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Chapter 24 : Of Pub Coffee and Meetings
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Hollie made no effort to make a sudden move, only a sloth-like tumble from the mass of sheets. It was an absolute contrast. Only a month ago, Hollie was the one dragging me from my slumber, a month before that; it was Molly doing the waking. It seemed there was an unspoken rota.
“It’s the weekend,” she muttered. “I don’t want to waste the day!”
I raised a light brow. “Yes, because lying in bed isn’t a waste of a day.”
“Just get up.”
She stood up sleepily, padding in to the bathroom. Molly was already in there. She shot Hollie a toothpaste-y grin as she past. The dark haired brunette retaliated with a smack over the head with what looked like a shampoo bottle.
It was somehow already June. James and I had been together for a grand total of four and a half months with no arguments – well, unless you count the nightly ‘that’s my biscuit, hands off’. But Molly was always there to sort us out, having clamed down over the past month or so. What was her fiery temper was now a gentle hint of sarcasm with a hint of argument.
Hollie on the other hand seems to have undergone a role reversal with her best friend. What was once her sweet and caring demeanor now has a fiery-streak. It’s new, but it’s fun. Josh never spoke to her that day. She never made an attempt at speaking either. They just seemed to blank each other. To look back to even a few months ago and to think that they wouldn’t even perform an action as simple as looking at one another, the idea seemed atrocious. I guess it goes to show that you can never tell with situations such as these. Things change at the drop of a hat.
It was expected that Rory and Freddy would never change; they’re still the strongest of our group, still the chattiest, still the loudest. They were also still the most immature. It was odd to see the success of their friendship; most would think they would get annoyed with one another, that because of their numerous similarities they would both experience the constant emotion to rip their hair out. But not once have they portrayed that.
Father is utterly neurotic. It’s a factor that I have only recently learnt to ignore.
The darkness had settled over France, it was making its way towards England; the Death Eaters were getting stronger. Yet, when I was curled up in the Common Room with James, it didn’t seem to matter as much.
It hurt, to watch my old country have descended in to madness, but it surprisingly seemed even more frustrating to see what had begun to become of England. I wished to lock it all up in a draw and to throw away the key. The attacks on Muggles and those of Muggle-parentage are becoming more frequent, and those of treason are becoming less.
It has been months since Damon left, and less since I last heard about Kevin. For a month or so, his capture was in the Daily Prophet, daily. He was the first Death Eater caught single handedly since the first Wizarding World War. Kevin was smart, he taught me how to avoid being caught – yes, it was only in lessons, but it still served the same purpose. A part of me thought that he had done it on purpose, getting caught.
I tired to balance it in my head. Which was better, being caught and serving life in Azkaban, or taking others lives?
“Hollie!” I called, jumping slightly with every pull of my tennis shoes. I needed to change my train of thought.
Molly looked up as she walked out of the bathroom, perfect and shining. I smiled and nodded in obvious approval, pulling my hair in to a bun. She threw a bow at me, one that I tied around my hair and fastened loosely.
She threw a scarf in to the bathroom at our roommate. It landed on the floor with a ‘smack’. “Hollie! Honestly, we have to go.”
“I’ll catch up.”
“No, it’s fine. We can-“
Apparently, waiting wasn’t on Molly’s To Do list; she grabbed my wrist and dragged my down the staircase. I grinned as she tripped down the last step and latched on to the banister to stop herself from falling.
I snorted. “That will teach you.”
“I never learn, G.” she admitted. “I thought that you would know that by now.”
Rolling my eyes, I caught the image of the reason I got up this morning. We winked at me with a forgotten arrogance before getting up from the arm of the sofa. His hand found the small of my back and he placed a kiss on to my forehead.
“Where are we going today?” I asked with a smile.
“Hogsmeade,” he stated obviously.
I gave him a gentle poke. “I meant,” I turned back to James. “What are we doing in Hogsmeade?”
I latched onto him as if he were a life line as his arms closed around my shoulders. “You’ll have to wait and see, love.”
Molly shook her head and sat down next to an unshaven Russell. “The last time that you said that, Russell and Freddy were banned from The Hogs Head.”
“It’s ‘Hogs Head,” Russ acknowledged. “It’s not like it matters.”
“If we want to get drunk,” Freddy said obnoxiously. “We shall go to The Three Broomsticks – there’s two of everything in Hogsmeade anyway.”
I shrugged. “Well don’t get banned twice.”
Freddy’s hand clasped to his heart. “Who would do such a thing?”
“You?” Molly tried, narrowing her eyes.
“I don’t want to break this up,” James deadpanned. “But we have to go.”
