Chapter 15 : You're Guaranteed to Run this Town
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Chapter Fifteen: You're Guaranteed to Run this Town
The letter came the next day. I was expecting at least some leeway, but was disappointed. Of course my mother was going to agree to let me spend the holidays with Claudia's family. She was always urging me to make connections and network while I was at school. She'd always claim that I would never know who I'd meet: the next Minister of Magic, or other important (prominent) members of an eventual Ministry.
Personally, there were times where I doubted if I really believed in the Ministry. Last year, I had taken a government class (again, at the urging of my mother) and had learned about the different systems worldwide. America's Ministry, for instance. Well, they didn't truly have a Ministry, but it was interesting. America's Wizarding World was run by the people within it – I had supposed that it was similar here, since the community voted for the Minister of Magic…but it seemed different.
Anyways, the owl landed in front of me at breakfast, looking at me expectantly. I rolled my eyes, reaching deeply into my pocket to pull out two knuts. The owl hooted, took a nip of my pastry and flew off.
"Ew." I deposited the half-eaten pastry into a napkin and rolled my eyes.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse. There was a constant haze of rain that pelted Hogwarts castle. Going to Herbology had turned into an even more horrid chore than usual. Dashing towards the greenhouses, Alex and I held our cloaks up over our heads. Sometimes, if I wasn't lazy, I'd cast a charm to keep us dry. Most of the time, though, we just went without and were thoroughly soaked through.
"You're going to get your fingers bitten off," Alex nonchalantly plucked the scissors from my hand and trimmed the growing cabbage herself. "Just because it's still young, doesn't mean it doesn't have teeth to bite with, you know."
I shrugged. "You know Herbology isn't my cup of tea."
"Which is strange," her lips twitched as she finished trimming off the leaves of our cabbage, "because you're an absolute Potions fanatic."
"Fanatic is kind of a strong word, don't you think?"
"Not strong enough."
Across the greenhouse, I spotted Oliver and a raven-haired girl struggling with pulling their cabbage out of the pot. There were beads of sweat on his brow as he heaved, arms straining against the pot. The girl rolled her eyes, casting him aside before waving her wand; the cabbage lifted out of its home with a pop sound.
"You can handle cutting it, right?" her voice was amused.
Red-eared, Oliver picked up the scissors and began trimming.
"She's missed half of this term," Alex muttered under her breath, raising an eyebrow at the girl, who's face was all cheekbones and almond-shaped eyes. "I have nearly all my classes with her, and she only shows up to half of them."
"Isn't she in our house?" I was beginning to forget who was a Gryffindor and who wasn't. Advantages of keeping to yourself, don't you know.
Well, except for I'm blind as a bat and missed the Hufflepuff scarf currently falling off the crook of her arm.
"No," Alex rolled her eyes and crossed her arms.
"…Just kidding?" I managed. "I didn't see the Hufflepuff scarf!"
"I really wonder if you try to see things, or if you're truly oblivious to it all." Alex replied nonchalantly, after face-palming herself out of my stupidity. "Besides, Alice Wang is the only competition I have!"
"For what?" I stared at her.
Alex made a face and an impatient noise. "For my internship…you know, what I've been telling you about for the past…who knows, couple years?"
"Oh, yeah." I must admit that today was not my brightest day. My observational skills were currently out of order. "That internship. The one in which you want to apply to travel abroad and learn about various plants and their properties?"
"Yes, the very one." Alex gave her eyes another roll, but she smiled all the while. "I saw her asking Sprout for a letter of recommendation, too. I wouldn't be too pleased to be paired with Wood, either." She watched their interactions carefully. "Is there any subject that he's particularly good at?"
Alex didn't mean to sound…well, pretentious. But at that moment, she really did. I had never pinned my best friend as the type of person to sound that way.
"He's great at Charms." I found myself saying stoutly. "How is he at Transfiguration?"
"Oh, yeah," Alex's face brightened (I don't know why). "I forgot he's in that class!" But then her face dropped. "Damn, I forgot that McGonagall wants to have a meeting to discuss how I'm doing in that class."
We spent the rest of the class in silence. Alex trimmed and helped trim some of the other cabbages and I just didn't have much to say, anyway.
I was more preoccupied with the fact that I would be spending the holidays with Claudia's family.
"When I'm Minister of Magic," Drew was saying, his brows knitted together as he tried to complete some Government homework, "I'm going to probably put these miserable legislations out of work."
