a fuss? It’s beyond me. I also think it's a bit strange that Rose is so very close with her cousin.
Then again, it could be just that I don’t have cousins so I don’t know what it’s like. Dara suggested that. Thanks, Dar. Always knew I could count on you for support.
Rose has about a million cousins at Hogwarts, which sort of freaks me out a bit. All the same though, she is a nice girl (which obviously means I can’t be seen within ten feet of her) who is incredibly smart and also a prefect, something I envy.
Me? Envy someone? I would never.
Compared to Rose’s bushy mane, I should probably be thankful for my dark brown hair, even if it gets tangled at inopportune times, but mostly, I know it just makes me look kind of plain. Well, not plain. I’m average looking, which is probably the reason I’ve never had a boyfriend. That, and I’m a right pessimist. Personality quirks like mine tend to repel the fellows a bit.
Clearly, I lead a very exciting life.
I do play Chaser on the House Quidditch team, which is sort of stimulating. Sort of. But that is about as wild as my life gets. Really. A day in the life of Laney Becks is a bit like watching paint dry. If paint was forced to wear horrible hand-knit socks.
I won’t lie, the boys in my year, and the ones in Gryffindor in particular, Albus Potter, Fred Weasley, and Carter Hanes, are definitely attractive. But I’ve never really had the patience for a love life — unlike Dara, who has a new boyfriend every few months. She used to say it was I who scared them off, but I don’t see why, since I’m a lovely person.
That all being said, Hogwarts is pretty much my home (my second home being my actual house with Netta), and I'm in relatively positive spirits knowing that the next day, September first, I will be going back to that home.
But little did I know, something I would never have expected was going to be at Hogwarts this year.
Something I am terrified by.
Just about the only thing that I have no witty comment about. The only thing.
And that thing is love.
Author's Note: Welcome new and old readers — or whatever you may be! — to the fiery fic I call Just Ordinary! This is a story I started a long time ago, mostly in my mind. If you have any questions about me or my writing, go to my Author's Page and click the "Click Here to meet nextgenoration and ask about aspects of their writing!" I'm generally very friendly, so don't be afraid to PM me on the forums! My username is NGseries. :)
Now, I have quite a lot of thanks to be given. Firstly to Ellerina, who extensively helped me to edit this chapter and is just a hilarious, wonderful fool to begin with. Also to justonemorefic, who religiously gives me drool-worthy banners and chapter images and terrific Just Ordinary critique! To Emilie: do I even have to say how much you've helped me? To aiedail, ericajen, peppersweet, and tenthweasley for their fabuloso support in reading chapters I throw at them on a weekly basis. And finally, to the mafia of the raverpuffins in general for being the supportive, encouraging friends they are.
Laney Becks is insane, and definitely not your typical girl. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have enjoyed putting pen to paper to write it.
Call me Ash.
Chapter 2: Not Such a Perfect Prefect After All
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Disclaimer: JKR = Harry Potter World. Ash = Laney Becks.
End of story.
stunning image by .Candy @ TDA
It’s the day I’ve been waiting for all summer.
Typically, when I walk into the living room, Netta is sitting there knitting yet more pairs of socks. I heave a sigh that I am sure her hearing aids will never pick up, and throw myself onto the little love seat, newspaper in hand. Just for something to do, I flip open The Daily Prophet and scan through the first few pages.
“Laney dear, feet off the cushions please,” Netta croaks. That’s pretty much all she does.
Croaks at me.
Oh, and knits. She might as well be a carnival attraction: The Amazing Knitting Toad-Thing.
I stare blankly at her for a moment and then lift my feet off the sofa so that they hover right above the cushion. She contemplates me for a moment and then grins, as if she’s suddenly remembered something.
“I’m almost done with these footies! You can wear them on the ride to your little school.”
Little school? More like enormous castle. Oh, and I’d like to keep my friends, thanks. So no more frilly socks.
“Uh, thanks Netta,” I mumble, standing up.
“When will little Dora be here?” Netta asks. Must she refer to everything that’s important to me as ‘little’?
“It’s Dara,” I say pointedly. “And she’ll be here in a few minutes, so I’m going to go get my trunk.”
She smiles vaguely after me as I head up the stairs into my bubbly pink room. I want to throw up every time I think about it. I despise pink.
Pink causes world hunger. I am convinced of this.
I gather my trunk and cat, Presto, who hisses at me when I throw it by its tail into the carrier.
That isn't abuse...is it?
I heave my things down the stairs, starting to get a bit antsy for my best friend's arrival. Dara always picks me up and takes me to the train station on September first, seeing as Netta was nearly trampled at Kings Cross Station when she was eleven and now refuses to go near it. Well, except for first and second year when Dara and I weren’t friends yet. She was a wreck.
Even so, the way she coos at me when I try to get on the train is embarrassing.
Every year, Dara side-Apparates to my second house with her mum and then we all side-Apparate to Kings Cross. Mrs. Valentin is like a second mum to me. For some odd reason, she likes my sense of humour.
She’s one fantastic mum. Also, probably a sadist if she likes my jokes.
I chuck my things outside, cat carrier and all, and go to say my good-byes to Netta. Ugh, awkward.
“Erm, I’ll be going then...” I mutter with a short wave.
She smiles and tosses me the finished socks. “Have a good term!”
Then before I can make an escape, she traps me in a hug that smells like old perfume and says, "I love you, Dearie."
I grunt, detaching myself from her frail arms, and walk out the door, ‘accidentally’ chucking the frilly socks in a bush, wishing Dara would just get here already and put me out of my misery. As if in answer to my prayers, the second I am outside, there is a small ‘pop!’ and Dara and her mum appear.
“Laney!” she squeals, sprinting towards me. She throws her tiny arms around my shoulders in a full on bear hug.
“Dara!” I laugh over her head. “I can’t breathe!”
“Oh, right!” she says, dropping her arms. She beams at me.
“Er, how are you?” I ask and immediately regret it as I watch her face fall.
“I’m...” she begins.
“Never mind!” I recover quickly. “Hullo Mrs. Valentin,” I say, turning to Dara’s mum.
“Cheers, Laney,” she winks. “Shall we get a move on, yeah?”
I nod and hoist my trunk and cat carrier upright. I look up at Dara who seems to have just put on ‘the happy face’ for my benefit and chew on my lip. Saying the wrong thing is pretty much my native language and I seem to have been speaking it again.
“Right then,” nods Mrs. Valentin, grabbing our shoulders. “Er, don’t you want to hold onto Presto? He looks a bit...” she trails off.
I glance down at the carrier where Presto is cowering in the corner, looking absolutely mortified.
“Right, let’s go then.” With a rush, Mrs. Valentin turns on the spot, and we’re suddenly being pressed through time and space.
I open my eyes to see that we are standing right outside the barrier. Obviously, we’re supposed to be acting inconspicuous, but Dara looks extremely ill after the uncomfortable sensation, as she always does. For some reason, I don’t find Apparating unpleasant. I actually kind of like it. Masochism is one of my favorite past-times apparently.
We slide as nonchalantly as possible through the barrier and into Platform 9 and 3/4.
“Right then, I’ll be going,” says Mrs. Valentin with a sigh. “Sorry I can’t stay and see you off, but I’ve got to Apparate to Manchester and meet...” she trails off as her eyes flicker to Dara who looks away almost angrily. “Well, goodbye, love.”
She turns and disappears through the barrier.
“Dara... I —” I begin, but she cuts me off.
“Can I meet you on the train?”
“I’ve got to go find Pat Jenkins and rearrange her face.”
I laugh. “Why?”
“The bloody second year never returned my hair beret to me last year. Stupid Hufflepuffs...” Dara mutters, craning her neck around.
“Ha, all right,” I say, wondering how someone as small as Dara could ever appear intimidating. Then I remember the bacon plate flying through the air directly at my head and nod. She nods back and disappears through the crowd.
I head towards the train and suddenly collide with a tall, golden-haired girl. My trunk splits open and I am showered in hundreds of pink socks.
“Sorry Becks!” It’s Chaz Jacobs and she is smiling at me with those creepy, intense eyes.
“Erm... hi,” I mumble, trying my best to make it clear that I am not accepting her apology. I emerge from the ocean of socks and thrust mounds of them back inside my trunk. She kneels down beside me to help.
“Do you get cold feet?” she asks, raising her eyebrows at the trunk bursting with frilly socks.
I glare at her.
“Eh — you need any help?” she seems a bit uncomfortable now. Good. Nice people should feel uncomfortable sometimes. They’re just so... nice.
“No,” I say, sitting on my trunk and trying to buckle it shut. She smirks and leans down anyway to snap it closed for me. Unbelievable.
I stand up and look away, annoyed. “Uh, right then. I’ll — er — see you at school.”
She nods. “All right.”
I watch her as she heads off towards a group of giggling seventh years looking a bit put-off and can’t help but feel a little sorry for the way that I acted to her (a first). She is just so damn nice. Why do people have to be nice? Am I being punished for something?
I’m suddenly wishing Dara hadn’t run off to break some second year's nose, because it’s a bit uncomfortable walking around by myself after half the school has just seen that I carry about three hundred pairs of socks around with me. They probably think I’m some champion sock-collector now. Though only a very bad sock-collector would solely stock up on one colour. So I’m that crappy pink sock-collecting girl now.
I board the train with more than seven minutes to spare and start searching for an empty compartment to claim. One by one, I slide open the compartment doors to find yet another one full of people. By compartment number six, I’m grumbling to myself.
“Really, people!” I say under my breath as number seven appears to be occupied. Not bothering to check in any more compartments, I heave my things to the very last one and slide the door open.
There’s a girl sitting in there. Her ginger head is in her arms and her trunk and owl cage are thrown carelessly onto the bench across from her. At first I think she’s sleeping and am about to curse her for being so inconsiderate in taking up an entire compartment, but then I realize her whole figure is heaving and shaking.
I can feel my whole being seize up as I realize with terror, that she’s crying.
I look around awkwardly, wondering if I should clear my throat, or even just leave. But I don't have time to do either, because a second later she looks up.
My eyes pop and I nearly trip backwards at what I see. Her face is covered in blotchy spots, her eyes are stark red, puffy, and bloodshot, her lip is quivering, and she’s... she’s... she’s Rose Weasley.
Never in my four years of Hogwarts have I seen Rose Weasley cry. And trust me, girls at Hogwarts are always crying. Except for me, of course.
I hesitate, then realize my mouth is hanging open, and close it quickly. She’s now glaring at me, which is not helping me to recover. That’s another thing Rose Weasley never does: glare.
“Surprised?” she asks, her voice breaking. I feel like using Accio to summon my own voice, I’m at such a loss for words.
“I...er....Well, yes,” I say finally. Random encounters with emotions always make me a bit jumpy.
“Figured as much,” she snaps, redirecting her stare out the window. I feel the train start to move from under me.
“I guess I’m just too ordinary for some people. Anything I do that’s not law-abiding or educational just has to be a right shock.”
I toy with leaving right then and there to get myself out safely, but decide, as she is my roommate, that I should probably offer her some guidance before she commits a murder.
“Are — are you all right?”
This was obviously the wrong thing to say.
“Of course I’m not all right! Do you think think I’d be in the last compartment, bawling my eyes out over some boy if I wasn’t —”
“What boy?” I ask, my attention grabbed. She grinds her teeth, and looks out the window again, an angry tear falling fast and hard down her cheek.
“Desmond,” she says finally.
I nod, turn around, and slide the door shut. I know exactly what to do. After three years of friendship with Dara Valentin, if I know anything at all, it's how to deal with a bad breakup.
I lift both our things onto the racks and take a seat.
“Tell me everything,” I sigh.
She sniffs. “I’m sorry, Laney, you know, for — for snapping at you like that.” She looks genuinely embarrassed. “That — that really wasn’t very polite of me.”
I nod, resisting the urge to say that I do that all the time. At a time like this, my presence must be as calm as a waveless lake. Or something. “It’s fine.”
I’m suddenly wondering why I hadn’t ever been friends with this girl: She could be mean. This is a rare find. Of course, a truly mean person would never apologize for being impolite, but it is definitely worth investigating.
“Now tell me,” I say.
“All right,” she sniffs. “He asked me if I would go out with him last term... I d-didn’t even want to! But I agreed because I — I wanted to prove that I could have a boyfriend. Everyone’s always saying that I’m too concerned over grades and rules and — and I don’t even know why!”
I raise my eyebrows at her.
“All right, I know exactly why. Because I am too concerned over grades and rules. I guess I just wanted to show everyone that there’s more to me than that.”
“So, you agreed to go out with him... then what?” I prompt.
“Well, I didn’t see him all summer — if I ever brought a boy home I think my dad would set me afire —” I laugh. “So we wrote letters and it was just starting to get sort of old. He kept asking to meet me places or come to my house even though I told him I couldn’t. I knew it was heading towards this b-but I n-never th-thought it would b-be this b-bad.”
Her face flushes with sadness again.
“Just a few minutes ago, he s-said that I was th-the most pathetic girlfriend he’s e-ever had. In front of everyone.”
It’s quiet while she cries again and I look out through the grey and rain-streaked window.
“He’s a thick, arse-headed, prick,” I say and she looks up gratefully. “But you’re an idiot.”
Her face falls into a hurt expression.
“W-what —" she starts.
“You’re an idiot because you need to be stronger. Do you not realize that you’re just giving him what he wants?”
She looks confused and I sigh.
“If he called you out in front of half the school, then he obviously wanted to embarrass you. And by sitting in here and crying over him, you’re letting Desmond win.”
“I — I didn’t even...”
“Yeah,” I say. “Look, you just need to move on. Bounce back, Rose. Don’t be weak.”
“You know, Laney, you really are good at this type of thing. You’re honest. That’s what people need. Honesty, not sympathy.”
I give a sort of smile. It actually kind of feels good to stretch these muscles. Hm, I think I’ll continue.
“What a moment,” I say, still beaming to high heavens. She seems a bit freaked out now. “Aren’t you a prefect? It said on my letter from Hogwarts that you were our girl prefect this year... Shouldn’t you be in the prefect’s carriage getting instruction?”
Her face and ears become instantly radish red. “I — I... W-well, the thing is... I.... yes, I should be in the prefect’s carriage.”
I begin to laugh. “Rose Weasley, crying, snapping at me, and ignoring prefect duties! Never thought I’d see the day...”
“Hey!” she says, laughing. “I had a lot on my mind!”
Suddenly the door slides open.
“Rose! Where the hell have you been?” It’s Albus Potter, standing there, his green eyes flashing, his glasses askew, and his untidy black hair just as madly untidy as ever.
He looks at me, then Rose, then back to me again. Apparently, finding Rose Weasley and Laney Becks laughing together is hard to believe.
“Are — are you alright?” he asks Rose, taking in her tear streaked face, and ignoring me as usual. Even though I’ve been on the House Quidditch team with Al since second year, he still doesn’t know I exist. I suppose we’ve just never run in the same crowd. But then again, he is brilliantly smart, a tremendous wizard, and a Potter child. He probably just doesn’t have time for people as average as me.
Though, I have always preferred Al over his older brother, who is a complete beefhead at best. While not near as good looking as James, Albus always made up for it in his personality. He was the likeable one, Albus. The one everyone wanted to know.
And the huge green eyes didn't exactly hinder him.
“Yes, Al, I’m fine,” she says, smiling at him. He seems genuinely relieved. That’s another thing I'll think I'll give him, he really cares for Rose.
“I punched the son-of-a-” he begins, furiously.
“Al!” Rose says. Al really isn’t one to swear a lot (compared to the other fifth year boys), probably due to the tight ship Rose holds him in, so this has to mean he’s furious.
“Rose — he — I —” he splutters.
“It’s all right,” she says, soothingly. “I’m not upset anymore. Laney just helped me get over it.”
He looks confusedly at me. I raise my hand in awkward recognition.
Something about the way he looks at me then, eyes reflecting some lost thought, makes colour burn on my cheeks.
"You're a Gryffindor Chaser, aren't you?" he asks politely.
"Yeah." It's all I really feel like replying with.
"Well, thanks for talking to Rose," he says, and he gives me a lopsided grin that makes me feel so suddenly self-conscious and clammy.
Grabbing composure, I nod. “Anytime. I have to find Dara so I’ll — I’ll see you at school, Rose.”
She smiles at me. “Thanks, Laney.”
I stand up, pull down my trunk and cat carrier, and move towards the door. For a moment, Albus looks at me, and then he slides aside to let me through.
I'm halfway down the corridor when I hear, "Laney?"
I turn around to find Albus poking his head out his compartment, looking at me.
"Yes?" I reply.
He awkwardly holds out a feather quill. "You forgot this."
I hurry down to him and say, "Oh, sorry," reaching for the quill. When he hands it to me, we both are staring inadvertently at the floor.
"Well, er, see you around then," he says.
I nod and we part ways, me still gripping the quill. And for some reason I can't shake that I know I didn't leave this quill behind. It isn't mine.
I head along the corridor searching for Dara. I wonder what she’ll say when I tell her I’ve just made sort of friends with Rose Weasley....
When I’m by compartment fourteen, a girl pokes her head out.
“Can I — Oh, sorry, I thought you were the trolly,” she says, blushing. I recognize her as third year, Lily Potter. Her hazel eyes dash to the floor and she tucks a lock of wavy red hair behind her ear.
“Right,” I say. “It’s fine.” She looks uncomfortable, nods, and slides the door closed again.
Now I’m grinding my teeth. Where the hell is Dara? I’m starting to get really sick of always looking for her. I swing upon a door to find the girl in question, snogging Derek Jones, the sleaziest Hufflepuff ever sorted. I dive in.
“Pat Jenkins my arse!” I screech, grabbing a handful of her shirt and tearing her off of him.
“EURGH!” Dara splutters, tripping.
“Shut it!” I say angrily.
“Oi!” Derek retorts, wiping his mouth. “Let her go!” I round on him.
“Don’t you tell me what to do, you idiot wanker!” I bellow. He looks horrified.
I push Dara aside and whip out my wand. “Tergeo. There, your mouth’s clean of my friend. Now go find your next victim and devour her face face! Or his!”
Looking more than a little shaken by me, Derek shoves past us and out of the compartment. We take a seat in silence while I stare coldly at Dara.
“Really, Dara? Really?” I ask, my arms folded. She looks on the verge of tears. God, not again.
“I’m sorry, Laney! I was going to find Pat —”
I raise my eyebrows.
“Really, I was! And I found Derek in this compartment and he — he lured me in! I swear!”
Now she really is crying. So many tears in one day. I swear I might be developing a very serious rash.
“Look Dara, I get that you’re having family problems right now but that doesn’t give you the right to vent your feelings by snogging every boy in sight!”
“You just don’t understand! My parents are getting a divorce! They d-don’t even c-care about me anymore!” she bawls. And now we have progressed to bawling. This is definitely not my day.
I stare at her with a harsh expression on my face. “You don’t think I understand? You...don’t think...I...understand? How thick can you be? Do you not get that I’ve never had parents? Ever? Ever, Dara! And you think just because yours are breaking up, you have the right to think you have the biggest problems in the world!”
“I’m so sorry, Laney. I completely... I’m sorry.”
“Yeah,” I say. “Look, just don’t do it again, okay? Not unless you really like the guy.”
“I promise,” she says.
It’s a few hours before we’re back to normal but once we are, it feels just like old times again.
“Rose Weasley?” she asks, incredulously. I had just finished telling her the events of earlier.
“Bollocks! I didn’t even know she was capable of fancying someone. She is so uptight...” she says thoughtfully.
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “Don’t say that, because that’s exactly why she did it. She told me her reputation really gets to her sometimes. I think she wishes she were different. Give her a break.”
If Dara looked surprised before, then that was nothing compared to her expression now. “Becks! Are you standing up for someone?”
“Dara, I stand up for you all the time, you’re just too busy snogging to realise it. And yes, I guess I am.”
“So, does this mean you are friends with someone now?” she asks, a mischievous glint in her chocolate eyes.
“I’m friends with you!” I say defensively. "Which I'm actually starting to reconsider a bit!"
She laughs, and ignoring my previous statement, “Well obviously, but you haven’t actually made a friend since second year!”
“Fred Weasley and I have always been close.”
“He’s a boy, Laney. And you’re only ‘close’ with him because he’s a Wimbourne Wasps fan.”
“Good taste, he has,” I say reminiscently.
“Not the point, Laney,” Dara says dully. “Look, you needed another girlfriend —”
“— Don’t say it like that, Dara —”
“ — to hang about with! You know I’m always busy in other classes and with — er — various boys. You’ve always had classes with Rose anyway! This’ll be good!”
I shake my head, irritated. She is blowing this all out of proportion. “Slow down, Dar. All I did was give her some advice — something I do with lots of people at one point or another — it doesn’t mean we’re best mates,” I say automatically.
She shrugs. “All right, Laney. I won’t hold it against you. I just think it’s a good thing that you and Rose are friends now —”
“Acquaintances,” I correct her.
“Fine. Acquaintances,” she says, rolling her eyes. “It’ll give you someone else to talk to besides Wimbourne Wasps freak —”
“— and myself.”
Two and a half hours pass until we finally arrive at Hogsmeade Station. My legs and back are aching from sleeping in an awkward position for the past hour and I’m hardly excited for the feast.
“Come — on — Laney!” Dara huffs, trying desperately to detach me from my hold on the bench rail. “You — can — sleep — after — the — feast!”
“No!” I whine. “I’m tired now!”
With a surge of strength she manages to pull me off of the bench and I tumble onto the floor.
“Bloody hell, Dara!” I yell, my eyes watering in pain. Her hand flies to her mouth.
“Sorry!” she says, bending down to help me up.
After I’m fully recovered (and in a slightly better mood in fear she might hurt me again if I’m not) we take our things and head down to the carriages. Most are occupied by the time we get there, and I see Rose Weasley, Al and James Potter, and Dominique Weasley (a snotty sixth year Delacour-Weasley who happens to be friends with James. Told you there are a lot of those Weasleys) hopping into the second to last carriage.
“Becks!” Fred Weasley comes dashing up to me, his arms spread open. His dark hair is messily wind-blown from running. I hear Dara sigh from next to me. She's never liked Fred.
“Fred!” I say, giving him a hug. “You hear about the match last Saturday?”
“Against Puddlemere United?”
“Yeah! It was fantastic, can you believe we won? And then the —”
“— the catch of the snitch? That was wicked! And —”
“Not,” Dara says loudly, “that this isn’t really entertaining for all of us, but we need to get in that carriage before it leaves without us.”
She stalks off towards the carriage leaving Fred and me smirking.
“Someone woke up the wrong side of the cave this morning, didn’t they?” Fred says jokingly.
“I HEARD THAT!” Dara screeches from inside the carriage.
We look at each other and burst into laughter.
Author: And that's a wrap for chapter two! Dunzo! In this chapter, you sort of get to know dear Laney a bit better, and learn and bit more about her friends and the way she feels about essentially everything around her. She's very selfish, but we live and learn, eh?
I hope you liked this chapter! I'd love to hear your feedback, so please take the time to leave me a short review!
Once again a big fat thanks to Ellerina. Annie, you're my hero. This chapter would still be in its early form (AKA fetal position) if it weren't for your amazing edits!
Now I suggest all you readers go grab yourselves some smoothies because I am drinking one right now and it is the bomb dot com.
All right. BYE!
I can feel the wind.
It’s slicing through my hair.
It’s burning my face.
It’s telling me I’m free again.
It’s saying home is —
“Laney? What the hell are you sliding down a banister for?”
I look up at the exact wrong time and fly off of the banister, spread-eagle in the air, and land most un-gracefully upon the hard ground. I curse the winds of our fathers (does that even make sense?) and get slowly, painfully to my feet. Carter Hanes is staring at me open-mouthed, evidently trying to decipher the sense one must have to propel herself down the banister of an enormous staircase.
“Don’t worry about me,” I scoff, rubbing my bum. That will definitely leave a mark. “I’ll just fall twelve feet from a banister in front of someone who can do magic. Nothing wrong there.”
He shakes his head, wide eyed with a knitted brow, and then walks quickly over to help steady me.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” I say, stumbling around like a drunk.
In my efforts — flailing about — I drop my wand, and Carter, with a sigh, leans over to pick it up. In this movement I get a great wiff of his chestnut hair. It smells like soap, which I take to be a good sign since I now have proof that his hygiene is up to par and he does in fact takes showers.
And showers are an indicator of excellent character.
He holds my elbow to keep me straight and examines me with a slightly worried expression. “Come on, I’ll get you to Madame Smitty...”
“No,” I say flatly. The hospital wing is for the weak. And there is no way I am letting the nurse take a look at my arse.
He chuckles lightly when I shake my arm from his grip and topple over. I’m just a bit light headed is all. Ahem.
He sets down on the staircase next to me, handing me my leather school bag.
“You feeling okay?” he asks, observing me. “I mean, you fell asleep at the Start of Term Feast last night.”
I wave him off. “I’m fit as a pickle.”
“I don’t think that’s the phrase —”
He doesn’t press on after my sharp look.
Carter is a friendly bloke. As far as most know, he comes from a huge — and I mean like Weasley huge — family of Muggle fishermen. He’s a bit shy at times, but I’ve always liked him. Even fancied him once upon a time. After all, he isn’t exactly hard on the eyes, that Carter.
I leave Carter by the staircase and make my way into the Great Hall. I had left Dara to get ready back in the dormitory, so I decide to sit down next to Rose, Fred, and I notice awkwardly, Albus Potter.
“Becksy,” Fred yawns. “How’s my favourite mate?”
“Wonderful,” I say sarcastically. He seems too tired to pick up on my tone.
“Hi, Laney,” Rose smiles. I grin back at her.
“Good morning,” Albus nods at me. I’m so surprised he said something to me that I only stare at him.
He turns to Rose. “I see Coral” — I crinkle my nose at the unfortunate name — “I’m going to go sit with the Hufflepuffs, okay?”
She nods and he’s off in a flash of black hair and long robes.
“Who’s Coral?” I ask once he’s gone.
“His new girlfriend,” Rose says happily. Too happily. “I’m so excited for him, Coral’s really—”
“—damn annoying?” Fred finishes, nodding.
Someone named Albus Severus Potter is dating a girl named after a rock. Poor boy. I pity him, I really do.
Rose looks like she has just been bludgeoned in the face. “No!” she sputters frantically. And after a moment, “She just talks... sort of a lot.”
She flushes deep red at the gossip she has just issued.
“Sort of!” Fred laughs. “Are you kidding? More like every ruddy second!”
“Fred!” Rose squeaks.
Dara makes it to breakfast a few minutes later, looking absolutely radiant.
“What are you on about?” I ask, scrutinizing her giddy expression.
“James... Potter,” she says dramatically. Rose looks away, pretending not to listen, while Fred scoffs. Dara glares at him and I quickly move all the bacon plates out of her reach.
“What about James?” I reply, confused.
“Laney!” she squeals. “Have you not seen him this year? He’s never looked better!”
My jaw drops. “No, Dara, please no. Not James Potter. I can’t — I won’t let you fancy him.”
“There’s nothing wrong with James!” she says defensively.
“You’re joking, you have got to be joking. James Potter is the most pig-headed” — Rose coughs — “bloke that has ever attended this school. He’s not even that good looking. He’s just charming and the like. Knows how to get what he wants. He’s a fine bloke to be mates with, but you just can’t fancy him. He’ll hurt you, I’ll swear to it.” I cross my arms stubbornly.
Her eyebrows pull together into a glare. “Can’t you ever just be happy for me?” she hisses. “Do you honestly think I’ll ever get a boy like James Potter? Really? I just have a fancy, that’s all.”
I look at her carefully. Right. Maybe she’s telling the truth. While Dara is pretty, James is a year older. He’s probably too proud to go out with her anyway.
She beams. “Look, Professor McCollough’s giving out timetables.”
I look down the table to see McCollough, seeming as annoyingly friendly as ever, handing out timetables.
“What do you plan on taking this year?” Dara asks the group at large.
“The usual, and probably Care of Magical Creatures and Astronomy,” Fred shrugs.
“Prestigious,” Dara says sarcastically. He gives her the finger and grins.
“For electives,” I say loudly before an argument starts, “I think I’ll do Astronomy and Muggle Studies. I grew up with Muggles, so it’ll be an easy class.”
Rose looks appalled.
“But Laney,” she says frantically, “this is our OWL year! We need to be taking courses that we are interested in. Our future careers could rely on these exams!”
“I know, I know,” I say, sighing. “I just want to guarantee myself one easy OWL. What are you taking, anyway?”
She beams, reaches into her bag, and pulls out a very detailed piece of parchment. Fred and I exchange looks.
“Well,” she titters excitedly, “the usual core-classes of course, and for electives, I’ll be taking Ancient Runes, Astronomy, Arithmancy, and Muggle Studies.”
We all stare at her, open mouthed.
“Rose... that’s all but one class.” Fred says.
“I know!” she squeals. “It was mum’s idea. Anyway, this year they are all at different times, so I won’t even need a Time Turner!”
It’s quiet for a moment.
“Mad, you are,” Fred murmurs.
My timetable is exactly as I want. The only problem is that I have no elective courses with Dara this year, so it is strange leaving for Arithmancy with Rose instead. We are heading toward the Arithmancy room (which is on the fifth floor, most unfortunately) and Rose is talking endlessly about her expectations for the class.
“I wonder if Professor Fidgeon will be friendly? I’ve never taken Arithmancy before... and don’t get me wrong! I’ve always wanted to, but I never have room for it in my timetable. Not until this year, that is...”
I sort of tune her out as we make our way to the fifth floor. The fact that she thinks Coral talks a lot is really saying something.
We take a seat in the Arithmancy class at a table in front of Albus Potter and Carter Hanes.
“Al!” Rose says, turning around. “I’m so glad you decided to take Arithmancy!”
“Sure,” he says, grinning. “I knew you would boil me alive if I didn’t...”
Carter laughs. “I would’ve killed myself alone in here with all these Hufflepuffs.”
“Well you have Laney and me,” Rose offers. Carter looks at me for a moment, then looks back to Rose.
Albus just smiles. “Guess we do,” he says.
The Arithmancy class is just as boring as it has always been. Professor Fidgeon, a paranoid old witch, talks endlessly over the importance of O.W.L.s and then assigns us a few practice equations for the remainder of class.
“Oh, Laney,” Rose whispers after a few minutes, “I don’t understand problem seven! Do you?”
“Search me,” I say, gesturing to my bare parchment. I am still looking at problem one.
She looks confused. “But... I thought you said you’ve taken Arithmancy before?”
My eyes flash. “I never said I was any good!”
“You’re right!” she says apologetically. “Sorry!”
I shrug and continue to stare at the problem in my copy of Numerology and Gramatica. It’s not my fault I’m not magically good at everything.
“Albus?” I hear Rose ask from next to me. “Do you understand question seven?”
“Yes, you have to divide the two numbers and times by sixteen. Don’t forget your square roots, either, and the double negatives,” Al responds easily.
“Thank you,” she says, turning back to her work. I, on the other hand, am in complete shock.
“Excuse me?” I say, turning to him. He blinks and looks up from his completely full parchment. “How did you do that?”
“Er... sorry?” he says awkwardly. I don’t know where my sudden bravery is coming from. Unless you are close, personal mates with Al Potter, you don’t converse with him. It’s like, forbidden.
“The problem,” I prompt. “How did you know how to work it?”
“Oh,” he says, looking down at his work, “I guess I just sort of got it.”
I can almost feel Rose glowing with pride. “Don’t be silly Albus,” she says with a wave, “you are a very talented student.”
He goes a little red and mumbles a bit.
“That’s really... swell,” I say.
He stares at me.
I just used the word swell when talking to Albus Potter.
This will obviously be the first and last conversation he and I will ever engage in so I should probably go stab myself in the eyeballs from embarrassment.
At the bell, I leave Arithmancy without waiting for Rose and head straight into the girl’s toilets. I can’t believe what I’ve just done... and even more, I can’t believe that I even cared about what I have just done.
Who even says that anyways?
I stare into the mirror, trying to sort myself out. Everything is just so damn new this year. When have I ever cared what some popular little prick thought about me? Never. And I’m certainly not going to start now. I’ll use whatever words I damn well please, thank you. Swell included.
Suddenly, an image flutters into my mind: Albus Potter, smiling at me. My stomach feels overly warm and ticklish.
Out of pure aggravation and rage, I whip out my copy of Hogwarts, a History and chuck it through the head of an unsuspecting ghost.
“FIFTY POINTS!” I bellow and storm out of the toilets as the ghost squeals in fury.
It’s after dinner and I’m lounging in the common room, my legs swung over the arm of a chair, Rose’s favourite Mermish Translation Guide in my lap.
“Rose,” I say, examining the book. “When I asked you for something to read, I didn’t mean I wanted a fish’s dictionary.”
Rose looks sharply at me. “They aren’t fish, Laney. I’m sorry I don’t carry around A Tale of Two Ponies with me everywhere.”
I sniff. “I like that book.”
A Tale of Two Ponies is deep and meaningful. Rose is just too absorbed in her love for fish to understand.
Looking aggravated, she turns back to her Potions essay. A few minutes later, Dara skips into the common room.
“Where’ve you been all evening?” I ask.
She looks giddily at me. “Oh... around.”
Dara winks and within a moment, I’m out of the chair and dragging her to an empty corner.
I cross my arms. “What did you do?”
She looks offended, but proud of herself all the same. “I haven’t done anything wrong. But I may have talked to James Potter!”
She squeals the last sentence and I cringe.
“Dara,” I sigh. “I thought we talked about this—”
“It’s fine, Laney! Nothing happened, we just talked.”
“Then why is it such an accomplishment?”
Her jaw drops half a meter. “Why? Why! Because, Becks! When has any popular boy ever said a word to either of us!”
I swallow. Today? I decide not to mention that, I wouldn’t want rumours floating about that I actually cared... right? Right? Because that would be just be swell.
“Never,” I say.
“Exactly. Which is why I need to grab this opportunity while I still can.”
“Right. ‘Course,” I say, nodding. Because talking to James Potter will instantly fix every problem Dara has ever had. Cue eye roll.
“Thanks for understanding, Laney. No hard feelings, right?”
I’m taken aback. “What? Why would there be hard feelings?”
She looks a bit confused. “Because, it’s James Potter... I’m sure if we start going together he can put in a good word with — er — Al, or someone.”
“No,” I say coldly. “I don’t want to go out with anyone, Dara. And I don’t need James Potter’s help either.”
She nods. “Right, I’m going to turn in early.”
She steps away and heads up to our dorm.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so anti-everything. Why have I always been so against dating? Have I ever really given a relationship a chance? I have always cut off any feelings that might lead somewhere... Dara, she just lives. But I always have to over analyze everything. Am I just afraid of making mistakes? Or am I more afraid of letting people in?
I scream, having been just grazed by a powerful spell.
“Laney!” Dara says in shock. “Why didn’t you deflect it?”
I blink and suddenly realise that I’m supposed to be practicing dueling in Defence Against the Dark Arts class.
“Eurgh — Sorry, Dar. I was just thinking.”
“Well, can you please do that some other time? Herrigrove is giving us marks on this,” she says.
“Right,” I nod. “But you know I’m lousy at dueling.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yes, we all know, Laney. You’ve told everyone about a thousand times since first year that you aren’t good at Defence. And trust me, we believe you.”
Fred laughs from next to us and shoots a hex at Albus. “Remember when you gave me a snake for an arm? I was in the hospital wing for a week!”
“Technically,” I say, trying to override the resounding laughter, “that was Defence. And Transfiguration... even if I was supposed to be disarming you... Still! It was Defence.”
Dara snickers. “All right, oh-Impressive-One, let’s have a go.”
I swallow. “Right.”
I aim a Leg-Locker Curse right at her and she deflects it immediately. Next, she shoots an unknown spell at me, but I know I can’t react fast enough. I wait for whatever spell it is to hit me, but I feel a sudden whoosh of air and it’s gone.
“Woah, Laney! Good deflection,” Dara grins.
I blink. “But I didn’t—”
“Yes you did,” Al interjects, “I saw you do it.”
I look at him, then Fred, then Dara, then back to him again. I have to be going mad. Of course if I were to tell that to anyone else, they would say that I’ve been mad for years.
“Uh, right,” I say.
It is a Friday after all, I could be just a bit delirious from all the hard work this week. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever been so over-worked in my entire life. Thus far, O.W.L. year has earned its title as a living hell.
Once the bell has dismissed us for dinner, I linger for a moment in the room, collecting my things. I hear footsteps and look up.
Al is standing behind me looking a bit uncomfortable.
“Er — yes?” I ask, a little confused as to why he isn’t saying anything. I sling my bag over my shoulder and cross my arms.
“I was supposed to remind everyone on the team that Quidditch try outs are tomorrow,” he says.
“Oh,” I mumble. I nod a bit and begin to walk out of the classroom.
“James’ orders,” he grins, matching my pace.
“Right,” I say. And then a thought occurs to me. “Look, about earlier, are you... sure I deflected that spell? I feel a bit... off about it.”
He opens his mouth to speak but is immediately cut-off.
“...can do it myself, Ivy! Will you just shut it for a moment?”
“Look, you little snot-face, you aren’t even reading the sodden map right!”
Around the corridor comes two similar looking people that I have never seen before in my life. And by the look on Albus’s face, he has never seen them either.
But trust me when I tell you; these two are something to see.
The boy is tall, dark haired, blue eyed, and lean. He has a dreamy sort of look on his face and is peering around the dreary corridor like it’s made of Treacle Tart.
The girl is slender, average height, with deep brown eyes, and the wildest, most flawlessly curly brown hair I’ve ever laid eyes on. She is scowling at the boy, who is evidently holding a map of Hogwarts upside down, but when she sees Al, her eyes come alive. She has the air of a lioness, closing in on her prey.
I know almost instantly that I hate everything about her.
“Lovely to meet you,” she says to Al in a high, princess-like tone that would ordinarily go along with bubblegum and pigtails. I grind my teeth while Al just seems confused.
“Hi, er — I’m Al,” he replies Then, he looks at me and says, “this is Laney.”
“Ivy,” she says, “and this is Daniel.”
I suddenly realize as she points to her odd companion, that he’s staring at me, open mouthed and wide eyed.
My own mouth drops open and my eyebrows pull together in surprise and slight disgust. Why the hell is he staring at me?
Loony, that one.
Realizing the silent exchange, Ivy turns to her brother and snaps in his face. Then, slowly, her face turns to me.
The look she’s suddenly throwing at me makes me want to crawl inside a hole and perish, it’s so intimidating. My shoulders slouch a bit and I look away.
“Er — sorry, are you... lost or something?” Al asks looking from Ivy to Daniel.
In a moment, the girl’s face is sweet and strangely inviting again.
“Yes, actually,” she says and gives a tinkling laugh. “My brother here just was reading the map wrong.”
Al’s eyes flick to me for a moment, then back to Ivy. “Do you go here?”
“We’re new,” she says and I realize most uncomfortably that her brother is still gaping at me. I wish he would stop. I’m not a bloody circus attraction, you imbecile.
“The Professor just sorted us and gave us directions to... the, um, Gryffinclaw Tower or something?” She giggles and looks absurdly innocent.
“Oh,” Al laughs, “You mean Gryffindor? That’s Becks’ and my House.”
Did he just call me Becks? That warm feeling starts to seep back into my stomach and I can slowly, inevitably, feel my soul begin to die.
“Oh,” Ivy says in fake excitement, but her eyes flicker malevolently to me.
“We’re just heading to lunch, actually. Would you like to join us?” he asks politely.
“Yes!” Daniel suddenly yells, causing Al and I to jump back in shock.
“I — I mean, um...” he trails off, going very red.
Ivy looks from me to Daniel almost viciously, then turns back to Al.
“We’d love to,” she says happily, though I can see the annoyance in her eyes.
I walk silently on the end of the group next to Al, who becomes deep in conversation with Ivy. When we are in the Great Hall, I walk quickly and angrily straight to Rose, and grab her arm.
“Rose!” I hiss.
“What?” she asks, annoyed, because I had made her start and splatter pumpkin juice all over her jumper.
That’ll be an improvement; it’s bright orange and clashes terribly with her hair.
“Come with me now,” I say in a low, fierce voice. She looks up fleetingly at me for a moment, her lips parted as though she is about to retort, and then her face breaks into a huge smile as she peers around me.
“I’m Rose,” she says charmingly to the piece of Hippogriff pooh evidently standing behind me. “Are you new here?”
“Actually I am,” I hear Ivy say in a snide voice and Al seems uncomfortable.
“I — I think I see Coral,” he mutters and heads over to the Hufflepuff table.
I roll my eyes and make a point of sitting down next to Rose, as this piece of slime is not getting anywhere near my new friend. Ivy and Daniel fall into seats across from Rose, Fred and me.
Ivy seems pissy while Daniel just keeps staring goofily at me. I decide to stare viciously at him in hopes that he’ll become intimidated by my glare and act more normal.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
I’m starting to worry that he is going to pass out with some sort of anxiety attack. I think he is taking my glare of daggers the wrong way...
Oh no! Get out, Laney! Abandon ship!
“Eh — Laney?” Rose asks, looking strangely at my facial expression.
I realize my eyes are wide and circular, my mouth is tight and tense, and I haven’t blinked in over a minute.
“Um, right — sorry,” I mumble, redirecting my eyes to the table.
“So Ivy,” Rose continues cheerfully. “I wasn’t even aware that students could transfer to Hogwarts.”
“Well,” Ivy begins, “my parents had to continue their jobs out of the country, so they were no longer available to home school us.”
Rose’s eyes light up. “Really? I didn’t even know...”
I stop listening at this point. I don’t like this new brat or her loony brother. And the worst part is, is that everyone seems to like her. Even Dara.
“I don’t know, Laney,” Dara says in an exasperated voice after I ask her yet again why she is friendly to Ivy. I had walked in on them having a humane conversation after dinner and had decided to confront her about it in the common room two days later.
“But she’s evil!” I squeal, shocked. Dara rolls her eyes.
“She seems perfectly nice to me. And Rose likes her too, don’t you Rose?” She turns to Rose who is fumbling with her Transfiguration homework.
She looks nervously at me. “I — I don’t see a problem with her.”
I gasp. Traitor.
“See, maybe it’s just you who doesn’t like her,” Dara says cheerfully.
I growl under my breath but continue my Herbology essay in defeat. If anyone could spot people with the mark of evil, it’s me. No one ever appreciates my talents.
A few minutes later, none other than James Potter (Dara nearly dies), Albus, Chaz Jacobs, and Dominique Weasley slouch into seats across from Rose. Because Dara and I are on the ground, we are cut completely out of the group.
No surprise there.
“Well, we’ve done it,” James says, clapping his hands together.
Rose raises her eyebrows. “Done what, exactly?”
Dominique laughs a, ‘what a plank!’ kind of laugh. Nobody joins her and she attempts to cover it up with a cough.
“The party!” Chaz says. I can see she’s practically glowing with this news. She simply adores hanging out with the older students.
Excuse me, overly-nice bint.
“Oh,” Rose says. “I’m not so sure—”
“C’mon, Rose!” James says. “Have some fun. We just wanted to give you the invite. You’re finally old enough to go to a start of term party! Don’t be blinkered—”
“Watch it, James,” Rose hisses. She hates when people use the term ‘blinkered’ when talking about her.
“Yeah, yeah. We have to go give the rest of the invites. Only Gryffindors, fifth year and up. Room of Requirement, next Saturday. Cheers,” James says and walks away with his posse.
“You going?” I ask Rose once they are gone.
“Well,” she seems uncomfortable. “I think I better. You know, to — to keep things under control. I am a prefect, after all.”
Dara and I laugh.
“I’ll definitely be going,” Dara says cheerfully. “How about you, Laney?”
“Are you kidding? No way,” I scoff.
“But Laney!” Rose says frantically. “You’ve got to come, it will be dull without you!”
“C’mon Rose,” I shake my head. “Al will be there.”
“He’ll be with Coral,” she whines.
“Then find yourself a boy to snog, all right?”
She looks outraged.
“Besides,” I continue. “I wouldn’t want to catch any poison Ivy, now would I?”
With a short laugh at my own wit, I gather my things and walk up the girls’ stairs.
I love me.
Author's Note: Hello everyone! As of 8/11/11 this chapter has been rewritten and reworked. I'm sure you'll still recognize it if you are rereading, and hopefully you'll like what all I've added and cleaned up.
I really hope you enjoyed this chapter! This is sort of the overall introduction to lovely Ivy, Laney's nemesis. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed the characters, writing, and plot. Thanks for being such avid readers. :)
Author’s Note: ATTENTION ALL - This chapter contains many mature themes, be aware.
