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Chapter 8 : A Lovely Feeling
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I sit, gnawing on my wand handle nervously. It’s 12:58 AM and I’m waiting for Al to come down and meet me. My head is spinning - I have no idea what he could possibly want with me at 1:00 in the morning. Unless...but no. He made it perfectly clear he’s not interested in me. But still, I wonder....
I start at the sudden noise and whirl around. “Hey, Al,” I mumble, going very red. Thank the lord it’s dark in here.
He smiles and walks into the common room. “I’m glad you remembered.”
“Yeah...” I say, fumbling with the sleeve of my robe. “So why’d you need to meet up with me, anyway?” I ask sceptically.
“Right,” he says, walking over to me. He seems excited about something. “Listen, I couldn’t say this in front of everyone else because I don’t think you’d have wanted me to, but, I got this letter from my parents...I think you should read it.”
I blink at him. “Uh...all right, then.” I take the letter and glance over it. I’m astonished at what I read.
Glad to hear classes are well. Your mum’s always checking up on you anyway, but you know I have to, too sometimes.
About your friend, Laney Becks...well I know her parents. And even more - I got in touch with them. They work for the Ministry, you see. Have for years. None of us had any clue they had a daughter. I was sceptical about them, to say the least. But son, I spoke with them. It’s unbelievable.
You mentioned she needed a place to stay? Ron and Hermione would be happy to keep her for the Holidays. They said so themselves. They know her parents, too. She’s good friends with Rose, right? Hermione is writing to her and will tell her to ask Laney home for Christmas. We have a lot to tell her. Keep up the good work in school.
I gape at the letter. “They - they know my parents?” I ask in shock.
“Apparently,” Al says happily. “We’ve been writing all year and I told him about you and about your parents. So will you come home for the Holidays, or what? It would be loads of fun and it sounds like they’ve got a lot to talk to you about.”
I gulp air. “Yes,” I spew, “of course! But - I mean - my parents?”
“Only if you want to,” Al says.
“Yeah!” I grin.
“Brilliant!” Al cheers. “Rose knows, too. I told her I’d tell you though.”
“Thanks,” I smile. “Well, I guess I’d better get to sleep - but, uh, thanks!”
“Anytime,” he grins. “Night.”
“Yippee!” Rose squeaks next morning as I tell her about the night’s events. “Oh, I was just bursting to invite you, Laney. But for some reason mum said to let Al tell you. So unfair,” she pouts. “But now I find out that Uncle Harry knows your parents and spoke to them? Wow!”
“Yes,” I nod, chewing my lip. “What if it’s something bad, Rose?” Of course, since the moment I read that letter I have been trembling with theories. What if they just want to reiterate the fact that I’m worthless? What would I do? Break down crying in front of Albus and his entire family? I shove my fists into my robes.
“I’m sure it won’t be bad, Laney,” Rose says reassuringly. “Try not to dwell on that fact. Just think about how fun it’s going to be!”
“Right, you’re right,” I say, grinning. “I’m ready for a drama-free holiday.” I beam at her and then remember something. “I gotta bolt, I’ve got Quidditch.”
“See you,” she says, heading off to the Common Room.
“Bye!” I trudge through the cold over to the Quidditch pitch. It’s a cool autumn day and I can see everyone congregating outside the changing rooms. I catch up to the lot of them. “What’s up?” I ask Lily.
“James thinks we ought to do conditioning today,” she groans.
“No!” I say, appalled. “We did conditioning yesterday!”
“Yeah, but be careful. The prat says if anyone even argues he’ll run ‘em until they’re ralfing.”
I already feel sick. Conditioning with James is no laughing matter. We run round and round the Quidditch pitch until we’ve all gone funny. We do pull-ups on our brooms, push-ups with boulders on our backs, and have to try and catch the snitch without a broom. It’s utter hell.
“No complaining!” James spits, overriding the sounding arguments. “You’ll do as you’re told, and you’ll be grateful for it. So long as I’m captain this is how things will be.” He clears his throat. “Now, if we’re ever going to beat Ravenclaw this December then we need to be whipped into shape. Fred, I mean it, no fooling around anymore, yeah? If you get kicked off the team before the Ravenclaw match I’ll fry your sorry arse, got it?”
