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Cool, collected, cunning, calculating, cowardly... That was my family, everything I’m not, apparently. It sounded like an advertisement for Slytherins, didn’t it? Not wrong there. Not to mention us coming from a whole line of noble pure-bloods. (Though why that makes us noble I have no idea). And no, no members of my family were ever Death Eaters as far as I am aware, although they still believe in the classing of wizard families due to the pureness of their blood. But not in the lets-murder-blood-traiters-and-mudbloods-and-muggles kind of way. Just in the, you-better-be-in-Slytherin-and-marry-a-pureblood-and-have-lots-of-pureblood-babies kind of way.
Where were we during the Second Wizarding War, you ask?
Hiding. In France.
My father would never admit to this though, preferring to claim our absence from the country was ‘due to an alarming demand in his personal expertise overseas’. I always thought this made him sound like a distinctly sort-after porn star, not that I ever told him this though. What a way to burst his bubble.
We moved back to Britain when I was nine, sixteen years after Voldemort’s [final] downfall. A carefully calculated sixteen years mind you, our family is all about saving face, and one-and-a-half decades was decidedly long enough so that it didn’t appear to the general public that we bailed because of the whole Voldemort recruitment thing.
The first time he was in power my parents were too young to be recruited, they were still in Hogwarts on that fateful day, October 31st 1981, when Voldemort’s killing curse backfired onto himself.
The killer was that we couldn’t just call everyone else who bailed the country when he resurfaced again hypocrites, because they weren’t the ones boasting about their pureblood lineage and how that somehow makes us more worthy as witches and wizards.
Overall we were just a bunch of embarrassed (evil but not quite evil enough) cowards “not hiding” in France.
My mother refers to the whole shebang as “a simple matter that got a little out of hand”.
A little out of hand.
No seriously, a little out of hand?
I’d like to see what COMPLETELY, INSANELY, POINTLESSLY OUT OF CONTROL was in her books. Maybe if Voldemort was a drag queen. Yes, that would certainly do it. My mother hates anything outside of her own etiquette of normalness.
I think the first time we all realized that I was not the perfect pure-blood angel I was brought up to be was when I got into a fight with a young Veela at the tender age of seven. Hell did that Veela regret starting it with me.
I hardly remember what the fight was about. In fact the only reason i remember anything at all is because i have a white burn scar on my hip to remind me. I wouldn't be surpirsed if i had started it though, that’s the one thing I obviously inherited from my ancestors; my pride.
My parents tried to claim that it was the ‘horrible French air’ that had muddled with my calm conduct and good sense. If i told any of my friends that now they would laugh, yeah right, like you ever had either of those!
Unfortunately for my parents, the spirited little rebel put up a permanent residence. And they look at me like it’s my fault. Do they think I just popped out of the ground ready-made? Hello mummy, daddy, ever taken a look at your own gene pool?
I remember the sorting. I just happened to be in the same year as James Potter, the first of the Potter offspring. This meant that the entire Hall was completely over-excited – especially when he got into Gryffindor virtually straight away.
Trust a bloody Potter to rally everyone up and screw over my chances of a quiet sorting.
Because of course I had to get into Gryffindor too.
Typically my charming brother leapt up and started screaming out his opinion on the matter like some crazed harpy. Luckily my twin cousins did so at the same time and their not-so-subtle accusations weren’t very clear as they yelled over the top of each other.
Honestly, it’s almost like they didn’t see that one coming.
Later on the head girl told me it was the most dramatic sorting she’d ever seen. That seemed to pretty much sum up my entire existence. Whoever is in control of my life is seriously drunk or hung over or something. I mean, it isn’t like I purposely go out to screw over my family and I... it just happens.
But I guess we all have our secrets and hidden disgraces, right? I was only one of them.
So, according to the howler I got the next morning from my beloved Aunt Rosalind, I was an official source of humiliation and disgrace to our family (compared to before when I was simply suffering from French flavoured air). For the next five or so years the threat of disownment was to hang above my head like mistletoe at Christmas when the most repulsive guy in school has a crush on you (worst Christmas of my life).
Thankfully Scorpius Malfoy is a bit of an outcast amongst the Pures as well and we became good friends because of it. My parents adore him because he is in Slytherin and quiet and has virtually no temper so they have no idea that he isn’t the perfect boy they all seem to think he is. This is good news for me because whenever I’m seen with him, the Pures immediately get off my case about being a ‘typical Gryffindor’.
I do feel sorry for him though, his parents are alright (I even prefer staying there during the holidays than at home) but there is a lot more pressure on him to be perfect than on me because his family name is so well known (the fact that it’s for a bad reason doesn’t seem to change anything).
I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that he asked the sorting hat not to be put in Ravenclaw, as apparently it actually takes your choice into account.
Yeah, I found that out after my own sorting.
Personally I think he would have suited Ravenclaw so much better, he can be a right know-it-all sometimes. But I think he learnt from me not to get into the wrong house.
So here I am, boarding the Hogwarts Express for my sixth year of magical study.
I lug my trunk down the length of the train, trying to find the compartment with my friends in it.
I catch a glimpse of mouse brown curls flitting through one of the sliding doors ahead of me and I eagerly speed up to follow it. Sure enough, curvy little Harriet, my first and best friend at Hogwarts, is standing just inside. A whole head shorter than any sixteen-year-old I know, she looks up at me and her rosy lips break into a warm smile.
I smile back at her and the rest of our group (the two only other Gryffindor girls in our year) who were spread out amongst a jumble of animals, clothes, and other miscellaneous items.
“How’s our favourite raven haired girl? Folks didn’t give you too much stick?” Georgina asked me.
“I’m sure my mother is plotting my demise somehow, but so far I’m unscathed” I answered, pushing aside some spare robes to make room for myself and Hattie.
“Always the optimist” she replied with a grin, tucking her long blonde hair behind her ears.
She always gave me the impression of a pixie when she did this, and her cheerful, giggly nature only made the comparison more pronounced.
“How were your holidays?” I directed the question at her and Alex, not bothering to ask Hattie as I had spent most of mine with her. I hadn’t mentioned the fact that she was Muggle-born to my parents.
“Mine were pretty boring really” Georgina admitted, “but ‘lex went to Greece!”
“You did?!” I exclaimed, turning to the tall, beautiful chestnut in complete shock. “Why on earth didn’t I hear about this?” I demanded.
Alex rolled her eyes “No one did Aaliyah; it was a surprise for my sixteenth.”
“You’re so lucky! How was it? What did you get up to?”
“It was fantastic; I met some absolutely drool-worthy boys.” She started to gush.
I exchanged a look with Hattie. Trust Alex to judge a country on the attractiveness of its men.
After a fifteen minute rant about some boys she met in a café (don’t ask me where her mother was – probably doing the exact same thing) the conversation finally turned to Quidditch, something I could actually get excited about. My team, the Kenmare Kestrels, ranked third in the league, something I wasn’t above boasting about. Hattiet’s, the Chudley Cannons, ranked last but for The Prides. Alex and Georgina didn’t really follow Quidditch, but supported the Falmouth Falcons simply because of its name and motto “Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads.” They thought it was completely ridiculous, which of course it was, and found great entertainment in quoting it.
“So are you going to try out for the team this year, Aaliyah?” Hattie asked without real conviction.
“Nah, I prefer to play without all the pressure.” I was a pretty good chaser but never tried out for the house team. “I might put my name down for commentating though…” I mused.
“Oooh yes, do” Alex enthused “and give me a shout out while you’re at it.”
I snorted, “You’re so predictable sometimes, Alex” I teased with a smile.
She grinned back, and the rest of the train ride was spent in true girl fashion, laughing and gossiping without break.
The sorting this year was fairly uneventful apart from the hat singing about uniting the houses and forgetting past differences, something which gained many mutinous mutterings and eye-rolling from the Gryffindor and Slytherin tables. The headmistress, Professor Vablen, gave out the usual start of term notices, and then everyone got to eat themselves silly, after which Georgina and Alex led the way to our dorm in the Gryffindor Tower.
After pinning up posters and laying out photo frames and (in Hattie’s case) a vase of everlasting-no-care-all-seasons flowers, we finally changed into our pyjamas and jumped into bed.
“So… did you see all the guys in our year?” Alex whispered into the darkness, “Talk about reaching their full potential! They have definitely got hotter over the summer, and way taller. And I know you don’t like him Aaliyah, but that James Potter has seriously reached a new standard of good looking. He’s grown out his hair too, though I don’t know if I prefer the shaggy unkempt look or not… Oh well, he is still undeniably gorgeous.”
“I prefer it longer” Georgina mused, “it makes im look... cool. And sexy. Definitely sexy.”
“His hair is red” I said, hating that I sounded like a child but stubbornly continuing anyway, “and he has freckles.”
“Yeah but he suits it! Actually all the Weasley relations suit it, it’s annoying. If I had red hair and freckles I would look like a complete freak, but they all manage to pull it off and make it look gorgeous. Especially James. They should get an award or something” Alex complained.
“Mmm, the Royals do seem to have everything going for them don’t they?” Hattie said slowly, “Good looks, Quidditch skills… well most of them anyway, rich, famous parents, fairly smart, and funny of course.”
“The perfect life” I said dryly. “Did you guys notice that James got Quidditch captain this year?” I asked, my voice leaking my frustration.
“Yeah, he has worked pretty hard for it though” Hattie reminded me. “That could have been you if you weren’t so… well, Aaliyah.”
“I just don’t like drawing attention to myself alright?”
“I know. I just hate that no one really knows who you are.” Hattie said quietly and I immediately felt guilty for snapping at her.
There was a short pause before Georgina broke it saying, “You know I never really got why you dislike James so much. I mean, you’re okay with the others… sort of. And he’s funny, always up for anything. Not that any of us have ever really had a proper conversation with him. He is the leader of the trio after all."
“I just… don’t.” I said, not wanting to have an in-depth discussion about my feelings right now. Or ever, for that matter. “Goodnight girls”
“Goodnight” the three of them chorused and we soon fell asleep.
The next morning, true to me and Alex’s traditional ‘first day back slide’, which happened to be a Thursday this year, (and therefore would continue every Thursday morning until the end of the school year), we managed a flawlessly executed run-sit-and-slide along the Gryffindor bench when we went down for breakfast. Georgina smiled and sat daintily down next to us in a much more dignified manner, and Hattie rolled her eyes before joining us too.
Hattie wasn’t exactly known for her great sense of equilibrium, and was probably remembering her first failed attempt at the slide roughly five years ago.
After breakfast our head of house, Professor Longbottom, came around to give out our timetables. It took longer than previous years as we had to have gained the necessary grades in our OWL’s last year to continue with our chosen subjects. Hattie and I got into all the classes we wanted (though I only just scraped through with an E in potions), and we waited in the Entrance Hall for Alex and Georgina to compare our timetables.
It turned out we were all taking five subjects each, including Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration and Charms. Everyone except Alex got into Potions, so she decided to keep Astronomy instead. Hattie and I were the only ones to take Herbology, while Georgina and Alex took History of Magic.
I was so happy to be giving up Divination I could have done an impromptu tap dance on the spot, and judging by the look on Hattie’s face as she watched a group of third years eagerly seeking directions for Trelawney’s room, she was thinking the exact same thing I was.
Our first class was Defence Against the Dark Arts, so we all left together for the third floor. We found seats at the back of the class, and I was disappointed to see that the trio (James Potter and his cronies, Drake Moor and David Silver) had continued with the subject also. Those three were the loudest, most irritating people to have to share a class with.
To my horror the day didn’t improve, as James, along with at least one other of his friends, was in every single one of my classes. I cursed as I pointed this out to Hattie during Herbology. She looked at me with her big hazel eyes full of sympathy, but unfortunately this did not alleviate my dejection.
The only other downfall in my timetable was the new Charms teacher. Young, flustered, and jumpy, Professor Pindrop was even clumsier than Hattie (something I didn’t think was possible) and had a horrible habit of saying “now, now” and “come, come” much more often than necessary.
There really was only one word to describe him, and to my annoyance it was James who said it first as we exited his classroom on that first day.
“What a geek.”
I had to agree.
Chapter 2: Muscle lockdown and Herbology Heroes
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Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Our first month at Hogwarts passed rather uneventfully as we focused on our studies. Non-verbal spells were expected in all our classes this year which made them a lot harder, yet Transfiguration still remained by far my best subject.
As I predicted, my brother, Lance, and our twin cousins Rigel and Saiph Damour invited me to spend time in the Slytherin common room with them. This had been going on since the beginning of last year under what I suspected was my mother’s orders to try and keep an eye on me and stop me turning into a complete Gryffindor traitor now that I was a fully fledged teen (or in her words; young lady). I always agreed to go of course, though I never particularly enjoyed sitting around in the gloomy room playing at being the perfectly composed pure blood girl. It was an unspoken rule as one of the Pures that we showed as little emotion as possible. It was a useful skill sometimes, especially when I played Muggle poker with Hattie’s family.
At first the Slytherins weren’t too happy at me knowing where their common room was and the password to get in, but soon came to realise I wasn’t interested in sabotaging them anyway.
The current Hogwarts Pures consisted of my three relations who were all seventh years, a sixth year like me named Vincent Romenel, Scorpius Malfoy who is a year below me, and two girls in their fourth year that are so sour I made a point of not knowing their names.
Everyone in Hogwarts knew us as the Pures, the same way they saw the Weasleys and Potters as the Royals. Privately I preferred the name they gave us - at least it was actually true. Of course there were other pure bloods at the school, (Georgina to name one) but we were the ones that were supposed to be all intense about it.
I use the words ‘supposed to be’ with reference to myself, obviously.
It was evening as I made my way down the cold stone steps into the dungeons. I reached the stone wall and gave the password, then waited as the concealed door opened to let me through. Stepping into the long, dimly lit room I spotted the Pures sitting in chairs in front of the ornately carved fireplace.
“Evening” I said dramatically as I pulled up a chair next to Scorpius.
He smiled, “Hey Lee, I haven’t seen you in ages.”
“Ah well, studying hard and all that… You got made Prefect?!” I had just noticed the shiny silver badge pinned to his robes.
“You sound shocked.” He gave me a significant look that told me he wasn’t pretending to be offended.
“Congratulations Scorpius” I said, quickly returning to the dull tones that I reserved for the Pures and that only he ever picked up on as being mocking.
Merlin, his parents were mellowing if they didn’t even boast to mine about their son becoming a Prefect.
The rest of the group greeted me formally, Romenel even stretching to ask me how I was.
“Fine” I answered mechanically.
I’d never really paid much attention to him even though he was in my DADA and Potions classes. He rarely made trouble as far as I was aware, but he always gave the impression of one of the more stereotypical Slytherins – not something I was overly impressed with.
Lance was watching me carefully for some reason, but I ignored him and joined in the discussion about some newly appointed ministry worker. Me and my brother had never gotten along, he was too quick to sneer at things and shared a lot of Aunt Rosalind’s more extremist views about wizarding classes and the supposed ‘roles’ in which people of good Slytherin lineage should partake. As I discovered, it mostly involved looking down your nose at everything, sucking up to people in power, and showing off your wealth and ancestry. Oh, and the old fashioned ‘men go out and earn the money while women stay at home looking pretty and being ruled by their husbands’ thing. Something I was strongly opposed to.
All in all I was thoroughly glad when I got to leave the dingy room on the pretence of homework (to be fair I did have a Potions essay I hadn’t quite finished). Scorpius and I couldn’t talk like how we normally would if we were alone, so the visit was exceedingly boring and it was a testament to my patience that I put up with it at all. I don’t really know why I do anyway, I guess it’s because I still love my parents (very, very deep down) despite the fact that we are in fall-out mode more often than not. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t purposely try to screw over my family. I have more loyalty than that. It’s just draining trying to fit in where you clearly don’t.
I made my way back through the castle, smiling slightly as I passed Fred Weasley who just happened to be emptying a bag of Dungbombs into a suit of armour. He looked at me warily but I motioned zipping my mouth shut and he grinned and carried on.
I reached the portrait of the fat lady, gave the password and went inside. It was eight o’clock so almost everyone was still up, and I sat down at a table in the corner of the room where Hattie and Georgina were working.
“Where’s Alex?” I asked.
Hattie sighed, “Rick Stentworth.” She said by way of explanation.
Alex’s on again off again boyfriend, a seventh year Hufflepuff, often disappeared with Alex whenever he wanted to get back to the ‘on’ stage of their relationship. He was good looking (one of the few that could compete with James’ trio) and a reasonable Beater, but unfortunately that’s where his charms stop, and the way he toyed with Alex (though she didn’t see it that way) was frustrating to watch. Especially when we were the ones who had to deal with the emotional Alex every time they broke up.
“Why does she bother with him?” I asked angrily.
Hattie shrugged, and even the eternally happy Georgina managed to look troubled.
I spent the next hour labouring over my Potions essay. Just as I was finishing up, Alex climbed through the Portrait hole, well after curfew and looking rather pleased with herself. I sighed; at least she was happy for the meantime. We all got up and went to bed, I for one not in the best of moods. Slytherins, a Potions essay, and Stentworth all in one night… it felt similar to having a hangover.
The next morning after breakfast Hattie and I walked down to the greenhouses for our Herbology lesson. It was incredibly windy outside, and more than once Hattie tripped over something she hadn’t seen because the wind was blowing her shoulder-length curls into her face (or at least that was her excuse). This didn’t affect me as I always wore my dark hair up in a ponytail, it was too poofy and annoying to leave down, though Georgina’s once-a-month-nag wasn’t much of a trade (“Not poofy! Volume! I would kill to have your hair!”).
Today we were working on Snargaluff stumps, plants that resembled dead lumps of wood but tried to throttle you if you came too close. Professor Longbottom assured us that there was actually a point of getting attacked by a dangerous flesh-eating plant – something to do with a pod in the middle that was good in potions. I was sceptical, but Hattie and I paired up, put on our protective goggles and gloves, and set to work.
The plant immediately sprouted long, bramble-like prickly vines that whipped the air around it and struck me across the face, giving me a shallow cut along my jaw. Hattie knotted a couple of vines together while I started hacking (rather unsuccessfully) at it with a pair of secateurs.
After a few more minutes struggle a hole opened up in the middle and I could see what looked like a green pulsating grapefruit in its midst. I plunged my hand in and the plant closed up around my arm so I couldn’t pull it back out. Another vine then stretched and wrapped itself around both of Hattie’s wrists so that neither of us could do anything.
An outrageous list of French profanities that crazy Uncle Lawrence taught me slipped from my mouth.
The students working near us looked around at me curiously; I was normally a fairly quiet person as far as everyone (bar the girls in my dorm) knew.
James Potter had obviously noticed our predicament, as he smirked and strolled casually over to us. I saw with disappointment his group had already gotten their pod out without so much as a scratch.
“Need some help ladies?” he asked, eyes glinting in an annoyingly superior way.
“NO” I cut across Hattie, “we’re fine thank you” I said, hoping that somehow he couldn’t see the blood now running down my neck from the cut on my jaw.
James raised an eyebrow at me in disbelief as Hattie sighed, “Oh really Lee, do we have to do this now?” she complained as another vine began creeping toward her ankle.
I shot her a look.
“You would rather stay trapped than accept help?” James asked in complete bemusement.
“No, not at all. I would rather stay trapped than accept help from you” I clarified coldly.
He blinked his stupid brown eyes, “What’s wrong with me?” he said like he hadn’t heard of such a thing before.
I looked at him, pretending to lock down all the muscles in my body so that I wouldn’t start hacking at his stupid red hair with the secateurs.
The fact was that I couldn’t stand James Potter one little bit. The other Royals I was okay with - as Georgina had pointed out the first night in our dorm. They were pretty genuine and had a good sense of humour, but James was the most cocky, prejudiced, smarmiest person I have ever met. It’s a daily occurrence to see him strut about the castle with David and Drake, a bunch of girls drooling after him eagerly. He does whatever he wants and seems to think we should all love and respect him for Merlin-knows-what reason. And did I mention he has this crooked smile that lets him get away with half the detentions he usually would have gotten because everyone thinks it’s so bloody charming? He and I have never been on speaking terms though we’ve been in the same classes and shared the same common room for over five years now. In fact I’m a little surprised he hasn’t figured out already that I absolutely loathe him.
Then again, his ego is so big it’s really not that shocking.
“OUCH!” Hattie’s yelp interrupted my glowering-fest.
I looked around to see the vine around her wrists had started cutting off the circulation in her hands, which were turning a sickly purple. I was about to try help her with my one free hand when Eric Hearst, a dark skinned Ravenclaw, came running over and grappled with the vine until it withdrew. He then got down on one knee and did the same with the vine that had encircled her ankle.
I rolled my eyes; really, did it have to be on one knee? Hattie looked at me quickly and a faint blush coloured her cheeks.
Eric stood up again, locked eyes with her and smiled tragically as though he had just come out of a bloody battle.
Or maybe that’s just how I saw it.
I put my hand on my hip and waited patiently as Hattie shyly thanked him and he said things like “not to worry” and “my pleasure”.
Right. Because being attacked by a hunk of not-so-dead wood is pleasurable. Either Eric is a seriously sadistic person… or a seriously ga-ga romantic.
I glanced at James, he looked drawn between being amused and greatly annoyed – probably because Eric stole his moment to play the hero.
My patience ran out as my arm gave another especially painful throb and I said loudly, “Oi, knight in shinning armour! Do you think you could help the fair maiden’s friend before she needs to have her arm amputated?”
Several people sniggered as Eric’s dark skin tinged pink.
“Sorry” he muttered and
helped me get my arm back out, now victoriously holding the green pod which I quickly threw into a bowl.
Professor Longbottom came over at that moment, “OK enough fun people, Snargaluff pods are only good when they’re fresh so there’s no time to stand around talking” he reminded us gently.
James and Eric moved back to their tables while I attempted to pierce the pod with the secateurs. Hattie was looking a little out of it so I decided to let her be for the moment.
That night when we went to bed (after cleaning up the cut on my jaw) I wasted no time in informing Alex and Georgina about Hattie and her Herbology hero, knowing that Hattie was dying to discuss it but would never initiate it, and that I wasn’t the best person to do so with. I’d had about a two week fling with a guy named Leo Wyler from Ravenclaw at the beginning of last year and admittedly snogged Scorpius once (purely experimental, I was thirteen and we both wanted to see what it was like) but obviously this meant I wasn’t the best at relationship advice, not to mention a lousy gossip according to the girls, so I thought it best for them to take over.
Hattie was a bit embarrassed but I could tell she was pleased at Alex’s conclusion that he must have a thing for her after listening to Hattie describe his every movement and word during the encounter.
After a few more minutes, Hattie took the attention off herself by saying “Oooh, I forgot to say Lee, I’m so proud of you for not having a go at James!”
“What? Oh yeah” I had completely forgotten about James’ involvement.
“What’s this then?” Alex quickly rounded on me. Merlin, that girl could give Rita Skeeter a run for her money.
Hattie smiled cheekily, “James came over to offer help but Aaliyah, being Aaliyah, refused. Then he asked ‘what’s wrong with me?’”
Georgina laughed “Oh no.”
It was well known amongst the girls that I despised James, even if they didn’t know all the reasons.
“Hey, I reacted admirably thank you very much” I informed them pompously.
Hattie giggled, “If looks could kill…”
“A minute ago you were saying how proud you were of me” I pouted.
“Well I am. For you that was an incredible show of restraint”
I laughed hollowly, “See, being one of the Pures does have its benefits” I said, referring to the unspoken rule I had grown up with of showing no emotion.
Hattie looked at me sympathetically and we soon said our goodnights, me guiltily aware that I had brought down the mood in the dorm.
Most of the time being a Pure wasn’t too much of a hardship, especially in Gryffindor Tower where I could relax and not have to watch out for the rest of the Pures in case they spotted me doing something I shouldn’t. But other times it weighed heavily on my mind and frankly I got a little depressed about it. Not only because I have to constantly hold up a reputation I don’t care for, but because, if I was being totally honest with myself, it could be rather scary at times. I would never dare openly scorning the idea of blood-purity in front of the Damours (Aunt Rosalind’s family, her husband may be dead but she and her sons are just as bad) and Romenels, for instance. Their families were rumoured to have been secret supporters of the Death Eaters and I had no idea how far they would go to punish me if I showed any disloyalty to them or what they believed in. Because the thing with the Pures is that they’re unpredictable. I didn’t know if their punishment would involve invading my life even more and restricting any small freedoms I have, or something worse like physical punishment or disownment.
Thankfully us Taivens, Malfoys, Baddocks and Dubois’ (not that we see much of the last as they live in France and only visit occasionally) are more relaxed about the whole thing and I was ninety-five percent certain that none of us would sign up if another Voldemort came along – even Malfoy senior who is an ex-Death Eater himself.
The whole situation was completely ridiculous. Blood purity means so little these days, especially after the Second War, and yet it seems to be only making those ‘believers’ like my family even more eccentric about it. They are all secretly fearful I won’t marry a pureblood (namely Scorpius) and that one of the last of the ancient and noble pureblood lines will become contaminated and eventually die out. What a tragedy. (Note the sarcasm).
I sighed and punched my pillow into a more comfortable shape before lying down and letting sleep claim me.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling
When we walked into Potions the next day we were surprised to see a potion already brewed and bubbling away at the front of the room. As we moved closer, I discovered that it was emitting one of the most appealing smells I had ever come across. It smelt a mix between toothpaste, the handle of a broomstick, and something rich that I thought I may have smelt in Diagon Alley. Our teacher, Professor Cassidy, indicated that we should take our seats as usual so Georgina, Hattie and I returned to our table in the middle of the room somewhat reluctantly. Fortunately we were close enough to still get wafted by the enticing potion.
“Right people, I normally would have shown you this potion along with the rest that we identified at the start of the year, but I had a little trouble getting my hands on some of the ingredients… but no worries our store rooms are completely stocked now.”
I have always liked Professor Cassidy, she’s the only teacher here that talks like she’s our age rather than all formal and aloof like the rest.
“Can anybody tell me what the potion is?” she asked the class.
Georgina, blessed with natural brains, raised her hand.
“It’s Amortentia – a love potion”
“Exactly; take five points. Amortentia is in fact the most powerful love potion in the world. It causes a powerful infatuation or obsession in the drinker. If you take a look you’ll notice its distinctive mother-of-pearl sheen and the steam rising in characteristic spirals. It is supposed to smell different to everyone depending on what they find most attractive…”
If Professor Cassidy was planning to move on she was sadly mistaken as the whole class immediately started discussing the potion.
“Merlin it smells good” Georgina said while Hattie sniffed deeply.
“What can you smell?” I asked them curiously.
“Leather” Georgina answered immediately.
“Flowers” Hattie followed up.
“Broomstick” I supplied.
Georgina and Hattie got rather giggly at this point, and even I joined in a little. It really did smell fabulous.
“You’re being awfully quiet James” Drake’s voice interrupted us and we turned to see him nudge James playfully in the ribs.
James grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, distracted. That really does smell good, doesn’t it?” he laughed lightly though still obviously embarrassed.
How unusual. James is one of those people that doesn’t do embarrassment.
“What does it smell like to you, then?” Drake asked curiously.
The entire class was listening in now, even the Slytherins although I could tell the boys at least were trying to be subtle about it.
“Like… ugh never mind.”
“Oh come on”
“Well… metal, silver I think, and… ink…” he grinned suddenly “and Firewhiskey.”
I sniggered quietly. “I wonder how many girls are going to become alcoholics once this gets out” I muttered to Hattie and Georgina.
They burst out laughing; gaining the attention of James who looked over at us,
“What?” he asked nervously, clearly guessing the humour was somewhat at his expense.
“Oh, nothing, nothing” I said airily before turning back around.
“That is so true” Hattie whispered, leaning across the table “I can’t wait to see it, it’ll be hilarious”
“If Katie Thompson finds out you won’t need to wait long.” Katie Thompson was a Hufflepuff in our year that was completely obsessed with James. She was the most obvious flirt in the world, and was always one of the girls tagging along after him whenever he left Gryffindor Tower. I swear she had memorised his timetable as she had an annoying habit of popping up at random times throughout the day. Unfortunately she shared our Transfiguration and Muggle Studies classes. She was the worst sort of girl when it comes to James, alternating between acting over-giggly when he was near, to complete bitch when he wasn’t.
Needless to say, she was one of my lapses. In other words, I had lost my temper and gotten into a duel with her in a bathroom once. She’s held a grudge against me since, and that was back in second year. Was it really my fault that she had to walk past James with boils covering her face?
Professor Cassidy finally coaxed us into silence and continued with the lesson.
After class we headed down to the Great Hall for lunch, only to be disrupted by what was obviously the work of James, David and Drake.
The four long house tables had been levitated into the air so that no one could reach the food. Professor Pindrop was standing underneath them waving his wand about energetically and trying different spells to make them come back down. Like most of Potter’s pranks, Finite Incantatem no doubt wouldn’t work.
The older students were using a summoning charm to get at the food while the younger were looking hungry and distinctly put out. Only the Prefects seemed to take pity on them by summoning plates of food to hand out.
The girls and I sighed and Accio’d a plate of sandwiches then left for the library to make a start on our Charms homework before our next class, debating the entire way on what we would say if Madam Malquirke caught us eating near her precious books.
It turns out no girls turned up to class mysteriously drunk and smelling of Fire whiskey that week. However Alex, being the gossip queen she is, informed us that Katie Thompson had in fact given James a bottle of Fire whiskey as a [very] early Christmas present in the hopes that;
A) He would miraculously fall for her because she discovered his secret indulgence,
B) He would get drunk and there “relationship” would make some progress under the influence of said Fire whiskey.