Disclaimer: Talked to JKR and we've worked it out - she gets the HP universe and I get nothing.
fabulous image by .Candy @ TDA
Man was once wise. Man was once cautious. Man is now reckless.
We break apart, gasping for air. We are entangled on a soft beige couch, hands crawling up each other’s backs. We dive in for another intense kiss, ignoring the thud of music and drunken laughs from around us.
Someone spills a drink on me. I don’t even care.
I laugh through our snog and intwine my fingers in his messy black hair.
Again, we break apart. I try to focus my eyes but I simply cannot concentrate on anything. Instead, I snatch up the half-filled goblet off the table and swig the rest down in one go.
He laughs goofily as I toss the goblet behind me.
It hits someone.
I turn and make eye contact with the target.
She smiles malevolently. His eyes widen in horror.
I whip back to my partner and grab his robes, pulling him in for another angry, violent kiss.
Confused? Let’s start from the beginning...
11:37 a.m., Saturday, Laney Becks
I lay on the soft grass trying not to die from a heat stroke. Three heads are leaning over me, eclipsing the blaring sun.
“Eh, Becks? Ya’ alrigh’ there?” asks Liam Scott, a fourth year.
“F-fine,” I huff, trying to sit up. Lily Potter leans down to help me.
“Thanks,” I mumble, my head pounding.
Fred examines a spot on my forehead. I can tell he is trying hard not to laugh. “Liam, you really left a mark,” his voice shakes as he says this.
I roll my eyes. “You have permission to laugh, git.”
He bursts into guffaws. Lily helps me stand up.
“So how bad is it?” I ask, fearing the worst.
She looks at my forehead for a moment then grins. “Nothing a little face powder won’t cover up.”
Fred snorts loudly. “A lot more than a little face powder, Lils. You’ll need all the face powder in the world to cover that up.”
She smacks the back of his head and he squeals in apology.
“So ya’ think ya’ will be able to play?” asks Liam nervously.
“It isn’t your fault, Liam. And of course I can play,” I lie. I can practically hear my own head pulsing and I can hardly stand. I don’t think I am quite ready to hop on a broom just yet.
“Is she alright?” James asks frantically as he zooms in on his broom, Albus and Dominique coming in from behind.
“No, James,” Lily sighs.
I glare at her. I am fine.
Wait...since when does Lily have a twin?
James’s eyes widen in horror. “No! She has to be alright!” he bellows, grabbing my shoulders and shaking me. I simply stand there and let him have his tantrum.
“I need a damn chaser!” he says, practically causing my insides to rattle.
“Well you aren’t going to get one by shaking the hell out of me!” I scream. Well, sort of. At least in my mind it was a scream.
He looks furious.
“That’s enough!” Lily bellows, ripping him off of me. “Calm down, James. She isn’t out for the season. Just one practice. And even if she was, it wouldn’t be her fault. It’s bloody hot out, she’s dehydrated, you’ve been working us like mad, and she was hit by Liam’s bludger. On top of that, she fell about fifteen feet. Give her a break.”
But I didn’t hear Lily’s speech because the entire time she was giving it, I was fighting to remain upright. Everything was becoming blurry and unclear and by the time she finished, I had fallen to the ground.
I am only out for about five minutes this time and when my eyes split, I am no longer on the Quidditch Pitch, but in the changing rooms. I am drenched in what feels like cold sweat and the entire team is sitting around me.
I realize that James has just cast an Aguamenti charm over me because his wand is pointing in my face.
They are all looking nervously at me.
“I’m alright, okay?” I say uncomfortably. Every one of them relaxes a bit.
I feel much better now and am even able to sit up. James lowers his wand.
“I’m really sorry-”
“Don’t be stupid,” I say, waving him off.
He sighs. “Practice is cancelled for today.”
Lily looks annoyed. “We already had practice, idiot.”
He shakes his head and leaves the changing room. Dominique follows.
“Shut up, Liam,” I say. He nods and leaves with Fred.
I pull off my Gryffindor Quidditch robes and throw on a jumper and jeans. I turn to find Al and Lily still standing there. I hope briefly that they weren’t watching me change.
“Damn,” Lily says, glancing at her watch. Al shoots her a look. “I have to go, I was supposed to meet Hugh...Sorry about the fall, Laney.” With that, she runs out of the changing rooms.
Now it's just me and Albus Potter. What-oh-what have I done to deserve this?
“Are you going up to the common room?” he asks.
“I suppose,” I shrug. “Rose will probably know some sort remedy to fix me up.”
He laughs. “Bet so, c’mon.”
Together, we walk up to the castle.
“So who are you going to the party with tonight?” he asks after a while.
“Oh, I’m not going,” I reply.
“What?” he says, shocked.
I raise my eyebrows. “Why do you care if I go?”
His green eyes sparkle a bit. “Be-because, you should go. It’s going to be fun. You can hang out with me...um, and Rose.”
“What about Coral?” I ask skeptically. “Won’t you be with her?”
“Actually,” he says uncomfortably, “we broke up.”
“What?” I say, taken aback.
He mocks me. “Why do you care if we broke up?”
“I don’t!” I say quickly, feeling my face heat. “It’s just... Why?”
“I um, just don’t like her that way anymore.”
“Oh,” I mumble.
“So are you coming?” he asks.
I bite my lip.
Oh come on, how the hell can you say no to that?
“Alright,” I say.
“Yes!” he grins. “It’ll be great.”
We step into the Gryffindor common room and head straight over to where Rose sits, reading.
She looks up and gasps.
“Merlin’s pants! Laney,” she stands up and pulls out her wand, leading me over to the couch, “what on Earth happened?”
“She got hit with a bludger at Quidditch practice,” Al says.
Rose’s eyes pop. “We’ll have to get you to Madam Pomfrey!” she squeals.
“No, no, Rose. I’m fine. Can’t you just do something?” I say.
She looks nervously at Al. He nods. “Well, my uncle George did once give me this bruise cream...”
“That’s perfect!” I say brightly.
“Alright,” she sighs. “Let me see if I can find it.” She plunges her wand back into her robes and runs up the girls’ stairs.
“H-hi, Laney,” comes a voice. Al and I turn to see Daniel looking nervously at me.
I say nothing.
“Er, hello Daniel,” Al says.
Daniel grins a little. “Are you alright?”
Albus: “I think she’s going to be fine. Er -” He looks at me and then back to Daniel, “you coming to the party?”
Daniel grins. “Yeah, I am.” He looks over at me. “Are you, Laney?”
I glare daggers at Albus. He looks away sheepishly.
“Yes,” I say.
“Alright,” Daniel beams. “See you there!”
He walks away.
“That is the looniest kid I have ever met,” I say, shaking my head.
“Wow, you really aren’t as sharp as Rose makes you out to be,” Al says, grinning.
“Excuse me?” I growl.
“Look,” he says, laughing. “All I mean is that you’re oblivious to the fact that he fancies you.”
“I - what?” I snap.
“Laney, c’mon, think about it.”
My heart flutters as he says my name.
But I do think about it, and I realize that he is completely right.
“Oh,” I say quietly. Part of me wishes that he would be bitter towards Daniel, be jealous. But the logical side of me wards it off.
A few seconds later, none other than Dara and Ivy walk in. They are giggling and talking and - oh my God, are they comparing nail colours?
Kill me! KILL ME NOW!
They walk up to us.
“Hi Laney!” Dara squeals. When she realizes that Al is there, she winks extremely obviously at me. Al shuffles his feet uncomfortably.
If I were allowed to murder someone and get away with it right now, it would be her.
“Hi Albus,” Ivy says in a seductive voice. I snort.
She turns and glares at me.
“What the hell happened to you?” she asks bitterly.
I say nothing.
“Laney!” Dara half yells, evidently just noticing the enormous bulge on my forehead.
“I will tell you later,” I hiss.
She nods looking nervous.
“So Albus,” Ivy says. “I heard you broke up with Coral?”
Why the hell does the new girl know this before me?
Really? Really, now?
“Yeah, I did,” he says.
“Hmm,” she grins.
He looks bewildered.
“C’mon Dar,” she says looking right at me. I glower at her. “You can show me those dress robes for the party tonight.”
Alright,” Dara smiles. “Bye Laney. Er - feel better?”
I nod and they walk up the stairs, sliding past an out of breath Rose.
“I f-found it,” she pants, holding out a yellowish bottle.
Everyone in Gryffindor (fifth year and up, of course) is absolutely raving about the party. James and the sixth and seventh year boys even decided to let some specific other people from various houses have an invite as well. Meaning, at least eight people from every other house is coming too, so about half the school is thrilled for this event.
I don’t understand the fuss. It is just a party. But then again, I suppose everyone just wants to abuse the Firewhiskey. Though I can’t even do that because I was the only Gryffie to sign Rose’s No Drinking Policy.
I don’t want to drink, anyway. Nothing good ever comes out of it, so why do it? Makes no sense to me.
Though, for the first time of my life, I’m actually a little bit excited for a party. I have spent the past forty five minutes picking out an outfit alone. I don’t know why I’m so hyped up about it. Well, maybe I do know.
It may have something to do with Al Potter wanting to hangout with me there.
But, you know, could be anything.
Ivy is helping Dara curl her hair (excuse me while I gag), Chaz is trying on her third pair of ear rings, and Rose and I are sorting through my dress robes.
“You could wear this one...?” she suggests, holding up a silky blue cloth that hits just above the knees. It scrunches with white ribbon under the chest and flows down from there.
“Hell no!” I say disgusted. “It’s like Little Bo Pepe lingerie.”
Chaz turns around and laughs. “It isn’t that bad, Laney.”
“I think so,” I grin.
“If it’s so horrid, then why did you buy it?” Rose snaps.
“I didn’t,” I shrug. “I didn’t buy any of these. This is what mum and dad send me for Christmas and my Birthday every year. Dresses from all over the world.”
“But that’s amazing!” Chaz and Rose chime. They laugh.
“What else have you got?” asks Chaz.
I extract the bag of dresses from my trunk and dump it on the floor.
Both their jaws drop.
They dive in.
“We’ll have to find you the perfect dress!” Rose squeals.
“Yes, something that makes those chocolate eyes pop,” Chaz joins in.
I laugh and lean back against the wall. “Good luck. Mum and Dad hardly know what I look like so they just send me every colour dress available.”
“There has got to be something, then!” Chaz says excitedly. I notice how pretty she looks. She is wearing an average lengthed satin, violet, toga-like dress that buttons in black on her left shoulder.
“You’re lucky you have a solid eye colour,” she goes on, examining a twirling topaz and cream dress. “This really is pretty.”
“Take it,” I say, nodding at the dress. “It will make your eyes look brighter.”
Chaz’s face lights up. “Oh Laney! That is so sweet! Are you sure?”
“Of course,” I shrug. “It’s all yours.”
After thanking me a few more times, she runs to the loo to change.
“Laney, that was really...nice of you,” Rose says in shock.
“Oh,” I mumble. “Yeah.”
Smiling, she picks out another dress. “This is perfect.”
It’s seven fifteen and all five of us are creeping silently down the seventh floor corridor to the Room of Requirement.
We each look lovely; Dara in her fuchsia halter dress, short as can-be but still elegant; Rose in her crimson silk dress, hitting just below the knee, her hair in delicate waves; Chaz in the charming caramel dress I let her keep; Ivy in a slaggish little purple dress that shows way too much thigh, and me in my short, violet one.
My dress is perfect. It is short, thin, and satin. It is sleeveless and twists into an elegant knot in the middle of my chest. I look beautiful, and for once, I feel beautiful.
We pace back and forth three times in front of the wall, all thinking about the party. When the enormous door appears, we can immediately hear the thud of loud music and laughter.
Chaz pushes open the door and we slide in. There are already about forty-five people shimmying around the room drinking from suspicious goblets. Dara and Ivy make a beeline for the Firewhiskey and Chaz skips off to the group of seventh years. I notice they are looking jealously at her dress.
I’m now scanning the room for Al. He did invite me, after all.
“Hi Rose,” comes a voice. We turn to see Lily Potter standing there, wearing an elegant emerald dress to bring out the green in her hazel eyes, and holding a goblet of unknown drink.
Rose nearly has a stroke. “You can’t be here, Lily!”
Lily rolls her eyes. “Rose, it isn’t that hard to gate crash. I came with Liam and we snuck in.”
“But - but you still cannot be drinking!” she squeaks, swiping the goblet from Lily’s hand.
“Rose, it’s butterbeer. I’m not a fool,” Lily says, taking the goblet back.
“Oh no - tell me Hugo isn’t here?” Rose squeaks, mortified.
“If I did, that would be a lie. He’s over with Liam. I was surprised how easily he got in. And don’t worry, he isn’t drinking either.”
In any case, Rose squeaks and darts into the swarm of dancers to ‘rescue’ her little brother.
“Do you want a drink?” Lily asks me.
“I can’t drink,” I say, shaking my head. “I signed Rose’s -”
But I can’t finish the sentence, because at that moment, I see Albus. He is in a secluded corner flirting with none other than Ivy.
I grab Lily’s arm. “Firewhiskey. Now.”
“Haven’t you had enough?” asks Jeremy Goldburgh, a seventh year.
I look lazily up at him, holding out my goblet and sloshing the few remaining drops onto the table. Reluctantly, he pours me another goblet full.
“Thamanksh,” I slur, gulping it down. “Now, Jerry,-”
“It’s Jeremy,” he says pointedly.
“Right, Germy, now you have to do something for me,” I say while snatching the Firewhiskey from him and drinking it straight from the bottle.
“I don’t even know you. Aren’t you like, a second year or something?”
“BINGO!” I yell. “Now, Jerry, kiss me.”
He looks away and nods at someone, then at me. Meanwhile, I start to crawl onto the table.
Firm hands close around my shoulders and I’m dragged off the table and onto a nearby couch. The person in question puts down my goblet and looks at me.
My vision un-blurs for a moment and I realize it’s James Potter. Suddenly, I am furious.
“Don’t touch me!” I half yell.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” he asks.
“I hate you!” I say drunkenly.
“Well I hate you too. Leave my party,” he says coldly.
I glare at him. “You are an arrogant arse.”
But he never finished the sentence because at that exact moment, I turn and see Albus and Ivy snogging at a table.
In an instant, I have grabbed James and we begin kissing passionately.
12:25 p.m., Saturday, Dara Valentin
“Alright Miss Valentin, you are free to go,” Professor McCollough says to me after what feels like days. “And next time, you better turn in your essay by the due date.”
I flash a white-toothed smile in her direction. “I will, Professor.”
But of course, I know I won’t. I have never been a homework person, much less an essay person, and I have more important things to do than write twelve inches on the effects of a werewolf attack.
I had been put in detention with McCollough for never turning in my Transfiguration essay last Friday. The night before, I had been too busy arguing with Laney again about Ivy. She really does hate her. I don’t even know why; Ivy is friendly, gorgeous, and social. What’s so wrong with her?
Laney claims that Ivy just hates her guts. I don’t see it; Ivy and Laney don’t really talk.
And then there is Daniel, who so obviously has fallen madly in love with the girl, but she acts like he’s this disgusting slime. I think he is incredibly cute. She’s lucky he likes her. But there’s simply no use trying to reason with Laney over boys, she won’t hear it. She says she just doesn’t want a boyfriend, but I know she fancies Al Potter.
She would probably slit my throat if I ever mentioned it though. Oh well.
I step into the third floor corridor and sling my adorable little school bag over my shoulder. Something falls out and I bend down to pick it up.
It’s the letter from dad. I sigh and sit down on the tiny bench along the corridor.
Sweetheart, I know you are angry with your mother and I right now. But I beg you, please do not blame yourself for any of this. And please, please don’t think that we don’t still love you one hundred percent because of the split up. Your mother and I still love each other, we just need some time. I know your grades are slipping because of this, and I realize that it is my fault, but Dara-Bear, this your OWL year. You can’t slack. I promise things will get better between your mum and I, so don’t keeping worrying about it. Stay focused, honey. I love you.
It came a few days ago and I hadn’t bothered to respond. I had simply tossed it in my school bag and tried to forget that it had ever existed. I didn’t want him to apologize because I knew he wasn’t really sorry. That entire letter had just been a blatant lie; a way to force me to get better marks. It was complete rubbish.
In a moment of anger, I rip the letter in half and disintegrate it with my wand. I leave the remains on the bench and continue down the corridor.
Once in the Great Hall, I find Ivy, Daniel, and Carter at the end of the Gryffindor table. I fix a giddy smile on my face and scan the hall for James Potter. He isn’t there. A little put out, I sit down next to Ivy.
“Looking for someone?” she asks, swallowing some pumpkin juice.
“James,” I mutter.
She winks. “Right, I forgot you were all creepy, creepy, lovey, lovey over him”
“James is at Quidditch practice,” Carter Hanes says through a mouth full of sandwich. “With Fred, Becks, and the team.”
“Becks? As in Laney Becks?” asks Daniel quickly.
“I have to go!” he says, jumping up.
“Where did he go?” I ask skeptically.
“Probably to wait for her,” Ivy says, an angry glint in her eye.
I look weirdly at her. Is it just me, or did that sound a little vicious?
“Do you not...approve of Daniel liking Laney?” I ask tentatively.
“Are you kidding?” she laughs. “ Of course I don’t. He is my brother, I don’t want him liking that.”
I cough uncomfortably. “Mhm,” I mumble.
“Anyway,” she continues, finishing the last of her drink. “What are you planning on wearing tonight?”
I beam, all of the conversation before forgotten. “It’s this adorable fuchsia halter dress I bought over the summer holidays.”
For the next ten minutes we discussed each of our dresses in intense detail and then decide to go up to the common room to show each other.
“Are you meeting anyone tonight?” I ask as we walk up the stairs.
“Well, I am, but they don’t know it,” she says with a wink.
“Ooh, who is it?”
“If I told you I’d have to kill you.”
I sigh. “Fine, you can kill me.”
She giggles and examines her nails. “Do you like this colour? It’s called Madam Velvet.”
“Yes!” I squeal. “Purple really is your colour.”
“Thanks,” she says as we walk into the Gryffindor common room. “Yours is nice. What’s it called?”
“Amber Sunset,” I respond cheerfully. I look up from my nails to see Laney, sitting on the couch, staring at Ivy and I like we are some kind of foot fetish. I loathe when she acts this way. I always just try to kill her with kindness.
“Hi Laney!” I squeal. I realize that Al Potter is standing there and I wink ever so slightly at her. She looks like she might kill me. Temper, much?
“Hi Albus,” Ivy says politely. I smile happily at him. Why does Laney look so violent?
She then snorts and Ivy turns to her.
“What the hell happened to you?” Ivy asks in a sympathetic tone.
I suddenly become aware of the enormous, purply bump on Laney’s forehead. Okay, sometimes I’m not that observant. I get that a lot.
“Laney!” I say quickly, startled by the bulging bruise.
Her eyes widen. “I will tell you later,” she says in a low voice.
Worried, I nod.
“So Albus,” Ivy says tentatively. “I heard you broke up with Coral?”
“Yeah, I did,” he says.
“Hmm,” she says sympathetically.
For some reason, Al looks confused.
“C’mon Dar,” Ivy says to me. “You can show me those dress robes for the party tonight.”
“Alright,” I smile. “Bye Laney. Er - feel better?”
She nods and Ivy and I head up the girls stairs, sliding past a seemingly frantic Rose Weasley.
“There,” Ivy says, drying the last curl of my hair with her wand, “That’s perfect. Not too curly and not too straight. It’s just the right amount of wave.”
“Thanks Ivy,” I say gratefully, examining my stunning hairstyle in the mirror. I can hear Laney, Chaz, and Rose laughing in the other room.
“Now for jewelry,” she giggles, holding out a box full of sparkly accessories. “So, um, who’s Laney going with tonight?” she asks casually.
“Well,” I say excitedly. “She told me that Al Potter invited her!”
“She what?” she snaps, dropping the jewelry.
“Um, she said that Al asked her to come,” I say, a little confused.
“Oh, right,” she smiles. “Ahem, I um, just thought you said something else.”
“Oh, okay,” I respond lightly. “I think Laney really fancies Al. Finally, she really needed to like someone.”
“Yeah, of course,” Ivy says. “Why don’t you wear these earrings?”
Upon entering the party at seven fifteen, Ivy and I head straight for the Firewhiskey to flirt with the seventh year, Jeremy Something. I can never remember his name... then again, nobody does.
He pours us goblets of Firewhiskey and per my request, mead. We flirt casually for a minute until a group of Ravenclaws take over the drinks table.
“Want to go join the dance party?” I ask a little too giddily, as I am starting to feel the effects of my drink.
“Actually,” she says, eyeing something from across the room. “I need to talk to someone, go on without me.”
“Alright,” I smile. “See you in a few.”
I shimmy into the crowd of dancers keeping a sharp eye on James. He’s dancing with Verra Plasaunce of Ravenclaw and can hardly keep his hands off of her. I choke down some more drink and find the perfect dance partner: Desmond Devouch.
Everyone who’s anyone knows that Desmond Devouch is the king of hook ups. He’s also known for having meaningless relationships with girls and then publicly embarrassing them. Though usually girls try not to think about that part.
We make eye contact and dance towards each other. He grabs my waist and plants a kiss on my cheek. I giggle and kiss him back. Five minutes later, we are in a corner snogging the lights out of each other.
I hear a gasp and we break apart. Rose Weasley is standing there, holding onto her brother Hugo’s arm, staring at us. She looks mortified, hurt, and on the verge of tears. Her brother escapes from her grasp and hurries off. Ears turning brightest red, she simply turns and runs into the crowd of dancers, and out of sight.
“Rose?” I call.
“Just ignore it,” Desmond says, eager to return to our kiss.
I break away from him. “No,” I say. “It was you!” I suddenly realize that this was the boy Laney had told me about on the train. This was the boy had broken Rose Weasley’s heart in front of half the school, and I had known about it.
I step back in disgust. “No,” I say, horrified with myself.
I run through the crowd, searching for Rose. When I am through, all that is there is a few tables and a couch. But in the next moment, I forget completely about Rose Weasley because what I see, washes everything away except for fury. I see Ivy and Albus snogging at a table.
“Ivy!” I yell. “How could you do this?”
They break apart and Al looks completely ashamed of himself. He should be.
“How could I do this?” she asks. “Shouldn’t you be asking Laney that?”
Al blinks. “Laney is here?”
“Yes, and she’s getting pretty cozy with someone on that couch.”
I vaguely hear Al ask who.
I turn and run to the couch. I then see Laney and...no...no...NO! Laney is snogging James Potter.
I throw my drink on her and sprint away, feeling the hot tears sting my cheeks.
I hate her.
7:24 p.m., Saturday, Albus Potter
I peer around the crowded room, searching for her. C’mon Laney, where are you? I think. I had wanted to see her to tonight...wanted to tell her tonight...
“Looking for someone?” Ivy says in a snide voice as she walks up to me.
“Um, yeah, actually. Have you seen Laney?” I ask hopefully.
“No,” she says a little too harshly. “I mean, um, didn’t you hear? She isn’t coming.”
My heart plummets. “Wait...are - are you sure?”
“Yes,” she says, leaning against the wall.
I smile uncomfortably and look away.
“Look Al, I don’t think she’s all that interested in you. Or at least, that’s what she told me.”
“She - she told you that?” I ask, devastated.
“Yeah,” she says. “I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah,” I mutter, shoving my hands into my pockets.
“You know, since Laney isn’t coming, you and I could maybe...hang out.” she says, edging closer to me. Though my subconscious is screaming ‘NO!’, my mind is telling me ‘Yes’.
Her lips curl into a seductive smile.
“This is a mistake,” I say, breaking apart from her. She looks annoyed.
“No it isn’t,” she growls, leaning forward for another kiss. We are sitting at a tiny table and I feel as though there is a spotlight on me. All I can think about is Laney.
I shake my head but kiss her anyway.
“Ivy!” someone screams. Again, we break apart to see Dara Valentin staring in disgust at us.
“How could you do this?”
I look away, feeling incredibly ashamed. Dara would surely tell Laney.
Ivy glowers at her. I thought they were friends...
“How could I do this?” she snaps. “Shouldn’t you be asking Laney that?
My head snaps up. “Laney is here?”
Ivy rolls her eyes at me. “Yes, and she’s getting pretty cozy with someone on that couch.”
“What? Who?” I am suddenly furious. She lied to me; she knew Laney was here. And now Laney’s with someone else.
Dara runs past, I know she is crying.
“Who is she with, Ivy?” I say furiously.
A silver goblet flies through the air and hits the table.
“What the hell!” I say, looking up.
And then I see her: Laney, sitting up, staring drunkenly at me, James...my brother...next to her.
They were snogging. They are snogging.
I don’t know what to do except for stand. I am not even thinking, I’m just doing. I run to the couch and pull James off of her and then - and then I punch him.
9:40 p.m., Saturday, Laney Becks
Everything goes completely silent. I no longer feel quite so drunk and hazy now, I know exactly what is going on: I just snogged James Potter in front of the boy of my dreams. Who happens to be the brother of the boy I have so ruthlessly just snogged.
Albus has just punched his own brother, and his own brother has just punched him back. And all I can do sit here like an idiot.
Jeremy Bar Man and Fred jump in and pull the two apart. I’m shaking, confused, and drunk as hell. A hand closes around my wrist.
“Come on Laney,” the person whispers, “let’s go.”
I don’t object, but simply let them pull me away from the party. When in the corridor, I simply burst into sobs. But I’m not the only one: Rose is curled in a ball, crying her eyes out, and Dara has her face in her hands and is shaking like mad.
I simply slide to the ground, look up at Lily, my rescuer, and try to shut down.
I am a horrible person.
And that’s the truth.
Author's Note: How eventful! I really want to know how you feel about this chapter! That would make me really happy. I know a lot happens and it moves a little fast!
This should tide you over for a while!
As always, thanks to RocketBabyDoll9 for beta'ing and all my forums friends for your support! I'm so sorry I haven't been as fast as normal with my review responses, by the way!!
Disclaimer: JKR owns Harry Potter. And I own cookie cake. Clear winner? That's what I thought.
BEAUTIFUL image by Benedictus @TDA
"I'd rather be a poor man than a privileged boy."
I toss a stone at the water and watch as it skips across the glassy black surface. There is a drawing pad next to me, two pieces of charcoal sitting beside it. I know I have drawn something depressing; that’s all I draw these days. Works of guilt, sorrow, and anger. My eyes sting as I glance down at the parchment. It’s a picture of a broken goblet set in front of a bright green eye. In a swift motion my wand is simmering it to pieces and I’m staring back out at the dark lake.
“It’s getting cold out here.”
I close my eyes. I don’t respond.
“We haven’t spoken much, lately,” he says, sitting down beside me.
“Please,” I say thickly. “I’m so sorry -”
He shakes his head. “It’s okay, Laney. I’m not angry with you.”
But I am angry with me.
“No, please, listen to me, I was drunk and -”
“I overreacted, Laney. It’s just, you know, since we’re friends, I guess I just thought he was taking advantage of you.”
“It’s fine, you know, if you two fancy each other,” he says, glaring out at the water.
Look at me. Please look at me. I bite my lip for a moment.
“I don’t fancy him,” I say, my eyes burning. “Al -”
“Don’t be stupid,” he snaps. “You don’t have to lie to me. We’re friends. You have James and I have Ivy now.” He stands. “It’s the Halloween feast. Come on.”
Ivy. He has Ivy now. My throat feels thick. I stand and we walk in silence to the castle.
Friend. He called me a friend. How can one person ruin so much in just one night? Leave it to me, I guess.
We enter the thickly decorated Great Hall and walk in different directions. Ever since the night of that blasted party everyone has broken off into different groups. I sit with Rose, as she is my only girl friend left. Al sits with Ivy, Dara, and Daniel, and Carter and Fred sit together.
I walk to where Rose is sitting, stabbing moodily at her festively orange dinner. I sigh, pulling the miniature weapon from her grasp as I sit down. She purses her lips, glaring at her plate.
“What did you do today?” I ask. What a sorry attempt at small talk.
“Well,” she says, snatching the fork back and stabbing some more at her food. “I hexed four third years, two first years, and one teacher.”
“Rose,” I say, grabbing the fork from her. “This is crazy. You have got to stop hexing people.”
I don’t like Mean Rose. I miss Nice Rose. Nice Rose keeps me sane. Mean Rose makes my want to burn kitties.
“I’ll hex whoever I want!” she snaps, taking both her fork and mine. “It isn’t like you’re any better! All you do is mope around all day feeling guilty and not bothering to tell Al how you really feel!”
“Rose!” I hiss. “Will you shut it? I told you, I am trying. He’s dating Ivy. He called me his friend.” I grimace a bit.
“You are so thick, Laney!” she squeaks, frustrated. “Anyone with two eyes can see that he’s been a mess since that night! Why else would he have hit James?”
“He hit James because he thought he was taking advantage of me,” I growl.
“If that’s your story...” she sighs.
I take my fork back and start stabbing at my own food.
“Have you talked to James yet?” she asks, not making eye contact with me.
“No,” I say coldly. “I already told you, Rose. There is no way I am ever going to talk to him again.”
She nods. “And...Dara?” she asks, not bothering to mask the tone of disgust in her voice.
“Trust me, I’ve tried,” I say, glancing down the table at my ex-best friend. “She won’t even look at me anymore.”
And that is completely true. Dara hasn’t even acknowledged my existence since the party.
I sigh, taking some Treacle Tart.
“Rose?” I ask after a while.
“Hmm?” she responds, glancing up from Vampires: Friend or Foe? and blinking at me.
“I’m going to take a walk.”
She stares at me. “Laney, it’s snowing.”
“Since when?” I ask, shocked. Only an hour before it had been a seasonable October day.
“Since Headmaster Shacklebolt just announced it! Honestly, Laney, do you ever listen?”
I think about it for a moment.
“What did you say?”
I walk, hands shoved deep into my pockets, shivering through the floating white snow. It isn’t sticking yet; the ground is too warm. But I like it that way. It has a certain beauty to it... it doesn’t cover the ground with frozen water that hurts your eyes to look at, but rather, it floats down to Earth and melts away.
I wish all my problems would melt away.
But then I’d be like a giant mass of nothingness. I’m made of problems...and odorless air.
I hear something and come to an abrupt halt. There’s a muffling of footsteps...a heavy breathing...
A hand closes around my mouth and grabs my arms; I am suddenly being dragged away. Gruff, angry fingers are pulling me. I try to scream but nothing save bubbling air can get through the hand over my mouth.
I am dragged into a broom shed and released. It is completely dark. I don’t dare to breathe.
“Lumos,” a male voice whispers.
The wand tip ignites and glows his face. His face!
My mouth flies open.
“Don’t scream,” he threatens.
“Wh-what the hell do you want?” I half squeak, attempting to sound fierce. But I know the answer: he wants to kill me for ruining his family life and his social status.
Great, I’m going to be a homicide victim!
“To talk," he says, searching blindly for a light switch. “About the party.”
Suddenly, the room is alight. His features are soft, thoughtful. Not furious and violent like they had been in my nightmares. He eyes me.
“Becks – I just need to know something. It’s…it’s been driving me mad!” He pulls at his hair and turns away from me.
“W-what?” I ask. It is hardly a squeak. How pitiful.
“You…you don’t…Merlin – please tell me you don’t like me.”
I blink, my mouth forming a tiny ‘O’ of surprise, and then I laugh. I squeal with ridiculous giggles, my eyes watering.
He looks at me like I am a nutter.
“Why are you laughing?” he snaps defensively.
After a moment of gathering myself, I look up. “Because, James. Of course I don’t like you! I mean, we hate each other – we’re always biting each others’ heads off. I don’t know why I kissed you, James. I was – drunk.” I scramble to think of an excuse. If he ever knew that it had been out of jealousy of Al and Ivy, I would be mortified.
“Alright,” he nods, “fair enough.”
It is quiet for a moment while we observe each other. I noticed his eye has the slightest of a purple bruise around the edge. My insides clench.
“James – I’m so sorry. It was my fault Al hit you,” I say.
He holds up his hand to stop me. “It’s fine. I let it go too far. Let’s just try to forget about it and move on. And look, Al and I will be fine. Don’t – don’t worry about it.”
I look at him for a moment – it is almost as if I am seeing him for the first time. I smile.
He sighs. “I guess you’re free to go,” he says, stepping aside from the door.
“Thanks, James,” I say, moving towards the door. “Thanks for not hating me.”
He shrugs. “See you at Quidditch.”
“Yeah,” I mumble, stepping out. “See you.”
“Oh, Albus!” calls a tinkling voice.
His sparkling green eyes flash. “Yeah?” he asks, hardly sharing the enthusiasm.
She twirls down on his lap, throwing her arms around his neck.
“N-not right now,” he mumbles, trying to move away from her.
“It’s disgusting,” Rose says, turning her attention back to her homework.
“I know,” I mutter, fumbling with my quill.
“If you would’ve just told him before the party…” Rose says in a suggestive voice.
I glare at her. I know exactly what she is getting at. The thing is, though, Al doesn’t like me like that. He would laugh in my face…especially now. Now that he thinks I fancy James.
I have been hoping again against hope that James will explain to Al that I don’t fancy him. But I know that still doesn’t explain why I did it…I suppose I would rather have Al think I am drooling over James than have him know that I am drooling over him. I would be a laughing stock.
Why must I be made of problems?
Most of the next week was not playing out in my favour. Of course the usual Christmas parties were beginning to develop and it seemed like everyone wanted me at their house party. I knew exactly why, of course: ever since the start of term party people had begun to think of me as popular. Apparently snogging James Potter earns you some serious brownie points.
I continued to avoid everyone who may potentially be a party host throughout November. I want my old reputation back; avoid me at all costs because I’m lethal.
Yes, that sounds nice.
As usual, I skip dinner and cut up to the Astronomy tower. I had formed a sort of habit out of this. I no longer wanted to be around Al, Ivy or even Dara. It just depresses me.
I slink up the stairs, growling at a few couples along the way, and walk over to the edge of the tower, peeking over the edge. My stomach rolls and I look away from the enormous height. I have never liked heights; they make me feel absurdly unsafe.
I slide down the edge of the wall and rest my head on my knees. Only two more weeks and I will be gone for the Holidays. I can see Netta and sleep in my bubbly pink room.
My stomach heaves again.
Okay, maybe not the pink room but Netta would be a good start.
My eyes flash a blood red and my head snaps up. I pull out my wand and am about to curse the troll who used my full name until I see that it’s a teacher.
Slowly, hesitantly, I put the wand back into my pocket.
“S-sorry professor,” I say, my face heating.
“It’s quite alright,” Professor Wilkins says in a withered voice. “I have been sent by the Deputy Headmistress to retrieve you.”
“Eh?” I say, lifting an eyebrow. Retrieve me?
“Come along,” she says, turning away and hobbling down the stairs. I don’t object. I probably could if I want to, but I figure it’s just something about my slipping grades. I don’t really turn my homework in anymore.
She leads me on a ridiculous trail throughout the castle and I am practically running to keep up.
“P-professor,” I huff, running along behind her.
She merely walks faster.
“Professor?” I ask louder.
She glances at her watch.
“PROFESSOR!” I yell.
She stops, fiddles with an ear trumpet, and turns to me.
“Did you say something?”
“Yes,” I say loudly. “I thought you were taking me to Professor McCollough?”
“I am,” she nods.
I stare at her. “But this is the way to the Headmaster’s office…”
“I know,” she says.
My heart plummets. Bollocks! What have I done!
“No!” I gasp. “Professor, please! D-don’t make me go! What did I do? Please, just tell me, now! I could fix it before they expel me! I could fix whatever I did! Please! I promise I’ll never charm your Herbology plants to breathe fire ever again! PLEASE!”
I am on my knees, staring up at her with pleading eyes.
“My goodness, dear!” Wilkins says, straightening her spectacles. “They didn’t even tell me! Come along, now!”
Abruptly, she turns, whispers a password to two stone gargoyles, and walks through the entrance. Completely distraught, I follow.
She leads me up the stairs and straight to the Headmaster’s office.
“Enter,” says a deep male voice. Wilkins pushes open the door and holds it for me. Hesitantly, I walk through.
Headmaster Shacklebolt is sitting at his desk and Professor McCollough is standing at his side. There is a piece of parchment in her hand. I notice her eyes are swollen.
“That will be all,” Shacklebolt nods at Wilkins. She smiles and closes the door quietly behind her.
“Have – have I done something, Professor?” I ask, bewildered.
They exchange looks and McCollough steps forward. She holds out the piece of parchment.
“I’m…S-so sorry, dear.”
Curiously, I take the parchment and skim it.
The blood leaves my face. As though they were filled with weights, my eyes lift to the two Professors.
“This can’t be true.”
Author's Note: And let the cliffy torture...BEGIN! Sorry guys, I had to. If you thought the last chapter was a cliffhanger...Ha! Anyway, don't be too angry with me. :) I'd love to thank my wonderful beta as usual (RocketBabyDoll9) and also the phenomenal Validators! Wow, you guys work so hard. :)
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think. :)
Disclaimer: JKR! JKR! OOGA! OOGA! JKR! -does tribal dance-
Stunning image by .Candy @TDA
The only way to watch yourself succeed is to first watch yourself fail.
I slide down the wall, my hands still gripping the misshapen parchment. There is a faint pounding reverberating in my skull, tugging and ripping at my sanity.
Read it again, a voice in my mind orders. I shake my head and tug at my hair, begging it to go away. The pounding picks up, grows louder.
Read it again! the voice bellows. More pounding, more yelling, more suffering.
In mere weakness, I give into the command, holding the letter at eye level.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. Your father and I have been notified that early this morning your Great Aunt Netta was murdered. We believe she was killed by a...criminal...in search of something your father and I have. Most unfortunately, we are now forced into hiding so we cannot hold a funeral or assist you in retrieving your things from her home. Unless you have a friend to stay with over the Holidays, you’ll have to stay at Hogwarts. Your father and I may be able to locate another willing relative to keep you during the summertime.
Ana and Barney Becks
The first tear I have ever shed at Hogwarts finds its way down my cheek. I wipe it off furiously. I know I am being a bloody Mary-Sue sitting here crying about mummy and Daddy who don’t want me.
News flash: they have never wanted you.
I stand up and crumple the parchment into a ball. I shove the thing into my bag and glance at my watch. It’s nearly seven-thirty, I should be in the common room.
I decide occupying my mind away from that sodden letter is now my number one priority.
On the way up to the common room I think of nothing but Mermish Translation Rules and Pumpkin Pasties (which I find to be quite bland lately), and for the first time in weeks I hardly spare a glance to a laughing Dara and Ivy as I pass them in the seventh floor corridor.
I enter the common room without a feeling inside of me. All emotion that is possible to feel is burned out like it had never existed. The first person I lay eyes on is Rose. She is frantically running around the room with a slightly frustrated look in her eye.
When she spots me, I freeze like a little Laney rabbit. I know that look; it’s the ever accusing “you!” look.
Like an enraged bull, Rose sprints at me and grabs my arm. If I weren’t so absent of feeling, I might have actually made an effort to stop her from damaging me. Instead, I simply let her drag me up to our room.
I shrug out from her grasp and sit down on my four poster bed. She crosses her arms and glares at me.
“Well?” she says icily.
I look at her. “Well, what?”
Her frizzy hair becomes static with electricity. “Well, why did you lie to me?”
“What are you talking about?” I ask, annoyed.
She glowers at me. “You said you didn’t fancy James, Laney.”
“Which is true.”
“No it is not!” she hisses.
“Rose, what are you on about? Of course I don’t fancy James.”
“I saw you coming out the broom shed with him,” she accuses.
I shake my head. “I knew that was a bad idea...”
She looks livid. “A bad idea? A bad idea! Of course it was a bad idea, Laney! You lied! You betrayed me and Albus! You -”
“ - didn’t snog James,” I finish wearily.
“ - were a horrid - wait, what?” she snaps.
“I didn’t, Rose. He only took me in there so he could talk to me alone and make sure I didn’t fancy him. It was nothing.”
Her face is torn between fury and confusion.
“Rose,” I say, walking over to where she stands, bewildered, “I already lost Dara as a friend. Please don’t be the next. I don’t fancy James. I think you know I don’t.”
She looks at me and her face softens. “You’re right, I - I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have judged you like that.”
I shrug. “It’s all right, yeah?”
We sit down on our beds in silence, each deep in thought.
“Where were you?” she asks after a moment, “Tonight...”
Before I can stop myself, my face falls.
“What is it?” she asks, alarmed, “Are you all right?”
“I got a letter from my parents,” I say quietly. Her eyes dig into me. I slide my hand into my bag and extract the crumbled parchment. I hold it out for her. Hesitantly, she takes it, her eyes on me.
As she reads it, I stare at the ceiling and try not to lose it. When she finishes, she lowers the letter and I can see how her eyes have become glassy.
A tear rolls down her cheek.
I shut my eyes and search for the sleep I know will never come.
“Miss Becks?” asks an irritated professor Longbottom.
Looking up from my work, I respond, "Yes?"
“You are fertilizing the Gurdy Roots incorrectly!” he shrieks, snatching the pot from my grasp.
“Well, professor, what is the correct way to do it, then?”
He glowers at me. “I think we best move onto something less...fragile for you to do.”
“Oh really?” I half snarl. “And what would that be?”
“Miss Becks! I have never been so ashamed -”
“I’ll help her, professor,” offers a voice from behind. I turn around and groan.
Daniel stands smiling goofily at me.
“Very well then,” professor Longbottom says testily. “I’ll be in my office.”
I turn back to my pot and continue fertilizing the plant, ignoring Daniel all the while.
“Here, let me help,” he says, sliding the pot closer to himself.
“No,” I growl, “I don’t need help.”
“Actually you do,” he says, shoveling the fertilizer out of the pot. “You are going to kill them if you don’t do it right and they are valuable.”
I blink at him. “They are flowers.”
“They are not flowers,” he says with the air of an adult trying to explain a very simple concept to a child. “They are roots. Some say they are vegetables. But they are not flowers.”
I roll my eyes. “I didn’t ask to be here,” I mutter defensively.
“Right. Well, maybe if you quit skipping lessons and actually came to Herbology, you wouldn’t get detention and would also know how to do this.”
“Since when did you get so snarky?” I snap.
“Well, you’re snarky...”
“No, what did you mean by that?” I hiss.
“Nothing, I just - you don’t notice me any other way.” He looks down at the plant nervously.
“I - oh,” I splutter, my face heating. “Yes - er - right. That’s - yeah.”
We work in silence for a moment. I can’t help my face staying red. I feel almost...bad about this.
I scream and jump backward, fertilizer flying everywhere.
“Are you okay?” he asks frantically.
NO! my inner self screeches, brandishing a weapon. Me? Feel ashamed? The horror!
“Er - yes. I just, thought I - thought I saw a bug,” I recover mildly, brushing the fertilizer off of my robes.
It’s everywhere. I look like a damned Woolly Mammoth.
“Let me help you,” he says, pulling out his wand.
“You’re helping me quite a lot today,” I mutter.
Smiling, he says, “Tergeo. There, that’s most of it.”
“Right. Thanks,” I mumble.
“So, did you get detention too or something?” I ask after a while. My stomach feels odd...like there’s something jumping around in it.
He laughs. “No, just offered to help Professor Longbottom in turn for extra credit.”
I raise a brow. “Extra credit?”
“Yeah,” he says happily, moving on to the next pot of Gurdy Roots. “I missed a month of school, I need it.”
“Oh,” I mumble, taking back the “what a prick” thought that had just passed through my mind.
“Hey, I know Ivy’s been sort of...” he trails off.
“Want me to finish?” I offer, thinking of some stronger words than evil to describe her.
“No, no, really, I’m fine,” he says quickly.
“You were saying...” I prompt.
He sighs. “She’s just a bit cut-throat competitive over things and I’m sorry you’ve got to be the product of it.”
“Yeah. Well. She won. Didn’t she? Al and her are...a thing.”
He looks at me for a moment and a strange feeling fills my stomach. “Laney I -”
“That will be all, Miss Becks,” Professor Longbottom says, swooping in and grinning. “You’ve done a fine job with the help of Mister Osiris. Off to the Common Room. And Daniel, would you assist me with the mess?”
“I - yes, Professor.”
“Good night, Laney. I hope to see you in class on Friday,” Longbottom says distractedly.
“Right. See you around, Daniel,” I mutter and leave Garden House number three.
“Laney, how was detention? Do you need a calming drought? I’ve told the other girls to come to bed later tonight so you can go to sleep early. How are you?”
As usual, Rose has pounced on me the moment I have entered the Common Room. For the past two weeks it has been nothing but frantic sympathy on her end. Of course I appreciate all the effort but I had actually just wanted to move on and forget about it. Rose didn’t seem to understand that too well.