I looked at him. Rain poured down the windows, thunder crackled outside and there were brief flashes of lightning. The library looked dreary – drearier than I've ever seen it. Many people were inside, hunched over their textbooks, trying to cram extra information into their brains or attempt to finish homework.
The thunder was a bit distracting.
"These legislations seem almost ridiculous." He rolled his eyes. "Do we need ten treaties with the Mountain Trolls of the east?"
"I'm sure there is a valid reason for those treaties," I said reasonably, lifting myself up from the chair so I could stretch. "After all, it would be terrible if they invaded."
"They ought to be put in their proper place," Drew replied. "Who says they've got the technology to even try to invade? Wizards have magic, what do they have?"
His tone was savage, and as I looked down at him from my standing position, his face looked almost menacing.
"Proper place?" I inquired, my tone soft – I didn't want to offend, after all. "I don't know what you mean."
"Really?" Drew looked up at me, pushed his glasses back and leaned against his chair. "Mountain Trolls, Giants, Elves – they think they've got equal status to wizards, but in reality, they don't."
I kept my face neutral.
"They've got limited resources, while we have many. They come to the Ministry with their little treaties and we sign them only because we want to keep up appearances; I don't know why we should bother with it. It's a waste of tax money and honestly, society would be a lot cleaner if we didn't have to put up with their lot."
Their lot? I felt slightly disgusted. My tongue wouldn't move, but I wanted to disagree. My parents, especially my father, had always thought that magic should be equally distributed. It wasn't fair that it was completely under control by wizards and witches – humans. He believed strongly that Elf magic was just as strong, and that if humans hoarded magic selfishly, that it would ultimately corrupt us.
That was what I had been raised to believe – it was something that I felt strongly about.
But, still, Drew looked so sure of himself and when he smiled, my stone heart seemed to disappear. It couldn't hurt to hear him out, right? Right?
"Er," I managed a single sound, cleared my throat and tried again. "How do you feel about Muggle-born witches and wizards?" I asked, faux-curious. "Are they a part of that lot?"
Drew's features twisted themselves into one of amusement. He laughed. "No! No! That's different."
I didn't see the difference.
"Humans, with the superior intellect – it doesn't matter if magic is passed down through blood; we still have the smarter brain. It makes sense for us to dictate their lives."
I didn't think we were superior.
A part of me was ashamed of the answer.
"I'm glad we think similarly on subjects." Drew smiled, reaching out for me. He cupped my face, his lips pushing on mine.
I couldn't enjoy the kiss. Not with those thoughts whirling in my head. I kissed him back, but my heart wasn't into it.
How could I? Would I have supported him if he ran for Ministry? Could I ever support those beliefs? They were radical; and although my father's own beliefs were radical, too, Drew's were radical in the opposite way.
If he believed so fervently in Magic is Might, then, well…which side would he choose when it came down to Muggle-borns and Purebloods?
"I'm going to go back to the Gryffindor Tower." I said to him, my voice coming out in a squeak. I leaned back to him, pressing my lips against his, grazing them in a gentle kiss.
"I'll walk you." Drew began gathering his stuff.
"It's okay." I said again, my voice strangled and forced. "I'll see myself back. You should finish studying."
"Are you sure?" His brows knitted together again, and his glasses drooped.
"I'm sure." I hoisted my book-bag over my shoulder, shooting him a smile before leaving the library.
The look on his face was burned onto my mind. I didn't know how I should feel. Guilt chewed at me as I walked away, the library doors swinging behind me.
I'm happy, right? He's great. We're great. Everything's going to be fine. So...we don't agree on everything. We don't see eye to eye on this politics thing. It's fine, right? Couples disagree all the time… Are we a couple? Why do I feel so guilty? He kissed me! We're together! We're progressing.
I took in a breath.
Everything is alright.
I bumped into Claudia. Literally.
Our heads collided with each other as though we were crash-test dummies.
Both of us dropped what was in our hands and fell to the floor. Her ink bottle rolled out of her bag, rolling until it collided with the wall with a soft tinkle.
"Sorry!" I exclaimed, struggling up and stretching out my hand to help her.
"Is this your ink bottle?" a girl leaned over and picked up Claudia's bottle. She stood, long, raven-colored hair swinging as she did so. "Are you guys okay? Major traffic accident in the halls." She pulled Claudia up and handed her the bottle.