And the result? One very loud Thursday night involving a drunk James, David and Drake, and a very subdued Friday morning involving detentions for not showing up to class.
Oh, and a severely disappointed Katie Thompson.
Life is good.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
In the days before Halloween, the school underwent an extravagant makeover. The headmistress, who has an infamous flare for the theatrics, decked out every corridor and hall with Jack-o-Lanterns, orange streamers, and live bats. As a result of the bats, Hattie refused to step outside the confines of Gryffindor tower after dark (forsaking her Prefect patrolling duties in the process), and the caretaker spent hours cleaning up bat droppings. We students took to using the bubble-head charm in between classes because of the smell. In fact the only person that seemed to appreciate the mess was Professor Longbottom, who claimed that bat droppings were a marvellous fertilizer for Fanged Geranium.
I wasn’t completely convinced.
Consequently, it was with great relief that we lined up ready to leave the castle on the morning of the first Hogsmeade trip of the year. Alex was spending the day with Rick so Hattie, Georgina and I said our goodbyes then wandered off down the street, enjoying the clean frosty air.
It wasn’t long before more evidence of James Potter’s trouble making persona became apparent. For the first time in decades the Shrieking Shack started to shriek again.
Like we all didn’t know who was responsible, honestly.
But of course everybody decided to drop their common sense and start running around like a bunch of Cornish Pixies.
“How the bloody hell did he get in there?” I had to shout at Hattie and Georgina to be heard over all the noise.
“Who get in where?” Georgina asked, looking scared.
“HOW DID POTTER GET IN THE SHRIEKING SHACK?”
“How do you know it’s him?” she asked, though looking slightly relieved.
“Oh, come on. You seriously don’t believe that place is still haunted do you?”
Hattie frowned, “If you’re right about James then I would like to know how he got in there. Surely someone would have seen him breaking in?”
I shrugged, not caring enough to start coming up with theories. I had no idea how he did half the things he did.
They both nodded and we directed our footsteps toward the pub, fighting our way through the masses of students running in the opposite direction toward the commotion still going on behind us.
Once inside, we ordered our drinks and found an empty table to sit at. Shortly afterwards, Scorpius and his closest friend, Michael, joined us.
“Hey, Mike… Scorpykins” I teased, an evil smirk on my lips.
“Call me that again and I will vomit all over you” Scorpius threatened, slumping down in the seat across from me.
I pouted in mock-sadness. “But it’s so cute!”
He glared at me and a small snigger came from the direction of Michael where he sat next to Georgina.
I grinned. “How’s life being a Prefect?” I asked, deciding to give him a break from the atrocious nickname I’d been haunting him with for years.
Sometimes even I wondered why I wasn’t placed in Slytherin.
“Alright” He replied, his face impassive.
Hmm. That was the classic poker-face, what was he not saying? I eyed him critically but came to no conclusions.
“Started docking points off innocent Gryffindors yet?” I asked casually and watched as his eyes tightened ever so slightly.
Michael interrupted before Scorpius could reply. “There’s no such thing as an innocent Gryffindor” he said, his mouth twisting in humour as though he was in on some private joke.
Georgina turned to him and put on her most puppy doggish look. “What are you implying?”
“N-nothing. I, um, drink anyone?” he stuttered.
“A Butterbeer please” Hattie said to give him an excuse to leave but giggled as soon as he was out of earshot. “Oh you are evil sometimes Georgina.”
We all know Michael harbours a soft spot for Georgina and although she’s never really been interested in him, her playful approach to everything often made people believe otherwise. She never did any harm however as Michael isn’t the obsessive or jealous type (I know, how the hell did him and Scorpius become friends?) so we were free to tease the whole Mich-ina situation.
We spent the next hour or so chatting about unimportant stuff, before Georgina declared that she had had enough of sitting around and dragged Hattie and I outside to get some shopping done. (Scorpius and Michael mysteriously disappearing in the process – boys have it so easy sometimes). Hattie and I lagged behind a little as Georgina bounced around ahead of us eagerly.
“Hurry up you two! Gladrags is having a sale – how rare is that!”
She danced around a bit before coming back to us and linking her arms firmly with ours.
“Don’t be kill joys. Since Rick has stolen my shopping buddy you two will have to make do.”
Right there is another reason why I hate Stentworth.
“Oh alright” Hattie agreed “but then we’re going to Whizz Hard Books afterwards.”
Typical Hattie. Not that I can say much, we both enjoy reading, and unlike Scorpius, and to a lesser extent Georgina, we’re not blessed with genius and have to work hard to get our good marks. The exception being Transfiguration which I surprisingly just seem to get, and perhaps Defence Against the Dark Arts, but only because I have had a lot of practice at duelling, being me and all. Hattie’s best subject is charms, despite the hopeless Professor Pindrop.
Just as we were approaching Gladrags Wizardwear, Hattie slipped on the frosty ground, lost her balance, and fell backwards. Unfortunately because we were still linked by the arms, Georgina and I did so too, landing in a tangle of arms and legs with a dull thump.
“I can’t feel my tailbone”
“Ow ow ow Aaliyah you’re crushing my arm!”
“Well your leg is pinning me down!”
“Sheesh what do you have in your pocket George? A TIN CAN?!”
“No its owl treats for Blitz!”
“Would you please remove your leg so I can get up!”
Loud laughter came from behind us and we tilted our heads back to see Alex and Rick standing there watching us with great amusement.
“And you three say I’m too easy to get on my back?” Alex joked.
We laughed; it was true; we always teased her about how many guys she has been with. Rick smirked in a way that made me want to punch him in the face and helped us to our feet. I rubbed my tailbone which was throbbing madly and scanned the street, looking to see if any of the Pures noticed my undignified display. Spotting no one but a few amused strangers, I relaxed and brushed myself off. We really do need to do something about Hattie’s clumsiness.
The rest of the day passed pleasantly, Georgina was happy because she got her shopping buddy back, and Hattie and I got to spend as much time as we wanted in Whizz Hard Books and Honeydukes.
Our group of five met up around four and headed back to the rather smelly castle together. Thankfully Halloween was the next day and that meant we would soon be bat free. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope Potter and pals get in trouble for the Shrieking Shack prank.
The first Quidditch match of the season arrived mid-November, and the girls and I made our way down to the pitch after a lengthy breakfast. Today’s match was between Hufflepuff and Slytherin, so Alex and Georgina were wearing yellow scarves to support Rick while Hattie and I were clad in green in support of Scorpius who played chaser for his team.
I had to do a bit of persuading to get Hattie to wear green (Slytherin being the ‘enemy house’ and all) but she eventually conceded after I told her I’d wear blue if she ever happened to date a certain dark skinned Ravenclaw. (Who, it should be noted, has taken to greeting us when we pass each other in the corridors – all for Hattie’s benefit of course).
We found seats in the stands and got ready to settle down for a few hours.
As it turned out, the match only lasted for about forty five minutes, with Slytherin thrashing Hufflepuff so spectacularly I was in no doubt they’d be facing Gryffindor in the finals. Of course I say Gryffindor. It’s almost certain that we’ll be playing the deciding game, as unfortunately for the rest of the school, we have coveted almost the entire We-Pot family for our Quidditch team and as a result won the cup every year for the past decade - give or take a few years. The Weasleys and Potters (or We-Pots, or Royals) are all brilliant Quidditch players thanks to their diehard Quidditch fanatic parents, and that’s not to mention Mrs. Potter being a retired Holyhead Harpies chaser – you can see where James gets it.
The other chasers are Roxanne Weasley and Chase Andrews. Albus Potter plays seeker, while Fred Weasley and David Silver are the beaters, and Thaddeus Hopkins is our keeper but whenever he is injured (which happens surprisingly often) Hugo Weasley steps in.
Dominique Weasley, the silvery headed beauty, used to play chaser but was given a life long ban from playing competitively after an incident that happened in her fourth year – last year that is. Seriously, that girl even gives me the shakes when she’s mad.
Let this be a lesson to everyone, never mix the famous Weasley women temper with Veela blood. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter.
Anyway, once Slytherin was announced the winner, I had to battle through the crowd flooding onto the pitch to reach Scorpius who was getting what looked like a very uncomfortable group hug. I finally reached him and flung my arms around his neck (mostly to stop myself from being drowned by the sea of Slytherins) and shouted over the noise.
“Well done! Eight goals! You’re a legend!”
“Thanks. The other chasers did a lot of the work though.”
I rolled my eyes, trust Scorpius to try and push the lime light off himself.
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, enjoy the after party, ‘cause you’re gonna get your butt kicked when you play us.”
I grinned and ran off to join my friends as they walked back inside.
“Was he pleased?” Hattie asked
“Yeah, modest as always though.” I looked around, noting that today was probably the last sunny day we’ll have in ages. “What say you to doing our homework down by the lake today?”
“Sounds perfect” said Hattie as Georgina nodded her agreement.
Alex pouted, “Homework? I killed enough brain cells studying for OWLS last term.”
Georgina laughed, “Never going to let that go are you. You do realise we have our NEWTS next year that are going to be even harder?”
“Ugh don’t remind me. At least I won’t be sitting that horrendous potions exam this time.”
“Too true. Merlin I nearly died when I smelt the fumes coming from your cauldron” I teased.
“Aaliyah!” she swotted me with her yellow scarf as we made our way up to the Gryffindor Tower. “Like you can talk, who blew up their potions all year?”
“Can’t have been me. I’m too brilliant at it”
“Funny how it was your cauldron that kept having to be replaced then, what was the bill? A hundred galleons?”
“I was being sabotaged!” I said indignantly, sticking my nose in the air. She was right about there being a rather hefty bill by the time school was over though, my father wasn’t too impressed.
“Sabotaged” Hattie scoffed, joining in, “that’s your excuse for everything.”
“Have you ever thought that maybe it’s a valid excuse?”
Hattie looked at me for a second then we both laughed.
“Alright I’ll try to stop using that one.” I conceded.
“Good, ‘cause no one ever falls for it.”
“Wait, I can still use the Peeves one when I’m late to class, right?”
“Yeah, even I use that one”
Alex gasped, “When have you ever been late to class?”
Hattie threw her an I’m-not-impressed-and-you-should-take-a-leaf-out-of-my-book look, “I slept in and you lot decided not to wake me just to see how distraught I would be when I found out I’d missed class.”
“Oh yeah… So anyway, I’m sad winters coming ‘cause I’m going to loose my Greek tan” Alex quickly changed the subject.
Like she wouldn’t look anything less than drop dead gorgeous, tan or no tan, all year round. You’d think going from a classic perspective that my dark blue eyes would give her brown ones a run for their money, but nope, she even manages to make them look like freaking topaz’. Those coupled with her shoulder length chestnut hair (that seriously did not ever get frizzy – I swear her and Scorpius are just immune to bad hair days) she looked like one of the models from Witch Weekly promoting hair care potions.
Oh well, I’d never really been bothered with my appearance, much to the horror of my mother. I’m not overweight and scrub up alright (I would know, being dragged across the country side attending stupid balls every Christmas) and that is good enough for me. Yeah my nose is kind of pointy and I have silly little freckles across my cheeks and my raven black hair has a mind of its own (I blame Rosalind, my mother has nice straight hair but no, I have to get my Aunts poofy monstrosity), but I have more important things to worry about. Namely, keeping the Pures out of my life so I can actually live it every once in a while.
On another note, did Hattie really just fall through the portrait hole… again? Everything is a safety risk with that girl honestly. I climbed through to see a blushing Hattie on the other side.
“Damn. I was hoping by some miracle everything would go smoothly this year.” She sighed.
I patted the top of her head. Didn’t we all.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
The next month passed in a rush of over sized homework assignments and the usual Potter and pals pranks. (Better known by me as PPP, a name I came up with within days of starting Hogwarts. I think it was a dream of Potter’s to get as many detentions as he could in his first week. Dream high, Potter, dream high).
Anyway, the Christmas holidays were only a week away yet the teachers obviously decided that it would not be a good time to start winding down despite all the evidence pointing to such a conclusion. So as a result I woke up one morning to the screech of Georgina’s owl, Blitz, who clearly had something wrong with it since letters are supposed to be delivered over breakfast, feeling like a vampire and looking like one too with dark circles underneath my eyes.
“What is that bloody bird complaining about?” I asked grumpily, getting dressed into my robes.
“It’s a letter from mum” Georgina said from where she stood by the open window, “I have to stay at school over Christmas because my parents are visiting my grandmother over in Wales.”
“Why aren’t you going with them?” Hattie asked frowning.
Georgina shrugged, “To be honest I don’t really mind, its always boring over there. Actually that’s probably the reason I’m not going, mum would have gotten me out of it.”
Georgina and her mum had always had a close bond, not unlike Alex and her mum. I’d always been a bit jealous of them for it especially since I wasn’t even a daddy’s girl like Hattie. I guess you could call me an Uncle’s girl? I love crazy Uncle Lawrence. He’s my father’s brother but I hardly ever see him because he lives in a permanent ward at St. Mungo’s.
Sad I know, the only one in my family I actually enjoy being around and he’s in St. Mungo’s. I don’t like to reflect on what that says about me.
What was wrong with him I had no idea, he was a little out there but nothing I would have locked him up for. Scorpius and I had always had our suspicions that the whole thing was framed somehow, we used to have loads of fun when we were younger thinking up explanations for it, but quickly learnt not to ask questions, or at least not expect any answers other than ‘he’s affected in the mind. No loss though, he was a good for nothing blood traitor’. Yes, you guessed it; that came from the one and only Rosalind Damour. Such a lovely woman.
I always thought it was a pity crazy Uncle Lawrence didn’t marry and have children, they would have been the best sort of cousins, unlike Rigel and Saiph, the twin devil spawns.
“You lot ready to go down? Aaliyah, its Thursday!” Alex reminded me.
I smiled. Gotta love the Thursday slide tradition. “Hold on, I seem to be missing a sock…”
That afternoon we had a double potions lesson that I was inevitably dreading, both because it wasn’t my strongest subject and because I still felt like a very sleepy and grumpy vampire. Hattie had to practically drag me all the way down to the dungeons.
We sat in our usual seats, me barely listening as Professor Cassidy told us what potion we would be brewing that day.
Half an hour into the lesson, it was obvious that my potion looked nothing like what it was supposed to. I resorted to doing what I usually do when that happens which is to start experimenting with different ingredient combinations. I picked out some strange ingredients from the student store cupboard that I’ve never used before and started adding them to my potion at random. I was rather pleased when it didn’t immediately blow up. In fact, after several drastic colour changes, it had thickened to an attractive whipped-cream texture and lost the rotten egg smell it had a few minutes ago. A splash of Bulbadox juice later and it turned white to match with the cream look. Unfortunately it also started bubbling madly (that entertained me for a while, have you ever seen whipped-cream bubble?) and a little bit splashed onto my robes.
Nothing seemed to be happening to the material, but I surreptitiously grabbed an empty flask and filled it with the potion anyway. If nothing else it looked cool, and quite frankly I was just pleased it hadn’t turned a murky brown like usual.
I glanced around to check that no one, especially Romenel, was looking, then slipped the flask into my bag and continued to experiment with the remaining potion for the next hour or so. I wasn’t altogether surprised when it finally blew up, two minutes before the end of the lesson. You have to admit, the potion had an excellent sense of timing. I would have been hard pressed to explain away why my potion was so drastically different from everyone else’s. Professor Cassidy might even go so far as to realise that it contained a compromising thirty-two ingredients rather than, err, eighteen.
I was distracted from the teacher’s rant about my carelessness when I glanced down at my robes and saw that the spot where I had been splashed with my invented potion had turned a violent blue.
Interesting… I wonder if…?
Hattie and Georgina, who knew me well enough not to question me when a potions lesson resulted in my face covered in soot, got my attention and helped me to clean up and then led the way out of the dungeons.
I made a hasty apology to Professor Cassidy for blowing up my potion (not mentioning that she would prefer it that way) then followed the girls retreating backs.
To my surprise, someone was lounging against the wall just outside the classroom, obviously waiting for me as I was the last one to come out. I looked up then quickly made sure my poker face was in place when I saw who it was.
“I saw that” James said.
“Saw what?” I asked, though I wasn’t actually planning to take the bait. Apparently my tongue wasn’t obeying commands today.
“You. Bottling that potion.”
I didn’t reply, instead tried to catch up with Hattie and Georgina who had yet to realise that I wasn’t with them. Great observation girls. My intentions were cut short when James stepped in front of me.
“So what do you plan on doing with it?” he continued suspiciously.
I let out an irritated breath. “Oh of course, because I have to inform you of my every move because you rule this castle, don’t you?” I snapped, not in the mood to talk to him. Hell who am I kidding? I don’t think that mood even exists for me.
“That’s not what I –”
“I couldn’t care less Potter” I said, cutting across him. “Now move out of my way, I have to speak with Malfoy – someone actually worth my time.” I made a point of using Scorpius’ last name.
It worked, James’ eyes flashed and his fists clenched but he didn’t move aside. I pushed past him, glad that Hattie and Georgina had finally stopped to wait for me.
“Prissy pureblood” James spat from behind me.
By all rights the world should have stopped spinning.
Completely forgoing the poker face, I span around and hurled all the anger that rose at his words back at him. “I’m sorry if I’m not going to worship your ass just because you’re a Potter and can manage to hold up your incredibly inflated ego long enough to fly around on an enchanted stick!” I shouted, slightly out of breath.
His face reddened in anger and he responded in kind, “You’re just jealous that you can’t play Quidditch because said stick is constantly stuck up your ass!”
I sneered, “Why don’t you get your facts straight before you embarrass yourself even more, Potter.”
I can bloody well play Quidditch and I am not some stuck up little bitch! I turned my back on him and stalked off, not even bothering to listen to Hattie and Georgina as they gushed about how big of a jerk James is. I had figured that out years ago.
They continued to insult him all the way back up to the Gryffindor common room on the seventh floor.
We sat around the common room that evening finishing (or starting in Alex’s case) our homework. I had caught up with Scorpius over dinner to tell him to make sure he used the Prefect’s bathroom in the morning. He had given me a questioning look but I told him he’d find out tomorrow, if all went to plan.
The Plan, which is designed to annoy rather than embarrass or entertain, involves the potion I made today in class, and the fact that my robes still have a blue spot on them despite my best attempts at removing it. A part of me felt a little bad about the Plan as most of my victims (although Slytherins and therefore automatic prank-ables) haven’t exactly done anything to offend me. It’s more to do with the feeling-like-a-vampire thing and the anger that was still simmering because of my argument with James that made me feel a bit… insensitive toward others. Especially my main targets, the Pures, who I held fresh resentment for after James’ accusation.
Seriously though, prissy pureblood? Stuck up? As much as I hate to admit it, he had hit a nerve. It feels like I’ve spent my entire life making myself anything but those things in an attempt to disassociate myself with the Pures, and I thought I had done a reasonable job of it too. And then Potter comes along and starts judging me because I’m a Pure and chose Scorpius – a Malfoy horror of horrors! – over him. Gah! How typical of James flipping Potter to completely misunderstand me. Him and his cheesy, glossy, picture perfect life.
Soon the girls and I went to bed, but I stayed awake until they were all deeply asleep and then got up again and redressed. I grabbed my wand and the flask of potion and snuck out of the dorm, relieved to find the common room empty. I made my way out into the corridor, ignoring the Fat Lady’s protests at me being out after dark and headed for the Slytherin common room down in the dungeons. It took me a while to find because the castle looked a lot different at night and I had to keep hiding from patrolling teachers and Peeves.
Eventually I reached the stone wall and gave the password I had used a few days ago when ‘visiting’ the Pures. For a moment I thought it had been changed already, but then the wall moved aside and I stepped into the dark room.
I felt a buzz of thrill, almost like adrenaline, go through me as I proceeded down the stairs to the girl’s quarters and entered the first years’ dorm. Sneaking around at night was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.
One of the young girls was snoring which covered any noise I made, but I cast the Muffliato charm anyway - something Scorpius had shown me years ago. I made my way over to the bathroom and picked up the tube of toothpaste that sat innocently next to the sink. I unscrewed the top and using my wand carefully transferred some of the white potion into the tube. I replaced the lid and snuck back out of the room. I did the same thing to every tube of toothpaste in both the boys and girls dorms, occasionally having to squeeze some toothpaste out first if it was too full.
When I was done the flask was still half full but I decided not to push it, sure that someone would eventually wake up and catch me in the act, so I stuffed it out of sight and half-ran half-tiptoed back to my own dorm.
It seemed I got more paranoid the closer I got to safety, as bonkers as that sounds.
It took me a while to get to sleep after that, even though I knew I really needed it. I was having too much fun picturing everyone’s faces in the morning. I decided, oddly enough, that night time excursions could be rather satisfying.
With that thought I eventually drifted off to sleep.
The next morning proved to be even better than I thought it would be. It took a lot of self control not to go running down to breakfast, though I don’t think the girls noticed. I already knew the potion took a while to work because my robes hadn’t changed colour till at least half an hour after I spilt it on them the previous day, so when we entered the Great Hall I wasn’t surprised to see everybody looking and acting normal.
I had just taken a bite of toast when there was a shout of laughter coming from the Slytherin table and I looked over to see a crowd of people gawking at a sandy haired boy. The boy was looking very confused with violent blue teeth and gums. I smirked as more and more laughter and gasps filled the hall as one by one the entire body of Slytherin students had the insides of their mouths change colour. Several teachers went running over to see what was going on and I fought to control the giggles that were threatening to bubble up inside me.
The girls were all chuckling freely.
“The looks on their faces! Do you think their drinks were spiked?” Georgina asked, still laughing at the strange sight.
The teachers seemed to be thinking along the same lines as Georgina. Professor Stellar was making some complicated wand movements over one students pumpkin juice, to no avail of course.
“Any ideas on who did it?” Hattie asked, rhetorically it turns out as she immediately stared straight at James who was sitting a few seats down from us. He, however, was looking quite baffled as people started giving him not-so-discreet thumbs ups in approval.
“Oh hey Scorpius” Hattie continued, looking somewhere far above my head. I took my time turning around to meet his gaze. Scorpius was looking down at me with his eyebrows raised and a reluctant smile tugging at his lips.
“How are your teeth?” I asked nonchalantly.
He grinned, flashing his small white teeth. Ah, so he listened to my advice and used the Prefect bathrooms this morning.
“Michael was right; there is no such thing as an innocent Gryffindor” he said with a shake of his head, “I guess I owe you one Lee.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about” I said, taking a sip of pumpkin juice to hide my smirk.
“Of course you don’t. So how long is my house going to be running round with blue mouths? Well except for Jack…”
I spun my head around so fast I felt my neck click. Rubbing it I started to laugh as my gaze fell on Jack Graple, the fourth year who was infamous for not having heard of the concept of personal hygiene. He was looking around at his blue mouthed comrades with a smug smile on his face.
“I knew he doesn’t brush his teeth!” I blurted out without thinking.
Scorpius chuckled, “I thought it might have been the toothpaste – that’d explain why some people have streaks of blue down their chins.”
“Bloody Peeves eh?” I said with a grin.
Scorpius rolled his eyes, “Yeah, Peeves.” He stood up and headed back to his friends.
I felt someone’s eyes on my face and I looked up to see Hattie giving me her trademark ‘I am a prefect!’ look.
“We have charms first, you coming?” she asked. Translation: get off your ass, we need to talk.
“Hold on!” I motioned for her to sit back down.
Dominique, who was sat next to me, had just started talking to her younger brother, Louis, in French.
“What was that about?” Dom asked.
“Sounds like she did the blue mouth prank if you ask me” Louis said uncertainly.
“And didn’t target him, he said ‘I owe you one’. Those two are weird, aren’t they supposed to be all pro Slytherin?”
“I thought so too, I mean they are Pures.”
There was a pause in their conversation while they glanced at me (where I sat innocently finishing up my breakfast) and then over at the Slytherin table.
“So are they together or what?” Dominique continued in French.
“No I don’t think they are. Not yet…”
I drained the last of my pumpkin juice and stood up, “Right, let’s go girls.”
They followed me as I led the way out of the Hall and to the charms classroom.
“And you pranked the Slytherins because…?” Hattie looked at me expectantly.
“Because I was in the mood”
I heard Alex snort behind us.
Hattie sighed and changed tack, “Are you okay today?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Because you had that argument with James yesterday and I know you better than to think you’ve simply forgotten it.”
“Oh. Well… I’m okay. Pranking Slytherins helped.”
She nodded. Pranking and duelling were my normal outlets for emotion and she had learned to accept that over the years. I was never the type to have a heart to heart, even with someone like Hattie; I would let my feelings be known in a more active and flamboyant way.
“Just get a decent sleep tonight alright? You’re looking pasty”
She poked her tongue out at me and then grinned, “So did Dominique and Louis saying anything interesting?”
“Not really, just speculating.”
“Ever going to tell them that you’re fluent in French?”
“No!” I gasped, putting a hand to my heart, “They have been my best source of gossip for the past three years! Alex would kill me!”
“Too right I would!” Alex agreed while Georgina giggled.
A new voice interrupted us. “Come, come ladies, no time to dawdle out here in the corridor.”
We looked up, startled to see Professor Pindrop standing in the doorway of his classroom, beckoning us in eagerly. I turned to give the girls a weary look before stepping inside.
To my great satisfaction, it took the teachers and Madam Foveaux till dinner that evening to find a cure for the blue mouths, by which time the Slytherins were all looking extremely put out. After locating the source of the prank (i.e. the toothpaste) a reversal potion was hurriedly remedied by Professor Cassidy.
Almost the whole school just presumed it was another PPP (Potter & Pals Prank) but I didn’t mind them taking the credit, I preferred to not get eaten alive by the Pures.
Disclaimer: Anthing you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling
It was the last day of school before we broke up for the Christmas holidays, I was going “home” on the Hogwarts Express tomorrow as usual while Hattie, Alex and Georgina were all staying at school.
I’d always wanted to have Christmas here, Hogwarts was the only place that felt like home, but it was also Ball season, so instead of lying around eating chocolate and opening presents, I was forced into incredibly tight dresses and made to prance about like a peacock.
Because of this I wasn’t in the best of moods (okay, let’s face it, I never seem to be in the best of moods this year) and barely listened as I sat in Transfiguration that afternoon, preferring to stare out the window at the grounds where Hagrid was feeding some creepy looking creature with a spiky tail.
About halfway through the lesson I got permission to go to the bathroom (admittedly dawdling and taking longer than really necessary) and was just coming back out when I ran into Katie Thompson and her equally-bimbo sidekick Jessica Jane who were both supposed to be in Transfiguration with me.
“Well if it isn’t Aaliyah Taiven” Katie began.
I rolled my eyes and grabbed my wand from the insides of my robes. Here we go.
“Yes hello Katie, great observation” I mocked her.
“You know, I never got back at you for the hen incident” she said threateningly.
I stifled a snigger. At the end of last year I managed to turn her into a giant hen. We hadn’t started human transfiguration yet, so the spell didn’t work out how I had originally planned and she still had her own head but a hen’s body.
A lot funnier that way, it turns out.
For some reason she didn’t appreciate my sense of humor though.
I decided i might as well goad her further, “That was classic, from what I heard James was laughing his head off when he saw you."
She flushed. “I forgave James. He was so remorseful it was sweet”
I really did snigger this time, “Never use the words ‘sweet’ and ‘James’ in the same sentence, he is an arrogant git and that’s all there is to it.”
“How dare you! He’s perfect and brilliant…”
Jessica spoke for the first time, “… And funny and gorgeous and good at Quidditch…”
“… And stupid and prejudiced but what does that matter if he’s rich and famous and hot, right?” I added.
“Exactly” Katie said, and then realizing what a (complete, utter) bitch she sounded she quickly said, “Well not the rich and famous part that doesn’t matter, he’s so much more than that.”
But it was too late; the truth was out and they had just succeeded in making me incredibly pissed off.
These stupid little gold digging bimbos in front of me were possibly the most selfish and ignorant people I have ever met in my life.
Without thinking about the consequences (something I do a lot), I raised my wand and threw a bunch of curses at them. Growing up with a family as insane as mine means you get good at things like dodging and dueling, and I soon had the girls looking very worried as they barely got a spell in edge ways under the onslaught I was dishing out.
I was really getting into the swing of things when one of my spells collided mid air with another and backfired onto the girls, sending them hurtling through the air and landing a few feet away. I quickly ran over to them to see if they were alright (what? I’m not completely evil). They appeared to be unconscious and their skin had taken on a strange green colour that I was sure none of us had meant to cast.
Using my wand I levitated the girls into the air and carried them to the Hospital Wing.
Why does crap like this always happen to me? Seriously, how in Merlin's name am I going to explain this?
I reached the hospital wing and poked my head in.
“Early Christmas present” I said meekly as Madam Foveaux ushered me inside.
She laid the girls on separate beds and leant over Katie, muttering under her breath.
After what seemed an age of me pacing, she straightened up with a sigh.
“They’re going to be perfectly fine” she answered my unspoken question, “I’ll give them a potion for the headaches their bound to have when they wake up… the green skin is new… might take a while to set that straight…”
She suddenly looked up at me sharply, “Don’t you have a class to go to?”
“Oh right, yes, okay. Bye then.” I stammered and left the room, letting out a relieved sigh.
