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Caught, Once Again, By a Hot Boy, While Curled Up in a Ball, Eating My Hair by isabellapotter
Chapter 14 : Up, Up and Away!
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 22


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I stumbled through the portrait hole to my room, after mumbling a few lines of “Under Pressure,” and promptly tripped over my chair -- I couldn’t see it over the massive pile of parchment in my arms. I fell to the floor with a sort of resigned irritation at my complete inability to navigate even a space so familiar as my own bedroom without creating a catastrophe. Dusty, moldy-smelling parchment fluttered up into the air, scattering around the room and creating a minor whirlwind over my head.


Honestly. I felt like I was in the Arabian desert rather than an English castle, that's how much dust was swirling around my room.


I sat up, leaned against my bed, and groaned. "Bloody notes. Bloody chair. Bloody . . . me," I groused, punctuating each noun with a sharp head-whack against my bed frame. "Useless, stupid Dublin. Can't even get through a door without ending up on her arse on the floor . . . goes around blowing holes in walls and knocking her classmates unconscious . . .


I was not having a good day.

I sat on the floor, wallowing in abject misery and periodically giving my head a good thwack against the hard wooden bed to reinforce my pitiable state. The rhythmic thunk, thunk, thunk of skull on solid oak exerted an oddly calming affect on my frazzled nerves, dragging me deep into a lethargic, mildly apathetic acceptance of my own destructive worthlessness.

That was the scene - parchment scattered everywhere, me sprawled across the floor leaning up against the bedpost, and a thick coating of dust blanketing the whole tableau - when the sounds of loud arguing somewhere nearby roused me a bit out of my near-catatonic stupor.

"I will not!"

"Then I refuse to admit you. That's my rule."

"Well, it's a right stupid rule!"

"Why, you insolent, disrespectful little - I will not be spoken to like that! I've been guarding this section of the corridor for two hundred years -"

"Right, yeah, we get it, you're bloody ancient. Can you just open up?"

I heard a loud, miffed sniffing noise. "I've half a mind not to let you in at all now, considering your hideously insulting behavior. All I asked was that you sing me a few bars. That's not too difficult, is it?"

Right about that point it sort of clicked in my head that someone was probably trying to get into my room. Either that or some other portrait nearby had adopted Madame Mortimier's rather unique password system. I suspected the former.

An irritated third voice broke in. "Oh, for heaven's sake, Ronald, I'll do it. Really!"

A few seconds later, a rather enthusiastically tuneless voice was caterwauling the last verse of the Eagles' Desperado.


"Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate.
It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you.
You better let somebody love you, before its too late."

"Beautiful!" the portrait sniffed. "Very well. You may enter."

I scrambled hastily to my feet as the portrait hole creaked open, shaking off the last vestiges of my comfortable inertia.

"Er . . . Dublin?" Hermione called hesitantly from the hallway. "Can . . . can we come in?"

"Er, yeah!" I shouted back, frantically brushing dust particles from my front. It didn't do much good. All I really accomplished was whipping up a small tornado about my torso. "Please," I coughed, waving my hands in front of me to clear the air, "come right in!"

What appeared to be a small herd of bodies traipsed through my portrait hole. I counted five figures in the familiar Hogwarts uniform: Hermione, Ron, Abbey, Mandy, and . . .

Harry.

Of course.

My, how the universe enjoys laughing at my expense.

Hermione hurried over. "I, er, knocked, but you didn't answer. We just thought we ought to stop by and make sure you were all right." She paused and took a good look around. "Er, you are all right, aren't you?"

I managed what I hoped appeared to be a confident, reassuring grin. "What, this?" I queried, gesturing at the rather shabby state of my living quarters. "Oh, that's not a problem. I was just, er, doing a spot of studying."

She nodded. "Right. Studying."

I nodded back. “Studying.”

Abbey stepped forward. She and Hermione exchanged glances. “Would you like some help tidying up a bit, then?” Abbey offered.

I blushed. “Oh, no, that’s fine, I’ll manage, thanks.”

“No, please, let us help,” Mandy chimed in. “It’ll go much faster with all of us.”

“Yeah, it’ll take you ages all on your own, especially without magic,” Ron contributed.

They had a point. I did a quick survey of my room: dust was everywhere, blanketing every imaginable surface. The parchment had managed to scatter itself to every corner of my domicile; one sheath had even lodged itself somehow in the chandelier ten feet above my head. It appeared as if the contents of an entire ancient library had exploded in my bedroom.

