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Riddikulus by The Daily Prophet

Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 57,633
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Substance abuse

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Neville, James (II), Teddy, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 01/03/2017
Last Chapter: 09/24/2017
Last Updated: 09/24/2017

Summary:
Banner by me







I need to learn to take a joke, James Sirius Potter needs to learn to think ahead, and as a result, we both need to learn to face our fears.

We're in for a hell of a year. 

Of House pride, midnight escapades, outrageous (but credible) conspiracies, poorly executed pranks, the resulting detentions, and the nightmare known as fifth year. 


Chapter 1: In Which It Probably Wasn't My Fault
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A/N: Alright so this story is (obviously) a next generation fic, revolving mostly around James Sirius Potter's year. There will likely be references to the older generation, but only as seen from an outsider's point of view. It isn't a particularly dark story, but does abide by some sort of realism, so there'll be ups and downs. And with that said, I hope you enjoy the story. 

Btw, we all know that Queen Rowling owns Harry Potter and everything you recognize, and I, unfortunately, am not the Queen...




Chapter One

In Which It Probably Wasn't My Fault 



 

It was a Tuesday, I was in my fifth year, the sky was overcast, and I'd been in that god-forsaken class for less than fifteen minutes and was ready to stab someone in the eye with a quill.

At the rate class was going, I'm willing to bet that I could've pleaded insanity for anything that happened after the thirteen minute mark, too. 

More to the point, I was failing Potions Class. Well, technically, I was probably doing about averagely in Potions, but Merlin knows average is never what parents like to see, so I'd been working my arse off the entire week to bring up my grade. After a couple attempts at bribery and a lot of pestering, I'd eventually gotten Professor Griffiths (who was an old, rather unfortunately balding man who seemed to enjoy failing his students) to agree to let me brew a Strengthening Solution for extra credit.

It'd been brewing for a couple days, and I was close enough to being done that I actually started to get optimistic. In hindsight, I probably should've known that optimism never bodes well. 

"You know, I think this thing'll be done by dinner time," I beamed and nudged Tara Hayward, who up until then had been exasperatedly ignoring my commentary. 

Tara was insane enough to be one of my best mates and unfortunate enough to be my potions partner, and I honestly wasn't sure how our friendship had survived the partnership. 

Tara looked up briefly and sighed."Charlie." She paused long enough to quirk an eyebrow at my appearance, justifiably. My cheeks were alarmingly red from the heat of the cauldron and I'm fairly certain that I'd managed to singe some of my hair somewhere along the way, but I didn't let the fact that I looked like a troll detract from my pride. 

After taking a moment to absorb all of this (and probably also to establish that I wasn't on fire again), Tara sighed. "You've been saying that since yesterday morning."

"Have not," I denied. She was right, of course, but I didn't have to admit it. I was met only with a slightly more exasperated eye-roll. "Anyway, all I've actually got left to add is the powdered Griffin Claw, so I'd say I'm justified this time," I persisted.

Bailey Jennings (another member of our group of Gryffindor misfits) was the only one to grace me with a response. When she did, she wore a slight smirk. "You mean the powdered Griffin Claw that Fred used the last of yesterday?"

I swore. "Never liked that bloke," I muttered, which wasn't necessarily true, but I also didn't have a strong opinion to the contrary.  

Bailey noticed and shook her head with a laugh. "There's more in the supply closet."

I was already out the door as I called back a quick "Thanks!" and rushed to grab the necessary supplies. I did manage to do it without causing much harm, although I had a feeling our year would later receive a lecture on the spilled frog entrails... Still, there were no fatalities, so I counted it as an unqualified success.

I should have known something was off when I returned and Sean Finnigan casted a wary glance toward my empty seat and moved slightly farther away, but I'd be the first to admit that my skills of deduction are... Dismal at best.

In case anyone was left wondering where this was going, I'll say that it certainly didn't end well.

I sprinkled the powder into the cauldron somewhat clumsily but with an air of satisfaction. The mixture promptly bubbled a bit, turned a sick greenish color...

And exploded in my face.

The next minute was a bit of a blur, but I do recall a vaguely hearing mingled laughter and shouts from my classmates and being lead somewhat roughly out of the classroom by one rather irritated Professor Griffiths. 

Of course, this was after I saw James Potter smirk and hold up a pomegranate seed.

It was only the second time that week that I had to weigh the disadvantages of completing the rest of my schooling from inside the walls of Azkaban. 

. . . 

"Where is he?" I hissed to Tara as soon as I caught up with her in the rush to the Great Hall for breakfast the following day. I vaguely wondered where the rest of my dormmates were, but I supposed that they would've been in no hurry to eat, since they didn't have me to spur them towards the food. 

Tara glanced my way as we continued struggling our way through the Hall. "I think that telling you could get me charged with involuntary manslaughter, so no can do," She told me with genuine regret in her eyes. 

I had to forgo a response when I nearly tripped over a first year, but managed to mutter something along the lines of, "Fine, I'll find him on my own, then," before stalking off to the Gryffindor table. 

I spotted the obnoxious group of fifth year boys fairly quickly, sitting in their usual spots at the Gryffindor table. There looked to be some sort of chugging competition going on between Fred and Sean, and judging by their faces, I could only hope to never find out exactly what was in the chalices. 

Ignoring Tara's warning glance, I stormed over, slammed my rucksack on the table, and sat down. The boys each sported expressions of varying amusement, and I narrowed my eyes at them. 

Sean was the first to speak. "So... to what to we owe the pleasure, Simmons?" He asked, not trying particularly hard to mask the laughter in his voice. 

A few students from surrounding areas of the table looked on in interest. I ignored Sean and turned my glare to Potter, who met my eye cooly and smirked. 

"Yeah, where've you been all day?"

"Did you really just ask me where I've been? You actually - Merlin, you're thick." I nearly gaped at Potter, at the bloody audacity and clear death wish the statement conveyed, and I leaned across the table towards him as I continued my tirade. "As you bloody well know, I've been in the Hospital Wing for the past five hours getting green slime removed from my eyes, so I hope you're pleased with yourself!"

I never said I was eloquent, but I happen to be quite fluent in profanity.

James' smirk never wavered under my glare, except for a slight wince at the volume of my outburst. "You know, I've heard that salamander blood does wonders for your complexion," he said graciously.

Now, I never claimed to be entirely stable either, and even I'm not quite certain what happened next, but I do know that I said something along the lines of "Well, I've heard that oatmeal does, too," and suddenly Potter's face was smashed into his bowl of oatmeal, his friends were staring at me as if I were bonkers, and I was standing up and getting ready to leave.

I almost walked away from it, too, having gotten what I came for.

And then there was a piece of jelly toast stuck to the back of my robes, and letting it go really wasn't an option anymore.

He'd certainly deny this if questioned, but I'm about eighty five per cent sure that it was Fred who threw the first pumpkin pasty, and from there chaos ensued. There were quite a few shouts of "FOOD FIGHT!" from the students at the Gryffindor table, and from there house rivalries ensured that food was thrown toward the Slytherins. 

I'd found my mates somewhere in the chaos, and we took shelter behind an overturned table. 

I hurled biscuits over the side of the table toward the Ravenclaws as I dodged a half-eaten apple, and Bailey had to stop me from chucking a goblet at James, who stood on one of the benches lobbing biscuits at people. I had just gotten a tray of rolls dumped down my robes when a striking red light filled the sky and a terrible screeching sound filled the Great Hall.

"That is ENOUGH!" Yelled the Headmistress, Professor McGonagall, still holding her wand. 

Merlin, that woman may have been be old, but she could be quite scary whenever necessary.

The effect was so immediate and efficient that it was almost unsettling. A final glob of something flew through the air and a tray clattered, and then there was silence. Students did their best to duck down to avoid meeting the Headmistress's eye, and I was left holding a pumpkin pastie in my hand, poised to throw. 

I got the feeling I wouldn't be able to talk myself out of that one. 

. . . 

Seven minutes, four futile escape attempts, and a heart-stopping glare later, I found myself in the Headmistress's office.

Strawberry jam splattered the side of my face, orange juice dripped from my robes, and scrambled eggs clung to my mess of hair. My hands were covered in a sticky goo of unknown origins, and pumpkin juice oozed from my left shoe. I'm sure it would've made wonderful picture, if the intention was to scare children with it. (As it was, I was just glad Bailey hadn't managed to take a picture as everything unfolded - I'd never live that down.) 

Minerva McGonagall surveyed me with eyes so narrow I almost held out hope she couldn't see me, and I shifted uncomfortably on my feet. 

My shoe squelched.  

Sometimes one reaches a point in his or her life that they have to look around, see what it's come to, and wonder how the bloody hell they got there. 

I was experiencing one of those moments. 

"Miss Simmons," The Headmistress said with a glare so disappointed it felt like it burned me, "What do you have to say for yourself?"

"I'm... Er... " Was there a right thing to say? "I'm really sorry, Professor..." 

McGonagall barely acknowledged me. She turned her icy gaze to Potter. "And Mister Potter?"

With her attention focused on him, I felt tempted to check for holes burned into me by her eyes.

"Erm.. Same, I guess," James muttered, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. 

Much to my satisfaction, he hadn't escaped the food massacre unscathed; his face was smeared with marmalade, which contrasted quite scarily with his hazel eyes, and remnants of oatmeal still clung to his cheek. His brown hair was plastered to his forehead from what might have been milk, though by that point I wasn't sure I wanted to know. 

Professor McGonagall regarded us both coldly. I fidgeted under her gaze, toying with my hair in a pointless attempt to pick the egg out of it.

I shifted and sighed after the silence started to physically hurt. "So... Detention?" 

McGonagall nodded tersely. "Two weeks of detention, and no leaving the castle outside of classes. Meet Professor Chambers tomorrow to clean the trophies." She gave us both measured gazes and then turned away briskly. "You may go."

James' eyes widened. "But we scrimmage Slytherin next wee-" He started to protest.

"Mister Potter, you have received your retribution, and unless you wish to make it worse, you may go. Am I clear?"

James sighed. "Crystal."

I wanted to be feel bad, but it was James Potter; I figured he'd find a way to live without Quidditch for two weeks. Then, I was barely holding it together whenever someone asked me why I didn't play anymore, so I supposed melodrama was a Quidditch staple. 

We left the room in silence, and it was only then that I realized that my hands had been shaking. Merlin, that woman was scary. I watched Potter closely after we made it into the hallway, trying to gauge his reaction. 

It wasn't good.

"You," He hissed suddenly, making me jump back, "Are the reason we're going to lose the first match."

I'd never admit it, but the noise I made in response was somewhere between a shriek and a scoff. "I'm sorry that you think you're that important to the team, but the lions were going to lose with or without you," I snapped. 

"I could say the same for you this year," Potter countered as he crossed his arms. "Do you even regret costing us the match, or was this some sort of 'If I don't get to play then you don't' shit?" 

He was, of course, referring to the fact that I wasn't even on the bloody team that year, due to... Unfortunate circumstances. 

I rolled my eyes at him. "Firstly, that's still not my fault, and secondly, you're not even missing an actual bloody match! Save the bitching until after we've lost the Cup, and I'll save the regret."   

I steeled myself to meet his gaze only to find that the signature James Potter smirk had made its way back onto his face, as insufferable as ever. "Trust me, you'll regret this more than I will," Potter declared, and then sauntered off to go do whatever trolls did in their free time. 

I sighed as I watched him go. After sharing a year and House with him for five years, I had no doubt that he'd follow through, and he wasn't even that justified in being angry! 

I groaned and slung my bag over my shoulder with a lot more force than was necessary. A few portraits watched me as I stormed pass, grumbling under my breath about how it was definitely not my fault.  

. . . 

James' revenge was swift, quite loud, and... musical.

I had torn open the red hangings around my bed Thursday morning in a foul mood, having slept a total of about five hours that night. I'd jump from the astronomy tower before admitting it, but I'd been worrying about the coming onslaught of revenge pranks that I knew was coming.

Fortunately - or maybe unfortunately - my suffering was prolonged, as no such revenge came.

Tara showed true Gryffindor bravery in attempting to drag me out of bed that morning, and we both had several developing bruises by the time I finally rolled out from under the covers. Both of us looked worse for the wear, but Tara had somehow kept her brown hair in a semi-neat looking braid throughout all of it. I, on the other hand, was sporting dark circles under my blue eyes and my short, nearly matted brown hair stuck out in all directions.

"Bedhead much?" My third and final roommate Sarah Jordan laughed, glancing at us. She was in the process of throwing on her robes, meaning she was a good ten minutes ahead of us, ultimately meaning I had to hurry.

I did my best to give her a death glare. "Watch it, or I might try the cornrow look myself, and let me tell you, you'll be the one braiding," I shot back.

Sarah caressed her dark braids defensively. "You could never pull it off," she grinned.

I mean, she wasn't wrong. 

Bailey laughed at us, already dressed and halfway out the door. Honestly, she was too studious for her own good (or the rest of ours), and if she left without us, we'd have no one to stop us from skipping class altogether. 

See, we had established a system when we'd realized we'd be sharing a tiny room for the next seven years of our lives way back in first year; Bailey made sure we all got through the academic year (and assaulted us with ill-timed camera flashes), Tara provided a good conversation and a laugh to anyone in need, Sarah would threaten to beat anyone who messed with her mates with her beater's bat, and I did my best to keep Sarah out of detention. Really, our close friendship had sprung from mutual need, but we were close, nonetheless.

The rest of us hurried to get ready and catch up with Bailey, and I left the dorm in a better mood than I had woken up in. We made it to the Great Hall without any deadly accidents, which was a good sign. Even better for me was the fact that the demon known as James Potter was nowhere to be seen.

We managed to get through breakfast without starting any more food fights, and I'd almost forgotten my near sleepless night by the time the mail arrived.

And then a brown, rather mean-looking screech owl dropped an envelope in front of me, and my heart dropped into my stomach. 

Sarah stopped talking mid sentence, and I could see her amused expression in my peripheral vision. My other roommates exchanged anticipating glances. Bloody traitors. 

I swore, grabbed the letter, and sprinted towards the doors, but I was too late. I braced myself for the shrieking voice of my mother, even though I wasn't sure exactly what it was that I'd done, but the voice that rang out was even worse.

Blasting at full volume from the Howler was Celestina Warbeck's nearly ancient, definitively infamous, and positively atrocious song, "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love".

Bailey's camera flashed, and giggles broke out. I heard several people screaming in absolute agony, clutching their ears.

I may have been one of them.

. . . 

And so I found myself, not fifteen minutes later, sitting in the office of Professor Longbottom. He looked at me tiredly upon seeing me, although my reputation was still relatively clean at that point. He looked to be in his late thirties or early forties and was moderately attractive, though the appealing thing to most people was the fact that he was a war hero. Either way, the girls in our year certainly paid attention in his classes. 

Then, as Head of Gryffindor, he was the one who ended up needing to deal with most of the Weasley/Potter clan's pranks, so sometimes I almost pitied him. 

He fixed me with a stern gaze and sighed. 

After we'd established that the Howler wasn't going to stop of its own accord, Longbottom had silenced it as quickly as possible, but the damn thing still insisted on following me around.

It had gotten through about half of the songs in the album You Stole My Cauldron But You Can't Have My Heart before any of the professors bothered to step in, and by then I'd sent quite a few poorly-aimed Incendio's at the letter... and at James, who had decided to show himself once he heard the music, probably to see the fruits of his handiwork like the smug git that he is.

I was fairly certain that those poorly aimed spells were the reason I was there, because I couldn't have gotten in trouble for a Howler someone else sent me, and I'd already been sufficiently punished for the food fight.

"Miss Simmons, I assume you know why you're here?" Professor Longbottom questioned. He looked wary, and probably rightly so. 

I huffed and slouched further in my chair. "James Potter."

The Professor raised an eyebrow, but if I didn't know any better, I'd say his expression was tinted with amusement. "Care to elaborate?"

"Erm... not really..." 

He gave me a pointed look. "Do I have to call Mister Potter in here as well?"

"If you've got a bed in the Hospital Wing ready," I mumbled under my breath. 

I received a more stern glare. Apparently the Professor had heard me, and he didn't find my comment nearly as amusing as I did. "So?" he pressed again warily.

I weighed the pros and cons. I had to stay out of Azkaban at least long enough to see the quidditch final that year... 

I sighed. "It would probably be best if you didn't call him up," I conceded mildly, quickly adding a quick, "Sir" for good measure.

He nodded. "I suppose that means he's done something that I need to talk to him about," he muttered, more to himself than to me. Returning his attention to me, he reiterated; "So you are aware of what you did to end up in my office? Because regardless of what he did to provoke you, James Potter certainly wasn't throwing jinxes at himself."

"Wish he would," I mumbled, this time at a more cautious volume.

The rest of the meeting wasn't much more productive. There was a lot of deflecting and sighing, and then I was given more detentions and appropriately lectured on using magic responsibly. 

The remainder of the day wasn't much better, but then I don't know what I'd been expecting. 




 "Bloody Potter," I muttered under my breath, kicking a trophy case and promptly holding my throbbing foot. "With his bloody Quidditch complex and petty pranks. Everyone in this ruddy school is so convinced he's Merlin's sodding gift to the world! I swear to Godric next time I see him I'm going to strangle the life out o-"

"Are you talking to yourself?" An annoyingly amused voice chimed.

Speak of the devil...

"I was, until you bloody interrupted me," I snapped. I had to give myself credit for not bashing his head in with a trophy the moment I saw him.

He didn't grace me with a response, but he still looked far more amused than he had the right to be. 

I scowled at him.

He smirked. He did that too often.

I held his gaze until it started to seem like we were having a stare off. My eyes started to sting and Potter raised an eyebrow when I gave in and tore my gaze away. 

"Prat," I muttered. I strode away to grab a cloth.

Once again, my antics weren't graced with a response. 

I yanked a trophy off of the shelf and started viciously scrubbing, trying not to glance at my detention partner, who still wore an infuriating smirk.

"Well," I said, this time trying to turn the tides, and wearing a smirk (though I'm pretty sure I didn't pull it off as well as he did), "Get polishing. We've only got another hour and a half."

James gave a dramatic gesture of defeat and then joined me near the trophy case to help polish. Our wands had already been confiscated by Professor Chambers, who had casted James and I a stern glare and warned us that another teacher was in the classroom right across the hall, so not to try anything. Needless to say, we didn't plan on it.

Then, things never quite go as planned when Potter is involved, do they?

We worked in silence for a few minutes, and the time passed slowly. I was still scrubbing an old quidditch trophy a bit too forcefully when James spoke with an even bigger smirk than was usual.

"So, Simmons," He started neutrally like he was trying to make small talk, although I got the distinct impression that I wasn't going to like the next part of that sentence. Potter allowed himself to smirk slightly before finishing with, "I didn't know you were a fan of Warbeck."

It should be said that I don't make a habit of assaulting people in the same House as me, but somehow still, three seconds later there was blood gushing from Potter's nose, and I was rubbing my knuckles and wincing.

Apparently, Professor Chambers hadn't been kidding about the teacher across the hall, because we heard a door fly open  immediately following James' shout.

Well, shit.

Professor Lupin rushed into the room, wand out.

"What the hell?!" James demanded, trying to stop the flow of blood from his nose. He certainly wasn't smirking anymore.

Professor Lupin glanced between the two of us. "Yeah, what the hell?" He asked, though it seemed to be directed towards James.

I gulped. "He got a bloody nose."

It was worth a try.

Before Professor Lupin had time to respond, James cut in: "She attacked me!"

Professor Lupin seemed to be trying to assess the situation. "Wait, you - What?!" He took a breath in an attempt to regain his composure, and then turned back toward James. "Did you provoke her?"

"I - No! I just... questioned her musical judgement," James testified, "And then she attacked me," he accused.

Well, I can't say he was lying, but it was a bit of a stretch.

Professor Lupin connected the dots fairly quickly. "And did it have anything to do with the Howler she received this morning?" 

Honestly, I always liked that me. I made a victorious face at James that I hoped Lupin couldn't see. 

James seemed to be at a loss. "Erm..."

I just tried my best to look innocent. "Professor, he's been pranking me all week, and -" I was cut off.

"But she attacked me!"

"Well, he's the one who -" I started.

"- With her bare hands -" He gestured wildly.

"- front of the whole school-"

"- broke my nose-"

"- bloody Howler -"

"- attacked -"

Professor Lupin raised a hand, signaling for silence. Both of us reluctantly went quiet. The Professor sighed and ran a hand through his hair tiredly. "How many days of detention did McGonagall already give you two?"

"Erm... Two weeks," I muttered sheepishly. I chose not to mention the fact that I'd earned myself another two days for throwing curses at Potter that morning.

"Well, I think you could both stand another four days. Miss Simmons, maybe an extra three in light of his bloody nose." Bloody hell; at that rate there wouldn't be enough days in the school year for all my detentions. I didn't think I'd ever had that many detentions in one semester, no less in one month.

"It's not my fault he's got a delicate nose," I grumbled.

Professor Lupin coughed loudly, hiding his face. Potter looked affronted.

"Don't laugh at me, Teddy!" He said indignantly.

"Who's laughing?" Professor Lupin asked innocently.

Potter muttered something along the lines of "Merlin, you can't trust anyone these days."

"Care to share with the class Potter?" I asked, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Apparently that had been a bad idea, because soon that insufferable smirk was barely visible beneath the blood on his face. "I said I'll see you in detention tomorrow."

I groaned and left the room in a hurry after finishing the polishing without Potter's "help". I assume he was off tending to his broken nose, and that thought alone got me through the rest of the hour. Still, I practically sprinted out the door (and hit several students for my trouble) and spoke the password rather snappishly to the Fat Lady, who attempted to scold me for waking her. I ignored her and legged it to the stairs.

I trudged up to my dorm in about the same mood I'd woken up in (which, if one recalls, was not a good one), and ignored my mates' inquiries about the blood on the knuckles of my right hand.

"I hate detention!" I groaned dramatically after emerging from the bathroom in pyjamas.

Sarah chuckled and glanced up from her Quidditch magazine. "It'd be a bit of an anomaly if you didn't, love," She pointed out.

"Always with the logic," I muttered, crawling into bed.

"It's 8:00 and you have homework to do," Bailey pointed out.

I threw a pillow in her general direction and burrowed deeper into the covers, but ended up emerging from my blankets about five minutes later to finish my Herbology diagram and Transfiguration essay.

I bid all my roommates a hasty, somewhat unenthusiastic goodnight, first making them promise to tell me if they saw any sign of a prank in the night, to which they groaned and accused me of falling subject to Potter-induced paranoia. Looking back, they had something of a case for it, too.

Still I'd say it was justified, seeing as (just that day) I'd been chased by a Howler screeching Warbeck, earned myself another week of detention, and given Hogwarts' golden boy a bloody nose.

In hindsight that last part... May have been my fault.




A/N: Like I said, reviews are the greatest thing in life, and favorites are absolutely amazing. Thanks so much for reading, and feel free to tell me if you have any suggestions or feedback. :)

Edit: As of 5/26/27, this has been edited, so don't be alarmed if you notice changes. :) Thanks! 


Chapter 2: In Which We (Sort of) Save Fred's Life
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Alright so last chapter I didn't exactly make good of my promise to start making them longer, but I'll do my best. :) Also, yes, I know that Charlie is unreasonable most of the time, but to be honest, characters that are a bit out there are a lot more fun to write, and that's sort of the point of character development. ;)

Anyway, I hope you like it, and... I don't own Harry Potter, unfortunately. 








Chapter Two

In Which We (Sort of) Save Fred's Life



 

 

The next morning the sun rose and painted its many colors across the horizon... or so I assumed, as I was still sleeping soundly until Sarah started whacking me repeatedly with a set of robes and all my roommates were shouting at me to get up. It was a bloody wonderful way to start the morning, and I'd spent the first few classes of the day alternating between grumbling about said wakeup call, trying not to fall asleep on the desk, and scribbling notes down.

Really, nothing of note actually happened until Herbology, and me nearly losing a finger some way or other wasn't all that uncommon.

"Charlotte Jane Simmons," Bailey scolded as we walked out of the castle, shaking her head. "What possessed you into thinking it's acceptable to assault people?!"

I groaned. I shouldn't have told her about detention. "The demon known as James Potter," I replied grumpily as I attempted to avoid a collision with a group of loitering third years. I was rather unsuccessful, and one responded with a rather rude hand gesture, and I proceeded to stare him down.

Tara gave a sly smile. "And did you have to go for the face?"

I turned my attention from intimidating the third years to glare at her.

"What?" She said defensively as we took our seats for Herbology, "You know that face is a work of art."

Merlin, it was going to be a long class. "That face is a work of genetics, and people like you are a large part of the reason his ego is bigger than this greenhouse," I corrected.

Tara and Bailey just exchanged defeated looks and sat down.

Sarah hesitated before sitting down, eying the Fanged Geraniums in front of us dubiously. We'd been working with more difficult (and dangerous) plants that year, since we'd have to face the horrors of O.W.L.'s later in the year, but I had to say, I'd have rather just received a Troll on the exam. Then again, I wasn't exactly a model Herbology student, either. In second year, when we were working with mandrake roots, I'd decided to just stuff a scarf in its mouth rather than endure the screeches and ear protection, and nearly suffocated the damn plant in the process.

And that basically says everything there is to know about me and Herbology.

There hadn't really been any serious accidents since last year, though, and no one had died, so I really don't see why Professor Longbottom is still so wary of me being around the venomous tentacula plants.

It was one time.

I sighed as I finally sat down and scooted closer to Sarah. We were united in our deep-seated hatred for magical plants, so we tended to gravitate toward each other in Longbottom's class.

Sarah laughed as she glanced at the shelves toward the back of the greenhouse. She pointed toward a small plant with circular leaves. "Remember when you accidentally - "

"Nope," I said quickly, not eager to relive any more of my Herbology-related shortcomings. "And at lease I never lit my assigned plant on fire," I added as an afterthought.

Sarah just shook her head. "Everybody makes such a fuss..." she murmured.

"Well, my pyromaniacal friend, which one do you want to water?" I asked, motioning toward the Fanged Geraniums that sat in front of us on the wooden table. "And 'neither' isn't an option," I added quickly. Sarah shot me a resentful look that told me that I knew her all too well.

She sighed. "I guess... the smaller one?"

I snorted. "Suite yourself, but that's the one I watered last week."

"Oh Merlin, no; Give me the other one!" Sarah demanded.

I smirked. "Sorry, but a deal-" I started to counter before I was rudely interrupted.

"Longbottom sent me to make sure neither of you gets your fingers bitten off," Fred Weasley said with a slight smirk on his face.

Honestly, what is it with egotistical quidditch players and their signature smirks?!

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Did he send someone to make sure you don't get your nose hexed off?" she asked good-naturedly.

Fred looked affronted. "Merlin, woman, what have I done?"

Sarah grinned. "Nothing. Please, continue speaking with your superiority complex. It's quite endearing."

Sarah Jordan was a very good person to have on your side. To be perfectly honest, she honestly didn't have anything against Fred, but he and Potter have been embarrassing us since first year, so a little competitive banter was in order. Tara, Bailey, and I were convinced it was how she showed affection, but I wasn't about to risk Sarah's wrath and say something. At least she wasn't throwing punches.

"Well, if you'd rather never be able to hold a beater's bat again..." Fred looked up expectantly.

"Oi, if you two could quit flirting long enough to keep me from getting my bloody finger chomped off, that'd be nice," I grumbled as I tried to get the watering can close enough to the pot.

Sarah rolled her eyes and scooted closer to me to make room on the bench. With Fred's help, we managed to water the plant without losing any extremities, and documented any changes since last week (although I saw no difference, I'm fairly sure Fred just had us spew some nonsense about the greenness of the leaves).

As we waited for Professor Longbottom to come around the room to check our work, Fred turned to me and eyed me curiously. "So I've been dying to know the story behind James coming back to the dorm with a bloody face and a wad of tissues, and I'm willing to bet you had something to do with that. You wanna explain?"

"He's an idiot," I said bluntly.

Fred scoffed. "Well I could've told you that much. But what'd that have to do with you? Did you slip him a nosebleed nougat during detention? I mean, I'm slightly disappointed that he fell for that, but he probably wasn't expecting it, so..."

I blinked. "Erm, no... I... May have punched him..."

Fred's eyes lit up, I kid you not. I mean, his reaction to finding out his best mate was slugged in the nose is equatable to that of a five year old in a candy shop.

"Oh, he's never going to hear the end of this," he said gleefully, getting up and heading back toward where the other Gryffindor boys sat. He turned back toward us and grinned. "Thanks, Simmons, Jordan; this has been very informative."

I raised an eyebrow and didn't grace him with a response. I heard laughter from the other table when he got back, which seemed to be aimed at James, to my satisfaction. I felt his glare and turned to meet it and wave.

And then I put my hand down into a pot of Fanged Geranium.

There were curses, screeches, hysterical laughs, and, later, bite marks.

I really have a way of defeating myself, don't I?

. . .

By the time the next class rolled around, I can't say that I was a happy camper. I was still nursing a slightly chewed right hand, which made holding a quill uncomfortable, to say the least. I'd been suspicious of basically anything that came within three feet of me all day, because if the Howler incident was anything to go by, Potter wasn't going to let me off the hook any time soon.

I walked to Defense Against the Dark Arts with the mindset that anyone who passed me could be involved in his revenge; For all I knew they could have been. Apparently, I was a bit less discreet in doing so than I had intended, and the sentiment wasn't lost on Tara.

"You know, James can't have had time to get his hands on any Polyjuice potion. Don't look so suspicious," she said with a slight smirk.

I huffed. "He sent me a bloody Howler, and that didn't need Polyjuice to work, just terrible music," I pointed out.

Tara shrugged, disregarding my response. Before she could say anything, Sarah spoke up. "Well, you can't get in trouble for him pranking you, but you did sort of assault him as retribution..."

I knew she had a point... So I chose to ignore her.

We pushed our way into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and immediately noticed the trunk occupying the front of the room. With Professor Lupin, any class that we weren't just reading from the textbook had the potential to go wrong, so the lesson was bound to be interesting.

"What do you think it is?" Bailey asked, sounding rather excited. Tara grinned. "Maybe it's a grindylow." She'd had something of an obsession with them since studying them in second year.

Bailey shook her head, laughing a little. "Yes, Tara, because it makes perfect sense that a water demon is in a trunk in our classroom."

Tara opened her mouth to speak but trailed off as Professor Lupin stepped into the classroom, looking as pleased with himself as I had ever seen a professor.

That couldn't end well.

"Alright, you lot, settle down, take your seats - Finnegan, don't even think about opening that trunk - And shut up. I need a volunteer with their wand ready and a history of not injuring themselves in this class..." There were a few snickers in the direction of Eoin, who had landed himself in the Hospital Wing three times that month already. "Alright, Weasley, get up here," Professor Lupin gestured toward the front of the classroom.

Fred strode to the front of the classroom with his wand, eyeing the trunk suspiciously.

"So." Professor Lupin said, joining Fred at the front of the classroom. "You lot," he motioned to all of us, "Are going to answer some questions, and are essentially responsible for Mister Weasley's safety."

"I'm bloody dead!" Fred cried, eying all of us with horror.

He had such confidence in us.

Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow to silence him. "Anyhow, there's a Boggart in that chest," He stated plainly. I sat up in my seat, craning my neck to see... I had definitely been right in saying that could get interesting. "Now, you all studied boggarts in third year, so you should be able to tell Mister Weasley here what he needs to do to defend himself. So, can anyone tell me what that is?"

There was a beat of silence, in which we all glanced around the room waiting for someone else to answer. To be fair, we hadn't expected a teacher to bring a bloody boggart into the classroom.

"Good to know I can depend on you lot," Fred murmured darkly.

Professor Lupin looked a bit disappointed in us, but not surprised. "Miss Jennings, any ideas?" He asked, probably hoping for better from one of the top students.

Bailey looked startled. "I... erm... Well, what would happen if -"

She was cut off by Eoin's yell of "Just see what Incendio does to it!" See, Eoin was a typical adolescent boy, which should be saying enough.

Professor Lupin turned to Fred. "Don't," he advised.

Sarah poked my side. "Bailey reckons the spell is something like Ludicrous... Do you have any guesses?"

Professor Lupin continued to wait for an answer as I shrugged at my friends. "Well, since Mister Weasley's life clearly isn't enough motivation, whichever house gets it first gets twenty points," the Professor conceded.

That got our attention.

Seeing as we had Defense Agains the Dark Arts with the Slytherins, it had become a matter of pride. It had become a matter of House Pride, which as one might assume, was of utmost importance. At his words, the Gryffindors all huddled together to throw out ideas, and we all looked to Bailey and Aaron, who just shrugged helplessly.

"Our best bet right now is something like Ludicrous," Tara said to the group.

At some point, Fred had joined us, still looking mildly betrayed.

"Has anyone got their textbook with them?" He asked, just as helpless as the rest of us.

All of us shook our heads.

Gryffindors are useless.

We heard frantic page-turning coming from the Slytherin group. Bloody perfect. There were useless suggestions flying everywhere from clueless Gryffindors, but our frantic ramblings did us no good.

"C'mon, guys, it has to be something that transforms your fear into something funny, remember?" Aaron pointed out.

We did not, in fact, remember, but it still helped.

Across from me James kept muttering synonyms for ludicrous, trying to figure out the right one for the spell.

He had just said "outrageous" when my eyes went wide and both Potter and I yelled at the same time, "Riddikulus!"

Someone in the Slytherin group pounded their hand on the table, but Professor Lupin grinned over at us. "I guess Mister Weasley's safe in your hands," he stated lightly. "Twenty points to Gryffindor."

Fred groaned. He was most definitely not safe in our hands.

. . . 

I managed to make it through the rest of the day without inflicting any more damage upon myself or others, using "damage" relatively. After having my hand used as a chew toy by a carnivorous plant, I went on to spill part of my attempt at the Draught of Peace in Potions, turn Bailey's hair bright green in Transfiguration, and was almost attacked by a Blast Ended Skrewt in Care of Magical Creatures. Needless to say, I was not in the best mood by the time we sat down to eat.

I practically threw myself onto the bench where my friends sat and sighed dramatically. "I'm dropping out of Hogwarts," I announced.

"Gee, if only I'd thought of that," Tara rolled her eyes.

I huffed. "Well, that's all I've got left to do. I mean, I'll barely pull an Acceptable in Potions because of Potter's stunt two days ago, I'm probably not even passing Herbology, and I'm sure that after today I've lowered my grade to an E in Transfiguration. And on top of that, Potter's made it his mission in life to make mine as miserable as possible, and I have another week and a half of detention to serve with him and... Shit."