I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get off so easy when I got back to class; Professor Robbins was one of the strictest teachers in the school. I didn’t think being one of the best in the class was going to make a difference.
When I opened the door to the classroom Professor Robbins immediately stopped what she was saying and eyed me suspiciously. Merlin that lady is good; I swear she can smell guilt on students.
“You took your time Miss Taiven” she began, her long claw-like hands stroking her wand ominously.
“Oh, well, uh, excuse me Professor, but I don’t think Katie and Jessica are going to be coming back to class today.”
Her black eyes narrowed, “And why not Miss Taiven?”
I bit my lip, “They’re both, err, unconscious in the hospital wing.”
She looked at me stonily so I started trying to make up a cover story.
“You see this crazy old guy, completely starkers… he, err, streaked down the corridor when we were coming back from the bathroom and they um… both fainted… and grew green skin - it was like magic, so weird.”
STOP TALKING! That was the worst cover story I’ve ever heard in my life! A naked guy? What am I on?
Please refrain yourself!
Yours faithfully, Brain.
Hattie snorted from her seat near the back of the room and a few muffled giggles came from various students throughout the class.
“The truth if you please, Miss Taiven!” she practically screeched.
“The truth?” I sighed, suddenly not caring what happens to me. “The truth is that I think I just lost all shreds of faith I had in humanity when all I wanted to do was go to the toilet” I said dramatically then crossed the room and slumped in my seat next to Hattie, feeling like a complete rebel.
“See me after class Miss Taiven” She gave the students her infamous death glare and everyone instantly sobered up. “As I was saying, human transfiguration is a very advanced form of magic that will come up in your NEWTs if not in practical then in theory…”
After class I made my way over to Professor Robbins’ desk at the front of the room. She indicated that I sit down then shuffled some parchment importantly before finally looking at me.
“Lost your faith in humanity, Miss Taiven?”
“More or less."
“What, may I ask, triggered this loss of faith?”
I rolled my eyes at her tragic formality, remembering a little too late that she would see it.
I sighed, “Look, I got angry and attacked the girls. Just put me in detention.”
She watched me in silence for a while, making me feel very uncomfortable. Eventually she straightened her glasses and leaned forward slightly.
“How are things at home?” she asked suddenly.
I spluttered a little in surprise. “Oh, um… fine.”
What the hell? Who does she think she is, a shrink? That is so none of her business!
“Hmmm. How about things at school? Keeping on top of everything? I know your doing well in Transfiguration but what about your other subjects?”
I relaxed a tiny bit, “Yes I’m keeping up. Well to be honest Potions is a bit shoddy but I’m getting an A average.”
Her eyes twitched as though she were refraining from rolling them. I guess my reputation for blowing up my Potions has gotten around the staff.
“What about your relationship with your peers?” she continued.
Alright, what the frick is this woman on? Does she really want a big heart to heart about my Hogwarts social life?
“Um… good…?” I answered rather lamely.
She stared at me for a bit longer then leant back in her chair again. “As you suggested earlier I must put you in detention for attacking Miss’ Thompson and Jane. You shall have more details when you get back after Christmas.”
I nodded, stood up, and when she didn't say anything more, exited the classroom.
I became aware of someone waiting for me just outside the door and I immediately thought of the last time this happened with James. I was preparing to really let rip when I realized the figure, although the right height, was a bit too lanky.
“Hey Scorp” I greeted him and together we headed toward the Gryffindor common room.
“Hey. What’s this I hear about you landing Katie and Jessica in the Hospital Wing?” he asked, raising his eyebrows in reluctant amusement.
Seriously, how does he find out about stuff like that so fast? Or at all?
“They were trying to ambush me” I replied honestly.
“Mmm-hmm" he mumbled sceptically. "So what did Robbins hold you in for?”
“I think she was trying to give me the ‘concerned teacher’ talk” I made quotation marks with my fingers in the air. “Then she gave me detention.”
“Serves you right for starting the Katie-Lee War”
“She started it by being a complete twat bag!”
“Anyway,” Scorpius said, ignoring my last statement, “I came to let you know what’s happening this Christmas. We’re having it at Malfoy Manor and everyone is coming… excluding the Dubois and Laurence of course.”
We stopped in front of the Fat Lady’s Portrait and I turned to face him.
“When you say everyone, you don’t mean… Arabella, do you?” I asked in horror.
Arabella Petit, sister to Rosalind’s late husband, Victor Damour, is even more fanatic about blood purity than Rosalind. Strangely enough the two of them don’t get along at all. I don’t know who Arabella hates more, Rosalind or me. Arabella is married to Mr Petit and they have a little girl named Elise. (WARNING: Do not be fooled by sweet French names!) As they live in France I haven’t seen them since the summer holidays of my second year at Hogwarts when they came down with the Dubois. The horror of that visit has scarred me for life.
Scorpius grimaced, “Yes Arabella is coming. Her husband is staying behind on business but she’s bringing her kid who is around nine or ten now.”
“Oh well isn't that just bloody fabulous. I hope you have a game plan for surviving these holidays?”
His thin lips smirked, “Our own personal stash of fire whiskey?”
I gave a very Georgina-like happy-squeal, “What would I do without you?”
“Knowing you, something rash” He smiled and then sighed, “I’ll see you on the train.”
“Yeah see you.” I turned back to the Fat Lady, “Dragon Pox.”
She let me in after casting a suspicious look at Scorpius’ retreating back and I climbed through the portrait hole.
The girls were sitting in the best chairs by the fire and looked deep in discussion but immediately jumped up and came eagerly toward me when I approached.
“So what happened with Katie and Jessica? Give us details!” Alex commanded, dragging me over to a spare chair and pushing me into it.
The three girls looked down at me expectantly, and they weren’t the only ones. Everyone near us were casting me curious looks, eager for gossip. News had obviously circulated ahead of me.
I opened my mouth to tell them everything when I saw James playing exploding snap with his little sister, Lily.
In that moment I decided not to tell the girls of Katie’s admission. If the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t want a bunch of people gossiping about how someone was only sucking up to me for my family’s money and fame.
I was watching James while this thought went through my head, and he obviously felt my stare as he looked up and met my gaze. My poker face was on so I knew my eyes were unfathomable, but his eyes were searching and for once had lost their arrogant glint.
I broke contact after a long moment and looked back at the girls. “Nothing. Nothing really happened. Katie was just trying to get back at me for the hen thing, we dueled, she and Jessica are in the hospital wing and I have a detention to do when I come back. End of story.” It pretty much was anyway, it’s not like I was lying.
Alex put her hands on her hips and lent forward to stare into my eyes.
“End of story my ass, Aaliyah!” She turned to look at James then back at me, raising her eyebrow. “What are you not telling us?”
I looked up at Hattie imploringly and a flicker of a smile crossed her face before she nodded and said to Alex, “Back off Alex, you know Aaliyah sucks at gossiping – it’s probably nothing. So… whatcha doing for Christmas?” She asked me in an attempt to change the subject.
It would have worked if the subject was something a bit more cheerful... like getting Crucio’d to death tonight and not having to go home at all.
She quickly realized her mistake though. “Oh crap” she muttered (Yeah, make it more obvious that it’s a touchy subject for me why don’t you, Hattie?) “Um look at that!” She pointed to a random spot in the air.
The fact that a whole bunch of heads suddenly turned to look where she pointed proved that I was right in thinking our conversation was being eaves dropped on.
“Upstairs, then, girls?” I suggested.
Alex and Georgina got up and almost ran to our dorm, as eager as everyone else was this afternoon to hear what I had to say, even if it was just to complain about my family from hell.
I didn’t mind Alex and Georgina knowing about my home life like I did everyone else. Although they were completely different people to me in both personality and lifestyle, I had come to trust them inexplicably. They would never judge me or pass on anything I told them. Hattie of course, as my best friend, knew as much about me and my family as Scorpius did, though obviously without the first hand experiences.
I stood up, but before I could follow the girls Hattie reached for my arm to hold me back.
“Sorry, you don’t have to –” She began to apologise for bringing up my family.
“Nah it’s alright. I need to vent anyway.”
She nodded, her little heart shaped face serious.
“Come on, then” she said and linked arms with me, knowing, like always, that I could do with small comforts like that when I was down.
We crossed the room together and climbed the stairs. Once in our dorm I flung myself onto my bed and told them everything Scorpius had just told me about Christmas, including a solid twenty minutes of Arabella filled abuse.
They offered me loads of sympathy, Hattie especially, as she had heard about Arabella from me before. Talking about it seemed to help me relax. After all there was nothing I could do about the situation except suck it up and get my revenge later, in secret.
The secret rebel, that’s always been my way.
I curled up under my covers after that, listening to Alex gushing about some Slytherin girl’s hair, describing it as “painfully straight”, and how many times she caught Eric Hearst looking at Hattie during Charms.
Because, you know, that’s more important than actually paying attention in class.
Oh wow, I may have just quoted Rose Weasley. Oh dear Merlin look what my internal bitterness has reduced me to.
“Yes, yes, I know he’s good looking” Hattie interrupted my mental cursing, “but we really should be helping Aaliyah pack her trunk, you know what she’s like.”
“Excuse me!” I said indignantly, popping my head back out from under the covers, “I’m not that incapable!”
But Georgina was already on her feet and rummaging through the contents of my trunk, “Hattie has a point though Ally, you’re so messy, every morning I have a minor heart attack when I see the state of your corner. At least let us pack your trunk nicely.”
I mumbled under my breath about perfectionists and clean freaks for a while, but eventually rolled out of bed and started gathering together my clothes and text books and passing them to Hattie and Georgina to organize.
Alex, clearly having her priorities in better order than the other two, was still lounging on her bed picking at a stray thread on her sleeve.
“So who do you think is better looking? James, David, or Drake?”
Well, at least some of her priorities are in better order.
Hattie looked up, “You don’t think James is?”
“I dunno. Obviously he’s the first person you would pick, but when you stop and think about it – I’ll need to borrow your DADA notes by the way – David is way more buff, and he does get a lot of girls. Drake maybe not so much on either account, he’s shorter than the other two as well, but he has that ‘I’m so nice’ vibe, you know?”
“I think it’s a matter of preference” Hattie said sensibly. “They’re all good looking.”
“I guess that’s true” I mused. “Alex, what’s your preference, red, blonde, or brunette?” I grinned.
“I didn’t mean just their hair Aaliyah!” Hattie laughed. “Wait a minute… Don’t you have a boyfriend Alex? What were you doing checking out the infamous trio during DADA?”
Alex had the decency to blush and looked as though she were about to make some witty comeback, but then she scowled and went back to picking at the thread on her sleeve.
“It’s not as if Rick doesn’t do the same thing. At least I do it just to keep on top of things… and most definitely not right in front of him.”
Georgina stood up, moved to the bed Alex was on and sat down.
“He didn’t!” she gasped.
Alex nodded, looking upset. Georgina gave her a big hug while Hattie reminded everyone that he is a guy, it’s just what they do… though maybe checking someone out while your girlfriend was watching is going a bit far.
I wondered briefly what would happen if I just went and murdered Stentworth right now. Azkaban, surely. Though I think it might be worth it…
Oh. Except Azkaban is filled with Death Eaters. Not the best place for a traitor like me. Damn.
Georgina and Hattie continued to consol her while I struggled to contain my anger.
I hated Stentworth for using Alex. Just like I hated Katie for using James.
“Guys I’m going to go fly my broomstick” I quickly stood up and grabbed my broomstick from under my bed, patted Alex on the shoulder in what I hoped was a comforting way, and fled the tower.
Once outside I kicked off hard and breathed a sigh of relief as I watched the ground drop away from me.
Flying was my escape, my time to mull over things.
I flew across the orange sky, watching the light fade, not thinking anything, just enjoying the feel of the icy wind on my skin.
Night was well and truly closing in before I started trying to collect my thoughts. Just like I hated Katie for using James. What had I meant when I thought that? James Potter is a jerk, I know this. I hate him, I know this too. Then why on earth did I defend him to the likes of Katie Thompson this afternoon?
The easy answer would be to say that I wasn’t defending him, that I was just attacking Katie for being so downright pathetic. But I knew that wasn’t the end of the story.
Do I really think he deserves better?
Alright, so he’s arrogant and a sucker for DD's and has everything handed to him on a silver platter… but that doesn’t make him a bad person per say. Those things that make me hate him are just that, things that make me hate him. Everyone else seems to overlook those flaws, even Hattie. Which means that although I could never like him, he is still likeable. Unlike Katie. Who isn’t just being annoying, she’s being… I can’t even find the right word. Selfish, in a way.
So yes, I hate Katie for what she is doing, and I hate her for doing it to James who is not unlikeable. So I defended James, because he was the better option out of the two, and maybe just a little bit because I might possibly think he deserves better.
There. Justifiable reasoning that I can accept.
It’s not everyday I defend my enemy against my other enemy, and that thought had me reeling earlier.
Now for the next question; what can I do about Stentworth and Alex?
The answer to that was easier to find but harder to accept. Nothing. I couldn’t do anything without hurting Alex. If persuading her Stentworth is a bad idea would work, she never would have gone out with him in the first place. I was going to have to wait and see how things play out.
I was going to have to watch Alex have her heart broken.
In the meantime, I was going to be spending the next two whole weeks with my family.
I landed, sighing heavily, and walked back up to the castle, realizing as I did so that I was out after curfew. I increased my pace and silently thanked Merlin for not being caught by Hagrid while I was flying. I didn’t need another detention to do when I got back.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
The Hogwarts Express drew to a halt at King’s Cross Station and I turned to give Scorpius a parting grimace before stepping onto the platform. Immediately my eyes zoned in to where my parents were standing stiffly alongside Rosalind and the Romenels. I directed my feet toward them and put on my poker face.
Before I could reach them a shout came from further down the platform and I looked over to see the Potters and Weasleys in a chaotic mess of red hair, laughing children, and scolding adults. Segments of their conversation drifted over to where I was, still walking to what felt more and more like my doom.
“James Sirius Potter could you please act responsibly for once in your life…”
“RONALD DON’T YOU DARE ENCOURAGE HER!”
“Guess what Uncle Harry, Lily has a boyfriend.”
“No you cannot blow up Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom!”
“She has a what?”
Suddenly there was a loud resounding crack and two people appeared out of thin air in the middle of the platform.
“WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!!!” A woman’s voice screeched.
There was silence for a couple of heartbeats then a cheer rose up from the Potters and Weasleys as they all ran over to offer congratulations to the new comers. Curious, I took a closer look at the newly engaged couple and nearly fell over when I saw the splash of bright blue hair.
Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley.
I had met Teddy in my first year at Hogwarts when he was in his last. I still remember a conversation we had when neither of us could get to sleep one night. We were both sitting in the common room in the dark and I complained about how horrible my family was and he complained about how he didn’t think his childhood friend, the beautiful Victoire, would ever love him like he did her.
I guess he was wrong about that.
Obviously I don’t normally talk about my family life with complete strangers, but Teddy Lupin is the kind of person that you just end up telling stuff to anyway. He’s a bit like Hattie in that respect, very understanding and not at all judgmental. He would take your secrets to the grave, no questions asked.
“You’ve put on weight” Mother said testily as soon as I reached her.
I could feel my eye twitch. I had not bloody put on weight.
“Bonjour mère, père” I greeted them.
Father looked away, bored.
While we waited for Lance to say goodbye to his ‘ideal’ girlfriend (ideal = pureblood bitch), Aunt Rosalind moved closer to us, her brown eyes flashing as she glanced at the Weasleys.
“Despicable, filthy blood traitors” she spat, “Look at them running around like a bunch of mongrels, have they no decency? No control? Of course not, that’s what poor breeding does.” She turned to face me, “Are you not proud of the life you lead Aaliyah? Of the pureness of your blood?”
“Yes, very proud” I said quietly, pretending I couldn’t feel her fingers digging into my shoulder.
“Good” she removed her hand and returned to her twin devil spawns just as Lance walked over.
“Salut darling” mother greeted him fondly.
“Bonjour mère, I hope I return to find you in good health?” he simpered.
I only just refrained from gagging.
“Yes, yes” Father interrupted, “Let us leave quickly.”
He held out his arm for Mother to take and Lance held out his for me. In the moment before we disapparated, I glanced over again at the Weasleys and met Teddy’s eyes. He looked confused for a second as his eyes bored into mine before they finally grew wide in recognition. A crease appeared between his eyebrows as he cast a glance over my cold and distant family – the complete opposite to his. I tried to give him a small smile to show I was happy for him, but only managed a sad grimace before we disappeared with a pop.
We landed outside the tall black gates to the grounds of the Taiven Manor. The elegant white brick and stone manor seemed to mock me as I approached, being unwillingly escorted by Lance. I once thought the building was beautiful with its large French windows and Greek style pillars that stood by the front door, but that had been a long time ago. Bad memories seemed to have almost cast a shadow over the place, and I knew now that it wasn’t a home, but a prison.
We reached the front door and I was finally released. Once inside our house elf, Xabee, bowed and greeted us.
“Lovely to see you home again master Lance and mistress Aaliyah” he squeaked, bowing again.
With a snap of his long fingers our trunks disappeared, like they did every time, to reappear in our rooms.
Nodding to my parents in parting, I crossed the marble foyer, my shoes tapping against the floor with every step. I climbed the grand carpeted staircase and followed the corridor through several twists and turns before coming to a stop outside my own room.
I preferred it upstairs where the carpet and walls were a deep blood red, a lot more fitting and comforting than the constant white downstairs. The furniture was richer in colour up here too, all dark wood and gold finishing.
I opened the door to my bedroom, crossed the threshold and quickly closed the door behind me again, breathing a sigh of relief as I leaned my back up against it. My eyes cast around the room, taking in the same large bed, the same window seat, and the same floor length mirror and matching dresser that Georgina would die for.
Something was off though, and I cautiously made my way around the room, brushing my fingers absently along any surfaces they came across. It took me a couple more moments and a strong dose of intuition to realize what was wrong – someone had been snooping through my room.
Not only was it an abuse of my privacy, but it offended me that they would think I would be so stupid as to leave something incriminating in my bedroom. I stormed back downstairs and into the dinning hall where my family was sitting in wait for dinner.
“You and Aunt Rosalind have been snooping through my room!” I accused mother.
“Sit down and stop yelling, you unruly child. And no we have not; it was probably the house elf” she dismissed me with a wave of her hand.
I dropped into a chair and returned Lance’s smirk with a glare.
The rest of the evening and the following days was spent with me glowering murderously at everyone and everything while Mother, Father and Lance played at happy families.
Relief finally came on Christmas Eve when we left for Malfoy Manor, dress robes for that evening in tow.
“Aaliyah darling!” Astoria greeted me when we arrived, “You must show me your dress robes for the ball tonight” she said like it was the most important thing in the world.
She reminded me so much of Georgina sometimes.
“They’re green. I’ll show you them later… where’s Scorpius?”
Her son is about the only thing that can distract Astoria when she’s in ball mode and I have no scruples in using that to my favour.
“In the living room with everyone else, come along” She gestured for us to follow her into the manor.
Fortunately ‘everyone else’ only entailed Astoria’s sister’s family, the Baddocks. I greeted them all then joined Scorpius and his father in the corner of the room.
“Hello sir, how are you?” I said to Malfoy senior.
“Well” he replied shortly, though not harshly.
“Come on, Lee” Scorpius beckoned me to follow him out of the room.
As I did so he said in a quiet voice, “Let’s mysteriously disappear upstairs, the Romenels are coming over soon.”
I screwed up my nose as we climbed the stairs, “Why so early? The ball doesn’t start till eight!”
“I have a theory.”
He opened the door to his bedroom and we sat on his bed. He shook his blonde hair out of his eyes and looked at me seriously.
“Aaliyah you are sixteen, single, pureblood and fairly pretty. I think everyone’s starting to realise that I have no romantic interest in you, therefore your parents are eager to find a suitor for you as quickly as possible. Romenel, being the same age and also single, is the obvious choice.”
“Romenel? No way, I hate him” I said stubbornly.
“Aaliyah to be fair you haven’t really spent much time with him before. Though honestly I can vouch for you that yes, he is a bit of a wanker.”
“Exactly. I knew it. There has got to be a reason why he’s single.”
Scorpius stopped what he was about to say and raised an eyebrow at me, “And your reason for being single is…?”
“Duh, I think boys are stupid” I said, then quickly added, “Except you ‘cause you think I’m pretty.”
“So let me get this straight, you think the Romenels are coming around here early so Vincent” I spat his name “can hit on me?”
“Well, I think woo is the better phrase…” he trailed off at the look on my face.
“I don’t care what he or my parents are planning; I’m not going to marry some… some prissy pureblood because they want me to.”
Handy phrase, that one.
“I know, of course not. But Aaliyah we both know you’re not a romantic person. Try not to rule out every pureblood you come across. Keep an open mind, you might find that you can grow fond enough of someone to marry them and still have your parents’ approval.”
“I don’t want my parents’ approval!”
Was it strange that it sounded like I was lying? I mentally shook myself and carried on.
“And I may not believe in gooey, soul mate-y love but I’m not going to spend my life with some idiot who I am merely fond of!”
Scorpius frowned. “I see your point, but Aaliyah these people are your family! Family must always come first.”
He said the last bit mostly to himself and clenched his fists as though he were convincing himself of it rather than me.
“That might be the way your family works, Scorpius, but for me I am just a person that has been forced to live with other people through some ridiculous biological screw up.”
The sound of voices being raised in greeting floated up to us and I could distinguish the low rumble of Romenel Senior’s.
“You are on my side though aren’t you Scorpius? You don’t think I should marry Romenel? You’ll stop him if he tries anything?” I tried not to let my sudden fear show in my voice.
Scorpius’ face softened and he pulled me into his arms. “I’ll always be on your side, little sister. I promise.”
I buried my face in his neck and breathed in his familiar musky smell.
We stayed like that for a while, until footsteps could be heard approaching the room and someone knocked on the door.
“Come in” Scorpius said, letting go of me.
Mother opened the door and looked at Scorpius’ close proximity to me suspiciously.
“Do come downstairs Aaliyah, some of the gentleman have arrived. You too, Scorpius.”
I stood up, straightened out my robes and followed Mother downstairs, silently formulating plans on avoiding Romenel for the entire evening.
“What are you doing?” A girl’s voice said from somewhere around my elbow.
I looked down to see Elise looking at me suspiciously.
The truth was that she had just interrupted some serious James Bonding. One can never lurk around the edges of a ball room avoiding people these days. Little persons in disgustingly clichéd pink dress robes are always ruining it for you.
“Who are you avoiding?”
“No one.” I tried to shake her off but she just followed me. Typical product of Arabella, this one.
“Are you avoiding Vincent? You shouldn’t, you know. You have an obligation.”
“Alright what is up with you? You’re, like, five, you shouldn’t even know what the word obligation means.”
“I’m ten” she said, offended. “I’m going to find Vincent for you”
“Wha-? No really I actually…”
“Hello Vincent” She interrupted as Romenel materialized in front of us.
“Good evening Elise” he said though his eyes rested on me. “Care to dance Aaliyah?”
“Oh, um sure”
He pulled me to where all the couples were dancing and grabbed my waist. I placed the tips of my fingers on his shoulders and leant back to put more space between us. Although it must have seemed obvious what I was doing he didn’t seem the least bit concerned, nor toward the fact that we didn’t say a word to each other.
As time went on, his hand moved from my waist to my lower back. I was finding it hard to concentrate and come up with an excuse to leave. Scorpius and I had broken into our secret stash of fire whiskey earlier. I couldn’t decide if it was a good thing or a very stupid thing.
I could see Rosalind watching us with no expression on her face. I was slightly surprised she wasn’t in the corner planning our wedding already.
Romenel pulled me closer to him so that I was pressed up against his chest. Before I could even try to make my intoxicated brain cells work his hand slipped down to rest on my behind. I flinched and a chill ran down my spine. My eye was suddenly drawn to Malfoy Senior who was looking at Romenel furiously.
The next second a familiar musky smell enveloped us and Scorpius said, “Do you mind if I have this next dance?”
He didn’t wait for an answer before he wrenched me away from Romenel and his wandering hands. We moved to a different corner of the room and I sunk, relieved, into his arms.
After a pause I spoke again, “You know what really sucks?”
“Um, you just got a little bit hand-raped?”
“Well, yeah, but not what I was getting at… I actually skipped pudding because Mother made me sit by Romenel. I mean, what was the point in depriving myself if he was just going to violate me later anyway?”
Scorpius gave me a squeeze and chuckled, “I know I really shouldn’t be laughing, but… Has anyone ever told you that you are a complete idiot?”
“Yes. You, on several occasions”
I wasn’t completely satisfied with his repentant face either, his eyes were still dancing with humor.
“Let’s go see if there is any pudding left,” Scorpius said, “I’m tired of Rosalind staring at us.”
I peeked behind my shoulder to see her looking at us with curiously narrowed eyes.
“Ugh good idea, but let’s go this way. I would rather not walk past Romenel right now.”
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling
“Aaliyah! If you’re not down here in five seconds we’re leaving without you!” Mother called up to me.
“I’m coming!” I yelled back.
Yeah right, I’m the only reason they bother going to see Lawrence at all. Once during the Christmas holidays and once during the summer. Twice over summer if I’m lucky. If not I use all methods of sulking within my power. Unfortunately my parents know how much it means to me to visit my uncle and use it as leverage to control my behavior.
I guess that’s normal though. When I was at Hattie’s house a few years ago her parents took away her music-playing thing because she came home after curfew. It’s the same thing, right?
I threw my hair up into a ponytail and ran downstairs where my parents, Lance and Rosalind were waiting. I was glad the twin devil spawns weren’t coming. It was enough having to deal with the others when all I wanted was alone time with Lawrence.
Lance held out his arm and I took it, squeezing my eyes shut as the familiar shoved-through-a-tube sensation swept over me.
We apparated into an alleyway around the corner from the entrance to St. Mungo’s. Walking swiftly we soon reached Purge & Dowse Ltd, and, checking no muggles were watching, stepped through the shop glass into the reception area of the hospital inside. We walked straight through the double doors beside the main desk and started to climb the rickety stairs. We didn’t need the welcomewitch to tell us where ward forty-nine is.
On the fourth floor landing my parents hastened Lance and I through the doors of a corridor labeled SPELL DAMAGE, and looked furitively about them as we turned into the last corridor on the right. Raising his wand father pointed at the door labeled JANUS THICKEY WARD and muttered ‘Alohomora’, before ushering us all through it.
An aged and motherly-looking Healer wearing a tinsel wreath in her hair came up to us.
“Ah here they all are Lawrence, how lovely. He so looks forward to your visits on Christmas, you know!” She told us as she led us over to crazy Uncle Lawrence’s bed.
“Here you are Lawrence. I’ll leave you to it.”
She drew the flowery curtains about the bed to give us privacy and bustled away.
I looked down at Lawrence where he was sitting up in his bed. He had grown a small goatee and his dark blonde hair had started to grey, but his flushed cheeks made him look as cheerful and young as ever.
“How are we all?” He asked, “How’s my favourite niece?”
“Good” I said, taking a seat by his bedside.
“Well,” Father replied, “They’re taking good care of you?”
A look of irritation flashed across Lawrence’s face before being replaced again with a smile. “Yes, yes.”
His blue eyes glanced over to where Rosalind was standing silently before looking back at me.
I scrunched up my nose. “Transfiguration; still easy. Potions; still stupid.”
He chuckled. “I have something for you.”
He jumped out of bed and ducked down to look underneath it.
“Here we are” he said, pulling out a small parcel and handing it to me, “Merry Christmas.”
I ripped open the wrapping and a silver necklace fell onto my lap. I picked it up to inspect it closer. It was fairly heavy and had an oval shaped locket at the end of the chain. A strange design I couldn’t make out was engraved on the face. I tried to open it but it was as though it had been magically fastened shut.
“It doesn’t open!” I said in surprise.
Uncle Lawrence smiled and said mysteriously, “It will one day.”
I gave him a funny look but lent forward to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, it’s really pretty”.
It was certainly better than the stack of new dress robes and makeup I had recieved from my parents. I’m trying not to sound ungrateful and all, but seriously, when have I ever worn makeup voluntarily?
“No problem hon.” Lawrence grinned.
“Vanessa, sister, would you please leave us for a moment?” Rosalind said suddenly. “I need to speak with Lawrence.”
Mother nodded. “We’ll be upstairs.”
Father guided Lance and me from the room, leaving Lawrence and Rosalind alone.
Outside we walked back down the corridor to the landing and then continued up another flight of stairs until we reached the Visitor’s Tearoom and Hospital Shop. Inside, the walls, like the rest of the building, was painted a horrible blinding white, punctuated only by portraits of distinguished and pompous looking healers. We sat at a table while Father went up to order some drinks.
I turned to Mother, “Why does Aunt Rosalind need to talk to Uncle Lawrence?”
“None of your business.”
“So you do know why, then?”
Mother ignored me and turned to Lance.
“Darling are you seeing Cassiopeia today?”
“Yes, I was actually just thinking that I should go over there now. It’s Christmas, after all.”
“Of course darling, just wait for Edward so you can have your tea first.”
“What about Lawrence? He’s your Uncle and we hardly ever see him!” I said, not altogether surprised, just indignant at how blatantly neither of them cared about Lawrence.
“Hush, Aaliyah! Someone might overhear.”
Any patience I had, left.
