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Chapter 3 : And then I deal with the fact I ruined James Potterís life...
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Previously: Another slight accident... James Potter may have fainted and I may have revealed his paralysing fear of birds to the entirety of Hogwarts...
I suppose it was funny in the sense that it was a complete and utter failure, but... Who wants to be funny in that sense? Plus, it was hard to laugh at yourself on your own. It just resulted in you looking like a complete psycho – sitting on your own, rocking back and forth in peals of unyielding mirth for no visible reason (not that that had ever happened to me...) usually ended in a hasty admission to St Mungo’s insanity ward (which I’ve been told is actually a fairly nice place so it wouldn’t be too bad; the people are nice and you get free food), but it hardly seemed worth it for a little prank-gone-wrong.
Except it wasn’t a little prank; it was a prank on James Potter.
Then, there was the fact that I’d skipped herbology for it. I’d never skipped a lesson in my life.
Oh God. They’d know it was me. I hadn’t been there... I was going to be sent down for ruining James Potter’s life. He’d know it was me, anyway; after all, I did have his cloak. It wasn’t like it would take much of a genius (even if he was a stupid Gryffindor) to put the pieces together.
I had to go down and apologise to him. I’d caused him to nearly faint... or maybe he had fainted? Maybe I’d misinterpreted his actions completely? I was under the delusion that he’d made up this fear of birds at the time, so... maybe I'd willfully gotten that wrong too. I'd probably ruined his Quidditch career forever, which meant he was probably screwed given he was known for not spending too much time in the library, or studying, or working at all, and he’d probably end up unemployed and working as a muggle bin man to pay for the water meter in his council flat (although give he was a Potter he could probably just live off the cash flow that comes with destroying the greatest dark wizard to have ever lived, but that was beside the point).
Plus, I had absolutely humiliated him, I wasn’t even certain that he’d be able to face everyone again... He might move schools or...
No, that was ridiculous. James Potter might be a drama queen, but there was no way he’d go that far. He’d probably just make bird-phobias fashionable, and have everyone screaming like Voldemort had just appeared in their front room completely naked, armed with a huge snake and a wand, every morning when the owls came to deliver.
Hagrid had explained that one to me back in his hut. James could deal with owls, and even had one himself, but any other bird was a strictly no go area and scared the shit out of him in the way some people reacted to spiders.
I had to go and apologise. I had to.
But I was no Gryffindor. I was not funny and I was not brave. I’d come back from Hagrid’s hut feeling dreadful thrown myself into bed and tried to force myself into sleep. I’d skipped another two lessons by this point, not that I cared– if I was going to go down, I might as well go way down – and told Jessica (dorm mate) I was feeling ill when she politely inquired if I as all right when she came in whilst I was in the middle of moaning melodramatically about how I’d ruined my life. And James Potter’s.
She left sharpish. Didn’t even blame her. She was quite a nice girl really, but Dom said that she was a geeky goody two shoes who was also as thick as hell (she dated Freddie Weasley – one of the forbidden cousins – last year and Dom had never quite forgiven the poor girl). She did stop to ask me if I’d like her to tell Professor Vector where I was though, which was very nice considering I’d been acting like a complete and utter weirdo.
What I needed to do, was calm down. It wasn’t that big a deal. Why was I making such a fuss about it? It was just, you know, a prank on James bloody Potter.
If Dom found out, I’d be on at least three (because they share many things – like hatred and anger) of the Weasley’s (extended family included) hit lists, and let me tell you that is not a comfortable place to be. I’ve watched it happen too many times. Next thing you know, you were being assassinated by some of the slightly less respectable people that all the Potter’s seemed to be in touch with... or being humiliated beyond recognition, or having your social status ripped beyond repair.
They done it to Melinda Marchbanks last year, when she’d agreed to date both James and Albus Potter simultaneously (apparently neither of them realised for a month which just shows how much the two of them talk). Neither had been particularly heart broken by this from what I could make out – considering the following week James had a new girlfriend – but this had still, apparently, been enough reason for a social suicide by humiliation (including spontaneously vanishing clothes). Now the poor girl was only known as Melinda No-pants.
