“Disse…” began James Potter before pocketing his wand.
James and his best pal Fred Weasley stood in front of the statue of Gunhilda of Gorsemoor, the one-eyed Witch along the third floor corridor. There was no time to open the passageway to Hogsmeade because they had heard loud footsteps coming their way. They picked up their school bags, which they had thrown on the floor in their excitement before assuming a normal posture. James peeked at the Marauders map and it showed one Peitho Taylor using the same route. Appearing around the corner was a smartly dressed witch in blue tailored robes.
There is no way she is a student here, James thought.
“Is she in Hogwarts?” Fred asked.
“I would have noticed her,” James replied. He would have noticed that face. Every strand of her dark blonde hair was pulled away from her face and secured at the back of her head. The cut of her robes and a pair of those ridiculously high-heeled shoes witches had been spotting accentuated her figure. There was something about her that made him think, here comes another Veela mixed human.
“James Sirius Potter?” she asked, stopping in front of them.
“Yes,” he responded lazily, intrigued by her clear grey eyes.
“You need to come with me.”
“What?” he asked totally surprised, it was a command with no attempt made to soften its authority.
“I won’t repeat myself, Mr Potter,” she said curtly. “My time is precious.”
“I’m comfortable where I am,” he turned to continue his conversation with Fred. Hardly had he opened his mouth when she turned him about roughly.
“Mr Potter need I tell you that the longer we remain here, this situation won’t solve itself,” the grip on his arm tightened.
“No offence lady...” Fred began.
“Rowan,” she interjected.
“Rowan Peitho Taylor...” James remarked.
Peitho smiled. “I see that little piece of parchment in your pocket is useful,” she said ignoring both boys shocked expressions. “It has come to our attention that recent activities concerning you have violated several magical rules. My office needs to question you regarding these dark activities.”
“Dark what…?” James blinked at her in surprise.
She sighed loudly. “Dark activities, Mr Potter...”
“Mr Potter, do I look like I work with your father,” her eyes flew to his face. “I work for a different group.”
“Which group…?” Fred started.
“Mr Weasley, you are not the one I need, please keep quiet,” she interrupted.
“I’m his best friend…”
The witch waved her wand and zipped his mouth shut. This would have gone quite smoothly without a witness present. The red head’s expression was hilarious, but she didn’t laugh.
“Hey” James screamed, removing his wand. Peitho was faster.
“EXPELLIARMUS,” she screamed. His wand ended up in her hand “I won’t do anything foolish if I were you.”
Darn, why had Fred forgotten his wand in Gryffindor? “What group?” James demanded.
“I’m not asking you whether you intend to join the Order of the Phoenix,” she retorted as she folded her arms over her chest.
“What group?” He insisted.
“Death Eaters Anonymous,” she replied.
“I don’t want to be recruited,” James told her. Of all the days, why did someone come to disturb him on his birthday? All he wanted was to go to Hogsmeade and get his cake. It wasn’t every day that he turned eighteen. He never expected this accusation of using dark magic. He would rather cut his wand arm off than ever delve into Voldemort’s territory. Frankly, having his father and his people haunt his sorry ass was something he would not enjoy. James lived for enjoyment.
“I’m Rowan Taylor, from the division of Dark Intentions, Kedaver and Espionage,” she claimed. “We call it DIKE for short.”
“You must have gotten the wrong name,” James said. In what universe was James Sirius Potter a criminal, he wondered. In Hogwarts, he was the king of mischief and the Head Boy. His parents had thrown him a party when the badge had arrived. It was still the butt of jokes in most family gathering; he didn’t mind. His first impression, staring at the gleaming badge was that the Headmaster must have been deep in his cups when he had made his choice.
Peitho kept her gaze on him. “One look at your map says I’m not,” she pointed out. “The Marauders map is an ingenious idea and a useful aid to Magical Mischief Makers, which I know you are one. I do believe your grandfather is happy you have put it to great use just like he did with the other three makers.”
“How do you…”
“I know a lot about you Potter,” she interrupted. “I have enough information to publish a book on you. It’s too bad I like my current job.”
“I haven’t done anything,” he repeated stupidly.
Peitho whipped out a scroll when she opened it the long sheet fell to the floor. “James Sirius Potter Misuse of Magic and Other Crimes… age nine killed Nimbus, the Potter’s house cat with several WWW fireworks… age ten, accidentally transformed one Albus Severus Potter into….” She didn’t bother elaborating that but continued to flip through the list shaking her head. “These crimes are astounding.”