Rory did a once over from the armchair. “Wait, where’s Hollie?”
“In the shower.” Molly said. “She had a bit of trouble getting up this morning.”
“She had a fight with her duvet.”
James furrowed his brows at my comment but didn’t loosen his arm from its grip on my shoulders. “Well, she’ll just meet us there.”
“Nahh,” Fred shrugged. “I’ll wait for her.”
“Me too,” Rory added.
“Its fine,” Freddy replied quietly. “I can do it alone.”
I inwardly smirked at the obvious rejection on Ror’s face. The growing relationship between Hollie and Fred was a big secret, the word ‘big’ meaning badly-kept. I pulled away from James and put my arms around Rory’s shoulders.
“Come on, chéri.” I chimed. “I’ll stay with you. We can walk to Hogsmeade together.”
Rory smirked. “I don’t think the glaring caveman stood behind you would be entirely happy with that.”
“Caveman?” James echoed.
His friend nodded. “You look like a Neanderthal.”
“All you need is one of those wooden things.” Molly said.
“A club,” Russ finished for her. He slapped his hand down on to her knee and ran a hand over his light stubble absent mindedly. “Come on, darlin’.”
She followed him happily.
I felt James’s arms sneak back around my waist. “Don’t worry, James.” I said caringly, placing a kiss on to his chin. “I don’t think that you look like a Neanderthal.”
“How kind of you.”
“If I didn’t know any better I would guess that was sarcasm.”
He smirked. “You’ve hit the nail on the head, G.”
James’s face confirmed my questions as he nodded towards the pub in the street. “We’re meeting the guys.”
“That’s the surprise?” I questioned.
He shrugged at me when I gave him a look. “Well, there may be a little something other in there.”
I furrowed a brow. “Well, nothing mean I hope.”
“Nothing of the sort.”
He placed a light kiss upon my lips and I rested a hand on to his chest. “So, are we going in?”
“I think that someone wants to see you first,” he said, gesturing his head towards the fountain.
I span around and followed what was his gaze. As I looked closer, I realized what he was talking about; under the spit of the water, on the thick wall, sat Josh.
Another kiss. “I will meet you inside.”
“No snogging now,” he said with authority. “I know how close you are.”
“And keep the groping to a minimal!” He called as he opened the door to the pub.
I inhaled the brief scent of butterbeer and candle wax before turning towards the fountain. Josh’s face confirmed it; he wasn’t here to dilly dally. His features were muddled, his expression dark, brooding. The light fun in his eyes seemed to dim, the light replaced with a shallow hate. On Josh, it just didn’t look right. To me. To others, it could have suited him perfectly. And that scared me.
The darkness in his hair, the expression on his face. If partnered with the right attitude, he could pass for a cereal killer. Like on from a film.
I sat down caringly down next to Josh and placed my hands in my lap. I licked my lips subtly. “You don’t look happy.”
“What would you do if I told you I wasn’t?”
His tone didn’t cease to amaze me. It was flat and I had heard it before. But only the once. “Then I would try to rectify it. I would try to make you happy.”
“And if you couldn’t.”
“Then I would say that you were being incredibly difficult,” I tease lightly. His frown didn’t falter. “Josh, what’s’ wrong?”
He looked as if he had been turfed over by a bus.
I looked back over to the Three Broomsticks, the window seat was empty, a strange thing. It was the seat our group always took. Instead they had gone for one further back, I recognized the red tinge in Molly’s hair of brown. Russell’s hat was visible through the window of the pub.
Josh looked to me apprehensively. “You’re going to freak out.”
At this point, I was thoroughly confused. “Freak out?”
“Go mental,” he specified. “You’re not going to be happy with me.”
I shook my head. “I bet that’s not true.” I said. “As long as you’re happy, then it will take a lot to make me-“
“I signed up.”
It was quiet, low, and almost inaudible. But I caught it.
“The carnival, the circus, to be an acrobat.” He snapped. “What do you think, Georgie? I’m going to be one of them.”
Until this moment, I wasn’t sure if it were possible for your guts to fall through your butt, literally. But Josh McCartney, the all knowing Ravenclaw seemed to have achieved it. I felt my heart throb; my eyes blink uncontrollably with disbelief.
“But, why?” I questioned after a moment. “What would possess you to do that?!”
He ‘shushed’ my intimidating hiss with a shake of his head. “I can’t change my mind.”
“This isn’t about changing your mind; it’s about when you lost it!”