Think of all the things they could do with my name!?
Thinking about it, they’d tried a similar thing when Scorpius Malfoy kissed Rose Wesley for a bet. Scorpius had somehow managed to backfire it on to the Potter/Weasleys themselves, which had somehow manifested into a friendship and a new found unity between the two houses. It was quite strange. I’m sure Dom could have explained it to me, but she preferred it if I never mentioned a name of one of her family members whilst in her presence.
I swallowed my anxiety, rolled over and decided I’d face the world at dinner. And apologise to James straight afterwards...
“I’m on a mission.” Dom said, crossing her legs and looking up at me. “I need a boyfriend.”
I should have known it was coming; she’d twisted her hair up into some fancy hair do that was a little beyond me, had her nails repainted this morning, and was wearing her favourite pair of skyscraper heels.
The heel thing was good though, because it made me seem less tall by comparison.
“Okay,” I said, sitting down opposite her and raising an eyebrow. “What’s the plan of action?” She smiled a smile that genuinely scared me a little bit and handed me over a piece of parchment with a list of names.
Jason Wood... Benson Flint... Harry Malone... Edward Bones...
“All of these guys are in long term relationships,” I said slowly. “Woods with Baker, Fint’s with Thornton...”
“Which means they’ve all proved their capable of being in a long term relationship.” Dom explained in the patronising tone one might use five year olds, or someone who has difficulty understand basic NEWT level transfiguration (well, I would).
“So what?” I asked wildly. “You’re just going to break up perfectly successful relationships because you want a boyfriend?” Dom looked slightly taken aback by the harshness of my tome. “Anyway Dom, some of these guys are right jerks – McLaggen? You’d date McLaggen? He’s so not in your league, and anyway – he’s a complete prat.”
“You went out with McLaggen.” Dom accused.
“One date,” I muttered defensively – did she really have to bring these things up on occasions like this?
“Still, that was before he was popular.”
“Thanks for that Dom,” I said, glaring at her and standing up. “But actually, no, I refuse to take part in this bullocks.” I waved the list at her. “And in any case!” I added, glancing down the list again. “How are you defining these relationships as successful? Everyone knows that Jones regularly sleeps with that other girl – the skinny one – and considering how many times Wood and Baker have split up -”
“Any relationship over three months,”
“And!” I began hotly. “Just because they’re good with one person, doesn’t mean they’ll be good with you. And if you manage to break them up then it obviously wasn’t a good relationship in the first place. Just because...”
“Autumn, will you let me finish?” Dom asked sweetly. “I wasn’t planning on breaking anyone up.”
I stopped mid sentence.
“Now, will you sit down?” I sat obligingly. “There are two parts of the plan – one, move in if any of these couples break up, two, list the characteristics of these guys and look for them in any single guys. I think I might be going about it all wrong, going for the wrong sort of guy – you know?”
“I don’t like the first one,” I said grudgingly.
“But will you help me with the characteristics bit?” She asked, smiling her eighth-Veela smile at me in her most persuasive manner. “Please Autumn,”
“Fine,” I agreed, removing the significantly more creased list from my hand and passing it back to her. “Don’t you think...?” I began as Dom began pulling out her quill and a big wad of parchment. “That you should just... let things happen?”
“No, Autumn,” She replied. “Because that’s hardly worked for me so far – has it. We’re Ravenclaws – this is what we do – over think things. So, Wood – why does Wood and Baker’s relationship work?”
“Because they both like sex?” I suggested, stretching out on the floor. Dom gave me an ‘I’m serious about this Autumn’ look. I rolled me eyes. “They’re both good looking,” I reasoned. “Wood is Quidditch obsessed, and Baker is supportive enough to go watch every game, even though she can’t stand it?”