“Who cares?” I began loudly, “So what if everyone finds out you’re the most heartless, selfish, pathetic people to walk the earth? You have nothing to loose! Nobody cares about you –“
Suddenly my words were cut off, I continued to speak but no sound came out. The next second I felt my knees buckle, and I was being forced to sit back down in my chair. I hadn’t even realized I’d stood up.
I stared at Mother’s hands, but they were empty. I turned my head and saw a furious Aunt Rosalind bearing down on me, wand in hand.
“How dare you make a scene like this?” She hissed into my ear. “You are a complete disgrace. We feed you and clothe you and pay for you, we let you visit your traitorous Uncle, and this is how you show your gratitude?
“You need to learn respect, Aaliyah, and fast.”
I knew that she had removed the spell from me and I spent a moment deliberating on whether she would make a scene herself by trying to stop me from leaving. Deciding to take my chances, I stood up, turned, and walked out of the room. Once the door swung shut behind me I let out a shaky breath but didn’t stop walking until I was back in the Spell Damage corridor. I slid down the wall and sat with my back against it, knees pulled up.
I took a deep breath. I shouldn’t have got so mad. I should have stayed quiet and not said anything. What happened to the secret rebel? Talk about blowing my cover.
Instead of worrying, which has never really been my forte; I got up and headed down the corridor toward Uncle Lawrence’s ward. I looked behind me briefly to check Aunt Rosalind wasn’t following me and when I turned back around I accidently walked straight into someone.
“Sorry” I started to mumble before I saw who it was. I immediately leapt back to put space between us.
“Can’t you watch where you’re walking, Taiven?” James spat.
“Can you not just appear suddenly in the middle of public walkways, Potter?” I snapped back.
I was very aware of my recent epiphany in which I concluded James was not unlikeable. It didn’t help to lighten my mood.
“I can do whatever the hell I want” he said, folding his arms across his chest.
“So sorry, I obviously forgot who I was talking to. Don’t mind me, Mr. Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile.”
I smirked as he blushed. He had won the magazine ‘award’ sometime last year. What a prat.
“That – I – It wasn’t…” he cleared his throat, “shut up, would you?”
I snorted. “Your wit amazes me” I said sarcastically, and then pushed past him.
I could almost hear that puny little brain of his scrambling for a retort.
“Yeah go on,” he called, “find some of your Death Eater pals to grovel after.”
I stopped dead. Calling me a prissy pureblood was one thing, but this, actually accusing me of being some sort of new-age Death Eater?
“You have no idea what you’re saying.” I hissed.
I turned to see him looking at me in disgust.
“I know you follow Malfoy around like a sick puppy. That’s enough.”
“Excuse me? Never compare me to the likes of those sluts trailing after you everyday. I’d rather die than be as pathetic as that.”
“Don’t worry, no one would miss you.”
The door next to where James was standing opened and his mother Ginny, easily recognizable from the amount of times the Potters have been in the Daily Prophet, poked her head around the door.
“What on earth is going on out here?”
We both ignored her.
I took a deep breath and got ready to let rip.
“You bloody prick. You don’t know the first thing about anything, do you? You’re just obsessed with your own popularity!”
He tried to say something but I yelled over the top of him.
“It’s about time you stopped soaking up your father’s glory, Potter, because it was him that did the hard yards, not your lousy arse. And don’t you dare talk about Scorpius and Death Eaters because you don’t have a clue what you’re on about!”
The door opened wider and Lily Potter and Rose Weasley joined Ginny, all three had gaping mouths.
Again James tried to interrupt but I wasn’t finished yet.
I took a couple of steps forward and slapped him across the face. “And don’t you ever assume anything about me ever again!”
Suddenly I felt close to tears. I turned on my heel and swept down the corridor, turning right at the end and slipping through the unlocked door of ward forty-nine.
Inside I took a moment to collect myself, and then approached Uncle Lawrence’s bed.
“Aaliyah! I was beginning to think you went back home!”
I sighed. “I think they’ll probably come and get me soon, I might have, err, lost my temper back there…”
Yeah, twice. Did I really just call my family heartless and then slap Potter?
Lawrence chuckled, “Well, I’m not surprised.”
He sat up straighter, and grinned mischievously.
“So how’s your French?”
I smiled and repeated all the profanities he had taught me – the same ones I’d used back in October over the Snargaluff plants.
“That’s my girl” he said when I had finished.
I bit my lip, contemplating on whether he’d give me a straight answer to my question.
“What did Aunt Rosalind want to talk to you about?”
“Bloomers” he answered, without missing a beat.
I gave him a withering look.
“Bloomers?” I repeated.
“Oui. Never underestimate a woman’s obsession with bloomers, Aaliyah.”
Suddenly Lawrence jumped out of bed.
“A wand, Aaliyah! I need a wand!”
“Let’s go!” He grabbed me by the arm and started dragging me back across the room.
The Healer appeared in front of us. “Now, now, Lawrence. You know you can’t go outside, don’t you, dear? Barry’s not here to take you for a walk today.”
Lawrence pouted and muttered something that sounded a bit like ‘gonna take over the world’, ‘bloody women’ and ‘Barry is a stupid name anyway’.
The Healer practically forced marched Uncle Lawrence back to his bed. I gave her a fake smile so she would bugger off, and then turned my back on her.
“What do you want a wand for?” I asked.
Uncle Lawrence leaned forward and whispered, “To unlock it, then you can get rid of them.”
He abruptly leaned back and yelled in a grand voice, “In there!” and pointed at a drawer next to his bed.
Ignoring the slightly concerned voice inside my head, I pulled my wand out from my pocket and handed it over.
“Ah, you have a wand, should have thought of that.” He pointed it at the draw and muttered “Alohomora”, before running behind me as though I were a shield.
He pushed me forward.
Nervously I took another step and peered into the draw. Inside lay a small pile of Chocolate Frogs.
No, not blood thirsty leehes. Chocolate Frogs.
I sighed. The shit I have to put up with.
I scooped them up in one hand, put my other hand on my hip, and glared at Uncle Lawrence where he was cowering behind the flowery curtain.
Lawrence shook his head, “Doesn’t matter. They move.”
“It’s only a charm.”
“Look, I got chased by one of those once, okay?”
I threw him my ‘I’m-not-impressed’ look.
I rolled my eyes and contemplated whether I should just throw them out the window.
I stuffed them into my pockets.
What? Hattie would do it.
“You aren’t going to secretly leave them in this room?” He asked suspiciously.
“Or just outside the door?”
“Okay” he suddenly seemed a lot happier. “I found them lying around over there” he pointed in the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom’s beds. “Had to lock them away before someone bleeding opened them and let them loose.”
I wondered vaguely whether the fact that my Uncle stole candy from Professor Longbottom’s parents would change our teacher-student relationship. Oh well.
Just then the door to the ward opened and my parents walked in.
“Aaliyah, we’re leaving.”
I scowled at her then turned to Uncle Lawrence and gave him a long hug.
“See you in the summer, love.” He said, squeezing me tighter.
“Yeah, see you. Thanks again for the present.”
“Now, Aaliyah!” Mother said.
I reluctantly let go of Uncle Lawrence and walked over to Mother.
“And don’t think you’re going to get away with that little stunt you pulled earlier” she hissed into my ear, quietly so that no one else would hear. “You are grounded for the rest of the holidays, and you’ll be living on soup and bread.”
I felt on the brink of tears again but pushed them down. I’d wait till I was alone in my room.
I stole another glance at crazy Uncle Lawrence before walking out the door. He suddenly looked older, more like Father, though with lighter hair and blue, not hazel, eyes. He smiled sadly at me before his attention was diverted by the Healer.
At least I had Chocolate Frogs to feast on as well as soup.
Chapter 9: Secret Passageways and Deflated Snakes
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Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
There has been some confusion about why Aaliyah gets a detention is this chapter. The detention is the one she owes from before the Christmas holidays, when she sent Katie Thompson and Jessica Jane to the Hospital Wing with green skin.
“Hey, Aaliyah! How was – Hey are you alright?” Hattie’s voice interrupted my musings.
“Hey, yeah I’m fine.” I said in surprise.
I was simply sitting in one of the train compartments, not exactly a cause for concern.
“No you’re not. You’re dead pale and you look like you’ve lost six pounds!”
“I’m just a little tired, that’s all.” I threw in a yawn for good measure.
“Quit the crap Aaliyah. What happened?”
Okay, whoever said Harriet is this kind, sensitive person, should go to hell.
I sighed and gave her a quick, irritated summary. “I had a go at my mother, been locked in my room for about a week, and was forced to live on soup. OK?”
“Oh, Aaliyah.” She sat down next to me and gave me a hug. “I’m so sorry.”
“Look, it’s not a biggie. Honest.”
I tried to smooth out the crease between her eyes with my finger, but to no avail.
“I’m going to go find you some food.” She stood up and opened the compartment door.
“Hattie? If you see Alex and Georgina…”
“I’ll tell them so you don’t have to.”
I resumed staring out the window, watching as platform 9 and ¾ slipped away. After another five minutes Hattie came back with a mountain of food from the trolley, followed by Georgina and a depressed looking Alex.
“Um, Hattie? I’m pretty sure I’m not going to eat all this…”
“The chocolate’s for Alex.” She whispered back as Alex slumped in the seat opposite me.
“Stentworth?” I mouthed.
I grabbed a Cauldron Cake and shoved it in my mouth. It tasted delicious but made a weird sound when I swallowed.
Georgina flashed me a look of sympathy and started catching us all up with the latest gossip. I thought it was a little inappropriate until I realized she had successfully distracted Alex from her troubles. I smiled, that’s what made those two such good friends. I would have just let her sulk in peace, as Hattie was doing for me right now.
I found Hattie’s hand and gave it a squeeze, then went back to staring out the window.
I tuned in every so often to what Georgina was saying. One conversation in particular Alex was eagerly discussing; Georgina’s revelation that Felix Tresean was dating Felicity Verity.
Hattie looked lost. “Who’s Felix?”
We all of course knew who Felicity was. A Ravenclaw prefect in our year, the most popular girl in school, and, naturally, the biggest bitch in it too. I hadn’t had to much to do with her, fortunately.
I filled her in about Felix before the others got a chance, “Slytherin, dark hair, average height, in our potions class, Alex dated him a couple of years ago.”
Alex looked at me in surprise, “You remember that?”
“Yeah. He’s pureblood.”
The girls understood that Felix being a pureblood made it practically my job to know him.
I continued, “He is also one of the biggest flirts in the school.”
“That’s true.” Alex said, “Great kisser though, and he can only have improved…”
“Well he’s certainly got in a lot of practice.” Georgina giggled.
“Makes you wonder how brilliant James and David would be at it.” Alex added after a pause.
I groaned. Not only was James’ kissing skills the last thing I wanted to think about, but after two Cauldron Cakes and a Licorice Wand, I was seriously starting to regret not taking it easy with my deprived stomach.
Just then the compartment door slid open and Rose Weasley appeared in the space.
“Hey, um, sorry to interrupt but Harriet, you weren’t at the Prefects meeting and the Heads wanted to know why?”
“Oh, yeah um…” Hattie scrambled for an excuse to give.
“Oh crap sorry Hattie, I forgot.” I said, rubbing my forehead, “You should have gone. I’m fine, really.”
This drew Rose’s attention to me and, considering the last time we saw each other I had slapped her cousin in the face, the atmosphere in the compartment suddenly grew very awkward.
Hattie broke it after a quick questioning glance at me, “I’ll apologise to the Heads later. I didn’t miss anything important?”
“Just timetables. You’ve been rostered on with –”
She stopped talking as Scorpius appeared next to her in the doorway. Suddenly the awkward tension in the compartment was back, except this time I wasn’t involved. Hattie and I shared a curious glance; a silent promise to discuss the situation as soon as we get a chance.
Rose left quickly after giving Hattie a brief smile. Scorpius motioned for me and Hattie to move along so that he could sit on my other side.
“Harriet told me what happened” Scorpius said to me, “I knew she’d look after you so I went to the meeting.”
“That’s okay. And I don’t need looking after.”
He smiled at me knowingly. “Do you need a hug?”
“Maybe” I said in a small voice.
He put his arms around me and I rested my head against his shoulder. We stayed like that for the rest of the train ride.
When we arrived at Hogwarts I was feeling too sick to stomach the return feast so instead said goodnight to the girls, found Rose and asked her for the password into the tower, and went up to the dorm where I fell into an uncomfortable sleep.
I woke up the next day to a growling stomach, though it still took Hattie and Georgina half an hour to get me and Alex out of bed, depressed as we were.
Once up, we raced down to the Great Hall for a quick breakfast then went to our first class of the day; Charms.
“The Flame-Freezing Charm” Professor Pindrop began, “is a spell designed to protect the caster from being burnt by flames. It is useful for dealing with Dragons, accidental fires, or in duels. I’ve used it often enough in my lifetime to know what I’m talking about.”
Somehow I wasn’t surprised.
“It is difficult, as you are ultimately combining two opposites of the natural physical world.”
He paused to pick up the quill he had just dropped.
“Today you will be writing notes on the theory.”
There were a few muffled groans followed by the sound of a dozen students rummaging through their bags.
As soon as Professor Pindrop turned his back on the class Alex scribbled a note and passed it down our line to me. It was the way we always sat, me on the far left, followed by Hattie, Georgina and then Alex.
I read the note;
I’m bored. Anything interesting happen over Xmas? You know, besides getting starved and all.
I thought for a second, and then wrote about what happened with Romenel.
“Are you serious?” Hattie whispered after she read the note and passed it along.
“That was kind of out of the blue.” Georgina added.
Alex leant over Georgina, “So he likes you? Do you like him?”
“I think he likes my blood status more than anything. As Georgina pointed out, it was completely out of the blue, we haven’t even talked properly before. Scorpius reckons our parents are setting us up.”
Georgina shrugged, “Eric likes Hattie, and they haven’t talked either.”
Hattie blushed, “I wish you’d stop saying stuff like that Georgina.”
“You didn’t answer my second question.” Alex reminded me.
I frowned, trying to remember, and then scoffed. “Of course I don’t like him!” I said it louder than I meant to and Professor Pindrop turned around and gave me a suspicious look.
Once he turned back again Hattie whispered, “Is there another person you like instead?”
I gave her a blank look.
“It was pretty sweet of Scorpius to save you from Romenel.”
I gaped at her. This was seriously starting to remind me of my fight with James. I know you follow Malfoy around like a sick puppy. That’s enough. Did everybody think that?
“You know there’s nothing between me and Scorpius!” I said, more than a little hurt.
Hattie sighed, “But is that mutual? I mean, he looked really comfortable holding you on the train ride here.”
I shook my head, “That’s ridiculous. Besides,” I said, suddenly thinking of something, “over the holidays he called me his little sister.”
I poked my tongue out at her in triumph.
She smiled, “Oh, fine. You win.”
Georgina and Alex looked disgruntled. It was obvious they thought it would be more interesting if there was something between Scorpius and me.
“Speaking of the train ride home though,” I began, “what was with Scorpius and Rose? Seemed like…”
“Now, now, Miss Taiven! Quit the chat or I’ll be forced to dock points off Gryffindor.” Professor Pindrop said.
I shut my mouth.
Hattie wrote something on the edge of her parchment and pushed it toward me.
Seemed like that wasn’t their first encounter.
We shared a look then went back to copying notes off the blackboard.
Walking out of class an hour later we were able to talk more freely.
“So how is your Uncle?” Hattie asked.
“Alright, I guess.” I replied. “I found out he’s insane.”
“You mean your parents told you why he’s in there?” She asked curiously, dropping her voice as a group of people passed us in the corridor.
“No. That’s still a mystery. But I found out he’s terrified of Chocolate Frogs. Apparently one chased him once or something.”
Hattie giggled, “I wish I could meet him. He sounds so funny.”
“He is.” I remembered something else, “He gave me this. It doesn’t open; he said it would one day, but still…” I showed her the locket around my neck.
“That’s really nice! Do you know what the design is?”
“No idea. I can never get straight answers out of him so I didn’t bother asking.”
She nodded. “What about Arabella? Did she give you a hard time?”
I thought back. “Surprisingly no, she was too busy trying to boss Aunt Rosalind around. Besides, Scorpius and I left the party early... Her kid was a pain in the ass though.”
Hattie was about to say something but stopped as the trio strolled past us, laughing their heads off. Clusters of giggling girls were following them eagerly.
Hattie pursed her lips in silent disapproval of the girls.
I looked around to check that no Pures were in the corridor, waited for a couple of boys to pass us, then grabbed Hattie by the arm and pulled her behind a tapestry. It was, of course, a secret passageway – one that I hadn’t shown Hattie before. It led us to the Transfiguration corridor that I knew Potter was about to turn into.
Hiding in the passageway entrance so no one in the corridor would see me, I quickly whipped out my wand and, using a slightly modified version of the Placement Charm, set up a Trip Jinx in the corridor. I then pulled Hattie back through the secret passage way and nearly bumped into Georgina and Alex on the other side.
“Oi, you two, what’s going on?” Alex said.
“Vengeance.” I replied quickly, “Come on!”
I sprinted down the corridor, the girls hot on my heels. We skidded around the corner just in time to see the trio and two innocent passers-by trip and topple forward, hitting the floor with muffled thumps.
“Aarghh! What the hell?” David yelled.
I could see James turn red as all the boys in the corridor started howling with laughter. The majority of girls, in particular the ones that were following the trio moments before, looked perfectly distraught and tried to help James up. He shook them off in an annoyed manner.
“Did you just do that?” Alex asked gleefully.
Georgina shook her head helplessly.
“Was that another secret passageway you found in fourth year?” Hattie asked interestedly.
That was the Christmas that Jack Graple decided he liked me. It took a lot of energy but I eventually discovered several passageways that enabled me to avoid all the mistletoe infested hallways. Hattie thought I went a little overboard, but seriously, the guy was twelve and even back then he didn’t brush his teeth.
Together the girls and I walked down the corridor to our Transfiguration class, where most of our classmates were gathered, still laughing at the unfortunate trio.
As we passed them Alex called, “Spectacular fall, guys.”
Hattie and Georgina giggled at their embarrassed faces.
“How mortifying” I drawled, smirking at James.
His eyes narrowed, “Did you do that?” he asked furiously.
I put on my poker face.
“Incase you hadn’t noticed, we just arrived and none of us have our wands out.” I pointed out easily.
He was still eyeing me suspiciously but Drake nudged him and he reluctantly joined the rest of the class waiting for Professor Robbins to let them in.
We hung back a bit and Hattie moved closer to me so that she could whisper, “What was that about?”
“Something else ‘interesting’ happened over the holidays.” I whispered back.
Alex and Georgina leaned in to hear as I quickly described the gist of my run in with James at Christmas.
“Merlin! No wonder he was so suspicious of you just now.” Georgina said. “I can’t believe you slapped him!”
“By the sounds of it he was being a right prick to her though.” Alex reasoned.
I looked at Hattie, surprised she hadn’t said anything.
“What was he at St. Mungo’s for?” she asked finally.
I paused, I hadn’t thought about that at all.
“I don’t know.” I said honestly.
Hattie didn’t say anything else and I got the sense that she didn’t approve of me fighting with James.
“Okay don’t look now, but the trio are totally talking and looking over here” Alex informed us.
“Do they look angry?” Hattie asked.
“No. Okay well James does, but David looks bored, and Drake… amused? Yeah, I think he’s finding James’ bad mood funny or something.”
“Huh.” Hattie said.
Just then the classroom door opened and a first year came out, looking terrified at the group of sixth years gathered around.
“Um P-Professor Robbins said you c-can go in now.” The boy said and rushed off, blushing furiously.
David chuckled and led the way inside.
When we entered the Great Hall for lunch later that day we found the Gryffindor students cheering at something above them. I looked up to see what resembled an inflated lion balloon, roaring and pouncing on a bright green snake that was bobbing along the ceiling pathetically.
James was standing on top of the table flourishing his wand like a conductor’s baton, and as we watched the lion squished the snake between its rubber paws until it popped. The students below whooped in delight as the lion pranced through the air victoriously.
“Mr. Potter off the table immediately!” Professor Robbins screeched. “Detention, eight o’clock, my office!”
James turned and flashed Professor Robbins that stupid crooked smile of his.
“But madam,” he began tragically, “I have Quidditch practice tonight! I’m afraid I can’t make –”
“You’ll do your detention tonight, Potter.”
“But the match is only a week away…”
She headed back down the row between the tables and to my surprise stopped when she reached me.
“You too, Miss Taiven. Eight o’clock.” She continued on her way.
I groaned and slumped on the bench. I looked across at James. He had finally gotten off the table and was glowering at me.
“Great. So I have to spend the evening with that thing instead of on the pitch?” He grumbled.
I rolled my eyes. How charming.
“Bad luck, mate” David said.
“Augh!” I turned to Hattie. “He’s acting like it’s my fault that he was an idiot and broke the rules right under the teachers’ noses.”
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Boys will be boys."
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
There was one other person doing detention with me and James that night - not that James had shown up yet - and it took me a while to remember his name; Corban Alanis. I was pretty sure he is best friends with Eric. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with guys.
Corban and I were both waiting in Professor Robbins’ office for the prat to show up. I hoped it would be soon so that we could get this over with, I was feeling terrible. I had thrown up my lunch earlier in the day and for the second night in a row couldn’t face dinner. Hattie wanted to try and get me out of this detention but couldn’t come up with a plausible excuse. I was adamant that she couldn’t tell the truth, I didn’t want Robbins getting all ‘concerned teacher’ on me again. No doubt she would blow it out of proportion. It’s not like my parents starved me, I just, you know, didn’t eat as much as I normally would have.
After another five minutes James finally sauntered through the door, his stupid hair all windswept and acting like he had all the bloody time in the world.
“Nice of you to join us, Mr. Potter.” Professor Robbins said testily.
“Sorry Professor. Had a bit of an incident down at the pitch…”
“If you’re done giving me excuses,” she butted in, and I smiled, “I will tell you what you three will be doing for me tonight.”
James closed his mouth, looking put out.
“Your punishment will be to polish all the trophies in the trophy room. Without magic. You will be there all night if you muck around. I will check your progress in a couple of hours.”
She conjured us all a rag and bottle of polish and then held out her hand.
We sighed and handed them over, then left her office and headed for the trophy room. Once there we moved to separate corners of the room and started polishing in silence. Like me, James obviously isn’t on speaking terms with Corban.
The awkwardness in the room grew. I glanced behind my shoulder at the others. James scowled at me and I glared back until he looked away.
I made a point of not looking at him again.
Eventually the tension in the room gave way to boredom and James yawned widely and spoke, “So what’d you do to end up in here, Corban?”
Corban jumped slightly at the sudden sound. “Oh, uh, out after curfew.”
“A girl involved by any chance?” James asked cheekily.
I quickly peeked at James’ face and could tell he was thinking the same thing as me; Bugger. Not a talker.
I turned back to the medal in my hand and continued polishing. Although I didn’t feel particularly hungry could tell I needed food; my hands were shaking from weariness and my eyelids were heavy.
“Oi. Taiven. Who’d you kill?” James said suddenly.
Like Corban I started, surprised he had spoken to me. I considered not answering, but boredom drove me to extremes.
“I hospitalized your little girlfriend.” I replied.
There was a pause.
“No, Katie Thompson.” I clarified.
“She isn’t my girlfriend.” He sounded offended.
“What’d you do to her? And why? Defending your little boyfriend or something?”
I turned round to face him. “What are you talking about?”
James put on a mocking voice, “Scorpius and I left the party early.” He threw me a disgusted look, “Don’t talk so loudly in the corridors. No one wants to hear about Malfoy giving you the time.”
My mouth fell open in disbelief.
From across the room Corban turned to watch me curiously.
“You took that completely out of context!” I said indignantly. “And what the hell are you doing listening in to my conversations anyway?”
He didn’t reply.
Fuming, I turned my back on him, wishing I had never spoken.
I opened the doors to the Quidditch cabinet. There was a cup for each of the last seven years with the name of the winning house and captain on it. For the years before, there was a huge bronze plaque with an engraved list of dates, names and houses.
I began polishing from the bottom up. I recognised the occasional name, and rolled my eyes at one in particular:
Alright, I get that he was really brave and selfless and saved the world and all… but did he really have to go and ruin it all by having children? Seriously?
I sighed heavily and was caught by a sudden bout of dizziness. I hurriedly shut my eyes and rested my forehead against the cool glass of the cabinet door. The feeling passed after a moment and I continued polishing the plaque. James and Corban started talking but I wasn’t listening, something else had caught my attention. The name I was polishing had just sunk in.
“That cow was Quidditch captain?” I accidently said aloud.
“What?” James said.
“Shut up, Potter.” I snapped.
I could feel his eyes burning into the back of my neck, but I ignored him. I was struggling to picture stuck up Aunt Rosalind on a broomstick. I hadn’t even realized that she had any interests outside of blood purity and social status.
I scanned the names near hers but the only one I recognised was James’ grandfather in 1975 and again in 1977.
I got up and was about to take a look at the other awards in the room in case Aunt Rosalind had been recognised for anything else, but instead the dizziness returned and I swayed on my feet, having stood up too quickly. The next moment, my vision went black.
I came around bleary eyed and confused. I quickly realised I was being carried by the gentle rocking motion beneath me and warm arms holding me up. I lifted a hand and rubbed my eyes to clear them.
The person carrying me stopped.
I glanced at the persons face and at once was distracted by the tens of freckles covering it. It took a moment to refocus and register what that meant.
James looked uncomfortable.
“Um, I’m taking you to the Hospital Wing…”
“Why?” I asked warily.
“B-because you fainted or collapsed or something.”
I folded my arms across my chest and raised an eyebrow.
“Not what I meant” I said.
He frowned for a second then his face cleared in understanding.
“Oh, you mean… well I didn’t have a wand on me, but believe me” his voice suddenly grew more confident, “if I could levitate you without a wand, I would have.”
I peered around him and saw Corban standing awkwardly behind us with a worried look on his face.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
“Fine” I said, and wiggled out of James’ arms.
He seemed immensely relieved to let me go.
“I don’t see why he couldn’t have carried me.” I muttered, jerking my head toward Corban.
Corban gave a half-hearted smile and pointed at himself.
“Scrawny.” He explained simply.
I looked down at the floor and shuffled my feet. Stupid chasers and their muscles.
“Come on, then.” James said and continued down the corridor.
I looked up. “Um, I’m not going down there.” I said.
He turned to stare at me.
“You just collapsed!”
“I fainted. There’s a difference.”
From behind me Corban spoke, “Aaliyah I really think you should go and get checked out.”
“What’s the big problem?” James asked, annoyed.
I decided to be frank. After all, my last attempt at a cover up story is what landed me in detention in the first place.
“Madam Foveaux is a nosy old bag, there’s nothing she can do, and I don’t like hospitals.”
I started walking back the way we’d come, suddenly aware of the hunger pains stabbing my stomach. I wasn’t dizzy anymore, but I could feel bruises blossoming on my knee and the side of my head. I guess that’s where I landed when I fainted.
“What? Where are you going?” James called after me.
“Bed. Tell Professor Robbins I’ll make up for it tomorrow.”
I heard him mutter something to Corban and they both headed back to the trophy room.
I felt a little bad for not having thanked them for trying to take me to the Hospital Wing. Hattie, of course, would rebuke me if I told her. Maybe I’ll say something to the boys tomorrow. The thought of thanking James for manhandling me made me shudder. It was probably Corban’s idea anyway. Maybe I’ll just thank him…
When I walked into the dormitory I was surprised but pleased to see the girls were all awake, clearly waiting up for me.
“I thought you wouldn’t be back for another hour at least!” Alex said, “Professor Robbins is turning soft in her old age.”
“Nawh” I said, “I fainted. Told Corban and Potter to tell Robbins I’d make it up to her another time.”
I crawled into bed while the girls all fussed.
“I have some chocolate left over from the train ride yesterday,” Hattie said, “Do you think you can manage it?”
“Yeah that’d be great. I’m starving.”
I scoffed down what she gave me, and feeling marginally better, settled down for the night.
Just before the girls fell asleep I whispered, “Oi, Alex?”
“Yeah?” Came the muffled reply.
“James is dating Chelsey.”
“Uh-huh.” I paused then carried on, “And there’s something else…”
“He refers to sex as ‘giving someone the time’.”
There were sleepy giggles all around the room.
I smiled and closed my eyes. First day back proved to be an interesting day.
The next day I still had the bruises on my knee and head, but I ate a hearty breakfast and was feeling a lot better. I was looking forward to starting Apparition lessons. A notice had gone up in the common room overnight for people wanting to sign up. I would be turning seventeen – the legal age to apparate alone – next month in February. Although I wouldn’t be able to apparate within the school grounds, I wanted to have all the freedoms that come with being of age as soon as I was out in the real world for the summer.
During the day I ran into Katie Thompson and Jessica Jane in a couple of my classes and was smug to find that they both seemed terrified of me. Apparently being sent to the Hospital Wing unconscious and with green skin was still fresh in their minds. They seemed to be avoiding James too, perhaps because of spilling their secret to me about wanting him only for his fame. I mostly ignored them, and was sure they would resort to their old ways again soon. After all, I had no plans to tell anyone about their selfishness. It was something they had to live with.
Alex had been making snide jokes all day about James and ‘giving the time’ that kept me in high spirits. It also reminded me that I owed Corban thanks. Fortunately the opportunity came up in our double Herbology class that evening.
We were told to work in groups of four to investigate the properties of several fertilizers (which we would be writing an essay on for homework). To my great satisfaction Eric and Corban joined our group.
“Hey” Eric said, smiling shyly at Hattie.