He looked behind him suspiciously. Hollie and Freddy had arrived on the scene. My brunette roommate gave me a cheery wave, her hair tucked neatly under a hat. Fred pushed her inside the pub, not a second thought to it. He didn’t look to me, he looked at me. It was a quick once over before his eye’s return to Hollie’s bum.
“Freddy knows doesn’t he?” I asked.
Josh nodded once. “Weasley knows a lot more than you give him credit for.”
“What that supposed to m-“
“Don’t ask questions G,” he begged, grasping hold of my shoulders and turning me to him. “Please just listen to me.”
I bit the inside of my lip. “I know you think it’s a stupid decision, I know that you think it’s pathetic. You probably have absolutely no idea to my logic. Buts it’s good logic. The Ministry needs someone on the inside, and I have nothing left for me here.”
I blinked once. Twice. “You have me.”
“You have James.” He said. He spoke as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You have Freddy, Russell, Rory; you have the girls.” I shook my head, I wanted to shout, to disagree, but my mouth was dry. “You don’t need me.”
“I’ll always need you.”
“Don’t lie to me, Georgette.” He replied. “In a year from now, two years from now you’ll forget who I was, you won’t remember me. You’ll be happy, working somewhere quiet with James, living away from all the trouble.”
“And you’ll be in the middle of it?!”
“Keep your voice down.” He sent a warning glare to a passing first year. “Georgie, you have to hear me. I wanted to tell you sooner-“
He furrowed a brow. “Excuse me.”
“You wanted to tell me sooner.” I echoed. “When did you sign up? Tell me, Josh. When was this miraculous moment that you decided to ruin your life?”
“The week after Damon’s death.”
I felt a cold weight drop to the bottom of my stomach. My heart began to heave, eradicating itself from all pervious feeling that I had managed to consume for the boy.
Josh placed something in to my hand, I looked down at the recognisable feeling. My memory box.
"How did you get this?"
"It's easier to steal from you than you think Georgie," he said regretfully. "I always had the intention of giving it back."
I tried to keep my jaw from dropping. "How could you? What did you see?"
"I only saw the things I needed - you know how they work, I only wanted to know how to get in, how to act. I didn't see anything personal."
"And that makes it all okay?" I hissed while shoving the small snitch-like orb in to my pocket.
"I can't justify what I did," he replied. "Or what I'm going to do."
“How does the Ministry know that you’re trust worthy?” I asked, shaking my head. “What about Harry Potter?” I questioned. “He’s head of the division against it; he must have something to say.”
“Georgie,” he soothed. “It was Mr Potter’s idea.”
“He, he wouldn’t,” I stammered. “You’re only little.”
Josh turned to me with a bemused expression. “I’m eighteen.”
“In comparison to this universe,” I said. “You’re only little, you’re tiny.”
He dropped his head forward for a moment before looking back to me with a frown. “Exactly, in comparison to the universe, my life is insignificant.”
“Nobody’s life is insignificant,” I snapped. “Everyone is just as important as another’s, mine is as yours. Hell, if you think that then obviously Harry Potter himself was just your average day normal guy.” I stood up and ignored the boiling that began in my stomach. Nodding subtly, I spoke barely above a whisper. “Good bye Josh.”
I waited for one moment before reaching deep into my pocket and pulling out the box. I threw it towards him.
He caught it in his hands. "What's thi-"
"Keep it," I said harshly. "I'm never going to look at it again, I'm not going to need it."
I turned on my heel and stormed back towards the pub. I wasn’t going to stay there and watch him ruin his life.
Molly and Russell looked apprehensively at each other while Rory glared nervously down at the napkin. The pup was full, yet somehow our corner was empty. Two tables either side of ours, blocking our view of the window were unoccupied. It gave us an open view of the street. It gave us a perfect view for when Professor McGonagall strode past the window and towards the door of the pub.
“You think she’s here to get sloshed?” Russell asked after a moment. “I bet she’s got a secret date.”
Molly laughed, causing several wizards’ heads to turn towards her. She parted her hair. “I bet its Flitch.”
“Nah, dear cousin,” Fred said patronizingly. “For you see, he and the librarian lady have been shagging for the good part of six years or so.”
A grossed out cry came from the other members of the table. It was the scarring thought of the caretaker with a limp and the wrinkled Madame Prince that did it.
James smirked. “I bet he bends her over the checkout.”
“Merlin, James!” I scolded. “I do want to sleep without nightmares.”
He smiled. “They’ve probably done it in the stacks too.”
I thanked Hollie for her call and smacked my head down on to the table. James’s hand found the small of my back. His thumb began to rub small circles in to the fabric of my shirt. I inwardly smiled with grace.