“I’m fine Rose and no, I don’t want a calming drought. Detention was detention. I just need to do some homework, okay?”
She nods and I sit down at the table ready to focus.
I look up and find Albus, Lily, and Fred staring down at me. “Er - yeah?”
“Well, there’s a match on Saturday, Becksy,” Fred says, “and we need to know whether you are going to play or not.”
“Huh? Why wouldn’t I play?” I ask, confused.
They look at each other.
“If this is about my bloody Great Aunt,” I snarl, standing up and grabbing my books, “then you can shut it right now. I. Am. Fine.”
There is a short silence.
“Definitely hormonal,” Fred mutters.
I could kill that boy.
Lily flicks Fred. “Twat!”
“What was that for?” he cries, flinching.
“For being a twat!” she repeats, flicking him again.
“I will be at that match on Saturday,” I hiss.
With one last look at them, I walk up the girls' stairs.
I sit with my back against a pillar, wand in hand. The bell has just rung and I can hear the faint laughing of students making their way across the cold grounds. In my quest to become a more stable human, I have now limited myself to only missing one class period if needed: Herbology. And, as it is a Friday, I have decided that I deserve a nice break.
The sounds of giggling first years from meters below the Astronomy tower can be heard. I jump up and lean over the edge, locating target number one.
“Gotcha...” I breathe, aiming my wand at a blonde girl in the middle of the little pod.
I cast the spell and three plump water balloons shoot from the end of my wand, zooming straight towards the three girls.
As I hear the water balloons make contact with the targets, I dive to the ground and take cover.
The screaming girls are frantic.
Ah, what a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon.
“What are you, eight years old?” asks a patronizing voice from behind.
I jump up into a sitting position, brushing off my robes and hiding my wand.
Lily stands staring at me, an amused look on her face.
“What?” I ask defensively.
She sighs and sits down next to me. “I heard some other third years saying someone was charming water balloons off the Astronomy Tower in between classes.”
I cough. Okay, so maybe I hadn’t taken just one class off. But what’s one day? It’s only O.W.L. year.
“Laney?” Lily says seriously, “I know you’re not okay. You may be able to fool the others but I can see you’ve changed.”
I look at her helplessly. Lily gets me. I never thought I would find someone who unwillingly understood me, but I have.
“Look, I know it’s hard for you right now. Albus is an idiot, James is a jerk, and Ivy is...well, Ivy. But you have to listen to me, okay?”
I look over at her. “I don’t...”
“We care about you, Laney. Just because your arse-head parents don’t, doesn’t mean that Rose, Fred, Al, James, Carter, and I don’t. To hell with them,” she sings, hugging my shoulders. I smile over at her.
“And hey,” she says sternly, “don’t you think for one moment that any of us are going to make you stay at Hogwarts for the Holidays.”
I beam, tears brimming my eyes. “Thanks, Lily,” I say softly, wiping my cheeks.
She squeezes my shoulders. “It’s okay to cry, Laney.”
I nod, tears streaming down my cheeks, and for once, I don’t give a damn.
Author's Note: Ash here! How was it? What do you think? Good? Bad? Funny? Sad?
Tell me! ;)
So I basically wrote this chapter for Laney to finally come to terms with her emotions. Why hide them? It's just silly. So now she has had a major breakthrough.
But if you want some serious ship action...wait until you see the next chapter. Muahahaha!
ciao [you know I love you]
Disclaimer: My name is Ash and I generally stole all of JKR's themes...so, yeah.
Amazing image by .Candy at TDA
We are all strangers in a strange land.
I sink back into a cloud of sugar and watch as two Lemon Drops do a tango. I clap and cheer as they come to a finish, leaping from my Cotton Candy bed into a mountain of Orange Sherbert. The Treacle Tart trees sing delightful tunes and I sing right along with them.
I’m running up a delicious mountain but I can’t seem to get my footing. It’s like I’m floating above the succulent Sherbert.
“La la, doo!” I sing, spinning around and gulping down Treacle Tart tree bark. “La la, doo doo loo -”
“Shut up, already!” snaps a Treacle tree from behind.
I open my mouth to retort and then close it, for the Treacle tree seems to be forming a face.
I squint my eyes, the bright and cheery scene blurring away.
I open my eyes and scream. Fred Weasley is leaning so far over me I can’t even see where I am. Out of reflexes I jump upwards, my head colliding with his.
Slowly, dizzily, I sink back onto the tiny couch, my head throbbing.
“Oi!” Fred bellows, clutching at his forehead, his eyes swimming.
“What the - Fred! What were you doing?” I snap furiously. “You woke me up!”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” he says sarcastically, leaning on an armchair for support.
“Apology not accepted,” I say after a moment, “I think you broke my face.”
He rolls his eyes, standing up straighter. “Look, the reason I came down here is to tell you that the Gryffindors are celebrating that cookout we had today at the Quidditch match.”
“We didn’t have a cookout,” I say pointedly, massaging my forehead.
He grins. “Sure we did.”
I stare at him. “I would have remembered free food, Fred.”
“You don’t recall?” he laughs, “We made Slytherin-kabobs!”
It’s quiet for a moment.
“Witty,” I breathe, rubbing my forehead and standing up. “So where’s this celebration, anyway?”
“Room of Requirement,” Fred beams. “Want to take a look?”
I shrug. “Sure, I won’t be able to sleep again, anyway.”
We walk down the seventh floor corridor for a while until we reach the Room. To my great surprise though, Fred passes right by it.
“Er - you missed the Room, Fred,” I say, slowing a bit.
“I know,” he shrugs, continuing to walk.
I stare at him. “Fred, where are you taking me? I thought we were going to the Room of Requirement?”
“Laney, I only told you that to make you wake up. We’re doing something fun today. You could really use it.”
I groan. “I don’t think so.”
Before I can so much as turn to leave, Fred wheels around and grabs my wrist, pointing his wand at me.
“What the -” I say, going cross eyed trying to keep the wand in full vision.
“You aren’t going anywhere, Becks,” he growls.
I freeze. “Are you kidnapping me, Fred Weasley?”
“More like forcing you to have fun for a day,” he shrugs. “Now get moving, you, we’re already late.”
It doesn’t take very long for me to realize that we aren’t alone in this day of fun. We arrive at the edge of the Black Lake (shivering our arses off, I might add) at half past 3:00.
“This it?” I ask, making a point of peering around the freezing grounds. “This is supposed to be fun?”
“Oy,” Fred snaps, “here they come.”
My eyes find three figures as they rapidly make their way to us.
“Daniel, Lily, and James?” I ask skeptically.
“Only ones up for it,” Fred shrugs. “James has got loads of free time, Lily’s a third year meaning she really has no major exams, and Daniel, poor bloke, he just clings to anyone who mentions you.”
“Fantastic,” I hiss.
“Come on, Becks, don’t be a rotten dragon egg,” Fred says giddily.
I cross my arms stubbornly.
“Well, we’ve got it!” Lily says as they bustle up to Fred and I. Each of then are carrying a bundle of something. “We have everything you asked for.”
“Brilliant!” Fred says.
I raise an eyebrow.
“Oh hi, Laney,” Lily adds.
“What’s all this for, then?” I ask.
“This,” Fred says, pulling a spherical blue ball from Lily’s arms and holding it up for everyone to see, “is an Aquaglobe. Throw one of these little monsters at someone and the next three weeks they’ll be dripping wet no matter how hard they try to dry themselves off.”
“We’re going to throw them at first years,” James says enthusiastically.
“And these,” Fred continues, pulling what looks like small marbles from a velvet bag in Daniel’s hands, “are Dissolvoballs. You just slip a few of these into an enemies drink and watch as they ralph green muck for the next fourty-eight hours.”
“You’re joking, right?” I ask.
“No way,” Fred says cheerily. “These’ll really get the job done They’re the best pranks on the market according to dad.”
“This is what passes for fun around here? Throwing water at first years and make people vomit green for two days?”
They all look at each other.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Lily says.
I look at the lot of them for a moment. I shrug. “All right then, I haven’t got anything else to do. Dibs on the Dissolvoballs.”
“...and thus ends the tale of the dragon, the toad, and the wizard. Any questions?”
I watch glumly as Professor Woodniff rounds up today’s History of Magic lecture.
“No? All right then, class is about over. Make sure to have your essays on The Great Dragon Rebellion of 1201 finished by next lesson.”
As I hear the bell sound, I stand up and shove my quill and parchment (which I had been doodling on the whole class) into my bag.
“Last class of the day,” I sigh as Rose and I make our way into the sixth floor corridor.
“I know, it’s awful, isn’t it?” Rose says sullenly. “I was learning so much...”
I look pointedly at her and laugh. “No, Rose. We’re free! It’s the weekend! It’s time for Quidditch and Treacle Tart and pranking first years and-”
“-studying?” she says smartly. “It’s OWL year, Laney! We need to be studying for our exams.”
“Live a little, Rose.”
“Yes, yes. I hear you....Good Merlin, why on Earth is Ivy vomiting green?"
Quickly, I avert my eyes and change the subject. "Er...no idea. So how about that Defense essay?"
Later that night I find myself spread across a squashy love seat, my feet stretched to maximum body length on a nearby armchair. I have had a long day.
“Could she physically take up any more room?” Lily asks from the floor. “Check mate, by the way. I win again.”
“Bloody hell! Again?” Hugo whines.
“Language, Hugh!” Rose snaps from behind her book. She is sitting in the only open armchair.
“Quit acting like mum, Rose,” Hugo says, clearly annoyed.
Rose seems disgruntled.
Liam Scott is stretched across the floor scribbling away on a piece of parchment. “My back is screaming,” he moans, sitting upright and looking over at me pointedly.
I blink down at him from the couch. “You should really take something for that.”
“Ignore it,” Lily says before Liam can retort. “She’s clearly just tired.”
“It isn’t like she’s done anything that physically grueling today,” Liam complains.
“It’s Laney,” Lily says, “just getting out of bed is a struggle.”
“It’s true,” Rose adds, “lately it takes her three tries to get off the sofa.”
“Hey!” I snap from above. “I’m right here, you know!”
“She also ate her way through an entire 64 ounce steak tonight,” Lily continues.
“Yes, I wouldn’t be expecting her to be in her right mind,” Rose says.
“Hey! I can hear you!” I squeal.
“Yeah, she’s right heartless when she’s too full. You know, I think I saw her kick a first year this morning...” Hugh adds thoughtfully.
“Okay, I think I’m crying a little,” I say.
The next few hours are of sleep on my part and homework for everyone else. After a while I notice Dara sitting on the window seat and looking oddly melancholy. My first instinct is to of course ask her what’s wrong, but then I remember that kind-of-enormous fight we had. Well, it wasn’t exactly a fight, per se, but more of a backstabbing on both our parts. I snogged her true love and she dumped me for Ivy.
I scowl away from her, glad she is sad. She deserves to be sad for once. After everything I’ve gone through...especially losing Netta. She knew Netta, too. She never said one word to me about it. Some friend.
“Hey, Rose,” I hear a familiar voice say. I blush, pulling myself up for my awkward position.
“Al!” Rose squeaks happily, reaching up to hug him.
“Hugh. Lil. Liam,” he nods at each and pauses. “Hi Laney.”
My heart jumps. “Hi.”
“So Al,” Rose continues, “did you turn in your Potions paper yet?”
“Yeah,” he responds mildly, turning his attention back to Rose. “It was easier than I figured.”
“Good!” she squeals. “And uh, where’s Ivy?”
I grind my teeth.
He seems irritated. “She’s being high-maintenance,” he grumbles.
Rose looks concerned. “Is everything all right with you two?”
“I dunno,” he shrugs not seeming to want to talk about it. It’s quiet for a moment and I suddenly take into account that Lily, Hugo, and Liam are all staring awkwardly at me.
“I’m going to bed,” I mutter.
I slowly make my way up the girls' staircase feeling like my limbs are made of lead. It’s so hard around Al these days. I made such a fool out of myself at the blasted party. He probably thinks I’m a terrible slag. I groan.
My thoughts whir on as I make it to our room, but before I push the door open, I hear a pair of hushed voices from inside the dormitory.
“He’s going to end it with me, I just know it,” someone sobs. “He’s going to dump me for that Laney Becks. I can’t bare it, I really can’t. I’ve already lost Dara this morning; she thinks I’m absolute slime because I kissed Albus on purpose that night at the party. Laney. That’s all they ever talk about these days. At first they loathed her because of that night at the party. It was wonderful. But then they started missing her and feeling guilty. These past weeks have been like I’m not even there to the pair of them. It’s like I was just a way of making Laney jealous for them! And I even tried to explain it Albus, b-but you know what he said? He said I was just b-being jealous and dra-dramatic!”
“Oh Ivy,” the other person says in a soothing voice. It must be Chaz. “It’s all right. Look at it this way: maybe you and Albus aren’t meant to be. And as for Dara? Well her and Laney have a lot of history together. I’m sure she misses Laney very much. And I’m still your friend! I promise, anytime you need me, I’ll be here.”
I lean in closer to hear more.
“What are you doing?” snaps a voice from behind.
I jolt and whirl around. “Dara,” I say, surprised.
“What are you doing?” she repeats. “Why are you spying on our dorm mates?”
It’s not really your business, is it?” she says pointedly. “They don’t spy on you.”
“You’re right, I was just-”
“-being untrustworthy? You’ve got a problem with that, don’t you?” She pushes past me and makes for the door, but I stop her.
“Just hang on a moment,” I say heatedly. “You never gave me one second to explain myself that night at the party. I didn’t kiss James to hurt you.”
She looks enraged.
“I did it because it just hurt so badly when I saw Ivy and Albus all over each other. He invited me to that party for Merlin’s sake! It just, it hurt. So badly I went and got myself drunk and James was the one who had to drag me away from the bar. I wasn’t thinking, Dara. I just saw Ivy and Al snogging and went for it. I wasn’t trying to hurt you or anyone else for that matter. I was only ever trying to heal this dead, emotionless monster that lives inside me. My parents have dumped me, Netta is dead, the only boy I’ve ever had feelings for hates me, and people avoid me like a stigma. How the hell do you think it feels to lose a best friend, too?”
And then I lose it. The tears come and I swear loudly for looking like such an idiot.
She looks torn. Her eyes are brimming with tears. “I-,” she seems lost for words. “He doesn’t hate you. And - and I know this long overdue but I’m so s-sorry about Netta!”
Our eyes lock.
“Dara, I’m so sorry,” I say earnestly.
“I - I’m sorry, too. Laney, I should have seen through Ivy. She was terrible to you - straight from the start. You were right about her. I finally confronted her this morning about that night and I realized - realized that what you did, while wrong and hurtful, was only a response to Ivy’s scheme and - and I’m just so sorry!”
In that moment she rockets herself at me, wrapping me in a big bear hug.
“Can we just move past this?” she asks wholeheartedly.
“Of course!” I say, hugging her back. “I missed you so much, Dar. I’ll never snog James again! And probably anyone else for that matter, it was right disgusting.”
She laughs her tinkling laugh and beams at me. “Or get drunk like that again, at least not until you’re 17! You were acting wild, Laney!”
We laugh together.
“Want to break into the kitchens and get some food?” I ask.
“Is that even a question?”
Together we descend the girls' staircase, mended hearts and all.
My mood is near stellar during the next week. I feel on top of the world. Dara and I are as close as ever. And the most wonderful part? Ivy and Al broke up on Monday. The split was bad, too. One of the worse I’ve seen...
“What the hell do you mean by ‘it’s not you, it’s me’?” Ivy screeched in the common room on Monday night. She glared daggers at him.
“I - I just...” he said nervously.
“Just what, exactly?”
“Ivy, I just don’t think we’re good together. I’m not happy. You can’t possibly tell me you are?” He looked pleadingly at her.
“This was a mistake,” she said, and she darted back up to her room.
I have been absolutely giddy since I saw this take place. I have even been going to class all week. It’s a birthday miracle! Granted my birthday isn’t until March, and it’s only November, but still. The Birthday Fairy is always watching over me.
“Okay Becks,” Al says firmly. “Try it again.”
I groan. “I can’t do it!”
“Come on, yes you can,” he nods.
“Yeah Laney, if I can do it, you can,” Dara adds.
“Just think of something happy,” Al says. “Put that cynical mind to rest for a moment.”
“Expecto patronum!” Dara calls, a blue dragonfly zooming out of her wand and misting around the room. Al’s ram is digging its hooves into the ground from next to him.
I continue to try and practice for the remainder of the class, and by the end, I’m exhausted and all I can seem to produce is wisp of blue. As we walk to dinner Al, Rose, Carter, and Dara laugh at me.
“I wonder what your patronus will be...” Carter wonders aloud as we cut across the courtyard.
“Probably a steak,” Dara says.
“Or a bacon strip,” Albus laughs.
“Well, we know it won’t be a book,” Rose interjects. Everyone bursts into laughter.
“Very funny,” I growl. I always fancied my patronus something smart and fierce. “At least mine isn’t a turtle,” I say to Rose.Her face scrunches up defensively.
“Turtles are wise!” she snaps.
“Or a bug,” I continue, looking at Dara.
“Dragonflies are not bugs, Laney!” Dara squeals.
After dinner I walk up to the common room and knock out a load of homework. Lately I’ve been actually trying in school. My mood has been raised and I even think Rose’s study habits are beginning to rub off me. It’s sort of a good feeling knowing you’re doing well in school for once.
I feel something soft rub against my legs as I sit, staring at the blazing fire place.
“Presto,” I smile, allowing him to spring onto my lap. I stroke his black tail and notice something tied around his collar. It’s a little scroll of parchment. I extract from his his collar and unroll it.
Will you meet me in the common room at 1:00 am? I need to talk to you in private. Don’t tell any of your roommates. Just nod if that’s all right with you. I’m sitting next to Rose and Fred at the table behind you.
My heart leaps into my throat. Al wants to see me? Me? I swallow, turn around, and see him grinning at me. I nod, smiling back.
Oh sweet Merlin.
Author's Note: Hi everyone! SO sorry about my sort of long hiatus! But you mustn't blame me! I needed a good break. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Lemme know what you think by leaving a review. Thanks to Sarah (rocketbabydoll9) for betaing!
Disclaimer: JKR > Ash's ideas. JKR is always right.
I sit, gnawing on my wand handle nervously. It’s 12:58 AM and I’m waiting for Al to come down and meet me. My head is spinning - I have no idea what he could possibly want with me at 1:00 in the morning. Unless...but no. He made it perfectly clear he’s not interested in me. But still, I wonder....
I start at the sudden noise and whirl around. “Hey, Al,” I mumble, going very red. Thank the lord it’s dark in here.
He smiles and walks into the common room. “I’m glad you remembered.”
“Yeah...” I say, fumbling with the sleeve of my robe. “So why’d you need to meet up with me, anyway?” I ask sceptically.
“Right,” he says, walking over to me. He seems excited about something. “Listen, I couldn’t say this in front of everyone else because I don’t think you’d have wanted me to, but, I got this letter from my parents...I think you should read it.”
I blink at him. “Uh...all right, then.” I take the letter and glance over it. I’m astonished at what I read.
Glad to hear classes are well. Your mum’s always checking up on you anyway, but you know I have to, too sometimes.
About your friend, Laney Becks...well I know her parents. And even more - I got in touch with them. They work for the Ministry, you see. Have for years. None of us had any clue they had a daughter. I was sceptical about them, to say the least. But son, I spoke with them. It’s unbelievable.
You mentioned she needed a place to stay? Ron and Hermione would be happy to keep her for the Holidays. They said so themselves. They know her parents, too. She’s good friends with Rose, right? Hermione is writing to her and will tell her to ask Laney home for Christmas. We have a lot to tell her. Keep up the good work in school.
I gape at the letter. “They - they know my parents?” I ask in shock.
“Apparently,” Al says happily. “We’ve been writing all year and I told him about you and about your parents. So will you come home for the Holidays, or what? It would be loads of fun and it sounds like they’ve got a lot to talk to you about.”
I gulp air. “Yes,” I spew, “of course! But - I mean - my parents?”
“Only if you want to,” Al says.
“Yeah!” I grin.
“Brilliant!” Al cheers. “Rose knows, too. I told her I’d tell you though.”
“Thanks,” I smile. “Well, I guess I’d better get to sleep - but, uh, thanks!”
“Anytime,” he grins. “Night.”
“Yippee!” Rose squeaks next morning as I tell her about the night’s events. “Oh, I was just bursting to invite you, Laney. But for some reason mum said to let Al tell you. So unfair,” she pouts. “But now I find out that Uncle Harry knows your parents and spoke to them? Wow!”
“Yes,” I nod, chewing my lip. “What if it’s something bad, Rose?” Of course, since the moment I read that letter I have been trembling with theories. What if they just want to reiterate the fact that I’m worthless? What would I do? Break down crying in front of Albus and his entire family? I shove my fists into my robes.
“I’m sure it won’t be bad, Laney,” Rose says reassuringly. “Try not to dwell on that fact. Just think about how fun it’s going to be!”
“Right, you’re right,” I say, grinning. “I’m ready for a drama-free holiday.” I beam at her and then remember something. “I gotta bolt, I’ve got Quidditch.”
“See you,” she says, heading off to the Common Room.
“Bye!” I trudge through the cold over to the Quidditch pitch. It’s a cool autumn day and I can see everyone congregating outside the changing rooms. I catch up to the lot of them. “What’s up?” I ask Lily.
“James thinks we ought to do conditioning today,” she groans.
“No!” I say, appalled. “We did conditioning yesterday!”
“Yeah, but be careful. The prat says if anyone even argues he’ll run ‘em until they’re ralfing.”
I already feel sick. Conditioning with James is no laughing matter. We run round and round the Quidditch pitch until we’ve all gone funny. We do pull-ups on our brooms, push-ups with boulders on our backs, and have to try and catch the snitch without a broom. It’s utter hell.
“No complaining!” James spits, overriding the sounding arguments. “You’ll do as you’re told, and you’ll be grateful for it. So long as I’m captain this is how things will be.” He clears his throat. “Now, if we’re ever going to beat Ravenclaw this December then we need to be whipped into shape. Fred, I mean it, no fooling around anymore, yeah? If you get kicked off the team before the Ravenclaw match I’ll fry your sorry arse, got it?”
Fred looks pale. “Y-yes.”
“Becks, eat a little less, for the love of Merlin. You eat more for dinner than I do.”
“Oi!” I say, offended. “You calling me porky?”
It’s true. I have a bigger appetite than a Hippogriff and couldn't care less about my pant size. I have virtually no curves, though, so the extra weight can't exactly hurt me.
“No, Becks, I’m calling you sluggish and lazy,” James says. I lunge at him but Fred pulls me back.
“Down, Becksy,” Fred whispers in my ear. I glare at him.
“And Al, you’re our seeker, mate! No more dramatic breakups that affect your game. I swear I’ll curse you into oblivion if it happens again.”
For some reason, my face heats and I avert my eyes.
“Yeah, yeah,” Al mutters.
“That settled, then?” James asks, challenging anyone to disagree. “Right. Suicides. Now.”
“...spawn of Satan...” Fred mutters, ditching his things and slouching onto the pitch.
We run more than I have ever imagined one could possibly run throughout practice. I’m dead tired by the end, and sweating from head-to-toe. Which, I might add, was very embarrassing in front of Al; just my luck, we were paired together for almost every grueling activity. I was pouring sweat and near moaning in pain every time he passed me the heavy bludger that I would have to then heave back to him from across the pitch. I sounded like a troll.
“Well, that was great fun,” James says cheerily in the changing rooms after practice. He is the only one remaining upright - everyone else is strewn across the floor and benches.
“I could hit him,” Charlotte Vinter, a sixth year Beater, says icily.
A moment later, James is chased from the changing rooms by Fred. Dominique Weasley tailing behind (probably not wanting to be left with a load of younger people).
Slowly, we all make our way into a standing position and get dressed. Liam is next to me and I notice he looks worried about something. As much as I hate involving myself with feelings, I can’t help wondering what’s up. I lean over to him, “Everything okay?”
“Well,” he says, glancing over his shoulder to where Lily, Charlotte, and Al are dressing, “I thin’ I may fancy Lily.”
I take a moment to process this. Hm, Liam fancying Lily? This could work....He’s a friendly, Scottish chap. Makes good marks and I’m fairly sure his parents invented some serious racing brooms. Lily’s stark mad, so he could keep her in line...balance her out. I beam. “I’d love to help you with that.”
He looks amazed. “Really? Ya would? I mean, there ‘sno one Lily listens to better than you. I wanted ta ask...but I thought ya’d shoo’ me down. Thanks, Becks!”
I smile. “Sure thing, I’ll talk to her.” He nods, tying his shoe. “And, uh,” I add, something occurring to me, “don’t be afraid to ask me for stuff. I - I don’t bite.”
His eyes widen. He quickly collects himself. “Uh, wow, thanks, Laney. I - no problem.”
I nod. “Right then. I’ll put in a good word for you.”
He grins at me.
Have I just made a new friend?
Holy potatoes, I think I have.
Later that day, Al and I walk over to the greenhouses to get started on our Herbology project. I would’ve worked with Rose for an easy Outstanding on the project, but as Dara is failing Herbology, her need is greater than mine. So Al asked me and I felt perfectly willing. I don’t mind actually trying on my work when Albus is my partner. He makes things enjoyable.
We walk into Greenhouse Four with all our materials and head straight to our three pots. The goal is to grow three plants perfectly: a gurdy root, a bubotuber, and a mandrake. All of which are very difficult to grow.
“You know, I think the bubotuber seems a bit perkier,” Al suggests, prodding the small green bulge in the soil.
I examine it carefully and then turn to a page in my Herbology text book. “It says here the average bubotuber should be yellowy, large, and pulsating by this stage in the development.” We both look down at the tiny forest green bump in the soil.
Al cocks his head to the side. “Er, well, if you sorta squint - well, no, it still looks wrong.” He clears his throat. “Well, this seems to be in order,” he says, examining the gurdy root.
“It’s a little under-developed according to the picture,” I say, looking at the text book. “But at least it’s further along than the mandrake.” We both stare down at the third pot, where the soil is pink and watery and there seems to be no life at all.
“How sweet,” comes a snide voice from behind. It’s Ivy accompanied by Daniel. He smiles at me. I raise an eyebrow. “Look at the lot of you: snotty, chunky Laney Becks with her close, personal mate Al Potter. Have the two of you been snogging? Well, Laney, since you two clearly have something going on, you should know that Al merely needs a new tongue down his throat every few months, so don’t get too comfortable.”
“Piss off, Ivy,” Al snaps. “That’s not true,” he says, turning to me.
“Oh but it is,” Ivy says maliciously. “He’s more of a slag than his brother. Isn’t that right, Al?”
“Silencio,” I growl, pointing my wand at Ivy. I turn to Daniel, “Can you get her out of here?”
“N-no problem,” he says, and he hastily drags her outside.
“Sorry about that,” Al mutters.
“Don’t be, she’s just stupid.” I grin, “Lunch?”
“Yeah,” he says, smiling back at me. “Lunch sounds great.”
November is rolling to a close, and everyone seems to be in chipper spirits. Especially Lily, who (after much persuasion and encouragement from myself and her good friend Hugo) has finally gotten together with Liam Scott.
“It’s been two weeks,” Lily says to me one Saturday afternoon as she, Rose and I walk across the snowy grounds. “I suppose I’m over the ‘just a fling’ stage,” she pauses, “I really like him.”
“That’s wonderful, Lil,” Rose says, patting her shoulder.
She grins. “We kissed last night, too.”
“You hadn’t kissed yet?” I ask, shocked.
“I tried. He wanted to wait until the right moment - take things slow.” She blushes. How out of character for Lily.
“That’s so sweet!” Rose swoons.
“It really is,” I say quietly, thinking to myself. I want that. Someone who cares about stupid things like ‘the right moment.’
“Is - is it crazy to say that I might love him? I know I’m only thirteen, and we’ve only been together for a fortnight, but I can’t shake this feeling.” She looks at her shoes. Rose and I crowd around her.
“We think it’s absolutely perfect, Lily,” Rose says soothingly. “Not crazy at all.”
“I agree, Lily,” I add, finding it hard to naturally be as comforting as Rose is. “You two seem really great together.”
She smiles. “Thanks guys....There’s Hugh, I’ll catch you later!” And she runs off toward a smiling brown haired boy who’s waving to her.
“She’s getting so old!” Rose says sweetly. I laugh at her maternal instincts.
Suddenly, there’s a loud zooming sound and two mounted brooms come flying in between Rose and I. We nearly jump out of our skin.
“What the hell?” I say, picking up the bag I had dropped onto the ground out of fright. Though my words are useless, because I am talking to two tall figure’s backs.
“Uh...?” I say, trying to peer around the figures.
I finally walk around to face them, where Rose is standing. The one is very tall and bulky, with shaggy brown hair and green eyes. He’s clearly of Irish decent. The other is nearly the same build but with pale blonde hair and a pair of dull, bored looking grey eyes. Though, neither seem to notice me. Especially not the brunette, who seems to only have eyes for Rose, who looks startled and a little in awe.
“Well, ‘ello there,” the brunette says in a thick Irish accent. I can practically feel waves of attraction emulating from between Rose and him. “You’re verra pretty, love.”
Rose looks stunned. “I - um, thank you.” She’s furiously blushing. He looks amused.
“Riley O’Malley,” he says, reaching to shake her hand. She obliges, nearly trembling. “This is Sterling Jones,” he gestures to the highly uninterested friend. “You are?”
“R-rose Weasley,” she stutters.
“ ‘sa verra pretty name, Rose,” he says with a warm smile. She seems to melt under this.
What the hell is happening?
He’s clearly waiting for her to introduce me, but as I know her well enough to see that she’s too nervous to say anything, I do it myself. “Laney Becks,” I say.
He nods at me. Oh, I see how it is. So ‘Laney Becks’ isn’t a pretty name, then? Humph.
“I’d like to see you again,” he says to Rose, grinning. “Gryffindor, right?”
“Y-yes,” she responds.
“I’ll find ya, then.” He winks. “Better be off.”
We watch as he and his friend fly off toward the Quidditch pitch.
She turns to me, stoney. “D-did that really just happen?”
“Yes,” I say, laughing. “Love really is in the air right now.”
She laughs but I see her nervously swallow a few times.
As we walk into the castle, I notice some people looking at me. Well, not just looking at me, but staring at me. One first year Ravenclaw girl has even stopped in her tracks just to goggle at me. I glance over at Rose, wondering if she has noticed it too, but she clearly hasn’t. She seems to still be in some dark daze from our encounter with that Riley boy. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable now; especially as we sit down at the Gryffindor table, where everybody is dead quiet and gaping at me. Now, this isn’t completely out of character for me; people have always considered me to be unapproachable, blunt, and on some occasions, lethal, but I have never been stared at like this. They almost have tentative expressions on their faces. It’s unsettling.
I decide to speak up, ask what their problem is, but before I can, Al, Fred, and Dara sit down next to me.
“Ivy’s struck again,” Dara says. I gasp.
“What do you mean! What did she tell them?” I ask, expecting the worst.
They all exchange looks. “You’re not gonna like it,” Al says.
“Come on, it’s Ivy. She probably just told them I ate some -” but right as I say this, I notice everyone in the Great Hall has a piece of white parchment. With a moment of horror and utter anticipation, I read the title aloud. “Unwanted: Laney Becks....”
Rose looks up, her eyes popping. “Uh-oh,” she breathes.
I’m sprinting down the corridors in a fit of rage. Rose is screaming along behind me, trying (and failing) to stop me from landing myself in detention.
“...being crazy!” she huffs. “Might - get - detention!” She breathes heavily. “Think - before - you act!”
I ignore her, for there is only one thing on my mind: I am going to murder Ivy Osiris.
We are finally at the Common Room. “Snivel wibble!” I hiss at The fat Lady.
“Watch your tone!” she snaps, swinging open to let us through.
I climb through the portrait hole - and there she is. Sitting there acting like nothing is wrong!
“Ivy!” I growl, running over to her, completely enraged.
“Laney, please!” Rose pleads from behind me.
Ivy looks up from painting her nails with an innocent expression on her face. “What’s wrong, Laney? Seen something you didn’t like today?” She gives a tinkling laugh.
“I’ll rip your head off,” I snarl.
“Laney!” Rose squeaks.
“Oh, I’m just terrified,” Ivy says sarcastically, feigning mock horror.
“I WILL FRY YOUR BUTT IN BUTTER IF YOU DO NOT PUT THIS RIGHT!” I screech, not really knowing what I’m saying.
“Wow,” she says, examining her nails, “dramatic.”
“You’re disgusting,” I spit, not caring about the scene I’m causing. Everyone in Gryffindor seems to have gathered in the Common Room to watch Laney Becks and Ivy Osiris have a row. “Disgusting slime, you are! You went through my things! You’re a conniving, lying little slag who -”
“- what? Exposed your secret to the school? You deserve it, Laney! Even more - people deserve to know the parents you have! That letter was just an easy way of doing it.”
I’m so furious I can’t see. “That was private!” I bellow. “You had NO RIGHT to hand it out to everyone in school! I swear I’ll have you expelled!”
She jumps to her feet. “There isn’t any proof!” she screams.
“Veritaserum!” I yell back. “Look it up!”
Her face goes pink. “You’re a freak!” she screams, eyes looking crazed. “You stole Al from me, and - and YOU-ARE-A-FREAK! An absolute monster! People deserve to see you for what you really are - a loser! Your parents don’t want you and never will! It’s all here in this letter!” She throws a piece of parchment at my face. “And frankly, I don’t blame them! NO ONE LIKES YOU, LANEY!”
At that moment, both Rose and my wands are in the air.
I cry, “Petrificus Totalus!” and vaguely hear Rose yell something long and complex.
Suddenly, Ivy cannot move and every hair on her body has become static with electricity. She topples over, solid as a rock. The Gryffindor Common Room erupts into tumultuous applause.
“SILENCE!” a voice bellows. “LANEY BECKS! ROSE WEASLEY! MY OFFICE, NOW!”
It’s Professor McCollough.
Rose looks petrified. I groan.
“Detention! Detention! I cannot believe you’ve landed me in detention! What would Mother think?” Rose says, tugging at her red curls and pacing around the Charms room. “I have never been more distraught. This will go on my record forever! I’ll be the laughing stalk of my family....”
I rest my chin on my hand, twirling my wand around my fingers and trying to tune Rose out.
“What’s wrong with her?” asks a black haired boy who’s happened into detention with Rose and I. What’s his name again...Jerome? Jer - Jerry? No, no. Jeremy! That’s it. Jeremy um, Jeremy Something. Oh, give me a break, no one really knows his name.
“I think she’s having some sort of manic episode,” I respond nonchalantly. As I say this, I see Rose begin to turn tomato red and breathe heavily. “Rose,” I say lightly, “you’re swallowing too much air. Relax.”
She looks livid.
“Is she - is she safe?” Jeremy asks in a nervous tone of voice. He’s slowly edging closer to the door.
“Eh, she’ll be fine,” I yawn, stretching. “Give her five minutes and she’ll just pass out from the anxiety.”
“You’re mad...” he says pointedly.
“Thanks for sugarcoating it,” I grunt.
He blinks at me. “Mad is sugarcoating it.”
I raise a brow. “Why are you in here, anyway?”
“Fidgeon thought I was breaking and entering into Hogwarts.”
“He didn’t know who I was. But when I told him, he still didn’t know. It happens a lot....Sometimes I think people don’t listen to me,” he says sadly.
“Hmm?” I say, just remembering that I was having a conversation.
He seems sincerely annoyed. “Well, then. What are you here for?”
“Oh,” I laugh, “I hexed Ivy Osiris for telling the whole school about my parents. Rose helped.”
“Oh, yeah. I heard about that...aren’t you upset?”
I stare at him. “Why would I be upset?”
“It was pretty cruel what she did,” he says tentatively.
I chuckle, “Oh, my. Oh, no, sweet Jeremy Something -”
“- my last name isn’t ‘Something,’ it’s -”
“- Oh, my, my. Of course it was cruel. But don’t you know what this means?”
“Uh, sorry, but no.”
I chortle again. “Gather round, Jeremy,” I say, gesturing for him to move forward.
He looks awkwardly around and takes a step in.
“Do you know who I am friends with, Mr. Something?”
“That’s not my name -”
“Answer the question,” I say in a sing-song voice.
“Fine. No I do not know who you -”
“- I am friends with two of the most finest pranksters in Hogwarts history, Fred Weasley and James Potter.”
Jeremy rolls his eyes. “That’s terrific,” he mutters.
“Indeed,” I say, throwing an arm around his shoulders. “Now, tell me, Jerry -”
“- for the love of Merlin -”
“Why is this so important?”
“So you can prank -”
“So I can prank Ivy!” I squeal. “Dear friend, this is no mere game of innocent wit; this is war.”
Letting go of Jeremy, I plop down into a desk. “Well, then, I’m going to sleep, now.”
“What! What about all the work we have to do for detention?” he says, taken aback.
“Well, you have two hands and a wand, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but -”
“Goodnight.” I close my eyes.
“But...but wait! What about her?” he snaps, pointing at Rose who is now crouched in the corner of the room, hiccuping.
I shrug, conjure a Muffliato charm, and close my eyes again.
Author's Note: Hi everyone! Ash here. I hope you liked this chapter! It's personally one of my favourites - I find it humourous. *smiles proudly*
Just a note - this coming November is NaNoWriMo. It's where you attempt to write fifty thousand words in a month's time. I've decided to do it for Just Ordinary! Yay! So I've been practically popping out 7,000 word chapters... ;)
Happy reading! And reviewing, I hope! ^^
Disclaimer: JKRness surrounds us.
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December comes quick and snowy in the next few weeks. Lately it seems that every morning there is a new coating of snow on the grounds; almost as if a giant came along and dumped marshmallow cream topping all over Hogwarts. It’s been one of the snowiest winters we’ve had in ages. This made it sort of difficult for Al's and my project to grow. Our final mark was an average ‘acceptable,’ which, to be honest, was rather kind...seeing as our plants had each turned black and withered by the end.
Dara’s parents have finally gotten divorced. She cried for a few days, but has since seemed to have gotten over it. She’s spending Christmas with her mum and The New Year with her dad. It’s not that I don’t feel bad for her, but the way I see it is that at least she has parents to go home to. Rose has been substantially more helpful in the comfort department, something I was surprised by. I guess they’ve finally moved on from their little quarrel, but I still think there’s some bitterness there.
Meanwhile, I have been spending many a late night up on the Astronomy Tower with Fred and James, scheming. Oh, and I mustn’t forget fourth year Liam Scott, our scapegoat. He had agreed to join our anti-Ivy efforts one morning when we were telling Lily about all the ideas we have so far. She was, of course, very interested in what we were doing, and he seemed to notice. I suppose he wants to prove himself.
“I’m fr-freezing,” he says, shivering. We are sitting on the Astronomy Tower brainstorming, late on Monday night. Fred has laid out a long roll of parchment for us to make notes on.
“Ah, man up, would you?” James snaps at Liam. It’s blatantly obvious that James hates Liam’s guts for going out with his little sister.
Liam’s lips are turning blue and I can see in his eyes that he wishes he had never agreed to this. I have to admit, it’s icing pretty hard and the wind is frigid.
“N-now,” chatters Fred through his Gryffindor scarf, “If th-this is g-going to work, th-then someone’s going to n-need to d-dig up some d-dirt on Ivy.”
“L-leave it to me,” James mutters, make a note on the parchment. The wind is whistling around us.
“I’ll wr-write to dad tomorrow,” Fred says. “You know, t-to ask for everything we n-need.”
“I d-don’t get it,” Liam says gruffly. “Where do I come in on all this?”
“Q-quit complaining,” James hisses. “You’re the look-out, and I’ll n-need your help d-digging up some d-dirt on the s-slimewad.” He seems disgruntled by having to ask for a ‘traitor’s’ help. He pulls his Quidditch Captain’s hat down over his ears.
“Laney,” Fred says, turning to me, “you’ll be in charge of l-learning the enchantments, okay?”
“No problem,” I say, feeling the icy air whoosh in as I open my mouth for the first time in an hour.
“That’s settled then,” James says, rolling up the parchment and tucking it away into his robes. “It’s about midnight, b-better get back to the Common Room or else McCollough’ll be on our arses.”
Silently, we creep through the castle and over to The Fat Lady. “Galloping Gargoyles,” Fred whispers and the portrait swings open. We mutter goodnights and head up to our dormitories. I can tell my roommates are still awake by the flickering glow I see underneath our door.
“Hello, Laney,” Chaz says as I enter the room. She glances at her watch. “Wow, you were out late!”
I laugh awkwardly. “Yeah, just a bit of late night studying.”
Ivy scoffs. I raise my eyebrows at her.
“I’m sorry, but did I ask for your opinion?” I ask her in a condescending tone.
“Been snogging Al in then corridors, have you?” she snaps, clutching the enormous bruise on her forehead.
“As a matter of fact,” I say, considerably more stable after noticing how many bruises my spell gave her, “I was.”
“Go to hell,” she hisses, yanking her hangings closed.
“So long as you’re around, I’m already in it,” I reply, slipping into my pajamas. Chaz looks uncomfortable.
“Where are Rose and Dara?” I ask, glancing toward the toilets.
“The loo,” she responds, opening a book.
That’s a bit weird. I mosey on over to the bathroom and knock on the door. Rose opens it looking flustered, but before I can so much as open my mouth, she grabs me by the scruff of my pajamas and pulls me in. Her face is a pale green and she’s biting her lip.
“What’s up?” I ask, a little afraid of the answer.
“I’ve - I’ve messed up, Laney,” her voice shakes as she says this.
“Rose, what’s going on? And where’s...Dara...” With a scary dawn of realization, I gulp. “...Merlin, you didn’t...?”
She swallows thickly, looking like she might be sick, and nods. My jaw drops.
Oh my Merlin - Rose murdered Dara!
Slowly, she walks over to the shower and pulls the curtain open.
“Leaping lizards!” I cry out in shock, stumbling backwards and getting tangled in the shower curtain.
I have good reason, too, because there in the shower lies a very un-Dara-ish Dara; she’s balding, covered from head-to-toe in flaming red pustules, her skin is purple, her nose is a pig snout, and her arms have shrunk ten sizes.
“I know!” Rose wails, clutching her face. “...all my fault!”
“It’s - I - what in the name of Merlin?” I can hardly find two words to put together.
“She has a b-bit of a cold!” Rose moans through her hands.
“What does that have to do with anything?” I ask, positively horrified by the drunken figure laying in the shower.
“I t-tried to give her some medicine, but it didn’t help, s-so I asked her if I c-could try out this n-new spell to c-cure her...” She sobs harder than ever.
“Just breathe, Rose,” I say, averting my eyes from the monster that was once Dara. “I don’t understand. You’re great at magic! What went wrong?”
Tears swallow her eyes. She’s so helpless looking - like someone just came along and kicked a puppy.
“That’s just it!” she cries. “I don’t know! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before....I must have recited the incantation wrong! Oh Laney, I don’t know what to do!”
“We’ve got to take her to Madame Smitty!” I say, thinking of the Hospital Wing.
“No!” she says, horror struck. “I’d be in so much trouble - trying to do a complex bit of healing by myself!”
“Well, we can’t just leave her in here!”
“I know, I know!” she says frantically. She’s clearly torn between Dara’s safety and her reputation as a spotless student. She chews her lip. I scrutinize her. “Oh, all right!” she says in defeat. “Help me lift her, she’s not in her right mind...she was mumbling something about Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans a few minutes ago....”
“We’ll use magic, Rose,” I say, shaking my head. “I’m not touching that.”
Rose rolls her eyes and quickly casts the spell. As we levitate her towards the door, Rose gasps. “Oh no! You have to distract Chaz and Ivy! Ivy loathes Dara, she’ll spread this all over the school if she sees her in such a state.”
I nod. “You’re right. Give me two minutes.”
I slip through the bathroom door and think on my feet. “Hey, Ivy!” I say, drawing both Ivy and Chaz’s attention.
Ivy rips her curtains open. “What?” she snaps.
I grin, pointing my wand at her face. “Confundo, you slag.” Ivy’s eyes fall out of focus.
I turn to Chaz, “So sorry about this.” Her eyes widen. “Confundo,” I murmur. “All right, Rose, you can come on out.”
Rose comes slowly out of the toilets, Dara levitating in her wake. “Confuond them?” she asks. I nod. She sighs and I can tell she deeply disapproves.
We creep down the girls’ staircase and into the Common Room where Rose let’s Dara drop into a squashy arm chair. “That’s harder than it looks,” she mutters. “You really have to focus....Do you know how to do it? Maybe you could help,” she asks.
I shake my head vigorously. “Hell no, I hardly have the disarming spell down.”