"You're Alice, right?" I recognized the hair.
Alice smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling. She showed all her teeth when she smiled. "I believe we have Herbology together?"
Claudia was brushing her knees and picking up the remainder of her fallen objects.
"Sorry, Claudia. I didn't see you." My lips twisted themselves into a smile. "Are you alright?"
"Fine, fine." She murmured. Claudia hoisted her own bag up on her shoulders. I noticed that she clutched a thick volume to her chest. "I'm off." She scurried out of the hall, out into the rain.
That left Alice and I staring at each other in the hallway like idiots.
"I didn't get your name." Alice's voice was pleasant, with a Welsh twinge. She held out her hand to me, waiting to make my acquaintance.
"Charlotte," I stumbled over my own name, suddenly awkward. "Charlotte Murray?"
"You question your own name?" Alice laughed. "Alice Wang. It's nice to meet you. Have we had other classes together?"
"It's one of those awkward things, you know," I laughed. "When you've had the same class with loads of the same people but you've never met."
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Happen to you frequently, then?"
"Yes," I admitted, embarrassed.
She laughed appreciatively and gripped my hand in a friendly way. I always knew I liked Hufflepuffs for a particular reason. Most of them were cheery and friendly.
"Where are you off to?" Alice was tall, I realized. Very tall. She towered over me, her long hair probably taller than I was. She was graceful looking, with a long, elegant neck and almond-shaped eyes; her face was sprinkled with freckles.
"Away from the library," I managed. "Thought I was going to swing by the Gryffindor common room, but I'm not quite sure. What about you?"
"Dunno," Alice shrugged. "I often just wander the halls until I bump into someone I know. Frequently, it's Lindsey Adams."
"Lindsey Adams?" I inquired.
"Oh, yes," she nodded. "She's a fellow Hufflepuff, but she's always causing mischief. You probably have heard her."
"Heard her?" I felt stupid, repeating all these things.
"She's a Sixth Year and American," said Alice brashly. "And a loud one at that. She's always talking over someone else; often with the Weasley twins?"
"Oh!" that sparked a memory in my brain. A short girl, mousy brown hair, mischievous eyes and an accent that stood out from the rest, "I've definitely heard her."
"Yeah," Alice sighed. "I should go find her, though. She's probably trying to sneak into the Slytherin common room again."
"She fancies one of those cold-blooded Slytherins. I dunno why, most of that lot aren't even attractive, but she's set on him." She shrugged again. "I'm going to continue my wanders. I'll see you in Herbology."
Alice was about to walk away when I called after her.
"You're trying out for the Internship in India, aren't you?"
She turned, a brazen smile on her face. "Yes, yes I am."
Returning to the common room, I realized that Alice's friend, Lindsey, was sitting on one of our sofas. Between the twins, she snoozed, missing one of her eyebrows.
"She is definitely not a Gryffindor." I said to them when I sighed into the armchair by the fireplace. Thunder could be heard overhead and the twins chuckled.
"She's a good friend," Fred told me. "And look at her, isn't she cute when she's knocked out?"
I shook my head. "What did you guys do?"
"What haven't we done?" George inquired. "Lindsey tried breaking into the Slytherin common room but her dungbomb failed and ended up burning off one of her eyebrows.
"How does a dungbomb fail?" I immediately regretted asking as soon as the question left my lips.
The twins launched into this insanely long rant about how some dungbombs are not foolproof and that sometimes, they went stale during pranks or randomly exploded at inappropriate times.
"She was covered, covered in dung." Fred shook his head, looking disgusted at the memory. "We managed to clean her up with spells, but all we could really do was lug her into the common room. For the longest time, we just let her stink up the place because we didn't really know what else to do."
I gave him a pointed look. "She looks clean now. Please tell me that you two did not…"
"NO!" Fred roared. "Bollocks, no!"
"We bumped into Claudia," George replied. "It was odd, because she hardly ever talks to us. But, she saw Lindsey lying there and magicked her up the stairs and managed to get her cleaned up. I think it's one of the nicest things she's ever done." His voice practically sang with respect for Claudia. "She didn't ask us any questions, just returned ol' Lindsey to us and went on her merry way."
I blinked. "How long ago was this?"
"Half an hour?" he scratched his chin, thinking hard. "Took Claudia at least fifteen minutes to get Lindsey cleaned up and smelling like her normal self. Of course, the girl didn't wake up at all – I hope she hasn't got a concussion…"
"Afterwards," Fred picked up where his twin left off, "she just levitated her onto the sofa, gave us a nod of recognition and went through the portrait hole."