She smiled tentatively back.
While we waited for Professor Longbottom to hand out the equipment Corban asked how I was feeling.
“Fine. I don’t know what happened last night, I think I was just a bit tired.”
He nodded his head but I wasn’t sure he believed me.
“Thanks for bothering to try take me to the Hospital Wing by the way.”
He looked surprised, “Well we weren’t going to just leave you there!”
I smiled briefly and shrugged my shoulders, “Still.”
After a moment he said, “Did James tell you what Professor Robbins said…?”
I glanced over at James then back at Corban.
No, James and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms.”
Did he not pick that up from last night?
“Oh, okay. Well she came to check up on us a few minutes after you had gone and we told her what happened with you. She said you didn’t need to worry about doing another detention and she told us we could leave too even though we weren’t quite finished.”
“Brilliant! I can have an early night.” I said.
Hattie groaned beside me. “Lucky you, I have patrolling duties. I still have no idea who I am with since I haven’t spoken to the Heads yet.”
I grimaced in sympathy.
Eric cleared his throat quietly, “Er, you’re actually rostered on as my patrol partner…” he said.
“Oh!” Hattie said in surprise.
There was an awkward silence, broken thankfully by Professor Longbottom coming to our table.
“Alright,” he began, “fertilizers…”
Class finished just in time for dinner. Hattie and I dawdled purposely to let Eric and Corban draw ahead of us. Once they were far enough away Hattie moaned and covered her mouth with her hand.
“That was so embarrassing! Merlin, what on earth are we going to talk about tonight?”
I grinned. “Don’t say anything. Just let those outrageously big knockers of yours do the talking.” I said cheekily.
Hattie gasped and hit me, though it far from hurt considering how small she was, she barely came up to my chin.
“Aaliyah!” She said indignantly.
“What are you going to do with your hair?” I continued to tease.
“It is prefect duties, Aaliyah, not a date!”
I grinned. “Hey, I’m not the one getting all flustered.”
“I’m not getting flustered” she said, before tripping over her own feet.
I burst into laughter, and despite herself, Hattie joined in.
When we finally recovered I looked up and saw James and Drake a little way in front of us. James was looking over his shoulder at us, a thoughtful, almost confused, expression on his face. When our eyes met he turned away quickly, as though caught committing a forbidden act.
I didn’t give it a second thought. I was sick to death of James Potter.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
It was a warm, sunny day despite being mid January, and the girls and I were sitting in the courtyard for lunch, making the most of the good weather. It had been nice getting back into the routine of school, and James seemed to have forgotten all about me, thank Merlin. He was too preoccupied with his latest girlfriend, Chelsey.
I was curious about Aunt Rosalind being Quidditch captain back in her own school days, and had sent a letter to crazy Uncle Lawrence asking him about it. I knew they had been in the same year, though Lawrence was in Hufflepuff of course. I was expecting a reply with Georgina’s owl Blitz either tomorrow or the following day.
As we sat soaking up the sunshine, Romenel appeared at the other end of the courtyard and started walking toward me.
“Augh” I groaned, pushing my bangs back.
“Oh Merlin, look who it is.” Alex said, surveying him with dislike.
“Aaliyah,” Romenel began when he reached us, “spend this lunch break in the common room.”
I frowned, normally my brother or cousins would ask.
“Will Scorpius be there?” I asked uncertainly.
He looked irritated and I wondered if he shared the view everyone seemed to have of me liking Scorpius.
“Yes” he said curtly, then smirked, “Though I believe he’ll be a little distant…” he paused for effect, “he thinks of nothing these days but chasing his new love interest.”
He raised his eyebrow, waiting for my reaction.
“Huh.” I said. Scorpius likes someone?
“Of course,” Romenel continued, “I of all people know how… hard… it is to keep one’s mind away from certain things.” He said softly, dragging his fingers along my jaw line.
I jerked my head away from his hand.
“What’s the password?” I asked curtly.
“You do not need it. You are coming with me now.” He said, eyes flashing.
“No. I’m dropping off my bag at my common room first.”
“I can always escort you there.”
I stood up and said stiffly, “I’m not the one following orders. I have no wish or need to show you where I live.”
His eyes narrowed but he leant forward to whisper the password into my ear.
“Pureblood. You should remember that.”
I knew he wasn’t referring to remembering the password. He was reminding me of his blood status, and that he was my parents’ first choice as partner for me.
He turned and left. I slumped back on the seat, suddenly feeling very cold.
“Jackass!” Alex said.
“He’s completely delusional! As if you would date him” Georgina said.
Hattie shook her head, “He acts like he can tell you what to do. He’s a bully. You had better be careful around him, Aaliyah. Try to let him know you’re not interested without making him angry.”
I snorted. “That’s going to be easy” I said sarcastically, “he’s already angry I didn’t leave with him just now.”
There was a pause and then Alex said excitedly, “I know! We just have to find Aaliyah a man! Romenel will back off and, well, she could probably do with a snog.”
I leaned over Hattie and hit her on the leg. “Thanks a lot, Alex.”
She grinned. “I’m serious though, what do you think? Up for a man-hunt?”
I sighed. “Do what you want. I’ve got to get going. Look after my bag would you?”
Hattie nodded and I stood up and left for the Slytherin common room.
The next half hour dragged along. I was sitting opposite Romenel and it soon became quite clear that he hadn’t been joking earlier. He spent the majority of the time mentally undressing me while I sat there awkwardly, not making eye contact with anybody. Scorpius was sitting at an angle where he couldn’t see Romenel’s face. As promised, Scorpius was looking rather distracted. His eyes never crossed to any of the girls in the room, so I guessed it wasn’t any of them that he was after.
The room started to clear as the students headed to their next classes. I rose and beckoned Scorpius to walk with me. I waited until we were out of ear shot of the Pures before speaking quietly.
“Romenel said you liked someone?”
He looked startled for a moment before slipping on his poker face.
“He means Keilyn. It’s nothing really.”
“So you don’t like her?”
“Any reason why you’re acting distant then?”
“Romenel said you’ve been chasing –“
“Can’t you just drop it, Aaliyah?” He snapped.
I stopped walking.
“Okay” I said, trying not to show my hurt.
He was about to say something but I turned into another corridor. I’d have to double back later, the Charms classroom was back the way I had come, but I didn’t want to waste time talking to Scorpius when he was in that kind of mood.
I met back up with the girls in Charms. I was a fraction late but Professor Pindrop merely gestured at my seat and said ‘come, come’.
“What happened when you got there? Was Romenel still hitting on you?” Alex asked as soon as I sat down.
I shook my head. “He didn’t say anything more to me.”
I didn’t mention the mental undressing.
“I don’t know what’s up with Scorpius though. He got angry when I tried talking to him. He’s obviously keeping something from me.” I said, mostly to Hattie.
She frowned. “That isn’t like him.”
“Just let him sort it out.” She shrugged. “He’ll come to you if he wants to.”
I nodded but didn’t say anything. Scorpius was supposed to be the normal one, the one without any drama or secrets. I was annoyed at how things always seem to have to change.
“By the way,” Georgina said to me, “we’ve been thinking of potential boyfriends for you. Want to hear?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s not going to work, you know.”
“Oh come on! Hattie’s been spending time with Eric; it would be cute if you had someone too!”
“Excuse me” said Hattie, “I don’t like the way you said if she ‘had someone too’. It implies I ‘have’ Eric. For your information I do not ‘have’ anyone! And as far as ‘spending time’ is concerned, it is only patrol duties, nothing worth noting!” She ranted.
I smirked. After all Hattie’s fears of having nothing to talk about with Eric that first time, they had apparently got along rather well. We were all convinced they would make a good couple, Eric was smart (we figured since he was in Ravenclaw), and nice. My only complaint would be that he was a bit too shy and awkward. It was obvious he was interested in Hattie, but seemed to be spending a lot of time deciding what to do about it. But for Hattie, who was practical and genuine and hadn’t had a boyfriend before, he really was ideal.
Georgina bit her lip, trying not to laugh at Hattie. “Um,” she cleared her throat, “anyway, Aaliyah, we were thinking of Rueben or Theodore?”
I snorted. “Great work guys. The only other Gryffindors in our year that aren’t part of the trio. Real man-hunt, that is.” I said with amused sarcasm.
She poked her tongue out at me. “It was logical, okay?”
“I think we need to focus more on Aaliyah’s personality if we’re going to do this properly.” Alex mused.
“So… impatient, snarky, prone to immaturity…” Hattie began.
“Hey!” I exclaimed.
“Outgoing, fun, spirited…” She continued
“Better” I said, and she grinned.
“So what kind of guy?” Alex asked Hattie, who seemed to be the most informed about me and my needs.
Hattie paused, glanced at me then turned back to Alex.
“He would have to be interesting and fun. Anyone boring and she would dump him.”
I nodded, acknowledging the truth of that statement.
“A fan of Quidditch, and competitive… or at least, capable of taking up a challenge.”
I frowned. “Why?”
Her eyes narrowed. “I still haven’t forgotten the day in March when you dared us to swim in the lake!” She snapped.
Bloody hell that had been a bad idea; the lake had barely thawed.
“I have a feeling this is going to be too much like hard work.” Alex said. “Let’s just get her drunk at the next party the trio hosts, cross our fingers, and hope she finds Mr. Right.”
Georgina giggled. “Alright. We’ll have to dress her up nice though.”
She eyed me critically.
“Maybe a push-up bra? Though I doubt she even owns one…”
“I am right here you know!” I said, annoyed. They aren’t that small.
“We need to go shopping.” She continued, ignoring me. “She has all those pretty dress robes her parents gave her for Christmas, but nothing really sexy.”
I wasn’t surprised Georgina was familiar with the clothes I owned. As well as her love of fashion, she is a self-confessed clean freak. I often find her reorganising my draws or our joint wardrobe.
“If there’s a party before the next Hogsmeade visit, she can wear something of yours.” Alex said to Georgina. “You two are a similar size. Well, her arse is a tad bigger, but…” She shrugged.
I was starting to feel very un-appreciated.
Georgina nodded. “I like this plan. We’ll just have to keep an eye on her so she doesn’t go off with some loser.”
“Well” I said loudly, “back to things that actually matter –“
“I agree Miss Taiven.” Professor Pindrop interrupted, rather smoothly too, for him. “For example, what I am teaching the class. I would appreciate it if you four paid attention.”
“Yes, sir.” We chorused, chastened.
“You know,” Hattie whispered to me, “you could save those two the trouble and just date Jack Graple.”
I mimed throwing up, and she giggled.
The rest of the class passed without incident. At its end I was surprised to find Scorpius waiting for me outside in the corridor.
“Aaliyah!” He said.
I gave him a cold look. “Yes?”
He grimaced. “Sorry about, you know, before. I was out of line.”
“That’s okay.” I relented, not being all that mad.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the wall, out of the way of the students filing past. He glanced around, as though debating whether to say something or not.
“Um, do you mind ditching class this period?” He asked me.
“I have potions. So no, not at all.”
He smiled briefly. “Do you know somewhere private we can go to talk?”
I thought for a second. “Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom?”
He nodded. “Perfect.”
We quickly headed for the second floor. Once there we slipped through the door into the girls’ lavatory. I sat down on the cold floor tiles and leaned my back against a large stone sink. Scorpius sat down in front of me and crossed his legs.
I was impatient to hear what he had to say, but I knew he’d speak when he wanted to, and so for the moment I sat in silence and listened to Moaning Myrtle wailing in one of the toilet stalls.
“Sorry again for snapping at you.” He began.
“Romenel was right. I do like someone.”
Again I nodded.
“It’s not… exactly… who you’d think.”
I raised my eyebrow.
“I mean, it’s… she’s…”
I rolled my eyes. “Spit it out Scorpius.”
He sighed and put his head in his hands.
My mouth opened in shock. The way he was acting I had been half expecting him to admit to liking one of the girls, or even a teacher. But Rose?
“As in…?” I asked to make sure.
“As in Rose Weasley. Yes.”
“How?” I asked, still in shock.
He groaned. “I don’t know, it just happened. We were on patrol duties together and… I dunno… we didn’t say much, but…
He paused, and I couldn’t help thinking that patrol duties seemed to be the latest thing for coupling students.
Scorpius sighed. “She’s just amazing, you know? There’s so much more to her than people think. I mean yeah she’s smart and kind… but she’s also dead awkward and unintentionally funny. And she thinks about stuff, you know? She’s not caught up in her own life all the time like everyone else.”
He sighed again, and then suddenly looked up and grinned.
“And she has some pretty decent tits.”
I laughed, and then turned serious. “Are you going to tell her?” I asked.
His smile left. “No. You know I can’t. My father would kill me. There is no way he would let me love a half blood, let alone a Weasley.”
“Love?” I asked, flabbergasted.
A faint blush touched his pale cheeks.
“Does it make a difference?” He retorted, a little defensively.
I didn’t reply. We sat in silence for a long while, each lost in our own thoughts. I felt incredibly sad for Scorpius. Imagine loving someone and not being able to say a word to them. Suddenly Moaning Myrtle’s cries didn’t seem so out of place.
Eventually Scorpius spoke. “What’s going on with you?” He asked, attempting to lighten the mood.
I shrugged. “Nothing much.”
He cocked his head to the side. “Really? A little birdie tells me you’ve been fighting with James Potter.”
I screwed up my nose. My problems suddenly seemed petty in comparison with his.
“Come on,” he said when I didn’t say anything, “tell me everything.”
So I did. It took a while, and I was thoroughly peeved with James all over again by the end of it.
“What I find interesting,” he said after I had finished, “is why he dislikes you so much. I mean, of course you dislike him, you are an incredibly intolerant person… but what is his reason?” he mused.
“Have you not been listening? He thinks I’m one of them.” I said, tapping my inner forearm.
“Well I think it’s pretty damn obvious you’re not a Death Eater.” He said frankly.
“But I guess he couldn’t really know that. You haven’t exactly done anything to change his opinion of you.”
He scrutinised me carefully.
“You should try talking to him, rather than just telling him he’s a jerk.”
“What? But he is a jerk!”
“You can still talk to jerks, Lee.”
“Remind me again why I would want to?” I said, irritated.
“So that he realises he was wrong about you and leaves you alone.”
“And what am I supposed to say? ‘Hey freckles, I love rainbows and unicorns. See you in potions!’?”
“Perhaps something a little more mature.”
“Not going to happen, Scorpius.” I said, folding my arms stubbornly. “There is no way in hell I will ever have a proper conversation with James bloody Potter.”
Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Should have known you’d say that.”
He stood up. “Let’s go. It’s almost time for our next class.”
“I have a free period.” I said, but I got up and headed back out into the corridor with him anyway.
“Oi, Scorpius” I said as he was about to leave.
He turned around. “Yeah?”
I moved forward and gave him a hug. “I’m sure she’d like you too, if she had the chance.” I whispered in his ear.
“Thanks.” He said, hugging me back.
We were interrupted by a loud snort from behind us. “So this is why you weren’t in class.” A voice said loudly.
I let go of Scorpius and whipped around, drawing my wand.
“Right” I said, entirely fed up. “You have three seconds to get out of my face, Potter, or I swear to Merlin I will string you up by your ankles in the dungeons.”
Chapter 12: A Day in the Life of a Hogwarts Student
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Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Quick as a flash James whipped out his wand and pointed it at me. “Yeah right. You couldn’t take me if you tried.” He said.
David was watching us eagerly, but Drake rolled his eyes.
“Aaliyah, come on, don’t take the bait.” Scorpius said, trying to pull me away.
Without taking my eyes off James I replied, “But I have a free period.”
He spluttered indignantly. “And that’s supposed to justify this, how?”
Drake got James’ attention and with a head tilt indicated that they should leave. “She’s not worth it, mate.” He said.
“No. But it would be satisfying all the same.”
Drake muttered quietly to David, “Stubborn prick. It’s like he’s trying to get another slap in the face.”
“What’s wrong princess?” James asked me, ignoring Drake, “Scared to follow through with your threat?” James mocked.
“Princess?” I echoed, scandalized.
“Couldn’t even scrub a bunch of trophies without fainting, could you princess?”
My eyes narrowed. “Man are you going to regret that Potter.” I said, “Piertotum Locomotor Oppugno!”
The closest suit of armor to me sprung forwards and turned to attack James. In response he yelled ”Reducto!” and blast the armor out of the way. The power of the spell knocked me off my feet, and I had to quickly put up a shield charm where I was lying on the floor to deflect James’ bat-bogey hex. I sent a silent stinging hex his way but he dodged it. I jumped up, already sifting through my mind for another jinx, when Scorpius leapt in between us and roared “Protego!”
James and I stopped in our tracks, unable to continue dueling.
“That is enough!” Scorpius yelled. “No more fighting or I’m docking points off Gryffindor!”
I gaped at him. Was he serious?
James smirked, “Then you’ll be taking points off your precious Taiven.” He said with the air of someone who had just won.
“Does it look like I give a shit?” Scorpius said, while James looked staggered at his response.
“Scorpius!” I complained.
He turned to me and was about to say something when someone else interrupted.
“Aaliyah? Is there a problem?” A slippery voice asked.
I turned around to see Romenel approaching us.
“No” I said shortly through gritted teeth.
Romenel raised a dark eyebrow and cast a glance over at James where he stood with his wand still directed at my chest.
“You’re causing quite the scene.” He said, and for the first time I noticed a group of first or second years at the far end of the hallway edging slowly toward us and talking animatedly amongst each other.
I shrugged nonchalantly although I felt a bit uncomfortable. I normally made a point of not attracting attention to myself, especially when there were Pures around.
“So why weren’t you in class?” Romenel pushed, and suddenly I knew this was the real reason he had come over here.
Despite myself, my eyes involuntarily flicked to Scorpius as I thought about the conversation we had just had in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Romenel saw, and I felt him tense beside me.
“Let’s go James,” I heard David say, “before more slime balls like that one turn up.” He jerked his head toward Romenel.
Romenel scowled but seemed more intent upon sizing Scorpius up than retorting to David. “You should go to your next class” he said to Scorpius, “don’t you have your little OWLs still to get this year?”
Scorpius only just hid his smile, knowing, as I did, that Romenel was trying to make Scorpius look less attractive in my eyes by reminding me he was a year younger. To his credit, Scorpius just shrugged easily and turned to James, who, despite David’s impatient sighs, seemed reluctant to leave.
“I mean it, Potter. No fighting in the corridors.” He said, and with a warning glance at me, left.
I was eager to make a quick escape from Romenel and muttered something about going to the library. As I walked past James I held his eyes, silently telling him this wasn’t over. To my surprise he nodded slightly, as if he understood me. It was only then that he let David lead him away.
I headed back to the Gryffindor common room where I met up with Hattie who also had a free period. I was desperate to tell her about Scorpius liking Rose, but knew I couldn’t. She was quite perceptive, and I hoped that she would figure it out on her own so we could discuss it. I doubted it though; Scorpius could be really secretive when he wanted to. It’s the reason that his father hasn’t found out just how un-Malfoy like he can be.
Instead of discussing Scorpius, I described my skirmish with James, who thankfully hadn’t returned to the common room with me, even though I knew he had a free period too.
“You know,” Hattie said, “James would never do that to you if he were a muggle.”
I was surprised, “Well, of course not. Muggles can’t duel.”
She smiled. “No, I mean he wouldn’t duel you the way muggles do; by fighting.”
“Uh, why not?”
“Because you’re a girl. Guys are only supposed to fight with guys. It’s just… a thing. It was really weird getting used to that when I first came here. Victorie Weasley used to fight with everyone, no matter their gender.”
I smiled. “Hey, you know she’s engaged to Ted Lupin? I overheard them at the station at the beginning of the Christmas holidays.”
“Oh, is that what happened? I just heard all this yelling! Good for them, I guess they make quite a good couple.”
“Yeah, I think so too. Anyway, you should tell Georgina about the dueling thing, she thinks chivalry is dead. Its not. The muggles just stole it.”
Hattie laughed. “Alright,” she said, rummaging through her bag, “let’s make a start on that Transfiguration work.” She pulled out a piece of parchment and read the heading. “Discuss the differences between human transfiguration and animagi with particular reference to the advantages and disadvantages of each.” She looked up at me and sighed. “I think I’m going to need to go to the library. You coming?”
“I don’t think I really need to, but I guess I’ll come anyway. It’s too noisy in here.” I threw an annoyed look over at a particularly loud group of third years, who for some reason weren’t in class. A few of them looked rather abashed and quickly shut their mouths.
“Stop harassing the kids, Aaliyah, and hurry up.”
She led the way to the library. On the way there I had the strangest feeling that we were being followed. Once inside I navigated my way around the towering shelves of books until I found a hidden away table where I could sit with my back against the wall. The weird feeling seeming to have gone, I pulled out a blank page of parchment, ink bottle and quill, and started to write my essay.
About an hour later we were joined by Alex and Georgina. Apparently Alex had run into Stentworth, who just happened to be feeling up some “slut” in the fifth floor hallway.
“I mean, I know that he isn’t mine anymore” she said, close to tears, “but it still hurts, you know? And really, we broke up only a month ago, he didn’t have to move on so bloody fast.”
Georgina shook her head. “I don’t think Aaliyah’s the only one who needs to go on a man hunt. What a jerk. Was it the same girl he was eyeing up when you were together?”
“No, a different one. Though he probably hit it off with her too, I just didn’t know about it.”
“Guys truly suck” Georgina sympathised.
“OK this is probably not a good time…” Scorpius said, and we turned to see him backing up sharpish.
“Scorpius don’t be an idiot” I laughed, “What’d ya want?”
He came forward again, looking concernedly at Alex. “Are you all right?”
She pushed back her hair and nodded.
“Right. Well, uh Aaliyah, the Slytherins are having a bit of a party tonight. Lance wanted me to ask you to come.”
I thought for a second. “Do you think it’s a good idea? I mean, Romenel has been a bit weird lately… and I’ve already had to endure a little Pures get-together at lunch today.”
Scorpius shrugged. “Up to you. But if you come you’re going to be hanging out with me. It’s not like I’m going to leave you with him.”
I smiled, remembering how he had come to my aid at the Christmas ball when Romenel got to friendly with my arse. “Yeah, okay.” I agreed. “Expect me at nine?”
“Sounds good. I’ll leave you girls to it.” He said, and left.
I turned back around to see Georgina and Alex eyeing me in a way that didn’t bode well.
“We’re dressing you” Georgina said.
“And doing your hair and makeup” Alex added.
I groaned. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to go how they had planned in Charms this morning. For one, the dress-her-sexily-and-get-her-drunk plan was supposed to be carried out at a Gryffindor party, not a Slytherin one. I reminded them of this, but they just shrugged.
“A party’s a party, Aaliyah, and Scorpius is going to be there to protect you from Romenel. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Well, for starters, the red strapless dress they decided to force me into was five inches too short and what felt like three sizes too small. They also tried to make me keep my hair down, but unknown to them I put it straight back up as soon as I left the common room.
Scorpius had done a brilliant job of keeping Romenel away from me for the first half of the night, and I had started to enjoy myself, but right now he was in a corner of the room, snogging some girl with such enthusiasm it was like his life depended on it. What happened to liking Rose? If that whole thing was a lie, then I am going to bloody murder him. If he’s just trying to get a bit of arse out of this girl, I’ll let Alex do the honours.
I walked over to the make-shift counter to get myself another firewhiskey, but stumbled just as I got there. I grabbed somebody’s arm to stop myself from falling. After I had regained my balance I looked up to see Felix Tresean grinning at me, his ink coloured hair smoothed down to perfection. As annoyingly obvious as it was that he had spent a lot of time in the mirror, I had to admit that the overall image was appealing. No wonder he had a reputation for being a ladies man.
“You okay?” He asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about…” I waved my arm vaguely.
He laughed, “Feel free to touch me anytime.”
I threw him an unimpressed look.
“So what’s the lion doing out of its den?”
I shrugged. “My brother invited me. I’m supposed to be hanging out with Scorpius, but he’s snogging some slut.”
For some reason his face turned wary, “So…on a scale of one to ten how pissed off are you at him?”
I frowned, confused. “Um, I don’t know. A five? I mean, it’s his life, but he kind of promised he wouldn’t ditch me tonight.”
Felix’ smile was back. “Oh well, he’s boring. Come have another drink.” He led me over to the drinks and supplied me with some butterbeer.
I pouted. “Not firewhiskey?”
He grinned. “Naw. Anymore strong stuff and you won’t remember tonight.” He said, winking at me.
“Right…” I took a swig and was surprised to feel his hand move to my hip. I was about to protest when I saw Romenel staring at us. When our eyes met he started walking over.
I quickly lent into Felix and whispered “Make him go away!”
I saw him look up and comprehension dawn on his face. “No problem, hun.” He said and, grinning, wrapped both arms around me, pulling me closer. I surreptitiously glanced over my shoulder and saw that it was working. Romenel looked scarily jealous but was obviously too much of a coward to come over here and challenge Felix.
While I appreciated Felix being on my side and pissing off his dorm mate for me, I was starting to get annoyed with the liberties he was taking. I wasn’t so drunk that I didn’t notice his hands running all over my backside.
Mentally cursing Alex and Georgina for putting me in such a tight dress, I pulled away from Felix and told him I was going to call it a night. He looked a little disappointed but walked me over to the hidden stone wall entrance of the common room. I thanked him for getting rid of Romenel, said goodnight, and walked out into the quiet corridor.
My ears were ringing from the loud music, and I didn’t feel tired, so without really thinking about it I walked back up a flight of stairs to the ground floor and walked outside, glad to find the caretaker had forgotten to lock the doors. The cool night air was nice on my flushed cheeks, and I took my high heels off so that I was more comfortable.
I stumbled my way around the grounds, not paying particular attention to anything, when suddenly WHAM! I felt something collide sickeningly with my head and I went down. Half dazed I looked around, wondering what had happened. Just as I sat up, a massive branch whooshed through the air and hit the ground where I had been lying. I looked up in dawning horror. The Whomping Willow was arching forward, its gnarled branches whipping through the air. It gave me no chance to escape out of its range, but drew me closer by making me dodge branches one after the other. I was breathing hard and I could feel beads of sweat breaking out on my back. I had been hit and scrapped a few times already, my lip was bleeding, I still couldn’t really stand straight after a night of drinking, and the constant ducking and dodging had me tiring fast. I couldn’t help but think of my wand sitting on my bedside table in my dorm. Not that I would have known what to do with it. I wasn’t really thinking straight.
I really felt like I was about to give up when I tripped on a root jutting out of the ground and landed on a thorny bush at the base of the trunk. It took me a split second to realise the bush was covering a gap in the roots big enough for a person to crawl through. Ignoring the thorns from the bush shredding the fabric of my dress and cutting my legs, I scrambled through the hole and slid down an earthy slope to the bottom of a very low, pitch black tunnel. I had no idea what was at the end of the tunnel, but I decided that a wild animal of some sort was ten times better than what lay behind me. That tree has issues.
Although tired and dizzy, the adrenaline pumping through my body lent me the strength to follow the tunnel downwards. I was moving along, bent double, and trying to ignore the overwhelming sense of claustrophobia for what felt like an age. I was just starting to think that it would never end and that I would die in the bowels of the earth, never to be found, when the tunnel started sloping upwards. Moments later it twisted and I could see a small gap ahead that let in the dimmest of light, and yet it was as bright as sunlight compared to the dark of the tunnel. I slowed as I came to the gap, suddenly weary of where the tunnel had taken me. I peered through the opening and saw a filthy, dishevelled room. The windows were boarded up and a thick layer of dust coated the surface of every broken piece of furniture. The wallpaper was faded and peeling and a big blood stain covered the floor near to where I was crouching. I still had no idea where I was, but it was obvious no one lived here. I pulled myself out of the hole and walked carefully through a door to my right and down the hallway. I peered briefly in the few rooms downstairs. They looked the same as the first room, boarded windows and broken furniture. Except the furniture wasn’t just broken. It was… completely annihilated. Chunks of wood from chairs were scattered about, and the taps were ripped off the sink in the bathroom.
Ignoring the ominous state of the house, I climbed the crumbling staircase and again looked in all the rooms coming off the shadowy landing. The last door was already open, and inside was a magnificent four-poster bed complete with hangings. Although looking dusty and forsaken, it was the only bed I had come across that was still completely in tact. At the sight of it, my sorry, drunken state came back to me in a rush and I wanted nothing more than to collapse onto it and sleep the few hours remaining of the night. Feeling a little bit repulsed, and hoping to heaven that no one had died in here, I took off the top blanket, shook it out and replaced it, then lay down on top of it. The springs squeaked in protest at my every movement and the blanket I was lying on smelt like mothballs, but it was a better option than the stained floor, and I was sure I wouldn’t be disturbed. I decided against using one of the pillows, and instead curled up into a ball with my head resting on my arm, and was asleep in a matter of minutes.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling
I woke up to a pounding headache and an aching body. Looking down at myself I was glad no one was in the room with me; my red dress had slipped right up as I slept, and was showing a scandalous amount of thigh and lacy underwear. I groaned, tugged the dress back down, and sat up.
It was still relatively dark in the house because of the boarded up windows so I had no idea what time it was. I decided to get up and try the front door. I had been too tired and drunk last night to try and figure out where I was, but now I was intensely curious. I walked back down the crumbling staircase to the main room, my eyes flicking to the hole that I had crawled through last night. I realised that if you didn’t know it was there it was actually rather difficult to spot, as disorderly and dark as the rest of the room was. I moved over to the front door and was surprised to find that it had a lock still intact. I unlocked it and wedged open the stiff door.