“Well . . .” I said tentatively, “if you’re absolutely sure you don’t mind . . .”

“It’s no trouble at all,” Hermione assured me briskly, rolling up her sleeves. “In fact, I think this might be a good opportunity for you to practice your magic in a controlled, supervised environment. Let’s face it,” she smiled at my wryly, but not unkindly, “I don’t think you can make this room look any worse.”

I shook my head vigorously. “Oh no. You don’t think it’s a bit . . . soon? Let’s not forget that less than two hours ago I put a boy in the hospital.”

Hermione dismissed my worries with a sharp wave of her hand. “Please. You were provoked. You were angry, and control was the farthest thing from your mind. But now, you have us to help you focus.”

I nodded tentatively, figuring that it would probably not be the proper time to mention that since Harry was in the room, it would be unlikely for me to manage to exert any sort of control at all over any type of situation.

“Right. Wands out, everyone,” she ordered, pulling her own from her robes with a flourish.

We all complied - me a little more hesitantly than the rest. I gripped my wand tightly, needing to feel the reassuring tingle that always worked its way up my arm when I squeezed the handle.

“Dublin, you’re familiar with Scourgify?” Mandy asked.

I nodded. “Mmmhmm.”

“Form the spell in your mind,” she directed. “Picture what you want your magic to do.”

“Right.” OK. Scourgify, I thought, picturing the dust lifting away, the scattered parchment stacking itself neatly atop my desk.

“Hold that image in your mind,” Hermione ordered softly. “Don’t let it go. Now, open your mind to your magic.”

I frowned, half in a trance-like state. “What?”

“Your mind shapes and controls the spell. Your magic makes it happen,” a deep voice spoke. Harry. “You feel that - that sort of warmish glow inside you? That’s it.”

“You have to let it into the frame you built for the spell,” said Mandy. “Draw it into your mind, and direct it into the structure of the charm.”

It sounded easy enough. Oh, no wait - what? I had no idea what to do. This was a lot harder when you had to think about it, rather than just do it.

“Just feel for your magic.” Harry again. “It wants to be let into the spell. Just be careful you don’t let it take it over.”

I took a deep breath and - I don’t know - sort of reached for my magic with my mind. I felt a tiny tingle in the pit of my stomach. The tingle grew, climbing up my spine and falling down my legs until every bit of my body was suffused with a wonderful warm glow.

I laughed giddily. It was an amazing feeling. Every inch of my body was . . . alive. I felt like I could do anything. Why not? a voice whispered in the back of my brain. <I>You have the power. You know you do. You can feel it. Why not jump out the window and fly to London and back, just because you can? 
Ooh, flying. That sounded like fun. The thought had scarcely flitted across my mind when I felt my body lighten. It was as if I was floating. The feeling was incredible.

“Dublin. Dublin!“ an urgent voice seemed to call from far below me. I opened my eyes and looked down.

Bollocks, I was floating. Shite.

I was rising steadily toward my ceiling. And I appeared to be glowing a faint silvery color. Blast.

Or maybe that was just the dust.

Either way, I knew that I had, shall we say, deviated from the intended purpose of my spellcasting. Unless, that is, I was using my body as a giant floating magnet to attract all the dust particles in the room. But I suspected not. I suspected I was attempting to fly.

Oh, well done, Dublin,
I lectured myself. Brilliant job. Way to exercise that control everyone’s been on about.
As I began what promised to be a long, harsh mental self-flagellation, I lost what little grip I had on my magic.

It was that darn multitasking again. Gets me every time.

All of the sudden, the warmth drained out of my body like water down a drain. The glorious feeling of weightlessness fled and I was left very aware of every ounce of the 110 pounds of weight I carried on my frame.

Fuck. This was not going to end well.

In an instant, I was plummeting toward the floor. Well, I was plummeting in the general direction of the floor, but there was an obstacle in my path, so more specifically, I was plummeting toward, wouldn’t you know it, Harry.

As if I needed any more proof that the gods hate me.

I sort of flailed around a bit in midair, doing my best to change my course. Unfortunately, my midair acrobatics didn’t seem to alter my trajectory one bit.

I had just a split second to marvel at the irony of the situation - this was twice in the same week that I had hung suspended over my bed, and ended up hurtling toward the floor at warp speed - before, for the second time in less than a fortnight, I slammed into an unprepared Harry with a giant CRASH!

Every inch of my body smarted with pain. I was sore in places that I don’t think I had ever even known existed.