“Good,” Dom said, nodding, as she scribbled it down. “Anything else?”
“Both complete drama queens,” I suggested, pulling out my Defence book and deciding that I almost definitely needed to write lots of notes about that particular subject. “Both approve of PDA. Same year, same house – get lots of time to spend with each other.”
“Time,” Dom said, writing that down. “Okay... what about... Harry Malone?”
“Both shy,” I said. “He’s surprisingly sweet – the perfect gentleman.”
“Now, Autumn, if you have a crush on Harry Malone then that’s really out of order – you can’t just break up a couple for your own gain,” She said with a wry smile in my direction, just as the other three occupants of our dorm walked in. They all looked at me with an expression that was a mix of surprise – due the idea that someone other than Harriet Belby could fancy Harry Malone – and disgust at the idea of me going out of my way to break them up.
A small satisfied smirk made its way onto Dom’s face, and for a second it looked as thought she’d planned the whole thing – for the others to come in just as she said that...
I shook my head. I was paranoid.
“No,” I said with a laugh. “I could never break anything as cute as that up – Harriet and Harry, it’s adorable. Anyway, and he’s not my type.”
“He’s not anyone’s type,” Dom said off-handly. “Well, except Belby.”
I rolled my eyes at her response. Dom was just like that – she just found so many negative things to say about people, and most of the time I just let her because it was easier than picking up on it every single time.
“What about... Edward Bones?” Dom continued, unabashed by our Dorm mates who were so blatantly listening in.
“Not now, Dom.” I said nodding towards them meaningfully. She rolled her eyes.
I carried on with my defence notes like the Ravenclaw I am.
Was it especially cowardly to leave an apology by a letter? Well, I’m sure James Potter wouldn’t have dreamed of apologising via letter – he probably just wouldn’t apologise, if you listened to what Dom was saying – but then again the bloke was terrified of birds, so I’d hardly call him brave...
Although, thankfully, my actions haven’t ruined his life. James had merely, somehow, managed to spread the rumour that it was all just a cover up from elaborate plan that went wrong right under Longbottom’s nose – which had been brave, daring and extremely dangerous. Shockingly, he’d managed to use the fact he’d fainted at the sight of a bird to boost his reputation.
Now, despite disapproving of this deception, that was pretty clever. And it made me feel better.
As I hadn’t been guilt tripped enough into apologising to him face to face, I was going for the sneak into the Gryffindor tower (under invisibility cloak) and leave invisibility cloak for James with apology note and a box of his favourite chocolates. Only, I’d talked to James Potter like twice in my life – he asked to borrow my quill once – and didn’t know what his favourite chocolates were, but who didn't like exploding strawberry creams?
Exploding stawberry creams were amazing. They exploded if someone ate one of your chocolates, or otherwise in your mouth in a completely controlled and delicious way. I loved exploding strawberry creams. If anyone ever reveal my deepest fear to the whole of Hogwarts and wished to apologise to me, exploding strawberry creams would do just nicely.
Anyway, the point was, now I was shimmying my way up the boy’s staircase in Gryffindor tower trying to find James Potter’s dormitory. Then, somehow, I was going to realise which was his bed and place the cloak on it with the note of the apology, exploding strawberry creams and cloak. Simple.
Except there wasn’t like a big sign reading ‘JAMES POTTER’S DORM, COME IN AUTUMN, MY FAVOURITE CHOCOLATES ARE EXPLODING STRAWBERRY CREAMS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH’ like I’d hoped. I’d known there wasn’t going to be... but it would have been nice.
Plus, people kept walking up and down the stairs and I kept having to throw myself against the wall like a ninja.
I was about level with the fourth floor when the door flew open (cue crazy ninja moves) and a guy I recognised came out. I knew him. I sat next to him in Potions last year. He’d tried to copy my essay once, and I’d ‘accidently’ knocked his cauldron over which unfortunately had resulted in three people having to go to the hospital wing, because he’d brewed it wrong. My bad.