Sunlight tore through the room, and I had to blink several times before my eyes adjusted to the glare. The sun was high in the sky so I guessed it was midday. Fortunately it was a Saturday so I knew I wouldn’t be missed in classes. I walked out into the open and looked around. The scene was shockingly familiar, from the distant village of thatched cottages and shops, to the ragged fence surrounding where I was. Slowly I turned around and stood with my mouth open.
The Shrieking Shack sat innocently in the morning sun, creaking as the wind buffeted its rotting wooden walls. Without meaning to I started to laugh, a slightly hysterical sound that soon fell flat. Merlin has got to be kidding me. One minute I was enjoying music and a bottle of Blishen’s Firewhiskey with Scorpius, and the next I was being attacked by a PMS-ing tree and spending the night in the most haunted building in Britain.
I just stood there for a while, until I realised the implications of it being a sunny winter’s day. No snow, no mud. Even with the cold bite to the wind a lot of people would be out enjoying a day’s shopping. A few of them might even be coming to visit the Shrieking Shack, and it would not be a good thing to be found in a restricted area.
I quickly jumped the ragged fence, cursing, for what felt like the millionth time, the stupid tight dress Alex and Georgina put me in. I will admit that I wasn’t too sorry that it was ripped in several places, either. I walked up the path into the village barefoot as I wasn’t able to remember what happened to my shoes in the events of last night. To be honest, the whole thing was a bit blurry, and if it weren’t for the cuts and bruises all over me I might not have believed it. I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do once I got to the village, walk to Hogwarts and rattle the gates till someone let me in? That was bound to raise awkward questions. But I couldn’t see any alternative. I was keen to get away from the Shrieking Shack, and I definitely wasn’t crawling through that damn tunnel again. I seriously doubted that I would be able to run from the base of the Whomping Willow to somewhere out of its range before it walloped me again.
Suddenly a young couple appeared in the path in front of me. They stared at me in shock, their eyes darting from my ripped dress and scratched legs to the Shrieking Shack looming ominously on the hill behind me. I clenched my stomach muscles, trying not to laugh. Did they think ghosts could have done this to me? I couldn’t think of anything to say so I just kept walking. The couple gave me a wide berth and continued, rather hesitantly, on their own way.
The closer to the High Street I got, the more people I ran into, and the more strange looks I collected. A few shoppers stopped to ask if I was okay and I assured them I was, blushing a little at the completely inappropriate dress I was wearing. I attempted to brush my hair with my fingers, but taming the messy tangle of raven locks was near impossible. I settled with pulling out a few twigs when nobody was watching. I guessed my hair tie was just another casualty of the night before.
I had just reached the end of the High Street and was going to start heading toward the school and suck up the detentions I was bound to get, when I realised that I was in Hogsmeade when no one I knew would be around. I stopped in my tracks and turned around. My eyes immediately went to a shop in the middle of the street with brightly coloured displays and flashing advertisements stuck to the windows. Parents were being reluctantly dragged in by eager children, and coming out with bags full of merchandise. I had been in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes during a Hogsmeade visit only once or twice, because although I loved their stuff, the Pures would have gone mental if they saw me going in there. Not only was it owned by ‘the enemy’, but it sold ‘ridiculous childrens toys’ that were not suitable for a young pureblood lady like me. Apparently. Grinning, and feeling satisfyingly rebellious, I walked back up the street and entered the shop. I was met with loud bangs and laughter, and a faint smell of smoke. Despite having no money on me I was thoroughly enjoying myself just looking at all the crazy inventions. I was just reading the back of a Patented Daydream Charms box and thinking it would be highly entertaining to use in the next Pures gathering Lance dragged me to, when somebody tapped me on my shoulder.
I glanced up, surprised and a little nervous to see the owner, a Weasley, looking down at me with an amused expression.
“Looks like you’ve been through the wars” he said.
I scrunched up my nose, having forgotten my messy appearance. “Oh, yeah, you know…” I shrugged, feeling like an idiot but not wanting to tell my story to anyone who might turn me in.
He jerked his head to the room in the back. “Come on, I’ll fix you up.”
Feeling apprehensive, I followed him into the room. It was empty of people; the staff were all in the shop. He indicated that I should sit on one of the boxes. I sat down and when he took out his wand I eyed it suspiciously. He saw and grinned but didn’t say anything. He muttered a spell under his breath and started to clean me up with magic, getting rid of the dried blood on my arms and legs and making the bruises disappear. When he was done he sat down on another box across from me.
“Sorry, don’t know how to fix the rips in your dress. Never was good at household kind of spells.”
I nodded, “Thanks anyway, for the rest.”
He folded his arms. “So come on, spit it out. What’s your story?” He asked.
I shrugged and looked down at my feet.
“Hun, I own a joke shop. I’m the last person to turn you in for not being at school. Hell, I spent half my Hogwarts career ducking in and out of Hogsmeade.” He paused, waiting for me to say something. When I didn’t he continued, “How old are you anyway? Fifteen? Sixteen?”
“Seventeen next month.” I said, eyes narrowing.
“Right. So how come you’re not in school? And what passage did you use?”
I looked up at him quickly. His eyes were glinting in a knowing way.
“There’s more than one passage into Hogsmeade?” I asked eagerly.
“Tell me what happened to you and I might tell you a thing or two.” He offered.
I thought for a second. “Well, I was at this party last night…”
“What house?” He interrupted.
“You’re in Slytherin?” He asked, running his hand through his red hair.
“You have friends in Slytherin?” He asked, rather nosily I thought.
“Anyway,” I said, choosing not to answer, “I left early and went for a walk outside. The next thing I knew, I was being attacked by the Whomping Willow.”
“Ah…” Comprehension dawned on his face.
“I found the tunnel and followed it to the Shrieking Shack. I didn’t know where I was till I came outside this morning. I kind of… slept in there.”
He laughed. “No ghosts got you then?” He teased.
I smiled. “No, but it was spooky in there. Do you know why it’s like that? The furniture all ripped up and that?” I assumed he had been in there himself.
He shook his head. “No idea. Well, that’s got to be the most original story I’ve heard for finding a secret passage. What’s your name?”
“Aaliyah Tai – Jackson. Aaliyah Jackson.” He seemed really friendly and down to earth, and I didn’t want to ruin it by letting slip that I was pureblood. I wasn’t sure if he would recognise my last name or not, but I chose not to risk it.
He raised an eyebrow at my fumble but didn’t say anything. “Nice to meet you Aaliyah, I’m George Weasley, though you probably already knew that.” He smiled, “So you’re in Gryffindor? And in, what, your sixth year?”
“So you’ll know my nephew James, then?”
I scowled, annoyed at how often that name seemed to be invading my life.
“Oh, sorry, I’ve heard that he has a bit of a history with girls…but he’s just a teenage boy, you know, their stupid, they don’t really think…” He trailed off, uncomfortable.
I laughed. “No, that’s not… James and I would never date. We don’t exactly get along.” I said.
“Oh” he said, looking relieved. “I thought he was supposed to be a winner with the girls?” He frowned. “Has he been feeding me crap all these years?” He asked suspiciously.
“No, it’s just me who hates him, really.” I bit my lip and added quickly “No offence or anything.”
He grinned. “None taken. I never really got why so many girls go for him anyway. He reminds me of my brother Ron too much. Bit of a geek. Really moody. Bad temper, you know?”
I wasn’t too sure about the geeky bit, but the bad temper sounded dead right. “Yeah, well, snogging bimbos in cupboards doesn’t require much communication. I mean, if trolls can do it…”
George threw back his head and laughed. “Nice. Well, even though I’m all for you breaking rules and stuff, I think you should get back to school. Your friends are probably worried.”
I nodded and stood up. “So these other secret passageways you were talking about…?”
He grinned. “Maybe another time.”
“I told you how I got here!” I said, pouting.
“Yeah,” he said, standing up, “and in return I’m going to get you back into Hogwarts without getting you a detention.”
“Okay," I consented, "fair deal.”
He walked over to a stack of boxes and starting rummaging through one named ‘invisible items’. After pulling out a few Headless Hats he lifted a cloak out and handed it to me.
“This is an Invisibility Cloak” he said. “Not a good one mind, it’ll last about a week or two before it starts to turn opaque. We don’t stock them often because the Demiguise hair is so hard to come by. The stuff on these cloaks is already a bit old, but the guy got me a good deal. Anyway,” he continued, “you’re going to have to go back through the same secret passageway. When you get to the Whomping Willow, you have to hit this knot…”
He pulled out a bit of parchment and quill, and drew a rough sketch of the tree, with an X to show the position of the knot.
“Just give it a push and the tree will stop moving.”
“And if it doesn’t?” I asked sceptically.
George shrugged, “Start running.”
With that reassuring bit of advice I thanked him and left the shop, the cloak securely tucked under my arm. Even despite George’s best efforts in cleaning me up, I was still getting strange looks. I quickly ducked into an empty side street and threw the cloak around me, then made my way back up to the Shrieking Shack. Getting inside was easy as there was nobody around. Once in, I took off the cloak and pushed it through the hole ahead of me, then crawled in.
It took less time to reach the other end than it had seemed to last night. I awkwardly put the cloak back on in the cramped space and edged out through the gap in the roots, cursing the thorny bush as it repeatedly tugged at the cloak. I moved slowly so it wouldn’t rip, and at last was free and standing upright. The Whomping Willow was already starting to stretch and groan and its branches were hovering menacingly, poised to strike. Quick as a flash I found the knot that George had drawn and, praying that it was the right one, pushed it. The Whomping Willow immediately stopped moving as though it had been struck with a Freezing Charm. Smiling, and thinking that George Weasley was rather cool, I crossed the grounds to the courtyard, giving the Care of Magical Creatures class a wide berth. My feet were wet and cold from the dewy grass so I didn’t waste anytime in rushing through the castle to the seventh floor. Outside the Fat Lady’s Portrait I pulled off the cloak and gave the password. I watched the Fat Lady’s face for any hint of surprise but she simply looked unimpressed. I guess she has lived in the castle too long to be startled by students appearing out of thin air.
I clambered through the portrait hole and barely got a glimpse of the room beyond before Hattie was throwing her arms around me. After a quick squeeze she let go and stood back, her curls a mess and her heart shaped face stern.
“Where have you been? You’ve been missing for hours! Scorpius thought maybe… What on earth happened to you?” She asked, changing tact as she caught sight of the state of my dress and the scratches on my arms and legs.
“Oh…” I really couldn’t be bothered explaining, her screeching had gone right through my skull and for the first time I was feeling the full effects of my hangover. Also, I kind of didn’t want to tell her about the secret passageway. Not yet, anyway. She was my best friend and I loved her, but we were different in a lot of ways and she often didn’t get the same level of enjoyment out of the same things as me. Like secret passageways, for instance.
“I left the party early and went for a walk. I fell asleep outside…” I trailed off at the look on her face.
“You’re impossible, you know that? Scorpius has been running around the castle like a mad man all morning. He thinks Romenel did something to you.”
I snorted. “He wasn’t so concerned last night.”
Hattie put her hand on her hip. “You know that’s not fair, Aaliyah. He’s not your baby sitter.”
I poked my tongue out at her. “Where is Georgina and Alex? I need to kill them for putting me in this dress.” I said, walking over to one of the couches and collapsing into it.
“They’re helping Scorpius look for you by checking all the girls’ bathrooms. I better let them know where you are. Stay here, alright? No moving.”
“Fine by me” I said, closing my eyes.
The next thing I remember I was being shaken awake. I felt someone kneeling next to me and caught a whiff of a familiar musky smell. My eyes shot open.
“What the hell are you doing in my common room?” I asked Scorpius.
He rolled his eyes. “Shut up, Aaliyah, you come into mine all the time.”
I heard Georgina giggle from somewhere behind me, “He needed proof that you were okay.”
I sat up. “Well, I’m fine.” When Scorpius gave me an unbelieving look I added, “OK so I have a bump on the back of my head that, in conjunction with my hangover, makes me want to jump off the astronomy tower, but besides that, I am honestly fine.”
Scorpius frowned and inspected the back of my head. “And you say you just curled up on the grass outside and went to sleep?”
“I don’t remember the details.” I said vaguely.
He sighed and pulled out his wand, then muttered a spell that made the throbbing in my head less severe. I felt the back of my head with my hand. The bump had disappeared.
“Thanks Scorp” I said, yawning.
“I’m sorry about last night” he said in a quieter voice, “I should have been there to look after you like I said I would.”
After a pause I said, “Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah course, what is it?”
I bit my lip. “Are you dating that girl you were with last night? Keilyn?”
He looked me straight in the eye. “Yes. It feels better than the other option.” His eyes flicked to Rose where she sat curled up in a chair reading a book.
I glanced at the girls. They looked confused, as only I knew what he meant. The other option was liking Rose and knowing nothing would ever come of it, and moping around feeling sorry for himself rather than trying to move on.
I looked back at Scorpius and flicked his nose with my finger.
He smiled. “Well, now that I know you’re not lying in a ditch somewhere, I better get going. I’m not too welcome here” he said, glancing over my head at the people in the common room behind me. “Oh look, how predictable, here he comes.” Scorpius stood up with a sigh.
“What the hell are you doing in my common room?” James asked loudly.
I went to stand up and defend Scorpius but he put his hand on my shoulder, silently telling me not to get involved.
“Don’t bust a vein, Potter” he said. “I’m not staying.”
Ignoring James’ hostile glares he calmly bent down to kiss the top of my head, said goodbye to the girls, and exited the tower through the portrait hole.
“Are you four insane?” James said to the girls and me. “Why would you give a Slytherin our password? I mean, I can understand you Taiven, you’re practically one of them, but the rest of you –“
I grabbed a cushion and threw it at James’ head. Practically a Slytherin my arse!
I expected him to retaliate but suddenly he seemed at a loss. His mouth opened and closed a couple of times before he blushed and muttered, “I’m going to ask the Fat Lady to change the password.” He climbed through the portrait hole and I watched it swing shut behind him.
I raised my eyebrow at Hattie but she just shrugged. For the first time I noticed Georgina was holding the pair of high heels I wore last night.
“Oh, yeah, sorry about the dress” I said, looking down at the ripped garment I wore, “and the shoes… Where did you find them?”
“By the front door. But don’t worry about it; I was going to let you keep them anyway.” She smiled, tucking her long blonde hair behind her ears.
“Right. Well if you guys don’t mind I think I’m going to go back to bed” I said just as a yawn escaped me.
“Okay” Alex said brightly, “Meanwhile us girls have gossiping to do. I can’t believe Scorpius goes out with Keilyn Connor!”
I rolled my eyes and left them to it, stumbling my way up the girls’ staircase and falling into my bed with a contented sigh.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
I spent the rest of the day catching up on last night’s missed sleep, appearing only once in the world outside my dorm in order to have dinner. Hattie took it upon herself to remind me several times of the essay I had due Monday. Needless to say I wasted no time in putting up a repulsion jinx to keep her from coming anywhere near me for the rest of the afternoon.
The following day I decided to get up early and make the most of the day. I was very aware of the invisibility cloak George had given me lying underneath my bed, but I ignored the temptation and went downstairs. A notice on the notice board detailed our first Apparition lesson, to be taken tomorrow morning in place of our first lesson, in my case Defence Against the Dark Arts. I was eager to start those lessons with my seventeenth birthday, and magical freedom, approaching so quickly.
I went down to the Great Hall for breakfast, to find that I was one of the first Gryffindors up, along with the Gryffindor Quidditch team who had obviously just had a practice. About halfway through breakfast the rest of the student body started to arrive. Scorpius and the pretty little brunette Keilyn sat down together at the Slytherin table. Scorpius looked happy, but I couldn’t help but notice when his eyes flicked to Rose where she sat a couple of seats down from me.
I could feel someone looking my way and, expecting to see Romenel, reluctantly raised my eyes back to the Slytherin table. But instead of meeting Romenel’s possessive gaze, I found Felix watching me with a smirk on his face. In a rush I remembered our encounter at the party Friday night, and blushed a little when I got to the bit about him feeling up my backside. He smirked more at my blush and blew me a kiss.
I decided flipping him off was a justified response.
Just as I turned back to my toast, Georgina’s owl Blitz soared through the air and landed on the table in front of me. It stuck out its leg and I hurriedly untied the letter. I could immediately tell from the handwriting that it was a reply from crazy Uncle Lawrence.
Dear Aaliyah, it read, much the same. There’s a new Healer just started, she works in Spell Damage on my floor. She likes to come in and chat to me. Not complaining, she’s a pretty young lady, not like the old hag nagging me about stealing people’s wands all the time. Anyway, your question. Yes, Rosalind was Quidditch Captain for the Slytherin team in her seventh year. She was a Chaser, like your mother Vanessa. Rosalind had a bit more talent though. I guess that’s where you got it from. What were you doing spending your spare time in the Trophy Room anyway? My years at Hogwarts were the best of my life. You wouldn’t have caught me dead in there. Too many pretty girls to chase after to be wasting time looking at trophies and awards. How’s school going anyway? Love, Uncle L.
I grinned and wondered if the young Healer knew what she was getting herself into. No doubt Lawrence was playing up his patient role so she would coddle him.
I gulped down the last dregs of tea in my cup and rose from the table, intending to go to the Owlery and use one of the school’s owls to send my reply. I didn’t think Georgina would be too happy with me if I made Blitz fly all the way back to London. As soon as I left the Great Hall I started to get the same feeling I had had the other day; that someone was following me. I glanced over my shoulder a few times but saw no one. Once I began to climb the stairs of the West tower the feeling went away again.
Inside the circular room I moved to the closest window, carefully avoiding the majority of owl droppings covering the floor. I pulled a spare piece of parchment and self-inking quill out of my robes and, pressing on the windowsill, wrote a quick reply to Lawrence. Just as I was tempting down one of the Barn Owls to tie my letter to, Felix appeared in the stone arch doorway.
“So I was thinking” he began in a cocky manner, “how would you like to be my Valentine?”
I raised my eyebrow. “You’re a month early.”
He shrugged and moved closer to me, “Sexy girl like you. You’re bound to have heaps of offers. Thought I’d put mine up first.”
“Look,” I said, “I appreciate what you did the other night, keeping Romenel off me and all, but I’m not looking for a relationship.”
As I said it I realised how true it was. The thought of opening up to someone other than Scorpius and the girls, who I’ve known for years, had me cringing.
He chuckled. “Good. Neither am I.”
I put my hand on my hip, suddenly annoyed. “Oi. Just because neither of us is looking for a relationship doesn’t mean you can be so damn obvious about just wanting a piece of arse.”
He put his hands in front of him as if warding me off. “Calm down tiger! I was just saying!”
I turned back to the Barn Owl and was relieved to see it had flown down to me. I tied my letter to its leg and whispered the address. It flew off just as Felix asked, “Is that for your mental Uncle?” having obviously just heard the address I had given.
I spun around. “Excuse me?”
He shrugged, unperturbed by my reaction. “Pureblood circles, they talk.” He said by way of explanation.
“He’s not mental” I defended Lawrence furiously, pushing past him.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry.” He said, following me back down the stairs. “Touchy subject apparently” he added in a mutter.
We continued our descent in silence. I had no intention of hanging around with him for the rest of the day, so at the bottom of the winding staircase I stalked off down the hallway.
“You still haven’t given me an answer about being my Valentine!” Felix called after me.
I didn’t reply or look back; instead I decided to follow Hattie’s advice and head back to the Gryffindor common room to make a start on my homework.
There was a buzz of excitement amongst the sixth years on Monday morning. We all ate a quick breakfast and raced down to the lake where our first apparition lesson was to take place. As a result our entire year group was about twenty minutes early, and had to stand around in the cold waiting for our instructor to arrive.
“I wonder how long it’s going to take us to learn how to apparate?” Alex mused.
“It’s a twelve week course isn’t it?” Georgina supplied. “But I wonder what happens if you don’t pass the test at the end of it?”
“Re-sit it over the summer I guess” Hattie said. “The Ministry will have some system in place. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping I pass first time.”
“Me too” I said. “It’s going to make this summer so much better. I could come around to your house anytime without my parents having to know, and without having to lie to them about you.” I said to Hattie.
She nodded enthusiastically. “My brother is going to be home this summer too. He’s getting back from America in a couple of months. You’ve met him before haven’t you?”
I thought for a second. “Once, briefly. Do you think it’ll be weird having him back though? I mean, considering you haven’t seen him for a couple of years and you’re almost an adult witch now.”
She bit her lip. “I don’t think he’ll mind. He always used to say it was cool having a witch for a sister…”
I smiled. “Well, I’ll look forward to meeting him again anyway.”
“You have an older brother?” Alex exclaimed. “Why didn’t I know this? Is he cute?”
Hattie rolled her eyes. “Come on, the instructor’s just arrived. Let’s move closer.”
I looked up eagerly. A middle-aged woman with long brown hair tied up in a bun was addressing the gathered students.
“There is a few important points I need to cover before we begin, the first being those with birthdays later in the year who cannot sit the test at the end of the twelve weeks…” she continued to talk for another ten minutes, covering all the rules and restrictions including no apparating within Hogwarts and no drinking and apparating, as well as the basic principles of the practice. Once she had finished talking she instructed us to spread out on the lawn, leaving room for a wooden hoop to be placed in front of us.
Everyone immediately jostled about finding an empty space. I ended up directly behind the infamous trio. Luckily they didn’t notice or no doubt James would have said something. I soon realised why they didn’t notice, they were much too preoccupied by the whispered conversation they were having.
“I dunno mate,” David said. “We’ve been keeping a look out for two days. No one’s been anywhere near the Whomping Willow. Maybe whoever it was just happened to walk by?”
James snorted. “Oh yeah, just a casual stroll right underneath the mental tree. We’ve been through this, there were no footsteps leading to it, just the one set that lead right from the base to the courtyard.”
I stifled a gasp, remembering that my feet had been wet from the dew on the grass the morning I had returned to Hogwarts from the Shrieking Shack. I had obviously left a trail of footsteps that James had seen. Did that mean he knew about the secret passageway? Considering his uncle George knew it was a likely possibility.
After a pause Drake asked, “What did the footsteps look like? I mean, were they just the pad of the foot?”
“No” James replied, “the heel too.”
“So the person was walking...”
“Which means they knew about the knot!” James exclaimed. “Merlin, if only we had used the map that morning we would have seen who it was!”
I was a bit lost at James’ last comment, but one thing was certain. He knew about the knot that froze the Whomping Willow, and I was determined to find out if he knew about the secret passageway too. I realised that there was a possibility that he knew about the other secret passageways George Weasley had mentioned as well, or even the ones within Hogwarts I had found when avoiding Jack Graple a few Christmases ago.
For the first time it occurred to me that James might have as many secrets as the next person, that he might actually have a life outside of pranking Slytherins and dating bimbos.
I was about to try slip away before they noticed I was within hearing range when the sound of my name made me stop in my tracks and listen once again.
“…that was the morning Taiven turned up, all covered in cuts and that” James said.
“You don’t seriously think she would know about it?” David said, “I know she doesn’t mind getting all shirty at you, but she really doesn’t seem the type. She’s too quiet in class and stuff. And she’s friends with Johnston, I mean, how wild could she be, really?” He paused as a teacher walked past before continuing again. “I imagine she spends her spare time moping around with the rest of her lot, not exploring Hogwarts.”
Drake nodded, “Yeah, and you said yourself the person must have known about the knot… so why would she have scratches?”
Despite their arguments James didn’t look convinced. “There’s something weird about that girl, that’s all I’m saying.”
They fell silent just as the instructor called for silence. “Now,” she said, “On the count of three you are to attempt to apparate into the hoop in front of you. One… Two… Three!”
The lesson didn’t go too well. No one managed to do anything more than fall over. During all the commotion I had moved away from the trio, though my mind still spun with the information they had revealed. I was set on finding out for sure if James knew about the tunnel that leads to the Shrieking Shack. Fortunately, potions class next period gave me a chance to do just that.
“Today,” Professor Cassidy began, “you will be attempting to produce a Draught of Living Death. It is a difficult potion which is why you will be working in partners. However, I am going to ask you to partner up with someone you normally wouldn’t so that you can learn someone else’s style, maybe pick up a few tips. I’m sure you’re all mature enough to pick your own partners. You may begin.”
There was an instant tumult as students chose partners that, although they had never worked with before, they still knew well enough that the class wouldn’t pass in awkward, forced friendliness. A gaggle of girls immediately sort out James, David and Drake, but to my surprise James fought them off. Meanwhile Romenel and Felix were both heading my way, and I quickly backtracked. A moment later I nearly collided with James.
“Taiven” he greeted me.
“Potter” I replied.
He jerked his head toward an empty table. I nodded and followed him. As we sat down I couldn’t help but wonder if he had meant to ask me all along, my plan of getting us seated together seemed to have worked out a bit too easily.
The girls that had been clamouring to be partnered with James glared daggers at me but I chose to ignore them. I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed Hattie, Georgina, David and Drake all staring at us like we were mental. Ignoring them, I pulled my copy of Advance Potion-Making out of my bag and turned to James.
“I’ll get the ingredients. Put on the cauldron would you?”
Without waiting for a reply I pranced off to the cupboards to find the things we needed. When I came back it was to find a strong fire heating the water in the cauldron and James bent over the instructions with a slight crease between his eyes. I plonked the ingredients down on the table. James looked up.
I was perfectly happy to let James take the lead in making the potion. My track record of first attempts at potions was sketchy at the best of times. I spent half the period debating with myself on how to approach the subject of the secret passageway without revealing that I knew about it. In the end I didn’t have to, James started up a conversation that was not far off the mark.
“I hope you’re not planning on inviting Malfoy into our common room every time you disappear for a night.” He said as he chopped up Valerian roots.
“What I choose to do and not do is up to me. Anyway, I can’t help it if I have friends that care for my welfare.” I hadn’t meant to get snarky, but old habits die hard.
I saw him eye the scratches on my arms. “Why was your welfare in danger anyhow?”
“I never said it was.”
There was a pause before James commented, “I heard you telling Johnston you fell asleep outside.”
I decided to keep answering, well aware that he was trying to get information out of me, but comfortable in the knowledge that he was still unaware that I was doing exactly the same thing.
“In the middle of winter? And you didn’t even catch a cold?” He said, looking up at me for the first time.
I shrugged, trying to act unconcerned. “Good immune system, I guess.”
He put his head back down. “So why did your… friends… have so much trouble finding you?” He ventured.
I thought about my answer before I replied. “Hogwarts is a big place” I said carefully. “A lot of places where one might not be found… wouldn’t you agree?”
His head turned sharply to look at me again. I put on my poker face but he still sounded reluctant to agree. “Yes…”
There was a lull in the conversation as we continued with the potion.
“I can’t wait for the next Hogsmeade trip.” He said in an offhand manner a little while later.
“Really? I thought you would be sick of walking there so often.”
He kept his head down this time but I could see his body stiffen. “Why would you say that?” He asked with a forced calmness to his voice.
Realising I may have let slip that I was on to him; I quickly sneered and said, “Because we’ve been going there since third year, idiot.”
He immediately relaxed. “Oh, well no.” Then a thought clearly occurred to him as he quickly added, “Are you?”
He stirred the potion and we watched it turn light pink instead of lilac.
“Speaking of Hogsmeade,” he said, ignoring the discoloured potion, “have you visited the Shrieking Shack lately?”
Snap. That was too much of a coincidence for this to be an innocent conversation. I was almost certain he knew about the secret passageway. I was also equally confident that he had nothing on me, and the fact that David had disregarded me so easily in the conversation I had overheard earlier had me dying to play with James a little longer.
“Yes, I have.” I said ambiguously.
He stared at me, brown eyes burning into blue. “You mean, the last time we had a Hogsmeade trip?” He prompted.
“Of course” I said innocently.
I think he realised he wasn’t getting anywhere with the conversation, and we spent the last few minutes of the class in silence. At its end I quickly stuffed my book back into my bag and, feeling elated, left the dungeons with Hattie and Georgina.
“What on earth was that all about?” Georgina asked me. “Since when do you and James seek each other out to sit with?”
“I needed to get some information out of him.” I said vaguely.
“What information?” She asked curiously.
I paused. “Do you mind if I don’t tell you? It’s not anything you’ll find particularly interesting.”
The secret passageway just seemed like something that should be kept to myself. I was going to follow the boys’ lead and keep it a secret.
“Okay” she agreed, but I got the feeling she was a bit annoyed. Unlike Hattie, she was the kind of person that needed to know everything going on in her friends’ lives.
“I do have something to tell you though,” I said, and smiled as she immediately perked up, “Felix Tresean seems to be devoting his spare time to hitting on me lately.”
“Felix? He’s pretty good looking… But Aaliyah!” She exclaimed, “When we sent you to that party to pick up a guy it was supposed to be someone… well someone that is not a pureblood for a start.”
“You’re not interested, are you?” Hattie asked.
Again, I shrugged. “Not particularly. But then again if I was” I paused “it would give a reason for Romenel to back off.”
Georgina gushed, “Wow, so you have two guys after you?”
“I wouldn’t classify Romenel as a guy, personally” I said, “He’s more like a staunch brainless vampire with aggression issues.”
She and Hattie giggled.
“Come on,” I said, satisfied with my attempt to placate Georgina. “Alex will be waiting for us.”
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J. K. Rowling.