Hollie waved over a passing waitress. “Could I please have a coffee?”
“Make that two.” Molly said.
Russell slapped his hand down on to his best friend’s thigh. “Three.”
The blonde seemed to fumble for a moment or two before turning and walking through the chattering students with her parchment-pad and quill. Her former customers glared at our table. One rolled her eyes, others stared at James. He is used to this action, I am still not.
To my utter bewilderment, James winked. A few giggled and turned to squeal with their friends while the boys just rolled their eyes, except for one. Who smiled.
“James,” Molly hissed. “You’re unbelievable.”
“Quite unbelievable, indeed.” A strict voice said. I turned to see our Headmistress standing by our table. She pushed her glasses back up her nose and took the spare seat that Freddy pulled out for her. I sat up straight, as did the others, wanting to make a good impression. James tightened his arm around me and I seemed to feel a little more relaxed.
I furrowed a brow. “Was this your surprise?”
“To have lunch with our Headmistress?” Hollie finished.
“I’m sure that, that’s not allowed,” Russell said. “Maybe McGonagall just wants me.”
She rolled her eyes. “I can assure you, Mr Finnegan, that it not the case.”
My confusion only grew; I knew that it showed on my face. I had an assumption that I mirrored Hollie’s expression with an impeccable amount of accuracy. It seemed odd to see her pretty features crumpled up in such an ugly manner. Confusion didn’t suit her, it didn’t suit anyone.
“I’m gathering that you haven’t told the others,” McGonagall questioned Fred. She already knew the answer.
He shook his head. “We thought it would be better to do it once you were here.”
“And you all followed this boy like sheep,” she asked the rest of us. She shook her head at our blank expressions. “There is no hope for your generation.” She commented to herself.
James decided to take the lead. “You see, Freddy and I weren’t sure if, well that,” he spoke deeply, in a serious voice. It was hardly used. “We know that you’ll all do it, but we don’t know how to…well, we just don’t know.”
“How to say it,” Fred finished. “It isn’t exactly the easiest way out.”
For a moment I was thrown back to the beginning of the year, when the list that Molly created was the most important thing that was on our minds. Now it seemed so insignificant. If it was mentioned it was only in passing. All those months ago, this would have been the moment that the boys spewed out a plan that made the others utterly jealous with results that would cause impeccably more of a reaction. Whether it be from us or from the teachers.
I looked to the others expressions. The girls wore similar to me; Molly’s jacket was still tightly wrapped around her shoulder, despite the warm weather. Rory was ripping his napkin up in to little pieces with an interested glint in his eye.
Hollie leant back to the same passing waitress, waving her hand rudely. She was taking the orders of several young Hufflepuffs. Hollie wasn’t caffeinated. This could mean death to all man kind.
Russell shook his head. “Speak English.”
“Lord Voldermort,” Professor McGonagall said with frustration. “What do you know about him?”
There was no jumpy reaction to his name. Only Hollie’s shrug. “He was a dick.”
“He was a murderer.”
“An incarnation of evil.”
“He killed my grandparents.” James said darkly. “He was the worst being to have ever walked the earth.”
Molly sighed. “Maybe apart from Taggert.”
“Miss Weasley,” the Professor scolded. “Are you comparing Zoe Taggert to Lord Voldermort?”
“No, no.” she denied. “Not in the slightest.”
“What is this about Professor?” I asked quietly.
She gave a heavy sigh. “Nobody had expected the Death Eaters to rise again, and even if they did, not at this rate.”
“We’re not going to stand for it.” Freddy interjected hotly. “They can invade France, but the moment England’s safety is threatened, we’re going to fight back, and we’re going to pack a punch!”
“They’re back, and they’re stronger than before.” James explained with a quiet urgency. “It’s just wrong what they’re doing. As wizards and witches, it’s our right to stop them, to protect our country, our families.”
I felt that similar cold weight drop to the bottom of my stomach. It appeared to never have left. “You knew did you?”
James’s brows knitted together. “About wha-“ he took my glare as his answer. “Yes I knew about Josh. Dad told me about a week ago.”
“What’s happened with Josh?!” Hollie asked, slight interest upon her features.
The Professor smiled and answered before anyone else could. “I’m afraid that is information that we can not release to you just yet. I’m slightly confused as to why Miss Blythe knows about it, but I’m sure that you will find out soon enough, Hollie.”
“So what does all of this have to do with us?” Molly asked curiously. “I mean, yeah the big bad is coming back and shit – oh don’t look at me like the Professor – but I mean how can we help?” She folded her arms on the table. “Hollie and I only succeed in Potions, Rory has a strange ability to empathize with others, no offence dear, but that’s about it, and Russell is leaving in a month or two to travel the world. What good would we be?”