My friends, who had been doing their best to ignore my rant, looked up. "What?" Bailey questioned cautiously.

I had already slung my rucksack over my shoulder and was standing up. "I have detention!" I yelled back at them as I ran out of the Great Hall. I really had to stop making a scene during meals; it left very little time to actually eat, and I was even more of a nightmare when I was hungry.

I rushed through the corridors, cursing loudly as I almost fell down three flights of stairs after forgetting that they moved, and I was actually panting by the time I reached Professor Griffith's classroom.

"I'm here!" I announced loudly as I threw open the door.

I received a cold stare from the professor, and a smug grin from Potter. "It's nice of you to finally join us," Professor Chambers commented.

James nodded and smirked at me. I was still trying to catch my breath, so unfortunately no witty comeback came out of my mouth; Instead, I made a rather concerning wheezing sound and dropped my bag with a soft thud.

Professor Chambers looked concerned. James looked amused. Even some bloody portrait was gaping.

I glared at the lot of them.

The rest of the night, in comparison, passed more smoothly, but that really isn't staying much, is it?








A/N: Thanks for reading! Now we've sort of introduced the reason for the story's title, but it'll play a bigger part in later chapters. Reviews are the greatest, and I'd love to get some feedback especially on the characterization of Teddy (Professor Lupin), as he'll be playing a larger role in the story later, too. I hope you guys liked it, and thanks so much for reading! :)


 


Chapter 3: In Which I'm My Own Worst Enemy
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A/N: Okay, so I didn't get all that much input on the last chapter, but I hope you guys liked it! :) I have to say, it was a lot of fun to write, so there's at least that. If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to leave a review! :) Thanks! 

I don't (and never will) own JK Rowling's world of Harry Potter... Queen Rowling owns me... 






Chapter Three

In Which I'm My Own Worst Enemy 



 

 

I emerged from the curtains surrounding my bed the next morning looking more like a troll than a girl.

I'd spent the majority of the previous night in the hospital scrubbing bed pans, and then had come back to study briefly for O.W.L's (something which I did not do often) and had fallen asleep sprawled on the bed with my face in a book. As a result, the dark circles under my eyes were enough to scare even me, and I wasn't even sure if my hair was human hair at that point, as it was so matted I could've passed for a werewolf.

It was an interesting look, I'm sure.

I debated just staying in the uniform I had fallen asleep in, but caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and decided against it. I didn't want to add to my growing list of detentions by scaring the younger students with my appearance.

"Well, you look..." Sarah started, looking concerned. I noticed, to my annoyance, that she was already fully dressed, and ready to walk out the door.

"Stunning, I know," I grumbled, rifling through my trunk in search of some semi-clean robes. Finally finding an admittedly wrinkled but clean set of robes and grabbing a skirt, I hurried to the bathroom.

I was yanking a brush through my knotted hair when my roommates started banging on the door, yelling at me to get to breakfast.

"You have fifteen minutes to eat, and Bailey and I are leaving," I heard Tara call, and I swore under my breath. Bloody brilliant.

I abandoned the hopeless task of taming my hair and stomped out of the bathroom, grabbing my books and stuffing them into my backpack.

"Breakfast ends in ten minutes," Sarah warned me as she hurried out the door, finally succumbing to the lure of food over friendship.

"Bloody traitor," I huffed, but hurried after her.

The Great Hall was as loud as it ever had been when I walked in, but the Gryffindor table seemed to be extra rambunctious, which was never a good thing.

I sat down with a grunt and immediately reached for a plate as obnoxious laughter sounded from somewhere at the table. I bit into a piece of toast viciously.

An amused snicker came from across the table. "You all right there, Simmons?" Fred Weasley asked with a laugh.

I grunted in response and continued eating.

"I'll take that as a no. So... Did you finish the Transfiguration homework?"

I looked up from my plate cautiously. "Yes, but if you're looking for answers, I'm really not the person to ask."

"You're top of the class right now, I'd say that's a lie," Fred protested.

Merlin, he must be desperate for answers. "That doesn't mean I'm willing to give them to you," I shot back, feeling fairly proud of myself for managing not to start yelling. I really was a nightmare when I didn't get enough sleep. Really, I was a terror most of my teenage years, but you'd never see me admitting it.

Fred faked offense. "Well, that hurts. And actually, I was wondering if you were willing to trade Transfig answers for Potions answers, but since you're clearly not interested..."

I perked up. "Sold!" I rummaged in my bag for the assignment, and shoved it toward him. "Merlin, in exchange for Potions help, you can have all my answers for the next month," I muttered with a laugh. I had become the desperate one.

Fred smirked. "Sold. Welcome to the Hogwarts homework trade, then."

I rolled my eyes. "Pleasure doing business with you," I deadpanned.

Fred rushed off after hurriedly exchanging answers, and I grinned at my friends. "Guess who just solved their Potions problem."

Bailey rolled her eyes. "You realize that I'd be happy to help you with potions?"

Sarah snorted. "She nearly melted your skin off last time you offered, and you're still willing to help?"

Bailey gave a contemplative look. "Let's just say that for once, I'm thankful to have Fred Weasley in our year, if only to take the brunt of your potions malfunctions..."

I huffed. "It was only the skin on her hand..."

"Yes, because that makes it better," Bailey protested good-naturedly.

"Actually, it -" I was cut off by James Potter's approach. I steeled myself for a fight, and Sarah seemed ready to jump to my defense, while my other mates looked to be ready to drag me out of the Hall.

To my surprise, however, James ignored me completely, grabbed Fred's elbow, and dragged him away with a devilish smirk, muttering something about "fraternizing with the enemy instead of helping him scheme."

Well, that couldn't end well.

. . .

The rest of the day was hell.

With OWL's at the end of the year, all the professors were trying to cram as much into all of our brains as possible, and during the week, I was in a constant state of feeling like my head was going to explode. Nothing disastrous had happened in any of my classes, although we were still studying that damn boggart in Defense Against the Dark Arts. My worst fear was not something I'd want displayed in front of the class, especially when I had no idea what exactly that was. It could be spiders, for Merlin's sake!

Then again, apparently Fred's worst fear is his Nana, so I couldn't complain.

I'd received my fair share of smirks throughout the day from Potter, although I was yet to figure out what exactly he was planning. It scared me, to be honest. Next thing I knew, I'd probably be dangling over the edge of the astronomy tower by my toes wearing nothing but a Gryffindor scarf.

I shuddered. Sometimes I scare myself more than Potter does.

"Would you quit making that face?" Sarah pleaded, as she surveyed me.

I surfaced from my thoughts with a jolt. "What face?" I asked as I hopped onto a staircase a bit late, and nearly fell.

"Your 'I-can't-trust-anyone face'," Sarah elaborated, following me back to the dorm.

I huffed. "Well, I can't trust anyone."

She raised an eyebrow. "Oi, what does that make me, then, a turncoat?"

"Occasionally," I shrugged.

"Bloody wonderful."

We managed to make it to the dorm without being harassed by the Fat Lady portrait (we tried to sell her one time and she still hates us), and dumped our books and rucksacks on the floor, then hurried to dinner.

I nearly choked I ate my roll so fast, which I seemed to be making a habit of. I'd have to make sure that in the future, my detention schedules didn't interfere with my eating schedule...

"Slow down, Simmons; You're going to choke," Sean laughed.

I did my best to send him a glare while concentrating on not doing just that. He held up his hands in mock surrender and I swallowed, satisfied.

See, the thing was, I actually got on quite well most of with the Gryffindor boys in our year. Sean, Eoin, and Aaron were all perfectly civil, and Fred and I had a sort of mutual respect for each other, although we weren't exactly friends. In third year, when suddenly it became scandalous for girls to have mates that were guys, our groups had sort of split off, but we were all on civil terms.

Potter, however, was a different story. Still, he hadn't endeavored to ruin my life until fairly recently, so I figured I could still find a way to be civil with his mates.

I mean, two of them were on the Quidditch team, and it'd be shameful to Godric Gryffindor if I didn't cheer them on occasionally.

I continued to eat in a somewhat sullen silence, but by then most of my mates had elected to pretend not to notice. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make the meal last as long as possible or just get it over with, but either way I had to go to detention afterward. And either way I had to serve detention with James Potter, something which I certainly wasn't looking forward to.

I vaguely heard Sarah sigh. "Y'know, you're making that face again," she scolded.

"Well, excuse me for having facial expressions," I said, already in a foul mood. I did my best to continue making said face, although I had no doubt I looked absolutely horrid.

"Spite isn't attractive on you," Bailey commented with a laugh.

Tara looked at her muggle watch. "And neither is tardiness, and you have to be in Lupin's classroom for detention in exactly six minutes."

I swore and jumped up, hearing a chorus of laughs behind me. I hurried out of the hall, contemplating whether I should just join Myrtle for the rest of eternity when I passed her bathroom on the second floor.

Needless to say, I decided against it, but it was with great deliberation.

For once, I wasn't late. I arrived in the DADA classroom exactly one minute and eleven seconds early, and was quite proud of it. To be honest, I was proud that I'd had the strength to show up, but Professor Lupin didn't need to know that.

James was yet to show, and I found myself hoping that he'd decided to ditch. It almost looked like Professor Lupin was thinking the same thing, after the bloody nose fiasco. I got the feeling that the DADA room was the last place he wanted to be right then, and I couldn't blame him; even though he was the one who had to deal with the whole me attacking Potter situation, it hadn't technically been his night to serve detention, so he was stuck babysitting the two of us yet again.

Professor Lupin nodded warily at me as I walked in, and returned to grading essays.

I gave a small huff and sat down heavily in a seat in the back of the room, and waited.

After about five minutes, the door burst open, and in rushed the devil himself... Which is to say James Potter.

"You're late," Professor Lupin noted, lazily acknowledging James' appearance.

"Erm... Yeah, sorry Te... Professor Lupin," James corrected himself.

I sent him a wary glance, and then turned toward Lupin. "So... What are we meant to be doing? Cleaning the Potions cupboard? Scrubbing bedpans again? Writing lines? Correc-" I was cut off.

"Helping sign autographs?" James added with a slight smirk. Merlin, someone had to take the right to smirk away from that boy; He was abusing it.

Professor Lupin, for some reason, seemed to be holding back a laugh, and I felt like I was on the outside of some strange inside joke. I didn't like it.

"Well?" I asked impatiently.

Professor Lupin stopped laughing abruptly, glancing back toward me, although he looked as though it was taking a lot of willpower. "Right! So, you two are meant to be scrubbing the desks. Erm, the cleaning supplies are in the corner of the room, and sorry, but I need your wands."

We sighed and handed them over. Professor Lupin motioned for us to get started, and returned to his desk to continue grading essays.

I hesitantly approached the bucket and grabbed a rag. Glancing warily at the clock, I started scrubbing with a sigh.

Occasionally, we'd hear angry muttering from Professor Lupin, typically something along the lines of "Merlin, do you even know how to write?" or "What in the name of Helga Hufflepuff does that mean?".

I bit my lip to keep from laughing at a particularly annoyed cry of "This isn't even the right topic!", and heard James struggling to do the same.

After finishing half the desks in the room, I stood up on stiff legs to move the bucket to the other side of the classroom.

I threw the wet rag over my shoulder and attempted to lift the bucket. It turned out I wasn't as strong as I liked to think, as the bucket slammed to the ground and my arms ached from the effort.

I heard a chuckle. "Need a hand, Simmons?"

I didn't bother to look at him, because I could practically feel the smirk directed toward me. "Not from you," I muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.

I widened my stance and braced myself, and started to drag it, which probably wasn't the best idea.

Since I was walking backwards to pull it, I managed to catch my foot on the leg of a chair, which sent me flying, and I found myself on the ground. I swore under my breath.

"Simmons, just let me -"

"No," I said adamantly, grabbing the handle again.

James looked exasperated. He reached for the bucket. "Come on, it-"

"I can do it!" I insisted, trying to push him away.

Professor Lupin seemed to sense that it couldn't end well. He seemed to know us pretty well even then. "Alright, you two, let's just-"

James yanked the bucket back toward him. I threw my wet rag at him in an attempt to get him to move, but he caught it fairly easily and tossed it back at me. I glowered as the rag hit me, and pulled once again on the bucket, tightening my grip.

"Okay, Simmons, that's-" Professor Lupin tried to say, but was once again cut off.

"James, would you just -" 

"Come on, Simmons wh-"

James once again yanked the bucket towards him, but I was still holding on. I lost my footing and flew forward with the bucket.

I heard at least two shouts as I collided with Potter's chest, managing to knock both him and the bucket over. We ended up on the floor, soaking wet, with suds in our hair and dirty water staining our robes. I hurriedly pushed away from him and shook my head, spraying dirty water everywhere, and looked up.

Professor Lupin surveyed us warily.

"Erm... At least no one's hurt this time?" James spoke up from next to me on the ground.

Professor Lupin sighed as he assessed the situation. "To be perfectly honest, I'm not surprised."

I groaned. It really was a wonder how exactly I managed to find myself in those situations.

. . . 

I'd been in the Astronomy Tower staring at star charts for half an hour and I was ready to jump.

On top of the disaster that had been my detention, I'd had to change into dry robes and finish the chart from last class before walking to the Tower, so one could say that I wasn't in the greatest mood. Professor Wolgomott was, as always, acting completely off her rocker and babbling about something along the lines of "the auspicious omens surrounding the planetary status of Venus", etc. etc.

I sighed and flicked a blank piece of paper at Sarah, who just looked up and rolled her eyes at me, and went back to work.

I have to invest in some better mates.

I perked up when Wolgomott said something about using the telescopes, as even staring through a lens for a grade sounded more appealing than trying to reconstruct the entire night sky on a piece of parchment, so I was slightly more chipper as we split up to view the moons of Jupiter or some rubbish.

And then I was assigned the same telescope as one James Potter.

By that point, I was seriously considering taking a dive out the window.

"Potter," I said warily, contemplating how painful it would really be once I hit the ground.

"Simmons," he nodded with a smirk, in a high-pitched voice that sounded much too much like a mockery of my own.

"Are you mocking me?" I asked, already annoyed.

James gasped. "I would never." 

I responded with a rather rude hand gesture, hoping no one was paying us enough attention to notice.

"So... you want to look first?" He asked, nodding toward the telescope, ignoring my immature response.

I narrowed my eyes. "Are you planning on pushing me?"

James looked exasperated. "I hadn't been, but now..."

Professor Wolgomott saved me from needing to formulate a response. "Lighten up, and hurry up, students! You can leave as soon as you finish your charts."

I perked up. Wolgomott had the ultimate leverage for teenage students: extra sleep.

Unfortunately, Potter seemed to be just as fond of his beauty sleep as I was of mine, as we lunged toward the telescope at the same time, and there was a brief power struggle (for the second time that day), until he moved to the left to try and look through as I made a grab for the telescope...

And I cursed loudly as I sent it tumbling down toward the ground below the window.

It landed with a dull thud and the sound of shattering glass, and I winced and turned around to look at Wolgomott with tense-up shoulders. He looked mad, like 'make a voodoo doll of Charlie' mad.

Sometimes, it's nice to have someone who can clearly be blamed for some of my problems, which is the main reason this feud between Potter and I still exists. Sometimes it's actually better to need to be alert, because I know something is coming.

But sometimes I manage to take the shovel from my enemies, beat them with it, and then dig myself into an even deeper hole.

Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.






A/N: Thanks for reading! :) I know you all probably get tired of reading this, but reviews are life, so I'd really appreciate some telling me what you all think. Anyway, I hope you liked it!



 


Chapter 4: In Which I Am Terrible with Locks
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A/N: Thanks so much for reading! I know I've been using the term "plot" very loosely so far, but it really, truly, is actually introduced in this chapter (however vaguely), so thanks for your patience! :) 

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or any related characters. Unfortunately... 






Chapter Four

In Which I Am Terrible with Locks



 

 

I opened my eyes and had to stifle a scream.

Now, I should clarify that this isn't part of my typical morning routine, nor did I see anything inherently harmful, but it was bright out.

Bloody hell, if the sun was already out, how late was I?!

I tried to launch myself out of bed, but it turns out my motor functions hadn't quite gotten the memo that I was awake. My feet got tangled in the sheets of the bed, and I heard a couple laughs from my wonderful roommates as I face planted onto the floor. Eventually, one of them decided to speak up to essentially save my life.

"You do realize... It's Saturday... Right?" Bailey asked through her giggling.

I'm fairly certain I had been close to hyperventilating.

I disentangled myself from my blankets and stood up with what little dignity I had left.

"Erm... of course... I just... Saw a spider," I scoffed, but I knew I wasn't fooling anyone. To be perfectly honest, most of the time I didn't even know what month it was, no less what day of the week.

"Of course," Sarah nodded, suppressing laughter. No loyalty, that one. I'd have to confront her about that later.

I was still trying to process the fact that I wasn't going to be brutally skinned by McGonagall for being late to her class.

It was the weekend.

I swore, and found that three amused sets of eyes were, once again, on me.

Tara threw a puzzled look in my direction. "You want to... elaborate on that?"

I swore again. "There's a quidditch match today," I groaned.

"Quidditch scrimmage, love," Sarah corrected, and visibly brightened at the reminder, then seemed to remember the circumstances. "And thanks to you, we're missing our best chaser."

"And do you really think that I'm safe, today of all days? The whole reason Potter hates me now is because he can't go to this game!" I wailed. I have to admit, it was probably not the most attractive tone on me.

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Quit being a baby; You'll be fine. Potter knows that both of us would be more than willing to beat him with broomsticks if he did anything too terrible to you."

"Well, define 'too terrible', because forcing me to listen to Celestina Warbeck was low. Really low, and really horrible."

Tara laughed. "Well, then the dark days are over. Anyway, we're heading down to breakfast before they stop serving it. Join us, if you'd like to avoid starving to death for the rest of the day."

I huffed, flopped back onto my bed dramatically, and ignored them.

A couple of seconds of silence passed, and my stomach let out a low grumble.

I relented.

By the time I stumbled down the steps of the girl's dormitories, breakfast was nearly over. That didn't stop me from shoveling as many scrambled eggs into my mouth as humanly possible.

"So, Simmons, how's the food?" Came a terribly familiar voice.

I dropped my fork. "What'd you do to this?" I demanded.

Tara tried to cut in. "Charlie, just let-"

James reacted with faux horror. "Why, Simmons, I don't think I like what you're insinuating."

"Potter, tell me, or I'll scream," I stated plainly. Bailey slammed her forehead on the table, embarrassed.

Aaaand the infamous smirk made its appearance. "I'm sure I don't know-"

"HE'S BLOODY POISONED ME!" I screeched.

Several students looked on in interest.

A few teachers gave me stern glares.

Bloody hell, I'll keep that in mind if I've ever actually been poisoned.

"Charlie, be quiet!" Tara hissed, glancing around embarrassedly.

I refused to die quietly.

"What do you really want, Potter, since you're so adamant that you haven't got anything planned?" I demanded.

If possible, the smirk widened. "Now, let's not be hasty; Firstly, I never said I've got nothing planned, I just said that the food's safe. And secondly, you've humiliated yourself far better than I could have."

He winked and stalked away. I don't think I can even express how close I came to chucking a biscuit at his retreating back, but a stern glare from Professor Longbottom (who apparently was not going to forget the breakfast fiasco from earlier that week any time soon) stopped me.

I sheepishly lowered my throwing arm.

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Now that he's gone, can you act like a normal human being again?"

"I think we both know that that was never an option," I pointed out.

I was met with an eye roll.

I sipped my tea with a mischievous grin. "Anyway, we've already establ- GAHHH!" I let out a string of very creative phrases, seeing as the teachers were so near. "It bloody bit my nose!" I shrieked, slamming the offending tea cup down on the table.

Sarah, who had been sipping tea that most certainly did not attack her, snorted. "Nose-biting teacup. Not very original, but I'd say that in absence of a nosebleed nougat, it serves pretty well as payback for the whole bloody nose fiasco in detention..." She trailed off, upon seeing my admittedly frightening glare.

"But you wear it better," Bailey assured me, struggling to hold back laughter.

And so went my morning, and I consider the teacup bite to be the most bearable part of that day.

. . .

After the teacup incident until about noon, the day was actually quite pleasurable.

I mean, I was nursing bite marks on my nose for the rest of the day, but that aside, it really wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. I hung around the lake a bit with the girls (and almost went in on a dare), and started rereading an old favorite book. And then everybody else started leaving for the quidditch match, which both Potter and I were barred from attending.

I had been basically on my hands and knees begging Bailey and Tara to stay, but they had to go "support Sarah", rather than "babysit me"... I'd have to hex them later.

Which left me, Potter, Peeves, and good old Nearly Headless Nick floating around the castle near the Gryffindor common room.

Let me tell you, it was not a pleasant experience.

Naturally, in an attempt to avoid a possibly catastrophic event, I made a beeline for the common room, so that I could lock myself in the dorm for the rest of the day. Problem solved.

Except that Merlin, Zeus, and every other deity out there hates me, the most important being... The Fat Lady.

"Password?" She asked with a malice-filled smile as I frantically tried to get away from Peeves, who was yelling something relatively incomprehensible.

"Niffler tongue," I snapped impatiently.

The portrait's smile brightened. "Wrong." 

Bollocks.

"Erm... Gillyweed?"

"No."

"Gobstones?"

"Incorrect."

Merlin, she seemed to be enjoying quietly ruining my life. "...Dilligrout."

"Not quite."

"Ton-tongue?"

"Well, now you're just guessing."

I'd been guessing since the first try.

"Shit," I sighed, realizing that I had absolutely no idea. And seeing how seriously Gryffindors took their quidditch, I could be there a while. I supposed that I could try to find someone at the game, but then I'd risk being caught, and add to my growing list of detentions.

"Language!" She cried, acting scandalized.

"Would you just let me in?" I groaned, debating just slashing the portrait and dealing with the repercussions.

She gave a thin smile. "No."

That portrait might just be worse than James Potter.

. . .

And so I found myself sprawled on the floor glaring at the Fat Lady not less than an hour later.

I was sore from sitting on the ground, exhausted from the week, and rather cold given that I hadn't expected to be sitting on stone, but I wasn't about to tell the one other person in the castle that I was locked out of my own common room. Anyone else, sure; I probably could have swallowed my pride for the time being, but not James Potter. So I steeled myself to wait. Either I would freeze to death or Hell would before I asked him for any favors.

Which is why I was caught entirely off guard when one James Potter emerged from behind the portrait, and shot me a somewhat puzzled look.

I looked up crossly.

"... Why are you on the ground?" He asked, eyeing me more warily now.

I hurried to stand up. "Because I bloody wanted to be," I snapped, not quite sure what to say.

"Right... Erm... Anyway, I heard they're about tied, and there's still been no sign of the snitch."

It took me a few seconds to realize he was referring to the match.

I paused, and gave a concerned glance. "And how exactly did you hear that?"

That damn smirk was back. "I have my ways."

I gave an exasperated huff. "Fine. Whatever." I hesitated. I hated myself for even considering it, but desperate times called for desperate measures, and the corridor really wasn't particularly comfortable. "Do... Do you, by any chance, know the password?" Each word I said felt like it caused me physical pain.

Potter's face lit up. "You locked yourself out?" He asked, looking a bit too incredulous for someone who'd known me for nearly five years. "Merlin, how long have you been out here?"

"Long enough!" I snapped. "And if you won't help me, at least leave me alone to my suffering," I huffed and sat back down on the floor. Potter looked amused. "Potter!" I barked, "Don't laugh at my misfortune!"

"Yes, ma'am," he smirked.

I narrowed my eyes. "If you're only going to bloody smirk at me, what are you still doing here?"

Potter held up his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. "I only came to give you some friendly advice, but I suppose if you don't want it..."

I scoffed. "Why would I take advice from you? You've blown up your cauldron in potions more times than I have - and that's saying a lot - and you've practically improvised your way through fifth year..."

"Okay, firstly, I actually mean to blow them up, and secondly, my scores are probably higher than yours right now, but that's besides the point."

I gave an exasperated sigh. "Fine, then. What 'advice' do you have for me, Potter?"

James grinned. "I'd suggest locking your dorm when you leave." He turned around, but turned back. "The password is niffler toe, by the way," he added, and then stalked away.

"I do lock our dorm!" I insisted, shouting at his retreating back. I'd casted the spell right before I left that morning... Wait.

Shit.

. . . 

My dorm mates returned from the match to find me standing in the middle of our room, pillows and sheets strewn everywhere, and with my foot stuck in a drawer that had been pulled out of the night stand.

"What the hell happened, Charlie!?" Bailey asked, glancing in horror around the room.

I ripped another drawer out of Sarah's night stand. "Potter was in here," I said, frantically searching for any sign that he'd messed with something.

Tara raised an eyebrow. "What? Wait so you two..."

"NO!" I roared, lunging to grab a pillow (or my wand, to obliviate that image from my brain). "He snuck in!"

Sarah was laughing, near hysterics. "Sorry, Char, but I have to go with Tara's theory." Always with her head in the gutter, that one.

"Merlin, you people are idiots," I muttered, dragging a pile of clothes out from under the bed.

The girls exchanged a glance. Bailey stepped forward cautiously, picking up some of the articles of clothing that had been flung all over the dorm. "Seriously, Charlie, I think we're safe..."

"Did you not hear me?" I asked, incredulous. "Potter - James Potter, as in the James Potter intent on ruining my life for making him miss this quidditch match - was in our dorm. I'll be damned if I don't find at least three dung bombs hidden in creative places before I'm done searching."

Tara sighed. "Charlie, listen - "

"He's infiltrated our stronghold!" I wailed.

Sarah rolled her eyes, having stopped laughing when she discovered that I'd pulled everything out of her trunk in order to search. "Charlie, you probably would've found something by now, or else it would've gone off by now, if there was anything to find. And even if there is still something there, then by this point, it pretty unlikely you'll find it." She paused. "Also, if you've messed with my chocolate frog stash, I will end you."

I hesitated. I'd seen people face Sarah's wrath, and the last place I wanted to be was on the receiving end of her beater's bat. "Fine," I grumbled, gathering some of the scattered clothes into a pile to fold. The girls looked incredibly relieved. "But if I wake up to Weasley's Wildfire Whiz-bangs exploding on my pillow, I'm quitting school."

Bailey gave an amused huff. "Alright, love. Have a grand time cleaning this up."

Bollocks. I glanced at Sarah. She shook her head frantically. "You're on your own."

I swore and marched over to the clothing pile... And maybe tripped over a drawer on the way, but that's not important.

"And for Godric's sake, actually fold the clothes before putting them away," Bailey interjected.

I sent her a sulky glance. "I wasn't planning on anything else."

I decided it would be in my best interest to fold the clothes before putting them back...

. . . 

By the time I got everything in our room back in its rightful place (which had not been an easy task), the other girls were ready to head down to dinner.

"Are you coming?" Sarah asked as she hurried out the door.

I opened an eye, and looked at her from my vantage point (read: sprawled on the bed). "Not hungry," I groaned.

My stomach let out a loud grumble.

Sarah shot me an amused grin. "More like not ready to face Potter after nearly having a mental breakdown on his account."

"Something like that," I conceded.

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Yeah, well, come with me now, or you don't get dinner."

The girl had a way with words.

I followed her down the stairs to the common room, and rushed into the dining hall before my stomach could make any more dying whale sounds. I sat down at the bench enthusiastically, and put forth my best effort into hiding my face. Conversation carried on as usual, with no more mention of my previous paranoia and the resulting demolishment of our dorm, and dinner was actually relatively enjoyable.

"So, Charlie, what was all that noise I heard from the girls dorm? You have a party and forget to invite me?" Fred asked with a grin.

"She went bloody mad!" Sarah told him solemnly.

I groaned. "I had a moment of weakness," I agreed.

"More like insanity," Sarah grumbled.

Fred raised his eyebrows. "You mean to tell me that all those crashes and curses were your doing?" He looked impressed. Somewhat frightened, but impressed.

"Nah, more like mine."

I closed my eyes.

Thing is, I happen to be a Gryffindor.

Unfortunately, so does James Potter.

And consequentially, we share a table.

Merlin must truly hate me.

I heard a snort of laughter. "Everything alright there, Simmons?" Fred asked. I opened my eyes to see him looking at James inquisitively.

"Everything is brilliant," I deadpanned.

James raised an eyebrow. "So...?"

I narrowed my eyes. "What?"

"You... Find anything?" He asked cautiously.

Sarah slammed her head on the table. Fred continued to look curious, but much too unsure of my mental well-being to question anything. Wise man, that Fred Weasley.

"I bloody knew it!" I shrieked.

James rolled his eyes. "I never said I actually hid something."

"But... You just... What?" I gaped.

His mouth formed a smirk and it took a great deal of willpower to restrain myself from hitting something. "See, the fun was in seeing how you'd react. I mean, you tearing your dorm apart because of some off-handed remark was beyond satisfying."

I continued to stare up at him in shock. Who knew James Potter knew how to play at psychological warfare?

I gulped and steeled myself. "I am... suitably impressed."

The smirk appeared again. "Good. Proves to you that improvising my way through things is a good enough tactic."

I heard a groan from Fred, and Sarah peeked out from behind her arms, where she had been hiding in case I made a spectacle of myself yet again. "Really, mate? Isn't that a bit cruel?" Fred asked.

James shrugged. "I mean, she handled it better than I thought she would."

"I resent that!" I protested good-naturedly (which was probably a first for me).

And the rest of dinner... was actually quite bearable.

Tara, Eoin, and James chatted idly, and Bailey and Aaron talked about O.W.L.'s, while Sarah, Fred, Sean, and I joked about the (somewhat preposterous and absolutely tragic) events of the past week. I complained about the two and a half weeks of detention I had yet to serve, and, yes, they laughed at me.

The Gryffindors in our year hadn't sat together for a long, long time, and probably with reason, but nothing too drastic happened. Except that Eoin almost got a spoon stuck in his nose, but that is a story in itself.

And I hate to say it, I mean it physically pains me to say it, but I actually enjoyed myself.

I was laughing with Sarah as we turned to head back to the dorm. We were some of the last ones in the Hall, and teachers were casting us looks that very clearly said to hurry up.

"Oi, Simmons!"

I spun to see James grinning at me.

I raised an eyebrow, not quite sure what to expect.

"I also never said I didn't hide anything..." He said, and then hurried to the common room.

"Yeah, well screw you, too, Potter!" I yelled at his rapidly retreating back.

Bollocks.






A/N: Thanks so much for reading! So I know that there were only really vague references, but there is officially an introduced larger plot, so that should be fun. ;) 

Anyway, I'd really appreciate some reviews telling me what you all think. Thank you! :)


Chapter 5: In Which It Was Definitely My Fault
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A/N: Thanks for anyone who read, reviewed, followed, or favorited! Reviews are life. ;) Anyway, hope you like this chapter! 

Also, I've made it pretty clear by now that I don't own Harry Potter, but just in case... I don't. :) 






Chapter Five

In Which It Was Definitely My Fault



 

 

I glanced up from my book, paranoid. That had been happening far too often in the past two weeks.

The rest of the weekend had actually been relatively uneventful, but there had been multiple occasions where I became convinced that I heard something in our room and nearly tore it apart again. I was still convinced that there was something living in one of the wardrobes in our dorm, but my mates were getting concerned for me. As a result, my roommates had been keeping close watch on me until the whole Potter situation blew over (if it ever did...).

I was beginning to think that the reason they were still tolerating me was that they had already reserved a room for me in the loony ward at Mungo's.

I honestly wouldn't have been surprised, after everything I'd put them through.

The fire glowed and crackled cheerfully in the common room, and rain pattered against the fogged up windows. Occasionally, a spectral bolt of lightning would illuminate the room, but otherwise, it was a dark day. Besides that, I was one of the only students in the common room. Most of the classes hadn't let out yet, but Defense Against the Dark Arts had ended early because Professor Lupin had to leave. It was almost eerie, actually, to be in the Gryffindor common room and not feel slightly threatened by something or another.

I returned my attention to my book as a rather loud group walked in. I looked up and groaned.

"It was so quiet before you lot invaded," I grumbled. They'd been in the library for about fifteen minutes doing homework, presumably, so I'd been left in peace.

I was met with a grin. "Yeah, well we come bearing potions answers, so I'm going to go ahead and say that we're forgiven," Fred laughed, dropping his bag in my lap.

I dug through his bag for the parchment eagerly. "I'll have your Transfig answers by this time tomorrow," I promised. Actually, I hadn't exactly started, but he didn't need to know that just yet. Anyway, I was good at working in a time crunch. Really, all students were.

The rest of the fifth years shoved their way in through the portrait hole, delayed when Bailey and Sarah tried pushing through at the same time and got stuck. I tried not to look too disappointed when James followed them in, but he'd been keeping his distance for most of the day, so the conversation didn't falter.

Eoin gave a somewhat sheepish smirk. "And you would have had a few more minutes of peace if we hadn't been kicked out of the library."

"Because you two couldn't keep your hands off each other!" Bailey accused, pointing at Sarah and Fred.

I raised my eyebrows. "Wait... How long -"

Sarah hid behind her robes and Bailey, Sarah, and I grinned. I heard some whistling from Fred's mates. "He was kicking me!" She defended.

Fred grinned. "Guilty as charged." He did look a little sheepish.

I laughed. "So you two were playing footsie under the table?"

"He started it," Sarah grumbled, having mostly recovered from the embarrassment.

"And here I was, thinking that Potter set off a dung bomb or something," I laughed.

James turned toward me abruptly. "Not everything is my fault, you know," he snapped.

Alright, so that was new. Normally, Potter was more amused than upset by my comments.

"Alright, having a bad day, I see," I commented. I suppose I knew I was on thin ice, but I told myself I had to at least test the waters. Really, I'm just a terrible person, as later events will illustrate.

Fred shot me a warning look. "Simmons..." He sighed. I ignored him.

Potter shot me a cold glare. "How about you mind your own business?" He said tersely.

I rolled my eyes. "What's happened? Has your daddy taken away your allowance?"

Apparently that was taking it a step too far. I felt the atmosphere of the room change, and all my mates frantically shook their heads. It was a little late for that. If I had known what I know now, I wouldn't have said it, honest. Unfortunately, I wasn't as informed as I'd have liked to have been.

"At least I don't go into hysterics every time I don't get my way!" He spat.

I gave a harsh laugh. "And when was the last time you didn't get your way? You didn't get the newest broom model this year? Rita Skeeter got a bit nasty with your family?"

It vaguely registered that both my friends and James' were now trying frantically to stop the oncoming shouting match, but neither of us felt very inclined to listen.

"Maybe if you weren't such a bitch all the time you wouldn't have to ask!"