Still, I’d found James Potter’s dormitory! Horray! I darted in through the door before it shut and glanced around... if I was James Potter, where would I sleep?
I wondered around the dorm aimlessly, hoping that a sign would appear if I waited long enough. Nothing happened for a very long five minutes, which wasn't a big surprise all things considered. I gave into temptation and took one of the exploding strawberry creams, and relished in the way its strawberry-goodness exploded into my mouth... pure pleasure...
Eventually, I succumbed to checking the name tags in the back of the robes, although I suspected James Potter would be far too cool to have his name written on his robes...
Oh no – Property of J.S.Potter – I could probably thank the Ginny Wesley for that. So, that would mean that... the bed on the far end – next to the window – was James Potter’s (unless the boys shared clothes or had some weird tradition about putting their stuff on the wrong side of the room, and actually – I wouldn’t put it past them)... I could imagine him playing the ‘my Dad saved all your lives’ card to get the best bed. Did I blame him? Probably not.
I placed the almost full box of chocolate on his pillow, complete with the note and was just about to pull off the cloak when...
“What do you mean you haven’t got the cloak back?” Albus snapped. “I said you could borrow it for one day!”
“This girl took it!” James complained, also sounding highly irritated. “It’s not my fault – it was taken from me!”
“What were you trying to do, chat her up?” Albus asked, bending down and beginning to rummage through James Potter’s trunk feverishly.
“N... what are you doing?” James demanded. I flattened myself against the wall and cursed my luck. “You’re not going to find it in there.”
“I wouldn’t put it past you,” Albus muttered. “What girl?”
“I don’t know, Dom’s friend.”
“Oh,” Albus said, seeming to have calmed down slightly now. He pushed his glasses further up his face and took to pacing around the room again. “The tall one?”
“Yeah,” James agreed. “But if you’d just give me the map back...”
“No way.” Albus returned. “A deals a deal, you said I could have the map as long as you had the cloak.”
“Yes, but I didn’t realise I was going to be robbed!” James complained. “You should be nicer to me, Al. had the crappiest day ever.”
“And if you don’t give me the cloak back soon I’ll make it even crapper. I’ll make sure that everyone knows you really are scared of -”
“I won’t refrain from hexing you because you’re my little brother, you know?” James said.
“Who let the cat out of the bag then, or should I say, who let the chicken out of the -?”
“Dom, I expect.” James said throwing himself down on his bed huffily. “She’ll have the cloak, she knows about the fear...”
“What’s with the chocolates?” Albus asked suddenly noticing the box of strawberry creams. “There’s a note too,”
“Probably just another girl obsessed with me,” James said off handly, thankfully he appeared to be joking. Albus rolled his eyes and picked up the note.
“James, I’m sorry. A.O.P xxx” Albus read out. I suddenly felt my face cringing with embarrassment – I’d added my initials and the kisses as an impulse. I could have just keeled over and died right then and there.... at least he didn’t know my name, hopefully he’d just think, sarcasm aside, that it was some girl that was in love with him. “Who’s A.O.P?” James just shrugged in response. “And she’s left you a box of exploding strawberry creams.”
“Oh, those are my favourites!” James said.
Yes! Yes! Finally one element of the plan that had gone right! Go exploding strawberry creams! Forget that I still hadn't actually returned the cloak, and that James had no idea who I am or what I was apologising for (and that for some reason James thinks Dom is the one that pranked him) – he liked the bloody chocolates! Horray! Yes! There is hope for my failure of a life after all!
Then, when James reached out to take an exploding strawberry cream I realised something awful. Whilst wondering around the dorm aimlessly, I’d taken one... that meant that the box would recognise me as the owner of the chocolates which meant, by the very nature of the exploding strawberry creams that....
The whole box exploded, leaving a huge hole bang in the middle of James Potter’s bed. James Potter threw himself backwards instinctively, but Albus Potter was not so lucky – his face was now covered in soot and had somehow lost his eyebrows.
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