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Six Degrees of Separation by Montague
Chapter 3 : They Don't Call it Firewhiskey for Nothing
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4


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I woke up the first day of classes to a colossal bang, followed by a shriek; the sudden noise made me fall off the side of my bed and get caught in my hangings on the way to the floor. What the bloody hell is going on?

 
"JANE!!!!!!"

 
I stopped dead, halfway untangled from my hangings. My face immediately flushed as I looked over to see my dorm-mate Fifi LaFolle looking livid near a pile of wreckage that used to be her bedside table.

 
"Your mangy cat just shot at me for no reason! Look what she did! My perfume is broken all over my school bag. That was my favorite, expensive perfume! I'm probably going to have a huge bruise on my--"

 
I tuned her out and muttered tergo, pointing my wand at the mess. The bag and books looked mostly dry, but the stench of too much perfume still lingered. I also whispered reparo and the perfume bottle reassembled itself while the table and books all put themselves in order.

 
"There was a HUGE rat Vixen was chasing," another girl from our dorm, Ali Bashir, squeaked, "I didn't see where it went."

 
"Ew, what?" Veronica Smethly jumped up onto her bed.

 
"What would a rat be doing on the seventh floor?" Bridget wondered from her dressing table.

 
Fifi slammed the door of the loo. Miss LaFolle was, as much as I hated to admit it, absolutely gorgeous. Her pin straight light blonde hair fell just below her shoulders and her high cheekbones, full lips, and deep blue eyes coupled with her immaculate style and long tan legs made her a force to be reckoned with. I was sure she would be a cylon if this were Battlestar; she was ruthless.

 
Veronica tried to be just like Fifi, but always somehow managed to fall just short of the perfection LaFolle had obtained. She even looked like Fifi, but her blond hair was shorter and her eyes weren't nearly as blue--though her attitude was just a horrible. Bridget and Ali, though both quite attractive themselves, were at least pleasant girls. Ali was Indian and had huge, dark brown eyes; she definitely had the exotic thing going for her.

 
While the other girls continued talking, I slowly got ready for the day. As I finished brushing my hair, Fifi stomped across the room, grabbed her bag, and slammed the door on her way out. I sighed before walking into the bathroom. She's going to be fun to live with for the next few days.

……

At breakfast, Professor Flitwick, head of Ravenclaw house and Charms teacher, came around the table handing out schedules. When he got to where I sat with Octavius, he gave me a big smile.

 
"Miss Montague, I am very pleased with your O.W.L. performance. Highest marks in the school in most subjects! What would you like to continue with this year?"

 
"I'd like to keep all but Astronomy and History of Magic, if that's okay," I said quietly.

 
"Good, good," he tapped a piece of parchment with his wand and handed it to me. I examined it and saw that I had Care of Magical Creatures first thing.

 
"I've got Muggle Studies first. You?" Tavi asked.

 
I showed him my schedule.

 
"Well, don't get eaten by anything," he gripped my shoulder like he was concerned for my safety, "I'm off to learn how to make spaceships."

 
I'd memorized my new schedule by the time I made it down to the paddock where class would be held:

 
Monday: Magical Creatures, double Herbology, lunch, Arithmancy
Tuesday: Ancient Runes, break, Charms, lunch, double Defense
Wednesday: break, double Potions, lunch, double Transfiguration
Thursday: Magical Creatures, break, break, lunch, Arithmancy
Friday: Ancient Runes, break, Charms, lunch

 
When I looked up, I realized not many people had decided to continue taking Care of Magical Creatures. I was the only Ravenclaw present. There was only one blonde Gryffindor girl, a few Hufflepuffs, and a few Slytherins. The Gryffindor girl stayed near me the whole lesson as if she wanted to be my partner, even though it was mostly just a review of last year plus a brief safety lecture, as we'd be dealing with more dangerous creatures this year.

 
When the bell sounded, I headed quickly up the castle--the Gryffindor kept pace with me and decided to try her hand at conversing with a mute.

 
"So, you're the only Ravenclaw taking Care of Magical Creatures for N.E.W.Ts, eh?"

 
I nodded.

 
"No other Gryffindors either," she shrugged and held out her hand, "I'm Lynn Fritz."

 
"Jane Montague," I whispered.

 
"Maybe we should be partners. I definitely don't want to be with any of those Slytherins. I'm not sure Hufflepuffs can handle what Kettleburn's throwing at us this year."

 
I nodded.

 
"You sure are talkative," she laughed.

 
I turned red.

 
"Well, I'm off to a double period of Divination," she waved after we entered the castle, "see you later."

 
"Bye," I whispered a little too late. Even though I hadn't been set any homework yet, I decided to go to the library and read my Arithmancy textbook. I was over halfway done with it, and had also missed lunch, when I realized I was going to be late for class if I didn't hurry. Even with every short-cut I knew, I only just made it. I hurried to take the only unoccupied seat next to none other than Remus Lupin and managed to trip over myself. The desk broke my fall.

 
"You okay?" Remus whispered.