By that point, none of our friends' protestations were of any help. "You mean if I were more like the rest of your fangirls? Newsflash, Potter; I'm one of the few people in this school who would still think the same of you if we found out you were adopted," I snarled.

It was a low blow and I knew it, but it was true; half the girls in lower years idolized the Potter/Weasley clan because they were the children of legends, and I'd been sick of it since we reached second year.

James clenched his jaw and took a step towards me. It took a lot more willpower than I'd care to admit not to move back.

"Don't you dare pretend to know me, and don't think for one second that you're better than any of them," Potter said in a scathing, low voice.

I stepped back as he turned abruptly and stormed out of the common room. Fred shot me a somewhat apologetic look and ran out after James, and the rest of his mates followed.

Bailey shook her head with a small sigh. "Charlie... " She started softly.

Sarah shook her head.

Tara gave me a small, sympathetic smile. "I'll be at dinner. See you later, yeah?" I got the distinct feeling that there was something they weren't telling me.

I nodded numbly as the rest of the girls followed her out of the common room.

Having the room to myself wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it had seemed before.

I sunk into one of the armchairs by the fire, still in a bit of a daze. I mean, I'd been in my fair share of fights, but I don't think any of the other ones had ever been this bad. Not even with Potter.

Actually, especially not with him. I mean, we barely talked to each other before this year except for when our mates were together, and even if we argued, most of it was just competitive banter.

I sighed as I glanced at the clock. Dinner had only started about ten minutes ago, so I figured I'd wait to head down until it was mostly cleared out.

Shaking my head to clear it, I reached for the copy of The Daily Prophet that had been left on the table in front of me.

I gaped at the headline on the front page:

Harry Potter Hospitalized After Auror Raid Gone Wrong

Head Auror Harry Potter was rushed to St. Mungo's after a recent raid launched
by the Ministry on a warehouse in Cardiff. According to early reports from
three of the aurors who accompanied Potter on the mission, the group had just
cleared the second floor of the warehouse when they were ambushed by a
group consisting of what was estimated to be around seven pureblood
extremists, the leader of which is still unknown.  

The warehouse was destroyed in the battle that followed, during which the
Boy Who Lived was hit with an unknown curse. Three supposed sympathizers to
the extremists face trial at the Wizengamot, though the seven involved reportedly
fled the scene. The Ministry has given no indication that they know the location
of the seven at this time. 


Mr. Potter is said to be in stable condition at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical
Maladies and Injuries, though the extent of the injuries he sustained remain
to be released. More information on Mr. Potter's condition is expected to come
in a later statement to be issued by the Potter family. 


It wasn't hard to piece together from there why Professor Lupin had left class early, and more significantly, exactly why James had been in the mood he was in when we argued.

Merlin, I was a terrible person.

. . . 

I swore as I almost collided with a suit of armor.

"Watch where you're bloody going," I snapped, and then realized that I had just snapped at a suit of armor.

I wasn't exactly in a great mood, and it didn't help that I was on my way to detention. I'd been just about the last one in the Great Hall when I'd finally gotten down there for dinner, and had eaten in a hurry, although I was trying to delay detention as long as possible.

I dragged my feet and kept my eyes on the ground as I walked, and so far I'd nearly hit four students and two suits of armor.

Despite my efforts to prolong the walk, I arrived at Professor Chamber's door just a few minutes late.

Bollocks.

I opened the door timidly and glanced inside, guilt already welling up in me.

Professor Chambers sat at her desk grading essays, but otherwise, the room was empty.

"Take a seat, and grab a book," she commanded without looking up.

"Erm... Alright," I looked down the hall, but saw no one.

Almost twenty minutes later, I was fixing book bindings, and there was still no sign of James Potter. I wasn't sure if I was relieved or disappointed that I wouldn't need to apologize right away, but I was certainly surprised.

And for the first time that year, detention actually passed uneventfully, and I experienced the boredom that every other student endured at detention. Merlin, I almost preferred the annoying smirks to this.

I hurried out after the hour ended, and once again experienced several close calls with suits of armor along the way, this time because I was eager to get back to the dorm. I've said it before, but I'm even more of a nightmare without sleep... No pun intended.

Once I reached the Fat Lady, I hurriedly spoke the password, and was actually let inside that time. Although, as soon as I climbed through the portrait hole I rather wished she hadn't.

There were a few clusters of students, but almost everyone had headed back to the dorms before curfew. The person that caught my eye was the lone figure sitting by the fire with a copy of the Daily Prophet in his hands, and a bottle of fire whiskey on the ground next to him.

I hesitated by the entrance to the girls dorms, and finally relented and went to stand somewhat awkwardly by James.

"So... Erm, I didn't really know about... Y'know, and I, um..." I paused, looking to see if he was even willing to listen. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have been. He gave a brief nod in acknowledgment, and I continued. "Listen, Potter, I'm really sorry," I finished lamely.

The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. "Is this because you missed me in detention?" He asked, though the amusement sounded strained.

I shook my head. "No, it's because I'm a terrible person, and I just... Well, like I said, I'm sorry."

James nodded. "Thanks," he said. He didn't seem very thankful, but at least he didn't seem mad. He took a sip of fire whiskey.

I gave an awkward smile. "And detention was pretty quiet without you."

James laughed softly. "Pity."

I hesitated and turned to leave, but stopped. "Also, I... Merlin, James, I know I can't make it better, but just... Know that there are a lot of people working to make sure everything's fine."

He gave a bitter laugh that surprised me. "None of them care. They care about saving the Chosen One, not him."

I turned back toward him hesitantly. See, in situations like that one, I'm the worst possible person to have around. I mean, I've already made it abundantly clear how awkward I am, and I certainly didn't have any people skills. Merlin, where was Tara when I needed her?

James seemed to be deliberating something, so I waited for him to act. I was certainly surprised when he did.

He held out the bottle of fire whiskey to me.

I raised an eyebrow. It was a Tuesday night, I knew for a fact that we both had early classes the next morning, and we were sitting in the middle of the common room.

Then again, I was never one for logic.

I took a sip, sat down, and handed it back, trying not to wince at the burning sensation. 

"'M not trying to keep you here," James said, glancing at the clock. We had a little over an hour until midnight.

I shrugged. "I basically went so low I buried myself in our argument earlier, so you've got nothing to worry about," I joked. My only tactic when it came to consoling people was bad jokes, apparently. "Anyway, I've been relentless with all the borderline assaults, so..."

James actually laughed this time. "Could've done worse. Sorry I called you a bitch, by the way. And for all the... revenge pranks." He looked like the guilty one for a moment there, though for what I had no idea.

I raised an eyebrow. I'd basically proven his point about me being a bitch right after he'd said it. "Don't be."

James went to take another sip before hesitating, and putting the bottle down. "Simmons... Your brother, how's he?"

I was surprised, to say the least. "Well, he hasn't done anything for over ten months, so... As well as he can be, I guess."

"Right," James muttered. "Sorry."

My brother was probably in the same wing of Mungo's James' dad was in. He'd been there for nearly a year, in a coma from some unknown curse. He was in stable condition, I guess, stable being in a state of unconsciousness for the past ten months, but it still was's something I advertised to the general population at Hogwarts. There had been a brief article in the Prophet about the mission gone wrong, but I was surprised anyone at school even remembered.

"We aren't that close," I said hurriedly. "And... Your dad's situation sounds a lot better. I know it's the last thing you want to hear right now, but... It'll be okay," I fidgeted.

Merlin, I was horrible at these situations.

James laughed, and although I'll be the first to say that I hate being laughed at, it was nice to hear a laugh that wasn't either bitter or fake. "You're so uncomfortable right now it's making me uncomfortable, Simmons," he smirked.

I huffed. "Well, excuse me for not knowing exactly what to say in this situation - Godric, not that it's terrible, It'll be alright, but I obviously don't mean - Don't you bloody laugh at me!"

James continued to laugh at me. I whacked his arm. It didn't do much, but it offered quite a bit of satisfaction.

"Alright, I surrender," James said, holding back his laughter.

"Good," I grumbled.

James giggled again.

"Merlin, you're tipsy!" I accused, grabbing the bottle of fire whiskey. "We have class tomorrow! Godric, we're both bloody horrible people," I sighed with a slight grin.

James gave a crooked grin. "I can drink to that."

"Don't you bloody dare!" I grabbed the paper that he had been reading when I walked up. It was a copy of the Daily Prophet from that morning. "And stop reading this shit. It'll make your brain rot if you stare at it long enough."

James rolled his eyes. "Yes, Mum."

"Don't you 'Yes, mum' me for trying to keep you from dying of alcohol poisoning at sixteen years old," I huffed. "Or worse, having to sit through Griffith's class with a hangover."

James shuddered. "He's Severus Snape reincarnated, I swear, all that "bravest man" crap aside."

"Yes, and if you don't want to sleep through to lunch tomorrow, I'd suggest hauling your arse up to your dorm - and if you say 'yes, mum' again, I swear to Godric I'll break your nose again."

The last of the students in the common room had long cleared out, and the fire was the only light left to illuminate the room. My muggle book still lay abandoned on the table from much earlier that night, and the storm had finally let up, although the moon was shrouded in a dark cloud. The warm light of the fire casted its glow over the room and reflected off the bottle of fire whiskey, and I was having trouble keeping my eyes open.

James stood up and briefly stretched, and reached down a hand to help me up. I stood on limbs stiff from sitting so long and my vision was slightly skewed from both the lack of sleep and the whiskey. I stumbled forward, and once again, James laughed at me.

"Careful on your way up the stairs, Simmons," Potter called tauntingly as I nearly walked into a wall.

I glared. "I hope you trip and die," I called back.

"Of course," Potter said with a smirk.

I rolled my eyes and started up the stairs.

I fell twice on the way up.






A/N: Thanks for reading! :) So you got some cute and slightly drunken conversation at the end, so all in all, I'd say that's a good thing. I feel like the last scene felt really cliched, though, but it was fun to write, so I'm keeping it. 

Anyway, thanks so much for reading! I'd love to get a review, telling me what you think ;)


Chapter 6: In Which (Some) Wrongs Are Righted
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A/N: Thanks to anyone who followed/favorited/reviewed - You guys are the best! 

Disclaimer: I own nothing that you recognize. :)






Chapter Six

In Which (Some) Wrongs Are Righted



 

 

Wednesday morning was a disaster.

I'd woken up the morning of the 21st to a dry mouth, pounding headache, and relentless teasing from my roommates. Tuesday night (or early Wednesday morning, whichever way you'd like to look at it) I'd stumbled into the room and knocked over a bedside table, effectively alerting all of my mates to my drunken self trying to make it to my bed. I'd endured more than my fair share of teasing and inquiring about the reason for my late night. I'll admit, there's not much I remember very clearly, but I'm fairly certain I just flipped them off and flopped into my bed.

And so I had to deal with the consequences the next morning.

"Were you off snogging some dreamy Slytherin bloke behind a tapestry?" Sarah questioned for what had to be the tenth time that day.

I groaned and sipped my water moodily, hissing as Bailey opened the curtains, flooding the room with light. I squinted my eyes and tried to ignore the pain in my head.

"Merlin, Charlie, how much did you drink last night? Where'd you even get it?" Tara questioned, eyeing me with raised eyebrows.

"Not that much!" I wailed, and then winced. "Can you lot keep it down?"

Bailey rolled her eyes. "Too much, then."

In all honesty, I actually hadn't had that much fire whiskey the previous night, but I also didn't have a particularly high tolerance for alcohol, or all that much experience with it.

Sarah threw a clean uniform and set of robes at me, and I continued moaning as I got dressed. About fifteen minutes later, I wasn't feeling all that much better, but I was at least wearing clean clothes, so I considered that a win.

I eyed my reflection with horror. I had surpassed the point of looking like a troll and by that point looked like I belonged in a coffin. My short hair stuck out in all directions, and the bags under my eyes had reached scary levels of darkness.

I sniffed moodily. "Why do we have to have class on Wednesdays? What about all the students who need a drink halfway through the week? It's terribly inconsiderate."

Bailey rolled her eyes. "Yes, love. Let's get going before we miss breakfast."

Sarah smirked. "Yeah; Nice, greasy platter of bacon, pumpkin juice..."

I gagged. "I hate you," I muttered as I followed them out the dorm.

It took me about ten minutes to make my way down the stairs without falling, but I eventually did make it to the Great Hall. I tried to ignore the smell of food, as throwing up in the great hall on a Wednesday morning would not be a great way to start the day.

I grabbed a glass of water and sipped moodily.

"Blimey, Simmons, you look worse than James."

I turned around to glare at Sean. The boys in our year had just entered the hall, and approached us after seeing the state I was in that morning.

Sean held up his hands in a gesture of surrender, but Fred couldn't resist adding: "And he didn't even make it back to the dorm until after midnight. Said you two made up after detention, though. Good on you, I suppose."

Sarah raised her eyebrows. "Oh? Well, Charlie stumbled up drunk around the same time last night. I wonder..." She gave a mischievous grin and wiggled her eyebrows at me.

I threw a loaf of bread at her, hoping that it wouldn't lead to a repeat of the incident of the previous week. I was too tired to survive another Hogwarts food fight.

"I apologized," I clarified.

Bailey snorted. "And we all know you never do that unless you're drunk."

"I'll have you know, I was perfectly sober when I approached," I insisted.

Eoin raised an eyebrow. "And it turned into a drunken midnight conversation between you and James?"

"No."

"Basically that's what happened, yeah," James corrected me with an insufferable smirk.

I glared at him. "Wanker," I muttered under my breath. I glanced up crossly. How did he manage to look so together anyway? He looked a bit tired, but not nearly as scary as I looked. He'd had more to drink than me, and still looked better (not that I'd ever admit it).

I huffed at the incredulous looks directed towards me by my mates. "He offered me fire whiskey!" I attempted to defend myself.

"Right, well," Fred grinned. "Once again, this has been very informative. Thanks, Simmons. Good luck surviving Griffith's class, by the way."

"I'll start writing my will now," I groaned.

. . . 

The first half of the week aside, the weekend came without much more disaster. The end of October drew ever nearer, and school was basically just stress, quidditch, classes, and a lot of waiting for the winter holidays. I joined the student population in stressing over the tests we had before break, but was ultimately holding up alright. I spent the majority of my time the rest of the week fretting over articles in the Prophet concerning Harry Potter's health, though not much news was actually forthcoming.

It annoyed me to no end that the Prophet made it sound like the warehouse ambush had been an isolated incident, too; Most of the papers had been going on for months about pureblood terrorist organization, though at that time I don't think even the Ministry had a clue about what was going on.

And then there was the more immediate issue of quidditch.

"We play the 'Claws today, and if you lot aren't there, I will personally maim you," Sarah had threatened early Saturday morning.

I had just rolled my eyes. "Wouldn't dream of missing it, love."

Tara and Bailey had shared my sentiments. Honestly, none of us would've missed it for the world; Gryffindors were strange like that.

Anyway, Sarah had spent a long, long time describing in excruciating detail how she'd nailed Eric Atkinson, the Slytherin Seeker, with a bludger in the last few minutes of the match before the Snitch had been caught, securing a win for Gryffindor, although we'd been down by nearly ninety points. It pains me to admit it, but Potter did do something to hold the team together, and he'd be back in the game that match.

So when the time came, Tara, Bailey, and I dressed in whatever house colors we could find, bundled up to face the late October chill in the air, and headed down to the quidditch pitch.

I grinned as Sean Finnegan gleefully announced the Gryffindor team, which consisted of two seventh years, one sixth year, three fifth years, and a fourth year. I knew most of the players from other years, but not well.

"The team looks good this year, doesn't it?" Tara commented as she watched them fly about the pitch.

I grinned. "You mean Alan Watts looks good?" I pulled my scarf closer around my to keep out the wind.

Tara shrugged and mimicked my grin, glancing up at the seventh year Gryffindor keeper in admiration. "Yes."

Bailey poked me, as all of our attention had been lost when Sean began to monotonously list the names of the Ravenclaw students (the teachers had tried to find a new, "less biased" commentator back in third year, but the entire Gryffindor house had threatened rebellion). "You think Potter'll be made captain once Watts graduates?"

"Nah; I say McGonagall will give it to Saunders. I mean, she's been Seeker since she was a third year, and last year's her final year," I said, although all of us had had that discussion before.

Bailey grinned. "You're just bitter."

I stuck my tongue out. Quidditch was a bit of a sore subject. "Yeah, well, Sarah and I used to be the best Chaser and Beater combination Hogwarts has ever known," I insisted, although I knew it wasn't true.

See, I'd actually been on the team my third and fourth year, but had managed to completely freeze my insides from inhaling a Potion gone wrong the day before tryouts the beginning of fifth year, so I'd missed tryouts. I hadn't been particularly good, but good enough to warrant a place eon the team. Hence, my obsession with house pride and with the Gryffindor quidditch team.

Our eyes shot back to the pitch as a sharp whistle rang out, and then there were blue and red blurs flying everywhere.

"And, they're off, ladies and gentlemen, in a blur of majestic red and a somewhat sick looking blue-ish color... Potter has possession of the Quaffle, passes it off to Mclaggen, now it's with Leggett, who's lagging behind a bit - Ooooh, Jordan and Weasley are playing a mean game with the bludgers; Weasley's just barely missed the git Laverick's broom - ...and the 'Claws have the Quaffle. Shame," Sean sighed.

Professor Longbottom was glaring daggers at Sean for his animated commentary, but received only an unabashed smile.

"Waghorn brings the Quaffle down the pitch, and now he's passed off to Laverick, and - THAT WAS A FOUL! Crawley's just made contact in his pathetic attempt at a Transylvanian Tackle, but apparently our dear referee doesn't HAVE BLOODY EYES!"

Longbottom pinched the bridge of his nose, some Gryffindors yelled in agreement, and the Ravenclaws glared at Sean with murder in their eyes.

Sean shook his head and continued. "So, Ravenclaw's scored off an illegal move - I'll bloody call it as it was - and now Gryffindor's got the Quaffle, Potter's bringing it down, passes - no, fakes the pass - and Gryffindor scores!"

Cheers erupted from the Gryffindor stands. Bailey and Tara cringed as I whooped, as my voice could be extremely loud when the need arose.

"So that makes it 10-10, with Ravenclaw in possession of the Quaffle. Creevey's bringing it down, and pa- Merlin, that looks like it hurt! Jordan's hit Crawley square in the jaw with her signature Bludger Backbeat, and it looks like he won't be flying again for a while. Also looks like Freddie's got his hands full with that one..."

Longbottom was attempting to wrestle the amplifier away from Sean, but relented at the Gryffindor's cries of protest. Really, we could've probably formed a union and taken over the school. Gryffindors can be scary, especially seeing as Sean's commentary has always been a source of slightly misplaced house pride.

Even Sarah would admit to it, and in first year her utmost priority had been receiving the job of quidditch commentator. Really, she owed Sean her place on the team; Professor Longbottom had started laughing when she'd asked for the job and mumbled something about a legacy, but Professor McGonagall had apparently not seen fit to say yes and had seemed quite relieved when Sean volunteered. Sarah had settled for the next best thing: carrying a bat around and hitting people in the face with bludgers.

She's damn good at it, too.

The next twenty minutes or so of the game were really just the teams alternating between being ten points ahead and behind, but that didn't stop me or the entire Gryffindor house from yelling in outrage every time a foul went unnoticed (only on the Ravenclaw side, though, of course). About thirty minutes in, both Jonathan Vane and Amelia Saunders made a frantic dive directly in front of them, and there was a collective gasp from both stands.

Both Seekers hurtled toward the ground, and I doubted that it was to perform a Feint. A hush fell over the stands, and we watched the blur of red and blue robes race to the Snitch.

I was standing on the bench craning my neck to see, and I screamed with the rest of the fans as Amelia Saunders tumbled off her broom about seven feet from the ground after the back of her broom was splintered by a bludger.

We waited with bated breath (Quidditch was practically a cult back in the Hogwarts days, and to deny it would be to renounce one's faith, basically. We were a dramatic lot).

Saunders stumbled to her feet and I could just make out a grin on her face. I turned to Tara with wide eyes. "Wait, did she -"

"She did!" Bailey squealed as the Seeker held up a triumphant fist with a small golden ball peeking out.

The Gryffindor stands exploded into madness, and Sean's voice was blaring around the pitch saying something along the lines of, "GRYFFINDOR WINS! Take that, nerds!"

I was screaming with the rest of them, and Bailey, Tara, and I greeted Sarah by nearly crushing her internal organs in a celebratory group hug.

And then came the celebratory party in the common room. You'd have thought we won the Quidditch Cup already, by the reaction of the students. Myself included, of course.

"Drink?" Sarah offered me a cup with a giggle and a flourish.

I raised an eyebrow. "Never again," I vowed.

Sarah rolled her eyes. "C'mon, Char! We've started the season well for the first time in years! Anyway, tomorrow's Sunday; You'll actually have time to recover."

I shook my head and grinned, pointing toward the table, where some of the boys from the team had stood up to do their best impersonation of my Howler from two weeks ago, which was to say they were singing old pop songs in horribly high-pitched, off-key tones.

"Anyway, if I'm the only one to remember that tomorrow, it'll have been well worth it," I pointed out.

Sarah shuddered. "I think I know what my boggart would be now. Anyway, since you're no fun, I'm gonna go find Freddie," She concluded and swept away.

I rolled my eyes and turned to talk to Bailey, who... Was no longer there. I narrowed my eyes when I saw her sitting on one of the armchairs and laughing about something with Amelia Saunders, while Tara chatted up Alan Watts.

I huffed and stalked over to the drink table grumpily and grabbed a pint of Fishy Green Ale, although I wasn't even all that fond of the taste.

When I looked up from the drink I was nursing, I was met with a devilish smirk.

"So, Simmons, you watch the match?" Potter asked me smugly.

I made a face at him. "I'd have made a better Chaser than Leggett did and you know it," I said, taking another brooding sip.

James shrugged. "We still won, and anyway, that potions mishap was your own fault."

I narrowed my eyes at him and glared. "You guys won that game out of luck, anyway; If Amelia weren't on the team, Gryffindor would've been screwed," I pointed out. That wasn't exactly fair, but Gryffindor had been down when she'd caught the Snitch.

James raised an eyebrow at me, seeming to know that I was aware that I was wrong.

I crossed my arms. "Well, I'm still better than that Leggett prat," I said, and started to walk away.

Potter grabbed my arm, and I spun around, startled.

"What?" I demanded somewhat nervously, though I had no idea why.

Potter hesitated and I tore my gaze away before he released his grip on my arm and the smirk returned. "It's your song." He motioned vaguely toward the group of boys who were still singing their own version of some already godawful Celestina Warbeck song.

I was less than amused. "I'd say it's yours, actually," I grumbled. "The fact that you played the song on a Howler proves that you own it, so..."

Potter smirked. "Smart one, eh? It's my Grandmum's, actually. She's a big fan. I'm sure she'd feel it went to good use, though."

I raised my eyebrow as I connected the dots. "Would this be the same Grandmum that happens to be Fred's worst fear?"

James paled slightly. "Erm..."

I laughed. "Merlin, and you're supposed to be a Gryffindor!"

"Clearly you've never met my Nana Molly," James grumbled. "Just ask Teddy - She's a sweet old lady until you step out of line, and then she's everybody's boggart," James insisted.

"Who's Teddy, anyway? You have an imaginary friend you've forgotten to introduce me to?"

James gave me a look of realization. "Merlin, sometimes I forget that not everyone in the school is a Weasley or Potter. Teddy's actually Professor Lupin to you. He's practically a Wotter himself."

I groaned. "You mean to say I broke your nose in front of a close family friend? Bloody hell, no wonder he doesn't like me!"

I drained the last of my ale; The conversation was too stressing without it. James only laughed at me.

"I have allies everywhere," He promised in a slightly drunken, mostly cryptic tone.

I sighed again and slammed my cup on the table. "I swear to Godric, if you've managed to turn my roommates against me, I'll burn your broomstick," I assured him.

James faked horror. "Bloody hell, I'll be sure not to cross you any time soon."

"More than you already have?" I asked sourly.

James grinned. "Yep. After that last one in your dorm I swear there'll be no more."

I closed my eyes and sighed. That was bloody brilliant.

When I opened my eyes again, Potter was gone, and my cup had been refilled, although it didn't remain full for long.

The rest of the night went fairly smoothly, although it was a bit suspicious the next day when none of the Gryffindors above the third year were up until after noon. Still, none of the teachers ever commented, so we all called it a success.

. . .

"D'you think animagi can get stuck in their animal form?"

I glanced up from my notes to look at Tara. "Why? Have a plan to get a new Headmistress?"

Tara laughed and shook her head. "Nah, I was just reading a book on them for that essay," She paused. "Although it would make Hogwarts pretty original if we had a cat for a Headmistress..."

I grinned. "I'll get on that right away." See, I was actually half decent at Transfiguration, I just didn't like it.

We had something of a study hall in Defense Against the Dark Arts the next Monday, as the substitute for Professor Lupin had no idea what he was doing. Lupin was presumably still with Harry Potter, overseeing his recovery. The Wotter clan had been flooing in and out of school all week to check up on him, and it seemed like at times, half the school was missing.

I poked Bailey's arm. She looked up from her parchment, slightly irritated at the interruption.

"Did we have Charms homework?"

Bailey held up the essay she was working on and raised her eyebrows. I squinted to read the title.

"Oh," I sighed.

I turned to Sarah. "Want to do the Charms homework with me?"

"Finished it in class," Sarah shrugged.

I groaned. "You lot are so studious it's scary."

Sarah snorted. "Only in comparison to you."

I stuck my tongue out at her. "I'll have you know I'm getting top marks in all my classes except Potions," I insisted. Not that it was true. Until about the middle of fourth year, I'd actually been one of the top students in our year, and then we'd got a new Potions teacher, started our O.W.L. curriculum, and, well... That was the end of that.

"And Astronomy," Tara put in.

I deflated a bit. "You drop one telescope..." I muttered. I was glad no one had brought up Herbology.

By the time class wrapped up, we'd actually managed to get some work done, though I still had a bit of Charms homework. We were all gathering our things when James came bounding into the classroom, followed closely by Professor Lupin.

Lupin hurried over to the frazzled professor who had been attempting to keep us all in check, and James exchanged a few words with Fred, and then approached me. I sighed.

"Potter, what -" He shoved a newspaper at me and walked away.

I exchanged a puzzled, slightly annoyed glance with my friends and studied the paper.

This time, I couldn't help but grin, and my mates clustered around me to read.

The Boy Who Lived Cheats Death Again

Late this morning, a statement from St. Mungo's was released by the Potter
family and the Ministry ensuring the public of Mr. Potter's full recovery. "We
had our best Healers working through the night, and their work showed why
St. Mungo's has been regarded as one of the best hospitals in the Wizarding-"


I stopped reading and grinned. "Well, we'll have Professor Lupin back," Bailey said with a smile.

"And the old sarcastic Potter, too," I agreed. "Classes are much too quiet without the Wotter clan to muck things up."

Tara nodded. "So how long do you think it'll take before the news breaks and there are celebrations in the halls?" She had a point, though. The entire Wizarding World had been ready to mourn the loss of their hero, so now there was bound to be some sort of celebration.

A screeching erupted from the hallway, followed by a series of bangs and flashing, colorful lights. I glanced at the clock. "I'd say about three minutes, wouldn't you? You lot want to go watch the show, then?"

"Oh, merlin, yes," Sarah nodded. "If the newest prototype fireworks from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes are involved, this is bound to be interesting."

. . . 

The breakout of the news and the celebrations that followed had been interesting.

By the end of the day, most of the professors were beginning to regret not just canceling classes all together. Students were either fifteen minutes late for classes and covered in ashes from the admittedly slightly underdeveloped fireworks, or they just skipped their classes all together. A large part of the ecstasy came from the fact that about a fourth of the school was related to Harry Potter in some way or another, and a lot of the students just worshiped him as both a legend and a war hero.

Word got around that it would probably be best to avoid Fred and James for the rest of the day, as they were on a joyous pranking spree, and I'm fairly certain Professor Lupin helped them pull a few of the larger ones off.

So by the end of the day, I was back to being my paranoid self.

"Are you sure you didn't see him hiding dung bombs anywhere near my dorm?" I questioned Aaron for what seemed like the fifth time.

"Charlie, I'm just as scared as you are, to be honest," Aaron answered finally, shaking his head with a laugh. "I mean, no one's really safe when all the Weasley Potter clan teams up."

I thought about my experiences with the Wotter clan and nodded. "Alright but if you see an-"

Tara grabbed my arm and pulled me back toward my seat at the table. "Charlie, stop harassing Aaron."

I crossed my arms and chewed my shepherd's pie grumpily. "Wanunt 'rathin' 'im," I said with my mouth full of food.

"Close your mouth, love, and yes you were," Sarah said without looking at me.

I huffed and sunk down in my seat. "My mates are turning against me," I accused.

"Mmmm yes; Next we'll be plotting to get you another week of detention," Bailey said absentmindedly, stabbing at her food.

"Oh!" Tara sat up suddenly. "You lot aren't big on gossip, so have you heard? Myrtle told basically the entire school."

I furrowed my brows, and Sarah, Bailey, and I exchanged blank looks.

Tara clapped her hands, which struck me as odd. Normally, she wasn't even that big on gossip, either; She just kept us informed on the crucial bits of information on the Hogwarts rumor mill.

"Right, so, you know Rose Weasley in the year below us?"

We all nodded. Really, everyone knew the Weasley kids.

"Well, apparently she and Malfoy started dating three weeks ago," Tara grinned.

I blinked. "That's... All?" I mean, it was unexpected, but not exactly of utmost importance.

Tara rolled her eyes. "I didn't expect you to care," She said brightly. "Actually, Sarah probably doesn't care much either, but they're so cute!" She squealed.

Bailey laughed. "I will say I'd love to be a witness of the first time Malfoy is invited to dinner at the Weasley's place."

"But you're still way too invested in the love lives of younger students," Sarah teased.

Tara shrugged helplessly. "I'm out of books to read! I can't watch telly here, or use the internet, so you can't exactly blame me!"

Ah, the plights of being muggleborn.

Both my parents were Wizards, so I didn't know what she was talking about half the time when she ranted like that, but I guess it would be hard to adjust to basically living in a different world each semester. Anyway, she had managed to get me hooked on a few muggle "classics", as she called them, though that really meant she thought I was a nerd for liking books of over 1,000 pages about French rebellions.

See, I can act like a Ravenclaw when I want to.

"Alright, love," I laughed. "We'll be sure to find you some muggle books next trip to Hogsmeade."

Bailey nodded. "You lot all want to go together next trip?" In third year, we'd started going together because we weren't exactly wildly popular and didn't have anyone to go with, but it had become something of a tradition.

I nodded. "Sure. I need to make a trip to Zonko's to stock up on ammunition in case Potter decides to end the ceasefire."

Tara laughed. "You're so dramatic," She said with an eye roll. "But yeah, we haven't really gone many times this year. It'd be fun."

Sarah fidgeted. "Erm... Actually, Fred and I were going to maybe check out the new Quidditch supply shop..."

The three of us exchanged a glance.

And then screaming commenced.

"Sarah, oh my Godric, that's amazing!" Bailey shrieked.

I basically had her in a headlock.

"You'll have so much fun-" Tara gushed.

"You're growing up!" I accused. "Sarah Jordan, we promised never to do that!"

Sarah was, by that point, quite embarrassed. "Alright, alright, you lot; I can't go if you suffocate me," She pushed me off of her. We were getting quite a few stares from other students in the Hall, but of course we didn't care. "And anyway, it's not exactly a date -"

"It's a date," Bailey said decidedly.

"Definitely a date," I agreed with a grin.

All teasing aside, we all were incredibly happy for Sarah, and only part of it had to do with the fact that those two'd had their eyes on each other since third year. Fred was, in my opinion, one of the more tolerable blokes in our house, and anyway, he knew what damage all of us could do if he hurt her. Of course, we'd still probably have to threaten him, anyway.

Tara was still grinning. "Oh, but that's so perfect, since you both love quidditch, and - Oh! Maybe you could go to a joke shop some time! It'd make your dad and Fred's happy, for certain," she gushed.

It was true; Lee Jordan and George Weasley would both be absolutely thrilled to know that their children were going on a date.

Sarah slammed her head on the table and groaned. "My mates are all bloody loony!" She moaned. She only succeeded in attracting more attention and concerned gazes from others at our table. Even a couple of girls at the 'Claw's table looked worried, and most of the Ravenclaws still hated Sarah for hitting Crawley with that bludger.

I patted her back. "Darling, you've known that for a while."

. . . 

Much to my surprise, nothing terrible happened while I was at Astronomy that night, save the obvious problem of losing some well-needed time to sleep. I had been poked a couple of times by my mates to keep me awake and had completely ruined my star chart, but I can't say that was unexpected. James Potter, for once in his life (or that year) had basically ignored me for the majority of the day.

Nearly as soon as we got back to the dorm, we turned the lights out, bid each other good night, and threw a few pillows to get everyone to go the hell to sleep, and that was that.

Except, it wasn't.

I, for once in my life, slept through the night. It likely had something to do with my nonexistent sleep schedule the past couple of nights, but for some reason, I actually slept like a baby until about 5:00 in the morning, when I was awoken by the voices of my roommates.

"- think it is?" I heard Bailey mutter.

I cracked open an eye, but couldn't see anything through the curtains.

"I've told you; I've got no idea, it's just... Wait. Didn't... Isn't this the noise Charlie was describing?" I heard Sarah say.

I sighed. It didn't seem like this was going to be a short conversation.

"Shit. I think she was right ab-"

I ripped open the hangings around my bed. "Alright. You lot had better have a bloody fantastic reason for waking me up this early, because if not, I will personally decapitate each and every one of you," I seethed.

Sleep is... Probably the only thing that keeps me sane.

Unfortunately, I hadn't been getting much of it lately.

The girls looked startled, as they should be. I probably looked horrendous, and slightly angry, which was never a good combination.

"Well..." Tara started cautiously, "We think that we finally hear that noise you were describing Monday night."

I squinted my eyes at them. "I don't hear anything."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Well, you see, it's not constant, more like an 'inconsistent thumping sound'."

I gaped at her. "That's - hey!" Those were the words I had used to describe the mysterious noise when they'd called me crazy.

I strained my ears, and faintly heard a small thump. Rather than basking in my victory like I probably would've if I'd been getting more than six hours of sleep per night, I yawned. "So there it is," I mumbled, then threw myself onto my pillow again. "I'm going back to bed."

The three of them exchanged a glance. "Wait, so there may be something in our room, and you're fine with sleeping through it?" Sarah asked finally.