“It was an accident,” James recalled that incident too well. His parents had never pardoned him for scaring Al to death. He and Al had resolved their differences along time ago. They were closer now. This morning Albus had given him his present, an original Firebolt. Al had managed to replicate the original design to the last detail. James had been ecstatic. He had skipped lunch to take the broom for a spin.
“I see you remembered that,” Peitho interrupted his thoughts. “We believe that it was a sign of how you intended to use your magical gifts through out your life.”
“It was an accident,” James barked in frustration. At that age, he had been as awkward as a toddler learning to take his first steps. His first momentous magic demonstration had resulted in his little brother admittance into St Mungo for a fortnight and his parents banning him from his broom, sweets and every little thing that brought him joy.
“Say that loud enough and you might just believe it,” she shrugged. “Where were you going?”
“It’s none of your business,” he grunted irritably. She was getting on his nerves, and without his wand all he could do was listen to her. Poor Fred, he stood there looking from him to her unable to voice his frustrations.
“My intelligence says you were heading into Hogsmeade. At this moment, your contact is waiting for you at the Hogshead.”
What the hell? How did she know he was going into Hogsmeade? Only he and Fred were aware of that. “Yes, I had business in Hogsmeade. Your assumptions are wrong.”
She cocked an eyebrow.
“It’s my birthday. I had a cake waiting for me.”
“You should come with me, Mr. Potter,” she said.
“It’s the truth,” he told her. “Ask Fred.”
A sharp image of wizard dangling mid air suspended by chains intruded his mind. The blonde witch was standing in front of him all emotions stripped from her pretty face. She was holding what looked like a whip with shards of broken glasses sticking out at the end, like the tail of a Hungarian Horntail. A wave of her wand and she stripped the man to his birthday robe. The last thing James saw was her lifting the whip ready to lash at that poor man.
“He made me wait,” she said flippantly. “Rowans and Lindens our male counterparts don’t use dark magic under any circumstance. There are so many cruel ways we picked from Muggles.”
That torture method was crude and belonged in the past, James thought. He made up his mind there and then to accompany her. He didn’t take pain extremely well although he enjoyed when he inflicted it on others; if acting like Peeves the Poltergeist, covered inflicting pain. “Release him,” he pointed to Fred.
She reluctantly lifted the spell.
“Go back to the common room and send an owl to my father,” he instructed. “I have to clear this up.”
Fred turned to the witch. “I’m his partner in crime. Why am I not a suspect?”
“Mr. Weasley whatever you do is for the sake of a good laugh,” she retorted. “I’m here because I need to determine the objectives of Mr. Potter when he is breaking the law.”
“I’ll go to Hogsmeade,” Fred assured James. “Stay and straighten things with the Rowan.” He gave her a dark look. “We are still having your birthday at the Astronomy Tower. The lot of us will be there.”
Rowan Taylor laughed. “I have to disappoint you. There are Rowans waiting in Honeydukes because I expected the suspect to run.”
“Swell, you just proved what a bitch you are,” Fred barked angrily.
“PETRIFICUS TOTALUS,” she spelled. “Please remember I’m a LADY.” She turned to James. “Follow me... don’t worry about your friend. He deserved it.”
James caught Fred as he swayed laying him carefully beside the statue. He followed the figure in the blue robes silently. They walked side by side down some stairs, up some others and ended up in an empty room. There was a table with two chairs facing each other inside. She closed the door carefully behind them and told him to sit down.
James lowered himself onto one of the chairs. When was mischief considered an intention into wrong doing? He thought. James felt his tie tightening around him. It felt like an eternity. Rowan Taylor sat at her side shooting red sparks from her wand. She still held his twelve inches Alder and Centaur tail hair wand in her other hand. There was no way what she said he had done was true. His pranks were harmless, all in the name of fun. Please Dad get Fred’s owl, please. He remembered his father always telling him to close his mind. He did it.
What in hell was DIKE? Did the Ministry of Magic known of its existence? Was it above the Auror Office? Was there a higher group than the Department of Law Enforcement? Taking a deep breath, he opened the conversation. “Is the Department of Law Enforcement aware of your activities?”
“Did your people inform my parents about questioning me?”
She did not reply.
“How long are you going to keep me here?”
She reached over the table and yanked him by his tie. “Mr. Potter lets get one thing straight. I ask questions here. Besides, I want you to live to be eighteen and a day. Let me do my job. We understand each other.” She pushed him roughly back onto the chair.
For a lady, she was strong. “Yes, Ms. Taylor.”
“Hmm…” She touched the tip of her wand to his. “Prior Incantato...”