That’s what you get for trying to fly, the annoyingly proper voice in my head chastised. Honestly.
I raised myself up tentatively onto my stinging elbows, shook my spinning head, and sort of whimpered as I remembered who I had landed on. “Oh, god. Oh god. I am so sorry. Bollocks, I . . .” I stammered, clambering swiftly - or as swiftly as I could, given the fact that I couldn’t feel my feet - off the poor boy I had pinned beneath me. “Someone should just take me out to the lake and put me out of my misery. You‘d be doing the world a favor.”

Harry sat up, straightened his glasses, and rubbed his head a bit. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I know you didn’t mean to. You’ll get the hang of it eventually.” He smiled wryly. “At least I’m still conscious. That‘s an improvement over what Zabini got.”

I moaned pitiably. “I’m a bloody menace.

Abbey chuckled. “Only a little one. Come on now. You can’t tell me that wasn’t a little bit funny. The lengths some people will go to avoid tidying up a smidge . . .”

I reached over to my bed and chucked a pillow at her. She squealed and dodged it easily. “Is that really all you’ve got?” she taunted me playfully. “Come on, then. That was pathetic.”

I narrowed my eyes. “That’s it.”

Without any further warning, I launched myself across the room at her. Unfortunately, she was quick as a snake and I was still smarting from my little run-in with the forces of gravity, so she evaded me easily.

“Abbey Road,” I growled, “when I get my hands on you . . .”

She sniffed and ducked behind my bedpost. “Unlikely. My grandda moves faster than you, and he’s only got one leg.” She sighed and shook her head. “Tragic potions accident. Be careful what you put in your cauldrons, kiddies.”

I scrambled over the bed, determined to get my hands on her and tickle her into oblivion. No one insults my pillow-throwing skills without incurring severe consequences.

She darted behind Hermione and held up her hands. “Truce! Truce!” She peeked her head around the side of the laughing Head Girl. “I had to do something to rouse you out of that ocean of self-pity. Jaysus. So you effed up a cleaning spell and you knocked a Slytherin on his arse. Most of us try that about three times a day. We just don’t usually have as much success.”

Hermione spun around with her lips pursed and her eyebrows furrowed. “Abbey, you’re a prefect, you really shouldn’t be saying things like that . . .”

“Oh, come off it, Hermione,” Ron grinned. “It’s not like he didn’t deserve it. He‘s a right foul git and you know it.”

She turned on Ron in a flash. “That doesn’t change the fact that there are rules, Ronald, rules that we are duty-bound to uphold . . . We have responsibilities.”

He shrugged. “Right. The way I see it, we have the responsibility to keep the Slytherins in line, seeing as they’re pure evil and all. And if that takes a few jinxes now and then, what’s the harm really ‘s long as no one finds out about it?”

Hermione huffed angrily. “That’s exactly the attitude that lost you the Head Boy position, Ronald. Honestly!”

Ron shrugged. “Harry can have it. Prefect suits me just fine. You get the badge without all the boring patrols and meetings with McGonagall and stuff.” He grinned. “As long as I can put Slytherins in detention, I’m good.”

Hermione looked about ready to explode, so I stepped between them and plastered a bright smile on my face. “Right then. I’m pretty sure that cleaning my room is a lost cause. Who’s up for some dinner?”

I looked over at Abbey, Mandy, and Harry and jerked my head furtively in the direction of the portrait hole. They all cottoned on quickly and murmured their assent, and the four of us somehow managed to shepherd a steaming Hermione and a clueless Ron out the door.

                                                                  *****

I sprawled across my bed after dinner with a huge sigh, rousing a rather large puff of dust as I did so. I had managed to forestall my inevitable trip to the Slytherin table once again - it seems concussing one of their constituency was enough to earn me a temporary pardon - but, per Professor McGonagall’s rather aggressive program of forced assimilation, as prescribed by the Sorting Hat, I knew I would eventually have to make my way to that end of the Great Hall. As it was, she had separated me from Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and plunked me down at the Ravenclaw table once more. Not that I minded. But I did dread the day that I would be forced to break bread with Malfoy, Zabini, and their ilk.

I couldn’t shake the nagging suspicion that they would be less than welcoming.

I rolled over and stared up at the canopy over my bed, lost in thought, my eyes unseeing. A rather strange but not entirely uncomfortable feeling twisted my insides into a knot as I remembered that I was to have my private lesson with Harry the next afternoon.