“If it’s an important matter,” Russell began. “I’m sure that holding off my trip for a while won’t hurt anyone.”
It didn’t take a genius to image the expression on Molly’s face. Her eyes widened and she took on a look of pure joy. Her arms wrapped around Russell’s middle and she hugged her head to his chest, leaning forward awkwardly. He patted her back unsurely.
McGonagall cleared her throat and carried on. “You can all be helpful in your own way. As Miss Weasley said, Rory is incredibly talented at empathy. You each have your own qualities, each with different aspects to offer. I am asking you personally to help. This is only a meeting to gather information, to ask your opinions.”
“Opinions on what?” I asked.
Freddy shook his head. “You’re telling me that you were on the inside of this operation your entire life and you still have no idea?”
“Idea of what?”
“I’m going to go with no,” James advised as his fingers traced circles upon my knee.
The Professor cleared her throat once again, seemingly struggling with the possible idea of how we as loud and mischievous teens could help with this situation of life and death. “I would like to point out that this is a dangerous thing that I am asking you for. This is not a game of heroes and villains, there is no gratitude from others, even though it is sorely deserved, and there is no profit. If you choose not to join, nothing will be held against you.”
“Join?” Molly asked.
“Professor,” my warm smile faded quickly. I ignored Molly’s clever acknowledgment. “What you’re requesting us to do…is it legal?”
She smiled ironically, possibly laughing at me. “Mostly. Just ask your friends here.” She gestured to Freddy and James. “They’ve been working for the cause for almost a year now.”
“Fred longer than me, though.” James admitted. “I mean Langley’s in it too, it’s why he gives you all that crap.”
“The Ministry is shitty,” Freddy said startlingly quickly, whispering to the point that we had to lean in to hear. It was a random outburst. “They can’t handle situations like this; it’s too much for them.”
James nodded in agreement. What exactly had he joined? I hoped that it wasn’t some sort of revolt. I hoped that it was a book club in the north of Russia, far, far away from here.
He grinned and pushed his black hair from his eyes. “It can’t go a miss, the disappearances, and the nonsense about blood purity, the murder count, and the Azkaban breakouts.”
Freddy blinked. “Molly, there is no need to shout.”
She looked put out, her bottom lip pushed out over the top. Russell rested his arm upon her shoulder. Any other day and she would have smacked it away, but this day was special.
“The Death Eaters have a knack for letting others do their dirty work, while leaving all the ‘fun’ for themselves.” Freddy explained. “This leaves us, innocents, in danger.”
James grinned, suddenly buzzing with excitement. “When our grandparents were our age, they set up a…lets call it a group.”
McGonagall smiled and placed her hat on to the table gently infront of her. She looked behind to the laughing students, not one was paying attention to our meeting. They seemed to overlook the strange reality when a group of seventh years were joined by the Headmistress.
She brushed a loose grey curl behind her ear and leant forward with authority. “What do you know about the Order of the Phoenix?”
Thank you to Lyssie Black who gave me the very first review for this story, the first review is always the most memorable to me. Thank you to everyone else as well, without your wonderful reviews I wouldn’t have been able to finish this. I always rely on your feedback and it’s been lovely to receive it.
I hope that I have managed to make your reading experience pleasurable – wow, so did not mean to sound like a flight attendant there, scratch that. I’m just not really sure how to say thank you enough. I love each and everyone one of you who have stuck with me this far.
Without you wonderful readers this would have ended at chapter 12 without any of her past coming in to it, and it being a conventional love story with her and James. As I approached that chapter I received a few reviews that gave me the idea to add more of her past in, and I ended with this.
Although, now let me take the time to let you know of a few previous endings to this story – just for the heck of it.
1) Her and James would still be broken up and Georgie would have gone back to France undercover instead of Josh (what do you all think of his decision?)
2) The other was for Kellan to turn her in to the authorities for the price of his freedom.
3) Although, one of the very first plans was her never actually leaving and being undercover all along. But that would have been too conventional for her to have given it all up for love.
There were any more, but I don’t want to bore you all. So I’m reasonably happy with his ending, and I hope that you are too. I have been asked before, and I will answer it now – there will not be a sequel, this is the end of me writing about Georgie Blythe and her little adventures. Gosh, that was more difficult to write than I had imagined.
If you have any more questions about certain things, don’t hesitate to drop me a review and I will answer it for you. Oh and visit my MTA page at the forums – pretty please!! :D
Thank you again. Love from, G.
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