James groaned as a shadowy image of a falling Tityos Bragnan appeared at the midst of the tips. James had cast the Leg-Locker curse on him. The Slytherin had tried to bunny hop down a flight of stairs causing him to fall headfirst; his companions had to rush him to the infirmary to have Nurse White patch him up. That had happened right after James last class that day DADA. James had to admit he had been happy with the outcome. He had not stopped to check either. There was a double layer chocolate cake with his name written in gold cream, calling him to come and collect it. His wand results did not look promising.
"Deletrius," she said. The image disappeared.
“We can start,” she told him. She waved her wand again. “Expecto Patronum,” she called. A silver unicorn leaped out of its tip and pranced about the room. “Patronum Missus,” she said loudly, the unicorn cantered back to her side.
“DIKE, I have located Mr. James Sirius Potter, interrogating him at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I won’t disclose the precise location. I’ll contact you when I’m done.” She gently patted the creature’s head. “Patronum Sandaz.” The unicorn vanished.
“Hey, that is an Order of the Phoenix signature,” James remarked.
“Well Mr Potter, it leaked,” she verified. “Good of Dumbledore to invent it. It is quite useful. There is your assurance that I’m not a death eater. These days they are all cowards. I bet that makes Voldemort turn in his grave.”
From there on she went through each wrong he had done in his life one by one. She forced him to tell her his precise thoughts at that moment prior and after they had happened. The interrogation took a while since she had to write his every word. After what seemed like a day, he felt hungry for he had missed yet another meal. The witch declared she had gotten everything. Thinking that this was his cue to leave the place and join his family in the Astronomy Tower. Her words stopped him.
She had performed Dumbledore’s Patronum communication system again. “I’m afraid everything we suspected about Mr. Potter is true. I’m bringing him to headquarters.” She sent the unicorn on its way.
“What?” James leaped out of his chair.
“Make me happy Potter, HAPPY...” Rowan Taylor said. “Here are the exit rules. We shall not attract attention of the students. We will head to the Head Prefects Quarters where you will pack a bag. Trust me, you will need one. I have permission from your headmaster. It was easier to get him to agree to this meeting. I shall safely remove and return you to Hogwarts if you follow these simple rules. I expect you to use the longest route there. I don’t want to drag your ass in front of the student’s body. Can you follow those simple instructions?”
This is certainly not my day James thought grumpily. “Piece of cake...”
“Good, remember I have my wand pointed at you,” Rowan Taylor said, creating an invisible barrier around her body. “Let’s go.”
James opened the door, walking silently along the corridors of the third floor his bag slung carelessly over his shoulders he meandered through the familiar hallways of Hogwarts. He calculated the time it would take to reach his room if he followed all the routes he knew, about half an hour give or take. A half hour later they had reached the Head Prefects Quarters. The Rowan ordered him to stop as she materialised.
“Last rules Mr. Potter, I’ll give you five minutes to get your bag. I’ll retain your wand,” she told him. “If the Head Girl asks give her an excuse why you are leaving. If I am correct, it isn’t the first time you slept in Gryffindor. Five minutes, Mr. Potter. By the way, the owl never reached your father.”
What was he going to do now? There was no birthday under the stars or a well baked chocolate cake for his taste buds. This was the worst day.
“Hey James,” Albus called, walking towards him.
The temptations to strangle her slender neck were high. James turned to his brother instead. “Hey Al I need to get to my room. Today’s has been a long day.”
“I met Fred. He said you had girl problems,” he smiled knowingly, looking at the grey-eyed witch.
“No one believes Fred,” James laughed nervously. “Albus where is your wand?” Was he mistaken or did he see sparks shooting out of the witch’s eyes?
She pulled him by the tie so quickly that he had no time to react, brought his face to hers and then kissed him for a while. When at last she released him by a mere inch, she said. “We have a birthday to celebrate at the Astronomy Tower.” Then she brought her lips to his ear “If you so much as make a wrong turn, I’ll harm you.”
“Peitho Taylor,” she released him and turned to Albus. “I’m James’ friend. He was ecstatic about the Firebolt. He told me all about it. James you go on and change. I’ll wait for you right here.” She pushed him towards the door. “Are you looking forward to attending his birthday?”
James didn’t hear the rest of their conversation. Rowan Taylor affected him. There were no words to express how the kiss felt to him albeit done in the line of duty. Even with that little threat she made. He wished they had met under different circumstances. James gave the regal prince that inhabited the portrait on his door the password. The door opened. He walked grudgingly along the hallway that led to the common room.
Hardly, had he stepped into the open room when fireworks exploded. The lights flickering from the many shapes that floated around blinded him for a moment.
“SURPRISE,” the sound of several voices echoed loudly in the room.
He spotted many familiar faces gathered in the common room. Standing at the front of the group was Fred levitating a birthday cake, which was in the shaped of a Quidditch field complete with a game between Gryffindor and Slytherin.