 
I nodded. Though that probably will have left a bruise.

 
Professor Vector started class a moment later, thankfully cutting off possibility of further conversation. At the end of class he assigned us an essay based on the first couple chapters of the book. No doubt we'd have the same assignment for all the chapters. I could easily get at least three or four done this evening.

……

The next morning I had Ancient Runes with, much to my dismay, Fifi and Veronica. James and Sirius were also in the class; James waved as I took a seat on the opposite side of the room. Fifi was trying to bag Sirius as her boyfriend, and I didn't want to sit anywhere near her.

 
I spent the break between Ancient Runes and Charms in the library doing the homework I'd been set already that morning. I finished just in time to make it to class with a reasonable about of time to spare. The Charms class was huge; all the Ravenclaw girls were taking it, along with all four Gryffindor boys. Lynn Fritz from my Care of Magical Creatures class was also there. I took the seat Tavi had thankfully remembered to save me. He knew I liked the end seat, so I had nobody on my right side. James and Lily were in front of me, Sirius on the other side of Tavi, and Remus and Peter behind. Lynn was next to Lily and Fifi was doing her best to attract Sirius' attention on his other side. I hoped this isn't where I would always sit in this class.

 
"So are you friends with all the Gryffindors now?" I whispered to Octavius as quietly as I could.

 
"What can I say? They love me," he grinned. Sirius punched him in the shoulder and drew his attention away from me. I couldn't say that I minded.

……

The Saturday evening after the first full week back, all the girls were getting ready to go to the welcoming party the Gryffindors were throwing in their common room. Only fifth years and up were allowed to attend. Bridget and Ali were trying to convince me to go, and with every word, Fifi was looking more and more like she'd swallowed some polyjuice potion or something.

 
"It will be such a great time," Bridget urged, "come on, Jane. If you aren't having a good time in the first five minutes, you can leave. It's not that long of a walk back to our common room from theirs."

 
"This will be a great opportunity to make new friends," Ali added, "Octavius Pepper, Jane? I mean he is good looking I guess, but he's so weird."

 
I made a mental note to tell Tavi that Ali Bashir said he was good looking--I'd just edit out the 'I guess' portion.

 
"Not a great way to get her to come out, Ali," Bridget rolled her eyes, "seriously, Jane. I was talking to Lily Evans yesterday and you came up--"

 
"What?" I said, shocked.

 
"I guess that Gryffindor girl you have class with--what's her name? Fitz?"

 
"Lynn Fritz," I whispered.

 
"Right, her. Well I guess she thought you looked like you needed a friend."

 
Apparently Bridget didn't know how to get me to come out with them either. Fifi and Veronica were finished getting ready and slammed the door on their way out.

 
"Anyway, I told her you'd come, so, get ready. Okay?"

 
"Bridget--" I started to protest.

 
"Just five minutes!" she gave me puppy dog eyes.

 
"I thought I'd start that essay Flitwick assigned--"

 
"Jane Montague, that essay was laying on your table in the common room drying and it looked pretty finished to me," Ali put her hands on her hips.

 
I was thankful it was only a short walk to Gryffindor Tower from Ravenclaw Tower. The portrait of the fat lady that concealed the entrance didn't seem very keen on letting students from other houses traipse on in to Gryffindor, but she didn't really have a choice. When the portrait swung open, the room was swarming with people (and unsurprisingly, not a Slytherin in sight) and decorated with scarlet and gold hangings. It seemed a lot cozier and a bit more battered than the elegant carved wood and slightly faded silk furniture in Ravenclaw Tower.

 
"Wow, great turnout," Bridget smiled.

 
"I'll go get some drinks," Ali disappeared into the crowd.

 
"Let's go mingle," Bridget grabbed my arm and drug me into the sea of people. It didn't take long for her to see somebody she knew and absolutely had to talk to. I stood a few feet away from her, and as she got more and more involved in conversation, I inched slowly away.

 
"Jane!"

 
Bloody hell, I cringed as someone called my name. I'd been so close to escape.

 
"I think this is the first party I've ever seen you at!" Lynn hurried up to me, "come on, the sixth year Gryffindors are about to have a toast."

 
"I--" it was useless to protest as she grabbed my arm and pulled me along.

 
"Jane!"

 
"Tavi?" I whispered, a bit shocked to see him standing among a gathering of Gryffindors.

 
"Everyone! This is Jane Montague!" Lynn pointed at me, giving me a last tug so I was in the circle of people, "this is Remus Lupin--"

 
"She's met all of us Fritz, we rode the train together," James threw a balled up candy wrapper at her.

 
"Right, sorry," she chucked a peanut at him that hit him in the forehead.

 
"Nice aim, Fritz," a voice very close behind me said.

 
I froze.

 
"We've got butterbeer, elderflower wine, orange fizz, or firewhiskey," SIrius listed for the entire group, "who wants what?"

 
Once everyone had their drinks, they all raised their glasses, but Lynn yelled halt before they'd even started.

 
"Jane, you haven't got a drink!"