Yeah, I know, I updated! I surprised you and me both. So sorry that I haven't touched this story all year - I did start university in february if that's any sort of excuse. Anyway, I realise I most certainly have lost all those wonderful people who read and reviewed this story before my long absence, but if you're still with me or if you're new to this story: enjoy.
The temptation of using the invisibility cloak George gave me proved too strong over the next few days, and a lot of homework was put aside at its expense. As well as using it during the day to avoid run-ins with Romenel and the rest of the Pures, it provided a means to explore the castle freely at night. It’s amazing how you can spend years living in a place and find that after all that time you’ve barely scratched its surface. I was delighted to find the entrance to the Ravenclaw common room after following a girl sneaking back in after curfew. I wanted desperately to look inside, and found my way back in the early hours of the morning when I knew no one would be awake, but the door asked me a question that I didn’t have a hope of answering. Where was Scorpius when you needed him?
I was still deeply curious to find out what other secret passageways James knew of, but I hadn’t seen him during any of my wanderings and so could not follow him like the Ravenclaw girl. I didn’t dare try to approach the subject with him again either. For one thing, conversing with Potter was not healthy for my sanity nor his physical well being, and for another, I figured I had gotten all I could out of him that way, and I had the feeling that he was still suspicious of me. For the moment I could settle with the knowledge that I knew he knew about the Whomping Willow passageway.
Thursday morning dawned cold and blustery; I should have taken the hint and gone straight back to bed. Instead I got up and headed to my eight o’clock charms class with the girls. We sat in our usual seats and waited for Professor Pindrop to arrive, who was apparently running late this morning. My attention was very quickly caught by a group of Ravenclaw girls who were whispering conspiratorially and looking my way. My curiosity increased when one of them, none other than Felicity Verity, stood up and crossed the room toward me.
I glanced at Hattie and she raised her eyebrow but we said nothing as Felicity approached.
“Hey” Felicity addressed me, “you’re Aaliyah Taiven, right?” Her tone sounded faintly condescending but I ignored it.
“Yeah” I said, waiting for her to explain herself.
“Rumour has it that you and Felix have a thing” she asked lightly, almost carelessly, but her eyes were scanning my face carefully for a reaction.
“Oh. Uh well, no, we don’t.”
A faint crease appeared between her eyes and she glanced around to check that no one but the girls at our table were listening in, then said “What do you mean ‘no’? I know he asked you out for Valentine’s Day.” Almost as a second thought she added, “It’s OK, you can tell me."
Wondering why on earth this was any of her business I nevertheless replied truthfully, “I mean Felix may have a ‘thing’, but I certainly don’t.”
Such a simple sentence and yet she looked like she’d been slapped in the face. “You’re not interested?” she half stated, half asked in disbelief.
I glanced quickly at Alex who was smirking. Suddenly I knew what this was about. What started out as a simple dig for gossip was quickly turning into bitterness on her part as she realised that I was flat-out rejecting her ex.
Knowing what kind of person Felicity was, and knowing a cat fight was highly likely to ensue anyway, I decided to jump the gun and say “Well, he’s not much, is he. I for one could do a lot better than him.” And just in case she was unsure if I was taking a stab at her or not, I smiled sweetly and said “No offence” with as much poorly disguised sarcasm as I could muster.
Felicity’s eyes flashed and she stood up straighter. “I would watch my next words if I were you, Aaliyah. I don’t make an easy enemy”
“No, you’re just easy in other ways...” I said before Hattie could clamp a hand over my mouth. I could take crap from my family most of the time because I had to, but there was no way I was going to take threats from a sixteen year old girl.
“Well would you look at that,” she said loudly, tossing her long blonde hair behind her back and drawing the attention of the class, “looks like little Aaliyah finally grew a backbone”.
James, sitting at a table nearby turned around and snorted, and I threw him a sly smile before turning back to Felicity.
Before Felicity could continue Professor Pindrop waltzed into the classroom. “Come, come, Miss Verity, back to your seat. Mr Silver - feet off the table.”
David grumbled and sat up but Felicity seemed reluctant to return to her seat. Her gaze flicked between me and James several times before she huffed and sauntered away back to her cluster of friends.
As the Professor apologised for being late and began the class, Hattie leaned over to me. “Well I hope you know I’m not getting involved” she snapped.
“Oh, don’t worry” I waved her down before she could begin ranting, “I’ll just have to deal with a few snide remarks from Felicity for a few weeks and then it’ll all be blown over.”
“You better be right. We don’t need another Katie Thompson trying to get at you any chance she gets. We’re in NEWT level this year” she reminded me sternly.
“I know” I said, and on that note I took out my quill and began taking notes of the lesson. She did have a point. If I was going to get anywhere in life I had to make sure my attention was given to my studies now, however grudgingly.
I didn’t think anything more of Felicity Verity during my next few classes, but over lunch I couldn’t help but notice a few other students giving me strange looks. I looked down at my robes and felt my hair self consciously but everything seemed to be in order. Feeling slightly confused I chose to just ignore it, and the rest of the day passed quickly and easily enough.
The next day the looks I was being given were even more frequent. Girls I had never met before were whispering behind their hands when I walked past and one guy even looked me up and down and winked before walking off. Thankfully the girls had noticed it too, so I knew it wasn’t paranoia.
It wasn’t until potions class later that morning that I finally got some answers. Professor Cassidy had just finished giving us the instructions for brewing an antidote when someone plonked their cauldron down next to mine. I looked up, surprised to see Felix throwing me a wink.
“How you doing?” He asked casually.
“Fine” I answered shortly, though I felt anything but.
Suddenly he was grinning mischievously. “So any girls asked you out yet?”
I frowned at him, “Any... girls... what?”
“You haven’t heard?”
When I continued to look confused he elaborated “You’re the newest lesbian at Hogwarts.”
Mine and Hattie’s mouths flew open while Georgina made a choking sound. “That’s why people keep staring at me? They think I’m a... wait, what? I haven’t said anything or done anything that would make people think that! I...”
Felix continued to grin and I quickly turned back to my work and began chopping up my Dandelion roots furiously. “Felicity” I hissed.
“So, are you coming to Hogsmeade with me on Valentine’s day?” Felix asked, completely ignoring the fact that I practically had steam coming out of my ears.
I looked up at him. “You don’t think I’m a lesbian?”
He chuckled. “’Course not. If I thought you were a lesbian I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you. Besides, I know Felicity’s work when I see it.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a lesbian” Hattie frowned at Felix.
Felix shrugged, “Except you can’t screw ‘em. You see, me and Aaliyah here have potential...” His sentence was cut off as I thrust my elbow into his ribs.
“Ow!” He complained.
I scooped up the chopped roots with my hand and threw them into my cauldron.
“So? Are you going to come with me to Hogsmeade or not?” Felix asked, as if I hadn’t just physically attacked him.
“Why not?” He asked grumpily.
“Because! This is all your fault! Felicity spread that rumour about me being a lesbian because she was pissed off that I didn’t want to go out with you! If I go out with you now it’d be like she’s won!”
He raised an eyebrow. “So?”
I glared at him until he put his hands in the air in surrender. “Fine, whatever. But this isn’t over” and with that he levitated his cauldron back to his own table.
Georgina watched Felix go and then turned back to me. “Why is nothing in your life ever simple?”
I think it is sufficient to say that I was beyond pissed over the next few days. Despite the fact that every girl in school knew about Felicity Verity’s reputation for being a self serving cow, they still chose to believe the rumour she was spreading about me. But that was the nature of gossip, I guess; the more scandalous it is, the less it matters where it came from. I think the majority of boys in the school didn’t know how to take this new bit of information. I found it quite funny when my ex boyfriend who I dated for about two weeks in fifth year, Leo Wyler, caught up to me when we were walking back to the castle after Herbology and asked if the rumour was true.
“Of course it’s not true” I told him exasperatedly.
“You should try telling my mates that” he said with a pained look on his face, glancing over his shoulder. I looked around and saw Deacon Bermont grinning and making rude gestures at us.
I rolled my eyes and punched Leo lightly on the arm. “Hey, you were a good kisser”.
He flashed me a smile “Thanks. Uh, I’ll see you around.”
I nodded and walked ahead with Hattie. Calling Leo a good kisser was a bit of a stretch if I was being honest, but I thought he could do with the compliment. It was probably the first thought to go through a guy’s mind when he hears his ex girlfriend is now a lesbian – was I really that bad?
I looked around at Hattie. She had a thoughtful expression on her face. “What’s up?” I asked her.
“Oh. I was just thinking... Leo is in the same year and house as Eric, so they share a dorm room...” she trailed off.
I laughed “Oooh, so you reckon Leo knows that Eric likes you? I bet they all talk about you.”
“Oh hush Lee” She said.
I threw an arm around her and gave her a squeeze. “Don’t worry; Valentine’s Day is coming up - as Felix so graciously keeps reminding me. He’ll ask you out then” I said confidently.
“Whatever you say, Aaliayh” she said, but she was smiling.
“And in the meantime” I said as we walked up the steps to the castle, “we can bounce around ideas for plan ‘Damn That Felicity Bitch Is Going To Regret Messing With Me’.”
Harriet just rolled her eyes.
Over the next week I spent a fair amount of time during class plotting different ways to get revenge on Felicity. The invisibility cloak had finally worn out, meaning it was of no use to my plans. When Hattie saw me trying it on she said I looked like the ghosts she used to draw when she was little (which didn’t make any sense – why would Muggles think ghosts looked like people covered head to toe in an opaque cloak?). When she asked me how I came to have an invisibility cloak in my possession, I told her that it was sent to me through mail order by crazy Uncle Lawrence. It still didn’t feel like the right time to tell her about my accidental escapade into Hogsmeade and my run in with George Weasley.
In the end, revenge dealt for her what must have been a terrible blow and happened without my even orchestrating it. I was walking through a deserted corridor in the evening when I felt that now familiar feeling of someone following me. Determined to catch them out, I turned into another corridor and quickly slipped inside the first broom cupboard I came to. Immediately someone grabbed my wrist and pulled me against them, wrapping their hands around my waist.
“Chelsey” the person – a boy – said in a low voice next to my ear.
It took me a split second to recognise who the voice belonged to, and then I was springing away like a cat caught off guard.
“What the – GET THE HELL OFF ME POTTER!”
“Aaliyah?” James asked in a shocked voice.
“YES YOU MORON! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?”
“What? What are YOU doing in here? I was waiting for Chelsey!”
I snorted loudly but finally managed to tone it down a notch. “Oh, yeah, real classy Potter” I said before throwing open the door and stepping out, fuming. I had definitely lost the chance to find out who was following me.
Just as James was emerging from the cupboard behind me none other than Felicity Verity turned into the corridor with her cronies. She stopped short at the sight of me and James, and I can’t say I blamed her. We didn’t make a convincingly innocent sight. I knew we both looked distinctly unsettled and our cheeks were tinged pink; mine from yelling and finding myself in such an unexpected predicament, and James’ no doubt for mistaking me for his girlfriend.
“Oh Merlin, here we go” I muttered. But thankfully the girls all seemed to be too shocked to say anything, and with only a few accusatory glances thrown my way they turned tail and stalked off.
Before I could feel awkward being left alone again with James he turned to me and looking slightly pissed off said “Seriously, what were you doing running into a freaking broom cupboard at six o’clock at night?”
“What? Oh, um someone was following me” I said distractedly, glancing back down the corridor for a sign of said stalker.
“Oh!” James said, sounding oddly surprised.
I looked up at him, “What?”
“Nothing. It’s just, well, that’s actually a legitimate reason...”
I stared at him. “Seriously? Do you have such a distorted opinion of me that the only possible explanation for me hiding in a broom cupboard is that I’m getting chased by a naked, rampaging house elf?”
James snorted with laughter before quickly stifling it and narrowing his eyes. “Whatever. I’m off” he said and took off in the direction Felicity and her friends had gone.
Thinking that meeting up with Chelsey can’t have meant all that much to him, I turned and walked back to Gryffindor tower, taking a different route to the one James had gone down. I came to three decisions as I walked. One, I wouldn’t tell the girls about my awkward encounter with James and therefore avoid throwing up my dinner. Two, I was determined to find out who was following me by the week’s end. And three, the look on Felicity’s face when she found me and James in the corridor told me that this thing I’d suddenly found myself in with her was definitely not over.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling.
By the time February fourteenth came around people had finally stopped gossiping about me, and to the majority of Hogwarts I was once again the quiet girl from the family of Pures. The biggest exception was of course James, who I doubted could ever look at me in the same way as he did before this school year. Our frustration and general distaste for one another was as prevalent as ever, and to my chagrin I realised that the students in our year were beginning to notice. And trying to get through my Hogwarts career without being disowned and carrying a label as one of the Pures, all whilst being in the wrong house and being best friends with a Muggle-born, meant that any attention was bad attention.
Valentine’s Day this year was on a Friday, so we had classes as usual and a Hogsmeade trip planned for the day after. I woke up early on Friday morning and went straight to the library to finish my last paragraph and write the conclusion for my DADA essay which was due first period. I wasn’t particularly excited about it being Valentine’s Day as I wasn’t expecting anything from anyone. I seriously doubted that even Felix would be turning up to breakfast with flowers for me, despite his confidence that we would be going to Hogsmeade together tomorrow. Romance was definitely not his style.
An hour later I had just finished my essay and was packing up my things when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I got a fright and spun around. My mouth fell open at the sight of the dark-haired Romenel standing in front of me, a good head taller than me, and sporting the familiar look of greed mixed with distaste on his face. He was holding a bouquet of red roses which, after saying a mumbled “Happy Valentine’s Day”, he thrust into my hands.
My brain seemed jammed. I was at a complete loss as to what to say.
“Will you be my Valentine and accompany me in Hogsmeade tomorrow?” He said, and I shuddered at his tone. He sounded so confident that I couldn’t deny him but at the same everything in his manner said that he didn’t care for me at all.
Mentally cursing myself for not seeing this coming and preparing myself, I said the first thing that came to my head. “I’m sorry but there’s someone else.”
His eyes narrowed in annoyance. “Who?”
“Just... someone. I mean, I’m not with them... exactly... right now... I just... I can’t be your Valentine while I’m... while I have feelings for someone else. But thank you, really. I’m flattered...” I trailed off, heart thumping.
I wasn’t sure if he believed anything I said, but he nodded as though he did. “You may not have romantic feelings for me now, Aaliyah” he said quietly “but someday soon I know you will understand that I’m the right choice for you. And if you don’t already know it, your parents have given me their blessings in my pursuit of you. Our match would make them happy. And these feelings that you seem to think are so important will come in time, because I can give you everything you want.”
Everything my parents want! I felt like screaming. Instead I stared down at the roses in my hands.
A moment passed, then without another word he left.
I picked up my bag and walked to the Great Hall to meet the girls for breakfast. As expected the headmistress, Professor Vablen, had decorated it with her usual enthusiasm for calendar holidays. Everything suddenly had pink, red and white trimmings, and each house table held a dozen vases of roses.
I found the girls and was pleased to see a classic bouquet of red roses and a box of heart-shaped chocolates lying on the table in front of Hattie, who, no matter how determinedly she focused on her breakfast, couldn’t wipe the grin off her face, and kept snatching glances over at the Ravenclaw table where Eric was sitting. Georgina hadn’t received anything, but true to her cheery nature she appeared to be enjoying the mood in the Great Hall every bit as much as Hattie. Alex, of course, had received half a dozen things from different admirers and several anonymous love notes to keep her satisfied for the day. Looking down the table, it seemed the infamous trio had collected a stack of things along the same line as Alex. All three of them seemed to be struggling on deciding whether they were amused or appalled.
I sat down next to Georgina and briefly explained the roses I was still awkwardly holding, not being sure what to do with them.
“Blimey. If only he believed the rumour that you were a lesbian” Georgina said.
“Mmm” was my only reply.
I glanced down the table again and couldn’t help feeling a bit surprised at the amount of gifts James had received, not because I wasn’t aware he was the best looking and one of the most popular guys in school, but because he had a girlfriend; something which surely should have demanded a certain amount of discreetness from his devoted fans? Scanning the Hufflepuff table I quickly realised that this was no longer the case. An unkempt, puffy-eyed Chelsey was glaring daggers in James’ direction, who for his part looked a little confused but not entirely cut-up about it. In fact, he seemed quite ready to move on, judging by the amount of times he and Felicity Verity made eye contact over their morning pumpkin juice.
Alex saw who I was looking at and leaned toward me and whispered, “Apparently someone caught James with another girl in a broom cupboard and told Chelsey.”
“Wow” I said in surprise. As much as I hate to admit it I didn’t think James was the type to cheat on his girlfriend; his track record indicates that he prefers to simply move from one girl to the next quickly and not go to the bother of trying to have two at the same time. “So who caught them?” I asked. “And... do I want to know who the girl was?”
Alex put her hands in the air. “No one seems to know. It’s all very hush-hush. It’s like it was an anonymous tip off or something, like whoever it was didn’t want everyone knowing who James was cheating on Chelsey with or something.”
“Huh. Weird” I said, but looking back over at Felicity Verity I thought I might be able to guess what had happened. Of course, Felicity wouldn’t want it getting out that I was the one she caught coming out of a broom cupboard with James, but if the information would break Chelsey and James up she might just have given an anonymous tip-off like Alex suggested...
The train of thought soon left me as I thought back again to Romenel. The rest of the time I sat there, waiting for the girls to finish up, I kept asking myself the same question: What am I doing? The life that my parents wanted for me is not the life I wanted to live. And every year that I got older and closer to graduating the pressure on me to be like them was getting more and more intense. And I couldn’t see a way out. They would never accept me if I went against all their beliefs. I knew I had been walking a fine line all the way through Hogwarts, but suddenly it felt like I was fast approaching D-Day. And I had no idea what I was going to do.
I was sunk in this mood right through my DADA class and I only really snapped out of it during Transfiguration when Hattie kicked my shin under the table.
She looked pointedly at Professor Robbins, who was standing at the front of the class, hands on hips, staring at me with eyebrows raised.
“For the third time, Miss Taiven, could you please give me an example of a limitation on conjuration spells?”
“Oh” I said, caught off guard and mind blank. “Um...”
I heard James and David snickering behind me. “Don’t pick on her Professor,” James began in a tone that clearly said he wanted the opposite, “it’s not her fault she’s so stupid. She’s pureblood. Her parents were probably brother and sister”.
Any attention is bad attention. Any attention is bad attention. Any attention is bad attention.
Before the Professor even had a chance to reply I was up and hurling myself over the desk at James’ smirking face. I slammed into his chest, catching him by surprise. His chair toppled backward and then we were on the floor, me trying to bash every last bit of him with the bouquet of roses that Romenel had given me, James trying to fend me off, swearing like crazy.
“YOU BLOODY CRAZY BINT! GET THE HELL OFF ME!”
David and Drake were roaring with laughter from their seats next to us and the rest of the class came hurrying over to get a better view of the spectacle. Quickly getting over his initial shock, James shook me off, pulled his wand from his pocket and aiming at my chest yelled “EXPELLIARMUS”. The roses were wrenched out of my hands and I was thrown backwards from the force of the spell. Before I could get my own wand out and do some real damage Professor Robbins screamed “PROTEGO!”
The class fell silent.
James stood up but I stayed sat on the floor where I had landed, panting. The professor came over to us.
“I have NEVER seen such ATROCIOUS BEHAVIOUR!” she yelled. “You are both going to your head of house’s office NOW.”
James and I said nothing as we left. Professor Robbins had cowed us enough to stop us from fighting once outside her classroom and so it was an awkward, silent walk to Professor Longbottom’s office. I looked at James from the corner of my eye and noticed for the first time that he had scratches on his arms and hands from the rose thorns.
I suddenly felt embarrassed that I had lost control in front of a whole room full of people that I had been sharing classes with for six years. James seemed to have an unfailing knack for knowing when and what to say to wind me up.
I had only been in Professor Longbottom’s office once, at the end of fifth year, when we had to consult our head of house about what N.E.W.T. courses we would be taking the following school year and discuss what career we wanted once we left school. I had told him I didn’t have a clue. His office was furnished simply enough. A wooden desk and comfortable chair took up most of the space, but there was also a small filing cabinet and bookshelf, and a leafy pot plant sitting in the corner which moved gently as though it were breathing in and out. A few portraits of wizards I didn’t know hung from the walls. Three plain wooden chairs faced his desk. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had become permanent furniture in the room due to the amount of time James, David and Drake had been called to his office during their time at Hogwarts. It seemed all too likely.
When we stepped into the room it was these seats that James and I took, the ones on either end of the little row, with an empty chair between us. Professor Longbottom put down the sheet of parchment he was reading and looked at us tiredly from his seat behind his desk.
“I thought I told you to stay out of my office this year, Mr Potter. I should have known it wouldn’t last.”
James smirked and leaned back in his chair until it was resting on its back two legs. “Ah come on. Don’t pretend like you don’t enjoy my visits. What would you do with yourself if I didn’t pop in every now and then, eh?”
“Oh I don’t know, Mr Potter. Something constructive” he said with a roll of his eyes and pointed his wand at James’ chair. It slammed back down to rest on all four legs.
“Now tell me what happened – no, not you James. Aaliyah, you tell me.”
“He insulted me and my family” I said matter-of-factly.
Next to me James rolled his eyes. “She full on attacked me! Just jumped at me and started hitting me with a bunch of roses like some effing nut case!”
“And what would you have me do?” I said, firing up at once, “Sit there and take it like a Hufflepuff? Eff you, James, I’m not taking any of your crap –”
“ALRIGHT thank you, Miss Taiven, for that gracious insight into the issue here.”
I folded my arms and looked away. We sat in moody silence for a minute before Professor Longbottom broke it. “Because you two are displaying such a severe lack of maturity, I know trying to get you to apologize to each other is futile, so you will both serve detention...”
“What?! Why me?” James said indignantly.
“You Mr Potter, for provoking Miss Taiven here. Whatever your relationship with her there is no call for insulting or antagonising her in the classroom.” He then turned to face me “However, for your attack on Mr Potter – and I really don’t care how provoking his comments were – as well as for your un-witch-like behaviour, you will not only serve detention on Monday with Mr Potter here, but you will also be banned from going to Hogsmeade tomorrow.”
I put on my poker face so he couldn’t read my thoughts, while privately I decided I had gotten off lightly. It’s not like I had plans for tomorrow anyway.
“Monday. Eight o’clock. Here” he tapped his desk. “Now go. And if I hear of any other incident involving you two, don’t think I won’t write to your parents.”
With that ominous line we left his office. Outside, I looked down at my watch and saw that Transfiguration would have just finished and our break before our next class started. Thinking that it would be painfully awkward if James and I both headed to the Gryffindor common room together, I was glad when he headed off in the opposite direction to the tower so I could go there freely myself.
It wasn’t until a short while later, when I was climbing a part of the Grand Staircase that led to the seventh floor, that I felt somebody watching me. I knew instinctively that it was the same person who had been following me every now and then since Christmas. I slowed down and turned my head slightly, scanning my surroundings carefully. I couldn’t see anyone but just then the staircase I was on began to move. In a matter of seconds it had spun around to face a different direction, and as it slotted into place I saw a flash of movement in the corridor directly before me. I pulled out my wand and sprinted up the last part of the staircase and down the corridor. Whoever it was had obviously decided to simply outrun me rather than use stealth to get away as they weren’t troubling to hide the sound of their running footsteps.
Unfortunately for them, this was the seventh floor where the entrance to the Gryffindor Common room was, and I knew it well, all the more so from my night time wanderings under George’s invisibility cloak. It meant that even though I couldn’t see them ahead of me I knew exactly which way they would be heading. If they turned left they would have to climb the winding staircase all the way up the North Tower to the Divination classroom, so they would almost certainly turn right into the Hall of Hexes.
Whoever it was, they were a faster runner than me, so I didn’t hesitate before pushing through a door pretending to be a wall and flew down the Arithmacy corridor beyond. The hidden door was another of Hogwarts’ secrets that I had discovered when avoiding Jack Graple in fourth year. I paused briefly at the end of the corridor to listen, and when I didn’t hear anything guessed that they were on the other side of the wall, having done a circuit and heading back to the Grand staircase.
They couldn't have known that I was in the Arithmacy corridor or that the unused classroom 7C had three entrances. So I turned right and sprinted into the empty classroom a matter of seconds before they did.
I cast a shield charm before anything else and it bought me a little time to see who my opponent was.
I don’t know who I expected, but it was a shock to seeing two identical looking black haired boys run into the room. Rigel and Saiph. Aunt Rosalind’s kids. My cousins.
The time it took for them to come to a halt and raise their wands was all the time it took for me to get over my shock. Because of course it was they who were following me. And then I got very angry.
Their first attempt to stun me I dodged and deflected with ease. They were good duellers but I had surprise on my side and I was the kind of angry that made everything slow down. And I don’t think they actually believed that I would attack them.
It took all of thirty seconds of ferocious duelling for me to disarm them. I then conjured ropes from my wand and tied them each to a chair, making sure their wands were safely in my possession.
“Right” I began, “What are you doing following me?”
They stayed silent, glaring at me furiously.
“Did Rosalind put you up to this?”
Still they said nothing.
“If you don’t talk I will hex you both into the middle of next month and then leave you in here for someone else to find... eventually. So start talking.”
“You wouldn’t do it” Saiph said bitterly. “Aunt Vanessa and Uncle Edward would punish you. They like us better than they do you.”
The last part was true, Mother and Father made no secret of it. But I wasn’t just randomly attacking Rigel and Saiph; they had been snooping around, following me, for about a month. My parents might not like it if I hexed them but if you put it in perspective it was one of my lesser crimes. If I could survive being put in Gryffindor I could certainly survive the consequences of having a fight with my cousins.
To prove to them that I was serious, and that I was determined to get answers, I pointed my wand at Saiph and hit him in the face with a stinging hex. His face immediately screwed up in pain as it became red and inflamed.
“Merlin you’re a bloody bitch” he coughed out.
“Maybe now you will tell me what the hell is going on?”
Rigel and Saiph shared a look before Rigel turned back to me and sighed in frustration. “Yeah we were told to watch you. By your parents and our mother. Mother told us that you had a go at your parents in the hospital over Christmas. You’ve been screwing up. So we’ve been writing to our mother, telling her the things we hear and see about you.”
“Like what?” I asked furiously.
“Like the fact that you call Scorpius your brother, and you’re rejecting Romenel, and there was a rumour going around the school that you’re a lesbian. And that people have been saying you hate James Potter and no one seems to know why. And that you act differently when you’re not around us.”
“What do you mean? Act differently, how?”
“As in you act like a stupid Gryffindor, and you go everywhere with that half-blood friend of yours – Johnston or whatever her name is. The short one.”
I put on my poker face but I was horrified and quite frankly scared sensele
ss at the knowledge that they had been watching me so closely. I didn’t want to imagine what would happen if they found out Harriet was not in fact a half-blood like we had told everyone, but a Muggle-born, with an older Muggle brother, a mother who spent her days looking after Muggle children in a day-care centre and a policeman for a father.
I took a step closer to them and pointed my wand at their faces threateningly. “If I catch either of you following me or ‘reporting’ things about me again I will curse you so bad you won’t be out of the hospital wing for a month” I said in a quiet, deadly voice. “I don’t care what my parents or Rosalind have told you to do, you have no right to spy on me, and Merlin you will regret it if it continues. Got it?”
They scowled, obviously not taking well to having their younger cousin threaten them.
I took a step back, eyes flashing, and hit them both with ‘Mucus ad Nauseam’; the Curse of the Bogies. I then dropped their wands on the floor, well out of their reach, before storming out of the classroom and slamming the door behind me.
I felt having a strong head cold and runny nose while being tied to a chair in a disused classroom would make them uncomfortable enough to think twice about messing with me again.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Hogwarts.
Author's note: I just wanted to explain something so you understand the story a little better. Neville, who as we know is a good friend of the Potters, suffered through the Christmas holidays (along with James’ family and any of the Weasleys who would hang around long enough) listening to James’ rants about some “Taiven girl”. (Remembering that Aaliyah ran into James at St Mungos and slapped him during this Christmas period, you can understand how his rantings would have been tragically biased and really quite repetitive). Therefore although most of James and Aaliyah’s skirmishes have happened out of sight of the teachers, Neville is well aware of them, and of James’ attitude toward Aaliyah. That is why he appears somewhat familiar and tired with the two of them when they are sent to his office in this chapter; he knew it was only a matter of time.
I was woken up the next morning by the girls getting ready to go to Hogsmeade. Hattie was taking extra care with her appearance for her date with Eric, and she had settled on a pretty red floral dress with stockings and a jacket which she kept unzipped. Georgina didn’t seem as keen for the trip. She was planning on hanging out with Alex, but knowing Alex she would probably find some boy to wile away the time with. That would have been fine if Professor Longbottom hadn’t banned me from Hogsmeade today on account of my bashing James with a bouquet of roses yesterday. If Alex ditched she would have to try finding some other people from our year to hang out with.
I lay there for a few more minutes before I decided I might as well get up and have breakfast with the girls. I knew that I should use today to catch up on some homework since there would be no distractions with only first and second years around, but I just felt so low after yesterday. I didn’t want to believe that my parents had told Rigel and Saiph to watch me and report back to them on me, but at the same time it was all too easy to believe. They would do anything to keep me in their control and make sure I wasn’t going over to the other side. And I knew it was my fault because without really meaning to I had drawn more attention to myself this year, what with my comments to my parents over Christmas, my fights with James, my rejection of Romenel. I mean, they may not sound like such big things, but that didn’t matter; the first whiff of disloyalty and they were down on me like a shot.