I shrugged, pulling my blankets back around me and basking in the warmth. "It's not like we're going to find it tonight, and I'm tired, so, yeah."

Tara giggled. "I think that Charlie just handled this situation better than all of us."

I closed my eyes and smiled. "Well, it was bound to happen someday."

My mates were starting to settle down a bit, so I took that opportunity to tell them to go to sleep again, in slightly more colorful words. We really only had another hour left to sleep, but eventually, my roommates decided that all of us would need it, so the dorm was left silent again, and all that remained was for me to actually fall asleep without getting distracted by that damn thumping noise.

I closed my eyes.

Thump

Shit.






A/N: Thanks for reading! Hope you liked the little arc with Harry being in the hospital, because I hated putting him in the hospital, but it was also a great opportunity for character development, so... 

Anyway, I hope you liked it! I know I start to sound like a broken record when I say this, but I absolutely adore reviews. ;) Thank you!

 


Chapter 7: In Which Halloween and Firewhiskey Happen
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A/N: Thanks for all the reads and reviews on the last chapter! :) It means a ton to know that there are people enjoying the story thus far. ;) Anywhooo, this was starting to become a ridiculously (no pun intended) long chapter, so I've split it up, but the next one will be up soon. :)

Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Harry Potter – If I did, the final book would have been a lot less depressing...






Chapter Seven

In Which Halloween and Firewhiskey Happen



 

 

The next two days passed surprisingly smoothly.

As always, everything I did was laced with a certain paranoia about whatever it was Potter insisted he had planted in our dorm, but whatever it was hadn't been much of a bother, save maybe a few stray bumps in the night. The state of ecstasy in the Gryffindor house on account of winning Saturday's match had gradually begun to decline, the halls were buzzing with excitement for the Halloween party, and for the most part, everything was normal.

Well, as normal as things could ever be at Hogwarts, but I can't even touch the surface of that.

"I can't believe she didn't believe me," Sarah grumbled as we stalked out of Transfiguration on Thursday morning.

I snorted. "Who'd have thought that 'a geranium ate my homework' wouldn't be accepted as a valid excuse," I shook my head.

"I was telling the truth!" Sarah defended herself.

"That doesn't mean McGonagall's likely to believe you," Bailey pointed out. "She's been putting up with Gryffindor antics since before all of us were born – She taught most of our parents, I think... That's a scary thought."

Sarah huffed, and muttered something about a reprisal of the giant tarantula episode, although I had no memory of it. Still, it was nice to not be the bitter one of our group for once.

Bailey grinned and held up that damn polaroid camera of hers. "Smile, love."

Sarah was making a rather rude gesture with her hand when the picture was taken, and Bailey rolled her eyes, muttering something about Sarah being "a waste of film".

I lingered in the doorway of the Potions classroom, regretting my decision to crawl (Yes, crawl) out of bed that morning.

"I hate potions," I muttered to Tara as we sat down.

Tara raised an eyebrow. "If it helps, you've made me hate it, too."

"It does," I grumbled as I grabbed my quill.

See, Tara and I had been lucky enough to be paired together for Potions at the beginning of the year, except she was actually decent in that class, so I ended up bringing both of us down. She didn't necessarily mind, though, and I'm sure we at least enjoyed ourselves more than Bailey, who'd been paired with Eoin, but Tara had long since given up her attempts to help me in that class.

Mostly, she just kept me from burning my eyebrows off.

It'd only happened once that year, so she seemed to be helping.

"What the bloody hell is the difference between moonstone and wishing stone?" I asked irritably.

So much for being the non-irritable member of our group.

Tarah raised her eyebrows, seemingly waiting for me to realize how stupid a question that was.

I continued to stare; I had no clue.

Tara rolled her eyes and laughed. "It's the same thing, love. Same stone, different name."

"Well who's the git that decided it'd have two names?" I demanded.

Tara shrugged. "Probably someone who's a lot better at this than you," She pointed out.

I huffed, snatched the powdered moonstone off the desk, and returned my attention to the recipe in my book.

I glanced at Tara out of the corner of my eye, who was watching me with amusement. I narrowed my eyes at her as I dumped in the moonstone, and grumpily stirred it into the potion.

I scrunched up my face. "It's blue. Is it supposed to be blue? Because the book says it should be green, but I followed the instruct-"

Tara laughed and grabbed the textbook from me, and skimmed over the recipe. "Stir counter-clockwise, love."

"Oh."

Tara laughed and took over, and I offered to read the instructions to her, as even I couldn't mess that up. We managed to clean up the mess and redo it without Griffiths noticing, but that put us way behind the other students. Even Bailey and Eoin were ahead of us, for Merlin's sake!

Tara looked up from the cauldron to prompt me for the next step.

"Erm... Add porcupine quills until it turns turquoise..." I said, though it was phrased more as a question than instructions.

"You sure?" Tara asked with a laugh, as I'd already skipped a few steps accidentally, though fortunately Tara had the sense to double check before listening to me.

"Yes?"

Tara looked both amused and exasperated, but dumped a few quills in, as instructed.

"Oh, Godric, wait – We were supposed to wait for it to turn orange," I groaned.

Tara slammed her head on the desk. "Bloody wonderful. Now the poor soul who we've hypothetically administered our Draught of Peace to has slipped into an irreversible sleep," she sighed.

Professor Griffiths walked over (probably having smelled sulfuric odor coming from our potion) and raised an eyebrow at our mess.

Dark grey steam rose from the cauldron, and the potion seemed to have congealed and stuck to the sides.

"Hayward, Simmons; What's happened?"

I gulped, and Tara and I exchanged a sheepish glance.

"Well, you see, sir, erm... I think that we've forgotten something..." I said unsurely.

Professor Griffiths eyed the potion (and likely us) with disgust. "I can see that. So, fifth years," He said, addressing the rest of the class, although he motioned towards Tara and I, "This is a perfect example of what not to do when brewing the Draught of Peace."

My face heated up, although I wasn't sure why; By that point, I'd been embarrassed in that class so many times that people purposely avoided my cauldron if they knew we were working on a difficult potion, lest their robes get caught on fire.

I saw Potter eyeing the steam by that point billowing from the cauldron and raise his hand.

I did my best to hide my face behind my hair, cursing myself for cutting it so short.

"Yes, Potter?" Griffiths asked warily.

James glanced back at our potion, although he avoided Tara's and my gazes.

"Well, Professor... I sort of actually saw what happened, and if they added extra powdered unicorn horn, wouldn't it counter the affects of adding the quills prematurely, and speed up the process?"

I gaped at him.

Griffiths shot us an intrigued gaze.

"Miss Hayward, is that what you were attempting to do?" He asked Tara, as he knew I wouldn't think of that.

Tara's head shot up at her name, and she looked around, startled.

Bailey nodded at her frantically, and Tara caught on quickly.

"Er... Yes, Professor. We... Just wanted to see if it'd work... I suppose it didn't."

Professor Griffiths nodded at her, though he looked a bit shocked that we hadn't messed up. "Well, Miss Hayward, it would appear that you may still be able to add the unicorn horn, but in the future, it would be appreciated it you'd keep your experimenting out of my classroom."

Tara nodded quickly and there were a few stray giggles around the classroom. Griffiths silenced all of them with a glare. That man was scary. 

Tara and I scrambled to figure out how much powdered unicorn horn to add as soon as Griffiths had turned his back, and actually ended up being one of the first groups to finish (no thanks to me).

My pride was still recovering from the near-disaster (although, admittedly, I'd done much worse in Potions class) as I gathered my things and shoved them into my rucksack. I hurriedly slung my bag over my shoulder and rushed to the door, looking at the ground to avoid Griffith's eye.

And I ran into someone and ended up sprawled on the floor.

I heard a laugh from in front of me and looked up, and immediately regretted it.

"Potter," I grumbled as I glared, and tried to look as dignified as one can while sprawled on the floor with parchment littered everywhere.

A laugh escaped his lips, but he reached down to help me up.

I, of course, refused.

Potter raised an eyebrow. "Right," he said, acknowledging my refusal. "Now, is that anyway to treat someone who saved your arse from Griffiths a couple minutes ago?"

I sighed crossly and started to gather my things from the floor, doing my best to ignore my rapidly reddening face. "It is when they act like a prat about it."

"Which I didn't plan on doing until you started acting like I murdered your pigmy puff in cold blood," Potter smirked.

"Surprised you haven't tried something like that by now," I muttered.

"Trust me, I've thought about it, but you've only got an owl, right?"

I rolled my eyes. "I see you've done your research."

"Simmons, half our year's been attacked by your demonic bird," Potter said wryly.

I gave a sarcastic smile. "Not true; I've just given Edwin special instructions to go after you," I lied. Even if I had, that damn owl never listened to me. Probably because I'd cursed him with the name Edwin back in first year... But the past is the past, right?

"So maybe you sending me your thanks via owl for the Potions save isn't the best idea," he smirked.

I sighed. Potter and I could honestly go back and forth for hours if we wanted, but I didn't have time for that. I had to be at my next class in five minutes, and if Potter and I were both late, the Hogwarts rumor mill would be buzzing with some horrific story about us by lunch time.

"You know what, Potter, thanks for the Potions save."

James blinked and looked taken aback.

I felt a smirk growing on my own face. Ah, the irony. "And I'd hurry to Charms if I were you, seeing as you've now got four minutes to make it to the other side of the castle."

I hurried out of the room, taking more willpower than I'd care to admit not to pump my fist in the air to celebrate my first interaction with Potter that hadn't ended in me losing all semblances of sanity somewhere in the conversation. I mean, I still sort of wanted to dump the potion he'd helped save on his arrogant head, but I hadn't, so... That was an accomplishment.

Then again, I'd started the conversation by running into him and snapping at him from the floor...

So there's always room for improvement.

. . .

The rest of the week was torture.

We'd been working on Switching Spells in Transfiguration, reviewing Summoning Charms in Flitwick's class, and creating senseless charts in Astronomy. In Herbology, we'd moved on from Fanged Geraniums to the properties of Gilly Weed, and I was glad to be working with a plant that couldn't eat me for once. We'd finally stopped studying the Boggart in Defense Against the Darks Arts, although Professor Lupin had seemed a bit too reluctant to tell us what he'd done with it afterwards.

And some of the things bored students did with advanced magic was scary.

I'd had my quill summoned away from me three times while writing a Charms essay, and had my telescope Transfigured into a bloody snake in the middle of Astronomy in just one day.

In other words, fifth year was hell.

"I know I've said it before, but I mean it this time when I say I'm dropping out of Hogwarts," I moaned, sprawled on the floor of the dorm with parchment over my face and a quill stuck in my hair.

"We could run away and start a brothel," Bailey giggled. She had an ink stain on her forehead and a look in her eyes that I was fairly certain meant she was delirious from sleep deprivation. 

"I'd join you," Sarah declared, slamming her spellbook closed and sighing. "I think I'm starting to go cross-eyed from all this reading, and it's only October."

Tara nodded dazedly and stopped writing, flexing her cramped hand. "Legalities don't matter," She muttered. "If we use magic, we can get away with practically anything in the Muggle world. There'd probably have to be some plastic surgery involved if we were to be successful, though..."

"Merlin, Tara! You're actually considering this," I shrieked with a laugh.

Tara shrugged helplessly. "It's better than Charms!"

Sarah shook her head. "Y'know, it actually – Oh!"

We all looked up, and Sarah grinned.

"Today's Friday!" She said gleefully.

I nodded. "The perfect opportunity to test my limits and sleep for the next forty eight hours straight."

"Nope! Tomorrow's Halloween," Sarah grinned wickedly, "And you lot are coming with me to the House party."

"Oh, hell, no!" Tara protested. "Maybe I should've mentioned this earlier, but I need sleep to live!"

"Oi, you're supposed to be the sociable one!" Sarah laughed. "And I don't care. You lot can sleep until dinner tomorrow if you want, but after that, we're going to the party."

"I don't want to wear a costume," I groaned, attempting to untangle the quill from my hair.

Bailey nodded. "Halloween parties are just an excuse for girls to wear nothing but makeup and lingerie and for guys to get drunk off their arses and make terrible pickup lines involving costumes."

I laughed. "Okay, we are not doing this today. I'm done being intellectual."

See, last time we'd had a discussion remotely to do with feminism, it had turned into an hour long collective ranting time, a poorly planned protest in the Great Hall, and three days of detention for "inciting unrest amongst students".

We may have gone about it in the wrong way...

Bailey huffed, but relented.

"C'mon; It'll be fun if all of us go together," Sarah insisted. "Anyway, just find some generic, simple costume and problem solved."

Tara grinned. "I should wear my Wonder Woman onesie."

I shot her a puzzled look. "Your what?"

Tara rolled her eyes. "Wizards are so uncultured."

"I resent that!"

Tara laughed. "I didn't mean it like that. Anyway, if the rest of you will go, I will."

Bailey and I exchanged a glance.

"Fine," I relented. "But you lot are helping me find a costume."

Bailey sighed. "Me, too, I guess." She giggled. "And maybe Charlie will drunkenly chat up James again. That'd make the whole night worth it."

I threw my Defense Against the Dark Arts book at her, but missed. It was probably for the best, though, because it was a damn heavy book.

"It's happened twice!" Bailey went on with a grin, hiding behind a pillow she'd grabbed from the bed.

"Has not," I grumbled. "It's just the only time I can have a civil conversation with him is when I'm not thinking straight."

Bailey rolled her eyes. "You're ridiculous."

"I know," I laughed. "But no more than any of you."

Tara cocked her head to the side. "Hmmm... No, I'd say we're decidedly less ridiculous than Charlie. What do you think, Sarah?"

"Oh, yeah; Definitely less ridiculous."

I put a hand over my heart. "Mutiny! Betrayal! How could you?"

Bailey launched her pillow at me, and I faked a somewhat dramatic, absolutely cringe-worthy death.

"Like I said; Ridiculous."

. . . 

Agreeing to go with Sarah to the Halloween party had been a terrible idea.

Firstly, there was the matter of obtaining costumes a day in advance. None of us had felt like sneaking into Hogsmeade after the disasterous week, so we'd had to get pretty creative with things we found around the dorm.

The results were absolutely terrifying. 

Tara had flatly refused to wear anything other than her positively horrendous onesie, which we discovered rather set the tone for the rest of our costumes.

Sarah... Was a Snitch. It was hilarious, honestly.

I grinned and held up a cheap golden eyeshadow. "Y'know, I'd have never though that this would be useful..."

"I hate you lot," Sarah muttered darkly as we assaulted her with every golden object in the room.

She wore basically wore anything golden that we'd been able to find in the dorm, and we'd all delighted in assaulting her with makeup and drawing wings on the side of her forehead.

"It's actually sort of come together..." Tara tried.

Sarah laughed and shook her head. "Don't even try to tell me I look alright. It's Halloween, though, so what's the point if I don't look horrendous?"

"You don't, though!" Bailey insisted. "We may have attacked you with makeup, but it looks good, I swear!"

"You pull off the dress pretty well," I put in with a grin.

Sarah considered helping the rest of us with our costumes to be her revenge.

Bailey had decided to go as Godric Gryffindor.

Since we'd basically given all our gold articles of clothing to Sarah, Bailey wore a red shirt and jeans, but we'd gotten even more creative with her costume and ripped the curtains from Tara's bed to make a cape (Godric seemed like the heroic type, we supposed).

...And we'd stolen the sword of Godric Gryffindor.

Well, technically, Sarah jokingly had asked Fred to do it, but none of us had thought that he'd actually do it.

We'd probably face the consequences later, but it helped Bailey's costume, so we were alright with it for the time being.

And I'd gone as Moaning Myrtle, because why the hell not?

I'd come to regret my decision after my mates stuck a toilet seat around my neck and put a terrible pair of glasses over my eyes, but it earned a lot of laughs. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but I can say that agreeing to go at all was probably a rather ill-conceived idea.

After all of us had put the finishing touches on our cringeworthy costumes, we headed down to the common room, and after poking our heads out the portrait hole to check for teachers, hurried through the corridors to the Room of Requirement.

"Charlie," Bailey hissed, grabbing my sleeve and yanking me backward as I rounded a corner.

"What?" I asked, somewhat irritably.

Sarah rolled her eyes and shoved a hand over my mouth. I grumbled against her palm, but the protestations died down as she motioned around the corner, where Professor Chambers was just leaving her office.

Sarah raised her eyebrows, motioned to be quiet, and removed her hand just before I got annoyed enough to lick her palm.

We pressed ourselves against the wall and prayed Chambers didn't walk our way. Apparently, we got lucky, as soon the footsteps faded, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Sometimes I really question the Sorting Hat's judgement in placing all of us in Gryffindor.

The teachers had been making precautions to prepare for Halloween night since the beginning of the year, as the Gryffindors had developed something of a reputation for their Halloween parties. The teachers knew it, too, so the location changed every year.

And that year the new location happened to be the Room of Requirement, which was a bit far from the dorm for my taste.

I made sure Chambers was out of earshot before rounding on my mates sheepishly. "I saw her," I grumbled in annoyance.

Tara raised an eyebrow. "I'm sure you did, love."

"But from now on, maybe proceed with a bit more caution, yeah?" Bailey laughed.

I huffed, but made an effort to keep my grumbling more quiet the rest of the way to the Room.

A few stray ghosts floated around the halls, and I'm sure that the noises heard from broom closets meant there were a few stray couples out too, but we made it the rest of the way without incident.

When we finally managed to remember where the entrance was (and how to get in), we opened the door to absolute chaos.

Costumed, already inebriated Gryffindors swayed to music, and drinks sloshed, and people screamed and laughed and sang terribly.

A grin tugged at the corners of Sarah's mouth. "Now this is a party," She yelled over the volume of the music.

"Not my kind of party," I grumbled, but quietly enough that no one heard over everything else.

Sarah grabbed my arm and tugged me to the drink table, but I like to think that I was learning to hate alcohol. I crossly grabbed a mug of butterbeer and took a quick sip, and surveyed the room anxiously.

"Alright, we were here, we saw people, heard music, and came in costume. Can we go now?" I moaned to Sarah as I sipped moodily.

"Nope," She said gleefully, and disappeared into the crowd.

"Traitor!" I yelled at her retreating back, although I'm not sure she could even hear me.

I huffed and glared daggers at anyone who approached me.

If you hadn't guessed, drinking parties weren't really my happy place.

Of course, fact that I was wearing a toilet seat around my neck certainly wasn't helping anything.

"Nice costume," I heard someone laugh.

I narrowed my eyes and turned around to see Fred standing in front of me.

I raised my eyebrows. "You're one to talk. What the hell are you wearing?"

Fred grinned. "I'm the Fat Lady. I'd have hoped you'd recognize the bane of your existence."

I couldn't help but laugh at him. I mean, his costume was worse than mine, and that was saying a lot.

He wore an enormous white dress that was vaguely reminiscent of the one the Fat Lady wore, and had stuck random flowers in his hair to mimic her flower crown.

"That is... Oh, my merlin, that's terrible," I choked out through my laughter.

Fred rolled his eyes. "Laugh all you want, but I'm a man of honor, and I lost a bet."

I nodded with fake sincerity. "Yes, because that costume is obviously both manly and honorable."

Fred shook his head. "Your words hurt me, Simmons. Anyway, have you seen Sarah? She said she'd be here if the could bribe you to come with her."

"More like threaten," I muttered. "She went to raid the drink table and look for you," I said louder and shrugged.

"Right. See you around then," Fred called as he picked up the dress to avoid tripping over it and sprinted off into toward the drink table.

Once again, I was left to glare at anyone who approached me and nurse my butterbeer sourly.

I made it through my first butterbeer and was seriously considering just leaving and facing Sarah's wrath later when the door of the room flew open.

McGonagall was standing in the doorway, signature icy glare directed at the inhabitants of the room.

Several people gaped, some froze, someone apparently screamed, and I dropped the mug I was holding.

And then all hell broke loose.

There was a mad rush for the door, but it was blocked. I was nearly trampled in an attempt to avoid the crowd, and barely even processed the fact that Sarah had grabbed my arm and I was being dragged toward a wardrobe in the back of the Room.

And then there were about five fifth years shoved into a wardrobe, which went about as well as you'd expect.

"Ouch, Fred would you -"

" - Godric, Jordan, you've got pointy elbows!"

"Shove off, I can't -"

" - and whoever that hand belongs to will move or be decapitated!"

"Merlin, Fred, I said move!"

"I'm bloody trying!"

"Lumos!"

I groaned as the space was lit up, the white light burning my eyes. I squinted as I waited for my eyes to adjust to the brightness, and sighed after surveying my surroundings. After the spots dancing in my eyes disappeared, I sighed. I was squashed against the wall of the wardrobe, Sarah's golden hat was so close to my face it was nearly suffocating me, and Sean's arm was pressing against my back.

"Who's idea was this?" Sarah demanded.

Fred looked guilty. "Erm..." He earned himself a whack on the head.

He looked to James for support, who just shrugged. "Mate, I'm not even sure we've got the right wardrobe, no less that it's still here."

"Well that's too bloody bad," Fred muttered as he started attempting to shuffle through the crowd of five to inspect one of the walls.

I scrunched up my face and tried to comprehend what was happening, with very little success.

James glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. "Oi, who brought her?"

Sarah shrugged innocently and I huffed. "Sarah brought me, and it'd be swell if one of you wankers could be bothered to tell me what the bloody hell is going on!" I yelled as I was shoved against the wall of the wardrobe.

No one paid me much attention.

Fred was still looking for something on one of the walls, while James and Sean occasionally tried pointing him in a different direction.

Finally, there was a cry of "Aha!" From Fred, and I shrieked as the wall behind me swung open.

I heard a cuss that had to have come from Sarah, and a lot of grumbling.

I stood up, grumbling about my sore backside, casted a quick Lumos to see, and glanced around.

"We're in the tunnels," I groaned.

Fred nodded proudly. "Yup."

I shook my head confusedly. "I didn't think that the Room of Requirement had secret passageways, though..."

"It does," Sean shrugged.

Sarah rolled her eyes at him. "Thanks for that."

Fred grimaced. "Eoin and Aaron'll be absolutely livid that we didn't grab them in time."

James shrugged. "They probably used the Cloak. I lent it to Aaron yesterday."

I tried to dust off some of the dirt that had stuck to my robes from the tunnel as we started following it, but it was a fairly hopeless task. The tunnel looked like it hadn't been used in years, but that was probably just because the House Elves didn't know about it to attack it with cleaning supplies. Our wands illuminated a good ways forward, and the tunnel curved to the left, but I still had to wonder where it would take us.

I heard a laugh from Sarah. "You dropped your toilet seat," she chuckled as she handed it back to be.

I glared and let her drop it.

"What are you, anyway, Simmons? The future, senile version of yourself?" James asked with a glance at my "costume".

I huffed. "I don't have to tell you," I said pettily.

"She's Moaning Myrtle," Sarah said plainly.

I shot her a glare. "Anyway, Potter, yours isn't much better," I lied. "What are you? A future, even more egotistical and narcissistic version of yourself?"

It was loads better than mine, and all he wore were quidditch robes.

Sarah giggled, and Fred glanced at James. "Well, she's got you there."

Sean nodded. "Sorry, mate."

James gasped. "After everything we've been through you betray me for Simmons?"

Fred shrugged. "She's got the occasional logical argument on her side."

"And a mean Arricneo hex," Sean added sagely.

I shook my head. "One time," I muttered.

"Anyhow," Sarah said pointedly, "Where exactly does this lead?"

Fred grinned. "Old Defense classroom."

I made a face. "Isn't that where Fawley and Webb go to snog?"

Sarah poked me. "Look at you, keeping up with the gossip. And actually, you're not keeping up; According to Tara, they've had some row about whether or not they should coordinate their costumes, and are currently broken up."

"Until tomorrow," I scoffed.

I heard a groan from Sean. "You're one of them!" He accused, pointing at Sarah and I.

I held my hands up in surrender. "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't walking into a mentally scarring situation!"

Sean looked like he wanted to argue more, but thought better of it. "You know what? I can accept that..."

I laughed and shook my head, but was inwardly considering studying to become a Legilimens just to ensure no one was secretly judging me.

We walked for a short time in silence, although it was broken by the occasional giggling of Fred and James scheming about something, which certainly wouldn't end well.

After what could have been anything from five minutes to an hour, the tunnel ended abruptly. We managed to find the handle to pull to swing open a portrait, and filed into the old Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.

A substantial layer of dust covered everything in the room, although there wasn't much for it to cover. Old shelves that had been built into the wall were woven with cobwebs and littered with old parchment, but otherwise empty. There were a few portraits still hanging on the walls that had apparently been too horrible to transfer to the new room, and I could see why for some of them. For now, I'll just say that I was thankful that silencing charms worked on portraits.

And, because the fifth year boys had evidently made the room their own, there was a stash of Firewhiskey under a dust sheet in the corner.

I really shouldn't have been so surprised.

"Nice place," I said sarcastically as Sarah sneezed from all the dust.

Sarah nodded, sniffing moodily. "Really love what you've done with it."

Fred rolled his eyes at us. "Girls."

James and Sean snickered, while Sarah and I exchanged a rather annoyed look.

"So kind of you to notice," I deadpanned.

"Really," Sarah added, "Your observational skills have no match."

We didn't get much of a reaction from the boys, but they opened the first bottle of Firewhiskey. I suppose we weren't as clever as we thought we were.

Fred held the bottle out to Sarah. "Drink up, love," He grinned.

Sarah took it, mirroring his impish smile. "Don't mind if I do."

I groaned. "How do all of you know what hangovers feel like and still choose to drink? I'm done with alcohol for life after one!"

James raised an eyebrow. "Simmons, you are a sad creature."

"I'm also going to outlive all of you," I huffed.

"How very un-Gryffindor of you," Sarah commented.

I stuck my tongue out at her as I joined the rest of the group on the ground.

We fell into a sort of senseless conversation, discussing costumes and grades and quidditch and pranks, and somewhere along the way Sean decided it'd be a good idea to crumple some of the old parchment and cast a fire charm. We managed not to burn down the school while lighting it, and the fire provided heat in the cold, bare room, as well as a sort of comforting light that was less harsh than the blue light from our wands, so we decided that it was a good thing.

"So do any of you plan on heading back to the dorms before tomorrow?" I asked as I watched the fire and tried not to eye the fire whiskey too lustfully.

I was met with a few shrugs.

"It's Halloween," Sean grinned, "And we're some of the only students in our House not facing McGonagall's wrath right now. I'd say we've earned the right to drink and stay out late tonight."

James nodded and took another swig of whiskey. "That we have."

"You people are such bad influences," I mumbled as I reached for the bottle.






A/N: Thanks for reading! I'll sort of tie up some loose ends in the next chapter, but for now, I hope you liked it. ;) 

Reviews are amazing! :)


Chapter 8: In Which Rumors Rule Hogwarts
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A/N: Hope you liked the last chapter! I really appreciate the feedback you guys have given so far, and hope you all like what's to come! :) 

Anyway, I don't own Harry Potter or any related material... Unfortunately.




Chapter Eight

In Which Rumors Rule Hogwarts



 

 

Note to self: The phrase, "Ignore it and it will go away," does not apply to situations that involve being hunted by several professors while inebriated.

...Which is exactly the situation I found myself in at about 3:00 A.M. the morning after Halloween.

I could give a detailed account of the events which made up the earlier part of the night, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I don't have the faintest idea. I know (or at least know that Sarah told me) that we spent a few more hours in the old Defense room nursing our drinks, and that I had lost all semblance of sobriety about thirty minutes in.

I have a vague recollection of Sean, Sarah, and Fred taking a sip of their drinks every time James and I squabbled, and I have a feeling that was largely responsible for the group's collective state of drunkenness by the time we made it back into the tunnel.

Everything from there until the sobering charm is so blurry I might as well have just not been there, but I know that I ended up leading the group back through the tunnel, although admittedly in the wrong direction a few times. I think I was shoved toward the entrance of the wardrobe, because I found myself stumbling out with the others in tow.

Or so I thought.

They're bloody traitors, the lot of them.

I shrieked as I tripped over what I can only assume were my own feet, and screamed even louder once I surveyed my surroundings. I'm fairly certain I swore too, which probably wasn't the best thing to do in that situation, seeing as a Professor stood in front of me.

I stumbled again when someone ran into my back, and heard grumbling, then a muttered curse. James slammed the door of the wardrobe closed behind him to warn the others.

...Which left James and I standing in front of Professor Lupin a few hours after midnight looking incredibly guilty.

James swore under his breath again, and Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow, clearly waiting for an explanation. My mind was probably still trying to process what was going on, as even sobering charms could only do so much.

"Teddy..." James started nervously, glancing at me for help.

I made an admittedly unattractive helpless expression and looked up at Professor Lupin nervously. "So... erm... Oh, would you look at that! Our... err... our wardrobe check was successful!"

Merlin was too cruel to strike me down right then, and I was left standing even more awkwardly in front of the wardrobe as James shot me a glare.

It took all my willpower to avoid glancing back at the wardrobe to make sure the others had had the sense to head back and cover their tracks, but judging by the lack of noise in the wardrobe, I'd say they had. Which meant we were on our own...

Professor Lupin ignored my mortifyingly feeble excuse and turned toward James. "I'd ask how you avoided being caught with the rest of the Gryffindors, but I'm not sure I'd like the answer." He glanced back at me as I lost my balance and swayed, and he sighed. "Aaand you're drunk. I can't say I'm surprised, but really, James? In a wardrobe?"

I'm fairly certain I had to stifle a scream. James' eyes widened in realization and he shook his head frantically as I prepared to murder someone.

"What?! No! That's not - It's - Teddy!"

I nodded frantically in agreement, not caring that it wasn't exactly the most eloquent of arguments. Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow, but didn't respond, though he seemed to take note of my rapidly reddening face. "So then firstly: exactly how illegal was whatever took about three hours in a wardrobe to accomplish? And secondly: Do I even want to know what you were doing?"

"Well, probably not too illegal, and, erm... Probably not," James gave Professor Lupin a pleading look.

"But we weren't snogging in a wardrobe," I added quickly. I mean, I probably didn't actually need to clarify any more, but really, I did.

Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow. "Right," He nodded. I groaned, because Merlin, he was worse than my roommates. "Anyway, you know I'll need to deduct house points, but I'll be merciful with detentions on account of you two already serving more than anyone else in your year, and judging by the portraits' collective giggling, you have until about breakfast tomorrow until the entire school is buzzing with rumors, so I'd say that's punishment enough."

James grimaced as I tried to look innocent. Apparently the look didn't suit me.

Professor Lupin glanced at us again, and the look on his face could have almost been amusement.

Clearly, it's universally understood that my misfortunes are the bloody best form of entertainment in the whole damn school.

I did my best not to glare at either of them as I glanced longingly down the hall, in hopes that I could be on my way, but of course it wasn't that easy. It never bloody is.

"Now that we've established that you two...erm... left the party early," Professor Lupin began, and I cringed a little, "how about the rest of the fifth year Gryffindors? Don't think I'm not aware that Sarah Jordan, Fred Weasley, and Eoin Nott all being mysteriously absent from a party is suspicious."

James glanced at me briefly, and I gave a rather violent shrug.

James rolled his eyes and turned to Professor Lupin. "Erm... well Simmon's roommates weren't there, and Eoin is working on a prank with Fred, so..."

Professor Lupin looked at James skeptically. "You expect me to believe that Fred wasn't there? Merlin, he probably gave you lot whatever got you drunk. And I happen to know that both Miss Jordan and Fred have detention records almost as impressive as their parents."

James fought back a smirk. "Actually, Sarah and Fred were together, but not at the party." Professor Lupin looked at him, perhaps slightly curiously.

Thank Merlin that James knew how to cover for our mates, because I certainly couldn't.

"And they were doing what? Causing trouble elsewhere?"

This time, Jame's smirk appeared in full force. "They've started dating, so I suspect they were in our dorm."

Professor Lupin put his head in his hands. I almost shrieked, but I'm not sure whether it was out of shock or triumph.

Bloody hell, if Sarah got wind of that, she wouldn't hesitate to smack him upside the head with her beater's bat. I'd have to make sure to tell her later...

That thought in mind, I joined in. "They've been dating for a couple weeks, and actually, that would explain why she was so secretive about why she was missing the party. Merlin, I should have known," I said with the disposition of someone who had just found out about their best mate meeting with a boy.

Apparently, I'm a decent liar when someone else provides a decent back story... or when it involves certain implications about Sarah. It would seem that revenge lying is my forte.

James grinned at me, glancing at Professor Lupin, who still had his head in his hands. "Oh, Fred's been talking about it for weeks. He reckons it's about time they tell the rest of the family, because things are getting-"

"Okay, okay! I don't want to know," Professor Lupin interrupted, putting a hand up to stop James from finishing his statement. "Merlin, you lot will be the death of me, I swear." He paused for a moment to recollect himself. "I'll pretend to believe you that the rest of your year was just... otherwise occupied, but that will not work next time, and for Merlin's sake, just don't get caught- I mean, don't do it again!"

The Professor instructed us to head back to the dorms, warned about the consequences if we didn't, and strode away.

I groaned. "Damn portraits..."

James glanced at me. "Damn bad liar," he accused

"Damn supplier of fire whiskey!" I replied indignantly as I determinedly avoided looking at Potter. I can't pretend I'm not terrible under pressure in any situation, but I could at least try to blame the alcohol.

James smirked. "Not such a bad thing to be."

"Yeah, well, if anyone asks, I wasn't even at the party, no less drinking with you Gryffindor idiots," I huffed.

"Simmons, I don't know how to tell you this, but... You're in Gryffindor, too."

I rolled my eyes. "Doesn't mean people need to know I associate with you lot."

James scoffed. "Simmons, face it: You're just as much a Gryffindor idiot as the rest of us."

That... Was actually sadly accurate.

I made a rather rude hand gesture at a few portraits that had gathered in a frame to whisper and gawk at James and I as we walked. I suppose that's how the Hogwarts rumor mill works so fast; The portraits can be damn nosy when they want to be. Of course, the fact that the students were no better didn't help things, but it was never a good sign when even the portraits were talking about you. I ran through a few solutions to keep them from spreading the rumors to the general Hogwarts population, most of which involved just destroying all the portraits in the school. Either that, or get rid of all the students...

No matter what happened, if people started implying that Potter and I were shagging, I would personally Crucio each and every one of them.

"Simmons, you're mumbling to yourself again," James smirked.

"No, I wasn't," I snapped. I hadn't been... Well, actually... "Prat."

James raised an eyebrow and I contemplated hiding behind a suit of armor to escape the embarrassment. "Plotting my untimely death, then?"

I scoffed. "Don't underestimate me; I've had that planned for weeks now. It did take a bit of blackmailing, though..."