Fred looks pale. “Y-yes.”
“Becks, eat a little less, for the love of Merlin. You eat more for dinner than I do.”
“Oi!” I say, offended. “You calling me porky?”
It’s true. I have a bigger appetite than a Hippogriff and couldn't care less about my pant size. I have virtually no curves, though, so the extra weight can't exactly hurt me.
“No, Becks, I’m calling you sluggish and lazy,” James says. I lunge at him but Fred pulls me back.
“Down, Becksy,” Fred whispers in my ear. I glare at him.
“And Al, you’re our seeker, mate! No more dramatic breakups that affect your game. I swear I’ll curse you into oblivion if it happens again.”
For some reason, my face heats and I avert my eyes.
“Yeah, yeah,” Al mutters.
“That settled, then?” James asks, challenging anyone to disagree. “Right. Suicides. Now.”
“...spawn of Satan...” Fred mutters, ditching his things and slouching onto the pitch.
We run more than I have ever imagined one could possibly run throughout practice. I’m dead tired by the end, and sweating from head-to-toe. Which, I might add, was very embarrassing in front of Al; just my luck, we were paired together for almost every grueling activity. I was pouring sweat and near moaning in pain every time he passed me the heavy bludger that I would have to then heave back to him from across the pitch. I sounded like a troll.
“Well, that was great fun,” James says cheerily in the changing rooms after practice. He is the only one remaining upright - everyone else is strewn across the floor and benches.
“I could hit him,” Charlotte Vinter, a sixth year Beater, says icily.
A moment later, James is chased from the changing rooms by Fred. Dominique Weasley tailing behind (probably not wanting to be left with a load of younger people).
Slowly, we all make our way into a standing position and get dressed. Liam is next to me and I notice he looks worried about something. As much as I hate involving myself with feelings, I can’t help wondering what’s up. I lean over to him, “Everything okay?”
“Well,” he says, glancing over his shoulder to where Lily, Charlotte, and Al are dressing, “I thin’ I may fancy Lily.”
I take a moment to process this. Hm, Liam fancying Lily? This could work....He’s a friendly, Scottish chap. Makes good marks and I’m fairly sure his parents invented some serious racing brooms. Lily’s stark mad, so he could keep her in line...balance her out. I beam. “I’d love to help you with that.”
He looks amazed. “Really? Ya would? I mean, there ‘sno one Lily listens to better than you. I wanted ta ask...but I thought ya’d shoo’ me down. Thanks, Becks!”
I smile. “Sure thing, I’ll talk to her.” He nods, tying his shoe. “And, uh,” I add, something occurring to me, “don’t be afraid to ask me for stuff. I - I don’t bite.”
His eyes widen. He quickly collects himself. “Uh, wow, thanks, Laney. I - no problem.”
I nod. “Right then. I’ll put in a good word for you.”
He grins at me.
Have I just made a new friend?
Holy potatoes, I think I have.
Later that day, Al and I walk over to the greenhouses to get started on our Herbology project. I would’ve worked with Rose for an easy Outstanding on the project, but as Dara is failing Herbology, her need is greater than mine. So Al asked me and I felt perfectly willing. I don’t mind actually trying on my work when Albus is my partner. He makes things enjoyable.
We walk into Greenhouse Four with all our materials and head straight to our three pots. The goal is to grow three plants perfectly: a gurdy root, a bubotuber, and a mandrake. All of which are very difficult to grow.
“You know, I think the bubotuber seems a bit perkier,” Al suggests, prodding the small green bulge in the soil.
I examine it carefully and then turn to a page in my Herbology text book. “It says here the average bubotuber should be yellowy, large, and pulsating by this stage in the development.” We both look down at the tiny forest green bump in the soil.
Al cocks his head to the side. “Er, well, if you sorta squint - well, no, it still looks wrong.” He clears his throat. “Well, this seems to be in order,” he says, examining the gurdy root.