 
"What would you like?" Sirius smiled down at me.

 
"I don't care," I whispered quietly.

 
"Here you go," it only took him a few moments to hand me a glass filled with a brown, strong smelling liquid, which I could only assume was firewhiskey. I instantly became nervous; I'd never drank this before.

 
"Who are you, by the way?" Sirius asked.

 
"Apparently you didn't meet her on the train ride," Lynn laughed, looking at Remus.

 
"Padfoot, mate, do you ever pay attention when people talk?" James asked him.

 
"Ye--I mean, not really, no," he shrugged.

 
"This is Jane Montague," Lynn piped up, "you better remember this time, because I won't introduce you again."

 
"Oh, right," he threw an arm around my shoulders, "I remember you. You're in Ravenclaw, right?" I nodded the affirmative, feeling like I also might have a small heart attack.

 
"AHEM! James cleared his throat louder than I though humanly possible and Sirius' arm slipped off my shoulders, "here's to what I'm hoping will be one of our best years at Hogwarts. May no stone be left unturned," James raised his glass, and almost the entire room shouted, "here, here!"

 
"Montague, huh?" Sirius' smooth voice again caught my attention as the other Gryffindors started to disperse, "like Romeo and Juliet, yeah?"

 
"You--you've read that?" I sounded like I'd just run up twelve flights of stairs I was so scared to be talking to somebody; this was possibly the first time anybody had tried to talk to me at a party, and it was Sirius Black of all people. He pranced around the school oblivious to everyone but his friends and the occasional attractive girl.

 
"Oh, yeah, well, uh, Professor Quirrell thinks it's important we learn about Muggle culture and stuff, you know," he shrugged, "it was assigned to me."

 
"Sirius, hi, how are you?" Fifi popped out of nowhere and greeted him like her best friend, "Jane," she said in a much less pleasant voice, not taking her eyes off Sirius.

 
"Great," he inched away, "I've actually got to talk to Pro-er-James about something for a moment."

 
Before Fifi even opened her mouth, he was gone. She turned on me.

 
"What do you think you're doing?" she spat.

 
"Wh-what do you mean?"

 
"You know perfectly well what I mean, trying to buddy up to all the Gryffindors and weasel your way to Sirius. Back off," she hissed.

 
"I'm not--"

 
"Jane, I want you to--oh, Fifi," Lynn stopped mid-sentence as she caught sight of LaFolle, "what do you want?"

 
"Just having a friendly chat with my dorm-mate here," Fifi said coldly.

 
"Right well I've got to properly introduce her to someone if you don't mind," Lynn said just as coldly, tugging me along without a backward glance at Fifi. She stopped behind a girl with unmistakable long red hair.

 
"Lily, this is Jane Montague!" Lily turned as Lynn introduced me, "Jane this is Lily Evans."

 
"Hi Jane! Nice to actually meet you," Lily held out her hand, "I heard your O.W.L. score in Potions was through the roof."

 
"Oh, uh…."

 
"So you're in Ravenclaw?" she asked, seeming to sense my awkward nature I nodded.

 
"Would you like another drink?" she asked me.

 
"No, thank you, I actually should be going--"

 
"Nonsense! You've been here for all of five minutes," Lynn protested, "one more drink!"

 
"Ok…" I hesitantly agreed. One more drink couldn't be too awful.

 
Unfortunately, Lynn returned with, in my opinion, a much too full glass of more firewhiskey. I sipped on it so as not to be rude while Lily and Lynn took over most of the talking. It wouldn't have been half bad if they didn't insist upon introducing me to everyone who came over to say hi to them; it seemed like Lily knew everyone.

……

Two hours and two drinks later, the full force of the firewhiskey hit me. I looked around for any sign of Octavius, who had disappeared with the Gryffindor boys a bit earlier.

 
"They've been up to something," I heard Lily hiss. Following her gaze, I saw the boys emerge from a staircase off to the side of Gryffindor tower. They were striding towards us, all looking rather pleased with themselves.

 
"What have you been doing?" Lily said suspiciously when the boys were near enough to hear.

 
"Just showing Pepper here around the place," James replied innocently, "oh, look, seats!"

 
He danced past Lily and Lynn pulled me along behind him. She sat us on a squashy couch, and Remus Lupin sank into the seat on my other side. Lily continued questioning the boys, but none of them would give her a straight answer, much to her frustration.
Nobody paid me any particular mind for the next fifteen minutes, and that was okay--the firewhikey had made me feel awful strange.

 
"Are you alright, Jane? You look a bit feverish," Remus finally inquired softly from beside me, sounding concerned.

 
"Oh, I'm fine," I said lazily, stifling a yawn.

 
"Do you need water or anything?" his brows knitted.

 
"No, no…" I closed my eyes, intending to rest them only for a moment, but when I opened them next I was staring into the enormous yellow-green eyes of my kneazle from flat on my stomach in bed.

 

*******

A/N: Just thought I'd drop in and let you know that all the chapter images have been and will continue to be made by me. They're not great, but they'll do.


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