"You're bloody loony, you know that?"

I grinned. "And you're just figuring this out? Hell, I've probably got Peeves beat on the looniness scale."

Potter smirked, shaking his head slightly. "You said it, not me. Anyway, I have to get to dorm. Fred and I might have... plans." 

I tried not to let that worry me, but if he was willing to tell me that he was plotting something, then hopefully that meant I wasn't the victim. Then again, he'd already proven that he could play mind games when he needed to, which didn't bode well. Merlin, based off of what he'd exhibited so far, everything he did was enough to incriminate him.

I rolled my eyes as he left, obviously gratified by my concern. "Prat," I grumbled as I trudged toward the dorm.

. . .

"The Fat Lady wants to know if Potter's a good kisser."

That was the statement Tara greeted me with when I arrived back to the dorm. I was about ready to kill something by then, but in an entirely uncharacteristic show of restraint, I just grated my teeth and responded with something along the lines of, "I wouldn't know." ...It may have ended up sounding more like a growl.

Tara was unperturbed by my reply. "Frankly, I can't say I'm not curious myself," She continued with a grin.

I didn't bother with a real answer. Instead, I took the high road and hurled a pillow at her with all the strength of a former Chaser.

Although the pillow didn't elicit much of a reaction, it shut her up for the time being, and that was enough... Until Sarah, being the loyal friend that she is, decided to join her in questioning me. "I'm more curious about what happened once Professor Lupin left."

I was about to shoot back with another extremely eloquent protestation that I most certain did not song Satan's spawn when something occurred to me. "Hang on, I didn't say anything about Professor Lupin," I pointed out, eyeing my so-called mates suspiciously.

Bailey, who had gotten up from her bed by that point, hopefully sensing my anguish, had the decency to look bashful while Sarah just grinned like the Quidditch cup had come early and Tara shot me an unrepentant smirk.

"We...may have stayed to listen once the wardrobe slammed shut," Sarah shrugged, searching for cover from the inevitable flying pillow.

"And you already bloody told those two?!" I motioned wildly towards Tara and Bailey, both of whom seemed quite pleased with themselves.

Sarah eyed me nervously, but went on after deducing that I'd run out of pillows (When I was angry, I had a habit of giving the term "throw pillow" a whole new meaning).

"It's not as if they wouldn't have heard the story anyway," Sarah shrugged.

Bailey spoke up with an equally obnoxious grin. "Yeah, practically all the fourth years know by now, and obviously the rest of the fifth years are running around interrogating James's mates. The portraits are terrible gossips, you know. There's a whole section on that in Hogwarts: A History, and-"

"Alright, so the whole damn school thinks I snogged Potter in a wardrobe, bloody brilliant," I grumbled.

Sarah patted my back, though she checked me for potential weapons in the process. "No, love, not the whole school," She assured me, then smirked. "Some think you two are shagging."

I shrieked and dove toward Sarah, who had unfortunately anticipated the attack, leaving me lying on the floor of the dorm after diving off the bed. "Gouge my eyes out! Merlin, I need a mental ward!"

"That you do," Bailey agreed, as Sarah didn't even try to restrain her laughter.

I threw a book at her and huffed. "I've already had the whole looney talk today, and I'm not in the mood to have it again."

Sarah, finally done bloody laughing at my misfortune, stood up. "Fine. We'll delay the inevitable choosing of your mental ward, but on the topic of insanity, you'd better start finding a way to protect yourself against James' angry fangirls."

I groaned. "What the hell would they want with me? The last thing I need is a bunch of love-struck third years chasing me with pitchforks."

Tara giggled. "You'd probably just flip them off and start throwing punches."

"I would not punch third year girls," I protested, although if they were obnoxious enough, I probably would.

"Yes, you would. Anyway, it's not that you'll have to watch out for; It's the rumors," Bailey warned.

I grinned. "Well, I haven't got any pride left, so what more can they do?"

Tara raised an eyebrow. "You remember when there were rumors that James was dating Clara O'Brien?"

"Not really, but I guess that happened."

Tara rolled her eyes. "You're so out of the loop you may as well go live in the Shrieking Shack for the rest of your life. Anyway, yes, that happened, do you remember the rumors?"

I stared blankly.

"Whatever, you're hopeless... So, by the time the Snakes got wind of the rumor, half the school had been convinced that she was pregnant with Aiden Crawley's child."

If she had just started with that, I probably would've remembered a lot sooner. See, in fourth year Potter and Clara had dated, but they had broken up over the summer, and when school started this year, half the girls in school were speculating on the state of their relationship. And then the rumors had started, and the Hogwarts Romeo and Juliet were no more... Or so Tara had dramatically proclaimed, although I had tuned out most of the explanation.

Sarah grimaced. "Y'know, I think I remember that. I'm pretty sure even some of the teachers started to believe it."

Bailey nodded. "Fairly certain McGonagall was ready to suspend the two of them, but that's beside the point. Basically, you either spend the rest of your Hogwarts career watching out for that, or you find some way to stop the rumors."

I groaned. "Y'know, I liked school a lot better before before you lot explained how things actually work. Still, like I said; I haven't got much pride left, so what have I got to watch out for?"

Sarah rolled her eyes. "You lot are so dramatic. The rumors'll die out after a few days, but for now, I'll enjoy laughing my arse off at how red your face turns whenever someone brings it up."

"So loyal, Sarah. Really, I'm touched," I grumbled as I (finally) stood up. "Now, if you lot are done terrorizing me with the threat of gossip, I have not slept for almost twenty four hours, so know that if one of you wakes me, you will die." With that proclaimed, I launched myself onto the red duvet, wincing as the springs squeaked in distress.

Tara glanced at me. "Oi, fine, but we're having a talk later about you and Sarah and your bloody betrayal when you left us at the party."

I groaned, but didn't respond.

"And we're getting the details of your second drunken midnight adventure with James Potter," Bailey added impishly.

She never even saw the pillow coming.




A/N: Thanks so much for reading! Like I said, reviews are life, and they never fail to put a cheesy smile on my face. Hope you liked it!


 


Chapter 9: In Which I Break a Desk
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A/N: Alright, so the last chapter was bordering dangerously on being a filler, but rest assured that the general insanity quota will be filled in this one. :) 

Anyway, thanks so much for reading, and your reviews have been absolutely amazing ;) I hope y'all like the chapter! 






Chapter Nine

In Which I Break a Desk 



 

 

"For Merlin's sake, Charlie, who've you killed!?"

I groaned. "For the last time, I haven't done anything!" I insisted, though my testimony seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Sarah shook her head and raised an eyebrow. "We know you better than to believe that, love," She muttered as she barely avoided a collision with a snagging couple.

A cacophony of giggles broke out as we hurried past a group of third year girls, and it didn't take incredible skills of deduction to know I was likely the topic of their conversation. Third years were so gossipy... Not that I was much better. Still, I stuck my tongue out at them as we walked by, as a testament to my maturity. It was a wonder I wasn't in Mungo's by that point.

"I've behaved, just like you bloody told me to, and it doesn't bloody seem to be working out for me!" I complained to Sarah as I sent a "subtle" glare at the source of a rather lurid rumor of my involvement in about five different relationships with Quidditch players.

So far that week, I'd been cornered in the girl's lavatories, received several threatening letters, had my dinner dumped down my shirt, and been chased around school by a cackling Peeves...

And it was only Tuesday.

But would my so-called "friends" help me plot multiple murders, or even let me? No, of course not; They'd decided that my best chance would be to avoid more violent outbursts and ignore the problem. 

My mates are even loonier than I am.

"Then why have you been glancing around like you've got plans to murder the bloody Minister?!" Bailey demanded, not for the first time. She may have said the last part about the minister a bit louder than necessary, though, as soon even more suspicious looks were bring directed at me.

In truth, I was just dreading Defense Against the Dark Arts, for obvious reasons, and had been trying desperately to get out of attending all day.

And so my friends were left to assume that I'd been unsuccessful in hiding a body or revenge plot.

Bailey eyed me doubtfully. "You haven't even hexed anyone? You've got that crazy glint in your eye again," She pointed out. I was well aware.

Still, I rolled my eyes and groaned. "Yes, I'm bloody sure! See, I came close to locking some bint in a broom closet, but then I figured 'Hmm, if I do this, I'll have to face the wrath of my ex-mates', so I decided, like a bloody rational human being, that I'd better not do it."

"See, now you're learning," Sarah said with a nod of approval. She took her cue from me and sent another gossipy group a rather rude hand gesture, to which they only continued muttering, just in a slightly angrier tone.

I narrowed my eyes at her. "Using intimidation tactics to bend me to your will is not helping me learn!"

Tara shrugged. "No one's died yet," She pointed out as she motioned around, likely at the suspicious lack of dead bodies.

"Yet," I grumbled, looking pointedly at Sarah.

"Well, you told the entire school- not to mention the professors- I was absent from the party to sleep with a boy I'm not even officially dating, so now we're bloody even!"

Both Tara and Bailey groaned. "Not again," Bailey moaned into her breakfast.

"You know I'm terrible under pressure," I defended. "And anyway, it's not like my reputation wasn't damaged in that conversation, too."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "That's called self infliction, love," she laughed.

bailey urged us to hurry, as the halls were rapidly clearing, and we really couldn't afford to be late again.

I made a face at Sarah. "Don't use big words against me. Are you done yelling now?"

"Until we find out what you're so nervous about, then yeah, I am," Sarah decided. She waved back at a group from the Quidditch team, and Tara grinned shyly at the sight of Alan Watts.

"Good," I grumbled, ignoring Tara's dilemma for the time being, "I don't think I can take any more of this."

Tara giggled, seemingly done pining. "You can be so dramatic... And that's saying something, coming from me. Anyway, what's your strategy for surviving DADA?"

I scrunched up my face in thought. "... Have you lot tell Lupin I've left the school?"

"I know we said we'd support you, love, but that's not going to happen, and you know it," Bailey laughed. "For now, I'd suggest avoiding eye contact at all costs."

Sarah laughed. "Avoid eye contact with Professor Lupin or with James?"

"Both!" Tara nodded earnestly.

Sarah rolled her eyes. "So what's the strategy, then?"

"I've honestly got no idea," I huffed. I was about the worst person imaginable in awkward situations, which I'm fairly certain a teacher thinking I'm snogging my rival, who's practically his family, qualifies as.

On that note, I summoned up whatever dredges of courage had gotten me into that god-forsaken House and strode into the DADA classroom.

Tara grinned. "I don't suppose Potter's left school before you?"

"Wouldn't that be nice," I muttered. "No Potter, no rumors, no aggravating smirk, no pranks, no quidditch-obsessed, cocky, arrogant, self absorbed..." I trailed off after catching on to the eye rolls my friends exchanged.

Sarah, noticing this, brightened. "See, you're catching on! Now if we could just find a way to keep you from saying those things to him, we could practically achieve world peace."

"Still, if I'm neck deep in Hippogriff dung already, it's really no use trying to stay out of trouble anymore, is it?" I proposed hopefully, although I knew it was wishful thinking.

Tara shook her head as we rushed to find seats together. "Nice try, love, but we're too fond of you to allow you to commit an act of social suicide."

I sighed. "You lot have got such good morals; You're no fun anymore."

My mates sent me warning glances and quick shushes as Professor Lupin strode past us to the front of the room. I decided to use Bailey's suggested strategy, and determinedly avoided making eye contact with both Potter and the Professor, although I'll admit that attempting to hide under my desk may have been a bit much...

Still, I'd take what I could get.

Professor Lupin surveyed us with amusement. "Alright, alright. Finnegan, take a seat, Weasley, put that away or so help me, and Nott, do I have to say it every week? My desk is off limits."

The students in question scrambled to their desks, though none seemed too repentant. Fred grinned. "Sorry, Teddy," he conceded unabashedly.

Fred received a stern glare. "I can still see the Puking Pastille under the desk, Weasley, and, seeing as I know you, I don't feel very inclined to let you keep it."

Next to me, Sarah shifted uneasily, tucking something with a label that looked suspiciously like "WWW" into her pocket.

"And you lecture me on behaving," I muttered to her, though she shot me a grin and shrugged.

"I don't get caught."

We both looked up to see Professor Lupin clearing his throat. "Jordan, have you got something to share with the class?"

I grinned at Sarah as she shook her head. "Only wondering what Fred intended to do with the Puking Pastille, Professor, seeing as he's only got half of it."

The professor raised an eyebrow and glanced back at Fred, but offered no response. He turned his attention back toward the rest of the class.

"Since I suppose the Pastille answers the question of who hasn't got the homework done, make sure you've all turned it in by the end of class, and try not to let me see you finishing it under the desk."

Sarah scoffed. "More like starting it."

Professor Lupin glanced at her, then turned to the rest of the class, seemingly deciding it was a lost cause. "Moving on... Today we'll be reviewing a few spells you've worked with before, to make sure you'll all still remember them for exams."

There was a chorus of groans.

"Oi, you'll get to levitate desks, so you're not doing too badly," Lupin protested.

The class visibly brightened.

Lupin surveyed the room, then seemed to come to a decision. "Alright, we're counting off by sevens, so each group'll have three... Hayward, you're a one. Reynolds, two; Turner, three, Fisher... seven, Wells; four..."

He received several confused glances.

"What? You don't honestly think I'd choose random groups, do you? Nott, five; Poole, six; Sanchez, one; Jennings, two; Potter, three..." He continued in this manner, though I'd be willing to bet that he dragged it out for longer than necessary.

His gaze landed on me, and I shrunk down a bit. "Can I be with Sarah?" I asked hopefully.

Lupin raised an eyebrow. "We both know that's not an option, so, Simmons... three."

I swore under my breath, and began plotting my escape. Were the windows big enough to jump out of? Were there even windows in the room? Bloody hell, there were no available exits, what kind of institution was that place?!

"I've already made the mistake of promising you lot that you get to levitate desks, so find a desk with your group, and do your best to both remember the spell and execute it correctly to levitate it," Professor Lupin instructed. "And, if you manage to make it float, for Merlin's sake, don't just drop it," he added as an afterthought.

I trudged over to meet my group mates at a desk in the back of the room, sat down heavily, and pouted.

I heard Aaron laugh. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Charlie."

"It's not you I'm worried about," I grumbled.

It was a relief to at least have someone with some semblance of sanity in my group, although I still very much doubted that Aaron would be able to mediate a fight between Potter and I. As far as I knew, though, we were on good enough terms for the time being...

Still, I determinedly avoided looking at Potter so as not to add fuel to the fire of the rumors, but I could practically feel his smirk. "C'mon, Simmons, don't put yourself down; You'll do fine."

I narrowed my eyes. "I know."

"Although, according to some of the girls in our year, you've got the I.Q. of a troll... Not sure if I believe them yet."

So much for being on civil terms.

"I've got the IQ of a troll? Have any of them taken a good look at you lately?"

Aaron sighed and held up a hand to keep James from responding. "Can you two just try to get through this without threatening homicide?"

That... Did not seem likely.

"Fine," I grumbled, "But if he's the reason we fail this, I get to fling him into the ceiling using the levitation spell."

Aaron glanced at his roommate. "Deal," he decided.

I sent James a smug smile, which he gladly returned.

Damn. I'd already given in and looked at him; What was next? Speaking rationally?

Aaron glanced between the two of use once more. "So, are we all at least in agreement that the levitating charm we're most familiar with is Wingardium Leviosa?"

I nodded, somewhat sheepishly.

Most of the other groups were well past that point, and several students could be heard struggling to recall the correct pronunciation from first year. A few of the groups' desks halfheartedly hovered a few inches above the floor, but the class was otherwise unsuccessful so far. At least the expectations weren't too high, though, eh?

"So... D'you want to try all casting it together, then?" I broke the silence in our group reluctantly.

James smirked. "So long as you don't try to take credit for lifting it once we've got it floating."

I made a face at him. "I think you're confusing my intentions with your own, Potter."

Aaron grinned. "She's got a point."

"She's also a bloody crazy bint," James muttered pointedly.

"He's got a point, too," Aaron shrugged.

"Yes, thank you, moderator, but should we just cast the bloody spell?" I demanded impatiently.

Both boys held up their hands in surrender, and I couldn't help but grin, relishing in my newfound intimidation factor.

There wasn't much I actually remembered academic-wise from my earlier years of Hogwarts schooling, but fortunately the proper way to cast a levitation charm had stuck with me, though I suppose a heavy desk would take more concentration... That could possibly present a problem, seeing as on an average day, I had the attention span of a Pygmy Puff.

"Alright, ready?" James glanced at me and smirked.

I rolled my eyes and drew my wand. "Wingardium Leviosa."

Two other mutterings of the spell followed, and our desk actually did make it off the floor. I grinned. "That was... Almost too easy."

James shrugged. "Well, I did most of the work, so..." He smirked at me, waiting for a reaction.

"Erm... Maybe you shouldn't..." Aaron muttered, nervously glancing at the hovering desk.

I did my best to glare at James out of the corner of my eye, though I don't think he was very intimidated... "You're barely even doing your bloody part of the work," I snapped as I kept my wand trained on the desk.

"Says the girl hardly even making a difference," James scoffed.

I narrowed my eyes. "Watch this, then," I muttered, and lead the desk further upward.

"Lupin's walking over; I'd say it's time to stop," Aaron hissed at us.

I didn't bother looking away from the desk; Really, I'm not sure that I could have, seeing as by that point, it was about as high as the ceiling would allow, and a lot heavier than it looked.

"Potter, Simmons, lower it slowly," Professor Lupin instructed, likely because he knew us well enough to predict that it couldn't end well.

Besides, getting it up there had been easy. Bringing it back down... Now that was going to be a bit more difficult.

I pitied Lupin, I really did.

I sighed. "Fine, Potter, let me lower it."

It'd be easier to bring it back down without trying to bicker at the same time, and we both knew neither of us was mature enough to work together without arguing.

"That's bloody unlikely," James protested.

"Potter, would you just let me -" I began.

Above us, the desk swayed back and forth as each of us attempted to pull it closer.

"Merlin, Simmons, you're not helping anything!"

"Well, I'm bloody trying!"

"Simmons -" 

"You two are going to bloody kill somebody!" 

Aaron probably had a point... Still, neither Potter nor I seemed to be very inclined to listen, so the general noises of protestation from the rest of the class didn't do us much good.

"Simmons, would you just let me do this?!" James growled at me, eyes still trained on the desk above us.

"You know what, no; The fact that you hate me doesn't make me bloody useless," I hissed as I glared up at the desk, and attempted to control the rapid movements.

"Godric, Simmons, I don't bloody hate you!"

"You - what?" I whipped around, which was apparently a terrible decision. In hindsight, it was probably the worst thing I could've done.

"MERLIN!" James shouted as the desk lurched downward.

CRASH! 

I... should have seen that coming.

A nervous giggle broke the silence, and I managed to find the strength to open my eyes, which I'd wisely decided to close when the desk fell.

Wood splinters littered the room, and chair legs were strewn hopelessly around. It didn't look like anyone had been killed, so thankfully, Potter and my feud was yet to have a body count, but from Lupin's face, you'd never be able to tell.

I finished my assessment of the damage and glanced toward James, who met my eye. "Erm... I'll let you lower it next time, Simmons..."

I bit my lip to keep from laughing, and saw that most of my mates were doing the same. "I think I'll pass," I decided as Fred and Sarah erupted into a fit of giggles.

I glanced once more at Professor Lupin, though I wasn't sure what I hoped to see. He didn't look angry, per say, but I'd say his duty as teacher meant that he didn't find the situation nearly as amusing as the rest of us (although I'm about 98% sure I saw him trying to hide laughter). Still, as long as he was the one to dole out the punishment, I figured we'd be alright.

"Potter, Simmons; Meet me in McGonagall's office after classes let out," Lupin sighed after a moment of silence, broken only by poorly contained giggles.

Bollocks.

. . .

"Stop."

Tara casted me a puzzled glance, Sarah rolled her eyes, and Bailey looked up, startled. "Stop what?"

"You're judging me," I complained as I closed my Charms book. "It's wrecking my concentration."

Bailey huffed and returned her attention to her work, while Sarah turned back toward me. "Well, I wouldn't be judging you if you weren't a terrible person."

I gave an exasperated sigh. "You already knew I was a terrible person, and anyway, you're one to talk!"

Bailey casted both of us stern looks.

Sarah put up her hands in surrender. "Alright, I'm done, but you have to say something."

"What's there to bloody say? 'I didn't know you weren't plotting my demise, sorry for trying to ruin your life'? That's always a great conversation starter," I scoffed.

We'd been arguing the same topic for the past hour, since I'd gotten out of my meeting with McGonagall. By that point, it was getting late, we all wanted to go to dinner, still had loads of homework, and were about ready to murder each other.

Bailey slammed her book shut and glared at both of us, and I shrunk back a bit.

"Would you two stop bloody arguing? You've been at it for an hour, and you're obviously not getting anywhere! Sarah, you know it's no use, and Charlie, to answer your question, 'Sorry' might be a good way to start."

I huffed. "I haven't got anything to apologize for that he doesn't."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Except for assuming that he hated you and trying to ruin his life?"

"Merlin, I haven't even done anything that bad!" I insisted, though it fell on deaf ears.

Tara sighed. "Well, regardless of who's fault it was, you've both got another two weeks of detention to add to your lists - which are growing at a scary rate, by the way - and the rest of the school year to deal with, not to mention the rest of your Hogwarts career, so at least acknowledging that you two are just being bloody competitive morons might be a good place to start."

I groaned. "Don't remind me about the detentions. Anyway... Argh, fine; I'll acknowledge that he doesn't hate me."

Sarah casted me an expectant look, which I hoped meant that she was done being cross with me. "And?"

I stared blankly. "And..."

She rolled her eyes, for what seemed like (and very well might have been) the tenth time that night. "And do you hate him?"

"Oh..." I squirmed. "Erm, well, I... I don't know?"

Sarah shook her head. "Not good enough."

I glanced helplessly at Bailey and Tara.

Tara sighed. "If you hated him, I'd say you'd know by now."

"But I don't!" I moaned, and glanced determinedly at my textbook, desperate to find an escape from the conversation.

"Charlie," Bailey warned.

I continued to stare at my textbook, and flipped it over, having just figured out that it was upside down.

"Merlin, Charlotte, just say it," Sarah demanded.

I closed the book and whipped around to face her. "Fine: I don't hate him. I hope that's bloody good enough, because it's the best I can do!"

I held her gaze for longer than was probably necessary, praying that this wouldn't be the start of another fight.

Sarah looked away and nodded cheerily. "Thanks, love. Good chat."

I narrowed my eyes. "I maintain that I've done nothing wrong," I declared, glaring at my roommates.

Tara laughed. "Wouldn't it be a concern if you didn't?" She murmured as she scribbled down a translation for Ancient Runes. After finishing the line, she looked up, satisfied. "Anyway, who's ready to eat? These two are finally calm enough to go out in public now, and we've still got about twenty minutes 'till they stop serving dinner."

I was absolutely desperate to eat, if only to get away from my Potions essay. Really, the whole thing was a jumble of comma splices and angry lettering, but I had some of the required information, and that was more than I could normally say for my work.

We arrived in the Great Hall about five minutes later sporting fresh bruises (Bailey hadn't wanted to leave take a break from her reading, however badly she needed one, and we'd resorted to dragging her... She'd thank us later). I quickly fell into my "Rumor Routine", which basically meant that I hid my face and tried not to interact with anyone, although my antisocial tendencies weren't nearly as strong as my love for food, so it fell apart pretty quickly.

Sarah poked me as I shoveled mashed potatoes into my mouth. "You're the topic of conversation over there, love."

"Kill them all," I grumbled, and then returned my attention to my plate.

I heard Bailey mutter something along the lines of, "At least she's acting like herself again," but chose to ignore the comment.

Sarah laughed in response, and eyed me a bit warily as I stabbed my plate. "I mean because of the stunt you pulled today. Apparently, they heard the crash from the Charms room."

I groaned, although I'd already heard that from a group of Hufflepuffs earlier that day. "I didn't mean to!" I asserted.

At least four of the students in my general vicinity glowered as they chorused, "We know."

I... Hadn't exactly been subtle about the incident afterwards.

. . .

I jotted down my closing sentence with a victorious grin.

It was about 10:00, the common room was practically deserted, and the fire's cheery flickering was actually starting to annoy me, but I'd managed to finish my Charms essay against all odds. Anyway, the common room was a large step up from my dorm, where Tara was squealing about a book she'd received from her mom, Sarah was ranting about Quidditch, and Bailey was sending death glares at both of them from behind her Transfiguration book.

Still, the common room was nice. Trees swayed in the wind outside the windows, and I briefly wondered how long it would be before I'd have to start complaining about snow. I could faintly hear some of the portraits babbling, but everything was otherwise quiet.

It could have peaceful, really, except for the fact that I was there.

I cursed as I tried in vain to shove my textbook back into my rucksack. "I need a bloody extension charm," I muttered to myself.

"Sorry, am I interrupting your conversation with yourself?"

I closed my eyes and sighed. To my dismay, James Potter still stood in front of me when I opened them.

"Yes, actually, but we were just saying goodbye," I said with mock cheer as I grabbed my bag. A textbook spilled out of it, and I debated whether it was worth exerting the effort to pick it up.

"You're a strange one, Simmons," Potter smirked as he handed me the book with a flourish.

I was surprised, to say the least. "Erm... Thanks," I mumbled awkwardly, taking care not to drop the book again as I grabbed it. "Sorry, by the way, for the new detentions... I think we're making a habit of this."

James shook his head and laughed. "I think the quidditch team's about ready to murder both of us."

I rolled my eyes. "More reasons to watch my back."

James shrugged. "Eh, you've got Jordan on your side; Even the quidditch blokes are scared of her."

"She'll be pleased to hear that," I assured him. I stuffed the textbook somewhat violently into my bag and gazed longingly at the stairs.

I wasn't sure if James noticed, but if he did, he didn't let on. "Anyway, I should go; Fred'll be furious if I leave him and Aaron to help Eoin with the Transfig homework. Have fun trying to catch the boogie man tonight."

I groaned at the reference to whatever the hell he'd done to our dorm, then hesitated. Merlin, sometimes I hated the fact that my friends gave good advice. "Oh, and erm... Aside from whatever the bloody hell is in our dorm, I don't really... actually... quite hate you either. It's just..."

"Intense loathing?" James suggested, to which I nodded.

"Very intense loathing," I confirmed. Satisfied that Sarah had no more reason to dye my hair pink while I slept, I turned toward the stairs. "Anyway, see you in detention."

I'd say that I'd see him in class, but if we actually ended up interacting before detention, we'd probably ruin another desk.

James smirked. "Yup. See you in hell."

I rolled my eyes as he stalked to the stairs to his dorm. Bloody Potter.






A/N: Thanks for reading! I absolutely adore each of your reviews, follows, or favorites, so thanks so much! Anyway, now that we've established that they don't actually hate each other, we're getting somewhere, yeah? ;) Hope you enjoyed!


Chapter 10: In Which I'm Beaten By a Quaffle
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A/N: Thanks to everyone who read/reviewed the last chapter – I absolutely adore all of you. :) Anyway, we're going to sort of start getting further into the plot, so as a result, things may start to move a bit faster, because a lot needs to happen. That said, I hope you like where this goes. :)

Also: Huge thank you to everyone for the wonderful reviews, and anyone who's gotten through all of this. :) 

Disclaimer: I'm, unfortunately, not JK Rowling, therefore I don't own the masterpiece that is Harry Potter.








Chapter Ten

In Which I'm Beaten By a Quaffle 



 

The fifth year Gryffindor girl's dorm room was a scary place.

It had actually been a relatively uneventful night, save the stress of fifth year, which had driven us to do some... Strange things. Tara was standing on her bed and screeching along to some horrendous muggle song as Bailey attempted to study (while also throwing the occasional quill or dirty sock at Tara) and I lay in a nest of parchment from my failed attempts at astronomy charts. Sarah was nowhere to be found, which we all found suspicious, though no one had the bravery to comment on it.

"I can't do this," I moaned, crumpling another chart and adding it to my ever-growing pile.

Tara flung her arms out in an attempt to steady herself on the bed. "Oh, c'mon, you've just got Jupiter in the wrong place, it's not so bad," she assured me as she flopped onto her bed, bouncing eagerly.

Bailey winced. "Merlin, Tara, how much coffee have you had?" She demanded.

Tara shrugged and bounced merrily on the edge of the bed.

I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer.

After getting kicked out of the Common Room because we were apparently "too obnoxious", my room-mates and I had sulked back to our dorm and initiated a relatively unsuccessful late-night studying session. I was doing what I could to struggle through the Astronomy Homework, Bailey was actually being studious and trying to prepare for O.W.L.'s, and Tara was having a caffeine-induced singing session (which had not made the night any better).

Bailey sighed and flicked a scrap of parchment at Tara, who gleefully swatted it back at her.

I groaned. "Oh, no; I am not getting in the middle of another paper war!"

Bailey raised an eyebrow. "You started the last one," she pointed out.

I huffed, but couldn't exactly deny it.

Tara laughed a bit manically, and threw herself onto her bed. Bailey sighed in response, and turned her attention back to our coffee addicted roommate. "You're not going to sleep at all tonight, are you?"

Tara shrugged. "I slept last night!" She insisted.

"She has... a little bit of a point?" I rolled my eyes at Bailey's pointed look. "At least it's Friday."

"So we're exempted from sleep?" Bailey asked with a raised eyebrow.

Tara squealed. "Yes! No Sleep November!"

Bailey groaned and banged her head against the desk, something which she'd been holding back for over an hour.

I grimaced. "That... Had to hurt."

She shrugged hopelessly. "Not anymore than her constant -"

Bailey broke off abruptly as the door to our room flew open, and Sarah stormed in, then promptly slammed it closed again.

I glanced cautiously at her. Merlin, was that girl scary when she was angry.

Sarah threw herself onto her bed with a groan, lying facedown on a pillow. Bailey, Tara and I exchanged an admittedly scared, but concerned glance, and Bailey motioned for me to say something. She must like signing my death warrant.

I sighed and turned toward Sarah, who hadn't moved. "So...?" I prompted.

Sarah ignored me.

Bailey shot her a timid glance. "Erm... How was pract-"

"Bloody awful!" Sarah cut her off to wail. "Fred's in the bloody infirmary from a prank, so I was the only Beater, the ruddy 'Claws fought us for the time slot tonight - and bloody won – and McGonagall's determined to tear the sodding team apart!"

In explanation, the entire school and been buzzing with anticipation for the first real Quidditch match of the season all week. There had already been a few scrimmages (one of which I'd made Potter miss, hence my hell of a fifth year) so far that season, but they hadn't technically been official, because the points earned in them didn't count towards the Quidditch Cup. They were meant to give the teams a little more preparation for the first match, but typically only had the effect of psyching out the teams involved.

Consequentially, Alan Watts had been holding extra practices, and it seemed to be taking its toll on the team, and I... had no idea how to handle any of that.

I glanced at Tara, hoping she wasn't too caffeine-addled to help us handle the potential crisis situation.

Tara hurried over to Sarah's bed and threw herself onto it, which was accompanied by an exaggerated, "oomph" from Sarah, and a futile attempt to push her off.

"So what's happened with McGonagall, love?" Tara asked with a shrug that Sarah hopefully couldn't see, because it seemed like a decent place to start.

Sarah groaned into her pillow. "She's a bloody traitor to the cause!"

"Would you... Care to elaborate?" I asked after a beat of silence.

Sarah groaned again, but took a gulp of air before returning to hiding in her pillow, so we took that as a relatively encouraging sign. "She's trying to get Leggett thrown off the team for his marks in classes," she sighed, finally emerging from her pillow to look at us.

I scoffed, but my protest of "How is that sabotage?" was silenced by a well-aimed kick from Bailey, who by that point had joined us around Sarah's bed.

Sarah had still picked up the general sentiment behind the scoff, and shot me a glare. "And yes, I hate the prat, too, but we've only just got Potter back on the team – because of you – and now Fred's in the Hospital Wing, and we might be losing one of our Chasers, and none of the bloody reserves even go to practice," Her gaze, if possible, grew colder as she said the bit about the reserves.

Shit.

"I'm... A reserve?" I honestly had no idea who any of the Gryffindor reserves were, only that we had them. I remembered a brief conversation with Alan Watts about the reserve team after I missed tryouts, but I hadn't actually thought anything of it.

Sarah narrowed her eyes, then groaned helplessly. "I'm not even surprised," She sighed.

I shrugged. Not attending practices had gotten me out of practicing with Potter, so it wasn't like I was sorry.

Bailey spared me an exasperated glance before returning her attention to Sarah. "Love, it'll be fine. Fred'll be okay by tomorrow, because he always is, and Leggett can find a way to get his grades up easily enough."

Tara nodded vehemently as she bounced Sarah's bed slightly, much to her chagrin. "Yeah, it's not like anybody can beat the Lions anyway!" She put in enthusiastically.

Sarah scoffed. "You clearly weren't at practice tonight," She grumbled.

"Oh, lighten up. It'll be fine," Tara insisted, struggling to avoid flailing limbs from Sarah's attempt to get her off the bed.

Tara brightened, and grinned with a slightly concerning gleam in her eyes. "Oh! Y'know what? Since you've got an early practice tomorrow, we could all get some coffee in the morning."

Bailey and I groaned, while Sarah grinned in triumph as she shoved Tara off the bed with a final, strategic kick. Tara landed with a slight shriek and a thump on the floor.

The initial silence was followed by a squeal from behind the bed. "I found a chocolate frog!"

It was going to be a long, long night.

. . . 

The next morning was... Well, I suppose I can't pretend to know, since I wasn't out of bed in time for breakfast.

Sarah had left early for practice, which had left Bailey and Tara to threaten to beat me with my blankets until I got up, but even they'd eventually given up in favor of food.

I got up at the pace of a dying slug, and lunch was being served in the Great Hall by the time I emerged from the shower. My hair was still wet as I made my way to the Hall, and I cursed the fact that the castle corridors were already starting to get colder. By the time I sat down to eat, I was shivering slightly, starving, and cursing under my breath. I was a lovely sight, I'm sure.

The Gryffindor table was nearly deserted, although that wasn't all that uncommon.

The Quidditch team was still at practice, and since everyone else had actually eaten breakfast, most had opted to eat lunch later. I assumed Bailey and Tara were among them, because I hadn't been able to find them, so I'd ended up sitting with Eoin, Sean, and Aaron, which though certainly not a bad thing, got... Interesting.

"I didn't mean to!" Eoin insisted, for what had to be the third time since I'd sat down. "Anyway, he's fine now, so I don't see what the big deal is. It was just a flyaway spell."