I sent up a quick prayer to any god who happened to be listening that I at least wouldn’t knock him over for once.

Unfortunately, that seemed to be becoming quite a specialty of mine. Knocking people over, that is.

At some point, I drifted off to sleep. I dreamed that I was back in Ollivander’s, but every wand I tired exploded in a shower of splinters and dust, until he pushed me out the door, saying, “I’m sorry, we don’t serve menaces here.” Then I was wandering down a dusty corridor in the bowels of the castle that stretched on as far as I could see with no turns or doorways . . . And finally, I was back in Aunt Estella’s garden. She looked at me from under her toilet-paper turban and frowned. “It’s all your fault, you know. I told you to go visit the Flubbering Snapdingers, but you wouldn’t listen, and now Queen Shebeba is most displeased.”

I awoke with a start. Sunlight was streaming in thorough my window. I stretched a bit, gave a decent yawn, and consulted the clock on the table next to me. 8:00 a.m. I wasn’t due to meet Harry until after lunch, and I didn’t fancy spending all morning studying the grimy material Professor McGonagall had provided for my learning pleasure, so I slipped out of bed and pulled on a pair of running shorts and my tennis shoes. As I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I noticed that my room was spotless once more. The dust had vanished, and the parchment had been stacked neatly and orderly atop my desk.

I sighed. Shown up by the House Elves.

I tucked my wand in the waistband of my shorts, more out of habit than anything, since I knew I wouldn’t use it even if I came across a Death Eater riding a rabid Chimaera, and trotted out the portrait hole. I took the scenic route, but I eventually made my way outside the castle. I blinked, letting my eyes adjust to the bright morning sun. It was a rare cloudless morning; the air was crisp and cool. I inhaled deeply, closed my eyes, and smiled. Perfect running conditions.

I set off around the lake, ambling at a slow pace over the rocks and sand at the water’s edge. As I reached the back side of the lake, I took off into the hills, found a tiny beaten trail, and picked up the pace a bit. After about ten minutes, I was huffing like a steam engine, and a cramp bit into my side.

Damn. I was horribly out of shape.

I plowed stubbornly on, my feet thudding heavily against the ground. As I crested the hill, I finally hit my stride. My breathing settled into an even rhythm, and the burning in my legs began to fade in a dull, almost pleasant ache. Everything - the quiet lapping of the lake water against the shore behind me and the rustling, chirping noises of the forest beyond the hills; the feeling of the sweat dripping down my back and trickling down the tip of my nose; all my worries and problems and fears - faded into the background, eclipsed by the regular beat of my feet on the path. My mind went blank, and I gave myself over mechanically to the routine my body knew by heart.

And some wizards snort doxy droppings. Really. Running’s the best high there is.

Before I knew it, I had wound my way back to the castle. The sight of its great black turrets looming over the lake jarred me back to reality. I slowed to a walk and put my hands on my head, and it was like someone flipped a switch and turned the world back on: the ambient noises of the grounds, previously so quiet as to be virtually unnoticeable, bombarded my ears; my tired, overworked, aching muscles finally registered; and my dry, sore throat burned with each rasping breath I took.

I trudged slowly toward the castle. It took every remaining vestige of my energy to make it up the stairs to my dormitory. I collapsed into the shower, slid down the slippery white tiles, and slumped to the floor, letting the water wash over me in great steaming gushes.

Good move, Dublin, I berated myself. Hills? Really? After not doing anything more strenuous than picking up a teacup for ages and ages? You’re a bloody masochist, that’s what you are. Honestly.
I threw a bit of soap about, scrubbed at myself half-heartedly (the parts I could reach without standing up, that is), and, after a good bit of blind fumbling over my head, managed to turn the spout off. I heaved myself reluctantly up off the floor, wincing as I did so. The warm water had helped un-knot my muscles a bit, but I was still smarting. I mummified myself in a gorgeously fluffy white towel and tumbled onto my bed, my sopping wet hair soaking the pillow.

I stayed like that for a good half an hour, not moving a single aching muscle. Finally, I rolled over and chanced a glance at the clock. It was closing in on 11:00. I was due to meet Harry in an hour and a half and I still hadn’t even managed to get dressed, much less have a go at the material McGonagall had assigned me. With a massive sigh and a mental groan, I slid tentatively off the bed, half expecting my legs to give way beneath me.

My knees wobbled a bit as my feet hit the floor, but other than that, all systems were a go. Not only that, but the worst of the ache in my poor abused muscles had dissipated.