She bites her lip. “I guess I could try and levitate her all the way up to the Hospital Wing - so long as we take frequent breaks...”
“No, no,” I say, wishing I could help her. Why wasn’t I borne a better witch? Then something dawns on me. “I’ve had an idea...Al.”
“What?” she says.
“Al,” I repeat. “He’s brilliant at this sort of thing. I’ll go get him - you stay here.” I run up the boys’ stairs leaving Rose in the Common Room. I search for the door labeled ‘fifth years’ and slowly push it open. I peek through the crack in the doorway, squinting into the dark room. Everyone is sound asleep except one boy, whose wand tip is ignited. It’s clearly Albus by the way the light is glinting off of his spectacles. Trying not to make too much noise, I push the door wide open, letting the light from the corridor flood in. Al’s head snaps up and he looks at me quizzically. I frantically gesture at him to come with me. He nods, looking slightly startled. A second later he’s out in the corridor with me.
“It’s Dara,” I whisper. “Rose tried a spell to cure her head cold and it’s made her go all funny.”
“What? How?” he asks.
“I don’t know,” I say, crinkling my forehead. “She reckons that she recited the incantation wrong. Point is, we need your help levitating her to the Hospital Wing.”
“Of course,” he says immediately.
“Thanks,” I sigh. “They’re in the Common Room. Come on.”
We hurry down the stairs and over to Rose, who’s looking uneasily at a very purple Dara.
“Holy hell!” Al says, eyes popping as he sees Dara.
“I’m such an idiot!” Rose sobs.
Eyes still glued to Dara, he puts his arm around Rose’s shoulders. “We better get her to the Hospital Wing,” he mutters. Rose nods, wiping her eyes. They both help levitate her behind us as quietly as possible through the portrait hole and into the sleeping castle.
“I’m so sorry,” Rose whimpers. “If we get caught I swear that I will take full responsibility!”
Al shakes his head. “Don’t be stupid, you were just trying to help her.”
Rose hesitates and then mumbles something about how much homework she has to do still.
Al stops very abruptly and Dara ker-plunks onto the ground. “You were trying to help her, weren’t you?”
Once again, Rose looks like she might explode with waterworks.
What the hell is with all the crying this year? It’s exhausting.
“I ― I just wanted to get her back!” she wails, clutching her face. “She was horrible t-to me at that party! I n-never asked for something like th-that to happen!” She sobs uncontrollably.
“Rose!” Al says, shocked.
“I n-never meant for th-this to happen,” she moans. “I j-just wanted to g-give her a bad h-hair day.”
“I thought everything was fine between you two?” I ask skeptically.
“I th-thought so too,” she cries. “B-but then I s-saw her with her head cold and I th-thought of a spell to m-make her hair frizzy, b-but it backfired! I feel awful!” Her cries are so loud that I have to cringe away at first.
Al and I exchange worried looks. “Listen, Rose,” he says, putting his hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. People make mistakes, and you obviously learned from it. However, you may actually have to put that full responsibility thing to work if you don’t stop crying so loud.”
She gives a hiccuping laugh and quiets down.
I look around. “Actually, you could probably cry as loud as you want. Anyone sees her,” I gesture to Dara, “then they’re gone for good.”
We enter the Hospital Wing fifteen minutes later, exasperated from climbing so many staircases.
“Good dear!” Madame Smitty exclaims as we point to Dara. We had knocked on her office door and she came out in a nightgown, completely alarmed. “My, my! What in Merlin’s name have you done to this poor girl?”
Rose bursts into tears. “I’m sorry ― it’s all my f-fault! I was ―”
“She was just trying to heal her head cold,” Al interjects. Rose looks gratefully at him.
Madame Smitty gives her a stern look. “That type of magic is too advanced for a fifth year!” she says angrily. “I’ll have to notify the Headmaster.” Rose gives a squeak. “Now levitate her to the bed.”
Once Dara is being tended to, Madame Smitty distractedly snaps over her shoulder, “Young lady, sit in my office and wait for Professor Shacklebolt.” Rose goes pale and Al pats her on the shoulder.
“You two,” Madame Smitty says to Al and I, “out! You’ll get in the way! OUT!”
“Best of luck,” I murmur to Rose, and Al and I hurry out of the Hospital Wing. “I’m exhausted,” I mutter as we walk down the corridor. “ I’m worried about Dara, she didn’t look so good. And you can’t forget Rose, she’s really in for it.” I frown. “You don’t think she’ll get expelled?”
“Of course not,” Al says confidently, but I notice him looking at me in an odd sort of way. Is that...eagerness?
“I can’t believe all this drama,” I sigh. “It’s all because of Ivy, I reckon.” I scowl at the stone floor. “I wish I could just - I dunno, click the reset button on this whole term.”
“I don’t,” Al says thoughtfully.
I look at my feet. “Well, you haven’t really messed up like I have, have you?”
“No, I’ve messed up.” He pauses, “But I dunno what I’d do without all those memories from being with you.”
I falter, feeling sick. I sense the blush come on faster than my broom can fly.
He smiles at me. There’s that eager look again.
I cough a little awkwardly. “Right. Did you turn in that Arithmancy assignment? Hard stuff, I thought.” He looks at me, his expression a mixture of anxiety and frustration. “Ahem, oh look, it’s a suit of armour!” I point to a metal knight and as we pass by, it gives me a rude hand gesture. “Oh my, that wasn’t too friendly. Crazy stuff here, right? Just mad. I mean it is a castle, after all.” Merlin, I am babbling like an idiot. “Suits of armour, talking portraits.... Isn’t magic just great? Just spiffy, really. I wonder what ―”
Like a bolt of lightning Al grabs my shoulders, twirls me against the stone wall and looks me in the eye. I’m so taken by this swift action that I just stand there with my mouth hanging open.
“Al ―” I start, but he’s staring at me so deeply, frustration written on every feature of his face, that I cannot speak.
“I can’t read you, Laney.”
I look up at him and smile.
“So I’ve been told,” I mutter, my mind straying to the recent conversation with Jeremy Something in detention.
Oh Merlin, his face is so close to mine....
“Why can’t I understand you?” He’s looking intently at me. “I don’t know what you want, or what to give you.”
I squish my eyebrows together. “All you have to do is ask.”
His eyes twinkle. He’s leaning in closer. “Tell me,” he says. I can feel his breath on my cheek ―
A booming chuckle causes us to fly apart, startled. It’s Headmaster Shacklebolt and he’s wearing a long midnight bathrobe and smiling at us. “On your way to the Common Room, I hope?” he asks in a deep voice.
“Y-yes,” I say, gathering myself.
“Sorry Professor,” Al says awkwardly. Both of our faces are bright red.
“Move along then,” Shacklebolt says with a small smile. “I’ve got to go have a chat with Miss Weasley, myself. Wouldn’t want students in the corridors...”
We nod and head quickly out of sight.
We streak down the corridors and burst into laughter. I giggle so hard that I have to stop and lean on the wall in fear of falling over. I clutch my stomach, tears in my eyes and I can tell Al is in the same boat. After a few minutes of collecting ourselves, we watch each other silently, leaning against the wall on opposite sides of the corridor.
“Laney,” Al says rather suddenly. “I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you this year. I wouldn’t take it back for anything.”
My face burns. “Me either,” I say, smiling.
“Really, I would never regret becoming friends. Never.”
I don’t know what to say so I just smile.
He walks toward me, holding out his hand. “Come on, I’ll walk you back to the Common Room.”
I smile, taking his hand. “Lead the way.”
“And that was it. He just walked me back to the Common Room and we parted.” I’m sitting cross-legged at the foot of Dara’s bed and explaining to her, Rose, and Lily about the night’s events. Because of Rose’s improper use of magic, she is now serving a four day detention of doing busy work for Madame Smitty in the Hospital Wing.
“Well, if you got to hold hands with Al at my expense, then I think I’m okay with that,” Dara says, nodding. Her voice is still a little bit hoarse, but besides that, she is back to normal. She’s even estimating she’ll be out of the Hospital Wing for Hogsmeade this Saturday. Of course, nearly everyone wants to go to Hogsmeade this weekend; not only is it going to be great to get out of school, but Fred, James, Liam, and I are finally pulling our alleged prank on the Ivy-osaurus that night in the Common Room. I have even persuaded Daniel to make sure she goes to Hogsmeade this weekend so we can catch her as she’s coming back to the Common Room. It’s going to be an epidemic.
“Oh Dara, please don’t say that!” Rose moans. Dara looks annoyed. I don’t blame her either, because ever since the events of two nights ago when Rose ‘accidentally’ mangled her features, there has been an unrelenting stream of pity from the same very apologetic girl.
“What has it been like around him since that night?” Lily asks me excitedly. She has been positively giddy since I explained to her about the very confusing thing going on between me and Al.
“Well, he keeps smiling at me, that’s for certain,” I say, grinning a little. “You know, at Quidditch practice, Defense class, lunch, that sort of thing.”
“That’s so great,” Rose says, smiling as she magics the potion bottles clean.
“So,” Lily prompts, a sneaky smile creeping up her lips, “the prank. You wanna give us a go?”
Rose drops what she’s doing and sits down next to Lily. They are all looking eagerly at me.
I shake my head. “Sorry, that’s between Fred, James, Liam, and I.”
“No!” Dara squeals. “Why not?”
“Because,” I reply smartly, “if word got around what I’m doing to her before hand, it would all blow up in our faces.” I give a sly smile. “And it’s good.”
They all squeak excitedly.
“It’s legal, I hope?” Rose asks a little skeptically. As much as she has tried to be a part of my anit-Ivy efforts, I can she still feels slightly uncomfortable with the idea of deliberately breaking rules. Though, she doesn’t have much of a clean record anymore either, does she?
“Yeah, yeah, keep your head on,” I grumble.
“Visitors after hours!” Madame Smitty shrieks as she enters the room. She points at Lily and I. “Out! OUT!”
On Wednesday morning I stride down to the Quidditch pitch looking for James. Muggle Studies has been canceled today because our instructor, Professor Peabody, had a severe food allergy to his daily tea. In turn, my morning is free, so I figured I’d try and finish the last of the prank plans before Friday.
When I get down to the pitch, I see that it is empty. I stroll around it feeling heavy bits of sleet pound down on me, soaking my hair and shoulders. I make my way to the very centre of the pitch and sit down. The clouds are heavy and black; hard to look up at through the falling precipitation. I hear a pair of shuffling footfalls but do not look back right away.
“I remember this place,” a voice says. I jump up and turn around to see what at first I think is Lily, but then quickly realize is a much taller, older version of my friend. I don’t know what else to do but just stand there, perplexed. “Ginny Potter,” she grins, shaking my hand.
“I ― um ― oh,” I stutter. I’m not too gifted at talking to adults. Especially not when it’s the mum of a boy I fancy.
She smiles knowingly. “I’m here visiting your Headmaster and I saw you walk into the pitch. I suppose I was curious to meet the famous Laney Becks.” She smiles. “My children talk endlessly of you. I feel like I know you already.”
I blush. “They ― they aren’t so bad either. I couldn’t think of nicer mates.”
She laughs, “I like to think so.” She considers me for a moment. “Al talks most fondly of you, you know. As does Lily. But yes, I do see what they mean. Your eyes are marvelous.”
I know for sure now that I am tomato red. I can’t remember the last I’ve been so flattered. “Thank you,” I say earnestly. I feel a little sorry that one measly ‘thank you’ is all I can muster.
“You’ll be joining us for Christmas, I hope?” she asks warmly.
“The Weasley’s, yes,” I reply.
“It will be wonderful to have you, I’m sure,” she responds in a meaningful tone.
“I’m sorry ―” I say quickly, “but Albus mentioned to me that his dad knew my parents?” I can’t help but ask.
“He does,” she says, nodding.
I look at her inquiringly. “Could you...?”
“I would, but Harry wishes to tell you himself. Besides, I fear I won’t do the story justice.”
I nod, feeling a little let down.
“I expect you’ll enjoy the story, though,” she says reassuringly. “I’m afraid I have to be off.” She gazes around the pitch once more, seeming reminiscent. “It was a pleasure to finally meet you, Laney.”
“And you as well,” I say genuinely. She’s so warm and sweet, but with an air of fierceness. With a spark in my stomach, she reminds me of my own mother. I push it away immediately.
“Tell my children I stopped by?” she asks.
“Of course,” I respond.
“Thank you. See you at Christmas, Laney.” She smiles warmly at me one last time and heads off towards the castle.
At lunch on Friday I tell Lily, James, and Al of my encounter with their mum. They seem quite interested that she introduced herself to me and a little embarrassed that she told me how much they talked about the famous ‘Laney Becks.’ Especially Al, but I can tell he’s trying to cover it up.
“I wonder why she didn’t come and say hello...” Lily ponders. “Seems a bit odd. So, did you like her?”
I nod vigorously, “She was really great. You guys are very lucky.”
James scowls. “I can’t believe she just showed up at school ― what if somebody had seen her?”
Lily rolls her eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that!” James snaps at her. “It’s Mum, she’s barking. She probably just wanted to make sure I’ve been making my bed.”
“Grow up, James,” Lily says, clearly irritated by her older brother’s behaviour. “She was probably just doing something for work.”
He grumbles to himself and eats some sandwich.
I observe Lily. “She looks exactly like you, you know,” I say honestly. “Like, a spitting image. Same hair and eyes.”
Lily smiles proudly. “That’s what everyone says. These two,” she gestures to her brothers, “look just like Dad.”
I grin at her. I can’t help but feel a little jealous, though. I know it’s petty, but I wish I had a mum like that....
“Hello, Lil,” Liam says, dropping into the bench between Lily and I. He kisses her cheek and she goes very pink.
“Oi!” James barks at them. “I don’t want to see that when I am eating!”
“Shove it up your arse,” Lily snaps. “You’re always snogging that dreadful Ravenclaw girl at breakfast, and that’s disgusting.”
“Hey!” James says, going red. “First of all, Mildred and I have something special ―”
“You snogged someone called Mildred?” Fred interjects, laughing.
“Second,” James says loudly, “I’m not your little sister ―”
“You sure about that?” Lily asks, her eyebrows raised.
“You clearly don’t want any Christmas presents from me this year, do you?” James asks her.
Lily grumbles something and continues eating her lunch.
“Hey Laney, do you have any more classes today?” Al asks me.
“Nope!” I respond gleefully, for he has just reminded me of this stellar news. “I just got done with Charms and remember how Fidgeon called off fifth year Arithmancy today? I think it was a Christmas treat or something similar.”
Al nods. “Right, I forgot. That’s great news!” He chews some pie. “Would you wanna practice Quidditch after we eat? I’m meeting a players from the Hufflepuff team to scrimmage after lunch.”
I consider this for a moment. Everyday this week we’ve had grueling practices with James preparing for the Ravenclaw match. I’m so sore I can hardly feel my legs, but the thought of hanging out with Al...I can’t resist it. “Sure,” I say. “How many players is it?”
“Four on four,” he responds. “A Beater, a Seeker, a Chaser, and a Keeper.”
“All right, I’m in,” I respond happily.
“So uh,” he says, peering around. “Fred, me, you, and James against four Badgers.”
“Sounds fine to me. We’ll crush them.”
“Hi guys,” Rose says as she squeezes into the table between Liam and I.
“Want to come and watch us play Quidditch?” Al asks her.
“Sure,” she responds, shrugging. “I’ll bring this new book I started―”
“Eurgh, Rose! You ruin anything even remotely fun by bring a book,” I groan.
“Books are fun, Laney,” Rose sighs.
I snort. “Yeah, right...so is the Cruciatus Curse.”
“Laney! People have died from that!”
“Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Don’t get your knickers in a bunch.”
Ten minutes later I am walking onto the Quidditch pitch, Quickskip 3000 in hand. I can make out Rose’s red curls clearly in the stands.
“All right,” James says, mounting his Firebolt 1050, “they’re all ready in the air. Play as rough as you like ― there isn’t any referee today.” With a sly smile he bolts into the air, Fred, Al, and I following in his wake.
“Good scrimmage,” Albus says to the other players as we land. The captain throws him a dirty look. I can’t quite tell through his Quidditch goggles, but he looks familiar....
“Very good, thanks for playing us,” their Keeper responds in a cheery voice. She’s short and rosy, with blonde curly hair and a pair of electric blue eyes. I recognize her as fifth year Pheobe Rainwater. I rack my brain to remember if I have Muggle Studies with her or not. “You look familiar,” she says, turning to me. “Do we have Muggle Studies together?”
Well, that answers my question.
"Yes,” I respond, trying to seem offended that she didn’t know me.
She blushes. “I’ll have to look out for you next time!”
I roll my eyes.
We say our goodbyes and head off the pitch. Al, Fred, and James go straight to the changing rooms, but I run to catch up with Rose.
“Hi,” I say as I find her, just leaving the stands.
“Good job, Laney!” she smiles. “You really crushed them. And Merlin ― you scored like twenty times!”
“Thanks,” I grin.
She smiles and then furrows her eyebrows. “Who was that girl you were talking to? Down on the pitch?”
I laugh. I can’t wait to tell her about my little guilt-trip. “Well, it’s Pheobe Rain ―”
“ROSE! Aye, Rose!” a voice calls from down by the Black Lake.
Rose whirls around to face the Black Lake and then quickly turns back. Her face is going very pink and she’s looking nervously at me. “It’s him!” she whispers. “What do I do?”
As I see the face of the shouting boy, it dawns on me. That’s the familiar looking guy from the scrimmage, Riley O’Malley. The very same boy who had been flirting with Rose a few weeks ago. “Go down there,” I say, feeling a little over shadowed. I try to push that feeling away and be happy for Rose, despite the fact that, just a few moments ago, I wanted to cave his skull in for glaring at Al.
“Okay,” she says nervously. “I’ll let you know what happens!”
I watch as she trots down to meet him, fussing with her hair and robes. I furrow my brow; I know I should be ecstatic for her, finding a boy she fancies, but there’s something about him that makes me uneasy.
I don’t like him.
And I definitely don’t trust him.
It’s here. It’s finally here. Saturday.
The day I have been waiting for since a fortnight ago has finally come: pranking day. Today is the day I am going to unleash my wrath upon Ivy. Everything is in order. Fred, Liam, James, and I even had a late night chat on the Astronomy Tower until 3:00 AM last night. And the best part? The whole school seems to know about the alleged prank except for her. People keep throwing me winks and ‘good luck’s’ in the corridors. I can hardly stand the excitement.
I whip my covers off of me and skip out of bed. I run round and round looking for an outfit and preparing for the trip to Hogsmeade (tripping over Presto several times in the mix). In my loud motions, I wake both Dara and Rose.
“You ready?” Dara mouths at me, jerking her head at Ivy’s bed.
“Never have I been more,” I mouth back.
Rose stifles a laugh.
We finish getting ready and climb down the girls’ stairs. The Common Room is full of excited third years who are going to Hogsmeade for the first time, including Lily.
“Hi!” Lily squeaks, bouncing over to us with her best friend Hugo Weasley. Rose smiles at her little brother but he pretends not to notice. “We are so excited to see Hogsmeade! I’ve only ever been once....”
“You’re going to love it!” Dara cheers. “It’s so fun going with everyone.”
Lily looks overjoyed. “Really? I can hardly wait! And―Oh, here comes Ivy.”
I glance back over my shoulder to see Ivy slouching down the girls’ stairs and looking most unpleasant.
And I thought I wasn’t a morning person.
“No worries,” I whisper. “She’s going to wish she’d never come to Hogwarts after today.”
Rose looks concerned. “Laney, it is anything too awful, is it? I wouldn’t want―”
“Oh, look what the cat dragged in: two Weasley’s,” Ivy hisses as she passes by us.
“I hope you destroy her,” Rose snaps, turning on her heel and walking through the portrait whole.
“That I will, Rose,” I sigh. “That I will.”
I walk down the path to Hogsmeade with Fred, James, and Liam; all of us lagging behind the rest of the students.
“Everything seems to be in order,” Fred says, peeking at a piece of parchment.
“You do have the stuff, right?” I ask.
“Brilliant. Liam, you know what to do: you have an important job, don’t mess it up.”
Liam gulps. “R-right.”
“Make sure you aren’t late to the Common Room. Don’t have too much fun in Hogsmeade, guys,” James adds.
We trudge down to Hogsmeade, fighting to remain upright from the the harshly blowing wind. Meanwhile, I’m starting to worry about this prank. Of course it’s going to get the job done, but won’t it make her retaliate? And how couldn’t she? What I have planned is...utterly terrible. She isn’t going to take lightly to this....
I gulp. “I’ll see you lot in the Common Room at five, then?” I ask, turning to them. The plan is to meet back in Gryffindor tower to pull the prank. We’ll catch her as she comes through the portrait hole.
They all nod and we head off in separate directions, searching for our friends. Immediately, I set out for Honeydukes to meet Rose, Dara, and Albus. When I enter the little shop, Dara makes eye contact and waves me over.
“Hey,” I say, grabbing a chocolate coin from a shelf and popping it into my mouth.
Dara giggles, “Hi, Becksy.”
“Laney!” Rose gasps. “You have to pay for those!”
I roll my eyes to the ceiling and pop a tiny silver sickle out of my bag. “Here,” I say, tossing it into the jar of chocolate coins. Rose lifts her eyebrows in a dangerous way. “Hey Al,” I say.
“Hey Becks,” he responds, biting into a Licorice Wand and grinning at me.
“So,” I say, clapping my hands together and looking at the lot of them. “What’s the plan today?”
We each rattle off a few things that we need (robes, quills, parchment, etc.) and set off into Hogsmeade. Our fist stop is Rolanda’s Remedies for some flu potion for Dara (she’s terrified of ever becoming ill again) and then we walk to Missy’s Robes and Wizard’s Attire for Rose. As we enter the store, the shopkeeper sweeps Rose up and magics her robes shorter (she needed them hemmed). Afterward, we stop for lunch at The Three Broomsticks and down some sandwiches.
By four o’clock it seems we have hit nearly every store in the village. We trudge through the knee-deep snow and make our way up to the castle for dinner. I keep a careful eye on the time and make sure I am in the Common Room by five. I have never had more butterflies than I do right now. I can’t believe my luck with finding out what I did about Ivy....
Almost an hour later the Common Room is packed full of Gryffindor students. Fred, James, and I are waiting casually on the couches for Liam’s signal.
“Do you have them?” I whisper to Fred. He nods and hands me a small pink box. I take it and peek inside. “Brilliant,” I say, grinning.
Liam comes sprinting up. “She’s coming!” he shouts.
Way to be discreet about it.
I jump up, ready for action. “Hey Ivy,” I say, gesturing for her to come over.
She gives me a nasty look. “What?” she calls from beside the portrait hole. I gesture madly for her to come over. She finally gives in, looking very displeased, and comes over to me. “Is there something you wanted from me?” she asks in a painful tone.
“I wanted to say thanks,” I say, plastering an enormous smile on my face.
“For what?” she hisses.
I mimic her tinkling laugh. “Oh, don’t you know? I just wanted to thank you for telling the school about my parents.
I can tell that various people from the Common Room are shushing their friends and listening in on our conversation.
Ivy looks a bit pale and slightly worried. “What’s th-that supposed to mean?” she stutters.
That’s right, you slag, you better be stuttering.
“Well, since you exposed my biggest secret to the school,” I pause. She gulps. I continue, “I figured I’d do the same for you.” I give her a nasty smirk and lift up the little pink box. I can practically see the blood draining from her face.
“W-what’s in there?” she asks, eyeing the pink box nervously. The Common Room is completely silent now. I smile and open the lid. Her eyes bulge. “GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!” she screeches, stumbling backwards and falling down.
I grin and dump the two little smiling Pygmy Puffs onto the floor. “Engorgio!” I call, pointing my wand at them. Instantly, they are no smaller than a fluffy pink cat. Ivy screams, running around the Common Room. Thinking it’s some sort of fun game, the Pygmy Puffs waddle after her excitedly.
“You see,” I call out over Ivy’s squeals and the sounding laughter in the Common Room, “Ivy suffers from a terrible and very irrational fear of Pygmy Puffs.” At these words, the Gryffindor’s burst into near explosions of laughter. “It says so in this letter I found from Healer McMartin in her bedside table.” I hold up a piece of parchment. “According to this note, she was attacked by a cursed one when she was six. Ever since she’s been dead afraid of the adorable creatures.”
Ivy gives a screech of horror as one little Pygmy Puff licks her ankle affectionately. “Get off me! Get off me, you monster!” she shouts, kicking it.
“Hey!” Lily interjects, grabbing the large Pygmy Puff around the middle. “Don’t hurt him!”
“Yeah!” calls out Stella Felton, a second year.
“He just wants your attention!” another person yells from the crowd.
Suddenly the Common Room is filled with angry shouting, all telling Ivy off. I make eye contact with Fred and he winks at me.
This. Is. Brilliant.
Ivy continues stomping on the remaining Puff until the whole of Gryffindor is rushing up to rescue it. After a few minutes of confused fighting, in which a lot of hair was mistakenly tugged and a first year was knocked clean out by someone diving for the Pygmy Puff, Ivy breaks free from the crowd and storms up to me. Her eyes are wild and her hair is in every direction, bits of Pygmy fur poking out of it. “You’ll regret the day you did this to me!” she bellows at me, spit flying in my face. I use the back of my hand to wipe it off in the most offended looking way possible. “I’ll hex you straight through Gryffindor Tower if I have to!” she snarls, pulling out her wand jabbing at in my face. Several people gasp and the Common Room falls quiet.
My eyes widen and I take a step back, my hands in the air. “Woah, Ivy, calm down...” I say, taken aback.
“DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!” she roars, red sparks shooting out the end of her wand.
Out of nowhere it seems, Al is behind her, his wand at her throat. “Touch her and I’ll put you in St. Mungo’s,” he says dangerously.
Fred and James appear on either side of her as well, wands in the air.
Her lips tremble but she does not lower her wand. “As if you know enough magic to harm me, anyway,” she says, a nervous flicker in her eyes.
“My father defeated the most powerful dark wizard that has ever walked this planet,”Al says in a deadly voice. “Try me.”
Her wand falls to her side. “This isn’t over,” she hisses at me.
“You bet,” I snap back.
“Get her, Cornelius!” Lily orders, dropping a Pygmy Puff at Ivy’s feet. She lets out a terrible scream bolts out of the Common Room. I turn to everyone, grinning. “Hope you enjoyed the show.”
Rose comes walking up to me, beaming. “Really good work, Laney. I mean it. You really got her!”
“Glad you approve,” I say, tickled by this rare statement.
“Laney?” a second year girl asks, walking up to me.
“Ivy tripped me once in the corridor because we had the same shoes on,” she says sadly. “Th-thanks for putting her right.”
“Sure thing,” I respond happily.
“Wow,” Al says as she walks away, “I guess you’re popular now.” He sniggers.
I cringe. “Please, don’t ever say that again.”
Al laughs, putting his arm around my shoulders. The movement gives me chills. “Who’s up for breaking into the kitchens to celebrate?” he asks.
“Is that even a question?” Fred says, ducking through the portrait hole.
Al and I laugh, his arm still around my shoulders, and we follow Fred out into the corridor, Dara, Rose, Lily, Liam, and James in our wake.
Author's Note: Hey guys! I hope you enjoyed this very long chapter! Quite fun and dramatic. I apologize in advance for any mistakes! My beta is still working but I felt bad keeping you guys waiting so I'll resubmit the edited version is as soon as possible! Also, I know you are very busy this November but it would be terrific if you could leave a review and tell me what you think. Author's thrive off of your comments so please oblige if you have a minute. There's a chance some of your suggestions could get featured in JO, too!
Disclaimer: If I was JKR I would be being my awesome self somewhere else.
"Last call! ALL ABOARD!"
A bell dings.
“LAST CALL BACK TO KING’S CROSS STATION!"
“Laney! Laney, where are you? Oh! There you are! Quit running off ― where’s your trunk?” Rose spatters at me, her face turning a very unnatural shade of red.
We are standing just outside of the Hogwarts Express, ready to leave for the Holidays. Rose has been badgering me every five minutes since the moment I woke up this morning. She is completely neurotic about time ― to the point where I worry about her mental stability.
“Rose,” I say, my hand on her shoulder, “my trunk is right here,” I point to the large case at my feet, “quit having a panic attack. You’re going to give yourself hiccups again.”
She nods, breathing heavily and tugging at her sleeves. “Right, right...calm, yes. Yes ― AL, FOR THE LOVE OF MERLIN, HURRY UP!”
I jump backwards at her loud burst and Al’s glasses go crooked. For the past ten minutes he has been trying to package his broom. “Er ― Laney, maybe it’s best if you take her onto the train...I’ll catch up to you in a few minutes.”
“All right,” I reply, grabbing Rose’s arm. “Come on, dear, follow me onto the nice red train now. That’s it. No, don’t be afraid ― there’s candy in our compartment!” I say calmly to Rose, trying to bring her out of this manic episode.
“Laney, you sound like a pedophile,” Al says pointedly.
I throw him a look.
“Watch it, Potter,” I growl.
He smirks and continues messing with his broom.
As we enter the Hogwarts Express, I head straight down to the tenth compartment where Lily, Fred, and Dara are waiting for us. “Hiya,” I say, dumping Rose into a seat. “Fred, a little help?” I ask, gesturing to our trunks. He pops up and helps me load them into the compartments. “Brilliant. Thanks, Fred.”
I fall down into a seat and sigh. My heart has been going haywire for this past week; I’m so excited to be spending Christmas with the Potter/Weasley clan that I can hardly stand it. I do feel a little intrusive being the only non-Potter/Weasley, but then I remember how I have no where else to go, and I feel much better. And then there’s that kind-of-major-thing about Harry Potter knowing my parents. Yes, I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be an interesting Holiday. The train’s final horn blows and I feel it start to move beneath me.
“Phew, just in time,” Al says, sliding open the compartment door and joining us.
“Oh my goodness, Al!” Rose squeaks. “I thought you weren’t going to make it!” She hits his arm.
“Ouch! What was that for?”
“For making me nervous!” she shrieks.
“Heaven forbid, Rose being nervous. How terribly out of character for her,” says Lily, eyes rolling to the ceiling.
“Hey, Rose?” I say quickly, before she can retort.
“Yes?” she responds a little begrudgingly.
“How are, uh, classes going?”
She raises an eyebrow. “Good, I guess. Since when do you care about school, though?”
“What! Can’t a girl be interested in her friend’s student life? Yeesh,” I say defensively.
“No,” Fred interjects, looking bored. “School’s rubbish. This is winter break! Let’s not bore ourselves with Hogwarts codswallop.”
“Hogwarts isn’t codswallop, Fred,” Dara snaps in an irritated tone.
Joy, here comes the Dara versus Fred bit again.
“Oi, get that stick out of your arse and piss off,” Fred replies heatedly.
Dara looks sincerely offended. “That language is offensive, you know!”
“As if I give a hippogriff’s fart about your feelings,” he says, stretching. “Actually, I rather fancy offending you.”
Dara snarls a retort and they bowel off into another full steamed row.
The rest of us exchange looks and make ourselves comfortable. It’s going to be a long train ride...
And that it was.
Hours went by of Dara and Fred bickering. We eventually had to take shifts sitting in between them, causing much uproar from the pair: “How old are we, five? We ― aren’t ― FIGHTING!”
After the long, seven hour train ride was over, everyone was thrilled to see the dreary London skyline.
“Finally,” I gasp as I fling myself off the train and onto the platform. “I thought I was going to die in there.”
Al, Rose, and Lily are following tightly behind, all looking quite as glad as I am for being off that bloody train.
“Good riddance!” Dara shouts at Fred, storming off toward her mum. I give Ms. Valentin a wave and turn back to the group.
“She just never shuts up, does she?” Fred says to no one in particular, rolling his eyes. The rest of us exchange looks, knowing full-well that Fred had as much a row with Dara as she him.
“There’s Mum and Dad!” Lily says excitedly.
We turn to find Mr. and Mrs. Potter standing by the train, beaming at us. I’ve already met Mrs. Potter, but seeing the actual Harry Potter was a crazy thing. I have never thought of him as a celebrity before, but I am suddenly feeling self-conscious about my plain self.
“Hi honey,” Mrs. Potter says, hugging Lily.
“Good term?” asks Mr. Potter, rustling Al’s hair.
“Yeah,” says Al, grinning.
“Where are James and Hugo?” Mr. Potter asks, glancing around.
“Dunno,” Al responds. “They’ll catch up. Dad, this is Laney Becks,” he says, gesturing to me.
I flush. “Hi,” I say, abnormally shyly.
“Nice to meet you,” he grins, shaking my hand.
“Good to see you again,” Mrs. Potter says, beaming at me.
“You too,” I respond kindly.
“Mum! Dad!” Rose squeals, making eye-contact with a bushy haired woman and her tall, red haired spouse.
“Rose!” they say, walking up and crowding her in a hug.
“Heard you got detention,” her dad says, rustling her hair. “You keep it up, right?”
“Ron!” her mother scolds, throwing him a look.
He clears his throat but winks at Rose all the same.
“Where’s your brother, dear?” Mrs. Weasley asks.
“Here!” A small, brown haired boy comes running up. “Hi Mum, hi Dad.”
“Hey Hugh!” Mr. Weasley says, patting his son on the shoulder.
“Sweetheart, you have dirt on your nose,” Mrs. Weasley says, attacking him with a handkerchief.
Mr. Weasley rolls his eyes.
“You must be Laney!” Mrs. Weasley says after she’s done cleaning Hugo’s nose, turning to me.
I grin. “Hi,” I say, shaking her hand.
“I’m so happy to meet you!” she trills, hugging me. “Rose talks non stop about you.”
I laugh. “Thanks Rose,” I say, smiling gratefully at her.
“We’re so happy to have you staying with us for the Holidays. You are welcome anytime ― this is Ron,” Mrs. Weasley says, gesturing to her husband.
“Hi,” I say to him.
“Hello,” he responds gleefully.
“Right. Harry?” She turns to Mr. Potter. “See you tomorrow for dinner, then?”
“All right, we better be off. Everyone ready?” She looks around. “Okay. See you, Potters!”
“Bye, Al! Bye, Lil!” Rose and I say as we head off through the barrier.
“Hi, I’m Hugo,” Rose’s little brother declares to me as we walk into the busy train station. “I don’t think we’ve met. I’m a third year.”
“Laney,” I say, grinning at him.
“Lily says you’re cool,” Hugo continues, smiling up at me. “Wanna be friends?”
“No!” Rose snaps, shuffling him away. “Go play with dolls or something. Leave Laney be.”
“I’m not six years old, Roe,” Hugo grumbles, demonstrating a nickname for Rose I have never heard before.
“Sure, I’ll be your friend,” I say to Hugo. “And, uh, Roe?”
Hugo cheers and Rose gives me an angry look. “Eurgh, please don’t call me that. My family think it’s cute ― blech,” she says, making a face.
“It is cute!” I say, deciding that whether she likes it or not, I am now calling her ‘Roe’ for the rest of her life.
“For a five year old, yes, for a fifteen year old, no.”
“I like it. Roe ― it has a fine ring to it. That’s what I shall call you from now on.” I chuckle at my own wit.
“Never mind! Never mind!” I squeal in horror.
Both the Weasleys and the Potters live in a beautiful old place called Godric’s Hollow. It’s full of history and magic for us witches and wizards. It’s best known for the cemetery where some of the most famous witches and wizards of all time have been buried. I love it ― the whole place. I wish I had grown up somewhere so beautiful.... I wonder if I would have turned out different, growing up in a stunning little village like this. You know, maybe not have become such a pessimist. Then again, I like being a pessimist. I fancy myself quite the accomplished Negative Nancy, you see.
We Apparate onto the front porch and walk inside. It’s a quaint little place with loads of Rose’s and Hugo’s old childhood artwork all over the walls. It’s neurotically clean, but has the cozy feeling a cottage should have.
“My room’s up here,” Rose says, dumping Hugo with our luggage and leading me upstairs.
“Merlin,” I breathe as she kicks open the first door on the right. The whole thing just screams Rose Weasley; it’s a large room with crisp white walls and drapes. She has two twin beds with neatly folded Gryffindor quilts on them and several fluffy red and gold pillows lined up against the head boards. There are two skinny bookcases on either side of the large window at the furthest end of the room, chalk full of magical textbooks and other things she has read.
She also has a desk with what looks like a few Muggle devices sitting on it and a bulletin board containing strategically pinned notes. There’s a small protruding square a few feet away from her desk that seems to be some sort of reading area. Inside it is a dark burgundy coloured lounge chair with a Gryffindor-gold floor lamp next to it.
I realize that this room is kind of like the anti-Laney. However, I love every bit of it.
“This is so completely you,” I laugh, making myself comfortable on a bed.
“Thanks,” she replies, hanging her coat neatly in the closet. “Pumpkin Juice?” she asks, pulling out her wand.
“Wicked!” I exclaim, just now noticing the small white icebox on the other side of the burgundy sofa. Before, I had merely taken it as a side table. “Sure!”
She beams and summons two goblets from the icebox. “Here,” she smiles, handing one to me.
“Thanks!” I say, swallowing some juice. “And, uh, using magic, are we?”
She flushes. “Well, the Ministry can’t really know. They can only detect magic ― they can’t tell you who did it unless you aren’t around any wizards. They just expect parents to enforce the rule. But, uh, what Mum and Dad don’t know won’t hurt them.” She smiles sheepishly.
I laugh fullheartedly.
“I’m utterly exhausted,” she moans, sinking down onto the couch.
“Me too,” I say, resting my chin on my knees. I look around the room. “It’s sort of like a hospital in here.”
She laughs. “A hospital?”
“Yeah,” I say, considering my words for a moment. “All white and stuff. Like, ‘follow the nice men in white coats to your room now,’” I say in a voice like a mentally deranged person.
“So, in other words, my room looks like an asylum to you?” she asks me pointedly.
“Yeah! That’s it!” I say, glad to have found the right words to describe it. “But it’s brilliant ― best room I’ve ever been in.”
She rolls her eyes, laughing at me.
“Hey Rose?” I say, suddenly remembering something. “What ever happened between you and that Riley bloke down after the Quidditch scrimmage?”
“Oh,” she giggles, blushing. “It ― well ― he’s asked me to a Hufflepuff second term party for when we get back to school.”
“Wow,” I say, trying not to sound as concerned as I feel. “That’s great, Rose. Maybe ― maybe he’ll ask you out.” I cringe at these words. That is the last thing I want.
“I hope so,” she says earnestly. “He’s ― he’s really sweet.”
I nod, smiling as honestly as I can muster. It’s difficult for me to be understanding to this. I want to be happy for her, I do, but there’s something that I just don’t like about Riley. Something that makes me think he might be doing this on a dare or as a way to get back at someone else. I can’t bear to see her get hurt again, I can’t. But at the same time, expressing these feelings would crush her. I know I have to let her make her own mistakes.
Later that night we joined the Weasley family for a delicious dinner (steak and kidney pie made by Mrs. Weasley. Mr. Weasley complained a lot about it) and then headed back up to Rose’s room to unpack and get to sleep.
I place all of my things in neat piles in her two empty drawers (I feel that by being my usual messy self I might hurt the room’s feelings) and slip into my pajamas.
“Mum’s put warming charms on our beds,” Rose says, pulling a hairbrush through her tangly curls.
“I noticed,” I say from inside my bed, cozy as a clam.
“And you think I’m neurotic,” she says, kicking off her socks and climbing into bed. “I’m a right picnic in the park compared to Mum. Wait until you see some of the things she’s got organized around the house ― every magic book ever made ordered from A to Z in our living room is just one example.” She laughs, “Dad hates it. Drives him mad.”
“So that’s where you get it from,” I say, laughing. “Apple doesn’t drop far from the tree then, does it?” I wink at her.
She rolls her eyes. “Guess not.... Night.”
“G’night,” I mumble, blowing out the candle and closing my eyes.
“Rose! Laney! Wake up!”
There’s a loud rapping on the door.
“Wha...” I slur, my eyes bleary.
“I’m up! I’m up!” Rose squeals, sitting bolt upright. She falls back into her bed from a slight head rush.
“Who’s there?” I say, rubbing my eyes.
“It’s Lily! Get up!”
I slide out of bed, feeling the blood rushing back to my feet. I drag myself over to the door and push it open. Lily’s standing there, grinning at me.
“You really couldn’t have just come in?” I growl at her. “Would’ve saved Rose the heart attack and a half from your pounding on our door. It was open, you know.”
She smirks, skipping past me and over to Rose, who’s now slipping her socks back on.
“Breakfast is downstairs, you two. Aunt Hermione’s made eggs. Laney, you didn’t tell me your hair was curly!” she says, taking a double take on me.
I groan. “That’s because it isn’t,” I retort. “I’ve just got horrible bed head every morning.”
Lily laughs. “That’s why I braid my hair before bed,” she says, pointing to her braided hair. “Otherwise it’s stark raving mad in the morning.”
“Not as bad as this,” I say, glancing in the mirror. A description of my appearance almost isn’t even necessary. Let’s just say it’s along-the-lines of ‘Woolly Mammoth.’
We trot downstairs to the smell of eggs and toast.
“Here you go,” Mrs. Weasley says, handing us each a plate of steaming breakfast as we enter the kitchen. “Sleep well, Laney?”
I nod. “Perfectly, thanks.”
She beams at me. “So glad to hear, dear. Lily, could you pass the salt?”
“Sure thing,” Lily says, handing a silver container to Mrs. Weasley.
“Wait a moment,” I say, looking at Lily. “You don’t live here.”
She laughs. “Brilliant observation, Laney.”
“No, I mean, how are you here? Doesn’t your family live somewhere else?”
“Nope. All on this block. I live a few doors down,” she replies, jerking her head towards the window. “I’m here all the time, though. Aunt Hermione is a much better cook than Mum.”
Mrs. Weasley gives her a grateful look but denies the statement all the same.
“So what do you want to do today?” Rose asks me after a few minutes of silent stuffing of our faces.
“Er, dunno,” I respond indifferently. “Maybe we could see Al?” I suggest this in a casual tone.
She gives me an annoyingly knowing look. “All right, that sounds like a plan.”
We finish our meal (thanking Mrs. Weasley wholeheartedly) and head off to the Potters’ house. It’s bloody freezing out and there’s snow half way up to my waist. When we get to their front porch, Rose pushes open their door and kicks off her boots.
The cottage is beautiful on the inside. It’s exactly the kind of place I see Al growing up in. It’s honestly the most humble little domicile I have ever been inside of. There are family portraits covering every inch of the walls, happy curtains tied back with happy bows, Quidditch objects strewn carelessly by the doorway, a crackling fireplace with four rather squashy looking armchairs around it, Gryffindor gear in every nook and cranny, and a lazy black cat snoozing on the burgundy rug.
“Wow,” I breathe, peering around.
“Hmm?” Rose says indifferently. “Oh,” she says, evidently just realizing that I had never seen the inside of the Potter’s house before. “It’s lovely, right?”
I nod. “Kind of like a wizard’s heaven.”
My thoughts stray back to my old home in Scotland with Netta. I remember all the pink dishes she had with little-old-lady candies in them, my bubbly pink room with frothy white curtains and lacy bows, her kitchen chalk full of casseroles and Jello-salads, watching her knit fluffy pink socks....
Life is so much better now. Not that I don’t miss my great aunt, I do quite a bit. It’s just that I need adventure in my life. I need change. That’s something you just don’t get with people like Netta. But here, in the centre-most area of magical culture and history, I feel so...right. Like a piece of a puzzle you find crammed into the wrong spot for years and then move it into its perfect fit. For the past fifteen years of my life I’ve felt crammed. Now something finally feels right and I have no intention of letting that go.
“Hey you two,” a voice says happily. Al walks in from the kitchen, beaming at us.
“Hi,” I grin. “This place is great!”
He laughs. “Thanks.”
“Al, where’s Uncle Harry? I think I’m going to get a flying lesson from him today,” Rose says.
I gasp. “You hate flying!”
Al looks equally surprised. “Yeah, Roe, I thought you were against it?”
She looks defensive. “Who’s to say that I’m not allowed to try it out?” she snaps, going red. “My dad was a really good Keeper in his day. And don’t call me that!”
Al and I exchange looks. “Sure he was,” Al says awkwardly. “Well, if you really want to, I think it’s great. Dad’s upstairs with Teddy.”
“All right,” she says, heading up the staircase. “I’ll find you guys in a bit.”
She disappears up the stairs, leaving Al and I alone and staring at each other.
“What do you wanna do?” I ask, attempting to fill a very loud silence.
“Let’s go on a walk. I’ll show you around Godric’s Hollow,” he says, pulling open the front door.
I follow him outside, tugging the Gryffindor hat down over my ears and tangly brown hair. We trudge through the front garden and onto the icy street.