"Yeah, well, regardless, remind me to never trust you around anything remotely to do with transfiguration," Sean instructed his friend with a grave expression.

"Or Charms," Aaron added quickly.

Sean nodded. "Or Potions, Herbology, or..." He broke off and looked to the doors of the Great Hall.

It sounded like either a mob was taking Hogwarts or there was a fight going on, and even I knew which of those two was the more likely.

Eoin, Aaron, Sean and I craned our necks to see over the crowd as the doors flew open and a crowd flooded into the Hall, all yelling something different. There was a scramble to move out of the way, and a cluster of red uniforms pushed their way to the front of the crowd (which appeared to consist of nearly all the Gryffindors at the school). The Quidditch team sprinted toward the Gryffindor table, and I had to laugh at how desperate they all looked.

It took me longer than it should have to process the fact that their yells were directed at me.

"Charlie!" Sarah was the first to reach me, and practically dragged me up and off the bench. From how out of breath she was, I could only assume she'd run straight from the Quidditch Pitch, and that didn't exactly reassure me.

I dropped my fork with a noise that was probably somewhere between a grumble and a shriek and glared at her.

The other players started frantically trying to explain, and I began to seriously consider putting some defensive magic into effect.

"Um... What the hell?" I demanded, shooting Sarah my best I'll-kill-you-later glare.

Sarah grabbed my arm and dragged me forward (ignoring the fact that I nearly tripped over my own feet), and hurriedly muttered, "No time to explain! Leggett's off the team, and we need to teach you the plays before tonight, so come with me if you want to live."

I blinked. "Well, that's..." I struggled to find the right word.

Alan Watts grabbed my other arm and helped usher me forward, and I could only imagine what Tara would have to say to me later. "C'mon, Simmons," He ordered, and I'd be damned if I was going to disobey an order from the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain.

The crowd did its best to let us pass, and I found myself being dragged out of the Great Hall, glancing back at my food longingly.

Alan turned to the team. "Okay, so... Jordan, try to find her a set of robes that she won't drown in – and make sure they're bloody clean – Saunders and Weasley, play against the others as Chasers - and no injuries - Mclaggen and Potter, start teaching her the plays. If we're lucky, she'll have one down by the end of this."

I furrowed my brows as I tried to follow any of that. "Wait, why do I..."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "There's a game at five today, love, and you're our new Chaser," She summarized.

There was a short beat of silence.

"Wait, what?" I squawked.

Sarah sighed, then turned to Potter and Mclaggen. "As you can see, she isn't the brightest, so go easy on her, yeah?"

James smirked, and Mclaggen nodded.

"Hey!"

. . . 

Did I ever claim to like quidditch?

If so, I feel obligated to apologize for any misconceptions on that topic, because in actuality, quidditch is a sport from hell. 

I'd been dragged down to the Pitch despite my protests (which had grown considerably in both frequency and intensity as I began to comprehend what was happening), unceremoniously presented with a set of practice robes, and ordered to summon my broom.

Consequentially, I found myself forced onto said broom, and trying not to panic as Potter and Harvey (which, I'd learned, was Mclaggen's first name), the two other Chasers, attempted to teach me the plays without causing me to fall to my death, which I got the feeling both would be happy to do.

"Charlie, you have to touch the Quaffle at least once!" Harvey repeated, with an exasperated head shake.

I shook my head vehemently at him. "I'm only here so you have the correct number of players; Doesn't mean I need to contribute," I insisted.

I'd been struggling to learn (or relearn, in some cases) the plays for the better part of three hours, was slowly starving to death, freezing in the wind, and getting nowhere with the plays. I'd managed to botch all of them in some way or another, so had decided that I'd just do my best to stay out of the way.

Needless to say, it hadn't put me in the best mood.

Harvey gave an exasperated sigh and turned to James "Y'know, I see why you two don't get along."

I huffed, and Potter smirked at me.

Harvey shook his head. "Alright, then," He sighed, "Let's run the Porskoff Ploy again."

I groaned, but flew to my position on the right side of Harvey.

We'd tried running the play with Potter in the center earlier, and Harvey and I on either side, but there had been a lot of "accidental" collisions between Potter and I, so Watts had vetoed that.

I kept pace with both of them with much less enthusiasm than I could have, but still didn't botch the flying part of the play. Amelia, Sarah, and Fred (the latter completely free of the reported boils that had sent him to the Hospital Wing) were helping with the play by playing the opposing team's Chasers, but even they were starting to get sick of running it repeatedly.

Sarah, however irritated, still nodded at me, with both murder and encouragement in her eyes, because what else are friends for?

I groaned and tried to remember what I was even supposed to do in the Porskoff Ploy.

I settled for receiving the Quaffle and passing it off to either James or Harvey as soon as I got the chance, though that had been the subject of a lot of lectures from both of them.

Harvey tossed the Quaffle down to me, and true to my strategy, I threw it to Potter, who shot me an aggravated glare.

I shrugged, and did my best to keep pace with both of them, seeing as we were running the play as slowly as possible in an effort to help me learn it. It hadn't done much.

"Simmons, just go for the goal," James ordered, lobbing the Quaffle back to me with more force than was probably necessary.

I narrowed my eyes and hurled it back at him. "Why don't you, then?"

Potter flung the Quaffle at me and said something along the lines of "Because I've had more than three hours of practice this season," and Harvey did his best to get between us, but it didn't really do much.

We were nearing the goals, and I frantically chucked the Quaffle back at Potter, because missing a shot like that would mean a lifetime of teasing.

Harvey did his best to get in front of me, but we'd sped up considerably since starting the play, so I doubt it was an easy task. "Charlie, you're going to have to - Shit!"

I assume he cut off around the time the quaffle cracked against my face, but the details are still a little hazy.

I managed to stay on my broom, which was a feat in itself, if you ask me. The Quaffle tumbled towards the pitch and my hand flew up to my nose, and I scowled when I saw the blood on my fingers.

"I swear to Godric if that was payback for punching Potter," I murmured, to no one in particular.

Watts barked out orders for me to get on the ground so he could make sure I wasn't hurt besides a possibly broken nose, and I'm sure that I was a lovely sight once I reached the ground, holding my bleeding nose and sulking.

After establishing several times that I was, "Bloody fine!" in my own words, Watts sent me to the locker room to clean up while he figured out how to deal with my apparent lack of Quidditch talent, or so I assumed.

I tore off a few paper towels more violently than was necessary and sighed as I vacated the locker room.

Well, practice had gone bloody great. 

I probed my nose the best I could, trying to get a feel for the damage. It didn't really feel broken, but then, I had no idea what a broken nose would feel like.

"Godric, Simmons, you're bleeding all over."

I whirled around to face Potter. "Thanks," I snapped, "Because I hadn't bloody noticed that!"

Potter shook his head hopelessly and held out a rag. I glared at it and scowled at him, to which he sighed.

"Simmons, would you just -"

I narrowed my eyes and cut him off. "This is your sodding fault, so, no!" Potter spared me an exasperated sigh.

"Merlin," He mumbled, and before I could do something like beat him with my broomstick, he cupped my chin in his hand to tilt my head back and shoved the rag at me.

I accepted it, blushing furiously and hating myself for it, and remembered to breath again once his hand left my face. I stared determinedly upward and kept my head back in an effort to slow the bleeding, trying to ignore the way my heart hammered in my chest (and telling myself that it was from the effort of not murdering Potter on the spot). The silence pressed down on me, and I fidgeted awkwardly, grasping hopelessly for something to say.

"Don't worry, Simmons; If anything, this'll help your appearance."

Potter's voice crashed through the silence, and any traces of something other than hostility vanished. Potter smirked, to which I made a face.

I pressed the blood-soaked rag closer to my nose and scowled at him. "I should've just beaten you with my broom."

. . . 

I was going to be sick.

After changing, I'd been dragged onto the pitch by none other than my traitor of a friend, Sarah Jordan, and was beginning to seriously consider the possibility that someone had slipped a Puking Pastille into my food, because I'd been on my broom for less than thirty seconds and felt absolutely nauseous.

The wind whipped my hair into my face, and I held my broom in a death grip. Dark clouds had begun to gather in the distance, but even I knew that there was no use in hoping for a raincheck. Sean's voice rang out over the pitch, though it sounded a lot more far off than it should have been, and I really had no reason to care about what he was saying, since I was pretty sure it wouldn't get me out of the situation.

In the stands, Gryffindors hurried back to their seats, presumably after placing their last minute bets, and I could make out a group of sixth years trying to hide from McGonagall in order to sell Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products to the crowd.

Sean gleefully introduced the Gryffindors, but I paid little attention to how he introduced me, because I knew enough to be wary (though I caught something along the lines of "And if she's as mean on the Pitch as she is off it, the 'Puffs don't stand a chance", which was vaguely satisfying).

Still, I think I tried to escape at least twice.

My heart pounded as the Captains shook hands, and then there were Quaffles and Bludgers flying through the air, and everything was moving too fast to keep track of.

"Aaand they're off, in a blur of... erm... equally appealing colors," Sean finished lamely, probably glancing at Professor Longbottom, who'd given him a lengthy lecture on biased commentary after the last scrimmage.

Wisely, I tried to tune him out, but he wasn't making it easy.

I did my best to receive the Quaffle as little as possible, but still had to dive to avoid "accidental" collisions with other Chasers.

I heard a sharp intake of breath from Sean's general direction as Amelia barely dodged both bludgers sent by the Hufflepuff beaters, and I swerved frantically to stay out of the way after they hurtled past her towards me.

"And Jonathan Singer's been very generous in sending both Bludgers at Amelia, because he knows the Puff's Seeker is bloody usele- Erm... Sorry, Professor; Because the prat knows she's a worthy opponent..." Sean's voice trailed off.

Harvey and Potter seemed to be doing the best they could to keep the Quaffle away from me, which I had no problem with. Still, by the looks of it, the game was going to play out to be a Chasers' game, because the Hufflepuff Keeper sure as hell wasn't going to win them the match.

On the plus side (for me, at least), there were no Bludgers being sent my way, because the 'Puff's Beaters' attention was focused mainly on bloody killing Amelia.

Harvey, in what had to be a fit of desperation, lobbed the Quaffle to me after intercepting one of the Hufflepuff's passes, and I cursed under my breath and launched into a desperate dive. I grasped it somewhat moodily, and muttering some choice words, I chucked it up to Potter then cut to the goalpost for backup.

A noise that could have almost been a snort came from the megaphone.

"And the Beaters appear to be at war, and I have to say, folks, this is the most interesting game I've seen in a while – Oooh, and Singer takes a Bludger to the stomach... How unfortunate," Sean's voice echoed gleefully through the Pitch.

Yes! Rem, right... The match. Just, let's say I was glad Singer had gotten at least a little taste of his own medicine, prat that he is.

Two of the Hufflepuff Chasers dove at James in a final effort to keep him from bringing the Quaffle down, and he lobbed it to Harvey. My heart was still hammering in my chest, but I dove to get open, ignoring the voice of reason in my head. Harvey tossed the Quaffle down to me before the 'Puffs realized I was open, and I flung it to Potter.

"And Gryffindor scores! Take that y- Oi, give me the megaphone, I didn't say anything wrong!"

I grinned, although I still had an overwhelming urge to fly through my dorm window and hide under a blanket for the rest of the day. Still, nerves, anxiety, and general nausea aside, though, the game wasn't going terribly.

It took thirty more points from Gryffindor, innumerable glares from Sarah from across the pitch, several snarky comments from Sean, and ten points from Hufflepuff before I finally fell back into the rhythm of things, but it was sooner than I'd thought it would happen.

I'd almost forgotten what it was like to not suck at something.

The Gryffindor team's switch from players to teammates was made obvious after about the ten minute mark of the game. The Chasers had certainly improved immeasurably since the beginning of the game, but most of that was a result of us figuring out how to work together, rather than skill. Sarah and Fred matched the 'Puffs Bludger after Bludger, and sent them back with more violence every time they got dangerously close to injuring Amelia. Alan was starting to become a legend of a Keeper, at least in the mind of the Gryffindors, and had managed some incredibly complicated and undoubtedly dangerous maneuvers to keep the other team's shots out.

In short, we started playing like a team, and consequentially, we started winning.

The Hufflepuff Beaters still targeted Amelia, and were right to do so. By the twenty minute mark, it had become obvious that their Chasers weren't a match for Alan, so their best bet was to catch the Snitch before we got too far ahead.

Sean, probably having noticed that, made a show of not-so-subtly cheering on Alan. "Those poor 'Puffs," he sighed dramatically. "Can't really blame them, though; Watts is having a legendary game."

This was followed by a mumbled "Sorry, Professor," and ,"The Gryffindor Beaters seem to be working well together, almost as well as they do off the pitch – Didn't mean anything by it, Professor! – and now that Simmons has decided to join the game, the Chasers are looking near decent. The 'Puffs are... Hanging in there, with Gryffindor leading forty to ten."

I'd have to remember to help Sarah kill Sean later.

By the time we reached seventy points, I'd successfully run a Porskoff ploy and scored twenty points, which was a lot more than I'd expected from the game. Watts had only let in two goals, and the Gryffindors were practically rioting every time he blocked a shot.

Still, if Amelia took a hard hit from a Bludger, none of that would matter much.

Sarah and Fred practically hovered around her, sending the Bludgers back at the Hufflepuff Beaters with scary amounts of force (they'd actually managed to knock one of them off his broom, but he'd been relatively uninjured, unfortunately).

"Oi, Simmons, catch!"

I whirled around just in time to see a Quaffle hurtling toward me for the second time that day.

That time I managed to catch it, and ducked under two of the Hufflepuff Chasers (admittedly ungracefully). I lobbed the Quaffle through the ring with a violent throw, then spun to flash a gloating grin at Potter, who ignored my smug expression.

"Prat," I muttered as we passed, and I didn't catch his reply, but I got the feeling that it wasn't particularly flattering.

I was on Weatherby's tail trying to intercept the Quaffle before the Hufflepuffs could take it down the Pitch when I heard the shouts from the crowd. I whipped my head around to see a frantic flurry of motion out of my peripheral vision, and nearly joined in the crowd's gasps when I realized what had caused it.

Amelia Saunders was splayed on the ground of the pitch, with what appeared to be a Bludger-sized chunk taken out of the end of her broom.

Sean yelled obscenities about penalties and violations of fair play into the megaphone and the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff crowds screamed insults of varying colorful words at each other, but the damage had already been done and the fact remained that we had no Seeker.

Aaaand the gut-wrenching dread was back.

. . . 

Alan looked ready to whack all of us upside our heads with his broom, and had done so several times already.

"Come on, you sodding talentless pansies!" He "encouraged" us with murder in his eyes.

I'd been called a lot of things in my life, but that... Well, that was new.

Fred groaned. "We're bloody trying!"

Harvey sighed. "Alan, we can't win without a Seeker," He shook his head.

Alan narrowed his eyes. "Well, we're bloody well going to, or kill Jonathan Singer while trying!"

The team shot him skeptical glares, though that sounded like an alright plan to all of us.

We'd been hanging in there, but it sure as hell wasn't shaping up to be an easy victory. After sending Amelia to the Hospital Wing and receiving assurance that she would recover (just not in time to save the sodding match), we'd played for a good ten minutes more before Alan had called a time out to scold us that "Just because Amelia's gone doesn't mean you bloody wankers can throw the match".

Alan had used our full time out, so we had five minutes, and he'd already spent a good three of them yelling. It hadn't been a pleasant experience, and I was beginning to remember why missing tryouts had been something of a relief.

Sarah bit her lip. "Oi, I'm tired of him too, but he's got a point," She put in, which earned her several glares of varying threat levels from the team. Sarah made a face at us, and carried on. "Anyone remember the World Cup of 1994? I mean, other than the whole Death Eater thing, does anyone remember the actual match?"

Potter raised an eyebrow. "Jordan, we weren't even alive in 1994."

Sarah narrowed her eyes. "You lot are so uncultured," She huffed. "Well, anyway, it's famous because Ireland won, but Bulgaria caught the Snitch, so if you gits would stop moaning about Amelia long enough to consider that we've already got a good eighty point lead, then we might stand a sodding chance," She huffed.

There was a beat of silence (only from the team, as the crowds were, if anything, more rambunctious than before), as we all tried to avoid her gaze.

She was right, to a certain extent. Technically, if we extended our lead to over 150 points, then we could still win, but the odds of us doing that were... Basically nonexistent. Still, Alan had been guarding the rings with his life, and our Chasers were having an exceptionally good game, all things (the fact that I was playing) considered, so... Well, it was still virtually impossible, but we had to try, right?

Anyway, it was good to know that I wasn't the only one there who was bloody terrified of Sarah.

Alan regarded Sarah with an expression that betrayed both admiration and fear, and turned to address the rest of the team. "She's bloody right, you know," He said as he glared accusingly at us. "We've got a ruddy eighty point lead, and if you lot blow that, you won't leave the next practice alive."

His words were followed by a chorus of groans.

"I've only just joined the team, and you're already threatening homicide," I accused. A shrill whistle echoed across the pitch, and we received several motions from the referee that very clearly said to hurry the hell up.

Alan raised an eyebrow at me. "You bloody knew what to expect; You were on the team last year."

Unfortunately, he was right.

"Anyway," Alan grinned, nodding at the team, "Let's go score seventy more points."

. . .

A bolt of lightning snaked across the sky in the distance, in jagged and pale contrast with the grey sky, and the pitch below us trembled as thunder crashed. The wind tore at anything it could reach and the air felt ready to burst, and from my broom I could almost feel the atmosphere changing in preparation for the storm to come.

Bloody perfect. 

We were down a Seeker, already being blown off course in the wind, sore from nearly an hour on our brooms, and there was a ruddy storm coming on top of it all.

I scowled at nothing in particular as I made a dive for a loose Quaffle, and hurled it back to Potter with a lot more force than was necessary. If he noticed, he didn't let on, so I suppose there are small mercies.

A loud cheer erupted from the megaphone before it could be contained, and Sean's voice rang through the pitch. "That was Potter with the goal, bringing the score to 180 - 50, which means the Lions have got a 130 point lead, and I swear to Godric if they screw th- Oi! I wasn't done talking!"

Sean had grown increasingly bold in his announcements as we inched closer to a 150 point lead, and the Professors were beginning to have a hard time reigning him in, to say the least.

"Oi, Charlie, watch out!" Sarah yelled across the pitch, and I frantically swooped down to avoid a Bludger that had been sent my way.

I made a rather rude gesture at Singer, who had sent it at me, and yelled a quick,"Thank you!" at Sarah before slamming into Weatherby and hoping with everything I had that either Potter or Harvey was below us to catch the Quaffle when she dropped it.

"Argh, you've already - Ooomph," I cut off as Weatherby, in turn, slammed me against the side of the pitch, and I was still trying to clear the spots from my eyes when Sean announced that Harvey had scored.

The Hufflepuffs snatched the Quaffle and flew it down the pitch and the Gryffindors in the stands started chanting something along the lines of "Ten more points!"

The air crackled with electricity and we raced the Hufflepuffs down the Pitch. I gripped my broom and made a desperate reach over the side, where the Quaffle had been passed, but was too slow to intercept it, and could only watch Harvey in astonishment as he dove off his broom to catch it.

"Harvey, what the hell - " My eyes widened when I realized that he'd just thrown the Quaffle to me as he fell, and I nearly joined him in a free fall as I frantically reached for it, and thanked every deity I knew of when I felt it in my grasp.

The crowd was in uproar, and my assumption that it was because of Harvey was quashed when the Hufflepuff Seeker flew past, reaching frantically.

"Oi - Dawson's after the snitch, and the Chasers had better bloody well EVEN THE DAMN SCORE BEFORE - " Sean was abruptly cut off, and the crowd's chanting took on an almost frenzied tone.

"Potter!" I yelled, and lightning flashed as I lobbed the Quaffle at Potter, who didn't even slow to catch it.

The audience had given up any pretenses of chanting and screeched as we raced against the Seeker.

I crashed through two of the Hufflepuff Chasers and looked for the pass, and nearly threw myself off my broom to grab the Quaffle, which I flung to Potter as I cut up to the ring.

Sean sounded like he was about to burst and was practically screaming into the megaphone. "Potter's nearing the goal - Dawson's reaching for the Snitch, someone sent a bloody Bludger at him! - Simmons in possession of the Quaffle, passes to Potter - DAWSON'S AN ARM'S REACH AWAY, YOU TWO HAD BETTER NOT FU-"

Regrettably, he didn't get the chance to finish.

Thunder cracked, almost matching the crowd in volume, and Potter hurled the Quaffle toward the left ring.

Now, I'll freely admit I have a particular penchant for exaggeration, but I swear to Merlin time slowed when the Quaffle flew towards the ring, and the Hufflepuff Keeper dove to reach it.

I think I forgot to breath as his hands brushed the Quaffle, and it moved agonizingly slowly, arcing towards the ring-

"NOOO! BLOODY NO!"








A/N: Thanks so much for reading! 

Okay, so, yes; I recognize that this monster of a chapter was almost all quidditch, and that I'm not particularly adept at writing quidditch scenes, but it did sort of help the plot along, and y'all got some interesting James/Charlie scenes out of it, too. ;) 

Anyway, I absolutely adore each and every one of your reviews/follows/favorites, so just know that I squeal like a five year old every time I see a new one, and that it means a lot. Thank you!


Chapter 11: In Which I Start a Fight
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A/N: Thanks to everyone who's been reading this story - You guys are amazing! 

Anyway, I promise things get more interesting from here, so thanks for bearing with me so far. 

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I'm not the goddess responsible for creating Harry Potter, or any related material. Also, there's an excerpt from the Fantastic Beasts book in this, and... Yeah, I don't own that, either. 








Chapter Eleven 

In Which I Start A Fight



 

 

"'Gonna bloody kill bloody Jonathan Singer," Sarah grumbled as we made our way back to the Common Room, which was still bustling with people when we arrived.

I nodded sympathetically. "Call me if you need a hand, yeah?"

To be fair, he deserved it; He'd not only taken Amelia out by purposely targeting her, he'd also been a right prick about it after the game when we'd gone to check on her in the hospital wing. Fred had actually had a bit of a row with him over it, though Longbottom had stopped it before any punches or hexes were thrown... Damn shame, really. He could have kicked that 'Puff's scrawny arse.

"It'll be the perfect murder," Sarah gave me a solemn nod before we both started laughing.

I shook my head and grimaced at my sore limbs as I climbed into the portrait hole. Sarah, having noticed, offered an amused smirk. "Stand by your assertion that Quidditch is a sport from hell, then?"

I shivered and raised an eyebrow. I was positively soaked from the downpour that had started just as we started to file into the locker room, sporting more than a few bruises (and a slightly swollen nose), sore to the point of agony from sitting on a broom for so long, and my hair was so matted I thought actually might need to cut it.

"Godric, now more than ever," I confirmed.

Sarah shrugged, and I noted that she really wasn't much better off than me. "I think I'm starting to agree with you, actually."

We made a beeline for the stairs to our dorm after climbing through the portrait hole. "The Fat Lady didn't even glare at me," I noted, though I was still justifiably cautious as the portrait hole swung closed... Old habits die hard, I suppose.

Sarah scoffed. "She probably feels bad for us," She grumbled.

"Must we relive the nightmare?" I groaned in response, though in truth, it hadn't been so bad, just... mortifyingly frustrating.

Sarah shook her head and mumbled something about pouting in our dorm before trudging towards the stairs, which was beginning to sound like a really good idea.

We'd lost by ten points, but not even just that; We'd scored less than a second after Dawson caught the Snitch - It was so close that I maintain that if the ref wasn't out to get us, we would've tied the game, but kept that private, because I doubt many sympathized. Still, I couldn't even blame Potter, because the shot had gone in, just not soon enough to win. Still, I could do my best...

"Oi, Simmons!" Harvey hurried to my side, still damp from the rain, and considerably more bruised than me after his fall. Still, he could almost pull off the dirty, rugged Quidditch player look. I, on the other hand, could not.

I groaned, not quite willing to put forth the effort it took to say something insulting. After a beat of silence, I mumbled out a "What?", but it came out sounding more like a growl than a question.

"Y'know, most people like to look at each other when they talk," A snide voice chided, to which I scowled. Potter grinned as I turned to face him with both reluctance and murder in my eyes.

"Well, most people who talk don't passionately hate each other, either," I huffed.

Harvey looked about ready to whack both of us upside the head after enduring an entire practice of bickering. I wouldn't blame him if he did, honestly.

Potter just smirked at me. "Passionately?" His hair was even more of a disaster than usual, and his robes were still rain-soaked, but unfortunately, like Harvey, he managed to pull it off a hell of a lot better than me.

The scowl stayed firmly planted on my face, and I tried not to look embarrassed (unsuccessfully, of course)."Yes, arsehole," I snapped. "What do you want?"

Harvey glanced at James, noted the smirk on his face, and cut him off. "Just wanted to check that you know the practice schedule for next week, since Watts will probably be working us 'till we drop as punishment for this match."

I raised my eyebrows. "So Watts seriously still wants me on the team after that?"

I honestly hadn't expected my Quidditch season to extend beyond that match, and wasn't quite sure how I felt about finishing the season with them, though I'd probably feel better about it after a scalding, ridiculously long shower.

Harvey shrugged, but was cut off by Potter. "Not so much that as we haven't got any other options," He assured me, the ever-present smirk still on his face.

"Of course," I rolled my eyes.

Harvey sighed, and tried not to look too impatient. "So, have you got the dates, then?"

I nodded. I didn't actually know the dates, of course, but I figured I could just ask Sarah later.

Harvey looked relieved that he could leave. "Great," He paused before going. "And I know we lost and all, but there's not much we could have done, so good game."

I snorted. "I'm not the one who dove off my broom to catch the Quaffle, but thanks."

Harvey grinned and then hurried off, probably just glad to escape Potter and my bickering. To be honest, a break from the fighting could have done me good, too, but I wasn't about to back down, so I turned back to Potter and waited for a provocation.

"Well? What've you got to say about my playing, then?" I asked after a beat of silence.

Potter shrugged. "Could've played better, but then, all of us could have."

"... Come again?"

He rolled his eyes at me. "You're bloody impossible, you know that?" He paused. "Anyway, the only reason you didn't do something like fall to your death was that you listened to Harvey and I," He smirked.

"I'll have you know I was a perfectly competent Chaser before being bloody tutored by you two," I huffed.

Potter snickered. "You realize I played with you last year? I know better."

I scowled at him. "I hope you're the next one to get sodding hit by a Bludger!" After Jonathan Singer, of course...

"See, but then, there'd be less people there to keep you from mucking things up."

I glowered and turned toward the stairs to the dorms. "And less potential murder victims," I muttered.

I heard a laugh behind me and narrowed my eyes, but continued on my way. I only reacted when there was a call of "See you next practice, then!", and that was to send James a rather rude hand gesture, so it didn't take up too much of my sulking time.

. . .

I woke up the next morning in an understandably bad mood, and listened grumpily.

The wind rattled the windows and a few muffled voices drifted up from the common room. The rustling of fabric could barely be heard coming from the bed next to mine (which happened to be Sarah's, and I doubted she was actually awake), and a few springs creaked, but otherwise, everything was... Quiet. I didn't think I'd ever been awake early enough to experience a quiet dorm before.

I did my best to burrow deeper into my nest of blankets and bask in the cozy warmth and quiet and closed my eyes.

"AAAAAAAARGH!" 

Merlin, why?!

"THERE'S A SPIDER IN MY BED!" Tara's shriek pierced the quiet of the room, accompanied by a flurry of frantic rustling (and muttered curses from my other roommates).

I was about ready to kill something. Understandably.

I tore open the curtains, stomped over to Tara's bed, and just about ripped the curtains off of the damn thing. Tara had retreated to the back corner of her bed, and was staring at her pillow in horror.

"What?" I demanded, probably more harshly than was strictly necessary.

Tara whimpered.

I groaned, and dragged her out of her bed. She clung to me and pulled me in front of her before motioning wildly towards her pillow. "There's a spider!"

"I can't even see it, love," I sighed, and then leaned in to inspect her pillow.

Sarah and Bailey approached, looking about as irritated as I was, which is to say very. Sarah glared at Tara, who shrunk back. "It's a bloody spider! They've got eight legs and creepy features, but that doesn't justify waking me up at bloody six o'clock on a weekend!"

I whipped Tara's pillow at her. "IT'S - A - SODDING - PIECE - OF - LINT!" I whacked her with the pillow between each word, and Tara did her best to screech out an apology.

Sarah dissolved into a fit of laughter at Tara's ineffective attempts at justifying our wake up call, and Bailey did what she could to keep Tara alive. The rest of the morning saw me starting a sword fight with brushes with Sarah, getting dressed as slowly as possible, and moping until breakfast was served.

Breakfast was incredibly subdued compared to the earlier part of the morning (though that isn't saying much), and afterwards we joined in the frenzy to get out of the castle and leave for Hogsmeade.

If I've failed to mention it, I apologize, but the Hogsmeade rush is scary. 

It took a few good shoves to get through the crowd, and we nearly lost Tara along the way, but we eventually made it out of the castle (relatively) in one piece. After establishing that we'd all meet up at Honeyduke's later in the day, we sent Sarah off to find Fred with more than a few warnings against having "Too much fun". I was starting to develop bruises as a result, but I figured watching Sarah squirm was worth it.

Tara shook her head as we saw her off. "They grow up so fast," She murmured, trying to hide a grin.

I nodded in agreement. "Too fast - Oi!"

Tara and I whirled around to glare at Bailey, who was shaking her head at our antics. "You know that if she hears you, she'll do a lot worse than whack you upside the head. Anyway, aren't we supposed to be supportive?"

I rubbed the back of my head and glared.

Tara held up her hands defensively."Only supportive friends are supposed to be supportive. Sarah knows we're not supportive friends, so we're allowed to be totally loony, jealous friends."

Bailey raised an eyebrow. "Jealous of Sarah for having a boyfriend, or jealous of Fred for spending time with Sarah?"

"Maybe I'm jealous of Fred for having a girlfriend," Tara shrugged as she grinned at us.

Bailey snorted. "Well, you would be."

Tara stuck out her tongue, but denied nothing. I shook my head at the two of them and hurried ahead down the path. The air was cool, and I almost pouted when I realized that I was enjoying the last of the autumn weather for that year. Leaves still littered the ground, but most of the trees were already almost bare.

We managed to shove our way through the crowd that typically flooded Hogsmeade on visiting weekends, and fled into the warmth of the Three Broomsticks gratefully. The inside of the building was nothing special to look at, although the owner prided himself that the interior had been rebuilt almost exactly the same as it had been prior to the war.

"So, who's ready to drink their weight in butterbeer?" Bailey grinned as she draped her coat over a chair.

I scoffed. "Give me firewhiskey or give me death."

I was met with an icy glare. "I swear to Merlin, if I have to deal with either drunk or hungover Charlie again before the end of the year, I'll do my best to establish a prohibition law in Wizarding London."

Tara gasped. "You wouldn't dare." She pulled out her chair, and we all winced at the grating noise it made as it scraped against the floor. Bailey looked behind me and groaned.

I whirled around an echoed her. "Nott, Finnegan," I greeted without enthusiasm.

Sean saluted. "Simmons." He pulled up a chair, and Eoin shortly followed suite.

"Argh, what do you want?" I moaned, probably sounding considerably less hostile and more whiney than I intended. Sean turned to face me, seemingly oblivious of the death glare I was sending him. I'd have to work on that...

He shrugged. "We were bored."

There were three sighs, all with varying levels of exasperation, from Tara, Bailey, and I. "Well, go bother someone else!" Bailey ordered, doing her best to shoo them away.

Eoin grinned and shrugged. "Nah."

I narrowed my eyes, having finally noticed the suspicious lack of Potter. "Where's the rest of your bloody band of misfits?"

"Well," Sean grinned, "I honestly don't want to know what Fred and Sara are doing, James is doing his best to spy on Fred, and Aaron's doing his best to stop James from getting his head blown off by Sarah's Beater bat."

Tara giggled. "Are Aaron and Bailey the same person in different universes or something?"

Eoin grinned and shouted something that sounded an awful lot like, "Conspiracy!"

After she gave up on glaring, Bailey rolled her eyes and held up a menu. She sighed in resignation, and I almost killed her for what she said next. "I'll order a few butterbeers, then," She relented.

Merlin, I thought she was supposed to be the smart one.

Tara glanced up. "Ooh, if you're getting up, would you get m-"

We all jumped as the door banged against the wall after being thrown open. I looked up grumpily for the source of my near heart attack and can't even say that I was surprised to see Potter frantically pushing his way through the crowd, Aaron in tow.

I groaned. "What do -"

Potter cut me off, much to my chagrin, but I didn't have much time to worry about that. "Freddie got in a fight with that Singer prat," He explained hurriedly to the group, and then turned to Sean and Eoin. "We... May need your help tearing them apart."

We received glares from just about every patron of the Three Broomsticks as six chairs screeched against the floor, but didn't pay that much mind. I managed to stay behind some of the others, so I wasn't jostled too much by the crowd, but I vaguely remember leaving a trail of angry Slytherins in our wake as we shoved our way through the crowd.

"Where the hell -!" Sean demanded as we followed the two off the main road of Hogsmeade.

"Shrieking Shack," Was the panted response, and we hurried down the path.

I vaguely remember cursing the fact that I was already winded from the run, and I think I caught my foot on at least two branches on the way there. We rounded the last turn and a crowd could already be seen, which was never a good sign.

I was practically dragged into the throng, and shoved my way into the inner circle of students in search of Sarah.

"Oi, Charlie!"

I spun to see Bailey and Tara struggling to keep Sarah out of the fight, and hurried over to help restrain her. I received a good elbow to the face in the process, but hey, sometimes our friendship was like that. We kept each other out of trouble and nearly got throttled in the process.

By the time I got a handle on Sarah, Singer was nowhere to be seen. In the middle of the circle of students, Fred was splayed out on the ground with blood gushing from his nose and an already slightly swollen face. I winced, and loosened my grip on Sarah as James rushed over to Fred, and the rest of the lot did their best to shoo away the crowd.

I whirled to face Sarah. "What the bloody hell happened?"

"I've got no sodding clue," She muttered darkly.

. . .

Whispers. 

I narrowed my eyes, and forced myself to focus on the book in front of me. I'd spent the entire week trying to get through it to stay ahead of my work, and wasn't about to let those gits ruin it for me. 'The International Confederation of Wizards argued the matter out at their famous summit meeting of 1692. No fewer than - ' *

More whispering, followed by a few snickers.

I took a deep breath and refused to look up. 'No fewer than seven weeks of sometimes acrimonious discussion - ' *

"I swear to Godric, if you don't shut the hell up, I will shove this book so far up your arse you'll cough it up!" I snapped.