“It’s a little under-developed according to the picture,” I say, looking at the text book. “But at least it’s further along than the mandrake.” We both stare down at the third pot, where the soil is pink and watery and there seems to be no life at all.
“How sweet,” comes a snide voice from behind. It’s Ivy accompanied by Daniel. He smiles at me. I raise an eyebrow. “Look at the lot of you: snotty, chunky Laney Becks with her close, personal mate Al Potter. Have the two of you been snogging? Well, Laney, since you two clearly have something going on, you should know that Al merely needs a new tongue down his throat every few months, so don’t get too comfortable.”
“Piss off, Ivy,” Al snaps. “That’s not true,” he says, turning to me.
“Oh but it is,” Ivy says maliciously. “He’s more of a slag than his brother. Isn’t that right, Al?”
“Silencio,” I growl, pointing my wand at Ivy. I turn to Daniel, “Can you get her out of here?”
“N-no problem,” he says, and he hastily drags her outside.
“Sorry about that,” Al mutters.
“Don’t be, she’s just stupid.” I grin, “Lunch?”
“Yeah,” he says, smiling back at me. “Lunch sounds great.”
November is rolling to a close, and everyone seems to be in chipper spirits. Especially Lily, who (after much persuasion and encouragement from myself and her good friend Hugo) has finally gotten together with Liam Scott.
“It’s been two weeks,” Lily says to me one Saturday afternoon as she, Rose and I walk across the snowy grounds. “I suppose I’m over the ‘just a fling’ stage,” she pauses, “I really like him.”
“That’s wonderful, Lil,” Rose says, patting her shoulder.
She grins. “We kissed last night, too.”
“You hadn’t kissed yet?” I ask, shocked.
“I tried. He wanted to wait until the right moment - take things slow.” She blushes. How out of character for Lily.
“That’s so sweet!” Rose swoons.
“It really is,” I say quietly, thinking to myself. I want that. Someone who cares about stupid things like ‘the right moment.’
“Is - is it crazy to say that I might love him? I know I’m only thirteen, and we’ve only been together for a fortnight, but I can’t shake this feeling.” She looks at her shoes. Rose and I crowd around her.
“We think it’s absolutely perfect, Lily,” Rose says soothingly. “Not crazy at all.”
“I agree, Lily,” I add, finding it hard to naturally be as comforting as Rose is. “You two seem really great together.”
She smiles. “Thanks guys....There’s Hugh, I’ll catch you later!” And she runs off toward a smiling brown haired boy who’s waving to her.
“She’s getting so old!” Rose says sweetly. I laugh at her maternal instincts.
Suddenly, there’s a loud zooming sound and two mounted brooms come flying in between Rose and I. We nearly jump out of our skin.
“What the hell?” I say, picking up the bag I had dropped onto the ground out of fright. Though my words are useless, because I am talking to two tall figure’s backs.
“Uh...?” I say, trying to peer around the figures.
I finally walk around to face them, where Rose is standing. The one is very tall and bulky, with shaggy brown hair and green eyes. He’s clearly of Irish decent. The other is nearly the same build but with pale blonde hair and a pair of dull, bored looking grey eyes. Though, neither seem to notice me. Especially not the brunette, who seems to only have eyes for Rose, who looks startled and a little in awe.
“Well, ‘ello there,” the brunette says in a thick Irish accent. I can practically feel waves of attraction emulating from between Rose and him. “You’re verra pretty, love.”
Rose looks stunned. “I - um, thank you.” She’s furiously blushing. He looks amused.
“Riley O’Malley,” he says, reaching to shake her hand. She obliges, nearly trembling. “This is Sterling Jones,” he gestures to the highly uninterested friend. “You are?”
“R-rose Weasley,” she stutters.
“ ‘sa verra pretty name, Rose,” he says with a warm smile. She seems to melt under this.
What the hell is happening?
He’s clearly waiting for her to introduce me, but as I know her well enough to see that she’s too nervous to say anything, I do it myself. “Laney Becks,” I say.
He nods at me. Oh, I see how it is. So ‘Laney Becks’ isn’t a pretty name, then? Humph.