That was strange. Claudia had been in the common room at least half an hour ago. I had bumped into her in the corridor outside of the library. Where had she been between those times? It took barely ten minutes to walk to Gryffindor Tower from the library, and Claudia had a particularly fast stride, too.
And then there was that book clutched to her chest. I bet she had stolen that from the library, but there wasn't enough evidence to safely assume that without consequences. Besides, how in Morgana's name did she steal a book out of the library without arousing Madam Pince's suspicions or her angry screams? Did Madam Pince even realize that she was missing a book?
Er, I guess I wasn't exploring all the details. Claudia could have, after all, legally checked out the book from Madam Pince; but, it just didn't make sense with her actions. Why would she be so hasty in hiding the title of it? And why would she clutch it so to her chest?
I was lost in my thoughts, but Lindsey was starting to come-to on our sofa.
"Gryffindor common room!" Fred said cheerily. "How's the head, Linds?"
"Feels like I'm going to crack in half." Said the girl honestly, her accent brutally contrasting with that of the twins. "Why are you talking so loudly?"
"She's acting as if she's hung-over." George shook his head. "Linds! Are you alright?"
"I feel normal," the girl replied, trying to stand up but failing. "A little whoozy. What on earth happened?"
"Failed dungbomb." George sighed. "Such a pity when it happens."
"So I was not allowed access into the Slytherin common room?" asked Lindsey, her head hung in disappointment. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" her wail was shocking and I nearly fell off the armchair.
"I forgot to warn you," Fred cringed. "She's loud."
"NOOOOOO. DAVID WILL NEVER BE MINE!"
"Does she have an off switch?" I groaned.
After much explaining, Lindsey was calmed down. Fred also offered to buy her a new book on American History. "Magic on the Frontier!" He explained. "Just pipe down!"
"Sorry, sorry." Lindsey said, hushed.
She was a petite girl, barely coming up to my shoulders.
"Are we even allowed to have non-Gryffindors in the common room?" I inquired, crossing my legs and staring at the twins. "I don't want to be caught up in your mischief."
"Mischief?" George asked, faux-appalled. "Why, Lots, I'm hurt that you'd think that of us."
"Ha, ha, bloody ha," Alex walked into the common room, eyebrow cocked and lips turned upright into a sarcastic sneer. "Mischief might as well be your middle names."
"They're Mary, by the way." Fred winked.
"Your middle name is Mary?"
"Well, not really," George started. "They're technically not, since we both have different middle names…"
"But the name Mary really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?"
"You two are imbeciles, I swear." Alex's sneer was turned into a wide-grin. "Hello Lindsey." She greeted the petite brunette with a smile. "You might want to hide her from your brother, though." Her advice was well-heeded because as soon as the twins bustled their friend up the boys' staircase, Percy Weasley came barreling through the portrait hole, cursing up a storm.
"I didn't know Percy Weasley knew such words." I commented to my friend.
"It's the rain," Alex explained. "Torrential downpour and whatnot. We're all going mad!"
"Is Lindsey often in our common room?"
"Sometimes," my friend took the armchair across from me and cast a quick spell to dry her wet hair. "I think Fred's taken a fancy to her, to be honest."
"Still, he's aiding her in her attempt to break into the Slytherin common room so she can stalk some random Slytherin by the name of David?"
"He's an imbecile." Alex sighed. "He should just tell her that he fancies her, considering she's completely oblivious to it all."
"What do you think of Drew?" there was a brief pause in our conversation, and I reignited it with a quick question. I had suddenly remembered the conversation in the library and the strange feeling I got when he spoke of those topics.
"What do you mean?" her dark blue eyes scanned my face, looking for signs of what sadness or whatever she was looking for.
"Like," I started to explain, "what do you think about his opinions?"
"I don't know many of them." She narrowed her eyes. "Except that he wants to one day become Minister of Magic. He also fancies you. And you fancy him; unless it has changed…"
"Well, no," I started, but stopped. "Hypothetically,"
"Yes?" Alex raised her tone, widening her eyes to look more innocent and trustworthy.
"Hypothetically," I tried again. "Hypothetically, if a couple had differing opinions…do you think it would still be able to work?"