Not that I was raring to set off into the hills again, but I was fairly confident I could manage at least a gimpy sort of walk without major discomfort.

I tugged on a pair of jeans and a top, rubbed my hair on the towel, which seemed to magically suck all of the moisture up instantly, and slid into my desk chair. I looked down at the piece of parchment on top of the pile. Faded purple ink spelled out Mastering Your Magic: A Practical Elucidation of the Theory Behind Everyday Spellcasting in looping, curly letters. I flipped quickly through the first twenty or so pages. No pictures. Not even a single poorly rendered diagram. And lots of itty-bitty, nearly-illegible cursive.

It was going to be a long morning.
 
                                                                    *****

Harry knocked on the wall next to the portrait hole at 12:34. Since 12:15, I had been anxiously pacing my room. I had changed my top three times and my jeans twice, pulled my hair into a ponytail and let it back down again. I had even swiped a bit of mascara on my eyelashes, wiped it off, and finally put it back on.

Slow down, Dublin, I ordered myself. Take a breath. Go on. It’s just Harry.

Just Harry? Who was I kidding? This was the boy who exerted such a mighty, inexplicable power over me that I became ten times more spastic than usual in his presence.

And I didn’t even think it was possible to get that bad.

I walked over to the portrait hole and pushed on the back of the canvas. It didn’t budge. I frowned and shoved a bit harder. Still nothing.

Time for the heavy artillery.

I backed up a step and, with a grunt, unleashed my best EPL-quality shoulder charge. The portrait trembled a bit, and I swear I felt the wall quiver, but still the frame wouldn’t swing away.

“I’ll thank you to kindly stop banging away at me,” Madame Mortimier called from the other side of the wall. “It’s dreadfully impolite. I shall open when I’m good and ready. And that will only be once I’ve heard this young man sing.”

I groaned. “He’s not coming in, I’m going out. All right? Is there an exit toll now, too?”

She sniffed. “It’s a very small price to pay for my services, I think. I don’t understand why everyone makes such a big fuss. I’m not opening this door until I’ve heard this young man sing, and that’s that.”

I felt like banging my head against the wall. Harry was going to hate me forever.

“It’s all right, Dublin,” I heard him say. “I’ll do it. We can’t have you trapped in there all day, can we?”

He cleared his throat and paused. “What should I sing?”

“Anything you like, dear,” the portrait replied.

Oh, brilliant. Now she decides to be agreeable.

“Right then. Er . . . Right.” He cleared his throat again. “Well, I guess I’ll just . . . sing, now, then.

“Been beat up and battered ‘round.
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down.
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found.
Handle me with care,”
he sang tentatively.

“Was that, er, all right?” he asked Madame Mortimier.

“Lovely, dear,” she replied. “Simply wonderful. You’ve got quite the singing voice.”

“Er, thank you. I don’t suppose you could . . . the door, that is . . .”

“Oh! Right you are, dear.”

The portrait in front of me swung away, and I clambered out of the portrait hole.

“I’m so sorry about that,” I apologized as he led me down the hallway.

“It was no problem,” he said, running his fingers distractedly through his hair. “I’m just sorry you had to listen to me sing. That can’t have been pleasant for you.”

I smiled. “No, you were fine. I enjoyed your song choice immensely.”

Ohhhh, headslap. Did I just say immensely? It’s settled. I don’t think I could be a bigger dork.

We traipsed up flights and flights of stairs in uncomfortable silence, climbing so long that the ache in my muscles flared up again and I began to suspect that Harry intended to practice magic on the roof.

Apparently it wasn’t that far though, because when he finally turned down a corridor at the top of a particularly nasty staircase (it was treacherously steep, and it kept vanishing steps when I wasn’t looking, so that on more than one occasion, I very narrowly avoided plunging my foot through the resulting gap), he waved a hand and said, “This is the seventh floor. We’ll use the Room of Requirement -- it’s just down this hall here.”

I scanned the corridor, but all I saw was a tapestry of a very frustrated looking wizard who appeared to be brandishing a club at a bevy of trolls in tutus and ballet shoes.

Harry directed me to the stretch of wall just opposite the hanging. “It’s just through here. Just . . . follow my lead, all right? And think about finding a room to practice in.”

I nodded slowly. Harry paced up the hallway, and I fell into step behind him. We went up, down, and back up again, and as we passed the stretch of wall for the third time, a shiny door appeared in the midst of the stone.