“What the hell…” James gaped. He knew there was going to be a birthday, but not a large party. It rivalled his Seventeenth. James was speechless. He beckoned Fred to his side; his friend gave another person the responsibility of the cake. “Fred, have you forgotten about DIKE?” he hissed.
Fred looked at James then burst into a fit of laughter. The whole room came to a stand still. It was so severe that he ended up rolling on the floor clutching his tummy. Then it dawned on James. Merlin, what the hell was wrong with him. The whole damn DIKE thing was a hoax to get his family to plan this party. Did he accidentally swallow a whole bottle of stupid potion? There was no way a witch had beaten James Sirius Potter in his own game. A grey eyed blonde he had enjoyed kissing. This story would travel in the canals of Hogwarts history. “Fred Weasley,” he yelled.
Fred stood up and supported himself on his shoulder. “We got you. You should see your face,” he hiccupped.
“I’d be far away from me as possible if I were you,” James breathed.
“Hey guys give one for Taylor,” Fred turned to the crowd. “She did it. She got Potter so shaken up he almost pissed his pants.”
The room erupted in applause.
“Speech… speech,” someone yelled. The rest of the room chorused.
James cleared his throat. He liked an excellent prank when he saw one. He didn’t fault the witch for besting him. “According to Rowan Taylor...” he began. “My crimes are astounding... I agree and as a thank you from me to you for throwing me the biggest party of my life. I have this to say. I still have a few months in Hogwarts... and just because I have grown up a lot today means I will get back at all of you for proving once again that I’m a bloody git. Let me assure you my intentions aren’t and will never be... I never want to experience being a dark wizard. For your information, I can’t stand Slytherin, and that is not a crime. That field better be made of chocolate.”
A few fireworks and applauses later, James blew out all of the eighteen Firebolt candles on his cake and the birthday went into full swing. A couple of small talks with his guests found him in his room where he got to change out of his school robes into something casual. Fred and Albus entered when he was pulling his sweater over his head.
“I have a present for you,” Albus said, handing him a long, slender box.
James opened it, inside was his wand. “Is she in Hogwarts?” he asked as he pocketed it.
“Ravenclaw, sixth year,” Fred replied. “She heard us talking and said she had an idea or two to help us. Whatever she did today was beyond our expectation. She was so good I believed her. Lucky for us, she closed my mouth on time. I would have spoiled the whole thing.”
“What do you intend to do to her?” Albus inquired. “She declined our offer to attend the party.”
It sounded like the girl. “Nothing…as much as she was bluffing all that time she just showed me a side of me that I ended up not liking. There is no excuse or reason behind half the number of pranks I’ve instigated. I’m eighteen. I need to be responsible. Why are you two looking at me like that?”
“No reason…” they said in unison.
“Just one more thing,” James said as he started towards the door. “The two of you aren’t off the hook.”
Their laughter told him; they didn’t believe him. He didn’t blame them.
James woke up the following morning which was on a Saturday around two in the afternoon. He felt empty despite having eaten a lot of cake and heavy headed due to drowning a few bottles of Firewhiskey. By the end of the night, he had learned about the whole birthday plan from all the parties involved which was everyone in the room, even the Head Girl, Rachel Woods. Even though, they both had different ideas and approaches about their duties in the school.
Despite this he still remembered his dream. There was a blonde girl running through the hallways of Hogwarts laughing, but he was unable to reach her. That is what had woken him up, that continuous laughter than taunted his attempts. He drunk the potion by his bedside that had a message saying it was a hangover remedy. He took a shower before going to the kitchen to look for food.
Twenty minutes later he was walking outside in the sun when he heard that laughter. She was standing under a tree with her friends creating bubbles from her wand. The bulb in James’ head lit up. He purposely walked to them, wand out but invisible. A trick his father had invented. Expelliarmus, he thought. Her wand ended up in his hand. Her friends scattered at a slight nod from her.
She gave him an amused look. “Ten Galleons says I can beat you with my eyes closed,” she said.
“Ten Galleons says you cannot.”
“Are you sure, Mr. Potter?” She peeped at him provocatively.
“James…” he corrected. “I believe I have you at a disadvantage.”
“Keep the wand…” she smirked. “I did promise you eighteen years and a day. I see it found you here.”
“The Rowan had to leave unexpectedly,” he handed back her wand.
“Are you arming me, James,” she mused.
“All is fair in prank wars,” he said. “I find myself attracted to you.”
“Sounds like a dreadful contagious disease,” she smiled.
“I know a cure,” he smiled wickedly.
He proceeded to show her his way of handling such an affliction.
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