“So, uh, is it haunted or something?” I ask stupidly as we walk up to the famous graveyard.
He gives me a funny look and laughs. “Not haunted,” he replies, leaning against the snow-coated fence. “It’s where my grandparents are buried.”
I swallow. I want to say something but it’s caught in my throat.
Brilliant, Laney. Way to go and make things awkward.
He smiles at me. “C’mon, I’ll show you where they lived.”
We continue walking until we are in front of a partly destroyed cottage. I of course know what this is: It’s Lily and James Potter’s home. It was exploded the night Voldemort killed them. I look tentatively at Al, acknowledging the fact that his arm is touching mine.
“Mad, right?” He stares at the cottage in a longing sort of way. I of course only notice how his green eyes are throwing shimmering light in all directions and hardly hear what he says.
“Huh?” I reply a little distantly.
“It’s where Voldemort tried to murder my dad.”
My attention levels a bit. “Do you come here often?”
He hesitates, “I ― yeah, I do.” He looks defiantly at me, as if daring me to question the act.
I don’t know how to react ― I can see it hurts him: the fact that a large part of his family has been in mortal peril before. I want to comfort him ― to connect with him in a way that I know he needs. Why can’t I? My whole life I’ve been so afraid of opening my heart to someone: Even just touching another person sets me on edge. I want to fall in love; to feel free and open and happy in someone else’s arms. But I can’t. I’m cynical and harsh. This thing of ― love ― it just isn’t me. But I want it to be me. I’ve felt cold and lonely my whole life.
Something unlike anything that has ever happened before burns inside me: Without thinking about it ― without caring about my vulnerability for once ― I slide my hand into his and let the way I feel set into my eyes, hoping he understands. From the way he turns toward me, gazing down at my hand in his, I know I’ve done something right.
He touches my face with his hand ― my whole inner-self wanting desperately to turn him away, but I don’t let it.
Our eyes lock and I can feel a sudden burning emulating between us. Every fibre of my being is rejecting this feeling, but I can’t shake it. And I won’t.
I hardly even notice myself start to lean towards him....
The sudden cry from a playing child causes me to start and slide my hand from his. My eyes flicker to the icy ground and I blush, meanwhile cursing myself for instigating this awkward situation.
The child in question, a Muggle girl with rosy cheeks and blonde pigtails, comes dashing by us in hot fleet of her squealing brother. I feel the sudden urge to throttle her.
After a few seconds of awkward quiet I notice that Al is focused on a spot directly above my left shoulder.
“What?” I snap instinctively, whipping myself around to face the empty street.
“James,” says Al in a stoney voice. “What...what is he doing?”
And then I see it: There in the midst of the park is James, wrapped tightly around a raven-haired girl whom I recognize as Charlotte Vinter, Gryffindor Beater and one of James’s fellow sixth years. Albus looks utterly repulsed. I stifle a laugh and turn to him, “Guess they’re a thing then.”
He shakes his head. “She lives in London...not Godric’s Hollow...and ― and James?”
“It’s true,” I laugh, “Charlotte hates James. Last Quidditch practice when he was plowing into us about how we keep dropping the Quaffle, Charlotte tried to kill him with her Beater’s bat.”
Al looks pale. “They’ve been sneaking around.”
“What’s wrong? James is always snogging someone. What’s so different about this time?”
“He’s sneaking around...” he repeats. “Meaning he actually likes her.”
“Isn’t that a good thing? God knows he needs a stable relationship ―”
“I ― I dunno.” He redirects his vision away from his older brother. “Come on,” he says, dragging me in the other direction. “I can’t look at that anymore.”
We trudge off into a little park, thickly decorated with Christmas cheer, where Al leads me to a bench.
“So Muggles live here too, then?” I ask, watching as several different families bustle in and out of the stores.
“Yeah,” replies Al, “all the wizarding families have Muggle Repelling Charms on their homes, though.”
It’s quiet for a moment as we listen to the shop bells ding as their doors are opened.
“It’s beautiful here,” I say quietly, noticing my breath turn to mist.
“What?” I ask, crinkling my forehead.
“You know,” he says, continuing to laugh, “before I met you, I sort of thought you were this horrible, emotionless person.”
“I was,” I reply honestly.
“So why’d you change?”
“I don’t know,” I say, watching a snowflake float down to earth. “I guess I never really had a reason to change until I met you and Rose.” I blush a little at this bold statement; I don’t much like explaining my feelings to people.
He smiles down at the icy ground.
It’s silent for a bit as we watch the snow come down ever faster. I stare at my glove, thinking about Al and trying to make sense of this ridiculous and confusing thing between us. As usual, I cannot make head or tail of the situation.
I hear the quiet laughter of two children playing in the snow and I glance up at Al. “I don’t understand you either,” I say to him very quickly. He looks confused. “The other day in the corridor,” I explain, “you said you couldn’t understand me. You said that you don’t know what to give me.”
His eyes dig into mine. “I don’t,” he says.
“Well, I don’t either!” I say a little fiercely.
“I’m simple,” he replies. “You’re bloody confusing!”
“So are you! What the hell am I supposed to make of the things you’ve done?” I snap.
“What? What have I done that’s confusing?”
I stare at him. “Well, for starters, you completely ignored me and went out with that bloody swamp creature of a human being for three months!”
“Only because you snogged James, Laney!”
This is a low blow. I say through my teeth, “I wouldn’t have kissed him if I hadn’t seen you snogging Ivy and gotten myself drunk! I came to that party to see you, Al! But you were already eating her face when I got there!”
His face looks torn between fury and bewilderment. “Wait ― you came to see me that night?”
“What? I ― yes,” I spew, still heated.
He swears loudly, “Damn her!”
“What’s going on?” I say, feeling like I’m missing something.
“She told me that you weren’t coming at all that night. That you weren’t interested in me. She said you both had talked about it and you had intended to ditch me that night. So when I saw you and James ― I wanted to.... That’s why I did it.”
“She what?” I exclaim murderously.
He sinks back into the park bench looking frustrated. “She’s manipulated us,” he breathes. “Straight from the start. Malicious bitch...”
I shake my head in disbelief. “I’m going to fill a room with horse-sized, rabid Pygmy Puffs and just trap her in there until she implodes or spontaneously combusts or something,” I growl.
He bursts out laughing, “I think you’d be everyone’s hero.”
“Al, listen, I’m sorry,” I say sheepishly. “For snogging James and the like.”
He nods. “It’s okay, Becks. And - er - I’m sorry for believing Ivy in the first place.”
I grin, “No worries.”
“Right.” He jumps up, beaming at me. “It’s noon. I expect the family’s here.”
I always thought the Potter/Weasley clan was a big one, but I never knew just how big until we reentered the Potter’s now-crammed great room. My mouth falls open as I see them. Albus catches my eye and winks.
“Al, dear boy,” a tall red-haired man with a horn-rimmed spectacles says as we come through the back door, “good term, I hope?”
“Cheers Uncle Percy,” Al replies, grinning. “‘S been all right.”
There is a woman standing tightly next to him with mousy brown hair that’s held back in a very stern looking knot.
“Hi Aunt Audrey,” Al says a little less comfortably. She gives him a single, very curt nod.
“Look sharp, Al,” says a man I recognize as George Weasley, owner of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
“Hello Albus!” George’s dark-skinned spouse says enthusiastically.
“Uncle George, Aunt Angie!” Al beams at them. “This is my good friend Laney,” he says gesturing to me.
I step out of his shadow and try to be social. “Hi there,” I say, shaking their hands.
“Tremendous to meet you!” George says, reaching into his pocket. “Instant Darkness Powder?” he asks, holding out a black rock to me.
“George!” his wife says, grabbing the rock.
I laugh, “No thanks, but I’ll be sure to stop by your shop next time I’m in Diagon Alley.”
“I like her,” he says to Al. “Cheerio!” They walk into the kitchen.
Al laughs, “Uncle George is great.”
I nod in agreement.
Next moment, Fred and James come fighting through the thick crowd to meet us, a tall, avocado haired man in their wake.
“Becks, this is Teddy Lupin,” James says to me.
“Hi,” I say, smiling at him.
“We’re trying to get a Quidditch group together. You two interested?”
I can tell Al is uncomfortable.
“Not right now,” I reply, “I need to find Rose...thanks, though.”
As I start to turn away, more family swallows us in. “Al, honey, how are you?” a short, grey woman says. She pinches his cheek affectionately.
“Albus, my boy! Good to see you,” his grandfather says.
As they start to crowd him more, I break away. I’ve never been one for small spaces.
Right as I make my way into the back garden however, Lily comes bounding up to me bearing a piece of parchment and quill. “Liam’s just wrote me,” she explains, waving the letter in my face, “he said” ― she lowers her voice ― “he wants to meet up with me.”
I raise my eyebrows. “How? I thought he was in Scotland?”
She shakes her head, “He’s staying with family in Surrey. That’s not far from here!”
“And he asked you to sneak out?” I ask, a little disgruntled by this fact.
“No, no,” she says. “He wants to meet up on New Year’s Eve. He said he’ll floo to Godric’s Hollow if my parents are all right with it. I know they won’t be though, so I’m just going to meet him by the statue in town.”
“So you are sneaking out?”
She shifts uncomfortably. “Well, yes. But the thing is, you can’t tell Rose. Okay?”
“Don’t worry,” I respond knowingly, “I won’t throw you to the lions, I swear.”
She looks grateful. “I’m going to go write back ― thanks Laney!” She dashes off into the cottage, her red hair flipping behind her. I shake my head, laughing.
It’s eerily quiet in the Potters’ back garden and I wonder vaguely where everyone is. Then there’s a sound...a sort of...whooshing...coming from above....
In an instant, I have been knocked clean over. “What the ― ROSE!”
I stretch my right arm painfully and glare daggers at Rose, who is now spread-eagled on the ground next to me, broom aloft.
Mr. Potter swoops down between us looking mildly amused. “All right, Laney?”
“I’m fine,” I say, trying and failing to sit up.
“And you, Roe?” he asks his niece.
“Yes ― sorry Laney,” she mumbles, sitting upright and looking dizzy.
“Well,” Mr. Potter says, clapping his hands together. “That’s ― er ― that’s something then. Ready to give it another go, Rosie?”
Rose hiccups and gives an unsteady wobble. “Sure, Uncle H-Harry,” she stutters. She then throws me a furtive look, teeters onto her broom, and shoots off into the air again.
“Ouch, that looked like it hurt,” comes a voice.
“Rose really is a dreadful flyer. Just dreadful,” says someone else.
“She still hasn’t sat up yet,” comes a third, male voice. “I wonder if she’s all right in the head...?”
I sit bolt upright and spin myself around to face three, young looking people.
“Oh look, Molly, she’s responsive,” the dark girl says, elbowing the curly haired blonde in the side.
I stand up, brushing dirt off of my jeans. I give them all an inquisitive look.
“Molly Weasley,” the blonde says in a high soprano, throwing out her hand. “This is Roxanne and Louis.” She gestures to the dark-skinned girl and the pale, brunette boy.
I shake her hand a little reluctantly and consider them for a moment. “You at Hogwarts?”
“Next year,” they groan.
“It’s Lucy who’s there from my family,” Molly says in her trilling, swift voice. She scowls resentfully at the ground.
“Oh yeah?” I ask curiously, “What year?”
“Fourth. Ravenclaw.” She rolls her eyes.
I turn my attention to the boy who says, “One of my sisters is there, but the other is out.”
I observe him for a moment and realize just how familiar he is. “Dominique Weasley?”
He nods. “You know her?”
“Not well,” I reply honestly. “We have Quidditch together but she doesn’t talk to me there.”
“Sounds like Dom,” he replies.
“My brother Fred’s in your year,” Roxanne pipes up, beaming. “You know him?”
“‘Course I do,” I say, grinning. “Fred’s great.”
I watch their eager faces, staring up at me like I’m Merlin’s pants. I guess I kind of like these little squirts. They have spunk.
“Laney, dear,” Mrs. Potter says, coming into the back garden with a certain bounce in her step, “an owl has just arrived for you.”
“All right,” I reply, “talk to you later.” I wave at the little trio and follow Mrs. Potter into the kitchen. I land eyes on the enormous snowy owl whom I recognize as Felipe, the Valentin’s owl. His wide eyes watch me reproachfully as I extract the letter from his leg.
“We’ll let her have a rest with our owl,” Mrs. Potter says, allowing Felipe to land on her arm. As she exits the kitchen whispering coos to him, I tear open the thick parchment and read:
Hello! I can’t believe it’s taken so long for me to write you! I found out on the first day of the holiday that my grandparents are taking Mum and me to South America for the summer! I can’t believe it! Can you imagine? Sun for more than three days of the summer! Anyway, I just had to boast a bit! How’s your stay with Rose, though? Crowded? There sure are a lot of those Weasleys!
“What’s that?” asks Rose as she enters the kitchen looking dizzy.
“Just a letter from Dara,” I say, scribbling a short reply on the back. “Apparently she’ll be spending the summer in South America.”
“Wow!” gasps Rose, her eyes flicking open and coming alight with interest, like perhaps she had just found a particularly rare book. “That’s incredible!”
I nod and look out the window. “Yeah, I suppose.”
“‘S wrong?” says Rose quickly, a tentative expression etched into her smooth face.
I pause. “Well, I don’t have any home to go back to anymore...I just figured I would stay with her this summer, that’s all.”
“You’ll stay here,” Rose replies.
“I — really?”
“Of course,” she says, devouring a muffin.
I smile gratefully at her. She doesn’t even know the half of what that means to me.
Later that night Rose and I clamber into bed feeling hyper. Snow is swirling around outside the window and the room is glowing by a flickering candle. It reminds me vaguely of Hogwarts and I wonder what Chaz and — Slimewad — are doing. I’ve never really heard much of Ivy’s parents.
Perhaps they are spending Christmas in their crypt.
“...and I hope I get that Care of Magical Creatures book I’ve been asking for,” Rose bubbles, gesturing wildly around with her hands. I laugh watching her ramble on. “Anyway,” she says, leaning back on her pillow, “what do you want?”
I blink. What did I want? “Er — I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Well, I hope you’ll like what I’ve gotten you,” she says, fluffing her pillow and popping back down on it.
Meanwhile, I gulp. I had completely forgotten to get Rose a gift. I smack my forehead with my head.
“What is it?” Rose asks confusedly, glancing nervously from my hand to my face.
“It’s nothing!” I squeak. “I’ll just use the loo then...” I dash out of bed, slipping on a stray sock and doing a sort of sliding wipie-out along the way. “EURGH” — popping back up — “s-sorry...right. Be right back...THE CHAMBER POTS BECKON!”
She stares at me.
“Ahem, y-yes...right.” And I sprint through door and tumble into the hall. I peer down the stairs to see the Potters, standing by the doorway and getting ready to leave from a late dinner. “Al!” I hiss, waving madly for Albus to come to the stairway.
“What is it?” he says, looking at me with a knitted brow.
“I forgot to get Rose a gift,” I half whisper, half shout, at him.
I watch the blood drain from his face. “So did I!” he suddenly whispers back.
“Tomorrow morning?” I ask.
“It’s a plan.”
“Al? Let’s go!” Ginny calls from the great room.
We nod at each other and head away. When I enter the room, adrenaline from a few moments ago still pumping, I see that the candle is burned out and Rose is turned away, fast asleep. I crawl into bed and shut my eyes tight, trying to clear my mind.
I wake up early on Christmas Eve to the sound of Molly, Louis, and Roxanne playing Exploding Snap in the Weasleys’ living room. I blunder downstairs and flip over the game board.
“Sleep well?” asks Molly in a bitterly sarcastic voice, kneeling down to collect the game pieces.
“You woke me up,” I sniff.
Okay, so I’m a bit of a Sleeping Beauty ― sue me.
“We’ll be sure to tone down our fun a little more next time,” Molly grumbles, just finishing resetting up the game board.
I take one look at her, flip the game board again, and make a B-line for the back garden.
“I like her,” I hear Roxy say as I walk away, “she’s feisty.”
As I swing open the back door, I can see James, Lily, Hugo, and Teddy Lupin playing a rousing game of two-aside Quidditch in the frigid cold. When they notice me, James frantically signals for me to stay put as they touch down.
“Just the girl I was looking for!” says James, pulling off his Gryffindor hat, raven hair in every direction. “Wanna take my place in Quidditch? I’m, uh, supposed to meet someone,” he says, muttering the last part.
I shake my head ‘no.’ “Can’t, sorry,” I say, “I’ve got other obligations.”
“Like what?” he snaps, seemingly dropping the nice-guy act.
“Al’s helping me sort out a gift for Rose,” I respond mildly.
“You can snog your girlfriend some other time,” I say, cutting him off.
“What girlfriend?” James says very quickly, widening his eyes at me and going very red. He turns to the accusatory stares of Teddy, Lily, and Hugo. “I don’t have a girlfriend. Seriously, I don’t,” he assures them.
“Anyway, why are you guys over here instead of at the Potter domicile?” I ask, ignoring James’s pleading words.
“Mum accidentally decreased the area of the Muggle Repelling Charms on our back garden,” Lily says, shrugging. “She was cleaning her wand or something....Anyway, we can’t fly higher than the treetops without being seen, so we came over here.”
I nod in understanding, “I better go,” I say, “if Rose asks, I’m on a walk.”
They grin, bid me farewell (James still muttering incoherent ‘meeps’ about not having a girlfriend), and swoop into the sky.
I push my hands into my jacket pockets feeling the warmth of three sweaters and an overcoat coming off of me. In the depths of my pocket I can feel my Redwood and Dragon Heartstring wand. I pull it out and roll it over in my hand. I think about how Lily said that her mother had been cleaning her wand when the enchantments had accidentally lifted.
Wizards clean their wands? Is that like...necessary?
I scratch a bit of dirt off of its base. “Damn, Eleanor,” I mutter, examining all the smudges and dirty spots on my wand, “you’re a mess.” A few blue sparks fly out the end.
“Did you just name that stick Eleanor?”
I start at the noise and look around for the culprit. I turn to see the rosy-cheeked, blonde haired child that had startled Albus and me just the other day, staring intently at my wand.
“You!” I gasp.
“Can I have that?” she asks, cocking her head to the side and causing her curly pigtails to bounce.
“No,” I snap, turning on my heel and continuing to walk.
She steps in front of me. “But it’s special — I saw blue sparkles come out!”
“No you didn’t!” I hiss, trying to get around her.
“Yes I did!” she shouts. “Gimme the magic stick!”
“It — isn’t — a — stick!” I shriek. “Her name is Eleanor and — no — you cannot have her!” She throws herself at me at clings to my leg.
I shriek, flailing my limbs around wildly and stumbling.
Oh my God — it’s touching me!
“Off! Off, you monster!” I scream, slipping on a patch of black ice and face-planting the knee-deep snow.
“I — WANT — PRETTY — STICK!” she screeches, still clinging to my leg with a vice-like grip, even though I’m wildly flinging about.
“YOU — CAN’T — HAVE — IT!” I roar back, giving another great shake to my leg. For a moment, her weight is lifted. I relax involuntarily for a second before I gasp: she is suddenly flying at me from every direction — snow flinging at confusing angles and causing me to cover my face with my forearms. She punches every last inch of me with her tiny fists, meanwhile raiding my pockets for Eleanor. I try repeatedly to throw her off of me, but as my vision is obscured, all I can see are bits of her pink shoes and pigtails. “Get off!” I bellow through my arms.
Oh my Merlin — she’s going to murder me!
“Where is it? WHERE IS IT?” she trills.
“Bugger off!” I shout, trying to stand, but something is blocking me: I look down my legs and squeal; she’s straddling my knees and pinning me down!
A demon child!
STRAIGHT FROM HELL!
“Give it to me, or else,” she says in a small but dangerous voice.
I can practically feel Eleanor screaming in horror in my back pocket.
“NO!” I yell, trying one last time to throw her off of me. But it’s too late: In an instant she has grabbed my arm and ripped up the sleeve. She gives me a devilish grin.
“W-What are you doing?” I ask in a quivering voice, eyes flitting from my exposed forearm to her pointy baby teeth. My eyes bulge. “Oh God — NO! DON’T DO IT!” I plead.
To my squeals, she swoops down and sinks her little teeth into my skin.
“OH MY MERLIN! IT BIT ME!”
With a surge of superhuman strength, I detach her from my arm and throw her off. “CONFUNDO!” I shout, whipping out my wand and thrusting it in her face. My shoulders heave as I watch her eyes fall out of focus.
I hear the sound of fast footfalls pounding across the pavement. “Laney! What happened to you?” Albus comes flying up to me, clearly out of breath, and puts his hands on my shoulders. He tries to make eye-contact with me but all I can do is stare at the creature behind him. “What? What’s wrong? I heard you screaming all the way from my bedroom!” he says, gently rattling my shoulders. “Tell me what happened, Becks!”
I raise a shaking finger and point at the dazed little girl behind him. He looks at her, then me, then her, then back to me again. “You’re serious? Her?”
The little girl winds a curl around her finger and watches as it unravels.
“That — thing — is a monster,” I breathe.
“That’s ridiculous!” he says. “Go on home, Celia.” He pats her on the shoulder and she skips off.
“You named it?” I gasp. “Al! You can’t name it, you’ll get attached!”
He looks pointedly at me. “Laney, that’s Celia — she’s my neighbour. What happened?”
“She saw my wand!” I shriek. “She tackled me to the ground to try and get it!” I jab my finger at the Laney-shaped hole in the snow. “She — she assaulted me!”
Gently, he reaches up and dislodges a twig from my snow-matted hair. He shakes his head in disbelief. “The way you were screaming...I thought someone was trying to kill you!”
“She was trying to kill me!”
He laughs. “Whatever you say... Anyway, what d’ya have in mind for Rose?”
I open my mouth to retort and then stop. I sniff. “Maybe a clasp?” I suggest quietly. “We could both go in on it?”
“Brilliant!” he says taking my hand. “Come on.”
“Well, I’ve just owled the Ministry and explained what happened,” Mr. Potter says to me later that evening. Just a few hours ago I had been sent a letter from the Minister himself, stating that they had detected underage magic and if it happened again, I would be expelled. I had then frantically explained to Mr. and Mrs. Potter that I had been assaulted in the street by a stick-crazed little girl.
“Thanks, Mr. Potter,” I say gratefully.
“Call me Harry,” he replies brightly.
“And I Ginny,” Mrs. Potter adds. “No reason for titles.”
After thanking them a few more times I exit the kitchen and head into the crowded living room. In fact, it’s so bloody cramped that I slam straight into someones back.
“Sorry, I’m sorry!”
I stare pleadingly up at the beautiful face above me. Her silvery-blonde hair glistening in ringlets down her back, her ice-blue eyes looking over her perfect nose at me, and her red lips in a tight line....
This is the famous Toire Lupin, I’m sure of it. I had only heard tale of what Toire Lupin was like: She had been a living legend in Gryffindor; dating Teddy Lupin since her second year at Hogwarts, she was viciously beautiful, a Quidditch star, wicked smart, and cruel to anyone who looked at her the wrong way.
“It’s...fine,” she says in a bitter voice. She looks me over for a few seconds and then narrows her eyes displeasedly. Instinctively, I flatten my fringe.
“Toire, this is Laney Becks,” Teddy Lupin says, walking up to us. “She’s good friends with Rose.”
She looks at me a moment longer and then grabs his hand. “Teddy, it’s hot in here. Let’s go outside.”
I watch as they disappear out the back door. Shaking my head, I walk over to where Dominique, Molly, and Louis are sitting. I plop down next to Molly and rest my chin on my knees. Dom sniffs and hurries away, strawberry hair flouncing behind her. I roll my eyes at this. “Apparently neither of your sisters like me,” I grumble to Louis.
“It’s okay, they don’t like anyone,” he replies brightly.
“Reassuring,” I mutter.
Next moment, Lily comes stalking up and drops down by my feet.
“‘Swrong?” I ask, poking her back with my foot.
“Yeah, what’s the matter?” Molly asks.
“Molly, Louis, go away,” Lily snaps.
Looking highly offended, they get up and leave.
“What’s up?” I ask Lily.
“Hugh is mad at me. We’ve just had a row.”
I try to take on my most patient personality. “What happened?”
“He doesn’t like Liam,” she says angrily. “I don’t get it. He says we don’t hangout anymore since I’ve started going out with Liam.”
“Well...is it true?” I ask tentatively.
“How can he expect me to not spend time with my boyfriend?” she snaps.
I look at her with my brows raised and I know she knows what I’m thinking.
“Okay,” she admits, her hard eyes softening. “I’ve been a non-existent friend for the past month.” She glances towards Hugo (who is sulking by a chair). “Hugo is my best friend,” she declares, a quiver in her voice. “He knows me better than anyone and — and if he doesn’t like Liam...then I’ll have to end it with him.” She jumps up.
“Lily, don’t,” I say, jerking her feebly back onto the couch.
“But I have to!” she says fiercely.
I expect to see her crying, but of course, she is not. Instead, she looks angry and defiant. “Do you not think it important for my best friend to like my boyfriend?” she demands.
“Yeah, but Hugo doesn’t not like Liam, necessarily. He just wants to spend more time with you.”
She starts to say something but stops.
“Don’t end it with Liam because of this, Lily.”
Dammit, how come I’m suddenly the rational one?
Lily glances nervously at Hugo again. “I have to go apologize to him,” she says quietly. Her eyes land pleadingly on me.
“Don’t look at me,” I mutter. “I don’t apologize for my mistakes.” My mind strays to earlier in the park. “Usually,” I add with a sniff.
I watch Lily walk up to Hugo and smile sheepishly at him. His face fills with frustration as she bows her head and mouths an apology. Moments later I watch them walk from the kitchen appearing like they have a quite a lot to talk about.
I suddenly feel hot and claustrophobic, the immediate need to have fresh air in my lungs embellishing me. I slip off the couch and walk through the room, head slightly pounding. I slide by Toire and Teddy Lupin on my way out the back door and rush into the cold. My eyes drift to the starry sky, looking, somehow, for answers.
With a pang I think of Netta. When I was nine years old, after my mum and dad stopped visiting, Netta took me outside one night to stargaze. As I cried, she told me how my future lay in those stars, and that I wasn’t alone.
A sudden rush of guilt swept over me: what happened to us? What happened to me? That sweet little girl who sat teary-eyed on her great aunt’s lap? I had hardly felt anything when she died. What hurt me more was that my parents had practically disowned me in a letter. Yet, why had that surprised me? They were never there for me growing up; Netta was my family, not them.
And then something shook me: I had turned all of Gryffindor against Ivy. Were there going to be consequences for that? I might possibly have ruined her future at Hogwarts. Netta would be disgusted.
I’m not apologizing for what I did, I tell myself indignantly, she showed the entire school that letter from my parents. She deserved what she got.
I grasp angrily at the porch railing. The letter.... My mind traces over the words I have read so many times until I reach the most troubling part: We believe she was killed by a...criminal...in search of your father and I have.
I curse. It had been all their fault. They disappear for seven years, running off and having adventures, letting Netta and me deal with all the repercussions.
In my shoes, I am suddenly aware of the socks I am wearing. Fluffy pink ones... “What’s happening to me?” I whisper.
I jump at the voice and whirl around. Harry is standing there watching me.
“Sorry — just getting some air,” I mutter.
He smiles. “‘Sall right. Do you think we could talk for a moment?” And into his pocket he reaches, pulling out a letter addressed in bright green ink.
Elena Marie Becks
I stare at the emerald words. “It’s from my parents, isn’t it?” It’s hardly a question. I watch the letter tentatively, as if it might explode if looked at the wrong way.
“It is indeed,” he says, nodding. “Let’s take a walk.”
Author's Note: Hello everyone! Oh gosh - this chapter has been bloody madness. Never have I actually had to honestly cram for a deadline before now.
EDIT: OHEY guys! So tell me, how do you like the AWESOME NEW BANNER?! Can I thank Gina enough? Her name is justonemorefic. She wrote Game. She's awesome. Find her at the TDA and TELL HER I SENT YOU! :D By the way, I have a pretty amazing chapter in store for next update! Love you allllllllll.
PS: I have a new fic up, "Letters from a Hogwarts Anonymous." Read it! :D
Disclaimer: JKRness is what you see. Save Laney. That's me. (That rhymed!)
I look into the familiar emerald eyes of Harry Potter and listen as we walk around his back garden.
“How much do you know about your parents, Laney?” he asks me, peering up into the starry night sky.
“I ― not much, I guess,” I say. “They used to visit every year. Then it became every other year.... By the time I was nine, they just stopped coming altogether. My Great Aunt always told me they were world travelers, though.”
He nods, seeming thoughtful. “And...they never told you anything specifically about their work, correct?”
I think about this for a moment. Of course I had been curious when I was younger about what their work was. At one visit I actually had inquired about what their jobs were, but they had instantly flushed up and changed the subject. For a long time I had wondered about it, but I eventually became more concerned with why they stopped visiting, not what or who they were working for.
“I never really asked,” I respond. “I mean, I did once when I was a child but they never responded to my question. After a while I had more things to worry about than where they worked.”
He continues to look at the sky, thinking. “I see.”
I crane my neck and try to make eye-contact with him. “But ― But you said in your letter to Al that my parents worked in the Ministry? I don’t understand. How could they work for the Ministry and still be world travelers? And why didn’t they tell me they worked for the Ministry?” I’m ranting now, but I don’t care. All these questions that have been eating away at me are finally rushing out.
“If they worked for the Ministry then they should’ve been in London loads of times in the past decade! So why haven’t they come to visit me? And if they worked for the Ministry then how come they didn’t give my great aunt a funeral or come help me get through her death? And they said in their letter that they are ‘in hiding, dealing with a criminal?’ What the hell is that supposed to mean? And why are they repeatedly dumping me with and extended family? Why don’t they want me?” My shoulders heave up and down as I finish this gushing rant of questions that, quite frankly, I’m not sure I even want the answers to.
He gives me a moment to calm down before speaking. “When I first met your parents ― it was years ago ― I found them to be very curious. No one really knew what to make of them. They were there before I was and no one really knew what their jobs were. I was just a brand new Aurour at the time, but then, a few years later when I became Head Aurour, I discovered exactly what they did. Your parents are Aurours too, Laney.”
“What?” I ask, taken aback.
“Yes. They are both incredibly intelligent and very powerful with magic. But they are not normal Aurours, Laney.”
“What do you mean?”
“I cannot say. What I can say though is that when I spoke with them, I inquired about you. They admitted to having a daughter but were at first hesitant to explain themselves ―”
“Explain themselves?” I ask. “You mean to tell me there’s a different reason why they left me with Netta?”
“Well, yes,” he responds, reaching into his jacket. “We had a long chat. I told them that it wasn’t acceptable to keep you in the dark anymore ―”
“In the dark?”
“― and by the end, they felt it was time you knew the truth.”
He pulls out the envelope again and holds it out. “I hope this will explain some things for you.” He places it into my gloved hand and smiles.
I’m frozen to the spot, staring down at the parchment in my hand. “I ―” I cannot speak; I am lost for words.
“I urge that you should read it when you’re ready,” he says knowingly. “It’s freezing out here,” he says, glancing around, “we should get back inside.”
He starts to walk away, but something burns inside me and a newfound bravery shows its face: “And my parents couldn’t tell me this?” I ask angrily.
From the look in his eyes I know the answer. They didn’t want to see me. “Take it,” I choke, thrusting the letter at him. I stare determinately at the ground. “I don’t want to know who they are or what they do.”
“Laney,” he says quietly, “what your parents did was wrong.”
I look gratefully up at him.
“I’m not asking you to read this,” he continues, “or even want it. I’m just asking you to have it. It could bring you the closure you need one day. The closure you can’t get from Rose or Netta or even my son.”
I go bright red.
He winks. “And yes, I know.”
He holds out the letter again. “Please?”
As I reach out for the silky parchment, Harry gives me a silent smile. He then puts his hand on my shoulder for a moment, looks me in the eye, turns, and walks off, vanishing into the velvety dark.
It is very late before I return to the house, bearing a very important letter in my pocket. The letter that would explain everything. I can see through the windows that everyone has either left or found something to do upstairs. I glance back over my shoulder to the spot in which I just stood.
I was in the dark for what felt like hours, staring at the seal with unblinking eyes.
If I could just stare hard enough...maybe ― maybe it would open by itself....
For some reason, I couldn’t ― can’t ― bring myself to open it. Just an hour ago I finally came to terms with a small, very significant piece of me: the absence of my biological parents. And now I’m supposed to break the seal into a whole new explanation? Go through the exception process all over again?
I enter the cottage, squinting into the dark. My face feels unusually numb and droopy; I’m not sad nor let down, not anxious nor excited, I’m nothing. I feel empty.
Abruptly there is a loud scratching sound and a blinding light snaps on. My eyes squint reflexively. Rose is standing there, eyes narrowed, candle in one hand, shaking out a match in the other. “You were out there for an hour after Uncle Harry came back,” she states sharply, jaw tensing. “I’ve been really worried about you ― thought someone had Imperiused you, the way you were standing there, staring at that letter.” Her eyes sink to my jacket pocket where my hand is holding lightly onto the parchment. It seems as though she is trying to use some sort of X-ray vision to see through it.
“‘Sokay, Rose,” I say, waving the letter in her face. “I’m fine. Dandy. Really.”
Her eyebrows jump upward. “Oh pa-lease,” she spits, rushing over to look at me more carefully. “I know a sultry, sullen Laney Becks when I see one!”
“Not sultry or sullen.” I shake my head. “Confused, that’s all.”
“Confused about what?” asks Rose, her stubborn expression softening slightly.
I look down at the letter in my hand, addressed in brightest green. “I dunno ― I guess just why this is all suddenly happening to me.” I chew the inside of my lip for lack of words as a silence spreads across the room.
“Well, look on the bright side!” Rose chirps in a slightly anxious voice. It’s as though she’s worried about my stability. “At least you can finally get some answers!”
“What do you mean?” I ask a little sharply.
“The letter!” She gestures wildly at the parchment, “Go on then, open it!”
“N-no!” I say quickly. Why did I say that? “I mean, I, um, I will later.”
She looks at me a with an unreadable expression. “Laney,” she says quietly, stepping towards me and taking the letter from my hand, “I know ― I know this must be hard for you.... I know that the last thing you want right now is another empty explanation...but...but I think you should at least read it.”
And I see it. I see that look in her eye, the look I know means she isn’t going to take no for an answer because she’s stubborn as hell and thinks she’s right. And so I lie. “I will read it Rose, I promise. Listen ― I’ll even read it right now, I just need to be alone. Okay?”
Her lips thin a bit but she nods all the same. “All right...I’ll just be upstairs....”
I stare down at the ground. And then I hear something like a whisper. I look up in time to see her tucking something away in her pocket.
“Did you say something?” I ask.
“It was nothing,” she says, holding out the letter. “Here.”
I take the parchment from her and force a smile. “I ― I promise I’ll read it.”
I wait until she has disappeared up the staircase to let the convincing look wash off of my face. I ignite the fireplace, plop down on the armchair in front of it and stare down at the emerald green words on the envelope. Elena Marie Becks. I choke back frustration at seeing my full name written out.
I stare at the letter for a moment. I just can’t help be a little bit curious....
I slip my thumb under the seal...
And then something occurs to me: they don’t know me. It’s too late now. Anyone who has the bollocks to address me by Elena doesn’t know me. And they are my parents.
In one angry moment I’ve thrown the parchment into the fire. I watch it burn and burn, flames licking away the emerald green letters bit by bit. I can still feel in my hand where a moment sooner I was holding the letter.
My eyes flutter open on Christmas morning and I yawn and stretch. I can see the mound of hand-wrapped presents at the foot of my bed and through the window, a coating of frosting-like snow covering the ground and pine trees. Big, puffy snow flurries fall from the cloudy sky creating, in short, the perfect, dreamlike white Christmas.
Rose is already busy unwrapping her pile which is substantially larger than mine and seems to be entirely books.
“Oh, wow!” she exclaims, holding up a particularly large one entitled A Wizard’s World of Spells and Enchantments. Just by looking at the way Rose is struggling to hold it upright, it can’t be a page under 20,000. I laugh loudly and she looks over at the noise. “Laney! Well, come on then, open your presents!”
I slip off of my bed and pull on some house shoes. I grab the first present from Lily and rip it open. It’s three boxes of home made treacle tart and a tiny silver lily with a link attached to the end. I look curiously at it for a moment: it is very beautiful, I have to admit, but what could it be for?
The next package is from Fred, who gave me a couple of things from his dad’s joke shop and then, once again, a tiny silver broomstick with a Wimbourne Wasps logo on the base and a link attached to the end. Furrowing my brow, I put it aside and continue to open the rest of the packages. From Rose is a book called The Science of a Positive Attitude and a tiny silver rose. From Dara is a long letter of a how much she misses me, a vibrantly beaded, home made wand carrier and a small silver dragon fly. From James is a revised new year Quidditch practice schedule and a little silver goblet.
I stare down at the package from Albus and rip the paper open. It isn’t large, just a small box. I pull off the lid. Inside is a lovely silver bracelet with one single charm hanging off the end: a tiny scarlet engine. My mind flies to September first of this year; the first day Albus Potter and I had ever made eye-contact. That was the day that everything changed, and I had no idea. I saw him clearly for the first time on that day, in the last compartment of the scarlet engine, where he hesitated to let me through the doorway and our eyes met.
“It was all Al’s idea,” Rose says, smiling over at me. “I think it’s pretty incredible, what about you?”
I beam. “Are you kidding?” I say, attaching each of my friends’ links to the charm bracelet. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever had before! It’s beautiful!”
Rose grins at me. “Hey, you forgot one,” she says, dislodging a last package poking out from under my bed.
“Oh,” I say, knitting my brow, “who’s it from?”
She squints at the paper, “Er ― Ana and Barney ―” she falters, glancing up from the paper. “Your ― Your mum and dad, I think.”
I take the package from her. “This doesn’t feel like a dress,” I note, weighing the heavy parcel in my hands. I set it down and pull off the paper.
I hardly even hear Rose’s exclamation as I gape down at the gift from my parents. It’s a dark-wooded, hand carved music box with a large, emerald stone in the center. I lift the lid back and watch as a red ball of light floats upward and hovers over the box. Soft music plays a sleepy, enchanting song as the light bobs above it. The inside casing is green satin and laying on it is a small scrap of parchment.
Guard this with your heart.
Mum and Dad
“Laney, this looks really special,” Rose breathes, watching the glowing red light with round, intriguing eyes.
“Yeah, it does,” I agree in a quiet voice. “I ―”
There is a sudden knocking on the door. “Rose? Laney? We’ve got to go to the Potters’ for Christmas lunch! Come on, girls!”
I snap the music box shut very quickly and tuck it away in my trunk. “C’mon,” I say, smiling, “let’s go.”
“Ah, Becks, like my present?” asks James after I greet him in the Potters’ kitchen.
I laugh and hold out the charm bracelet. “It was so kind of you to remind me of that night.”
"Well,” he says, fingering the tiny silver goblet on my wrist, “I figured it’d help you to remember who your first good snog was.” He winks.
I yank my wrist away and raise my brow at him. “You’re walking on thin ice, Potter.”
He laughs. “As usual.”
I cast around for Albus as James walks away. I haven’t gotten the chance to thank him for my gift yet, for he’s been talking to relatives all afternoon. But by the end of the day, I still haven’t gotten a chance to speak with him, and I give up and walk home with Rose.
Over the next week we spend day after day relaxing at Rose’s house. Lily stops by occasionally, along with Louis, Roxy, and Molly, but I still can’t seem to get a free moment with Al. I wear my charm bracelet at all points of the day, not removing it for even a second.
I have been spending any free time curled up in my bed, staring at the glowing red light and music box from my parents. At the rare moments that I do venture outside the confounds of Rose’s room, I search for Al.
Christmas week comes to a sleepy close and finally, it is New Year’s Eve. The Potters come over at about two o’clock for lunch and the rest of the extended family follows suit.
After a heavy lunch, I glance around the room for something to do, and then I see him: through the door I land eyes on Albus, standing on the porch, alone.
I am at the door in a tidy spell, readying my self. I swing the door open and slip through. “Hey,” I say. “I’ve been trying to talk to you all week.”
He smiles at me. “I’ve been trying to do the same.”
“Listen,” I say nervously, fiddling with my bracelet. “I wanted to thank you for this.” I hold up my wrist and watch as light is thrown from the shiny silver charms.
He beams. “You like it?”
“Love it,” I say enthusiastically. “It’s the best gift anyone has ever given me.”
It’s quiet for a moment. My heart is pounding: there’s something that I want to do, something that I’ve been thinking about all week. My heart races even harder as I ready myself: I’m going to do it. I will do it. I’m ready for this.
I stomp my foot in anger. You have got to be kidding me!
“What?” I snap through my teeth at a grinning Fred Weasley.
“I need you, Becks! C’mon!”
“Why do you need me?”
He grabs me by the wrist and yanks me away from Al and into the house. We arrive at the kitchen table where he points at a bottle of Firewhiskey. I pull my arm from his grasp and glare at him. “What do you want, Fred? What is that?”
“It’s joke Firewhiskey, that’s what!” he says excitedly. “I’m gonna leave it out tonight and see who takes it!”
“Okay? Why are you telling me this?”
He looks let down. “I thought you could help me pick a target...it does the coolest thing! It makes you ―”
“Merlin, Fred,” I snap, “I don’t have time for this.” I walk away from him and glance out the back door. Great. Al’s already talking to someone else again.
It’s almost midnight and I’m leaning against the counter half listening to Hugo and Louis talk about Hogwarts. I can see Albus through the corner of my eye. Every few minutes I notice him looking over at me and I avert my eyes quickly. I wanted to kiss him earlier. I was going to do it. No backing down.
I curse Fred under my breath. The chances I’ll get another opportunity like that are slim, and I feel like tying Fred to the Womping Willow and just leaving him there to die won't even make me feel better.
Everyone seems to be growing tired except for me. I’m wide awake and in the worst, most sinister mood imaginable. I know that my chance has passed, for the second we get back to Hogwarts Albus’ll have a new a girlfriend. I grind my teeth angrily. I give up. I admit it. I’m in love with Albus Potter. I’m in love with his stupid hair and stupid eyes, his stupid glasses, his stupid smile, and his stupid family. I’m griping the edge of the counter so hard that the backs of my knuckles go white.
“Er, Laney, are you okay?” Hugo asks, looking from my whitened knuckles to my frustrated face in confusion.
“I’m...fine,” I breathe, trying my best to look convincing.
“It’s almost midnight!” I hear Molly squeal in the crowd of people.
Everyone begins to chorus, “10, 9...”
I look at Al, who is gazing intently at me. A shiver runs up my spine.
“8, 7, 6...”
“Oh, fuck it,” I hiss under my breath.
I grab a cup off the counter and swig down the burning alcohol. I fight through the crowd of people until I am facing Al.
He looks momentarily surprised at the way I am staring at him but I see the same, hungry glint in his eye as me.
“1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
This is it. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. Nothing will stop me now. I lean in, eyes closed, and...
...and then I burp.
I burp so loudly that the entire cheering room fizzles away to silence.
“Did she just burp?” someone whispers.
Oh my God.
I drank the joke Firewhiskey.
I AM GOING TO KILL FRED!
I sprint from the room and run outside, hardly taking notice in the explosive Muggle fireworks colouring the sky above. I am mortified. Every fibre of my being is humiliated. I want to dig a hole out here, bury myself in it, and never, ever come out.
And then the door opens.
I turn around to see Albus, standing there.
I want to say something but the words are caught in my throat. I could cry.
With a coy smile, he pulls me to him.
And we're kissing.
Author's Note: AHHHHHHH THE LONG AWAITED SNOG! :D :D I hope it lived up to your lofty expectations! So what does this mean? Ooooh, ahhhhh. Who knows?
Guess you'll just have to wait until the next chapter!
And tell me, how do you like the new banner?! Justonemorefic made it! She rocks!
Disclaimer: Once upon a time there was writer called Ash. Ash used a very sassy character called Laney in a story full of characters created by JKR.
“Laney? Miss Becks?”
My eyes fly up from my parchment. “Yeah?”
Laughter rings throughout the room.
“I asked you what you get when you cross a Wabblederk with a Spindoderm.”
I look around, slightly bemused. I’m sitting in Potions class doodling on my parchment, hardly listening to Professor Heptor’s drawling voice. He really wants me to answer this? Well, I've had quite a bit on my mind since arriving from Holiday. The first week back to Hogwarts was hardly something enjoyable. There were the usual hard classes, aggravating sleep schedule, homework, and more. But on top of that, there was that kind of enormous Al and me bit.