Alex erased the suspicious look that had begun to cross her features. Instead, she pulled her lips into a reassuring smile. "I think so. As long as the couple is able to respect the other's opinions, I think it should be fine. The trouble lies in when the other disrespects the significant other's differing ones and is unable to cope with that."
"Ah," I smiled. I knew Drew was the former.
After all, how could he be Minister of Magic without having some sort of respect for the differing opinions among the people?
We paused our conversation again. I felt reassured; after all, Drew did not seem like the type of person who could forcibly alter a relationship based on the fact that I did not entirely share his views on many of the political policies passed within the Ministry.
The twins managed to smuggle Lindsey out, right under the nose of their brother, Percy. He was frowning in a corner, a book held so close to his face that his nose was touching the page. Without a word, the two Weasley twins hitched up their loud friend and made a mad dash for the portrait hole.
They nearly collided with Piper, who was coming back from class. She stopped in her tracks, nearly fell to the ground and barely held onto the side of the portrait to steady herself.
"What's the rush?" she inquired of them as they ran past her.
"Harboring fugitives, I'm afraid." Alex said, shaking her head with amusement in her tone of voice. "A non-Gryffindor in the common room."
"A Lindsey Adams, apparently." I told her.
"Lindsey Adams?" Piper's eyes widened dramatically. She sat down on the sofa, her book-bag falling to the floor, her books pouring out of it carelessly. "Lindsey Adams. She's this high –" Piper held her hands up to a certain height (not very high). "—and has this strange fascination for American history, with choppy brown bangs and a strange accent?"
"It's not that weird," I replied. "It's just American."
"Same thing," Piper replied with a shrug. "Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that Lindsey Adams is key to helping us in our ultimate goal!"
"It's been so long since we've discussed this goal that I've forgotten." Alex yawned, stretching her arms over her head as she stretched against the back of the armchair.
"The plan to pretty much dethrone Isabella!" she lowered her voice, and completed the sentence in hushed tones. "Lindsey Adams is looked after by her supposed Hufflepuff 'older sister' – Alice Wang!"
"Alice Wang was one of Lindsey's first friends. She's also quite chummy with that Diggory boy, but that's besides the point! Alice is as close as Hufflepuff has to an Isabella."
"Except for Alice is quite nice and Isabella isn't?" I said, pulling my lips to the right and pouting them slightly.
Alex frowned. "She's my internship rival."
"You can suck up to her for the cause can't you?"
"Isabella hasn't been that bad, lately. The paint balloons and other irritating things have stopped, right?"
"Yeah, stopped for how long?" Piper had a duh-face and rolled her eyes. "When will she begin them again? For the moment, she's obsessed with tormenting some Ravenclaws, but seriously, we can use Alice!"
"I don't want to 'use' anyone." I told her point-blank. "I am not that type of a person."
"You know what I mean…" Piper sighed. "I don't mean use as in use and then dispose of without a second though! I mean like, use her network to network out more and then somehow expose the cruelty of Isabella. If she's exposed, then no one will be able to tolerate her anymore!"
"For some reason, I feel like this is slightly flawed." I replied. "Say we expose her cruelty, then what? How do we know for sure that the school will suddenly stop tolerating her?"
"Because they tolerate her for a reason." Alex sucked in a loud breath. "I hate to admit this, but Piper, I think you have a good thought."
"They tolerate her because yes, she's a bitch most of the time, but otherwise, she's quote-unquote 'not that bad of a person'. You should see how nice she can be when she tries to be."
"Ugh." I wanted to be out of this. I didn't care anymore.
I missed my comfortable niche. The niche I had lived in for the past six years.
But a voice inside of my head nagged at me. It nagged at me in a way that I felt myself pulling my lips into a smile at Piper. If it weren't for these girls, I wouldn’t have Drew. I wouldn't have come out of my shell enough to be in anything.
And although I hated to admit it, I had to be honest: seeing Isabella Perez fall would be kind of gratifying.
Author's Note: I suck as a person. I know you're tired of my apologies. I know I'd be if I was a reader. However, life is quite tiring and time-consuming so I hope you do understand and empathize with me. :) Anyways, I feel like this is more of a filler chapter but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. There is more coming! I hope to finish this story, soon. It's my goal!
In the meantime, please, it'd be wonderful if you could take the time to leave a review! Even if it takes me awhile to respond, you can bet that I do read every single one and send thousands of love-vibes in your direction. :) I appreciate everything! ♥
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