There was a vicious "Shush!" from the librarian.

Fred looked affronted. I noted for the first time that his face was starting to look better, but he still sported a nasty bruise on the side of his face. "Bloody hell, Simmons; We weren't even being that loud!"

I narrowed my eyes. "You're right; You were whispering, and I'm about ready to rip your vocal chords out of your throats and mince them because of it."

Sean stared at me. "Godric, how do you come up with these?"

I glowered. "Maybe I speak from experience," I threatened.

Sean nodded, and moved further away from me. "That's what I'm afraid of!"

I huffed, and closed the book. I'd been trying to get through the same paragraph for the past half hour, so I figured by that point that I wasn't getting anywhere.

Sarah noted my admission of defeat and grinned. "Resigned to the inevitable, then?"

I groaned and nodded. "If I don't drop out of Hogwarts by the time break comes, I'll have failed out," I sighed and rubbed my eyes.

She nodded. "I'll be right there with you on the streets, then."

"How sweet," I deadpanned.

Fred glanced between the two of us. "Is this all you two talk about?"

We both exchanged a glance and shrugged. "Wishful thinking, I guess," Sarah nodded. We all winced as a pointed "Shh!" was once again aimed at us. Merlin, were people protective of that library.

I ducked my head and did my best to keep my voice lower, though I honestly didn't have a quiet setting. "Bailey," I muttered as I poked her side.

The girl in question just "Hmm?"-ed without looking up from her book.

"Baileeey," I moaned.

This time, I elicited a resigned "What?" from Bailey, and she glanced up at me.

"Help me make my essay sound semi-competent?" She sighed. "Please?"

James snorted. "Merlin, Simmons, that's pathetic."

I didn't want to risk the wrath of the librarian again, so I did the mature thing; I stuck my tongue out at him and continued to pester Bailey, who eventually gave in and helped me with my introduction paragraph. With a halfway decent start, I actually started working, honest. I was truly, actually working on something relatively productive when I heard a groan from Sarah and we all turned our attention to where she was staring with distaste.

Fred visibly darkened, while I like to think I only scowled.

"Singer," Sean spat.

Jonathon Singer had sauntered into the library, flanked by about eight of his semi-evil cronies.

James stared with disdain. "Maybe if we ignore it, it'll go away."

Singer noticed us and sneered.

James sighed. "Guess not."

"Fancy seeing you here, Fred; I'd have thought you'd still be in the Hospital Wing." The group collectively tensed as Singer continued to survey us, determined not to do anything we'd regret.

We'd all finally gotten most of the story of the fight from Fred after he'd gotten himself decently cleaned up after the fight (although he'd still been lectured by the Fat Lady for trying to get into the common room and get his nose blood on everything). Singer, per usual, had been an arsehole to Fred, which hadn't surprised anyone. Apparently, though, when push came to shove, Fred could take him in a fight and knew it... Apparently he just had more trouble when Singer unexpectedly started throwing hexes.

Still, we'd all already known he was an arsehole.

Singer narrowed his eyes, and Sarah did her best to keep Fred from doing something he'd regret.

Bailey glared, attention finally away from her book. "It's a surprise to see you here, too; I didn't know you even knew we had a library."

Singer looked unimpressed, and Fred clenched his fists, but said nothing. I kept my mouth firmly closed, keeping in mind the fact that I'd received detentions for fighting on more than one occasion already that year.

"So now you're letting the resident nerd serve as your attack dog?" Singer sneered.

Tara tensed up next to me, while Bailey continued to glower.

"At least we've got some brains in our group," Aaron spat.

One of Singer's cronies stepped forward. "A lot of good that did Weasley and your Seeker bitch."

Fred's chair clattered against the ground as he stood up, and Sarah, James, and Eoin grabbed him at the same time.

Fred abandoned his attempt at breaking free of their hold and settled on glaring. I eyed the burly-looking sixth year boy I knew to be the Hufflepuff Seeker. "And a lot of good it'd do your Seeker bitch," I spat back.

I'm still quite proud of that one, but... Upon reflection, I need to think about consequences a bit before speaking.

Singer turned his gaze on me, cutting off Big-Burly-and-Angry-At-Charlie-Seeker Boy. He sneered, and I could only gulp, silently curse my big mouth, and repeat 'I will not make this any worse' like a mantra in my head.

"I didn't know that Potter liked his whores so feisty," He jeered.

Note to self: It's pretty damn hard to stick to resolutions when you're seeing red.

I heard the crack of my fist against his face, but in a far off, removed sort of way. Everything seemed muffled and slow as I watched it happen, but none of it could have lasted more than a second.

Several more chairs scraped violently against the floor behind me as Singer stumbled back, and then rounded on me. "Gryffindor bitch," he spat. Strangely enough, I didn't take much offense.

I had just enough time to see Fred and James launch themselves at Singer and his cronies before Singer shoved me into a bookshelf. I felt something crack against my back as I slammed into the shelf, and went crashing down with the whole thing. I swore under my breath, not quite sure if the crack had been a bone or a shelf.

Sarah had lunged at the Seeker, and looked like she was having a grand time of it, too. Eoin was in the process of being punched by someone nearly twice his size - granted, he was pretty small - and Sean had taken on a tall but skinny Ravenclaw I'd seen around a few times.

I remember being vaguely surprised that someone from the only smart House had seen fit to fight a bunch of Gryffindors, but looking back, that probably shouldn't have been one of my top priorities.

Things got out of hand quickly.

The rest of the students involved were trying to tear the others apart, but ended up on the receiving end of more than a few thrown elbows in the process.

I got shakily and painfully to my feet, and immediately received a backhand from some Hufflepuff goon as retribution, and crashed into another shelf, though I managed to stay on my feet. I'm not sure who was responsible, but Crawley's hand was being eaten by some carnivorous book, the Seeker was being held in a headlock by James, and Ravenclaw Goon Number One was splayed out on top of a table by Fred.

I stumbled out of the way of Singer, who flew past me and knocked over a shelf after a hard hit from Fred. The crash of the shelf falling was almost morbidly satisfying, and I probably would have smirked had I not been in one of the scariest situations of my life.

Still, I was a Gryffindor, and we practically live off adrenaline.

I spun to face Singer and held my ground, albeit more out of desperation than anything else. I almost threw an elbow backwards when I felt someone grab my side, but realized I was being spun out of the way.

When I stubbornly turned back around, James stood in between me and Singer.

"Bloody Gryffindor prat," I muttered, but didn't press it any further.

Granted, I'm not sure what I could have done, anyway. Singer staggered forward after dragging himself up, and tensed up before launching -

"NOT IN MY BLOODY LIBRARY!" 

There were a few final clatters and thumps before everyone froze, and everything went eerily silent as Madam Pince approached us. She was a little old lady, probably more ancient than the castle itself, with a mean-looking face and godawful glasses, and walked toward us leaning heavily on a cane.

I had never seen a group of Gryffindors look so scared.

James glanced at Fred, and without moving muttered, "You think we can make a run for it?"

Fred surveyed Madam Pince. "Not a chance, mate."

. . .

"What the bloody hell is a retrograde, anyway?" I demanded, crumpling another draft of my Astronomy assignment.

It was just after dinner, so the sun had barely set and the stars could barely be seen through the dirty window in our dorm, but all of us had managed to document some nonsense about the planetary statuses of Venus and Mars, so all was well.

There was a chorus of groans and Bailey rolled her eyes before tossing me her copy of the Astronomy Textbook.

I fumbled to catch the book, and glared at Bailey. "How many times have you lot lectured me on throwing books? This is hypocrisy; It's an outrage!" I insisted, grumpily picking up the book. "Especially now that books are the currency of the realm," I added as an afterthought.

Sarah paused briefly as a small thump came from somewhere in the room, and then rolled her eyes. "You're being so dramatic about this," She complained, glancing up.

"Am not," I huffed, flipping through the pages of the book rather pointlessly. Another marginally louder thump elicited from the corner of the room, but we'd learned not to care too much, for risk of letting it drive us insane (again). "Pretty soon we'll run clean out of resources!" I persisted.

Bailey rolled her eyes. "You're being ridiculous, love; they'll probably forget about it, anyway."

I raised an eyebrow at her.

We'd been banned from the library. The bloody library.

Granted, it was on account of starting a fistfight, but still - the library!

It's not like we didn't deserve punishment, but we hadn't really been the ones to start... Well, it wasn't our bloody fault, anyway, and we'd still ended up with revoked library privileges and three weeks of cleaning bedpans in the Hospital Wing after classes. Of course, the very last thing I needed was more weeks of detention, but I figured that fact alone wasn't quite enough to get me out of it. Oh, the joys of delinquency.

"Alright, so they won't forget, but no one died, so I reckon things'll settle a little," Bailey backtracked.

I shrugged, and Tara grinned, clearly not too horribly scarred from the fight. "Until then, who needs books when we've got Bailey, anyway?"

Sarah scoffed. "Charlie, apparently."

Bloody hell; They were turning against me.

Bailey raised an eyebrow at my admittedly pouty glance, likely knowing that I'd never swallow my pride long enough to actually ask where to find it.

"Page 241, love."

I sent her a grudgingly thankful nod in acknowledgement and hurriedly flipped through the pages. I stared at the book for a few moments, and the room was peacefully silent.

"You haven't actually read any of that, have you?" Tara asked, though she probably already knew the answer.

"Godric, no," I moaned.








* Taken from Fantastic Beasts, pages 15 and 16 :) 

A/N: Anyone else feel like there's suddenly a lot of caps lock in this story? Just me? haha Expect even more next chapter ;) 

Anyway, thanks for reading! I'm sorry it's been so long - It was that damn Hogsmeade scene that took so long to write, and I don't even know why :/ Anyway, I absolutely adore reviews, so please feel free to tell me what you think, and how you like where everything's going, because things are going to get a little crazy from here on out. Thank you! :)

 


Chapter 12: In Which We Start a Revolution
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A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who's gotten this far - you're all absolutely amazing! :) 

That said, I'm sorry updates have been taking so long, but I should have more freedom now that I don't have to worry about research papers for awhile.

Also, Quick Side Note: I know the image quality for this chapter image isn't great, but anyone who's tried to take an actual picture of fireworks knows that that's probably actually pretty accurate, so... Just ignore that. 

Anyway, things start to get a little crazy in the next few chapters, so bear with me. ;) 










Chapter Twelve

In Which We Start a Revolution



 

 

The rest of the month dragged on at an agonizingly slow rate, but didn't hold any more disasters, which might be seen as a small mercy in all the madness that typically surrounds November.

By the time December arrived, the whole school revolved in a relative state of turmoil, though of the admittedly regular Hogwarts-Before-the-Christmas-Holidays brand. November ended with an expected drop in temperature and a long-accepted but dreaded restlessness. Detentions were as hellish as ever, but involved considerably less James Potter (after the desk incident, the professors had deemed it best that James and I serve separate detentions, rightly so). The final dredges of autumn were slowly sucked away, and even I'll admit that "grumpy" could describe me at almost any given moment as the wind gained a sharper edge and the trees were stripped bare.

The end of autumn brought an even more rigorous (though, personally, I found the word 'insane' to be more fitting) workload, a severe case of restlessness, and unfairly cold weather; I spent what little free time I did get grumbling and complaining.

Still, the only thing worse than the last weeks of November was December.

"Argh, it's so cold even the bloody ghosts are complaining!" I groaned as I ducked into Professor Griffith's classroom.

Bailey shook her head and laughed as she pulled out a chair. "Try again, love; ghosts can't feel cold."

I huffed. "They can when it's bloody cold enough to freeze the arse of Merlin himself." I winced as my chair made a grating noise against the ground and slouched grumpily in my seat.

Tara giggled and slid into her seat beside me. "Where do you even come up with these?"

I was about to give her a snappy retort when I noticed the detention schedule on Griffiths' desk and brightened. "I'll have lots more time to come up with new ones once I'm free from detention for good," I said loftily.

Tara laughed. "Still going on about that, then. Well, for the fifth time today, congratulations."

I bowed and returned the grin. "Just think: In a few short weeks, I'll have finished serving all of my detentions, and then I can kiss the nights of scrubbing bedpans goodbye forever."

Tara raised an eyebrow. "Forever's a long time, love, especially if you have to go that long without getting more detentions."

I shrugged. "I'll be a perfect angel. I've learned my lesson."

More like I'd done my time and gotten better at not getting caught, but same difference.

Tara rolled her eyes and motioned to the blackboard at the front of the room, which listed the ingredients we'd need for the potion that class. I can't say I took the time to read it, but I'm fairly certain what we were meant to be making was a Wit-Sharpening Potion, and I figured the less I knew, the less I could muck up. Tara seemed fine with it, anyway, having experienced many of my potions mishaps first hand.

Tara stopped me from dumping the armadillo bile into our shared cauldron, and I shot her a cross look. "What?"

I received an amused laugh for my troubles. "Firstly, you're supposed to add the Ginger Root first, and secondly, that cauldron's got a false bottom, love."

I deflated a bit. "Oh." I narrowed my eyes and inspected the cauldron. "Well, then where's a bloody working cauldron?" I demanded, eyeing Griffiths with vengeance as he walked by.

Tara sighed. "I've got one, but you can only have it if you promise not to start accusing Griffiths of being the long-lost brother of Severus Snape again."

I huffed. "I never... " Wait. "It was one time!" I protested, realizing about halfway through that Tara had a point. "And he was being inexcusably suspicious!"

Tara raised an eyebrow and gently set the cauldron down. "He was wearing a black robe, love, and you decided that meant that he - "

"Alright, alright," I grumbled, hastily grabbing a handful of Ginger Root and shoving it at Tara. "What do I bloody do with this, anyway?"

Tara shrugged. "Hell if I know." I met her eye and laughed before Griffiths walked by and we hastily opened our books to the correct page to at least make it look like we were working.

I held up the Armadillo Bile as she stirred (I was no longer to be trusted to stir Potions, but that's both reasonable and irrelevant). "Godric, this smells worse than the boy's dorm," I gagged.

Tara wiggled her eyebrows. "And you'd know," she laughed.

"Argh, you're worse than... Well, never mind, you're the worst of all of you," I groaned.

Tara shrugged. "If you wouldn't give me the opportunity, it wouldn't come to this," She defended. "Anyway," She continued as she surveyed the instructions, but cut off and groaned. "We weren't supposed to stir that clockwise."

I raised an eyebrow. "Nice of you to say 'we', since we both know it's my fault," I laughed. "How do we fix it, then?"

"Erm... Add more Ginger Root?" Tara shrugged helplessly.

I nodded. "Right," I paused and glanced at the cauldron. "So... What can I actually do that I won't muck up?"

Tara raised an eyebrow and motioned out the door. "Go get more Ginger Root." She paused after seeing my less than eager expression. "Please?"

I groaned and pushed out my chair dramatically. "Fine, but if I bring the whole closet crashing down, I'm blaming you."

Ah, oblivious foreshadowing. But enough of that.

Tara nodded with mock solemnity. "That seems fair." She waved and grimaced at our brown-looking potion. "Good luck, then."

After giving Tara a wave goodbye - just in case - I trudged out of the classroom and over to the worn-looking door at the end of the hall, which squealed at a pitch I didn't think humans could even hear when I opened it. Inside of the small closet, I was welcomed by a small cloud of swirling dust and a putrid smell. Dusty bottles perched precariously on cluttered, ancient shelves, and the only light filtered in through a grimy window.

Lucky me.

I finished my survey with a resigned sigh and stepped in.

"Surprised to see you in here, Simmons. It must mean you haven't blown up your cauldron yet."

Potter.

I briefly debated making a run for it, but decided I was too far gone; I'd already crossed the threshold.

In lieu of a proper escape route, I narrowed my eyes, turned determinedly away from James, and began rummaging through the shelves. I rolled my eyes somewhat petulantly, although he couldn't see. "I think you'll find that I've not blown up my cauldron more days than I've blown it up," I said, probably a tad too triumphantly. Small victories, yeah?

I heard laughter behind me, but I was determined not to turn around.

"Brilliant. I'll go tell the first years you've surpassed them, then."

I moved on to another shelf, though by that point I was having trouble remembering exactly what I'd gone in there looking for. "I'm sure you'd fit right in among the taller ones," I retorted, squinting my eyes to read a particularly nasty-looking bottle and wincing at the contents (I think it had something to do with the Draught of Living Death, so I moved on in a hurry).

I heard a scoff, this one probably justified. "Simmons, I'm a good six inches taller than you."

I huffed. "I'm fun-sized."

James laughed, this one more genuine. "You're the size of a goblin," He said bluntly.

"Then you're a troll!" I shot back, almost hitting my head on an overhanging shelf as I moved to search another wall. I carelessly moved a few bottles onto a lower shelf to read them and hoped that by the time someone noticed that they were out of place I'd be gone.

"Whatever you say, Griphook."

I narrowed my eyes. "Well, the bigger they are, the harder they fall." I did my best not to gag after catching a whiff of a particularly potent bottle and yanked open a lower drawer. I'm fairly certain I managed to singe some of my nose hairs, but that may not be altogether relevant.

I heard a scoff. "Charlie, I've witnessed someone throw you so hard into a shelf it broke," James sounded exasperated by that point, but I was more concerned by the cloud of dust that seemed to be trying to suffocate me.

After regaining relative control over the breathing situation, I huffed. "It was a cheaply made shelf," I defended, trying not to wheeze, "And I didn't need your help taking out Singer during that fight," I added huffily.

It was a lie, of course, but even I hadn't known I was still that bitter.

"So you're mad at me for trying to keep you from getting hurt," James deadpanned. I could practically see him shaking his head, though I wasn't sure if it was out of exasperation or anger.

I closed the drawer I'd been rifling through with a thud. "I am, mostly because I didn't bloody need you to," I snapped.

I whirled around to move on to another shelf and found myself running square into James' chest.

Merlin, I was short.

James glanced down at me and shook his head. "I'm not going to apologize, if that's what you want," he told me, eyes meeting mine.

His gaze was steeled with a challenge, so I tilted my chin up, held his gaze, and tried to ignore the pounding of my heart. James took a minuscule step closer and I think I forgot to breathe.

I relented.

"It's not," I muttered, glancing down at my feet, wondering when it had gotten so hot.

When I looked up again, his gaze was still on me, searching.

The smell of the potions in the closet seemed overwhelmingly strong, and two people suddenly seemed like far too many for the space. A few voices drifted vaguely from the classroom. I almost winced at the pounding of my heart, and would have been willing to bet that the rough, dirty floor was swaying beneath me. The stale air seemed charged with something, but I doubted I'd even be in that situation if I had the slightest clue what it was.

I shuffled backwards to allow myself to breathe again and felt my shoulder blade make contact with a shelf.

A bottle clanked behind me. 

I had just enough time to wince at the spilled Pomegranate juice before the closet erupted into a swirling mist of heavy, awful-smelling smoke.

We took that as our cue to leave.

"Godric, what is that?" I gasped out as we stumbled out of the supply closet.

The fumes were vaguely pink and smelled a bit like burning rubber. I gagged and gulped in as much clean air as I could after escaping the smoking closet. Professor Griffiths and about half the class came running into the hall, probably to watch the debacle and see what we'd done that time.

So much for serving the last of my detentions.

I heard a groan next to me and saw James wincing at the smoke. "Bloody salamander blood and pomegranate. Who the ruddy hell decided to store them on the same shelf?"

I glanced at the closet, remembering my carelessness in resolving the bottles - not that I'm admitting to anything - and winced. "Shit."

. . . 

For all the good students who've yet to experience the hell of being summoned by the Headmistress, I'll be the first to warn you that it is not a pleasant experience.

I'd spent a good five minutes after the incident assuring teachers that I had not, in fact, meant to flood the school with potentially poisonous smoke, and the next ten minutes convincing them that the fumes were not, in fact, actually poisonous. The initial questioning had slowly developed into a flurry of efforts to find spells to fumigate the halls, most of which proved futile. I found it inappropriately hilarious that the teachers at a magic school resorted to just opening the windows and hoping it was windy enough to fix it, but decided it was best not to laugh. I've still got some sense of self preservation.

The literal and metaphorical smoke had barely cleared from the halls when I'd gotten word from a smug looking fourth year that I was wanted in McGonagall's office, which was never a good sign.

I ended up wandering off to her office on my own after being abandoned by my apparent escort, and walked in with the beginnings of an escape plan forming. I sat down numbly.

After a few moments that were stretched into centuries by the silence, McGonagall nodded at me. "Miss Simmons," She acknowledged, and then seemed to contemplate something as she surveyed me.

I squirmed and looked determinedly away from her.

After a few more seconds of agonizing silence, I heard a sigh and tore my gaze away from the window. McGonagall looked at me more warily. "Do you know why you're here?"

I assumed I had a pretty good idea, but had learned (from experience, unfortunately) not to confess to anything until I'd at the very least been accused.

I gave an unconvincing shrug. "Erm... I would assume that it's nothing good," I muttered, inspecting the desk with more interest than was probably necessary.

"Objectively," McGonagall nodded, "You're correct."

I almost shrugged again. It wasn't like I'd been expecting to have a pleasant visit drinking tea and laughing over my misadventures. I'm not the bloody Chosen One. Though that may just be a myth...

A grandfather clock ticked in the corner of the room, and several portraits eyed me with varying degrees of disappointment; I'd never liked that Phineas Nigellus chap. Rain pattered against the window, leaving the glass foggy and obscuring the view outside, which I'm fairly certain was my only chance of escape. I wondered briefly how difficult it would really be to throw open the window, however foggy, and jump to freedom -

"Miss Simmons, are you listening?" McGonagall's sharp inquiry cut into my escape fantasies.

"I - erm, yep. Yes. Definitely listening." Definitely not a terrible liar.

McGonagall shot me a pointed look, but didn't press the issue any farther. "As I was saying, I'm aware that fifth year is quite stressful for some students, but there is no excuse for the decline in your behavior as of late."

I winced. "I haven't actually been..." I started feebly.

"You've earned a combined tally of 82 nights of detention this term," she said bluntly.

I almost gaped. Of course, I wasn't naive enough to believe I hadn't earned myself a certifiably insane amount of detentions, but I'd never actually thought about how much they all amounted to. Then, I never really thought much about detentions except that they were miserable and far too easy to come by.

Still, 82 bloody nights of my life wasted serving detention. Godric, and I wondered why I never had any free time.

McGonagall barely paused to glance at me before continuing. "As you know, the school policy is that all detentions must be served by the term's end for you to earn credit for it." McGonagall shot me a pointed look.

I stifled a groan, because by that point I had a feeling I knew where the conversation was headed.

"You've served 61 thus far, will have served 79 by the end of the term, but will still have three detentions left to serve at the end of the term," McGonagall sighed and surveyed me, waiting for a reaction. "Which is why we must ask that you stay at school over break," She finished.

I held back a groan and made a mental note to first ask my mates which of them were staying over break and then to beg all of them not to leave me. I nearly grimaced imagining spending the holidays in the near-empty castle, celebrating with the ghosts and teachers and House Elves and whatever the hell else lurked in that sodding castle.

I sighed. "I guess I'll write my mum, then," I muttered and did my best not to sound too sulky.

McGonagall nodded. "Your parents will be informed of the nature of your stay over break," she told me.

Oh, Godric, no. Mum would skin me alive.

"Oh, erm... That won't be - " I started a bit frantically, but was quickly silenced by McGonagall.

"It would seem it's quite necessary, Miss Simmons," She said, clearly trying not to sound too exasperated.

I bit my tongue and nodded. "Is that all, then?" I asked, trying not to sound too hopeful. I was absolutely dreading the holidays, but knew that there really wasn't much I could do to plead my case. I'd burn that bridge when I came to it.

McGonagall shot me a contemplative look and then sighed. "Mister Potter will be staying under the same conditions, and it would do you good to remember that your feud and the chaos that follows it will not be tolerated. You two are difficult enough as it is."

The last part seemed a bit mumbled, and I wasn't sure if I should be proud or offended.

I nodded. "Yes, Professor." I glanced a bit longingly at the door.

McGonagall, seemingly noticing this, looked amused, and showed mercy. "You may go, Miss Simmons, but do try not to add to your list of detentions."

She didn't have to tell me twice.

. . . 

"This is a bloody outrage!"

I glanced up from my food long enough to see Fred storming toward us, and I nodded vehemently as I shoveled a forkful of potatoes into my mouth, but said nothing.

Sarah raised her eyebrows. "So I take it James told you that Griffiths' detentions put them over the edge?"

Since James and I had been separately informed of our grim fates for the holidays, the news had been slowly circulating through our year. Tensions had grown considerably past what would be considered healthy and moved closer toward mob mentality in favor of stringing up Griffiths, though that was mostly because half our year was upset that the Hogwarts' golden boy was separated from his famous father for break. With three days left in the term, students were already growing restless, and the fact that they had somewhere to aim their frustration did not bode well for the Professor, though I was fine with that.

I vaguely acknowledged the conversation, but put most of my concentration towards not choking on the mountain of potatoes I'd managed to shove into my mouth.

Fred nodded, and glanced briefly at me. His stormy expression changed to one of concerned disgust, and he turned back to Sarah. "Is she okay?"

I could only assume he was talking about me, since I didn't bother to look up. I grunted and tried not to wince as I swallowed more than one is probably advised to swallow at once.

Sarah waved a hand dismissively. "She gets like this whenever she's upset; she'll be fine, provided she doesn't accidentally swallow a chicken bone."

I wanted to protest that 'she' was right there and was very liable to beat both of them with said chicken bone, but knew that a) Sarah was right and b) Any attempt to speak would only end badly for all involved parties.

Fred raised an eyebrow. "Is that not a genuine concern?"

I sent him a rude hand gesture and took an unhealthily large swig of pumpkin juice.

The thought struck me that I'd developed some creative coping mechanisms over the years, but then, who hasn't?

Fred raised an eyebrow. "That's charming, Simmons, really," he muttered, then turned to face the rest of my roommates. "Anyway, forcing a student to stay during holiday is an obvious violation of our rights as students, regardless of what it says in the bloody rules, so what are we, as the proletariat of this school, going to do about it?"

He was met with a few blank stares. I did my best to chew contemplatively.

Fred shook his head. "Honestly, I'm disappointed. No one's got any bright ideas? No proclamations of rebellion?"

Bailey quickly put a hand over Tara's mouth to muzzle her, which received a mildly concerned glance from Fred. She shrugged. "She'd start her own rendition of that one French musical where everyone dies again if I removed my hand, and trust me, it's better that you don't ever need to hear that."

I had to agree.

"Anyway, I'm not sure that fighting back is really - Tara!" Bailey yelped, cradling her hand. She received several quizzical glances, which she first anwered with a glare at Tara."She just bit me!"

Tara shrugged dramatically. "You were silencing me. That has to be a violation of my rights. I thought we stood together when it comes to human rights," Tara said, doing her best to sound slightly hurt.

Fred looked at Sarah, probably startled. His was met with an eye-roll from Sarah, and I chose to ignore them all in favor of choking down (emphasis on "choking") a large serving of mashed potatoes.

Fred coughed. "Anyway," he began, still looking mildly worried for our collective sanity, "Let's get back to Griffiths. And revenge."

. . .

If I recall correctly, the revenge plot had actually begun with Fred setting off a prototype firework of somewhat debatable quality, but that's not to say the events that lead up to it were lacking in dramatic effect.

The entire hall had carried an air of anticipation all morning and the Gryffindor table was thick with stifled giggles. The fifth year Gryffindors, (sans me, of bloody course) sat huddled at the end of the table with expressions suspicious enough to warrant an investigation, and the rest watched them with varying degrees of anxiety evident on their faces (I think I saw Lucy Weasley exchange a few stern words with Fred, but I can only assume that he did what any good cousin would do and ignored her).

Of course, I managed to disregard all of this in favor of drinking my tea sullenly until Fred clambered onto a table, sent James an incredibly unsettling grin, and sent a solitary red flare from his wand.

That certainly got my attention, though I can't say it was for the best.

"Oi!" Fred yelled, in case some one had failed to notice his bloody flare. There was expectant silence. "As I'm sure all of you've heard by now, those two," He motioned towards James and me, "Got themselves enough detentions to need to stay here for break." I looked around frantically for the fastest escape route as Fred faced the teachers and continued, "And we, being the fifth years, specifically from Gryffindor House, have come to the conclusion that they shouldn't need to stay alone."

I slouched in my seat and determinedly ignored all of the gazes on me and shook my head, because by that point I had a good idea where the situation was headed.

Godric, I was surrounded by lunatics.

Fred grinned wickedly and continued. "So, if you're going to keep them for break, you'll have to keep all of us, too."

At Fred's cue, Sarah and Sean mirrored his grin and shoved an alarmingly large pack of fireworks onto the middle of the Gryffindor table, and before anyone could say "bad idea", the Great Hall had erupted into what I thought at the time could be a very colorful, loud, and fiery death trap.

The situation escalated quickly from there.

"What the hell, Jordan?" I yelled over to Sarah, who seemed a little preoccupied with flinging dung bombs at any Professors who dared to come close enough.

Sarah offered me a devious grin. "Brilliant, isn't it?"

Yep - Lunatics.

I grumbled something I probably shouldn't repeat and surveyed the chaos.

The entire hall was a mess of people rushing to get out or grab their bags or take shelter from the next volley of dung bombs, and the air was hazy with smoke. Various projectiles hurtled through the Hall, taking out a few candles for their trouble. There was some sort of pond near the Hufflepuff table, and I was fairly certain that at least two students had already fallen in. Someone had broken out the Peruvian darkness powder, and to be honest the dark corner of the Hall was starting to look rather sinister.

Most of the younger students had filtered out of the hall to avoid being implicated in the debacle, and the older students sent us wary looks from the exits. The professors hurried around the Hall in varying degrees of panic, though I'm about eighty percent sure I saw Professor Lupin grinning at Fred at some point. Peeves, naturally, had been drawn by the chaos and gleefully flung ink at passersby as Professor Wolgomott frantically brandished a broom at him.

I scanned the room briefly for the ringleaders and glowered upon finding them.

Merlin, why couldn't I have been in Ravenclaw?

"For Godric's sake, Tara, get off the table," I yelled over the noise as I approached.

Tara stood on the Ravenclaw table surrounded by an array of tableware that had been charmed to dance along with whatever song she was screaming. She sent me a maniacal smile in response and continued to yell a song that I was pretty sure had something to do with revolting, but thankfully I couldn't really hear.

"Simmons!" Fred grinned upon seeing me and spread his arms to motion to the chaos. "Isn't it beautiful?" He grinned.

I raised an eyebrow. "I'm pretty sure Sean's just lit the 'Puff's table on fire."

"Brilliant!"

Godric help us all. 

I huffed and spared a glance to the front of the Hall. A few Professors watched me cautiously, already resigned to thinking that I'd had a part in the disaster. I rolled my eyes at Fred. "Tosser," I muttered, and then more loudly, "I've got to go. If I'm seen associating with you lot, I'll still be serving detentions after I graduate."

Fred nodded his understanding and shot Bailey a thumbs up as she gleefully unleashed a small army of pigmy puffs into the hall.

That right there is why Gryffindors are to be feared above all other Houses.

I hurried to the Gryffindor table to avoid having my head sawed off by a fanged frisbee, and ended up diving under the table for shelter from a particularly close volley of fireworks. I pushed a bench to the side and crouched under the table cautiously. Hoping that I was out of range of anything inherently harmful, I peered through the gap under the tablecloth to watch the scene unfold.

It was almost scary how little time it had taken to turn the Great Hall into such a disaster.

"It's a little like watching a muggle horror movie." I nearly hit my head on the table as I whirled around to face Potter, who shot me an unapologetic grin. "Didn't mean to startle you, but now that I have, I can't say I regret it."

"I've got to invest in less moronic House mates," I grumbled, rubbing the back of my head and lowering myself into a sitting position to avoid further head damage.

James raised his eyebrows, and I looked away and tried to focus on the fireworks still crashing above our heads. "Was that directed at me or that lot?"

"Yes," I muttered, turning my attention back to the chaos in front of me.

There was a pause, followed by a flash of red light and another crash. "Alright... So how many weeks d'you think they'll get for this, then?"

I shrugged and winced as a bang echoed through the hall, followed by the stern yells of several professors. "Dunno, but it looks like Griffiths's about ready to skip the detentions and send them to Azkaban."

I heard a laugh, and it took a lot more effort than I'd care to admit not to turn to face James. "He probably could, too."

"He'd probably have done it by now if he could," I grumbled, tracing patterns on the wood of the bench in front of me.

"Oh, you'd be there by now for sure," James assured me.

The explosions were growing marginally less frequent, so I supposed the professors were starting to regain some semblance of organization, though there were still fireworks crackling above us and a small army of pigmy puffs hopping around the Hall.

I narrowed my eyes and did my best to keep my focus on the scene in front of me. I tugged the tablecloth down as a group of professors walked past, though I couldn't see much except their knees. "I might still end up in Azkaban for murder," I grumbled, and made the mistake of glancing behind me.

I glowered at the responding smirk. "Is that a threat, Simmons?" James asked, watching me with too much amusement for my taste.

"Yes," I snapped, crawling to face him completely, "and that bloody smirk is what's going to motivate me to follow through," I finished with a glower.

James smirked at me. "What smirk?"

"Bloody hell, that one, you prick!"

Tara's singing cut off abruptly and I heard about 300 plates crash against a table. A final, solitary dung bomb was flung across the Hall and a firework fizzled out somewhat anticlimactically.

"I'm not smirking," James insisted, ignoring what remained of the debacle. He held up his hands in a gesture of mock surrender and bloody smirked. 

"Would you stop?" I huffed, crossing my arms petulantly and leaning my back against the side of the bench.

The smirk melted into a grin, and James leaned marginally closer. "Make me."

Whatever I'd been trying to say caught in my throat, and I silently cursed myself for even meeting James' gaze in the first place. I did my best to take a breath and scooted marginally away from James and closer to the bench, which subsequently scraped backwards and tipped.

I ended up sprawled on the ground for my troubles.

I groaned and started to sit up before noticing the feet currently inches from my head and wincing. I leaned back on my elbows and cursed inwardly, debating whether I should try the "maybe if I close my eyes it'll go away" approach. It didn't work.

I heard James grumbling something under his breath (probably about my clumsiness) as he crawled out from under the table after me, followed shortly by a muttered curse.

"I shouldn't even be surprised," Professor Lupin muttered with an expression that conveyed both extreme exasperation and mild amusement.

I cursed.

James groaned.

At least no one was smirking anymore.