“I’d like to see you again,” he says to Rose, grinning. “Gryffindor, right?”
“Y-yes,” she responds.
“I’ll find ya, then.” He winks. “Better be off.”
We watch as he and his friend fly off toward the Quidditch pitch.
She turns to me, stoney. “D-did that really just happen?”
“Yes,” I say, laughing. “Love really is in the air right now.”
She laughs but I see her nervously swallow a few times.
As we walk into the castle, I notice some people looking at me. Well, not just looking at me, but staring at me. One first year Ravenclaw girl has even stopped in her tracks just to goggle at me. I glance over at Rose, wondering if she has noticed it too, but she clearly hasn’t. She seems to still be in some dark daze from our encounter with that Riley boy. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable now; especially as we sit down at the Gryffindor table, where everybody is dead quiet and gaping at me. Now, this isn’t completely out of character for me; people have always considered me to be unapproachable, blunt, and on some occasions, lethal, but I have never been stared at like this. They almost have tentative expressions on their faces. It’s unsettling.
I decide to speak up, ask what their problem is, but before I can, Al, Fred, and Dara sit down next to me.
“Ivy’s struck again,” Dara says. I gasp.
“What do you mean! What did she tell them?” I ask, expecting the worst.
They all exchange looks. “You’re not gonna like it,” Al says.
“Come on, it’s Ivy. She probably just told them I ate some -” but right as I say this, I notice everyone in the Great Hall has a piece of white parchment. With a moment of horror and utter anticipation, I read the title aloud. “Unwanted: Laney Becks....”
Rose looks up, her eyes popping. “Uh-oh,” she breathes.
I’m sprinting down the corridors in a fit of rage. Rose is screaming along behind me, trying (and failing) to stop me from landing myself in detention.
“...being crazy!” she huffs. “Might - get - detention!” She breathes heavily. “Think - before - you act!”
I ignore her, for there is only one thing on my mind: I am going to murder Ivy Osiris.
We are finally at the Common Room. “Snivel wibble!” I hiss at The fat Lady.
“Watch your tone!” she snaps, swinging open to let us through.
I climb through the portrait hole - and there she is. Sitting there acting like nothing is wrong!
“Ivy!” I growl, running over to her, completely enraged.
“Laney, please!” Rose pleads from behind me.
Ivy looks up from painting her nails with an innocent expression on her face. “What’s wrong, Laney? Seen something you didn’t like today?” She gives a tinkling laugh.
“I’ll rip your head off,” I snarl.
“Laney!” Rose squeaks.
“Oh, I’m just terrified,” Ivy says sarcastically, feigning mock horror.
“I WILL FRY YOUR BUTT IN BUTTER IF YOU DO NOT PUT THIS RIGHT!” I screech, not really knowing what I’m saying.
“Wow,” she says, examining her nails, “dramatic.”
“You’re disgusting,” I spit, not caring about the scene I’m causing. Everyone in Gryffindor seems to have gathered in the Common Room to watch Laney Becks and Ivy Osiris have a row. “Disgusting slime, you are! You went through my things! You’re a conniving, lying little slag who -”
“- what? Exposed your secret to the school? You deserve it, Laney! Even more - people deserve to know the parents you have! That letter was just an easy way of doing it.”
I’m so furious I can’t see. “That was private!” I bellow. “You had NO RIGHT to hand it out to everyone in school! I swear I’ll have you expelled!”
She jumps to her feet. “There isn’t any proof!” she screams.
“Veritaserum!” I yell back. “Look it up!”
Her face goes pink. “You’re a freak!” she screams, eyes looking crazed. “You stole Al from me, and - and YOU-ARE-A-FREAK! An absolute monster! People deserve to see you for what you really are - a loser! Your parents don’t want you and never will! It’s all here in this letter!” She throws a piece of parchment at my face. “And frankly, I don’t blame them! NO ONE LIKES YOU, LANEY!”
At that moment, both Rose and my wands are in the air.
I cry, “Petrificus Totalus!” and vaguely hear Rose yell something long and complex.