Of course the first thing every Weasley did the second we stepped onto the train was spread the news like wildfire. I was getting death glares from Ivy in mere minutes, and even from a few unsuspecting others as well.
“Oi, eat hippogriff shit, will you,” I snapped at one third year on the way off the train. She had asked me at least fifty times whether Al and I had ‘done the good deed’ yet or not.
You see, not only is the constant questioning and glares pushing me to the point where I might explode into a million bits, but it’s also false.
Because Al and I are not a couple.
I kissed Albus, and it was incredible. Minus the side note of me burping in his face.
But I did it. After months of wrestling with my feelings for him, and him for me, we finally kissed. Well, not just kissed. We snogged. Properly. And let me tell you, boy has James beat.
But we are not a couple.
Let me take you back to that night…
When our lips finally detached, all I could do was stare down at the ground. It was Al who spoke first.
He touched his lip with his finger. “My lip’s bleeding.”
I looked up, one brow raised. “Okay?”
He laughed and let his hand fall down to his side. “So…”
“So,” I repeated, watching a fog of condensed air flow out of my mouth.
“What is this, then?” he asked, looking at me with a tentative expression on his face.
I opened my mouth to respond, but then closed it. What isthis? I thought, crinkling my brow. I hadn’t really given much thought to the aftermath of it, just the kiss itself. But it made sense. Of course we needed to determine what it was we were going to be. Relationships didn’t write themselves.
“I don’t really know,” I replied honestly, looking him in the eye. I wasn't going to lie. I wasn't going to pretend I had this all figured out before I planted one on him.
“Me neither,” he agreed.
There was relief for me in that. At least it wasn't just me. We were in this together. I thought carefully for a moment. “What I do know, though, is that I don’t want to go back to school a couple.” I glared, reminded of the memories of Al and all his previous loves.
He looked a little crestfallen. "I don't either. I don't think I could take having a break up with you. And... and Hogwarts does that to people."
“Right,” I replied.
He dropped his gaze from mine. “So I like you, okay?” He fidgeted with the sleeve of his sweater and added, “I can’t just ignore that. I won't. I've never wanted anyone so much.”
I gaped at him. Was I dead? Did he just kill me? My face was numb; I felt like someone had just slapped me with a wet noodle.
“I like you too,” I said quickly, not even pausing.
A smile lit his face. “You do?”
I laughed. “Don’t be thick. I’ve fancied you for the better part of a year.”
He shook his head. “You're just saying that.”
I guffawed. “Merlin, boys are idiotic!”
He looked at me in an odd sort of way. "But you snogged James."
My cheeks burned at the memory. "I was drunk," I said.
Al mumbled, "I know, it's just..."
I observed him for a moment. "You feel threatened by him, don't you? James, I mean."
Al kicked a few stones. He avoided my eyes as he said, "He always wins, James. That's why I punched him. He wasn't supposed to get The Girl. Not you."
"But I wanted you too," I admitted. "I told you that day by the Black Lake but you... you rejected me. For Ivy."
He looked uneasy at the memory. "I thought you were just pitying me. I thought if I dated Ivy I would..." He looked embarrassed.
"...make me jealous?" I added with smirk. "There was no need for that. I was — am — mad for you, Al Potter."
And suddenly I was in his arms and we were kissing, his fingers in my frozen hair, mine awkwardly folded against his chest, tiny lights dancing in my eyelids. The way we stood there, so close, waves of warmth glowing between us in such a cold night, made me feel dizzy and drunk all at once.
We broke apart and fell silent.
“So,” he said, sighing, “what are we?”
“I — I don’t…” I trailed off. My mind went into overdrive. I want more than anything to be with you. I want people to be jealous of me and you and I want to give this a try. But I’ve spent the past four years examining people. Picking out everything I don’t want to be that they are. And I know if we go back to Hogwarts a couple, then, no matter what or how, we’ll both get hurt. He was watching me carefully. I fidgeted, chewing the inside of my lip. Truthfully, I wanted him. Something told me that this could work. But I was always a bit of coward.
"It's not smart to get in a relationship right now."
“I know," he said. And he looked at me in a strange sort of way.
“So we’re stopping what we never started?” I asked, something thick in my throat.
“I think so,” he replied, and carefully, he removed the jacket from his shoulders and drooped it around me. He gave me a smile and said, "It's freezing, let's go inside."
And so we stopped it. Of course every Weasley alive new about what had happened, so we couldn’t stop the spread of the kiss itself. It of course found Ivy’s ears first, and she has been glaring at me with even more venom than before. I didn’t even think that was possible. So Al and I have had a bit of trouble trying to make it clear that we are just friends to everyone, even though ‘just friends’ hits about as far from home as humanly possible. For instance, my arm touched his in the Great Hall yesterday and I about passed out.
But what can you do? I’ll just have to see what happens. I thought it would be harder; coming back to school after having confessed my attraction to Al and having to be the dreaded ‘just friends', but it has been surprisingly nice. Perhaps even a bit of an ego-boost. Ivy Osiris aside, most people have been looking at me differently, and for the good. Of course I’ve had my fair share of contemptuous glares from first and second year girls who consider any Potter boy to be something of a god, but I find that new people are taking on the dangerous task of striking up conversation with me, or even smiling at me in the corridors. And the strangest part? Sometimes I smile back. I suppose it feels sort of nice to be, well, known.
However much I wish Albus and me are a couple, for right now I’m content with doodling my dreams on parchment… I have a feeling that those doodles may be more than fantasy someday. And so the doodling and smiling commenced. Which brings us to today: I sit in Potions class ignoring Professor Heptor’s question about Wabbleypoofs or something.
As the bell rings to leave I pack away my things and hand Rose back the homework I have been copying. She looks startled.
“What — where did you get this?” she snaps, quickly putting it away as if I’m not already done copying it.
“I picked the lock to your safe,” I shrug.
Her eyes pop. “That’s private!” she squeaks.
“Nah, it’s just a bunch of things you don’t want me to know you have. There was Treacle Tart — it was delicious, by the way — essays, your blankie — “
Rose turns radish red. “I know what’s in there!” she hisses.
“Hi Laney,” Hugo Weasley says as he and Lily turn the corner and come face to face with Rose and me. I quickly take in how utterly miserable Lily appears. She barely even acknowledges us.
I grunt a somewhat ‘hello’ to Hugo and look inquiringly at Lily. “Hey, Lil, I haven’t seen you since, what? Day before New Year’s?”
“Yeah,” she nods. “Can we talk tonight? Astronomy Tower?”
Rose looks huffy.
“Sure,” I shrug. “See you.”
They walk off looking slightly frazzled, Hugo putting his arm around her shoulders in a brotherly way.
“Wonder what that was about,” I mumble, looking over my shoulder at the two.
“I don’t know,” Rose says, “but I think it’s got something to do with Lily’s new boyfriend. Something is up, I can tell.”
I nod thoughtfully.
“Speaking of boyfriends —” Rose begins.
“NOPE!” I shout very abruptly. “No, Rose. We are not going here again — Al and I are not, I repeat, not a —“
“A couple?” she finishes.
“So you are?” she asks hopefully.
She twirls around and pushes me against the wall. “Ugh, Laney, you have to give me something! I know you and Al have got the hots for each other, you even kissed on New Year’s!"
“Rose, that is so lame,” I say, rolling my eyes. I grab her forearm and pull her onto the cold grounds. “I told you already,” I say in a hushed voice, “I do like Albus, but we aren't going to go out. That would be more trouble than it’s worth.”
“I know, I know,” she sighs.
“You know we’ll end up having a bad break up if we start going together at Hogwarts,” I add.
“Well it’s better than nothing!” she says.
“Rose,” I say, looking firmly at her, “I can’t do that. Al doesn’t deserve that. Hell, I don’t deserve that.”
She bites her lip. “So…so do it in secret!” she whispers furiously. “You don’t have to tell anyone! But Laney, you two have to do something! You are destined to be together! I just know it!”
“You get cheesier every second,” I grumble.
“Oh hush,” she says, smacking my shoulder.
I stare down at my glove. Secret. Could that work? Hell to the no, Laney Becks. That’s rubbish. A secret relationship? First of all: that’s crazy. And corny. If anyone found out you and Al were having a ‘secret love’ you’d be the laughing stalk of Hogwarts. I growl at my inner self.
You don’t think doing it in secret wouldn’t end in a bad break up?
I guess we could keep it secret until we were ready…. Laney! I command you to stop this right this moment! You and Al are not going to date in secret —
“Shut up!” I hiss.
“Uh, what?” Rose says with a brow raised.
“Oh, nothing,” I say awkwardly. “So about that Transfiguration essay…”
Within the next hour Rose and I have arrived at Defense Against the Dark Arts. It’s another lesson on Patronuses.
“Now students,” Professor Herrigrove states in a weary tone of voice, “as you all know, your OWLs are arriving fast and furious — ”
At this, Rose grips the table and turns an unnatural shade of purple.
“— therefore,” Herrigrove continues, “we have got to really buckle down and get these Patronuses. Today will be spent entirely on getting them to take their animal forms.” He pauses, taking a box and passing the contents around the class. “I’m passing around chocolate so you’ll be able to keep up your good energy. Now, I expect you to have a fully functioning Patronus by exams. Get to work.”
I gulp, remembering back to the last lesson on Patronuses in which everyone but me had been able to produce something, in one way or another. “Just fantastic,” I mutter to Rose, pulling out my wand.
But Rose shushes me furiously, deep in focus on her Patronus.
Rolling my eyes, I turn to Dara, hoping for a better reaction, but am hardly surprised to see her bickering with Fred Weasley. I stare down at the charm bracelet on my wrist, feeling slightly ignored. But, as though he has read my mind, Albus Potter fills the seat next to me.
“Why hello there,” he says in a coy voice.
“Hmm,” I say, raising a brow at him, “you sure it’s wise for us to converse?”
“Probably not,” he laughs, “but I don’t mind.”
I have only spoken to Al once since we have returned, on the first night back. We had made further plans to ignore any type of chemistry between us. Has he forgotten this agreement?
“So,” I say, observing him carefully, “the rumours are still dead flying.”
He nods. “I’ve noticed,” he mumbles, looking less comfortable than he had been moments ago. Suddenly, something lights his eyes. He lowers his voice to nothing more than a whisper, “Hey, want to cut out of here?”
I stare at him. “What?”
He looks around with a sneaky expression on his face. “Want to leave? I’m dead bored. Besides, we can finally have some time to hangout, since most the school will be in class."
It takes a moment for me to understand what he’s suggesting. I’m stunned to hear this coming from good boy Al Potter. It seems so inviting; the opportunity to roam the quiet grounds with him... but I hesitate. I’m thinking back to the last time I cut class. I have been doing so well in school lately... do I want to ruin it?
But damn. How can you say no to those adorable green eyes?
I gag at this thought.
Merlin, I’ve gone soft!
How the hell we escape from the Defence Against the Dark Arts class I can't tell you. I am much more entranced by the fact that I am going to be alone with Al, and concerned with what is going to happen.
We slink silently through the castle, me leading the way to the Black Lake through a series of secret passageways I had discovered when cutting class last term.
“It’s getting warmer,” I note as we arrive beneath the beach trees. Merlin almighty, small talk really isn't my strong suit.
He nods, tossing a flattened stone into the water. Without looking at me he asks, “Are we alone?”
I stare awkwardly at him. “You’re not going to try and kill me are you?”
“No, can’t say I am,” he says sarcastically, flicking another stone at the velvety sheets of water.
“Yeah, I think so,” I say, peering around the grounds. “Although, that fly looks a bit shady, perhaps it’s Ivy as an Animagus?”
But before I can get another word out of my lame joke, Al pulls me over to him and plants his lips on mine.
I pretty much black out for the next few minutes.
When our lips break apart, I stumble backwards, leaning against a beach tree. Dear God.
He’s breathing heavily as well, glasses askew and untidy hair even more messy than usual.
I suppose I do get a bit flaily when snogging.
“Al Potter,” I wheeze, clutching at a stitch in my side (look how out of shape I am), “that was most definitely not part of the plan.”
He shakes his head wearily. “I know. And I’m sorry about that.” He mumbles something about adrenaline and shuts up.
Once I have huffed enough to catch my breath, I examine a loose thread on the hem of my sleeve. “It’s all right.”
“It’s proving harder than I thought,” he continues, looking at me with striking eyes. “You know, pretending to just be friends.”
“I guess,” I mumble absently, for something is ringing in my ears. The words Rose had said to me earlier today: “So…so do it in secret! You don’t have to tell anyone!”
“What are you thinking?” he asks, looking frustrated.
“Nothing,” I say firmly. A loud ringing sounds throughout the grounds. “That’ll be the bell. Walk me back up to the castle?”
A flash of scepticism appears in his eyes, but he agrees.
“Ouch!” I shout after taking a hard hit on the shoulder from Rose.
“I cannot believe you cut class again!” she shrieks.
We are sitting at dinner in the Great Hall and I have just divulged to Rose where I had disappeared to in the middle of Defence Against the Dark Arts class today.
“Rose!” I hiss frantically.
“Becks, you cut DADA today?” asks Fred, laughing.
“Oh shut up, Fred,” Dara snaps and then, turning to me, “I thought you were done with that, Laney.”
“You weren’t up on the Astronomy Tower again, were you?” asks Lily curiously. “I could’ve sworn I saw something flying off of it earlier…”
“I simply cannot believe you’d do that again, Laney Becks,” Rose continues, looking close to tears.
“No, guys —” I start, feeling very frustrated.
“I think it’s brilliant!” Hugo says, giving me a thumbs up.
“Very immature,” I hear Dom Weasley mutter from next to James, who is staring longingly at Charlotte Vinter, ignoring the conversation.
“And wait a moment,” Cater adds, looking mischievously from a very flushed Al to me, “Al cut too. What were you two up to…?”
Everyone falls silent.
“Oh my God!” Dara squeals. “I thought you two were nothing?” She giggles.
I feel myself turn deep red. Forcing eye contact I say, “We weren’t together.”
"This true Al?” Carter asks, looking less than convinced.
“Yeah, I was Owling my dad,” Albus says, trying hard not to look at me. “I’m going up to the common room. See you.”
And he walks from the hall without a second glance back.
Everyone goes back to their previous conversations except for me. I try not to look at Rose, who has a distinctly smug look on her face.
It’s not until we’re walking back to the common room later that night that she brings it up. “Decided to take my advice, eh?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, annoyed.
“You know exactly what I mean,” she says slyly.
“No I don’t actually,” I snap. “Al and I are not a thing.” As we stop in front of the portrait hole I take my school bag and hold it out by the strap so it dangles in front of her. “Mind taking this upstairs for me? I’m supposed to meet Lily tonight.”
“All right,” she says slowly, taking it from me. “G’night.”
I feel her eyes trained on me as I walk away.
When Lily finally makes it up to the Astronomy Tower it’s well past eight.
“Hello,” she says, walking over to the edge of the tower and glancing down. “Wow, that’s high,” she states.
“What an acute observation,” I mutter, leaning against a pillar. “So what’s up?”
She pauses, looking uncomfortable. “I wanted to — er — tell you about what happened on New Year’s.” She flushes deeply.
“Eurgh, Lily, I don’t want to hear about what you and Liam get up to when you’re alone —”
“It’s nothing like that,” she says defensively, going pink. “We split.”
I choke. “What?"
“Yeah,” she says, staring determinately in the other direction.
“What happened?” I ask, suddenly very uncomfortable in her presence.
And just like that, her eyes fill with tears. “I feel so stupid!” she whispers.
My eyes bulge. “Lily…?”
“I should’ve known!” she spits, kicking at the ground.
I remain frozen. What could possibly have happened to upset her this much? But wait, hadn’t she seemed fine all week? “I don’t understand,” I say slowly, “you’ve seemed fine —”
“Laney,” she says harshly, “I have not been fine. Think about it. When was the last time you saw me other than today?”
I rack my brain. “Er … the night before New Year’s, right?”
“Yes,” she says, eyes red. The only person I’ve been able to talk to is Hugo. And that’s only because he found me in the town square after that arse dumped me."
I stare in shock at Lily, innocent Lily. “Did he … did he cheat?”
“I wish,” she spits. “It’s taken me weeks to cope with this. I’ve only come out of my room today.”
“But I don’t understand, what did he —”
“Liam is in love with Charity Sloper from Ravenclaw,” she snaps. “He only asked me out to make her jealous.”
I gape at her. “That bastard,” I say.
She gives one cold laugh. “And get this: he didn’t dump me because he thought she was jealous enough, he did it because he was actually starting to like me, and he didn’t want me to get hurt.” She laughs again, but there is no sign of humour in her hazel eyes.
Suddenly a white hot rage fills me. “You have got to be joking,” I say through my teeth.
“Do I look kidding to you?” she asks angrily.
And then I’m running: I’m spiralling down the Astronomy Tower staircase, hardly hearing Lily’s call of “Laney?"
I fly down the corridors, practically foaming at the mouth. I can’t believe this! My inner self roars, brandishing an axe. I stuck my neck out for him! I got him together with Lily! I thought he was my friend!
“Spider Legs!” I yell at the Fat Lady as I come flying up to the portrait hole. Looking displeased at the time of my entrance, she swings open. I tear through the common room, which has dwindled down to only a few Gryffindors since my last visit, and dart straight up the boys’ stairs.
“Oi!” I hear Fred call out as I fly up the stairs.
I search angrily for the third year boys’ dorm, and when I’ve found it, I pause dramatically in front of the door before ripping it open by the brass handle. “You!” I snarl, pointing at Liam with a crazed glint in my eye. I storm over to him; grab him by the scruff of his pyjamas, and force him through the bathroom door, slamming it behind us.
“L-Laney!” he squeaks, looking alarmed. “What are ya’ doin’!”
I have him pinned against the restroom wall, trying to look ferocious. “Explain yourself before I — before I curse you into oblivion!” I pull my wand out and hold it to his neck. Good thing this boy doesn't have any classes with me, or else he'd know how much an empty threat this is.
“I doon know what yar talking aboot!” he says, a quiver in his voice. “I swear!”
“Does the name Lily ring a bell?” I bellow at him.
His face falls. “I — oh,” he says sadly. “Yeah.”
I drop my hold on him and pace around the room. “How could you do this to her, Liam?” I ask viciously. “After you begged me to put in a good word for you! And what do you do? You break her heart! Just because of some plan to get some Ravenclaw slag to like you? That’s sick!”
“Laney, I — I feel horrible aboot it, ya’ gotta believe meh!” He looks pleadingly at me.
“I thought you were better than this, Scott,” I snap. “But you aren’t. You had this plan from the beginning. You totally fooled me.”
“Will ya’ joost lemmeh expleen meself?” he asks angrily.
I narrow my eyes. “Fine.”
He adjusts his pyjamas nervously. “I’m in love with Charity Sloper, have been fuh three years. She barely noticed meh, I was desperate. I knew Lily would make her jealous; she’s very pretty, so I asked her oot. I know it’s horrible. But I can’t help meself, I love Charity and I had to get her somehow.”
“There are other ways to do that!” I snap.
He shakes his head. “I know, Laney, I know. But this joost seemed easiest. I’m not proud of it, I’m really not.”
“But you started to like her!” I interject. “And she liked you back! Why mess that up!"
“Because I love Charity!” he shouts at me.
Well, that shuts me up.
“I was overcome with guilt, so I came clean tah Lily. Don’t yah know what it’s like to be in love, Laney?” His eyes are growing red. At this sight, my anger dies. “I would do anythin’ for Charity, even if it means hurtin’ Lily. And I know it soonds horrible, but it’s the truth — that’s what love is.”
He looks defiantly at me.
I groan. “Come here,” I say pulling him into a hug. “And look, this is damn rare, so count yourself lucky,” I point out. “Lily’ll be fine. You and Charity will be together someday soon.” And I add painfully, “You did the right thing.”
“I’m so sorry,” he says again, shaking his head. “I never wanted tuh hurt her.”
“I know,” I reply. “Just stay away from her, okay?”
He nods sadly.
I push him off of me, flattening my robes and straightening my hair. “That’s … that’s that, then,” I mutter, pulling the door open. “See you, Liam.”
As I walk from the third year boys’ dormitory I hear Liam’s dorm mates wildly questioning him.
“Was that a booty call?” one asks.
“Did you just shag her?” asks another.
“Ah, shut oop,” Liam says, and I laugh, closing the door behind me.
Job well done.
Well, here it is! I am so sorry it's been like two months since my last update. I genuinely was trying -- I was just having a lot of trouble writing it. I hope it's all right! And trust me -- this is not the end of Al and Laney. If you couldn't tell, she's starting to get an [bad] idea of a way to make things work between them. I thought this chapter was pretty funny. I made Laney very eccentric in this. I have to tie up some loose ends still that I have not touched on in a while: Like Laney's parent's letter, and Riley O'Malley. Just know I have a plan for everything, and I'm not going to forget these important plot lines. And if you haven't noticed: this story has a whole hell of a lot.
Remember to review! It's very important to me! And even though it may take me a bit, I do respond to every single one of my reviews. Remember to keep them 12+ (for all ages). So don't say that Laney's a fucking bitch-osuarous. Thanks!
Disclaimer: I OWN NOTHING AND EVERYTHING! No. Wait. Just nothing. But LANEY! Yeah, she's mine....
“OI, POTTER! GET A MOVE ON, WILL YOU? CATCH THAT SNITCH!”
I swoop through the air, Quaffle in hand, barely missing a shouting James Potter. He is so concerned over what everyone else is doing that he’s stalled in mid-air calling out orders to whoever he lays eyes on.
Albus halts his chase of the Snitch, looking like he has just swallowed a can of red hot badger piss. “You’re a Potter too, you idiotic wanker!”
“Ah, shut up, the pair of yah,” shouts Fred, brandishing his Beater’s bat.
I toss the Quaffle to Charlotte, nearly colliding with Riley O’Malley, Rose’s love interest, in my efforts. He throws me a look of deepest contempt, gives me a rude hand gesture, and shoots off in the other direction.
It’s the usual stress of any Quidditch match; even though we are winning by more than a fifty points, James still has his frilly little lady undies in a bunch and the team is becoming tenser every second.
I crane my neck around, searching for Al. He has been on my mind all match. It’s been a full two weeks nice our last experiment with snogging, and I’m starting to get anxious. What if he forgets about me? About us? What if he moves on to more interesting girls like that Coral he dated at the beginning of the year? I grind my teeth. It has been becoming increasingly more difficult not to be with him. I know what will happen if we date: we’ll break up. That’s what Hogwarts does to couples. There are only rare occasions where it all works out: they get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. And maybe that could be Al and me…. But who am I kidding? I’m no happily-ever-after kind of girl. But then again, I love him. Why not be with him?
My thoughts whir on as I absentmindedly continue to play Quidditch. But as I am nearly Bludgered in the head, I decide it’s best to focus more on the match.
After twenty more minutes of gruelling gameplay, we’ve won.
“And Albus Potter has caught the Snitch!” bellows Rhys Tatum, the Ravenclaw announcer. “And a truly unstoppable team this year, Gryffindor is. Better luck next time, Hufflepuff. Score ends at 280 to 90. This is Rhys Tatum, signing off.”
I swoop easily down to the ground, hopping off my Quickskip 3000 and stretching.
James pats my shoulder affectionately. “Good job out there, Becksy!” he says, beaming. “You scored a lot of points today!”
I flick invisible dirt off of my shoulder. “You know, heh, I do what I do.”
He raises a brow at me. “Eh — okay then.”
We shake hands with the Hufflepuff team (me deliberately missing Riley O’Malley’s hand) and duck into the changing rooms.
“Great game, guys,” James says enthusiastically, high fiving Fred. “Really great.”
“You didn’t seem so sure of that when I was seeking the Snitch a few minutes ago,” Al snaps at him, pulling off his Quidditch robes.
“Yeah, James, quit being such a prat in the air, will you?” adds Lily venomously. She has been exceedingly snappish since the whole Liam bit a few weeks ago. She's about as far away from poor Liam as the locker room allows.
James mumbles a retort but finishes changing quickly and heads from the room. A few minutes pass and everyone is gone except for me, sitting here on a bench, trying to get a green sweater on over my head.
“Damn thing,” I mutter, finally pulling it on. I can never get sweaters on. Do I just have a big head or something?
And then I hear a quiet chuckle and I whirl around to face Al, who’s leaning against the lockers with a smirk on his face.
“Merlin’s arse!” I squeak, startled by the appearance of him. “I thought I was alone!”
“Nope,” he replies, walking towards me. “I saw you struggling with that shirt and thought it’d be a while.”
I glare at him. “Funny,” I say, feigning mock annoyance.
He laughs, taking my hand and pulling me into him. Our lips move together like water, his hands gently on my hair, mine around his neck. About two minutes into this, I pull away. “I’m going to get carried away,” I say, panting slightly. “You can’t do this to me,” I grumble, “I swear my heart is about to beat through my chest.”
He bursts into laughter and I glare at him. “Seriously!” I say, grabbing my things.
He shakes his head, still laughing. “Come on,” he says, “I’ll walk you up to lunch.”
We walk up to the castle bearing our Quidditch bags, both slightly flustered by the recent events that took place in the changing rooms. As we walk, I take the time to notice just how beautiful and warm it is for a day in mid-January. And for once, I actually feel kind of happy. It’s like the Birthday Fairy has struck again with all her fairyful magic, making my life easier one sparkle at a time.
I know, I’m becoming so philosophical, aren’t I?
As we enter the school, I head straight for the Great Hall, but Albus stops me. “Did you see that?” he asks suddenly, looking sharply at towards a corridor next to the Great Hall.
“Er – no, I didn’t,” I reply, raising an eyebrow. “Lunch?” I ask, looking longingly towards the Great Hall.
“No, hang on a second,” Al says, dragging me away from my meal.
I whimper a bit, picturing my Treacle Tart, as he pulls me down the corridor. “Erm, Al?” I say with a little cough. “Where exactly are you –”
“Wait – shhh,” he says, pulling us to a stop outside an empty classroom. And he whis-pers, “I just saw Charlotte and James running down here and she looked pissed.”
I stare in shock at him. “Nosy, are we?” I say, brows raised.
“He’s in my business all the time,” Al snaps. “Besides, I want to know what’s up with them … remember when we saw them snogging at Christmas?”
“Well something’s changed since then and I want to know what it is,” he says quietly. And then he pauses, watching me carefully. “You’re not mad, are you?”
“No,” I whisper, “I think it’s hilarious… Surprising, sure, but definitely hilarious.”
He gives me a squinty eyed smile. How adorable.
I watch as he slowly pushes open the door.
“Come on Charlotte, please –”
“No James, it was just a onetime thing. A fling,” Charlotte snaps, making for the door-way, but James stops her.
“I know you have feelings for me, Charlotte,” he says softly, a slight sense of urgency in his voice.
She hesitates before hissing, “Maybe so James, but I don’t want to feel that way, don’t you get it? You’re an egocentric pig!”
Al and I exchange weary looks. I can practically taste the hurt emulating from the room.
“I love you Charlotte,” James says after a moment, so quietly I have to strain to hear it. I can sense the discomfort he feels in stating this.
“Don’t say that!” she hisses.
“If you really felt that way then you would’ve never said those things to your mates!” she says coldly. “Don’t you understand? Don’t you see how this makes me feel like I’m just another number to you?”
“But you aren’t just another number to me,” James says pleadingly. “Charlotte, you’ve got to understand – I was just kidding, I would never think that!”
“You’re two-faced, James,” she spits, going pink in the face. “You tell all your friends about how you’re going to shag brainy, loser Charlotte Vinter and then coming running along to me acting like everything’s just fine and freaking dandy? Well let me tell you something, James Potter, I am not just another weak, pathetic trophy for you to flaunt to your mates. If you gave a damn about me or us, we’d be together right now.”
“Why don’t you believe me?” he says weakly.
“Oh I believe that you love, me, I do,” she says venomously. “But if you think what you’ve done is okay, then you have got a lot of learning to do, James Potter.”
“Charlotte, I don’t, really,” he says. “I know I did the wrong thing. You’re just so different from my friends. They wouldn’t understand –”
“What? I’m too average for them, then? Too ugly? What is it?”
“No! It’s that you aren’t some idiotic bimbo. You care about your marks and about Quidditch, unlike most girls. You’re smart and beautiful –“
“Stop,” she says. “Stop right there. This is what you do, James. You love the chase. You love going after girls who would never give you a chance because it gives you a thrill. I’ve seen how you play all these girls, telling them they are ‘smart and beautiful.’ But I see through you, James. I know that you just want one thing.” She rips her arm from his. “And the truth is, you will never shag me. Not in your life.”
And she storms from the room, hardly taking any notice in Al or me.
“Charlotte, stop!” James shouts, flying after her. He passes by us without a second glance, sprinting after Charlotte, her black hair dancing behind her.
Al and I gape at each other.
“I can’t believe I’m saying thing,” I say after a moment, “but that actually sounded genuine. I think James really is in love with Charlotte.”
Al shakes his head miserably. “He’s such an idiot prick,” he groans. “I cannot believe he said that to his mates. He’s lost her for good.”
I nod slowly. “Yeah … er, Albus?”
“Yeah?” he says, looking up at me.
“See, I just played Quidditch for four and a half hours. If I don’t eat soon, there’s an eighty-three per cent chance I am going to go into a food deprivation shock.”
He laughs. “Come on, Becks, let’s get you some Treacle Tart.”
It’s around half past seven and I’m sitting in the common room with Dara, working on our Herbology homework. Fred and Carter are behind us playing a rousing game of Exploding Snap (much to Dara’s dismay. Generally anytime Fred is enjoying himself she seems to be on edge) and Lily and Hugo are spread across the ornate rug, teasing Presto with a piece of string.
I’m so bored from writing my essay that I’ve taken to just planting my face down in the seam of the book and hoping to die or implode or something. “I don’t think I can take much more of this,” I groan, drooling slightly onto A Thousand Herbs and Fungi.
“Eurgh, Laney, that’s disgusting,” Dara points out, making a face. She begins casting drying charms over her newly vibrant nails.
“Wait a second,” I say, glaring accusingly at her, “have you been painting your nails this whole time?”
“Yes,” she says nonchalantly, giggling a bit. “Aren’t they beaut –”
“Laney!” she shrieks, gaping down at her colourless nails in horror.
I grumble, dip my quill in ink, and continue to write my essay.
“What’s wrong, Dara-Bear?” Fred asks mockingly from behind us. “Chip a nail?”
Dara’s face contorts into a terrifying you’re dead to me kind of look. “Say that again, Weasley, and I’ll curse that stupid smirk right off your face!”
“As if you knew the magic to do it,” he throws back, glaring at her.
“SHUT UP!” I shout. “God, you two never stop, do you? Do you need to be put in timeouts? There are plenty of corners in here.”
Dara rolls her eyes.
“Hi!” I hear someone say very exuberantly.
Rolling my eyes, I turn to see Daniel staring goofily at me. “What do you wa –”
“Dara?” he asks, cutting me off.
My jaw drops open. Did he just interrupt me?
“Yes?” she replies, hardly looking up from repainting her nails.
“Do you want to go out with me?”
Everyone goes silent, Dara gaping at him. She looks at me, eyes wides and then back to him. I sit, stalk stll. “Yes!” she says very quickly, popping up. She grabs his hand, absolutely beaming. “Of course I will go out with you!” She looks back at me, practically bubbling with excitement. All I can do is stare in shock. Is this really happening?
“Great!” Daniel says, looking down at their entwined hands in surprise. He looks over at me in an odd sort of way. A sort of “jealous, yet?” kind of look.
I gulp. This is bad.
“I always wanted you to ask me out!” Dara continues to squeak, not noticing the ex-change between Daniel and me.
“NO!” someone bellows, causing everyone to go dead quiet once more.
I turn around to find Fred Weasley, standing up, looking really bloody scary. He’s gripping the Exploding Snap game board with such tenacity that it’s actually broken in half.
“Excuse me?” Dara asks, eyes wide.
Fred’s cheeks go slightly pink with embarrassment. “N-Never mind,” he mumbles, tossing the game board down and vanishing up the boys’ stairs.
I narrow my eyes at his disappearing figure. Do I detect jealousy?
Meanwhile Dara and Daniel have begun snogging. And not a normal snog. They look like a pair conjoined plungers. I make a face.
“Oh dear,” squeaks Rose as she takes the seat next to me. “When did that happen?”
“Just a few minutes ago,” I mumble, looking away from the newfound couple. I take note in Rose’s anxious expression. “What’s up?”
She fiddles her thumbs. “Remember that Riley boy who asked me to the Hufflepuff term party?”
“Vividly,” I grunt.
“Well, that party is tonight,” she says nervously.
“Oh,” I reply. “Are you going?”
“Well, yes, I mean, I should, right?”
“Probably, if you agreed to go,” I shrug, dipping my quill in ink.
“I’m supposed to meet him in front of the Hufflepuff common room at eight.”
I look up at her, noting that she’s still wearing her school robes. “Rose, it’s the weekend, why are you wearing those robes? You weren’t going to try and wear that to the party, were you?”
“I just don’t know what to wear,” she whispers, ears going red.
I sigh. “Come on, I’ll help you find something.”
“That’s perfect,” Chaz Jacobs says with a smile, fixing the last soft curl of Rose’s hair.
We ran into her on the way into the dorm room. She was much more of a help in finding an outfit for Rose – mostly because I only really own jeans and sweaters, nothing worth wearing to a party. I gave most of my dresses to Dara anyway.
“Thank you so much Chaz!” Rose says, taking a three-sixty view of her outfit. “You don’t think I look like I’m trying too hard, do you?”
“Not at all,” Chaz says, beaming at her.
“Yeah, Rose, you look like classiest slag I have ever seen,” I grin at her. She throws me a look. “Hey,” I say, glancing at my watch, “it’s ten til eight, we should go.”
“You’re right,” she says, taking one last nervous look at her reflection, “let’s go. Thanks again, Chaz!”
“Sure,” Chaz says, smiling brightly at her. “Have fun and let me know how it goes!”
We exit the common room five minutes later, Rose nervously biting her fingernails. She asked me to walk her down to the party because she was thought she wouldn’t be able to do it by herself. I don’t blame her – she’d probably end up in the library if left to her own decisions.
Once we’re in front of the Hufflepuff common room, I stop and turn to her. “Listen Rose,” I say, not looking her in the eye. “Be careful with this guy, all right?”
She smiles. “You don’t have to worry, Laney, Riley’s a great guy. I’m not going to drink, anyway.”
“Right,” I say, and, so quietly it’s barely a whisper, “that’s what I said.”
“Rose.” Riley O’Malley steps out of the portrait hole next second, smiling at Rose like she’s the only girl he’s ever seen.
I narrow my eyes.
“Hi,” Rose says quietly, nervously looking at her shoes.
“Ya’ look beautiful,” says Riley, taking her hand.
Their eyes are locked and I can tell that’s my cue to leave, so I smile briefly at Rose and turn on my heel.
“Hey, why don’ ya’ stay a while?” Riley says after me. And he adds, “I’m sure there’s someone who would dance with ya.’”
I pause, grinding my teeth. God, he’s irritating. Trying to keep my composure, I turn around and say with a wry smile, “Sorry, but I don’t have such a great track record with parties. No thanks.”
Rose smiles. “See you later Laney!” She heads through the portrait hole.
However, Riley pauses before following. He says, “Don’ bother waitin’ up for her,” gives me one, coy smile and disappears after Rose.
“Ouch,” I mutter, realising just how hard I’ve been clenching my fists.
“Impressive,” comes a dull voice.
I turn around to see the pale, bored looking friend that I had met the first day Riley ap-proached Rose. He’s gesturing at my white knuckles, looking amused.
“What exactly is impressive, might I ask?” I say snappishly, not really in the mood for witty banter.
“Well for starters, you didn’t punch him in the face or curse his bollocks off,” he says, shrugging. “I come pretty close to that every day, but I don’t usually see people who tol-erate his crap.”
I raise my eyebrows at him. “I’m only doing it for my friend…. Speaking of which, aren’t you his friend?”
“More or less,” he replies, and then, after a moment, “I’m Sterling Jones, what’s your name?”
He shakes my hand.
“Listen, I’m supposed to be serving drinks at that party, but I’m thinking of ditching. Interested in joining me?” He smiles slightly, his grey eyes brightening.
I hesitate. It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday: Lily’s with Hugo, Al’s serving a detention, Rose is at a party, Dara is otherwise involved, and here I am, facing a potentially interesting night. “All right,” I shrug. “Let’s hangout.”
“Well, we met in our dorm room on the first night of school. We both liked Quidditch so we sort of meshed. He didn’t become such a dickhead until fourth year when he made Quidditch captain,” Sterling says, shrugging.
We’re sitting inside greenhouse two, which Sterling broke into using a complex spell I didn’t recognize. I’m sitting on top of an empty table, drinking from a bottle of wine we nicked from the Hufflepuff party, and Sterling’s making Venomous Tentacula leaves float with his wand.
“So why do you put up with his crap?” I ask, feeling the wine burning my throat. I pass the bottle to him and he swigs some down.
“Because he’s not such a dick deep down,” he replies, leaning his head against the wall. “Just with Quidditch … and girls,” he adds quietly.
“You know, that bastard flicked me off at the match this morning,” I recall, my dislike for this Riley character growing ever more.
He laughs. “I saw that. See? Quidditch and girls. It’s bloody annoying.”
I snort. “God, I just wish Rose could see it!” I stand up on the table and walk around, balancing.
“Is that her name? Rose?”
“Yeah,” reply, taking back the wine bottle.
“Man, I feel sorry for her,” he says, shaking his head.
I stop in my tracks. “What?”
He looks at me strangely. “He’s just using her.”
I can practically feel my blood begin to boil. “You’re kidding.”
He shakes his head. “A bunch of our dorm mates bet him he couldn’t get into a Wea-sley’s pants.” And after a moment he adds, “Er – not me though.”
“Damn him!” I hiss, kicking the table. “He’s so frustrating!
“What’s wrong?” Sterling asks, looking alarmed.
“Isn’t it obvious?” I say, swallowing more wine. “You’re seventh years – Rose is all blissed out on that fact. She’s never going to believe me when I tell her! Dammit!”
He steps forward. “I’ll say something to him. I’ll make him stop.”
I look at him, the alcohol twirling my vision. Is it just me, or is this bloke starting to flirt with me?
He steps forward even more, his hand slipping into mine. “You’re really pretty, you know,” he says, leaning into me.
And it happens. Our lips touch and I sky-rocket backwards. “Woah there,” I say cau-tiously, “what are you doing?”
He looks uncomfortable. “I’m sorry – I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“I’m taken,” I mutter dishonestly. “Listen, thanks for the drink, but I gotta go.” I look down, realising that his hand is still in mine and I suddenly feel strange pity for this guy. I squeeze his hand and smile. “I don’t know if I’ll make it – walk me up to my dorm?”
He grins. “Sure. And sorry, alcohol makes me a bit braver than usual.”
“It’s known to do that,” I sigh, knowing this all too well. “Come on, let’s go.”
Bacon. Focus on the bacon, Laney.
I stare stressfully at the piece of floppy, greasy bacon dangling from the end of my fork. I’m clenching my jaw so hard little spots of colour are sprinkling my vision. I’m trying as hard as humanly possible to not hear what Rose is talking about: the slow dance, the way his hand stayed in hers the whole night, the sip of firewhiskey she had, the good-night kiss… I can hardly take the anxiety of knowing what I know. Knowing that this boy Rose is so quickly and heavily falling for is only doing it on a bet.
I continue to bore my eyes into the piece of pig, trying to occupy my mind. Maybe I heard wrong. Maybe Sterling heard wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that I know what I know, and it’s ripping me apart. If I tell Rose, she’ll react in one of two ways: she’ll either freak out and demolish our friendship, making me out to seem jealous and petty, or she’ll be so hurt and embarrassed she’ll take her anger out on me.
Either way, I’m at a loss.
“It was just so wonderful – everything,” she finishes, finally taking a bite of her breakfast.
“I’m happy for you, Roe,” Al says, grinning at her, but otherwise flipping a page in his Daily Seeker magazine.
Meanwhile, I turn to see Dara and Daniel intertwined to the left of me, snogging like a pair of congealed baboons.
“Merlin, you’d think it’s mating season over there,” mutters Lily, who has been justifiably bitter towards relationships for a while now. Hugo snorts.
Me? I keep staring at the bacon.
Fred stabs moodily at his food, every once in a while throwing death glares towards the kissing couple. “Disgusting,” he growls to Carter, eating an egg so savagely he looks nearly cannibalistic.
“I dunno,” mumbles Al, “I kind of feel bad for Ivy now. All she does these days is stalk around Hogwarts glaring at everyone in sight.”
“It serves her right,” I snap. “She’s a bitch.”
“Laney!” Rose says, looking alarmed.
I sigh. “Sorry Rose” – turning back to Al – “Ivy’s a female dog.”
We all leave the Great Hall to go up to the common room a few minutes later, and as if on cue, Rose begins talk of Riley again.
“I can’t take this anymore,” I grumble, grabbing Al roughly by the arm and pulling him into a broom cupboard. “I need to talk to you,” I say once we’re alone.
He smiles coyly. “Talk, eh?” he asks, entwining our fingers and pressing his lips to mine.
I pull away. “Good God, Potter, keep it in your pants,” I snap.
He looks confused. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“It’s about Rose,” I say, noticing that my foot is in a bucket.
“What about her?” he asks, looking perplexed.
And so I explain the story of Sterling (deliberately leaving out the part about him trying to kiss me). When I’ve finished, I stare anxiously at him.
“And … and you’re sure this is true?” Al asks seriously, appearing disgruntled.
“Nearly positive. You’d believe me if you’d have met the bloke,” I reply earnestly.
“Merlin,” he says, shaking his head.
“So … what do we do?” I ask. “Do I tell her?”
“I – no,” he says finally. “Let’s just – just wait a while. Rose is pretty sensitive with this sort of thing – I’m not sure it’d get us anywhere besides a fight if we brought it up now. Let’s just see how it plays out. We’ll get involved if we need to.”
“But it’s killing me, Al,” I say quietly. “The bloke’s such a dickhead, and he’s trying to get in Rose’s knickers!”
Al looks sombre. “I know… listen, I’ll watch them – him especially. I’ll step in if I have to. I’ve known Rose longer than anyone – I’ll know how to get her to forgive me if I have to.”
I sigh sadly. “You’re a great guy, Al,” I mumble, forcing a small smile. “Thanks.”
He smiles back, tucking some hair behind my ear. “Can we snog now?”
I feign mock annoyance. “Oh, if we must.”
I’m sitting in Muggle Studies actually listening to Professor Peppercorn rant about bat-teries and remote controllers for once. Granted, there’s the usual cloudy fog over my attention span (thanks to my severe ADD), but I’ve been finding lately that by actually listening to what my teachers have to yammer about, I’m actually beginning to retain some information. My marks, which were nearly at Troll in first term, have now settled between Poor and Acceptable, something I have been most proud of. And it’s not just me who has begun improving in school; both Fred and Dara have achieved higher marks as of late.
Of course it’s only because of our OWLs, which are looming like heavy weights on our shoulders. Up until now I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that this is a make or break year. But I’m starting feel pressure I have never felt before to achieve well. The thought of my need to learn to produce a Patronus causes me to shudder in my seat. That’s going to be a hard task, that not even brilliant Rose can help me with.
Not to mention I’ve been scheduled to meet with Professor Wilkins next week to discuss my options for after Hogwarts. I gulp. Being perfectly honest, I can’t see myself in any Ministry job or Quidditch team or newspaper as a career.
Just great. I’ll have to be a cat lady. But I doubt Presto would even stay with me for long if I got to that point.
Wait a second – dammit, I’ve lost focus again!
I try to make sense of where Professor Peppercorn has gotten to in his lecture.
“And then, after they’ve inserted the battery into the back of the device, they twist the knob four times to make it twirl and swing,” he says, absentmindedly doing a sort of jig.
I shake my head in confusion, glancing down at my notes.
-Batteries: used for most Muggle devices
-Can be used to power motor vehicles, like Albus Potter or cars
-Have a life of about six Patronuses, sometimes more
-You shouldn’t, however, eat them, for they are Troll for your digestive system
-They are snoggable – meaning one can reuse them after a particular Muggle process
-They were invented by Laney Potter
You’ve got to be kidding me.
I crumble the notes in my fist and try desperately to retune my attention to the lesson.
“That concludes the lecture, then!” Professor Peppercorn says giddily, causing me to nearly explode with frustration. “Now, let’s see … Miss Osiris, yes, can you reiterate to the class when and where the battery was invented?”