A/N: Thanks for reading! I have to say, it was a lot of fun to write Charlie finally confronting James about his smirk, because I feel like that's been a sort of recurring problem for her ;) 

Anyway, I know I promised that things would get crazy, and they sort of did, but this chapter did not go at all as planned, so... Sorry for that. (I do have an outline, I swear!) :) 

That said, thanks for reading, and please feel free to give feedback, be that positive or negative. I honestly live for reviews. :) Thanks! 


Chapter 13: In Which Mistletoe Is a Tragedy
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A/N: Alright so seeing as this is shaping up to be a monster of a chapter, I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who's made it this far and is willing to read on. You guys are absolutely amazing. :)

Anyway, things are starting to move a bit faster from here, and (hopefully) some things should start to make sense soon, so I hope you like it!

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or related material… Unfortunately. ;)





Chapter 13

In Which Mistletoe Is a Tragedy

 



 

 

"Either you go Christmas shopping with me on Sunday or I leave you locked in a broom cupboard while we're gone," Sarah declared without preamble.

I groaned and surveyed her from my position dangling upside down over the edge of my bed.

I'd been holed up in our room with an excess of textbooks and chocolate frogs since Wednesday night and had no intention of leaving. The portraits had gotten wind of the incident in the Great Hall and were having a field day with it (especially the part where James and I were caught hiding under a table together). I spent a good part of my recluse time trying to compose a letter to my mum explaining that I wouldn't be home for break; My greatest hope was that if I wrote well enough, I wouldn't receive a Howler in response.

(The Howler arrived two days later, and resulted in both absolute mortification on my part and an influx of students in the hospital wing complaining about temporary loss of hearing.)

My roommates had come and gone all week in what might have actually been predetermined shifts, now that I think about it, and Sarah had made it her goal in life to drag me out of the dorm kicking and screaming.

By "go Christmas shopping", Sarah really meant "sneak out through that creepy as hell statue and spend the day in Hogsmeade buying socks," since we'd all been banned from any activities outside of school, and I regarded her with a glare.

"Is this because you genuinely want me to go or because you don't trust me not to destroy the dorm while you're gone?" I had a feeling I knew the answer already.

Sarah's expression hardened and she gave me a pointed look as she scrubbed furiously at her Beater's bat.

I groaned again, with more effort to make it dramatic than the first time. "Why can't you threaten Fred into going? You know he'd jump at the chance to sneak out." I paused and glanced over at Bailey and Tara, who were sprawled on the floor working frantically to clean up what appeared to be a puddle of ink. "Or threaten one of those two, for that matter."

Tara glanced up from her frantic flipping through the 'Domestic Charms' section of The Standard Book of Spells, looking thankful for the brief respite from Bailey's glare.

"No can do," she shrugged, trying her best to look sympathetic. "Our de- Oh, try this one!" She jabbed at a paragraph to indicate a spell and thrust the open book at Bailey triumphantly.

"She's on her fifth cup of coffee tonight," Bailey sighed and sent me what I could only assume was an apologetic glance. "Anyway, we've both got the later detention hours over the weekend, so we wouldn't have time," she elaborated like the loyal Tara-translator that she is.

I groaned. I'd almost allowed myself to forget that enough of us had gotten ourselves enough detentions that we had to serve them in shifts.

The "shifts" were partially to try to squeeze as many detention hours as possible into each of our separate schedules, although by that point I figured there was no hope that any of us would make it home for the holidays. I had a sneaking suspicion that the main reason for the separate schedules was that none of the professors wanted to deal with nine teenaged Gryffindors in detention together, but I suppose I can't really begrudge them that.

Anyway, it meant that I was mostly free on the weekends after 9am, so I wasn't complaining.

Bailey spared a glance at the spell book Tara was still jabbing triumphantly and whacked her arm. "Tara, this is for cleaning windows," she sighed.

Tara deflated a bit but shrugged. "It might still work for…" she broke off after seeing the collection of amused expressions. "Well, we've got a bloody dirty window, anyway."

We turned to consider the grimy glass of the window in our dorm.

I could barely make out anything but the outline of the stars outside through the layer of grime, but, then, I'd always considered that part of the charm of the room. Probably mostly because no one wanted to clean it, but it still had to have some sort of sentimental value, yeah?

"Hey, Hermione Granger could have looked through the same rubbish window in her fifth year, so you respect the glass," I ordered.

Tara nodded solemnly and turned her attention back to her ink dilemma. She halfheartedly attempted to scrub at the floor with a spare uniform skirt, which earned her a whack from Bailey. I had to commend her for her creativity.

"That better not be my skirt," Sarah muttered before turning to me. "And you're coming with me to Hogsmeade. It's not negotiable."

I gulped, because she had that scary glint in her eyes that meant she was well prepared to follow through with any threats she administered. Sarah held my gaze, daring me to argue.

I sighed in defeat. "Fine," I grumbled, already regretting it, "But if s-"

"OH, MY GODRIC LOOK AT THE SNOW!" Tara's squeal reached a pitch that I was surprised human ears could process.

The three sane - at that moment, at least - occupants of the dorm groaned as she threw herself against the window, spilled ink forgotten.

Sarah removed her hands from her ears and glared while Tara continued to watch the flurry outside with wide-eyed wonder. "Tara, it's just snow -"

"It's the first snow," Tara interjected, though it sounded a bit muffled, considering her face was pressed flush against the window. I didn't know how to tell her that it had been snowing gently last night when I'd woken up to the damned thumping at an ungodly hour.

Wisely, I didn't say anything.

Bailey winced as Tara pressed closer to the glass. "Tara, we've been over this; that window probably hasn't been cleaned since the 1990's."

Tara twisted to face us with a gleeful grin. "I've got just the spell."

. . .

"I swear to Godric if it starts to snow again someone is going to bloody die," I snarled.

Sarah made a noise somewhere between a snort and a laugh and hurriedly pulled on her quidditch jersey. "That someone may be you, love, considering your history with cold weather."

"That," I muttered, shivering as I struggled to figure out whether my jersey was torn or just inside out, "is actually a valid point."

"Simmons, are you trying to get dressed or strangle yourself?" Amelia Saunders called from the far end of the locker room, already dressed and poised to open the door.

I flung the jersey onto the wooden bench and huffed. "It's trying to strangle me," I declared and turned away from the damned thing to face her.

Amelia diverted her attention from my struggle to peek outside and smirked. "Well, I'll be keeping Alan from strangling Harvey," she declared as she slipped out the door, and then paused to add, "and you have forty seconds until someone drags you out!"

I winced.

After eliciting my best long-suffering sigh and flinging myself onto the cold bench, I glanced up and surveyed Sarah sulkily. She grabbed the homicidal jersey in question and eyed me with a raised eyebrow. With no small amount of amusement visible in her expression, she pulled the sleeves through in what I can only assume was the correct way and tossed it back at me.

I snatched the jersey viciously out of the air and yanked it over my head before I could start shivering violently enough that I wouldn't be able to stay on my broom. After a brief struggle to get my arms through the sleeves, I emerged from the fabric with what was probably a murderous expression and rumpled hair. "I've survived an assassination attempt," I grumbled.

"Alright, love." Sarah patted me unsympathetically and tugged me towards the door.

I stared longingly back at the embarrassingly thick jumper and jeans I'd had to trade for my practice clothes. "Don't make me go out there," I pleaded one last time.

My melodramatics, as usual, got me nowhere.

I barely had time to grab my broom before Sarah rolled her eyes, pushed the door open with her hip, and yanked me outside muttering something about it being for my own good.

I was immediately assaulted by a rush of cold wind, and Sarah dragged me nearly to the center of the pitch before trusting that I wouldn't make a run for it. The sky was grey and most of us had been expecting snow earlier, but there hadn't actually been any so far; Again, small mercies. The ground of the pitch crunched below my feet, still frozen from the previous night.

Since Fred, James, Sarah, and I were all technically banned from any activities outside of school, we'd had to sneak onto the pitch before the bloody sun was even up, which was not how I'd envisioned spending my Friday morning.

"It's too cold for this shit," I muttered, glaring at Watts (and pointedly not looking at Potter; We hadn't exchanged so much as a glare since the rumors resurfaced, and I was eager to keep it that way.)

Watts just grinned at me as another gust of freezing wind hit us and the team assembled around him. "Great to have you back on the team, Simmons." He gave a sarcastic nod in my direction. "Anyway," he continued and flashed a wicked grin, "laps."

Three laps around the pitch and five death threats later saw me thirty feet above the ground, sitting on a broom shivering, and cursing every god in existence.

Harvey glided over to me and gave a wary, almost wistful grin as we waited for Watts to start yelling drills at us. "Just like last year, isn't it?"

Watts screamed abuse at Fred and James (something about them taking their brooms for a joy ride in the Forest a few nights ago) while Harvey and I both grimaced in a gust of cold wind.

I sighed. "Just like last year."

We spent the next hour and a half pretending to do drills whenever Watts looked our way. Out of principal, Harvey did his best to keep James and I as far from each other as possible, which was probably for the best. I doubted that anyone would forget the bloody nose fiasco any time soon, though that may also have been for the best.

Really, things didn't start to go downhill until we started debating our strategy for the next game, which was much later than any of us had been expecting.

Alan surveyed us with a critical eye, although his gaze didn't seem overwhelmingly hostile for once, so I supposed that was a good sign. "Right. So, Jordan, Weasley - You two are looking decent, but I'd ask that you try not to get any serious fouls called on yourselves next game."

The two Beaters in question nodded, but didn't look particularly remorseful.

Alan sighed and moved on. "Amelia, next game…" He paused and scrutinized her raised eyebrow and smirk. "Just try not to die."

"Yes, sir," Amelia muttered with mock solemnity.

I had to admire her willingness to die for Quidditch.

"And Chasers…" Alan continued, ignoring Amelia. I gulped, because Alan Watts was not known for being kind to his Chasers, especially when they'd spent the entire practice slacking off. "You're going to learn to run a Parkin's Pincer."

The entire team looked on in something close to shock.

Sarah and Fred looked like they were trying to stifle giggles. James raised his eyebrows at the announcement and Harvey just sighed. I took a cue from them and tried to look startled and pretend I actually knew what a Parkin's Pincer was.

"So you plan on having Harvey basically commit a blatching foul, then?" Amelia looked more amused than incredulous, but it didn't do much for my uneasiness.

Getting called for blatching was... Not fun, to say the least. It involved deliberately flying into a player on the opposing team, which no sane team would attempt.

Naturally, the Gryffindor team was famous for it.

Alan winced at the harsh assessment. "Well, the other two would actually get called for blatching if they tried."

I glanced around the group again hoping to gather something about what the hell everyone was talking about. James looked like he wanted to argue but had thought better of it, and the rest of the team watched with more amusement than I was entirely comfortable with.

I held up a hand timidly to try to get a word in but was cut off by Harvey's abrupt, "Absolutely not."

Alan looked almost startled. "You won't actually be called; I'll make sure - "

Harvey shook his head to silence him and raised an eyebrow. "It's not that I'm worried about," he sighed and motioned towards James and I, who at that moment were determinedly ignoring each other.

Upon becoming the focus of the debate, I did my best to stand up straighter and huffed, even though I still wasn't entirely sure of what was going on. "Potter and I can get along long enough to get through one bloody play!"

"No, we can't," James said flatly, "and you're making this worse."

I opened my mouth to argue but shrunk back under Harvey's gaze and sighed. "Alright," I conceded, "I'm making this worse."

Alan nodded distractedly at me and turned back to Harvey. "It's our only chance at getting past the 'Claw's defense, and if our Chasers aren't at the top of their game we won't stand a chance."

Amelia gave a huff and crossed her arms at the Alan's assessment. "Nice to see you've got so much faith in me, Alan."

Fred snorted. "Saunders, you've spent the last two matches in the Hospital wing."

"And who was responsible for making sure the bloody Bludger didn't hit me in the first place?" Amelia demanded, turning her glare to Fred, who didn't flinch.

I winced, and James gave a long-suffering sigh. Evidently we were the only uninvolved party at that moment.

That couldn't end well.

Sarah gave an incredulous scoff, and I could only watch helplessly as she took a defensive stance. "So that was our fault, was it?"

Amelia whipped around to face her. "Well you certainly didn't - "

"Would you three shut up about the bloody Bludger?" Harvey finally snapped.

James and I exchanged a frantic glance and stepped forward to intervene, but were too slow to stop the argument from escalating. I almost laughed at the irony of how quickly we moved from being the center of the argument to being on the outside of it.

Ten seconds later there were yells echoing around the pitch from all sides and we were helpless to stop it.

" - bloody act like you can tell them what to do - "

"Well excuse me if I expected you to do your bloody job - "

"Let's all just… take a deep breath and - "

"- Gives you the right to, then?"

"If you knew how to bloody turn- "

"Okay, erm… Couldn't we just…"

"- Was your leadership that cost us the bloody match!"

"Like hell you did! I saw how you played - "

"- Not the bloody captain - "

"- Shouldn't even be on the team!"

"This… Got very out of hand - "

"I bloody gave it up so you could be Captain!"

Harvey's words hung in the air, all at once silencing the team and giving the atmosphere a sharper edge.

James and I shrunk back. Fred, Sarah, and Amelia exchanged hurried glances and fell silent.

Alan flinched, the anger that had been building suddenly gone. "What?"

I met Sarah's eye, and she smirked as Harvey's face morphed into a more panicked expression. I made a mental note to interrogate her later to find out what exactly she knew.

Harvey stared determinedly at the ground and muttered the most unconvincing, "nothing," that I'd ever heard, and I've heard a lot of unconvincing dismissals in my short but tragic life as a student.

I met Sarah's gaze and joined the rest of the team as they inched backwards in a hopeless attempt to distance themselves from the two seventh years.

Alan surveyed Harvey (who looked like he wanted to disappear into the ground of the pitch) almost searchingly. I glanced longingly at the locker room, which had started to offer both warmth and escape. After a few beats of silence, Alan sighed and turned to the rest of us.

"Head to the locker rooms." He ran a hand down his face as he examined the group. "We're done for the day."

Pfft. That'd be the day.

I turned to meet Sarah's eye and almost laughed out loud, but stopped when I realized that Alan was yet to revoke his offer.

"Wait, you're serious?" Fred gaped after a beat of silence.

Alan raised an eyebrow and nodded in the general direction of the locker rooms.

Sarah, Fred, Amelia, James, and I exchanged a few blank looks and dazedly shuffled off, leaving Harvey and Alan to work things out.

I didn't even feel that bad.

The last time Watts had let us out early, McGonagall had resorted to literally dragging him off the pitch in the middle of a storm - or, well, she'd had Hagrid do it, but that's not the point. If Alan Watts was giving us a chance to escape practice early, then by Godric, we were going to take it and run with it.

We were a very dramatic lot.

No one said anything as we crossed the threshold of the locker room. I watched the dwindling view of Harvey and Alan through the door as it swung closed, but I didn't see much more than a lot of angry gesturing. I tore my gaze away just as the door banged shut and whirled to face the others, whose gazes were still on the door like it would reveal what was happening outside.

"So… What exactly just happened?" I ventured, hoping that someone who'd been on the team for longer than five practices might have a better idea than me.

Sarah snorted and gave me an almost maniacal grin as she glanced at the closed door. "I've got no clue, but it was bloody entertaining."

. . .

Saturday morning saw me working alongside Sarah, Fred, Amelia, and James in an attempt to mop up the mess that was the Gryffindor Quidditch team, to no avail. Following the inevitable failure to track down either Harvey or Alan, we'd agreed to ambush the two should we find one or both and then gone our separate ways before someone got whacked upside the head (again).

By the time the weekend came, I was ready to retreat from my dorm and live off of Chocolate Frogs and Sugar Quills for the remainder of the school year. Unfortunately, fate (and Sarah Jordan) had other plans.

I'd set the bar pretty high as far as awful ways to spend the weekend went, but with regards to Sunday as a whole, I should've been thankful for the ignorant bliss while it lasted.

"Well that was fun," Sarah grumbled as we fled Hogsmeade through the musty tunnel under Honeydukes.

I gave her a sidelong glare but otherwise said nothing.

We continued down the dusty corridor and she gave me my moment of sullen silence before losing her patience. "I can't believe you got us kicked out of Zonko's," she hissed.

I stumbled as we passed a sudden dip in the tunnel. After taking a moment to recover, I huffed. "I can't believe they kicked me out for knocking over a shelf," I grumbled.

Sarah eyed me with exasperation. "I can believe it if the shelf fell because you tried to climb it," she sighed, shaking her head.

To be fair, I'd been trying to reach a pack of dung bombs… But I digress.

I sighed and focused on not touching anything disgusting on the walls of the tunnel. The blue light from our wands barely illuminated anything but the area immediately in front of us, and I already had what I considered to be an unacceptable amount of cobwebs stuck to my jacket sleeve as a result.

"I guess it'll be recycled gifts for everyone this year, then," I sighed.

Sarah nodded in agreement. "So nothing we're not used to, then," she said wryly.

I tried to be offended. "Oi, I put thought into my regifting tactics," I protested.

"I'm sure," Sarah murmured placatingly as we rounded the final turn to the statue.

I huffed but let the topic drop because I didn't have much of an argument, anyway. I steeled myself before climbing out of the tunnel with more effort than it probably should have taken. After offering Sarah a hand out (which she declined with what I hoped was a fake glare), we both brushed off our robes and glanced around. Sarah motioned towards the corridor that lead to the Hall and I nodded. We hurried off in a wordless agreement that food was our first priority.

I turned back towards the grotesque statue that stood like a guard over the passageway. I muttered a brief, "thanks, Gunhilda," before whirling around to follow Sarah down the corridor.

I tried not to notice the way a few of the portraits sniggered as I passed, but I still had to grit my teeth to avoid reaching for my wand to hex the paint off of them whenever I heard whispering.

The dinner crowd had just started filtering in when we reached the great hall, and Bailey and Tara, probably fresh out of detention, waved us over as we walked in. I sat down heavily and winced at the accompanying thud.

Sarah dutifully relayed the story of our misadventure in Hogsmeade to an eager audience while I concerned myself with inhaling my mashed potatoes. Once she reached the end, I swallowed and nodded. "So on a scale of one to the two of us, how much of a disaster was your night?"

Bailey raised an eyebrow. "Compared to you two, we had a bloody boring night, and we saw two Slytherins stuck under enchanted mistletoe on our way to detention."

Sarah laughed appreciatively. "Gotta love Hogwarts mistletoe," she nodded.

Every year, students (typically Gryffindors) took it upon themselves to enchant the mistletoe to trap a person in place until someone kissed them. I guess we had to find some way to make the overabundance of decorations entertaining. Personally, I was terrified to walk anywhere because of it, but, hey - to each her own.

Tara shrugged. "Yeah, well, nothing interesting came of it that we saw," she said regretfully. "Anyway, besides getting yourselves kicked out of Zonko's, did anything of note happen?"

Sarah tore into a piece of bread. "I dunno, they've got the newest Firebolt model at the Quidditch supply store," she shrugged.

Bailey rolled her eyes. "You'd find that interesting," she snorted.

We lapsed into pointless conversation as we finished our dinner. Tara regaled us with some story about the boy she sat in front of in Ancient Runes and Bailey rolled her eyes occasionally at what I could guess were more than slight exaggerations in the tale. Sarah demonstrated the proper technique for hanging a spoon on her nose, and soon we'd all dropped our spoons under the table in our attempts to do the same and consequently decided we were done with them anyway.

We gathered our things just as the Hall started to really fill up for dinner. Tara's eyes widened as we stood up, and I almost winced in anticipation of the inevitable squeal.

"Oh!" She clapped her hands and we looked up expectantly. "Didn't Harvey McLaggen and Alan Watts have a big fight at practice or something?"

I nodded slowly as we headed for the doors. "That's old news, love." Honestly, she was usually more on top of things.

Tara nodded in dismissal. "Yeah, well, apparently Amelia told Caroline that - "

She cut off and stared at Sarah, who was spewing a violent stream of curses. Loudly.

I furrowed my brow as Sarah jerked a little frantically to the side without actually moving, having not comprehended quite yet. "Wait, are you…" I trailed off and snorted as I glanced above her and saw the mistletoe dangling above her head… Which was also above my head… Wait.

Shit.

I heard Bailey laugh. "Is this karma for laughing at Sarah that I see, Charlie?"

I nearly face-planted in my attempt to escape the hold of the enchantment, but to no avail.

Tara let out a gleeful giggle. "It's just a little peck on the lips."

Tara, who greeted total strangers with hugs; Of course she'd see the humor in it.

Sarah stopped struggling and whipped her head around to check that I was in a similar situation. I could see both Bailey and Tara, traitors that they were, laughing at us, and a small crowd had begun to gather in the Hall to watch the spectacle. I vaguely recognized the boys from our year watching with rapt attention and amusement, and I was torn between wanting to kill someone and wanting to melt into the floor and disappear for good.

Sarah met my gaze and raised an eyebrow. I groaned and gave her a helpless shrug, still on the verge of what was either hysterical laughter or tears.

Sarah nodded back at me. I sighed.

Eh, what the hell.

. . .

"If I hear one more person say a bloody word about the kiss, I'm setting the school on fire," I groaned, grabbing a handful of chocolate frogs.

Sarah and I were currently sprawled on my bed in a nest of blankets and candy wrappers. Tara gave us a pointed look and cackled gleefully, to which I glared.

I turned to Bailey, hoping for some sympathy, but received a shrug. "Don't worry, love; I think most of the school is under the impression it's more of a friends-with-benefits type relationship."

I didn't even have the energy to glare at her, but I'm pretty sure that I did retort with something that may have resembled a growl.

Tara giggled. "Well, it's curbed the rumors about you and James, so there's that."

"There's that," I repeated with a sigh. I bit the head off of a chocolate frog somewhat viciously and chewed thoughtfully. "Although some girl asked me earlier how we were making the relationship work with the three of us…" I reached for a licorice wand.

Sarah gave a dramatic groan and stole my licorice. "Fred thinks the whole thing's bloody hilarious. Prat," she murmured as she tore into her licorice wand. After a few sullen chews, she brightened. "The Puddlemere game's on tonight, though, so if any of you lot value your sanity, you're welcome to join me around the radio."

She motioned to the ancient, barely-functional radio that sat on the window sill.

I nodded and dragged myself to the edge of the bed closest to the radio. "Thank Godric for the little things in life," I grinned.

Bailey rolled her eyes, and Sarah made a beeline toward the bathroom to throw on a pair of old pyjamas. I trailed after, growling at the cold floor on my bare feet.

After emerging in a sweatshirt and plaid pyjamas, Sarah made a beeline to the bed and held out a handful of chocolate frogs. "Join me!" She demanded, throwing both Tara's and Bailey's pyjamas at each one respectively.

Bailey rolled her eyes, but got up, nonetheless. "Alright, alright, but we're taking you two to a mental ward afterwards."

"Not before the match is over!" Sarah clarified, narrowing her eyes at the noise of static coming from the radio.

I poked Sarah and leaned over her shoulder to inspect the radio, though I didn't have the slightest clue how to work it. Sarah shrugged at me and grabbed another chocolate frog as she flipped through stations.

Tara emerged from the bathroom and hurried over in her sheep onesie (we'd gotten over the hilarity of her owning more than one onesie long ago) with Bailey in tow.

"Aha!" Sarah grinned victoriously as the awful static noise emitting from the radio abruptly stopped, and was replaced with enthusiastic music.

"I love this song!" Tara squealed before flinging herself onto the bed, which squeaked in protest.

Bailey raised an eyebrow. "You love Puddlemere's anthem?"

"'Beat those Bludgers back, boys'," She nodded enthusiastically.

"'And chuck that Quaffle here'," Sarah finished religiously.

Tara grinned, gestured dramatically, true theater kid that she was, and screeched, "No team can ever best the best of Puddlemere!"

The rest of the song saw us moving to stand on various furniture throughout the dorm and joining Tara in her screeching. I stood on my bed, dancing to Puddlemere's anthem... I'll be the first to admit that it was not an attractive sight. I turned to Sarah to yell something about the volume and -

CRASH!

I toppled off the edge of the bed in response to the noise.

The initial crash was followed by a variety of yelling and cursing, and I rose rubbing my sore arse to see figures moving outside the window.

…Outside the window?!

The shutters flew open with an assortment of shrieks and curses.

I whirled to face the open window and gaped. Eoin, Aaron, Fred, James, and Sean stood there, sheepish grins on their faces and brooms in their hands.

I'd like to pretend that I fixed them with a glare, but the most I had the mental capacity to do at that moment was gape at the five boys standing at the open window.

They stared at the four of us, me still recovering from my unceremonious fall and my mates still standing on the furniture. We stared back at them, trying to process the fact that five of our House mates were standing in our dorm at an ungodly hour on a Friday night. My mates and I exchanged a helpless, somewhat terrified glance.

After the extended silence made it obvious that none of us were going to speak up, Fred raised his eyebrows at the four of us. "Is this really how you spend your Friday nights?"

Raucous applause erupted over the radio, and then the room was left in silence except for the announcer's voice.

"I... Erm... Could you close the window?" Tara finally spoke up. She shivered and stared dazedly ahead.

"Right! Erm… Yes," Aaron nodded, seemingly just realizing that they'd left it wide open. The room was growing steadily colder, but it honestly could have been below freezing and I wouldn't have noticed.

Eoin swung the window closed with a loud squeal.

A brief silence enveloped the room, both sides waiting expectantly for some sort of reaction or explanation. I looked from the rosy-cheeked group still clustered around the window to the brooms in their hands and narrowed my eyes.

"What the bloody hell are you doing here?" I growled at the group, still recovering from the embarrassment of being caught dancing in my pyjamas.

I heard a chuckle from somewhere in the hoard of boys and glared. "And before you answer, consider carefully the fact that I would not be partial to pushing any of you out the same bloody window you just crashed through," I warned.

There was another beat of silence, broken by a roar of applause from the radio.

"Well, she's taking it better than I thought she would," Potter finally shrugged. I glared and, not for the last time, considered making good on my threat.

Next to me, Sarah crossed her arms, and a good number of the boys in front of us inched back slightly. She eyed them with a glare that probably rivaled McGonagall's. "Explain," she demanded, voice scarily impassive.

Fred examined her for a moment and sighed. He scratched the back of his neck and chuckled nervously. "Well, you see, erm…" He eyed the window like he wouldn't mind jumping back out of it right then. "Well, you remember Halloween? How I sort of, erm, borrowed the sword of Godric Gryff – Is that the Puddlemere Game?"

He snapped his gaze to the radio, which was still blaring in the background.

Sarah narrowed her eyes.

Fred nodded. "Right, erm..." He glanced to his right desperately. "James? Help, please?" His voice cracked just a bit as he said the last part.

We turned our attention to James, who was glaring at Fred as if he'd just murdered his Pygmy Puff. "Thanks, mate," he grumbled. "So, anyway, um... We were sort of... discovered, as one might say, and erm..." he coughed and looked intently at the ground. "Now we've got about ten teachers searching our dorm for the Sword, so could we please hide it in here for now?"

He said the last part so quickly that it took me a few seconds to even comprehend what he was asking, and then another to come up with a response to grace such stupidity. Unfortunately, Bailey beat me to responding.

"Why didn't you guys just return it after we got away from the party?" She demanded, rounding on Eoin and Aaron, whom she and Tara had escaped McGonagall with on Halloween.

Aaron and Eoin exchanged a panicked glance, then turned sheepishly to face Bailey.

Aaron shifted uncomfortably. "We, um... See, there was a bit of a -"

"We forgot," Eoin cut in bluntly. He winced at the looks he received.

I raised my eyebrows. "You… forgot that you'd stolen the Sword of Godric Gryffindor," I clarified with a flat voice.

Eoin responded what could have been an attempt at a shrug and instead came out looking like a grimace. "...Yes."

"Right, so you're all idiots," Bailey sighed, "but why in Godric's name would we let you bring us down with you?"

She had a very valid point, but I was still hung up on the fact that they'd bloody broken into our dorm. I had to stifle a yelp as I realized I was wearing my pygmy puff pyjama bottoms, and I inched away from the window before glaring even more coldly at the desperate group in front of me.

"Ahhh…" Fred looked thoughtful. "In the spirit of democracy?"

Bailey scoffed, and I remembered not for the first time just how scary she could be. "Please. If this is a democracy, you aren't even citizens."

The boys collectively deflated.

They stood, unmoving with pleading expressions on their faces. Sarah, Bailey, Tara, and I exchanged a collective glance and engaged in something of a silent conversation. I jutted my chin out in obstinance and Tara rolled her eyes in exasperation. The boys looked on in bewilderment until Eoin timidly intervened.

"And, erm, they were coming to check the girls dorms when we left, so, could you maybe decide quickly, or -"

Muffled voices drifted through from the hall.

"They're checking the dorm across the hall now, you absolute bloody morons," I hissed to no one in particular.

Fred, James, Eoin, and Sean moved in closer to engage in a frantically whispered debate. "Just hide us until this blows over!" Fred pleaded, clutching both his broom and what I could now see was the bloody sword of Godric Gryffindor. 

"Fine, but you have to -" Bailey started in exasperation.

"What? No; We are not hiding th-" I cut in.

Sarah shook her head. "Why don't we just offer to hide the sword, then?"

Fred jumped at the opportunity. "Yes!" He held the sword out to Sarah. "Here, you take - "

Sarah huffed. "I don't want it!" she protested, passing it to Sean.

"What? Why don't you take -"

The conversation that followed was bordering on incomprehensible, but the little I got out of it was the nine of us playing hot potato with the sword. The group was engaged in a whispered debate, doing our best to speak in urgent but quiet tones. I'm still not sure how I ended up where I did, but not ten seconds after the argument broke out I found myself standing in the middle of the room holding a sword and staring in horror as a knock sounded from the other side of the door.

The frantic hissing stopped abruptly, and there was silence in the room. I gaped at the door in horror and waited in silence with the others.

Another knock.

Oh, Merlin, we were dead. 

I exchanged desperate glances with my roommates as more snippets of conversation filtered into the crowded room.

"-Most likely culprits, even so."

"I'd like to believe that they'd have the sense not to let themselves be implicated in the ordeal, but..."

I recognized Professor Longbottom's and Professor Chambers' voices and almost winced. It figured they'd send our head of house.

Was it too late to write my will?

I held my breath. My heart thumped so loudly I was beginning to consider a silencing charm. The sword felt too heavy in my hand and I narrowed my eyes as I vowed to exact revenge on whoever'd passed it off to me in the first place. I was just whirling around to try to find the culprit when the door handle started to turn.

Someone dove towards the lantern to turn it off. I dove under a bed and yelped when I hit my foot on a trunk. There was a scream, a few thumps, and then silence.

The door creaked open.

Light from the hallway flooded the room.

I stared with wide eyes at the gap under the bed and tried to remember to breathe. I could make out two pairs of shoes crossing the threshold with a determined air, and I kept my eyes glued on the feet as they ventured further into the room.

"Professors..." I heard Tara mumble in a convincingly tired voice. I squinted at the feet in front of me.

There was a pregnant pause before Professor Chambers answered with a skeptical tone. "Miss Hayward... If I may ask, where are the rest of your roommates?"

I clutched the sword and nearly groaned; Of course they'd wonder where I was if I didn't show up, but at that point I couldn't just appear from under the bed and brush it off as nothing.

Merlin, can't a girl catch a break?

I watched the feet intently and vaguely wondered where the bloody hell the boys were hiding through all this.

I could hear Tara fake a stifled yawn, and I had to give her credit for her acting skills. "'Sleep," She murmured drowsily to Professor Chambers in response.

Thump. 

Oh, hell. 

I cursed that damn thumping in every language I knew how and held my breath as the conversation lulled. Two sets of feet hesitantly turned towards me and I closed my eyes so that I wouldn't see it all fall apart.

There was a rustling of covers and a quiet groan.

I peeked an eye open and blinked at the sight that met me. Sarah's bare feet shuffled into my line of vision. "Why am I awake?" I heard her demand of the professors in a very in character display of annoyance at being woken up. Bailey padded across the room after her.

Someone cleared their throat. "I seem to remember you three having another roommate," Professor Longbottom sighed.

Shit.

"Oh, Charlie?" Tara asked as innocently as she could, although I could tell she was stalling for time to think of an excuse. "She's just -"

There was a small crash from behind the bathroom door, and I supposed that answered my question of where the boys were. The sets of feet all turned to face the door and I silently cursed.

"She's just in the bathroom," Tara finished smoothly. "She was up late working on her Potions essay and I think she was just headed to bed."

Honestly, that was the most unrealistic lie she'd told all night.

Professor Longbottom seemed to realize this. "On... A Friday night?"

"Yup; She's made it her new year's resolution to become a better student," Tara affirmed.

I... What?

"It's not the new year," Longbottom challenged dryly, not believing the story but also finding no proof that she was lying.

I heard who I thought was Bailey snort. "Well we all know she's going to need some practice."

Oi; I couldn't even protest! I bit my tongue and glowered at the feet in front of me.

Someone sighed. I heard Tara clear her throat awkwardly. Bailey paced a bit and Sarah huffed. Just the sound effects were making me wish that I could see all of their faces.

"So, can I go back to sleep now, or...?" Sarah let the sentence hang for a couple of beats and continued when no response came. "Because I have Quidditch to worry about, and if I don't get my seven hou-"

"Alright," I heard Longbottom sigh, "we're leaving." He retreated to the door with Professor Chambers in tow before pausing to say, "but if I hear that any of you had something to do with the sword fiasco, I will not hesitate to book you detentions into your seventh year."

He shut the door behind him and there were several audible sighs of relief.

The bathroom door swung open and five boys spilled out in varying states of aggravation with each other after being crammed in for an extended amount of time. Someone flicked the lanterns back on and relieved, pointless conversation filled the room. I poked my head out from under the bed and glared up at the lot of them.

"Whoever shoved that sword at me will not live to see another sunset," I declared from the ground. I narrowed my eyes at the laughter that followed. "Oi, I'm not even kiddi-" I started as I struggled to get out from under the bed frame.

My foot made firm contact with the trunk I kept shoved under my bed and I hissed in pain as I made to kick it out of the way.

James' gaze snapped over to me and he met my gaze from across the room. "Wait... Simmons, stop!" He looked uncharacteristically panicked, I thought as I shoved the trunk over behind me.

I narrowed my eyes at him as the trunk spilled over. "What are you going on ab- AAAARGH!"





A/N: Alright, I am so, so sorry that it's been so long. I literally have no excuse, and every single one of your wonderful reviews made me want to get this up so badly, I just... I had difficulties. :/ I'm still not sure I'm happy with how this turned out, but here it is, I guess, and I hope you like it! 

Thank you all so much, and I'm sorry for the wait! 


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