I felt cornered, like it was me against the world, even though I knew that wasn’t exactly true. I had the girls, and I had Scorpius. If it all fell apart I knew they would be there for me. But it was my burden to bear and as always it was me that had to make the decisions about what to do, how to act. And that made me feel kind of lonely.
Breakfast was a noisy affair as everyone was excited to start heading down to Hogsmeade with their Valentines and friends. I was rather subdued until Felix came over to the Gryffindor table and sat down next to me.
“By the sound of things you need a bit of cheering up today” he said, smiling. “I heard you can’t go to Hogsmeade so do you wanna hang out with me here?”
I looked up into his hazel eyes and felt a smile creep along my face. “Yeah, okay.”
He looked surprised that I had agreed so easily but he tilted his head toward the door, “You ready to get out of here?”
I nodded and got up, said goodbye to an equally surprised Hattie, Georgina and Alex, and left the Great Hall with Felix. We headed out to the grounds and began walking slowly along the lake edge.
“So what makes you think I need cheering up?” I asked.
He looked down at me, raised an eyebrow and then looked away again as he said “Overheard Rigel and Saiph telling your brother that you tied them to a chair and cast some nasty spells on them. Figured that meant something bad had gone down between you.”
I bit my lip. “What did Lance say?”
“Dunno. Didn’t stick around. He didn’t look too impressed though.”
I looked down at the ground. Felix wrapped his hand around mine.
“So anyway,” he said in a lighter tone and I was grateful, “what’s the story with you and James Potter? Seems as though he’s suddenly got all interesting or something” he teased.
I smiled up at him and then rolled my eyes. “He is such a twat and he keeps accusing me of being all this stuff that I’m not...” I trailed off there. Felix was a pureblood and although he wasn’t one of the Pures that didn’t mean he didn’t have those sort of loyalties to family and friends. It was probably best if I didn’t tell him that the things that made me so angry that James had been saying about me were to do with being a pureblood.
Felix just nodded slowly as though he might have an idea what I was talking about.
“Well, try aiming for his crotch next time you start hitting him. I, and the rest of the male population at Hogwarts, am sick of coming up second to his freckly arse.” He grinned down at me, “Except to you, apparently. But you’re a strange one.”
I hit him playfully on the arm. “Come on,” I said, pulling the hand that I was still holding in the direction of the castle. “I don’t want to talk about Potter, and it’s freezing out here.”
“Well where do you suggest we go?” He asked with a waggle of his eyebrows.
I poked my tongue out at him but didn’t mind when he took me back to the Slytherin Common Room. There were a handful of first and second years sitting around that we ignored as Felix led me up the boys’ staircase and into his dorm. He pulled the door shut behind us and sat down on one of the beds. I sat down next to him and bit my lip nervously as he brushed my hair away from my face and leaned in. As soon as his lips touched mine I forgot all about being nervous. Kissing Felix was a lot different to kissing Leo Wyler in fifth year. For a start, he knew what he was doing. Also, he wasn’t shy about anything. I found myself relaxing effortlessly into his arms.
I didn’t get back to my own common room until sometime in the afternoon, about the same time as most people were returning from Hogsmeade. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t making out for that entire time. Felix was actually really easy to chat to. And he played a mean game of Exploding Snap. And yeah he could be a bit insensitive and made one too many dirty jokes, but that was kind of what made us work. We both knew that this was never going to be a proper relationship; I would undoubtedly get annoyed with him and he’d eventually get bored with me, but that was OK because we weren’t expecting anything else. It would just be nice having someone new around that I didn’t have to tell all the important stuff to, but who nevertheless would just be there. And to be perfectly honest it felt great receiving a bit of physical attention from a guy.
Basically, Felix was exactly what I needed right now.
One thing Felix told me when we were hanging out stuck with me quite a bit, and I decided to just bite the bullet and go talk to Scorpius about it. So after a long dinner filling each other in on the day’s events (turns out both Alex and Georgina found boys to spend the day with), I caught up with Scorpius as he was leaving the Great Hall.
“Hey, can I talk to you for a sec?”
“Yeah sure thing” he said and we moved away from the crowd into the empty room that first years wait in before their sorting.
Once the door was shut behind us I turned and looked up at him. “Felix told me you slept with Keilyn last night.”
His cheeks tinged pink and he reached a hand up to scratch the back of his head awkwardly. “Well. OK” was all he said.
“Don’t worry” I said quickly “I’m not here to talk about that. It’s just...” I sighed. “Scorpius you like Rose. I was OK with you dating Keilyn when it wasn’t serious, but now... I don’t want you stringing her along. Or fooling yourself.”
Scorpius frowned and suddenly he was on the defensive. “I don’t like Rose, Aaliyah. I mean I thought I did when I told you that, but it was just a stupid crush. I just didn’t know what I wanted.”
“And now you do?” I said in a way which made it clear I still thought he had no idea.
“Now I have more of an idea, yeah” he said, and something in his eyes made me not want to challenge him. I was sure he still had a thing for Rose, whatever he said. He certainly seemed more aware of her than most guys in their year. But at the same time I knew this was his business, and I wasn’t going to start a fight with him over it.
“Okay” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
His face softened. “So what happened with Rigel and Saiph, huh? Are you okay?”
“Yeah I’m okay” I said and gave him the lowdown on my parents’ deal with them.
“So basically you have the most screwed up family ever” Scorpius summarised at the finish.
“Yup” I agreed, “pretty much.”
He frowned and folded his arms. “I wonder why you haven’t heard anything from your parents yet, I mean if Rigel and Saiph have been telling them all that stuff - don’t you think they would have said something by now?”
“I was thinking about that” I admitted. “It’s just – the stuff my cousins have told them, it’s not really anything concrete, well apart from the Romenel thing...” (And I’m pretty sure they’ll get over that when they hear I’m now dating another Pureblood).
I was going to leave it at that and not say anything more, but suddenly I felt the need to tell someone how I felt, and Scorpius was probably the most qualified in understanding my family troubles. “I’m worried, Scorpius. It feels like the calm before the storm, you know?”
He unfolded his arms and beckoned me over. I stepped forward and rested my head against his chest and he wrapped his arms around me. “You’ll be okay, Lee. You’re stronger than you think, you know.”
I stayed silent for a few moments before sighing and pulling away. “I better get back to the girls.”
He nodded and we headed for the door.
“So when did you get so tall anyway?” I asked as we left the room. He seemed to have had a growth spurt – all of a sudden I barely came up to his shoulders.
He groaned “I’m telling you, if I get any more of these bloody growing pains I’m going to go to Madam Foveaux. I’m almost as tall as Father already. I’m going to kill that grandfather of mine...”
I grinned. Scorpius’ grandfather hovers somewhere around six foot five, has a loud booming voice with an Irish accent and a brazen but friendly manner; all making for one very impressive man. If Scorpius was only fifteen and already nearly the same height as his father, I had no doubt he would be taking after Mr. Greengrass and that his growing pains wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon.
I patted him on the arm and said goodnight. I walked back to the tower feeling suddenly tired, my good mood from hanging out with Felix gone as quickly as it came.
I had almost forgotten about Felicity Verity over the weekend. That is until a scrunched up note landed on my desk in potions Monday morning.
I opened it and read: Whatever you two were doing in that broom cupboard doesn’t matter. James doesn’t like you, he’s just using you, one of my friends overheard him telling David and Drake about it. And besides he’s already falling for me. You really don’t stand a chance. So get lost before I ruin you. F.V
I looked over to where Felicity was standing at a table with another Ravenclaw girl and two Hufflepuffs. When she saw me looking she threw a ‘take that’ kind of look at me. I quickly ducked my head so she wouldn’t see me grinning. If she wanted to pursue James to try get back at me and to further her popularity I certainly wasn’t going to get in her way. Quite frankly I thought it was hilarious that she thought there was something between me and James. But it also reminded me that I had to keep Felix a secret; if she found out we were in fact now dating she would think I had been lying the whole time when I said I wasn’t interested in her cast offs, and that would mean she had won.
And with her believing that I liked James, I saw a possibility for this little catfight becoming a lot more fun.
At the end of class, after blowing up my potion as per usual, I motioned to Felix to hang back. He came over and went to put his arm around my waist but I quickly dodged it and shook my head. He frowned but waited until the rest of the class was well ahead of us in the corridor before he spoke.
I replied quietly, “We can’t be seen together in public. People can’t know we’re dating.”
He continued to look confused and slightly irritated as he asked “Why not? I’m pureblood.”
I threw him a look but explained. “I can’t have Felicity finding out. You know she started that rumour about me because of you. If she sees us together she’s won.”
Felix stopped in his tracks and stared at me. “So let me get this straight. First I couldn’t snog you because you weren’t interested...”
“... And now I can’t snog you because you are?”
“Yes” I said, pleased that he seemed to understand.
“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me” Or not. “Are all Gryffindor birds like this? Like, completely off their rockers and obsessed with winning the inventions of their own little minds, I mean?”
“Hey” I said, affronted, “it’s your psycho ex that’s causing all the problems here.”
Felix shook his head. “You are lucky that you have a nice arse, Aaliyah” was all he said before stealing a quick kiss and going on his way.
I guess I shouldn’t have expected him to react well to learning that if he wanted to be with me we would have to keep our relationship a secret from most of the school and sneak around whenever we wanted to hang out. But I figured he would just have to get over it.
I walked quickly down the third floor corridor and caught up with the girls who were heading to our next class; Charms. Eric was with them, walking hand in hand with Hattie. When I reached them I threw her a wink and a smile. Their date on Saturday had gone spectacularly well. She grinned back happily.
We were just passing the trophy room when we all got the fright of our lives. A suit of armour leapt in front of us and drew its sword.
“Go no farther or prepare to forfeit thine lives” said a bodiless voice from inside the empty helmet.
“What the – ” I managed before a loud commotion started up on the Grand Staircase.
We ran over to the banister and looked down. A group of terrified first years were being herded up the stairs by two suits of armour brandishing their swords with nonexistent hands.
The suit of armour in front of us started moving forward with a great screech of metal, causing a pile up and a lot of confusion as everyone in the corridor back tracked. Someone pulled their wand out and threw a stunning spell at it. The spell hit the armour and reflected back in our direction, we ducked and it missed us by inches. A few other students began pulling out their wands and firing spells at it. A few more reflected back before someone hit it with the Reductor curse and it was blast to pieces.
Instead of continuing on to our class the girls, Eric and I, along with the rest of the students in the corridor, decided with unspoken consensus that running around the castle finding more suits of armour to fight and generally involving ourselves in the chaos would be a much more productive use of our time.
It seemed we weren’t the only ones who were making the most of the distraction, as a flood of students ran up and down the grand staircase and through corridors, hurling spells in every direction. We ran down the set of zigzagging staircases that made up the Grand Staircase. Many portraits hanging on the walls were yelling encouragement, warnings, or rebukes, in the end just adding to the excitement and confusion. We finally hurtled to a stop when we nearly crashed into James, David and Drake at the top of the last flight of stairs leading to the ground floor. The trio were standing around feigning terror but unable to hide their broad grins.
“Having fun ladies?” David asked, throwing us a wink.
“You three have no limits, do you?” Alex said, puffing slightly.
The boys just smirked.
“How long you reckon ‘til Longbottom gets here?” Drake asked, looking at James.
James looked down at his watch “Give it another couple of minutes.”
A clank of metal from the bottom of the stairs made us all look down. “Rogues!” the suit of armour boomed up at us before starting to awkwardly climb the stairs. I felt Georgina cringe beside me. Considering the suits of armour had no bodies inside them to make them move I had to admit they were quite a spooky sight. I imagined it was kind of like being attacked by a skeleton. No wonder the first years were so terrified.
I stepped forward and raised my wand but at the same moment Hattie pointed her own wand at the stairs and yelled “Glisseo!”
The stairs transformed into a slide and I immediately lost my footing and went down.
The suit of armour tumbled back down to the ground floor ahead of me and I knew that in a matter of seconds I would slide right into it. In the space of a heartbeat I hit it with a Reductor curse so strong that with a big bang it completely disintegrated. A second later I slid to a stop right where it had been moments before, covered in the metal dust granules that hadn’t had a chance to settle. Breathing hard I stood up, turned, put my hands on my hips and glared up at Hattie.
“HARRIET JOHNSTON are you TRYING to kill me?”
Hattie was holding a hand up to her mouth apologetically, “I am SO sorry, Aaliyah, I didn’t realise you were standing on the stairs!”
“Dude,” Alex cut in excitedly, “that was wicked! I thought you were going to go flying into it but then BAM - blown up at the last minute!”
I glanced up at the guys. They too looked fairly impressed, even a grudging looking James.
“Yeah, nice reflexes” Drake said. “I thought for a second there we were going to have to cart you off to the hospital wing. Then we’d be in serious trouble.”
I felt a smile tugging at my lips. “Thanks” I muttered glancing at him and feeling a little abashed at his and Alex’s praise.
A moment later Professor Longbottom and Professor Pindrop appeared around the corner, the former looking impressive in his anger, and the latter looking a little worse for wear. Professor Pindrop had dust coating the bottom of his robes and had a very flustered look on his face.
Professor Longbottom crossed to where I was standing and looked sternly up at James, David and Drake. As though drawn by some invisible string, suddenly the scene was packed with students waiting to see what would happen to the mischief makers.
“Potter, Silver, Moor, down here NOW” Professor Longbottom said, pointing at the space next to him.
The boys all feigned surprise.
“But Sir, whatever for?” David asked in an innocent voice.
Professor Longbottom just gave him a stern look and waited for them to waltz down the stairs and come to a stop in front of him.
“You can’t believe that all this has something to do with us” James said. “We were just trying to get to class like the responsible, studious young men we are...”
Professor Longbottom didn’t look very impressed at this point and there were several snorts of amusement among the crowd of students.
“... when we were attacked by all these suits of armour” James finished, looking around at the gathered students. “That happened to you guys too, right?”
There was a rush of voiced agreement. Even if somebody among us had evidence that they were the pranksters, they would hardly complain about missing a good fifteen minutes of class. Besides, it would be social 'suicide’ to speak out against any one of the trio.
“I’m sorry to burst your bubble boys” Professor Longbottom said, “but you were overheard discussing your plans for today’s little spot of excitement by the Head Boy.”
At his mention, the pompous looking Head Boy stepped forward from the crowd and bobbed his head toward the professor.
“I think that is sufficient enough evidence to have you two” he pointed at David and Drake “join Mr Potter in detention with me tonight. As for you Mr Potter, you’ve just earned yourself another detention tomorrow. Eight o’clock boys, don’t be late.”
David and Drake groaned in unison and James threw a filthy look at the Head Boy.
“Git” he muttered.
I guess social suicide was a deterrent for everyone except the already socially estranged Head Boy. Dobbing them in just like that was a pretty lame thing to do and I would have felt a little sorry for them had it not occurred to me that David and Drake had just landed themselves in the same detention as me and James for our fight on Valentine’s Day. Now I would be spending the evening with all three of them.
I sat in the common room on one of the comfy armchairs by the fire with my legs curled up under me. It was going to be one of the benefits of being a seventh year next year; being able to claim the best spot by the fire all the time, not just when this year’s seventh years were absent. I was reading an old autobiographical account of a witch’s life in Massachusetts in the sixteen hundreds, during the Salem witch trials. It was both terrible and fascinating reading how the Muggles had persecuted each other and how the writer’s own actions had unwittingly led to the persecution and tragic death of someone she knew. I had read the book before, years ago, but had felt the sudden urge to read it again now.
Completely absorbed in the story, I hadn’t realised how late it had gotten until I felt someone tap my shoulder. I looked up to see James standing next to me.
“Oh, right. Crap – its eight already? Thanks for telling me.” I put my book down on the table and stood up.
James’ eyes lingered on the cover of my book for a moment before turning and walking over to the portrait hole where David and Drake were waiting. I followed a little awkwardly, realising I’d be walking with them to Professor Longbottom’s office.
All three boys stayed silent as we walked and the awkwardness increased. I was just thinking it was going to be a long night when we reached Professor Longbottom’s office only to find Scorpius approaching from another corridor.
I let out a gust of air in relief. “Scorpius! You have detention? What did you do?”
Suddenly he didn’t look as pleased as I was to have a friend.
“I got caught out after curfew” he tried to say in an offhand manner but his cheeks flushed pink.
“You were coming back from Keilyn’s room, weren’t you?” I said.
He grimaced and avoided my eye while I mock-gagged.
I turned to find David, Drake and James all looking at us suspiciously. Slowly James turned back to the door and knocked.
“Guess who?” He called.
There was a grumble from inside and then the door was thrown open. Ignoring James, Professor Longbottom checked that we were all there, grabbed a long black coat from inside his office and pulled it on over his robes. He magically locked the door behind him and gestured for us to follow him as he set off down the corridor.
We followed curiously as he led us out onto the grounds. It was still early but a full moon lit our way and we had no problem navigating in the dark. Just as we reached Hagrid’s hut Professor Cassidy stepped out of it and walked forward to meet us.
“Sorry Neville, no Hagrid tonight. He’s nursing a golden snidget in there.” She turned to the group of us and grinned “Hey guys. Up for a little wander?”
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“We’re picking fluxweed” Professor Longbottom answered simply as he led us around the Greenhouses.
“Fluxweed?” I asked of anybody.
“It’s used in Polyjuice Potion” James answered automatically.
“You have to pick it at full moon” Scorpius added.
“That’s right” Professor Cassidy said, “You sixth years are going to start brewing Polyjuice Potion in class and we need to gather enough fluxweed so that every student has sixteen scruples each.”
“In that case we’ll need thirty-two scruples for Taiven...” James muttered, just loud enough for me to hear. I scowled at him.
“Wands out” Professor Longbottom commanded as he and Professor Cassidy walked into the Forbidden Forest, lighting their own wands as they did so.
David, James and Drake followed the professors without breaking their stride, while Scorpius and I paused at the edge of the trees and looked at each other. I shrugged, lit my wand and stepped forward. Scorpius followed suit, but more hesitantly.
“Um, is this legal?” He asked.
From up ahead the professors looked around at the sound of his voice and stopped when they saw that we were a fair way behind. James smirked when he saw us and I scowled at him and moved faster.
A smile played on Professor Longbottom’s face as he watched Scorpius approach.
“Yes, Mr Malfoy, this is perfectly legal.”
The boys snorted but Scorpius didn’t seem to care. “Alright, maybe I should have asked, is this wise?”
“We’re not going far. The patch of fluxweed is about a kilometre in. And I should remind you that this is a detention, it’s not supposed to be fun.”
“Well, I’m just saying, if I get bitten by a werewolf tonight, one of you has to break the news to my mother” Scorpius replied.
The boys rolled their eyes and we all continued on as a group, Professor Longbottom in the lead. The walk took about twenty minutes, the forest growing steadily darker as the trees grew closer together, blotting out the sky and the light from the moon. We stayed silent apart from the occasional whispered grumblings from Scorpius (“You couldn’t grow this stuff in a greenhouse like a normal person?”).
By the time we reached the place, (a small break in the trees carpeted in the tall fluxweed crop and flooded with moonlight), I was frozen. Thankfully the worst of the winter weather had already been and it hadn’t snowed over Hogwarts in the last few weeks, otherwise I don’t think any of us could have lasted out here at night with just our school robes on.
Professor Cassidy handed out shears to everyone and we set to work cutting the leaves off the plants and putting them in a basket Professor Longbottom conjured.
Moving about warded off the worst of the cold but as soon as we finished fifteen minutes later we all began to shiver.
“I take it there’s a reason that you won’t conjure a fire for us?” I asked the professors.
“Yes, fires attract things” Professor Longbottom said ominously.
“Come on,” Professor Cassidy said, “Let’s get moving.”
The pace the professors set back to the castle was faster than earlier, but still slow enough that we didn’t make a lot of noise tripping and fumbling through the forest.
When we finally reached the edge of the forest I let out a sigh of relief. In front of us the boys started talking about the creature Hagrid was supposedly looking after.
Scorpius took this moment to nudge me with his elbow and mutter “Tresean, seriously?”
I gaped and cried indignantly “He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone!”
Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Of course he was going to tell, he’d been after you for weeks.”
At the look on my face he said “Don’t worry, I’m sure the rest of the school won’t find out. And if it’s any consolation, Romenel seemed pissed but didn’t confront him. I don’t think he’d start a fight with someone as popular as Felix.”
“Good” I said.
“Oh yes, you dating Felix is just great” Scorpius said, suddenly turning from diplomatic to sarcastic. “Couldn’t you set your sights on someone a little less...” he waved his hands about as he struggled for the right words, “Well someone more like... like Hamish, in your year?”
“Hamish the Hufflepuff?”
“Don’t say ‘Hufflepuff’ like it’s a dirty word!” Scorpius scolded, trying not to laugh.
The trio turned around to look at us curiously and I feigned an innocent expression until they turned back around.
I grinned at Scorpius. “So guess who’s turning seventeen soon!” I said, changing the subject.
“I have no idea” Scorpius joked.
I giggled “And guess who can kind of, almost, semi apparate!”
He laughed. “Oh yeah, that sounds real promising. Make sure you tell your instructor that when you sit the test next month.”
I disregarded his comment with a wave of my hand. “I’ll have it down by then” I said confidently.
“So anyway” I said in a whisper as we stepped into the castle which was relatively warm compared to the freezing wind outside, “What should we do for my birthday? I was thinking we could sneak out and go to the Hog’s Head, because they don’t look too hard to see if you’re underage, so you, Hattie and Georgina, and anyone else you wanted to bring, could drink too. And from there... I don’t know. Wreak havoc however we see fit. What do you think?”
Scorpius frowned and with a quick glance at the professors ahead of us whispered “How exactly are we supposed to sneak out? Grow wings and fly over the magically protected gates? One, I seriously doubt any of us knows enough magic to do such a thing, and two, we’d be seen for sure.”
I let a little smile touch my face. “Don’t worry about getting out. I have my ways” I whispered back, thinking of the secret tunnel under the Whomping Willow. I’d just have to find a way to get us across the grounds invisibly.
“Alright” Scorpius said with raised eyebrows, humouring me, “in that case, it sounds like a plan.”
After another minute our group parted ways, Scorpius in the direction of the dungeons, the professors going back to their quarters after a stern ‘Go straight to your dormitories’ and ‘We don’t want to see you in detention again’, and James, David and Drake to our common room with me following a little way behind. I don’t know if it was due to my presence or if they were just cold and tired, but only a few words were passed quietly between David and Drake on the walk back and James remained silent the whole time.
We got back to the common room about quarter past nine so almost everyone was still up. I stayed in the common room for a few minutes with the girls before deciding on an early night and heading up to our dormitory for a hot shower and bed.
The last weeks of February were spent cramming our heads with as much information as possible and trying to stay on top of all the homework the teachers suddenly felt inclined to give us. Our end of term exams were less than four months away and everybody was feeling the pressure.
The day before my birthday (which thankfully fell on a Friday this year) the girls and I spent in the library getting up to date with most of our homework so that we could relax and just attend classes the following day.
Waking up the next morning, on March 4th, as officially of age and an adult in the wizarding world felt awesome. I jumped out of bed and woke the other girls up before spotting the modest pile of presents at the foot of my bed. I grabbed the one on top and sat on my four poster to unwrap it.
“This one’s from Scorpius” I told the sleepy girls as they gathered around my bed.
“It’s small - I bet it’s jewellery” Georgina said.
She was right. It was a thin, silver bangle that, once on, adjusted itself perfectly to the size of my wrist. A small lion was engraved on it followed by my full name, Aaliyah Rose LaVont Taiven.
“It’s beautiful” I said as I ran my fingers over the little lion.
The next present was from my parents, a new wand case which was actually quite nice, and then a present from Lawrence who had gotten me a plain silver band ring, but when you brushed the top of it the time appears as though suddenly engraved before disappearing again after a moment. It was gorgeous and I had to wonder how Lawrence had bought it.
I turned to the girls next and they all handed me their presents one by one; a matching lingerie set from Alex, a book from Hattie, chocolate and soap from Georgina. They had also all pitched in to get me a one-of-a-kind red and gold bikini with the Hogwarts crest’s lion roaring on the right triangle and ‘GRYFFINDOR’ printed on the back of the briefs.
“Ohmymerlin this is so great!” I squealed, “You guys rock, this is perfect! Thank you so so much!”
The girls were all grinning.
“Thought you might like it” Hattie said.
We went down to breakfast after that, me wearing my new jewellery, where I went over to the Slytherin table to hug and thank Scorpius for the present.
The rest of the day passed quickly and soon it was time to get dressed for the coming night. All day in between classes I had been practising the disillusionment charm. If we didn’t cross the grounds to the Whomping Willow until dark, the spell should be sufficient for us to leave the grounds unnoticed.
I had told the girls not to get too dressed up, and as it was my birthday, they grudgingly complied. I had opted to wear one of the dress robes my family had got me for Christmas – a simple salmon coloured number with long wide sleeves and that fell unobstructed to mid thigh. Flats and a long silver necklace to match my bracelet finished the outfit.
After we were all ready we left the common room and walked to the Ravenclaw tower to pick up Hattie’s boyfriend, Eric.
“So, remind me again how you know where the Ravenclaw common room is Aaliyah?” Georgina said.
I smiled cheekily, “I have my ways.”
Eric and his friend Corban Alanis stepped outside into the corridor just as we approached.
“Happy birthday, Aaliyah” he called happily before moving to Hattie’s side and giving her a swift kiss. “You look beautiful” he told her, and Hattie blushed spectacularly, still new to receiving compliments.
Corban smiled tentatively at us. “Congrats on coming of age” he said to me.
I thanked him and then after a fair debate, mostly between Hattie and me, I finally got my way and proceded to blindfold her, Eric, Corban and Georgina, before leading them to the Slytherin common room. Alex walked freely as she already knew the location of the Slytherin common room due to past boyfriends from the same house.
When we got there I left our group outside under the charge of Alex and went in. Inside I gathered quite a number of interested looks from the students gathered there. Seeing that Scorpius and Felix weren’t in the room I passed through the passageway where the boys dormitories came off. I went into the sixth years dorm first and was pleased to see it was empty of the other boys. Felix was running a comb through his hair and he looked up and grinned when I came in.
“Hey babe, just be a sec” he said and sat down on his bed to put on his shoes.
I stood in front of him and ran a hand through his dark hair.
“Oi!” he said, pushing my hand away, irate that I had messed up his careful combing.
I rolled my eyes. “You’re such a girl” I told him.
He smirked and pulled me down so that I was sat on his lap. “There’s nothing girl about me” he murmured into my neck, and then from my neck trailed kisses steadily downwards. I sighed in pleasure and lingered for a minute before pushing away from him and standing up.
“We have to go, everybody’s waiting.”
He nodded and we proceeded into the fifth year dorm to get Scorpius and his friend Michael, then met back up with the rest of the group outside. The nine of us walked back up from the dungeons, and when we were a fair away I took Hattie and Georgina’s blind folds off.
“OK, we’re heading back to our dorm now to drink” I told them.
I stood before Eric with my eyebrows raised at Hattie and she nodded, so I took his blindfold off too. I could see Alex smirking at Hattie for letting her boyfriend know where the Gryffindor common room was.
When we reached the portrait hole into the Gyffindor tower I momentarily forgot that Felix was blindfolded until he swore. I looked back to see that he had tripped on the entrance. Scorpius sniggered as I went to help guide him through the hole and into the common room.
As soon as we were in I took great delight in whipping off Felix, Corban and Michael’s blindfolds.
Corban and Michael looked around curiously. Felix, however, didn’t seem at all interested in seeing the common room; instead he was frowning at Scorpius and Eric.
“They didn’t get blindfolded?!”
“Well, Eric is Hattie’s boyfriend” I said.
“I’m your boyfriend!”
“Yeah, but you’re a Slytherin.”
“So is he!” he said, pointing at Scorpius.
I narrowed my eyes, “Just shut up, Felix, and tell me what you think” I said, indicating the room.
He shrugged, still a little put out, “I don’t see the big deal”.
“Oh come on, it’s ten times better than your shitty little common room!” I said, jumping up and down in my excitement.
Felix shook his head in disbelief, “I’m starting to feel a seriously underappreciated right now”.
I grinned and kissed him as the others laughed.
“I hope this is a joke” James’ voice carried across the room. I span around to look at him at the top of the boys’ staircase where he had just emerged.
“Don’t you even start Potter” I warned him, “You bring your little hussies up here all the time!”
Everyone who had been sitting around the common room and staring at our group now focused their attention on James to see his reaction.
“That’s different! None of them are Slytherins! And you’ve got a whole infestation of them in here!”
“Three is hardly an infestation!” I scoffed.
Michael shook his head, “Merlin, us Slytherins are seriously misunderstood creatures” he said with a dramatic sigh.
I laughed and, ignoring James' furious glares, lead our group over to the girls’ staircase. I stopped at the foot and summoned my broomstick from under my bed.
“The stairs will melt into a slide if any of you boys step on it” I told them, “take it in turns to fly up.”
Scorpius shrugged, pulled out his wand and muttered something. Suddenly he shrank and transformed into a blackbird, then proceeded to fly up the stairs on midnight wings by himself.
I looked at the other boys’ blank faces.
“Isn’t he younger than us...?” Eric said.
Felix held out his hand to me. “Broom, please.”
I handed it over with a grin, then turned and ran lightly up the staircase, excited for the coming night.