I glimpse Icy from the corner of my eye, looking quite abashed at being called on. “I – um, sorry, could you repeat the question?” She looks tired and hazy – eyes slightly red. She isn’t wearing any make up and her hair looks like it hasn’t been brushed in days. In short, she looks like hell.
“I asked,” says Professor Peppercorn, looking irritated, “whether you could tell the class when and where the battery was invented.”
She flushes a deep red. “I’m sorry, but I d-don’t know.”
It’s silent in the class.
“Haven’t been paying attention, I see,” titters Peppercorn, making a note on a piece of parchment. Ivy looks close to tears.
Once the bell rings, she is the first out of the classroom, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve as she goes.
Odd. Really odd.
After Muggle Studies I head outside with Rose to enjoy some fresh air. And of course, as if on cue, the second we’re outside, Riley comes along and wisps her away, leaving me alone. I glare after the pair of them, mumbling darkly to myself as I set off towards the beach trees.
“Hi Becks,” Carter says as I meet him by the Black Lake.
“Hey,” I reply. Taking note in a moody looking Fred. “What’s up with him?” I ask with a knitted brow.
Carter laughs. “Didn’t you see?” He gestures towards a snogging couple a little ways behind me.
“Oh,” I say, observing Dara and Daniel with slight disgust. But the sight of their blissful happiness gives me a sudden, weird feeling. Jealously.
And not of Dara being with Daniel (not jealous over that in a million years), but jealous that they get to be together and Al and I don’t. Something burns inside me. I have to find Al.
“Carter?” I ask quickly. “Have you seen Albus?”
“Er – yeah, Laney, I think he’s over there by the greenhouses.” He gestures over my right shoulder. “Longbottom asked him to do a Herbology lecture to a bunch of first years, remember? Since he’s like top of our class…”
“Thanks,” I say, whipping around and hurrying off in the direction he pointed. My mind is filled with a sudden, snap decision that I have decided to act on. My sprinting comes to a stop as I see him standing in front of a group of first years, demonstrating how to properly plant a Tobuskon Turnip.
“And then you’ve got to pat it around the roots so it’s nice and comfortable,” he says, winking.
Seeing that boyish smile, the way his hair is messy from a cool breeze, and his piercing green eyes watching the twelve year olds so kindly brings a new fire in me that I never knew I had. I dash up to him, hardly taking notice in his surprise or the exclamations of the startled first years, and kiss him furiously, pulling my fingers through his hair.
“I want to be with you,” I say in whisper.
“No,” I say harshly. “I want to be with you, Al. I don’t want to do it in secret or pretend that we are nothing. I don’t want to keep hiding in broom cupboards with you and acting like I don’t think about you every damn second!”
He laughs, kissing me again. “I want to be with you too, Laney.”
The first years giggle and squeal.
“This is going to work,” I say more to myself than anyone. “It’s you and me. I know it will.”
He looks at me with a strange expression, one I’ve never seen him adapt before. “There’s more truth in that than you know,” he says, looking me directly in the eye.
I grab his hand, entwining our fingers. “I figured,” I sigh. “Now, are you ready to start some rumours?” I ask suggestively.
“Oh, most definitely,” he replies.
“Good,” I whisper with a wink. “Now, you lot,” I say firmly to the twelve year olds, “go and tell everyone you know of this. Laney Becks and Al Potter are together. Got it?”
They nod vigorously and run off, gossiping behind their hands about what they have just witnessed.
I turn back to Al, smiling. “There. This is how it should be. Gossip, jealously, and snog-ging.”
“You’re stark, raving mad, Laney Becks,” he says, pulling me closer to him.
“I hope you know what you’re getting into then,” I say, and kissing his cheek.
“Oh no, Laney,” he says quietly, “actually, I don’t have a damn idea. And that’s exactly how I want it to be.”
Author's Note: Look how happy I've been making you guys lately! JO started out so much more depressing and cynical, I swear. Haha.
I hope you liked it! Please, please review! It means a lot to me. I want reactions! :D
Disclaimer: JAY KAY ARE BAYBAY. She owns dis joint. RESPECT.
“Could you please get that disturbingly filthy wand of yours away from my potion?” Scorpius Malfoy says to me in a snooty tone, his nose upturned.
Smarmy Scorpius Malfoy is smarmy.
And boy do I hate having to work with him in Potions class. From time to time Professor Heptor seems to find it humorous to pair us up with the Slytherins. And I always get stuck working with this slimy, snotty tosser.
However! Nothing, I repeat, nothing, can get me down today. Or this week, or last week. Al and I have been so blissfully happy that I can’t even attempt to be snarky, pessimistic, or even a little bit negative.
Scorpius Malfoy being a prat? No problem. That’s nothing a little Muffliato charm can’t fix.
I sink back into my seat, allowing Scorpius to finish our potion all by his lonesome. Not like he wants my half-blood help anyway. Al is sitting just in front of me working with Lorcan Scamander, perhaps the only Slytherin who doesn’t make me want to vomit. My mind is swimming with memories of our last good snog (this morning on the Quidditch pitch. No idea how we ended up there) and I’m wondering vaguely if he’s thinking about the same thing.
Meanwhile, the Hogwarts grounds have finally warmed up a bit. As February has rolled in, we’ve actually been able to comfortably roam the grounds (i.e. no wool jackets) and spend more time outside. Rose is still dating Ri-Slime and still blissfully unaware of his treachery. I have been expressing my stress over this to Al very often, begging him to let me tell her the truth. But of course he just keeps telling me to let things run their course.
I’ve even tried to corner Sterling a few times to get the details on whether or not Riley’s still after Rose’s knickers. And, most unfortunately, the answer has been the same firm ‘yes’ as it was before. I’m starting to get a funny feeling about this Sterling bloke, too, for he said he would make Riley change his mind, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Dara was thrilled to find out that Al and I are a thing, squealing about double dates to Hogsmeade and what-not, a private joke for Al and me. It’s a little unsettling that Dara and Daniel are still going together. And the worst part? Trying to ignore the looks Daniel continues to throw at me every time he and Dara are together. I’m hoping to God he’s not trying to make me jealous.
I mean, firstly, it’s never going to happen, bud. And secondly, if Dara ever found out, it’d be the end of our friendship forever. She’d be humiliated.
“I say, do you have no shame?” Scorpius spits at me.
I blink, having just been pulled out of my reverie. “What?”
He jabs a cautious finger at my side of the potion. “You’re doing it all wrong. Great Scott, what are you, a hippogriff?”
I lean back slightly, smirking. I take in his sublime posture and silk neck scarf. “What? Jealous that I’m snogging Al and not you?”
He goes bright pink.
When the bell rings, I pop up, grabbing Al’s hand. “Last class of the day,” I mumble to him, “wanna go up to the common room?” I add suggestively.
He raises his eyebrows. “You’re willing to skip a meal?”
I hadn’t thought of that.
I chew the inside of my lip, thinking hard. Empty common room or Treacle Tart? This is a toughy.
“Yes,” I finally reply, only really halfway decided.
“Common room it is then,” he chuckles, pulling me out of the classroom and throwing his arm around my shoulders.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see that,” Ivy says, ploughing through us and stalking off in the other direction.
“Don’t react, Laney. Don’t do it,” I mutter to myself, bending down to pick up the mound of books I’ve dropped.
“Here, let me,” Al says, grabbing the books and dumping them into my bag. He helps me up, kissing my cheek.
I notice his concerned expression. “What’s wrong?” I ask, crinkling my brow.
“I’m worried about her,” he says darkly.
As much as I’d like to, I can’t disagree. I watch her disappear around the corner of the corridor. “She cried in Muggle Studies the other day,” I point out. “Do you think it’s because of us…?”
Al sighs. “Yeah. I do.”
We head up the many staircases, kissing as we go, all mention of Ivy forgotten. The common room is empty when we arrive, just as anticipated. I drop my bag down on the ornate rug and belly flop down onto the couch, groaning slightly at the whiplash in my neck. Al laughs, sitting down on the rug in front of me.
“You know,” I say thoughtfully, “my parents used to tell me about relationships and what they were like.”
“Really?” asks Al, looking amused.
“Yeah,” I reply, considering this. “They always knew what to say.”
“Do you miss them?” he asks me, not unkindly.
Brave of him. Not many dare delve into Laney Becks’ parental territory.
“No,” I say without hesitation. “Yeah, I miss having a family. But not them.”
He grabs my hand. “Come here,” he says, pulling me down onto the floor with him and kissing me. “They’re idiots ditching you.”
“I know.” I laugh slightly, kissing him back. “Don’t get too carried away like Daniel and Dara do though,” I add, taking note in the predicament we’re in. Might be kind of odd having Lily trod on us, snogging on the floor.
“That reminds me!” He pulls me up from the ground, dragging me to the boys’ staircase.
“Woah there,” I sputter, “where are we going?” I look nervously up the stairs. Boy better not be thinking what I think he’s thinking….
“I want to show you my dorm,” he says, smiling. “What’s wrong?”
I cough a little. Dorm? That’s got a bed in it. No, that’s got about five beds in it. Al isn’t like that, though. He’s a good guy. We have boundaries, too. And I’ve been lenient! I snog the lights out of this boy every day and he still wants more…?
After a moment of observing me, I see the realisation. The ding! moment when he understands what I’m thinking. And to my great surprise, he laughs.
“Why are you laughing?” I say defensively, my cheeks heating.
He shakes his head. “I wanted to show you something, Laney, not jump you when you’re least expecting it.”
Now I know I’m radish red.
“Come on,” he says, still chortling to himself.
I pout a little, but follow him all the same.
When he pushes open the door, I feel almost as if I should look away. Liam’s dorm was nothing, but the room of the boy I’m seeing? Seems wrong. Like I’m peeking into the deep down gushy insides of my boyfriend.
Eurgh – did I just say the word boyfriend?
“Here,” he says, pulling me through the doorway and over to one of the beds. He smirks at me.
“What?” I ask shrewdly, feeling like I’m missing something.
“Laney,” he says pointedly, “look at the Daniel’s bed.”
“Al, what are you talking about? I – oh.” My heart stutters. Words clog up my throat. Blood drains from my face.
The image before me is nothing short of horrific: pictures of me in every location I can ever remember being in clutter the wall behind Daniel’s bed. Bits of my hair – my hair! – are tacked to the bulletin board, not to mention three of my missing socks and my wand cosy I lost ages ago.
I choke. “Fucking hell!”
Al dissolves into laughter, leaning against the bed frame for support.
“This isn’t funny!” I roar, shaking from head to toe.
He’s been stalking me! Daniel Osiris has been worshipping the bloody ground I walk on!
I rocket onto the bed, using Al’s shoulder for assistance, and begin grabbing at things at random. My missing Potions paper from last term; my lucky pebble I found by the Black Lake in first year; a nibble of Treacle Tart I had been eating; one of my bras!
“That tosser!” I screech, trying desperately to tear my possessions off of the wall.
Al, meanwhile, is doubled over, laughing so hard it looks like he might piss himself.
Pictures I rip from the wall flutter down onto him, clearly not helping the situation.
After a few more minutes of unresolved ranting, I collapse onto the bed, hair in every direction. If Al thought I was crazy before…
I grind my teeth so hard my jaw is pounding. “Why, exactly, did you feel the need to show me that?” I hiss.
“I’ve been meaning to forever,” he replies, tousling my tangled hair.
“And you didn’t think to return any of this stuff to me?” I ask through my teeth. I can practically feel the crazy seeping through my words.
“You can’t,” he chuckles, “he’s got some spell on them that makes them fly right back into place after you take them off. See for yourself.” He gestures at the wall behind me.
I turn to see a completely untouched, unharmed Laney Becks Shrine.
I stare, bewildered at it, my mouth forming a slight O. “I guess he won’t be bringing Dara up here in a tizzy,” I squeak, barely audible.
Al erupts into laughter.
Covering my face with my hands I say, “I’m going to need months of counselling for this.”
“James?” I ask furiously, snapping in his face.
“I swear he’s gone catatonic!” Lily exclaims, jabbing him in the neck with her wand.
“Maybe we should just put him out of his misery…?” suggests Avery Coote, James’s best mate.
“He’s been this way for weeks,” Blaine Donahue, another sixth year boy, states, shaking his head dismally. “The only thing he’s let on is that it’s about a girl. Merlin only knows who – he’s involved with half the school!”
“Oh!” Avery says, looking like he’s made a big discovery. “Maybe it’s Mildred Snorkin! He was snogging her all the time first term and then, all of the sudden – bam! – no more Mildred! I bet it’s her,” he says proudly.
Lily stares at him. “No, you idiot, he ditched Mildred Snorkin because, well, it’s Mildred Snorkin!”
Avery looks sincerely disappointed.
“We’ve tried everything,” continues Donahue, looking frustrated. “He won’t eat, won’t sleep, won’t hardly play Quidditch! Bloody hell, whoever this girl is, she’s really kicked him in the bollocks.”
I stare down at my shoes, trying to disappear into the sofa. I have a feeling it wouldn’t be the best idea to tell them about what I witnessed, particularly not with James sitting right next to me, potentially having some sort of manic episode.
“Should we take him to Madame Smitty’s, do you think?” asks Donahue, looking tentative.
“He should be fine,” Lily says, not looking entirely convinced. “Laney?” she asks, causing me to start.
“Y-Yes?” I ask, my voice cracking.
“What’s with the jump?” she inquires, wrinkling her brow. I pretend to be politely confused. “Anyway – where’s Albus?”
“He’s hanging out with Rose, why?” I reply.
“No reason, I just want to know if maybe he saw something,” she says absently, glancing nervously at her brother.
I sigh, feeling increasingly guiltier. But then something occurs to me. I glance at my watch. “Crap! I’m late!”
I jump up from the couch, wildly searching for my bag.
“Er – to what?” asks Lily, confused.
“I’ve got a meeting with Professor Wilkins right now to discuss careers,” I say, finally laying my hands on my bag. “See you,” I say, and I fly out the portrait hole.
My hands are shaking.
Dammit, stop already!
I swat at one hand with the other.
Well that didn’t work.
“Please, Miss Becks, I’m asking you to just tell me something.”
I sniff. “A – er – concert pianist?”
I can practically taste the facepalm as she stares at me.
“Now why exactly would you go through seven years of wizarding school to become a musician?” Wilkins asks me in a seemingly forced tone.
“Because it’s my passion!” I squeak.
This is a lie.
I much too much like slamming the keys of a piano to annoy those around me as opposed to actually playing.
However, I am in a bit of a pickle. I don’t have any idea what I’ll be good for after Hogwarts.
Wilkins suggested a few jobs, but honestly, nothing appeals to me. Just makes me nervous.
Sometimes I get the feeling I’m like milk; good for a while until I get out into the real world, where I start to curdle and expire.
Yes. Exactly like milk.
I push the toe of my shoe around on the carpet. “Do I have to decide today?” I ask.
She tilts her glasses down her nose at me. “No… but Miss Becks, I must say, I’m concerned.”
“Why?” I snap. The motion is harsh, but I’m not surprized by it. I don’t like when people make a farce of me.
She peers down a very long piece of parchment, a slightly befuddled expression on her face. “You’ve missed almost seventy different classes in five years, your record of detentions is nearly a foot in length, and you’ve got student complaints by the tenfold. I’m sorry, Miss Becks, but I have to ask … do you care about your future at all?”
I narrow my eyes at her. “No.”
She looks startled. “But, Miss Becks, I –”
“I think we’re done here,” I half growl, standing up. I begin to let myself out, but I stop. “You know, Professor, I may not be the best student at this school, and I may not leave here to become some Ministry official, but at least I know who I am, unlike half the people at this bloody school.”
It’s weak, and I could’ve done better, but my mind is swirling with frustration. Do I care about my future? What the hell kind of question is that!
Nope, I think after a certain point I’ll just take to lying on the ground and pretending to be a rock.
Oh wait, never mind, that’d be caring too much, wouldn’t it?
On the way up to the common room I somehow run into Dara and Daniel three times, one of which Daniel “pretended” to think I was Dara and tried to hold my hand. I attempted a Leg-Locker Curse but he turned magenta-coloured instead.
I shrugged and continued on my way.
Al is waiting for me in the common room when I arrive, and I plop down next to him grumbling about the events of my meeting. He seems only mildly interested and I start to notice after a while.
I am not a jealous person. Mean and at times, justifiably violent, sure, but not jealous. But as I’ve had about zero to no experience in dealing with a boyfriend, it’s hard for me to decide what this odd burning is in my stomach when I notice his lack of interest.
I decide to test him.
Because I probably have nothing better to do.
“And then she asked me if I ‘cared about my future.’ Bloody bitch. So anyway, I stood up to leave but started to feel really weird and then – WHAM – I was a fucking werewolf! I completely scared her out of her arse – literally, she was without arse after I morphed. So then I lifted a great gnarly paw and swung at her desk, destroying all the pictures of her with those idiotic Ministry officials and what not. It really was great fun. I even had lunch with a unicorn later on.”
I stare at him.
“Mmm,” he replies, glancing behind me and looking back to his notes on Tobuscon Turnips and their genetic variations.
I scrutinize him. “Al.”
He nods, “Sounds brilliant, Laney. Glad you know what you want to do now.”
I grind my teeth.
He makes a note on his parchment.
I flick him in the side of the head.
“Bloody hell!” he says, recoiling. “What did I do?”
“You aren’t listening to me,” I point out.
“Sure I am,” he replies.
“I just told you I turned into a werewolf.”
“My point exactly.” I lean back in my chair.
He looks slightly abashed. “Erm, sorry, you’re right, I wasn’t really paying attention.”
“’Sallright,” I shrug, petting Presto. “What’s up?”
“It’s stupid,” he mutters, looking back down at his work.
This is tempting. ‘It’s stupid’ is such an easy way out of a potentially emotional reveal. But, alas. I’m a girlfriend now – a significant other. Must do my duties.
“I’m sure it isn’t,” I say, attempting to sound warm. Probably failing.
He raises a brow at me.
Yes, definitely failing.
“I’m just worried about Ivy,” he mutters after a moment, glancing back over my shoulder. “She doesn’t have any friends anymore, Laney. Like five third years have even started a Pygmy Puff Rights Group against her name.”
I ponder this for a moment, even turning back to glimpse the very sullen looking Ivy herself at one point. I hate her. That’s the truth. But if I’m being honest, the hatred is rather unjustified. Where did it even come from? The best I can gather is that we just didn’t like each other at first sight, and that stemmed to a freaking blood battle in which she screwed me over for Al.
I consider my words for a moment or so. “Look, what she did to me wasn’t right. What I did to her wasn’t … well, it was great fun but it wasn’t exactly nice either. I guess I’m just trying to say that if I’ve moved on, she will. I didn’t have one friend for two whole years in this place. She’ll find some Slytherin to make things better soon enough.”
He laughs gently, and I must say, he looks convinced. Huh, maybe I do have some wisdom after all.
And now I am craving pickles.
“Al, do you have any pickles in your dormitory?” I ask excitedly.
“Yes. Do you have any?” I’m eager for my pickly delights.
“Er – no pickles, sorry,” he says, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“But …” he trails off.
“Olives? Banana peppers? Anything else that might be pickled for twenty four hours and served to the common public?” I bounce a bit in my seat.
“No, I was thinking more along the lines of a beverage.” He gives me a sly look.
“Alcohol?” I ask, confused. I laugh. “Since when do you drink?”
“James gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday. Just some firewhiskey,” he adds.
“All right,” I say, intrigued. “Where shall we congregate for this?”
“My dorm, tonight at eleven, all right?”
He kisses me and stands up. “I’ve got Seeker practice. See you tonight.”
I hate relationships.
Accept in the case of Al and me, which is more of a bickering snog-fest at best. But I love it that way.
What I do hate? Relationships like Dara and Daniel.
“No you’re cute.”
“No you are.”
“IF YOU TWO DON’T SHUT UP –”
Al grabs my arm. “Laney…”
I am on the edge of my seat, almost ready to murder the ghastly couple cuddling in the bed opposite Al and me. It was a last minute decision of Al’s to allow Daniel and Dara to join us that night in their dorm. I can’t help but be disappointed – I was hoping to wreak some serious havoc with Al as drunk monkeys, but it’s become a more sober affair. What with dividing two firewhiskeys amongst Al, Daniel, Dara, Fred, Carter, and me.
I have been less than excited.
It also doesn’t help that I can see in plain sight the Laney shrine covered by merely a sheet.
“I love you like I love the smell of the pavement when it rains,” Dara sighs.
Fred looks livid.
I motion for my wand.
“We – we could play chess?” Albus suggests frantically.
“Al, can I talk to you?” I hiss, pulling him into the corridor.
“Erm – sure?” he replies as if I was waiting for a response.
I shut the dormitory door behind me.
“This isn’t what I expected out of tonight.” I scowl.
He shuffles his feet. “I know, I’m sorry. But we’ll only have to put up with them for a few more hours. Can you do that?”
I gasp. “Hours? Hours? Not trying to be high maintenance here, but I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it that long, Al. Can’t we just ditch this and go snog in the common room or something?”
He smirks. “Just give it one more chance. If you are still ready to kill them in thirty minutes, we can ditch.”
I pout. “Fine. But I demand some Treacle Tart from your lunch tomorrow.”
We walk back into the dormitory and sit down.
“How about a game of Truth or Dare?” Dara suggests giddily as we re-enter the room.
Everyone looks a bit weary. “That sounds… fun, I guess,” says Carter thoughtfully.
No one else replies.
“Brilliant!” Dara squeaks
I want to hit her.
“I’ll go first,” she continues, sitting cross-legged on the floor. “Laney, truth or dare?”
“What are we, eleven?” I hiss. “I’m not playing.”
“Don’t be snob,” she snaps. “Truth or dare?”
I scrutinize my small but fearsome friend. “Truth.”
I have no problem lying.
“Have you ever fancied anyone in this room other than Al?”
“Carter,” I answer immediately. “Long time ago.”
She looks surprized at my willingness.
“You did?” Carter asks, looking taken aback.
“Sure,” I reply.
I feel Albus tense slightly from next to me.
I pat him on the head.
“Okay, Laney,” she says slowly, looking more than politely surprised. “You’re turn.”
“Dara, this is codswallop. Who really –”
“Laney, just do it!” she snaps.
“All right, fine,” I growl. “Fred.”
His head snaps up from his sultry body posture. “What?”
“Truth or dare.”
He narrows his eyes. “Dare.”
“Lick Dara’s face,” I say instantly. I leer at her.
“NO!” she shouts, recoiling. “No.”
“Dara,” I say, sneering at her, “don’t be a snob.”
Her face contorts with deep frustration. “Fine.” She looks sadly at a very nonchalant Daniel.
“I’m not going to lick that, Becks,” Fred says, though his eyes deceive him.
“Yes you are.” I shove him towards Dara. “It’s the rule of the game. If you don’t lick her then the game will mean nothing. It will be a pile of hippogriff shit on society.”
“You’re dramatic,” he points out.
“I know. Now do it.” I give him another shove. And I know, deep down, if either of them truly cared, they would never have let me make this happen.
“All right then, Valentin,” he says, hunkering down, “don’t move. I don’t want to end up licking anywhere else.”
She looks enraged, but squeezes her eyes shut all the same.
“Go on, Freddy Boy.” I snicker.
After successfully giving me a rude hand gesture and smirking slightly in Daniel’s direction, he leans in and licks Dara up the side of her face. She instantly shoots backwards, slamming her head into the bed post and screaming. She rubs the side of her face furiously.
Even Fred can’t help but laugh.
“That was gross,” Dara whimpers, not look at Fred.
“All right, Daniel,” Fred says, a seething look on his face. “Truth or dare.”
“How about truth?” Daniel asks excitedly, bouncing a little.
“Do you fancy Laney?”
“WHAT?” Dara jumps to her feet.
“I mean no!” Daniel says hastily.
Dara hesitates for a moment. “Okay,” she says, taking his hand and popping back down again.
I clench my fist around a plastic spork.
Where did I get the plastic spork?
That is a story for another day.
“Laney!” Daniel says enthusiastically. “Truth or dare?”
“Be nice, Laney,” Al whispers.
“Dare,” I hiss.
“Okay!” he says, bouncing up and down. “I dare you to snog me!”
I jump up, aghast. “LEMME AT ‘EM, LEMME AT ‘EM!” Al holds me back as I flail my limbs towards Daniel.
“Laney!” Al gasps, “Relax!”
After a few more minutes of prolonged struggling, I go limp.
“Are you calm?” Al asks.
I take a deep breath. “I’m calm.”
“Good,” Daniel says, “now kiss me!”
“OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”
“OW! OW! WHAT DID YOU JUST DO!”
And that is story of how I stabbed Daniel Osiris with a spork.
Author's Note: I literally adore this chapter for some odd reason. It holds a special place in my heart. And mark my words -- you have not heard the last of that spork.
Also there may be something else in store for next chapter that has been seemingly forgotten. Can anyone guess what it is?
This chapter is deticated to Lily, Robbi, and all others who have been so kind about JO on Twitter.
Love you guyz.
Disclaimer: Mmm bop! Mmm bop! JKR's world! Mmm bop! Mmm bop bop!
The hospital wing is never a pleasurable place. It’s dark, cold, and damp; eerie like a dungeon and full of spiders and other things that make me pee of fright.
Actually, it’s pretty much the cleanest, most pristine place in the entire castle, but it’s so damn boring that this is how I see it.
It’s where merriment goes to die.
I’ve been using a thesaurus lately.
On this dark, dank day I have wound up in the hospital wing, clutching my elbows, mouth screwed up, and eyes full of bother. So why exactly have I landed myself face up in this pile of boredom and sick?
In order to learn the extent of this…intriguing…tale, we’ll have to venture back about one week, where it all started.
Monday, Laney Becks
I wiggle. “Al,” I say, turning my head. I have found myself trapped in the smallest broom cupboard at Hogwarts, stuffed between Albus, a bucket, and three brooms. I hear him moan a little in response, though I don’t press on because I can see how his face is smushed so tightly against the wall that he looks like a guppy. It smells of rancid water and rat piss, and I wonder vaguely the last time this place was cleaned.
Al and I had been walking along the fourth floor corridor when we had run into my worst fear: Daniel.
Promptly after stabbing him in the triceps with a spork, he had a severe allergic reaction to the plastic and went into anaphylactic shock.
It turns out that I had used that very spork to eat a pickle earlier in the day, not knowing that I was going to be stabbing someone with it who was allergic to pickles.
It was not a pretty sight.
Unfortunately, the violent event had only caused Daniel’s disturbing infatuation with me to grow ever more: after spending four nights in the hospital wing, Al found him spread across their dormitory one night sobbing and clutching at my toothbrush.
I have been avoiding him like a plague.
So when we turned the corner to come nose to nose with Mr. Osiris himself, I had no other option but to run for it. We lost him somewhere along the moving staircases and were able to duck into this tiny broom cupboard just in time.
“Damn – psychotic – IDIOT!” I huff, trying to untwist myself from this odd predicament, but instead my legs become entangled in a net and I topple out of the cupboard headfirst, dragging Al down with me.
We lay on the stone floor for a minute or so in silence, covered from head to toe in the contents of the cupboard. I don’t move until I see a rat scurry out, in which case I screech and do a sort of twitchy jump onto Al’s stomach.
“Aghhhh! Laney! Can’t – BREATHE!”
“What?” I say, still shocked that a live rodent had just been within inches of my cheek. When I notice that I am kneeling on Al’s stomach with my full weight, I cry “Oh! Sorry! Sorry!” and tumble off.
“Merlin, this is a nightmare,” I groan, massaging my neck.
Albus laughs, kissing my cheek and removing the wand from his robes. I watch him levitating things back into the broom cupboard one by one, smiling all the while. I can feel the warmth of his hand in mine, and I blink down at it. How am I this lucky? A year ago no Hogwarts student save Dara would come within ten hiccups of me, and now I actually mean something to someone.
I stand up and kiss him. His eyes alight and he looks curiously at me. “What was that for?” he asks, his wand hand falling down by his side.
I pat his cheek and snort. “Don’t worry about it, Albert.”
He raises his eyebrows at me. “Albert?”
“Wow, shagging in the corridors,” Ivy Osiris loudly sneers at us. We whirl around to find her leaning against the stone wall, hand on her hip, leering.
Al and I exchange furtive looks. For months now Ivy has been nothing short of dejected and Al and I had actually begun to feel sorry for her. But at this statement an alarm goes off inside me: old Ivy is back.
“Pretty trashy, if you ask me,” she says, surveying us nastily.
“Back to your old self, then,” Al says, glaring at her. “What did it?”
She scowls at him and says, “That’s really none of your business, Potter.”
He scoffs. “That’s rich, Ivy, seeing as you made everything my business when we were together.”
She glowers at him. “I’ll just leave you and your whore of a girlfriend to it, then.”
In an instant Al’s hand has ripped from mine. He has lunged at Ivy, wand at her throat. “Don’t you dare call her that!”
My eyes bulge and I freeze, watching the scene before me. I’m certain you could hear a pin drop. Ivy looks absolutely flabbergasted.
“Laney Becks is my girlfriend, Ivy. Get that through your thick head. I don’t want you. And that’s never going to change. If you ever call her that again, it’ll be the last thing you do. I can promise you that.”
He lowers his wand and strides over to me, grabbing my wrist and leading me away from Ivy.
“I’ll report you for that threat, Potter!” Ivy shrieks after us, voice shrill shaky.
“Yeah? Try me!” Al bellows over his shoulder, leading me roughly away.
Something inside me is ticking. I watch his taught face, angry and frustrated. He looks like he could wrestle a lion with his bare hands.
As we round the corner I can take it no longer. Half tackling him I say, “Albert you are the hottest piece of steak and kidney pie I have ever seen!” and I kiss him awkwardly, accidentally crashing us into the statue of Gertrude the Gross while I’m at it.
After fits of uncontrollable laughter each, we pull each other up from the ground.
He looks at me, shaking his head, laughing. “I love you.”
The blood falls from my face. He loves me. Fucking hell – he loves me! He loves me after I’ve nearly had him killed by Daniel and Ivy, crashed into a statue, and fallen out of a tiny broom cupboard. I didn’t even know nice people could love mean people! The world as I know it is shattered! Shattered I tell you! He loves me? Bollocks. How do I reciprocate his feeling? I open my mouth to speak. Holy hippogriffs! How do people do this? Maybe if I stare. Yes, just peer into his eyes. No, Laney. STARE! He’ll understand what I’m doing.
“L-Laney?” he stutters. “What are you doing?”
“Reciprocating your feelings,” I huff, staring painfully at him. My eyes feel as though they are about to pop out of their sockets. My face is scrunched up into a pained grimace and I’m trembling with focus.
He helps me up, looking slightly crestfallen. “You don’t have to say it back. If you aren’t ready, I understand.” He mumbles a bit.
“Don’t be stupid,” I snap. I look at him for a moment before leaning in to kiss him, pushing my fingers through his hair, trying to be the romantic girlfriend he deserves. I can tell he is startled by the sudden action, but he doesn’t object. Boy best not reject it, I grumble internally. I don’t usually kiss him this way.
Suddenly a thought hits me. Well, not really a thought, but an instinct. Without hesitation I press my body against his, gently pushing his back against the wall, running my knee along the side of his leg.
Though Al and I have had some pretty satisfactory snogging sessions, it was always on his shoulders. For such an easy going bloke, he’s surprisingly commanding when snogging. Protective, strong, and fierce. I hadn’t realised how natural I was at it as well.
I’m actually having fun.
Once I have pulled away, I’m breathing hard and so is he. “Do – do I still have to say it out loud?” I ask quietly.
He laughs. “Come on, we’ve got Quidditch.”
We walk through the castle until we’ve reached the outdoors. The unseasonably warm air tickles my nose and cheeks, making it quite difficult to wear my usual scowl. Not that it’s ever easy to scowl anymore; not with Al around I mean.
I also notice the breeze ruffling my messy hair, and how I can feel it half way down the middle of my back. Netta always used to cut my hair on Holiday; ever since she died I haven’t even thought about it. I cast a downward glance at her memory. While maybe she knitted a few too many frilly socks for my taste, I liked how Netta made me feel unique. I always slated myself as miserably normal, meaning every sense of the phrase, but she would always shake her head and say, “No, no, Laney dear. You’re no girl who’s just ordinary. Once you peel back the layers, well, I’d say you’re a very fascinating young thing. A little bonkers, maybe, but what great mind isn’t? Don’t count out the stone before you break it open.”
It was those times with Netta that I felt most myself, finally understanding a few things about who I am. I always thought that maybe my great aunt knew me just a little better than I knew myself.
I glance over at Al, who’s deep in thought with a knitted brow, and I take his hand. I don’t really like obnoxious hand-holders, but ever since I started dating this bloke, I unwillingly see why they like it.
I love being with Al, I do. And this incomplete year has been better than my past four years at Hogwarts all smashed together. I’ve never been happier. And honestly, I don’t even know why I didn’t tell Al I — you know — him too. What’s so hard about that? I’m no bloody Mary-Sue! I’m not afraid of saying...it.
Laney, listen up, tell him you love him. It’s a lie to pretend you don’t. It’ll hurt your relationship. Do it. Do it you weeny!
“Al I —” Before the words can escape my mouth I’ve spun around and am being yanked behind some prickly bushes. I open my mouth to inquire as to why I am budged up behind a bush with spiky leaves scraping the skin through my robes, when I see how Albus looks just as confused as me.
The face of James is evident; pale and anxious. He is crouched at the base of a large tree running his fingers repeatedly through his hair. Lily is looking irritatedly at him as she sits down.
“What the hell, Lily?” Albus says angrily, wringing out his swore wrist. “Why’d you drag us over here?”
It isn’t often Al snaps at Lily.
“Because I can’t take it anymore,” she says through strongly grit teeth. “He’s gone absolutely batty.”
I raise a brow. “James?”
She gives me an exasperated look. “You have no idea. He’s been following me around for days whimpering about Charlotte this or Charlotte that. I’m about to lose my mind!”
“Not that I don’t feel sorry for you, Lily,” Al says, clearly still aggravated with her, “but honestly, what does this have to do with Laney and me?”
“I need you to get them back together!” she hisses.
“Why don’t you do it then, yeah?” he says vehemently.
“Because you numpty I’ve tried! About five times!” she retorts, stamping her foot down frustratedly. For someone so small, it’s really quite funny. It’d be positively alarming coming from anyone else. But it’s Lily. So I laugh.
She lowers her voice slightly, clearly tugging at composure. I can see how James really is driving her mad. “She won’t listen to me. That’s why I need you — well, not really you, but Laney.”
Now I’m not laughing.
“What?” I snap, suddenly very aware of the conversation. She wants me to confront emotion? To instigate it? Hell no! What do I look like? A Saint Bernard?
“No Lily,” Al says, looking positively scary. “Laney and I are not here to play matchmaker for James and Charlotte!”
“But stubborn people always listen to Laney! Me, Rose, Dara!” she half shouts, half whispers at him. “Bloody hell Al, you punched him in the face this year! The least you could do would be to at least try!”
“That’s because he was snogging Laney!” Al roars.
“You’re shooting yourself in the foot, Lils,” I say awkwardly.
“Calm down Albus,” she snaps, ignoring me completely. I sniff. “He’s your brother, and he is hurting.”
“Brother or not, this is just a girl,” Al barks, though he seems substantially more calm. “He’ll get over it.”
Lily looks cold and furious. “Really? Just some girl?”
Albus nods, though I can see how he has paled.
“So, you mean to say, that if Laney just, say, fell out of your life” — I am looking determindley in every direction but Al — “you would just...get over it?”
I clear my throat awkwardly.
“Dammit Lily,” he says, taking my hand in his. “Fine, we’ll bloody get them back together.”
A smile breaks across her mouth. “I knew you’d come around!” she says, hugging our shoulders. “Thank you so, so, so —”
“Yeah, yeah,” Albus says, pushing her away from us. “Now listen, we’ll do what we can but I can’t promise anything else. And if Laney doesn’t want to,” he says, turning towards me, “then she doesn’t have to. That isn’t your decision, Lily.”
Lily is staring pleadingly at me.
I sigh. “Right. Sure. But I don’t know why you think I’m any good at this...”
She beams at me. “Thanks, Becks.”
Twenty minutes later we are watching a substantially happier Lily heave her brother up the hill to Hogwarts.
“You sure you’re okay with this?” Al asks me after a while. “I mean, getting involved with James’ love-life probably won’t end well.”
I pat his cheek. “Al, since when does anything end well these days? We’ll be fine.”
I begin to stand up when I see, just over the tip-top of the bush, Rose and Riley heading this way. Him looking very smug, her looking disturbingly vacant.
“Bloody hell,” I squeak, yanking Al back down into a crouching position.
“Wh-what?” he says, looking alarmed.
“It’s Rose and Riley,” I whisper. “Damn bloke has practically got her in a headlock...wait, wait, stay Al. I want to hear what they’re talking about!”
“Laney,” he starts.
I shoot him a look. “She hasn’t talked to anyone in weeks, Al! You know that just as well as I do! And besides,” I add, sniffing a bit, “you told me not to meddle and I didn’t. I’ve been good, and the situation has clearly gotten worse! Just let me listen.”
“All right, all right.”
I know he wants to hear too. Just not with me around.
Not where I can get any brilliant ideas.
Rose is just prattling on about the events of her day in a slightly fast but monotonic voice when Riley cuts her off. “So I was thinking,” he says in a coy voice, pulling them to a stop just to the left of our bush, “that we could, you know, meet up tonight. Later.”
Immediately a great lump rises in my throat and my eyes meet Al’s. We both know what he’s getting at before the question has even fazed poor Rose.
And it isn’t knitting sweaters.
When it finally hits her, it’s quite obvious; she’s been so pale and blase recently that it’s easy to see the surprise light her face, and even the slight shock and indignation lurking in her eyes.
This is it, I think, this is finally it. Rose is going to be furious that he would even ask! Maybe she’ll realise what he’s been up to all along!
But she isn’t. And she doesn’t.
He tells her it’s been a month, and that he won’t be waiting another. Al is frozen, fury practically rolling off of him.
“Nine then,” Riley says.
As they walk away I watch Rose shrink beneath his arm. I turn to Al and the words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.
“We have to break them up. Tonight.”
Monday, Rose Weasley
I stare at my unfortunate reflection in the mirror, noticing just how puffy my hair really is. I have never been self-conscious about my appearance; it’s something that means very little to me. If people judge me based off of the way I look, then they can’t be much of a friend to me, now can they? But when you start going with someone as surreally beautiful as Riley O’Malley, even the strongest girls start to lose confidence.
Thick circles have fallen like bags under my eyes and I have taken to reapplying powder to them every few hours. I don’t want anyone to notice how stressed I am; how I’ve been nothing short of gnawing away my fingernails, losing sleep more and more each night, and finding myself in front of the mirror for hours on end just staring at the sorry girl in the glass. I was happy with Riley at first — there was no stress to be beautiful or to impress him in my mind. I thought he loved me for me, but every day I feel that way less and less. I look at Al and Laney and know that’s not what I have. And it’s all I want.
I tie my hair back into a knot and slink slowly through my dormitory and down the girls’ stairs, clutching my Potions and Charms textbooks tightly to my chest. I try to think only of my O.W.L. studies as I pass through the common room, but am promptly stopped by Carter Hanes.
“Hi Rose,” he says, matching my pace and grinning, “got a minute?”
My usual frenzied persona would have had me whirling around asking for anything my friend might need, all thoughts of whatever I was headed to do washed from my mind. But now, stressed, tired, and empty, I just shrug.
“Well, thing is,” he says, now jogging to keep up with me as I walk towards the library, “I was – well I was wondering if you’d be willing to – only if you want to, I mean – if you’d be willing to tutor me for my OWLs?”
I stop in my tracks, taken aback. In this motion, he flies ahead of me and then doubles back looking confused. “Of course,” I say, an old spark of myself reappearing.
“Brilliant,” he sighs, grinning at me.
Just as I begin to feel myself, it falls away at the sight of Riley. “Bye,” I say to Carter over my shoulder as I take off at a run.
As I sprint at him I choke and stumble. I’m running. Why am I running? I abruptly fall into a walk and pretend not to notice him and his friends laughing.
“’Ello,” he says, greeting me and kissing my forehead, making me go radish red. His friends snort. “Got my work, love?” he asks, smiling at me.
“Oh, yes,” I say, fumbling with my bag until I find the parchment with his name on it. Doing a seventh year Potions essay hadn’t been too terribly hard.
He beams, “That’s my girl, Rose,” taking the parchment from me and throwing it carelessly into his bag. He tosses his arm around my shoulder and leads me away from the library and his joking mates. I notice one lurking behind, looking darkly at Riley and even more so at me. He has blonde hair and grey eyes. I catch a glimpse of the other laughing blokes making rude motions and pointing. All of the sudden I feel hot and claustrophobic under Riley’s strong arm.
“So how was your day?” he questions, pulling me from my reverie.
I cough slightly and smile. “Well,” I begin, going over today’s events in my head, “it was stressful, at best. You know, O.W.L. studies have been the first thing on my mind, obviously, I mean it’s so important for me to make a good —”
“So I was thinking,” he goes on, leading me outside and blatantly cutting off my sentence, “that we could, you know, meet up tonight. Later.”
I stare at him. “You...want me to sneak out?”
He chuckles. “Rose, it’s been almost a month. I won’t be waiting another.”
I can feel my face paling. “I — I don’t understand.”
“Rose, you’re smart,” he says to me. “Why don’t you take a wild guess.”
We are now stopped outside the castle, near a bit of greenery. Of course I know what he is saying — how could I not? Shagging. My moral side screams. My facade shutters. But, like all things with Riley, I do not object. I do not reject him.
“Nine, then.” He smiles and strengthens his hold around my shoulders.
I feel sick and shaky and want nothing more than to remove that long weight from my shoulders.
“Oh, and don’t forget to do my Herbology homework, right love?”
I drop my gaze. “Right.”
Monday, Laney Becks
I widen my eyes vehemently. “Albert Potter, if you do not help me I will sit on your face!”
He raises a pensive brow. “Albert?”
I groan and collapse down onto the couch, burying my face in my hands. My decision to break up Rose and Riley O’Malley had not been an easy one until this morning, when I encountered the two discussing plans of finally... well, doing the dirty. It was then that I finally decided to break them up. I can’t keep letting this go on, especially knowing that he’s only using her for school work and one shag, in which case he’ll dump her after. It’s all just a bet. And he’s beat down her confidence so much that it’s practically nothing to her. She isn’t herself at all anymore.
This has got to be stopped.
“Laney,” Al says slowly, “there’s nothing we can do. Rose’ll be furious if we try to end this.”
“If we can just expose the bet he’s made —” I start.
“And how do you expect us to do that?” he says, clearly irritated.
I pull my knees up to my chin and think hard. “We’ll record him,” I say finally. “We’ll catch that little twat admitting to it straight away.”
“There’s no way either of us could get him to admit that by tonight,” Al retorts. “And have you forgotten about the other deal we made today? James and Charlotte?”
I nod my head. “No, we can do both, Al! But right now, Rose is our priority.” I stare at him, trying to understand why he is being like this. Rose is his best friend and some prat is trying to take advantage of her, and he just wants to let it happen?
“What’s going on?” I narrow my eyes at him. “I saw how you nearly killed that Desmond boy at the beginning of the year when he hurt Rose. I haven’t forgotten that.”
He’s stares at the ground determinately, looking pale as a sheet.
And suddenly, it dawns on me.
“Oh my God!” I squeak, eyes bugging. “You’re trying to trick me!” I smack his shoulder and he looks shamefully up at me. He’s furious at Riley — of course he is! But he’s going to break them up himself — without me!
Oh my God that is so annoying.
I grab a spork from my robes and brandish it at him. “I certainly hope you aren’t allergic to pickles!” I shriek.
“Laney, Laney!” he says, grabbing my forearm and forcing it away from him. “Just hang on a minute!”
“What? Did you want all the glory for yourself?” I ask angrily.
“No! It’s nothing like that!”
“Then what, Al? What is it? I can break those two up just as well as you can! Actually, I can probably do it better!”
“More like there is no way in hell that I’m letting you get involved with Riley O’Malley.” He looks firmly at me.
Any ideas of Albus’s treachery now fall away and settle into shame. “Oh,” I say, lacking of any intelligent response. Slowly, I lower the spork from his cheek and give him a small, sheepish smile. “Sorry I freaked out.”
He shrugs. “I’m willing to take a few freak outs. I should have been honest with you.”
“Yeah,” I mutter.