Suddenly, Ivy cannot move and every hair on her body has become static with electricity. She topples over, solid as a rock. The Gryffindor Common Room erupts into tumultuous applause.
“SILENCE!” a voice bellows. “LANEY BECKS! ROSE WEASLEY! MY OFFICE, NOW!”
It’s Professor McCollough.
Rose looks petrified. I groan.
“Detention! Detention! I cannot believe you’ve landed me in detention! What would Mother think?” Rose says, tugging at her red curls and pacing around the Charms room. “I have never been more distraught. This will go on my record forever! I’ll be the laughing stalk of my family....”
I rest my chin on my hand, twirling my wand around my fingers and trying to tune Rose out.
“What’s wrong with her?” asks a black haired boy who’s happened into detention with Rose and I. What’s his name again...Jerome? Jer - Jerry? No, no. Jeremy! That’s it. Jeremy um, Jeremy Something. Oh, give me a break, no one really knows his name.
“I think she’s having some sort of manic episode,” I respond nonchalantly. As I say this, I see Rose begin to turn tomato red and breathe heavily. “Rose,” I say lightly, “you’re swallowing too much air. Relax.”
She looks livid.
“Is she - is she safe?” Jeremy asks in a nervous tone of voice. He’s slowly edging closer to the door.
“Eh, she’ll be fine,” I yawn, stretching. “Give her five minutes and she’ll just pass out from the anxiety.”
“You’re mad...” he says pointedly.
“Thanks for sugarcoating it,” I grunt.
He blinks at me. “Mad is sugarcoating it.”
I raise a brow. “Why are you in here, anyway?”
“Fidgeon thought I was breaking and entering into Hogwarts.”
“He didn’t know who I was. But when I told him, he still didn’t know. It happens a lot....Sometimes I think people don’t listen to me,” he says sadly.
“Hmm?” I say, just remembering that I was having a conversation.
He seems sincerely annoyed. “Well, then. What are you here for?”
“Oh,” I laugh, “I hexed Ivy Osiris for telling the whole school about my parents. Rose helped.”
“Oh, yeah. I heard about that...aren’t you upset?”
I stare at him. “Why would I be upset?”
“It was pretty cruel what she did,” he says tentatively.
I chuckle, “Oh, my. Oh, no, sweet Jeremy Something -”
“- my last name isn’t ‘Something,’ it’s -”
“- Oh, my, my. Of course it was cruel. But don’t you know what this means?”
“Uh, sorry, but no.”
I chortle again. “Gather round, Jeremy,” I say, gesturing for him to move forward.
He looks awkwardly around and takes a step in.
“Do you know who I am friends with, Mr. Something?”
“That’s not my name -”
“Answer the question,” I say in a sing-song voice.
“Fine. No I do not know who you -”
“- I am friends with two of the most finest pranksters in Hogwarts history, Fred Weasley and James Potter.”
Jeremy rolls his eyes. “That’s terrific,” he mutters.
“Indeed,” I say, throwing an arm around his shoulders. “Now, tell me, Jerry -”
“- for the love of Merlin -”
“Why is this so important?”
“So you can prank -”
“So I can prank Ivy!” I squeal. “Dear friend, this is no mere game of innocent wit; this is war.”
Letting go of Jeremy, I plop down into a desk. “Well, then, I’m going to sleep, now.”
“What! What about all the work we have to do for detention?” he says, taken aback.
“Well, you have two hands and a wand, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but -”
“Goodnight.” I close my eyes.
“But...but wait! What about her?” he snaps, pointing at Rose who is now crouched in the corner of the room, hiccuping.
I shrug, conjure a Muffliato charm, and close my eyes again.
Author's Note: Hi everyone! Ash here. I hope you liked this chapter! It's personally one of my favourites - I find it humourous. *smiles proudly*
Just a note - this coming November is NaNoWriMo. It's where you attempt to write fifty thousand words in a month's time. I've decided to do it for Just Ordinary! Yay! So I've been practically popping out 7,000 word chapters... ;)
Happy reading! And reviewing, I hope! ^^
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