I stopped pacing and cocked my head to one side, examining the apparition. “Cool.”

Harry grinned. “Yeah, it is, isn’t it? Changes itself around to suit the seeker’s needs. It’s come in handy a few times over the years.”

He pushed open the door and I traipsed into the room after him. It was an open, brightly-lit chamber with high ceilings and thick stone walls. Bookshelves ran along one wall; I made out a few titles, and they all appeared to contain information on the proper management of magic. McGonagall’s notes - which I had happily left in a filthy pile atop my desk - were stacked neatly on a table that sat off to one side. I swore under my breath. I’d been sure I was going to be able to escape them for at least an hour or so.

Harry waved his arm around. “Well, this is it. The Room of Requirement.”

I cleared my throat. Oh so attractive. “It’s . . . nice.”

Harry fiddled absentmindedly with the clasp on his schoolbag. “Er, yeah, I suppose it is.” He shook his head and dumped the bag unceremoniously on the table. “Right then,” he muttered, running his hand absentmindedly through his hair so that it stuck up at all sorts of odd - but oddly attractive - angles. “Let’s just . . . get to it, then, shall we?”

I nodded vehemently. Any distraction was preferable to wondering what it would feel like if he ran his hand through my hair.

He positioned himself directly in front of me, a good ten paces away. “I know Hermione and McGonagall have got you reading,” he said. “But in my opinion, they only way you’re going to get this under control is to practice. Practice and practice, and not get discouraged, no matter what happens. You’ve just got to do it until you get it right. No amount of studying can equal experience.”

He spoke quietly, but determinedly. As he lectured, he squared his shoulders up and stood a little taller. An innate confidence seemed to settle into his figure; he radiated self-assurance and aplomb. I couldn’t help thinking that he was one of those people who are just born to lead. I was pretty sure I would follow him anywhere he asked.

But maybe that had less to do with his leadership skills and more to do with the way his uniform sweater hugged his chest, revealing just a hint of a toned, taut figure underneath.

Shit. Focus, Dublin, focus, I ordered myself.

“We’ll start with something simple,” he said, tossing his wand from one hand to the other. “Wingardium Leviosa should be safe, I reckon.”

I let out a huffy, exasperated little sigh. “Nothing seems to be safe when it comes to me, I’m afraid.”

He grinned. “Oh, you’re not as dangerous as you think. And I’m here to make sure you don’t rip the castle down around you. So stop worrying, Dublin. Just relax.”

I closed my eyes and took a breath. Okay. Relax. Easy, right? Nothing to it. I took another breath. And another. And a few more.

“Dublin.” I cracked open one eye. Harry was clearly fighting back laughter. “You’re hyperventilating.”

I listened for a moment. He was right. I was huffing and puffing like a bloody steam engine.

I let my last breath out in a gigantic whoosh and forced myself to slow down.

“Take it a bit at a time,” Harry coached me. “Picture what you want the spell to do. Focus on that image for a bit.”

I thought about levitating McGonagall’s bloody notes right out the window. I figured having a bit of extra motivation might help. I felt my lips curve up into a mischievous smile. Oh, the satisfaction of dangling that grimy old parchment over the Black Lake.

“Keep that in the back of your mind,” Harry continued. I heard the light tread of his footsteps -- he was pacing back and forth as he talked. “And reach for your magic, just like last time.”

It was much easier this go-around. There was no reaching necessary -- I felt as if something were bubbling up inside me, like I was a pot about to boil over. My stomach was fizzing. My fingers and my toes were tingling. My hand felt hot around my wand.

“Wingardium Leviosa,” I whispered, pairing the words with the required swish and flick of my wrist.

Warmth flooded down my arm, and I suddenly felt woozy. I swayed on my feet, and sunk to the ground. The stones seemed to shudder beneath me for an instant, and then everything was still.

“Bollocks,” Harry whispered. I looked over at him; he was staring back at me in awe.

“What?” I asked, my voice quivering a bit.

“Dublin . . .” He pointed a finger at the window next to him. “The castle’s floating.”

                                                                      *****


A/N: Yes, it's been forever. I'll spare you the tired litany of excuses - or at least condense it into ten words or less: Full time summer job, college, parallax angles, reading up the wazoo.

Damn. I think that was 11. Oh well. Sorry, and hopefully it won't happen again - but my school has a reputation for making students cry/break down mentally/jump off tall buildings come mideterms and finals, so we'll see :)


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