He kisses my cheek before noticing my slightly crestfallen expression. “Laney, I don’t want you to think that I don’t want your help. Your help would be amazing, actually, but I’m sorry, there’s no way I’m going to —”
“That’s not it, Al,” I say abruptly. “I know what this bloke is about. I know I shouldn’t be mixing with him — especially not embarrassing him. But it’s me, Al.” I touch his hand reassuringly. “I do stupid, reckless things all the time. I love what you are doing — I can’t tell you what it means to me. You know, to have someone care that much. But I don’t need someone to protect me,” I say gently. “Rose is my friend, too. I have to do this. I want to do this.”
He gives me his usual squinty-eyed grin. “You really aren’t like most girls, are you?”
I beam at him. “So what’s the plan?”
“You look ridiculous,” Chaz Jacobs giggles at me as I observe my reflection in the mirror.
I am decked out in spy gear. Well, in my mind, that is. I’ve worn as much black as I could find and painted little dark streaks beneath my eyes. Not to mention the fact that I am popping around the mirror like a ninja in action.
Fifteen minutes. That’s all I’ve been given to prepare myself for tonight’s mission. Stupid Al. He should know that I’ll need more than fifteen minutes to prepare myself for take off. Or whatever.
But alas, I am ready. I bid Chaz farewell, scowl at the slumbering beast who has her drapes closed around her lair, and am flying down the staircase when I slam headfirst into none other than Rose.
“Banana pancakes, it’s you!” I shriek, not really considering the words before they’ve left my mouth.
She smiles lightly at me. “Hi Laney, have all your homework done? Been studying for your OWLs?” she asks a little weakly, but still somewhat herself. The fact that she didn’t pick up on my nervousness in seeing her doesn’t sit well with me. Rose is incredibly observant.
I can’t help but scowl a little. “Never,” I say. She shakes her head and laughs. She’s laughing. Could old Rose be back? Has she determined today that Riley is slime and has dumped him?
I bounce a little. “Where are you off to tonight?”
Instantly, as if I have just told her that a bear ate her school books, she looks miserable and anxious.
Fabulous. They’re still together.
“I’ll be with Riley tonight,” she says, a tone of embarrassment seeping in. “Speaking of, I’ve got to go get a shower. I’ll see you later.”
And she walks quickly up to the fifth year dorm without a backwards glance.
I shake my head, now more ready than ever to push Riley O’Malley into a pit of snakes.
What a prat.
I fly past Dara who starts to say hello, Fred who is throwing death glares in the direction of who I assume is Daniel, and Liam who very nearly knocks over his Wizard’s Chess board in an effort to greet me. Albus is waiting just outside the common room, pointing a first year in the direction of Professor McCollough’s room. As I approach them, the first year shrieks, stumbles backwards, trips over her robes, and takes off in the direction of their common room.
I smile. Just how I like it.
Al is chuckling as he says, “Nice outfit.”
“It would be better if I’d have had a bit more time.” I straighten the neck of my cloak. “All I really need is a Breeze Charm to complete the ‘Billowing in the Wind’ look.”
Al guffaws, takes my hand, and pulls me along the corridor until we’ve reached the library. “Here’s where we’re meeting him,” he says, gesturing towards the entrance. “I had Arty Sloper run a message down to him earlier. He should be in there.”
Right. Sterling Jones.
It had been my idea after all to meet with Sterling. I knew it probably wasn’t the best plan to go to this bloke for help, namely because I’m still bitter over his lack of doing anything about Riley for the past month. He told me Riley was only trying to get into Rose’s knickers on a bet, kissed me, and then promised he would stop him. I was royally pissed off when he didn’t come through. I had suggested to Al on a last resort that we consult him for a recording of Riley’s nonsense.
However, it is sort of my last hope here.
It was our deal that if this plan doesn’t work, I’ll have to go back to my room and let Al break them up himself.
Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
“Al?” I ask, turning to face him. “Do you mind if I talk to him alone? I think it would be best.”
He smiles at me. “Of course you can.”
Well damn. If he’d have wanted to talk to Ivy alone I’d have been a Laney-osaurus.
But had I really expected him to say no?
I kiss his cheek and slink into the library, eyeing around for Sterling.
Author's Note: Eep! Cliffhanger! And oh gosh, this has taken me a lot of extraneous edits (just ask Lily, Julia, Gina, Annie, Erica...!) to get right. And like months of uncertainty. I expected to put something in here that I hinted at in the last chapter's author's note, but I didn't realize how bloody long this was going to be! So I have to branch it into two chapters. It's a major story arch for pretty much all of our main characters. Eeep!
Laney and Al's relationship was (and will be) tested. It's going to be interesting to see how they manage as this story's climax begins to come underway just after this arch. Sorry. That was confusing. But you'll see what I mean soon enough....
QUESTIONS! (Because I'm Ash and Ash has to ask questions kay)
I actually described a kiss. Oh-em-gee. Sorry, random detail that I forgot to mention earlier in this note. I'm so scatter brained. Apologies. Anyway.
What did you think of Al and his declaring of dark, deep love for Laney-bop?
Who would you like to see more of?
Would you like for this story to stay light and humourous or extend into more drama and slight adventure?
I have two different plot lines mapped out that can end this story. I'm still deciding.
Disclaimer: I no own dis! Dis belong to JKR! OOGA.
The library is cold and silent, taking on the night as a grim old friend. I slide by shelf after shelf, searching for the grey eyes and blond hair I’m sure will shine bright in the darkness. The library is incredibly creepy late at night, and I’m starting to wonder if Rose is really worth it. I have a very irrational fear of books. Particularly dark, dusty ones that I just know are watching me.
Merlin, why would Al choose this place for us to meet?
I eye the shelves carefully as I pass by them, muttering warnings under my breath.
God, books are creepy.
I enter the back corner of the library and finally see his pale eyes glowing in the darkness. I’m sure he can see me, even though I am dark haired and dark eyed. He always strikes me as the sensory type.
We are both watching each other, but neither of us says a word. I decide to lean to against a bookshelf, considering what I’m about to say to him, when I miscalculate the distance of the shelf and do a sort of blundering tumble through the air. It’s quite awkward if I’m being honest. But I seriously dare him to point that out.
I cough and lean against the book shelf like nothing happened, and then check an invisible watch. I’m actually quite learned in the art of playing it cool.
He’s staring at me with that same, aggravatingly bored expression. Hardly even amused at my almighty tumble. For some reason, this irks me. Maybe I kind of like when they laugh, because I get to rage at them. I don’t even know who they are, actually. And here I go again, forgetting where I even am.
There’s a soft drumming of fingers.
Finally, I look up. Plan or no plan for tonight, there are some unresolved things I’ve got to deal with first. “Wanna tell me why you never bothered to stop O’Malley?” I cross my arms and glare at him. A meaner glare than usual. One that I’ve been working on.
He sits at a small rounded desk, his recently ignited wand propped up against a stack of books. After a while he says in his same, bored tone, “He wasn’t really interested in what I had to say.”
Anger boils up inside me. “You promised me you —”
“I hear you’re dating that weedy Potter boy,” he says abruptly, a sharp edge to his voice. There is a certain note of suggestiveness that I just barely catch.
“So what if I am?” I retort. There’s something about the way he’s looking at me, something that sends a tremble up my spine. Like he’s a starving a lion, and I’m some rotten meat he’s tried to eat. Some rotten meat that wasted his time. “You said you would help,” I add, trying to make myself clear. I’m not afraid of him. I’m not.
He observes me before saying, “When you kissed me—”
“You mean when you kissed me?” I correct vehemently.
There’s an angry glint in his eye, but he continues, “Well, I sort of thought that you liked me.”
“Oi!” I say, angered. “I told you I was taken!”
Five years. Five years I’ve been at Hogwarts without a date. Now in less than one I’ve suddenly got a raging love life? I demand a refund.
“I thought you were just surprised,” he snaps, raising his voice for the first time since I’ve met him. “I was going to come talk to you the next day — to ask you to Hogsmeade — when I found you and Potter snogging by the Greenhouses. Funny how I thought I’d found a girl who actually got me — who wasn’t some snobby nice girl from London. You’re just a bint like the rest of them.”
This hits me hard, and it infuriates me. “Oi, Sterling,” I hiss, “let me make a few things clear, eh? I never returned nor asked for you to lay one on me, got it? I told you I was seeing someone, too, so don’t sit there and accuse me of being insensitive. As far as I’m concerned, you gave me your word that you would help stop Riley O’Malley hurting my friend, and apparently your word is nothing.” I turn to leave, but before I get very far, I whip around. “It’s tonight, by the way,” I snap. “And without you, there’s not a bloody thing I can do for her. She’s as good as brainwashed.”
This was a mistake. Now I’ll just have to go fight Al to let me come, and if he caves, help him curse Riley through the wall and try and beg Rose to understand that he is a horrible, horrible, git. And clearly, none of this is going to end well.
I begin to blindly stumble back towards the exit (forgetting altogether the spell for making light. Yes, I really am that bad at paying attention.) when I hear a series of footsteps coming up from behind, and Sterling grabs my forearm.
“All right, Fifth Year” — he sighs — “what do I have to do?”
I turn around, my arms folded. “You’re sure? I’m not enlisting the help of a berk, so you better be sure.”
He chuckles. “I’m positive. I gave you my word. You were right.”
I muster a small smile, embracing the fact that I do, after all, have a small soft spot for mean people. I take his wand in my hand, rolling it around a bit. “I take it you know the sister spells for recording voices?” I ask.
“Referre Sonos and Repetere?” he replies with ease.
“Er — yes, I think those are the ones,” I say. I actually have no earthly idea if those are the right spells, but he’s a seventh year, so I just go with it. “Anyway, you gotta record what he says” — he seems uncomfortable — “and — oi — you said you were sure!”
“I’m sure, I’m sure!”
I eye him carefully. Boy, I will really enjoy pumbling him to a pulp if he screws me over— Laney, that really isn’t ladylike! a voice in my head reminds me. Right. Must keep the crazy to a minimum these days.
Shaking my head clear, I continue, “Well, he’s a prat. So he’s bound to be down in your common room right now bragging that he’ll be winning his stupid bet tonight. It shouldn’t be hard to catch what he says. All you have to do is transfer it over to Albus’s wand after you get it. He’ll wait for you in the courtyard at ten-thirty. That way you won’t even have to be seen by him. He’ll never know.”
“All right,” he says, nodding. “And when are you going to show her?”
“He’s supposed to meet her there at eleven, and if I know Rose, she’ll be there at least fifteen minutes early. We’ll make her hear us out, show her the recording, and when Riley shows up — wham — Rose’ll confront him, and he’ll admit it. Then they’ll finally be over and Rose won’t be mad at us.”
“So why not just tell her beforehand?” he asks.
I shake my head. “No, no. Rose needs confrontation. It’s key, trust me.”
He nods. “I’ll meet your friend at ten-thirty with the recording. I won’t let you down.”
“Thanks, Sterling,” I reply, managing a small smile.
“No problem,” he says. “And listen, I’m sorry for what I said before. I don’t think you’re snobby or anything — you love Potter, I get it.”
I nod. “I do.”
“So you love him?” he queries.
I stop, confused. “I — wait — uh,” I sputter, going red. Damn him!
When we exit the library, Albus is sitting against the stone wall outside the doorway, his wand out, head lulling. I crouch down next to him and whisper, “Al?” When I touch his hand he jumps, and I fall backwards in surprise. “Sorry! Sorry!” I say, getting up.
“Laney,” he breathes, looking relieved. “No, sorry, it was me. I think I fell asleep.” He gives his head a small shake and looks around. When he notices Sterling, his eyebrows lift so as to ask, Did it go well?
I give a small, unnoticeable nod. He looks relieved, yet slightly crestfallen all at once. I know he was hoping that it wouldn’t go well so as to not have me involved with someone like Riley O’Malley, though he would never say this aloud.
And even though I know Al would understand, I decide not to tell him about Sterling’s misconception with me, or even that we kissed all those months ago. Somehow, I feel like it’s one small favour I can do for Sterling Jones.
After we’ve parted ways with Sterling, I head back up to my dormitory and essentially just lay flat on my face for the next hour. I’m nervous: I’m really, really nervous. Or maybe it’s anxious. I actually can’t really place the feeling at all. All I know is that for the next thirty minutes until Al returns with a wand full of confession, I want to lay here with my face in this pillow. And maybe die.
I’ve no idea where Rose has gone off to, which may be part of the reason for my foul mood. I’m suddenly worried that the time has changed or that she’s run off and been eaten by the giant squid. So many things can go wrong tonight, and everyone knows how well I deal with stress.
“I’m sorry, but I have got to ask,” comes a sharp voice. Ivy, of course. I remain face down and try and tune her out. She seems displeased at my lack of interest in her interest. Oops. “What the hell is going on? The Weasley girl has been positively woebegone for weeks and dating that seventh year boy who quite obviously is only using her for something. And now you’re suffocating into a pillow.”
“Ungggmuhhherrrmuhh,” I reply into my pillow. I guess speaking face-down isn’t as easy as one would think, though it’s probably a good thing it only came out as a moan. It wasn’t my friendliest response, per se.
“I’m sorry,” she says through her teeth, “I don’t speak troll.”
I lift my face ever so slightly and retort, “I don’t speak bitch.”
“Go to hell!” she shrieks.
“I’ll save you a seat!” I yell back at her.
After a long stretch of silence she spits, “I don’t understand why you have to be so mean all the time! I was actually attempting a conver—”
This sets me off. “Me? Mean? Really? I never knew!” I sit up in my bed and jam my feet into shoes as I speak. “Honestly Ivy, do I even need to relay that number of times you’ve intentionally screwed me about or the fascinating array of insults you throw at me on a daily basis? In front of Albus, nonetheless?” As I turn tempestuously, I see her face paling and her lip quivering. “I really don’t get you, you know? Ever since the day I met you you’ve hated me. And believe me, I hated you, too. You tried to ruin my friendships and pry away Albus. You repeatedly humiliated me and probably are plotting to kill me. How can you not expect people to hate you when you act like this? I may be mean, but I never cross the lines that you do.”
“It’s Daniel!” she finally barks. “You’re so awful to him, you are! He fancies you so much, and you are so horrible to him, straight from the start! He’s not supposed to like you! You aren’t good for him! And it’s my job to protect him!” She yanks her hangings closed.
Well, that was a success.
I throw on my robes and disappear from the dormitory. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe I didn’t. Honestly, I don’t really care anymore.
Once in the common room, I flop down on the sofa and try not to see Chaz and Blaine Donahue snogging on the window seat. I want to take every single couple at Hogwarts and just, I dunno, kick their shins a bit. Maybe even Al and me, too. Hogwarts was solace before my fifth year — I had Dara by my side. I was the one who sat back in my hub of delicious foods and comfortable robes and average grades that sniggled at Dara’s boy troubles. We played tricks on first years and spent our nights gossiping on the Astronomy Tower. Well, Dara gossiped. I just threw in my shiny insult from time to time.
But if I could, I think I’d want it all back. I didn’t have the school’s unforgiving eyes on me, like I was a piece of meat for them to judge. I didn’t have firewhiskey or boys that fancied me or terrible marks. Before, people didn’t like me because I was callous and bitter. And I was fine with that because it was me. Now they are scathing and resentful, angry that someone like me, selfish and antagonistic, could be anything above bottom-of-the-food-chain riffraff. But then there’s Albus. Albus.
My head hurts.
“Hey Becks,” says Fred, sitting down next to me.
“Hey Fred,” I reply, pulling my knees to my chest. “How’s it—”
“Valentin and Daniel broke up,” he says, cutting me off.
“I — oh,” I respond, a little taken aback. “That’s too bad,” I say. And then, “Actually, blimey, that’s right peachy. I was so sick of them.” I laugh.
“How did that happen, anyway?” I query, curious. Dara’s surely off sulking somewhere. I should probably go find her and comfort her, but … meh.
“Apparently she dumped him,” he says, shrugging. “He didn’t say why.”
Phew. At least she isn’t the victim in the break up. That makes my job a bit easier. “So you must be pretty happy?” I ask.
“Why would I be happy?” he retorts, a sharp edge to his voice. “What are you implying?”
“I — nothing,” I recover, blushing. “Just — you must, uh...”
“I’m going to sleep,” he cuts across, then he rises and disappears up the boys’ stairs.
“Oookay,” I say to myself. That’s new. Since when does Fred Weasley snap at me? I clench my teeth. I shall have to talk to him about this. And smack him with a wet fish.
An hour passes. Maybe two. I stare at the raging fireplace, my eyes burning. Thirty minutes later, I do a few laps around the common room, because my leg’s fallen asleep. I imagine I how I must look, walloping around the room like a debilitated troll. Forty-five minutes. I’m making bubbles float out of my wand, but they are the colour of spinach. God knows why. Another hour goes by, I’m doing crunches. I do two. I’m winded by three.
Eventually it’s ten-forty-five and I am the only one left in the common room, watching a spider crawl back and forth across the back of the portrait hole, about ready to lose my bloody mind.
It swings open just before I’m about to take a spork to my eyes.
“Laney!” His bright eyes pop a bit in surprise. I assume my position on the ground may be a bit jarring if one isn’t expecting it. I decide to stand up, relieved that Al has returned.
“You’re back,” I relay, dusting a few crumbs off of my robes. I had divulged in a snack of pumpkin pasties at some point during my mental breakdown.
He grins a sheepish sort of thing, holding up his wand. “I got the it.”
“Brilliant.” I beam at him.
Returning the smile he says, “You’ve got really wild hair this year, you know that?” And pointing to his own, “We kind of match now.” He laughs at his observation.
“Oh, how clever you are,” I retort, glaring daggers. “It’s clean. I just can’t bloody control which way it wants to go each day.”
Al chuckles. “All right, you ready?” he asks.
I swallow. Please, please let this go well. “To expose Ri-slime to Rose?” I query weakly.
“You can still back down, you know. I can do this alone.” He shrugs.
I look sharply at him. “Let’s go.”
I can’t seem to go four feet without getting overly excited and knocking over a suit of armour or a glass artefact. I can't help it, I feel like a secret agent.
“Laney!” Albus grabs my fingers and yanks me backward, just before I’ve tumbled over and made even more noise, as I had done for the past three consecutive falls.
“It’s wasn’t me! I swear!” I squeak instinctively.
“You’ve just got to be light on your feet,” he whispers, a slight twinge of annoyance etched into his ever-patient tone.
This irritates me deeply. Where Albus is so intelligent that when someone doesn’t understand him he gets frustrated, I’m slow and get confused easily, and become aggravated when people expect me to just know everything. I glare at him and cross my arms. “Well I’m so sorry everyone is not as agile and witty as you!”
He doesn’t even attempt to mask his laughter, or even to maintain a straight face. “It has nothing to do with intelligence,” he says, chuckling.
This roils me up a bit. “Think I’m funny, do you?”
“Come on, Laney,” he whispers, another soft laugh escaping.
My face contorts. “I’ll have you know that I don’t have to stand for any of this!” I hiss, whipping around. I storm down the corridor like an enraged bull.
He comes trotting after me whispering, “Laney, stop, I didn’t mean it like that!”
I try to stick my nose in the air to show that I’m not interested in his weak apologies, when in doing so I lose attention in where I’m going and step right into the the disappearing step on a staircase. A sort of gargled shriek escapes my throat
Albus has his arms around me faster than I can tell what’s happened, pulling me from the trick step.
“Not bleedin’ likely!” I squawk, pink in the face, struggling to pull myself out of the step and swatting off Albus’s help.
He just continues pulling me and says nothing, pale in the face. When I’m finally free from the step he’s still got his hands around my forearms, tightly gripping the sleeves.
We sit there for a moment very quietly. “Al?” I whisper, giving my hands a slight shake to show that he’s still hanging off of me.
He let’s go slowly, still looking pale. “Are you angry with me?”
“No,” I reply softly, staring down at my shoes.
He sighs, maybe kind of relieved, and stares around in the darkness. “Ever since I was nine, when I really noticed girls, and how they all swooned over James—”
“They swoon over you too, Al,” I correct. “You’re just more reserved than James. I find you infinitely more attractive, though.”
He shakes his head, a small smile forming. “All I mean is, you’re the girl I was looking for and I just didn’t know it. Not until I saw you that day on the train did I realize.”
Embarrassed, I fiddle with my clasp.
“And look, I know you’re not ready with the whole love thing” — I cringe — “and that’s okay. I guess I’m just trying to say that, even if you don’t, that’s how I feel. I don’t think that can change.”
Whatever prompts me to kiss him then — maybe to distract him from having to say those words back, or maybe because in all honesty, I do love Al — but whatever the reason, I do. And we snog right there on the staircase, right there with my charm bracelet on my wrist, and with my ankle throbbing from the trick step. Our lips move together, tea and honey, desire and confusion filling the space between us.
“I can’t stay mad at you.” I laugh and rise, dragging him with me. When I glance at my watch, I gasp. “We’ve got to go! It’s almost eleven o’clock!”
Al and I take off up the staircase and to the seventh floor corridor, my ankle pitching a fit. When we come screeching to a halt outside the wall, Albus sprints back and forth three times until a door blooms from the stone.
I gape at him in confusion. How did he even know what type of room they’d be in?
He shrugs and says, “Sterling told me.”
Bloody Sterling Jones.
“So — erm — what d’ya reckon is the best way to go about this?” Al asks me, his hand resting gently on the door.
I shove him along. “We haven’t got much time!” I reply nervously. “Just get in there!”
Albus and I whip our heads around and shriek, “Carter!”
“Bloody hell,” Albus says, “what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to save Rose!” Carter says indignantly.
Our jaws drop.
“Listen,” Carter says hurriedly, “She’s in the Room and—”
“We know!” Al replies, shocked. “That’s why we are here! But more importantly, how did you know?”
“I followed her this morning because I saw how unhappy she looked — that’s when I heard what that Riley bloke wants to do. So I talked to a Hufflepuff friend who confirmed it was a bet. I didn’t know what to do besides tell her — but I’ve been looking for her all day. I finally came here and we gotta save her mate!”
I grab Carter’s wrist and shove Al into the door. “Let’s go!” I hiss. “We haven’t any more time to doddle!”
Al gives me one, hastened look, and enters the room.
As I hobble (as quietly as I can manage, mind you) along behind him, I have to physically stop myself from falling back onto Carter in fright. It’s pitch black. The kind of black that sucks you in like a vortex, stealing away your breath. With a flick of his wand Albus has the room lit dimly, and we can just see the massively bushy head of red hair flip upward in surprise to reveal a quaking, pale Rose Weasley.
She opens her mouth as if to call out in shock, but cannot seem to make the words.
Albus rushes over to her, saying, “Rose, Rose, we know about tonight, we know what Riley’s plan is—”
She looks mortified. Her eyes flying from me to Albus to Carter. I hop over next to her and grab her hand, gently pulling, and Carter is in hot fleet behind me. “I w-wasn’t going to do it,” she whimpers. And then, “But, h-how did you know?”
Albus hugs her saying, “Listen, Rose — Rose we have to tell you something.”
She looks nervous. “W-what?”
“Riley — he isn’t who you think he is, he’s a bad guy, very bad.”
She looks scared but indignant. “No, he cares about me! I just should have been upfront with him—”
Albus swings his wand whispering “Repetere!” and out floods the voices of Riley and his dorm mates, admitting everything. Boasting that tonight he would win the bet and then dump her. It is worse, so much worse, than I had ever imagined. I watch Rose as her already pale face becomes nearly translucent.
Suddenly, she pulls her wand threw the air saying “Siliencio!” and the room falls still.
There is fire in her eyes when she jumps to her feet. “How long did you know!”
Albus, Carter, and I fall backwards in shock. “I—”
“HOW LONG?” she roars. I nearly go deaf.
The pain from my ankle is worsening and the sound of her ferocity brings me to dry heave.
Carter says, “Rose, we have to leave—”
She shoves Carter away and dives at Albus. “How could you do this to me? HOW COULD YOU NOT TELL ME! HOW COULD YOU LET ME BE WITH HIM!” she shouts and I swear dust is falling from the shaking ceiling at her voice.
“Calm down Rose!” Albus barks at her, holding her arms down. I am afraid she might throttle him.
“I ought to curse you Albus Potter!” She claws at his face, ripping his glasses off and throwing them so violently at the ground that they shatter.
Panic has really taken Albus now, and he is stumbling blindly around.
Rose, not knowing that my ankle is badly hurt, wraps a fist around the front of my robes and yanks me into a standing position. I shriek in pain, sweat breaking across my forehead and tears welling in my eyes.
“You were supposed to be my friend!” she yells at me. “All of you—”
A sharp rattling of the doorknob causes Rose to nearly jump out of her skin. Her facial expression has gone from ravenous to terrified in a moment’s notice. She lets go of me and I stumble into a table, dry heaving again.
Albus has finally found his glasses and put them on, but they are cracked and hardly do him any good. “Are you mad!” he calls in the general direction of Rose. “Laney! Laney, are you hurt?”
Rose covers her mouth in horror.
“F-fine!” I manage.
“What have I done,” she whispers to herself. At the next rattle of the doorknob, she jumps.
“It’s Riley,” she cries, “Hide! Get out! GO!”
She begins to shove at us at random. I just stumble into the table again before I’m sick.
Albus is calling my name, but it’s too late.
“What the hell is going on here?”
Riley is standing in the doorway in all his glory, looking like he could wrestle a tiger. His eyes are flashing red and he glares at Rose, who shrinks at his attention.
“It was a bet,” she squeaks, meekly. “All of it.”
His eyes dart to Al, Carter, me, and back. “They told you that?”
“THEY TOLD YOU, THEN?”
“Get him, Carter! Rose, Laney, run!” Albus cries out, but it’s no use. He’s facing the back of the room.
As soon as Riley has his wand trained on Rose, her eyes bugging, Carter darts in front of her and takes the first hit of purple light. He writhes on the ground, twitching.
A single, strangled cry escapes Al’s throat before his robes have gone up in flames. I scream. Rose screams. Tears are running down her face as she throws herself at Albus calling “Aguamenti! Aguamenti!” and as she shoots counter-curses at Carter, who inconsolable.
And then Riley’s eyes are meeting mine, and he’s mouthing something, and I’m gasping, blue light circling me and covering me and taking my breath away.
I thought pain was the time I got bludgeoned in the head as a third year, or when I was seven and thought I had just produced magic for the first time when I stuck my finger in the outlet and got a nice shock. Or maybe even the time Netta’s granddaughter shoved me out of a tree and I broke my arse in four places.
But never in my life had I experienced pain like this.
I might as well be jammed in a Laney-shaped dent in the wall or flying through outer-space for all
I know. I could be writhing on the ground or in bits all over the place. Though none of it would really matter to me, because the pain is so horrendous, so blinding, coursing through my body in dreadful surges again and again, never stopping, that I’d rather be dead if it meant the suffering would end.
I don’t really know if I’m alive. There’s a ringing in my ears and something heavy on my chest; not to mention the endless pain that seems to flow with my blood.
I seem to be falling and then floating, strange hands on my face and back, too many hands. The flesh is cool and unsettling. I can’t see straight. Can’t think straight.
Eventually my subconscious is still, and everything goes black.
Author's Note: Major cliff hanger...
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The hospital wing smells like a fart.
When I woke up here this morning, a sheen of sweat covering my body, limbs weakly aching at every move, it’s safe to say that I was a bit...befuddled. At first all I saw were the bright blue eyes of Madame Smitty, the school nurse, eclipsing my vision of the rest of the room. If it weren’t for my current physical state, I’d have popped up in surprise, perhaps smacking foreheads with her. Instead, I just laid there, weakly blinking around in confusion.
It wasn’t for a few minutes until my mind started to work again: piecing together things that I had forgotten and slowly recalling the night before. By noon, I am finally fully comprehensible.
Tugging at the uncomfortable button-up nightgown, I try speaking a few times, but fail. Immediately, my mind flies to being a mute. In reality, I just don’t know what to say. My bed is covered by a curtain, so I can’t see around me. I want to leave. Really badly. I also want to know a few other things like, I don’t know, what the bloody flobberworm has happened to me.
And then another thought hits me: what happened to Al?
A lump rises in my throat.
The second Madame Smitty has entered my section for what I assume is another round of potions, I speak. “Where is Albus Potter? Is he here?”
She smiles at me. “I see you are feeling better.”
Just from forcing those words out I already have a pounding headache and a faint ringing in my ears. No, I wouldn’t exactly say better. Worse might be along the right lines.
“You’re dehydrated. You sound like a gnome.” She hands me a small goblet with a lot of wispy potion in it.
I swallow the stuff quickly and again, I prompt, “Is Albus Potter here?”
She busies herself with the side table before saying, “He’s been out and well for more than four days, dear.”
My jaw drops. Again, I tug restlessly at the neck of my nightgown.
I’ve been out for four days.
Have I been...dead?
Her next words seem to reassure me. “Don’t worry, you’ve not been dead,” she says, sitting down on the edge of my bed and patting my knee affectionately. “Though, out of the four of you kids, you were the only one the boy hit with a Cruciatis Curse.”
As she says this, I feel it. Right from the marrow of my bones I can feel the lingering ache. The kind of full-boy ache that can only come from something so terrible.
However, I nod. Of course he hits me with an Unforgiveable. He hates me. As long as Al, Rose, and Carter are okay, I’m okay.
“What about the others?” I manage.
“Mister Hanes and Miss Weasley are both fine and attending classes again. Though, I will say, there are many that are anxious to see you.” She crinkles her brow slightly, obviously displeased at the healthy being in her hospital wing. “Mister Potter has been quite … persistent.” She glares down at the floor.
I snort and it hurts my ribs. The pain reminds me of a lingering question I’ve had, one that I’m not really sure I want the answer to. “Riley is —”
“Expelled.” She stands up and smooths the covers she had crinkled.
The pit in my stomach gives a slight clench and then releases. He’s gone.
Finally, the selfish question. “Am I going to die?”
“Child, don’t be ridiculous,” she snaps, fixing another potion. “Granted, you’re lucky you didn’t go mad, but people seldom die from the Cruciatis Curse.”
“Well I’m sorry I’m not up to date on CODs,” I retort, yanking the covers up to my neck and wincing slightly.
She sighs and hands me another potion. “This’ll knock out the pain for a bit.”
I take it in my hand and sniff the greenish fluid. “It smells like vomit.”
She gives me a challenging look.
“You don’t have to be a berk,” I say, rolling my eyes. I swig down the potion (it tastes like grass) and hand the empty goblet back to her. “So when can I leave?”
She laughs. “Oh, honey, you won’t be leaving for a while. You’ve been unresponsive for nearly five full days.”
I chortle to myself.
Yes, because a great beast like you is going to keep me from leaving.
“However,” she continues, “you do seem to be feeling better, and it’s about visiting time.” She removes the curtain from around my bed so that I can finally see the area around me. My eyes water painfully at the iridescent white walls.
And then I see him, straight through the window of the door. “Al!”
A smile breaks across his face as he sees me too, and he mouths something I cannot hear.
Madame Smitty wips around, hands on her hips. “There’s still another ten minutes before he’s allowed to come in—”
Sitting up slightly, I give her a weak push with my arm. “Let him in!”
“He’ll disturb the other patients!” she hisses tempestuasly.
I gape at her. “What other patients! I’m the only one!”
She looks huffy but sighs in defeat. “Fine.”
When she swings open the door, Albus hardly waits for her to slide aside before bolting over to my bed. His green eyes are alight.
“You’re all right,” he breaths.
I grab his hand. “Yeah, guess I am,” I say.
He laughs, sort of wildly, setting down in the chair next to me and running his fingers through his hair stressfully. “I just can’t believe it. I should’ve never let you go.”
“Hey now,” I say, “I would’ve gone no matter what you said. I knew what I was getting myself into.”
He looks gratefully at me, though shame is still colouring his expression. “I’m just so glad you’re okay.”
He lifts his hand up to me and covers my own. In this motion, his sleeve falls, and I finally see it. The puffy, pinks scars that have coiled around his forearm, and, I notice with a sharp intake of breath, all the way up to his neck. They are raw and inflamed, making his skin appear maimed. Slowly, I touch his arm, sliding the sleeve of his robe higher up his arm. “Al...”
He watches me carefully. “I could hear you screaming.” The way his eyes are slightly glassy, it breaks my heart.
“It was all you could do,” I say quickly, trying not to look at the burns. I squeeze his hand. “You couldn’t see anything — I couldn’t see anything!”
“I know,” he says, shaking his head. “I just — I hate seeing you like this.”
“Likewise.” I swallow, glancing at the fiery burns under his jawline. “Rose and Carter — are they okay?”
He nods slowly. “Hanes just got a Hysterical Jinx and Rose he hit with ropes to keep her from helping me. They’re both fine — pretty worried about you, actually. The whole school is talking about it.”
“Great,” I groan, burying my face in my hands. Just what I need right now. And then, a thought occurs to me. “Al?”
“Do you think we did the right thing?” I ask quietly. “Rose was so angry.”
He nods, looking down at his shoes. “I don’t really know, Laney.”
“Is she still—?”
“Mad?” he finishes. “No, she’s horrified at what happened. Naturally, she’s depressed, thinks it’s all her fault.” He sighs. “She can’t even come up here, she thinks you hate her.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I say, shocked. “For the Bloody Baron’s sake — I did this for her!”
He laughs. “I know, I’ve tried explaining it to her about a hundred times.”
“Do you remember anything from that night?” I ask. “I can only remember up to being hit.”
He gives my hand a squeeze. “McCollough was on patrol on the seventh floor. Riley had left the door open, so she heard the screaming and came running. He was nowhere to be found when she got there. Carter and you were curled up on floor, bleeding and that. Rose was all tied up and I was — well, I was still on fire.” I swallow. “She put me out and called for help. All four of us were put into the hospital wing, except they sent me and you to Saint Mungo’s after a while because we were in the worst shape.”
What? I was in Saint Mungo’s!
“Anyway,” he continues. “We were both back at Hogwarts by the next morning. I guess Shacklebolt found Riley hiding with the Slytherins and he expelled him. Rose and Carter got out pretty fast, and I was out a day later. We were all really worried about you — you weren’t even responsive.”
I swallow. “I don’t remember anything from the past four days.”
He touches my cheek, watching me carefully. “I just can’t believe you’re all right.”
I begin to reply but am cut off by Madame Smitty, who is poking her head out from her office. “Visiting time is up, Mister Potter! She needs her sleep!”
I roll my eyes. “You don’t have to leave.”
“Mister Potter!” Smitty prompts, tapping her foot and jabbing her wand towards the door.
“It’s all right, Laney,” he says, kissing my forehead. “I should go.”
I nod, feeling drowsy. “I think she spiked my potion with Sleeping Draught, anyway.” I narrow my eyes at the thoroughly indignant nurse.
He laughs. “I’ll come back tomorrow, all right? Sleep well.”
As he begins to leave, a thought bursts into my mind.
He turns around, looking concerned. “Are you all right? Do you need me to get Madame Smitty?”
“I — yes, I mean, no. No, I’m fine. It’s just...” I trail off, playing with the neck of my night gown.
“What’s wrong, Laney?”
I look up at him. “I just want you to know that I — I love you too.” A strange feeling of release overtakes me.
It takes a moment to register with him, standing there staring at me. Slowly, he takes on his old, lopsided smile. “I love you too,” he says.
And then he’s gone.
Humming the theme of the popular Muggle superhero Netta was infatuated by, Batman, I do a sort of ninja jump from my hospital bed to the ground.
Holy mother of hell and all that is awful, this place is so boring.
It’s been six days of laying here, staring at the flickering light, the white walls, and the one, crooked tile next to my bed. Not to mention, Madame Smitty has only been allowing one visitor at a time (apparently I’m still in a delicate state... sigh). So the rare times when Al has been able to make it up to the hospital wing (with O.W.L.s looming, you’d have to be mad to miss class. Or, you know, me.) we’ve only been able to visit for a few minutes at most. With all that, how can you blame me for wanting out?
So, in turn, I have developed an escape plan. And not just any old escape plan — a Laney Becks escape plan.
Which obviously can only lead to good things.
Fact: There are 199 ways to escape from any given hospital wing.
Also a fact: There is only one effective strategy, and that is mine.
And no, I’m not a pathological liar.
I’m perched on the cold tile in my hospital gown (probably quite the sight), scanning around for any movement. Out of the corner of my eye I can see my target — the door. Large and inviting, I long for it. However, I can see the faint glow of light spilling out from Madame Smitty’s study, and I know that if going to make it out of here, it’ll have to been done fast.
I crawl, quickly but silently over to her doorway, and slide the tip my wand underneath it. After readying myself I say, ”Mufffliato.”
If my spell has worked, then her ears should now be filled with a steady purring sound. It should give me just enough time to get to the door before she—
Suddenly the door to her study swings open and smacks me hard in the face. “Agghhhh!” I scream out, grabbing at my nose in pain, and sprawling out across the ground.
“Elena Becks!” she roars, grabbing my forearm tempestuously and yanking me into a standing position. “For Merlin’s sake, child, can you not just behave!”
“Help! HELP!” I call out, fighting against her dragging force.
She pushes me into the bed and yanks the curtains closed around it. “Godric’s panties!” she shouts. “This is the last time I’ll be putting you to bed!”
“This is against my rights!” I sputter hysterically.
Smitty looks close madness. “If I’m still alive by the end of your stay then I deserve a serious raise!” she huffs and, after a moment, she conjures a goblet and shoves it down my throat. “Sleeping Draught!” she shrieks, disappearing from behind the curtains.
Day after day, I lay here, miserably. I feel fine, and eventually I realise that the only reason I’m still here is for psychoanalysis. Because, well, I was under the Cruciatis Curse for a full three minutes, apparently.
However, the thing about me is, I actually am kind of insane. So how are they to know the difference between my natural state and an actual manic episode?
I have tried to explain the situation to Madame Smitty several times, but every time I get to the part about my ‘natural self’, she spikes my drink with Sleeping Draught and stalks off.
It’s late on Thursday, my eighth night in the hospital wing. I am unsuccessfully practising my Patronus while waiting for Madame Smitty to go to sleep. Once her light’s gone out, I’ll be able to roam around the room as I please. Not that there’s much to do in here, anyway.
Suddenly, I hear a slight creek, and see the silhouette of a very bushy-haired girl standing in front of me.
“Rose?” I say, shocked.
She smiles sheepishly at me. “Hi.”
“I — how are you here?” My eyes fly to Madame Smitty’s darkened door, and then the propped open entrance.
Shrugging, she holds out her wand. “Alohamora.”
I shake my head, still taken aback. “Long time no talk,” I say finally.
Tears have welled up in her eyes at my words. “I’m so sorry I haven’t come up to see you,” she whimpers.
“I’m sure you’ve been busy with classes and studying,” I say quickly, shaking my head.
“No, that isn’t an excuse.” She sits down on the edge of my bed, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her robe. “I was scared, Laney.”
“Albus, he told me you weren’t angry but I just — I don’t know.” She looks pleadingly at me.
I smile. “Rose, how could I ever be mad at you? Granted, you nearly broke my ankle...” I laugh.
She looks down at her folded hands. “Laney, I just want you to know that... I’ve never had a best friend before and what you did for me — you did what a best friend does and I guess I’m just trying to say — well, thank you.”
I blush. “I was just being a friend.” I take her hand and squeeze it.
“I’m so sorry this happened to you,” she whimpers.
“It’s okay,” I reply. “I’m fit as a fiddle, Weasley.”
It’s quiet for a moment before she reaches into her robe pocket and extracts a folded parchment, crinkled and torn. She looks down at it, a pained expression on her face. “Laney, I have to tell you something.”
I eye the parchment carefully, confused. “What’s up?”
Eyes welling up again, she holds it out to me, the green, iridescent letters glimmering in the candlelight.
The breath catches in my throat. “Rose...”
“All those months ago when my Uncle Harry gave you this... that night when you told me you’d read it... I — I copied it, Laney. I knew you wouldn’t read it so I duplicated it and kept it.” At my terrified expression she quickly says, “I never read it, I didn’t. I just wanted to have in case — in case you ever wanted it...” Again, she wipes her glassy eyes.
“The letter from my parents,” I say aloud, more to myself than anyone.
“You almost died that night, Laney,” says Rose quietly, her voice shaking slightly. “Please, read it. You can’t die not knowing.”
I look up at her, my eyes heavy and scared. This letter, this letter could change everything. In a few minutes, so many things could make sense. I could know why they left me, who they really are. I could understand. I lift the letter in my hands. “Okay.”
Surprised, she looks up at me. “Really?”
“Yeah,” I reply, nodding. “I want to know.”
I slide my finger across it, breaking the seal. I take a deep breath, trade one, furtive look with Rose, and unfold the parchment.
You do like to be called Laney, still, right? Sorry, if Elena’s the thing now. I guess I haven’t seen you in a while. It’s your dad writing, by the way. And I think I have a bit of explaining to do. I wish I could see you, I’m sure you’ve become so beautiful in these past seven years. Wow, seven years.
I’m so sorry. I’m sure you hate us — in fact, you should hate us. What we did isn’t right. But I hope, someday, you could find it in your heart to forgive your mother and me.
When I met your mother, I was still very young. After being home-schooled for so long, all I wanted to do was travel. To get away from the books and my parents and the closed off doors of my house. Your mother was my solace — the one who understood me. We travelled for three years before we married in Aruba. Two months later, your mother was expecting you. With a child on the way, we knew that this life could not be healthy — the travelling and constant uprooting. That’s no way to raise a daughter. We moved to London and interviewed at the Ministry. They had never heard of us before — both being home schooled — so when we demonstrated our abilities, they were shocked, and pleasantly so. We were rushed into an Aurour training programme, and right after you were born, we were full-blown Ministry Aurours. Within three months, an opportunity emerged — the Minister of Magic asked us to join a discreet team of Aurours to stop a group of straggling — though strengthening — Death Eaters. He encouraged us deeply, explaining our extreme potential to stop them, and how dire the situation was becoming. Your mother was so hesitant, worried about you. What would happen to our daughter if we were caught up in Death Eater business? Would she be hunted? The idea was unnerving. But the Minister assured us — it would only be a few months, nothing big. We would track the Death Eaters, take them down, and be back with our child as soon possible. Just until they were able to replace us.
But they didn’t replace us.
After we took down the original Death Eaters, a new group began emerging and soon, it was our full time job. And naturally, loving travel, we enjoyed the work. We couldn’t say no. But it didn’t come without guilt — watching you grow up, slowly disconnecting from us more and more, every day, was torture. We saw the neglect when we visited you. The disgust and resentment. How you clung to your Great Aunt like she was more to you than we were. Often your mother was inconsolable. But eventually we became so invested in our hunt, that we knew it wasn’t safe for you anymore. We had to make a decision. It was that year, the year you turned nine, when finally stopped visiting you. We had to remove any connection aside from letters, which had to be nonchalant at most. We knew you had to hate us. To think we hated you. It was the only way to protect you once the Death Eaters discovered who we were. Seldom Ministry officials knew who were and that we had a daughter.
About six months ago, we found a music box at one of their camps — highly protected. We were able to take down the Death Eater protecting it and get back to the Ministry. No one knew what it was or what it meant, but what we did know was that we were no longer hunting them — they were hunting us. Whatever the music box was — they wanted it. And they would stop at nothing to get it. That was when they found Netta and killed her. That was when we knew that if they found out about you, they would do the same. It was late one evening when the Minister, once again, sat us down. He told us what we had to do. Your mother was furious — she refused in every sense. But quickly, it became our only option.
If you are reading this, then I am sure you have gotten your Christmas gift from your mother and me. This music box, Laney, it must not be lost.
I know what you must be thinking — how could we put your life in danger like this? After not being there for you for so long? My answer is that I am so, so terribly sorry. Once again, we were faced with a painful decision. But Laney, people were dying. It would be so easy to find them once they were tracking the box, but we could never let them get near it. And we knew they would never expect it to be at Hogwarts with a student. A week prior, we found them trying to break into the Ministry, evidently searching for the box we had just sent out to you. Because of this, we were able to finally identify them. But they escaped right from our fingertips.
Their names are Pippa and Theodore Osiris, and they have a son and a daughter in your year at Hogwarts.
Laney, please, if there is one thing you’ll do for us, please keep that music box safe — you must take it with everywhere. Protect it with your life. Once we can capture them, we will write you. We will be a family again, Laney.
I hope you can forgive us. We are so, unbelievably sorry. And Laney, we love you. We love you so much.
My eyes are wide like saucers, and they lift to Rose.
“What?” she asks frantically. “What did it say, Laney?”
“Ivy,” I gasp.
She shakes her head, confused.
I take the letter in my trembling hands. “Rose,” I manage. “I need you to get me to Gyffindor Tower — I’ve got to get my parent’s music box.”
Author's Note: ...yeah.
So, this was a really important chapter. The biggest so far, I think. This is the official turning point of the story. I hope this lived up to your expectations! I also hope that you have reacted to this, ha. THAT WOULD BE IDEAL~