Chapter 17 : Rumour Has It
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“Let’s get to it,” Charlotte had said as she stood up. She was watching me warily, like she was worried I was going to suddenly turn into a werewolf or something. I was just nervous alright? It’s not like everyone’s dad could do this at thirteen. Just mine. My stupid, famous, universally adored Dad. Not that I have anything against my dad. Just, y’know, his spotless reputation. It makes mine slightly less easy to hide.
But anyway, this whole patronus thing had been hanging over me like a cloud for weeks. Last time we tried this I sucked, basically. Demeter had been a nice distraction, whenever Charlie wasn’t hexing her, but now there was just Charlie and it wasn’t so easy when there was no drama happening. Actually scratch that, because something weird is definitely going on with my beaters but I don’t have time to think about that right now. I’m trying to concentrate on producing a respectable patronus.
I closed my eyes, trying to conjure up my happiest memory. I felt a bit Peter Pan-like. Happy thoughts make you fly, and all that. So I thought of my first victory on the Gryffindor Quidditch team way back in second year, “Expecto patronum!” I said as boldly as I dared and opened my eyes. Nothing had happened. Again.
Next to me, Charlie was trying the same thing “Expecto patronum!” she said, and her wand tip glowed white for a second, before flickering out like a bad light bulb. Not as good as the last time but still something.
She glanced at me, shrugging. “So, I suck,” she said, a grin on her face, “What else is new?”
It was a comfort to look around the room. Nobody seemed very successful. So I guess Professor Penny had been right when he’d said producing a full formed patronus was hard.
David seemed to be struggling to get anything going and George and Tom seemed more interested in hexing the stupid bow on Olivia Brown’s head into funny shapes. I was tempted to join them. I don’t like having to try at stuff.
I tried a few more times, each with more success than the last until finally, a cloud of silvery fog erupted from my wand and hovered in the air for a few minutes. I was very pleased with myself. I was half tempted to write to my dad to boast but I decided to wait until whatever it was had legs first. Charlotte’s patronus appeared to have wings. It didn’t appear to have a body quite yet but it was obviously a bird. She seemed quite pleased by that.
Then I remembered that I needed to ask her something. “What happened in the hall, this morning?” I asked, prodding her shoulder. She swatted my hand away.
“Nothing really.” She said with a shrug. She was lying, I could tell. So I told her that. She didn’t look too impressed with my skills of deduction.
“Honestly, it was just a prank.” She hissed, glancing around, “It was just a stupid envelope…just some Bubotuber puss.”
I grabbed her arm, “Bubotuber puss?! Who on earth sends someone Bubotuber puss?”
“I don’t know…” She said, frowning “But it was your ex-girlfriend’s little sister who acted as courier.”
“Come on, I know you and Demeter didn’t exactly hit it off, but I think that’s a little harsh even for her.”
“Are you defending her?” Charlotte asked me, as her eyebrows rose beneath her hair. I rolled my eyes.
“No, but you don’t even know it was her, do you?” I pointed out. It was her turn to roll her eyes.
“It was her little sister. That’s a bit much of a coincidence.”
I let go of her and sat down. It was a stretch that Demeter could go from girlfriend to evil mastermind in not very long. I could see Charlotte’s point of view, even if I disagreed, but I didn’t get why she was so….vehement about the whole thing. Demeter wasn’t a saint, but I wasn’t going to forget the tears I had to deal with as she sobbed about ‘Nasty Charlotte’.
I didn’t say any of this. I just didn’t disagree. Girls are stubborn and I didn’t want to get into trouble.
God, listen to me. I’ve turned into my dad.
Charlotte sat down on the edge of the desk, twirling her wand in her fingers. “I’m sorry…” she said reluctantly. “I’m just…sure that she’s capable of this.”
I shrugged, not wanting an argument. That’s the thing with this new Girlfriend Charlotte. Friend Charlotte was easier to deal with sometimes. The perks of our new arrangement were pretty excellent though.
“It doesn’t matter.” I said, “Leave it in Minerva’s extremely capable hands.”
She smiled at me from under her eyelashes and I had a feeling I would be in for a treat later. See? What did I tell you… perks.
I didn’t want to drop the Demeter-is-out-to-get-me thing but it was easier. I could see it bothered James, and I could almost understand why, although he hadn’t spent weeks on the wrong end of her temper. Anyway, there was (probably) a reason they’d lasted for more than five minutes even if I couldn’t see it.
James’ taste in women had always bewildered me before now. Actually, the fact he’d actually gone for me in the first place sort of confused me. Unless I was more like Demeter than I’d thought. God, that’s a thought and a half. Excuse me while I jump off the Astronomy Tower.
Anyway, Defence ended mercifully quickly and all I had left was Runes and I was just hurrying back to the common room afterwards so I could find James for some long overdue couple time, I was accosted by my prefect buddy.
“Charlotte.” He said, breathless.
“Hi Will,” I said. I wondered where he’d been. It was like he’d just sprinted half way up the castle.
“I’ve been…I’ve been looking for you.” He said, trying to catch his breath, “I’ve got our rounds for the month. Remember it’s our turn to patrol”
“Oh yeah…” I said, although truthfully I’d forgotten all about it. “Right, thanks.”
He looked at me funny. Then he said “No problem. I’ll see you later.” And then he was gone, back towards the staircase. He didn’t look like he was going up to our tower. Weird. Although then again, William was hardly poster boy for the ordinary, so whatever he was doing I didn’t really give much thought to. He was never up in the tower anyway.
“You should tell her.” I froze. Somewhere on the staircase someone was having a heated discussion. “Tony, you need to tell her how you feel.”
Tony. Tony Wood, by any chance? I took a step back so I was hidden from view of anyone on the stairs.
“I can’t do that, Becky.” I heard him say. He sounded sad.
“Why not?” And there was Bludgers. I couldn’t actually remember his real name now I thought about it.
“Because she’s dating James. Or are you two blind? Didn’t you see them at the Quidditch party?”
“Pssht!” Becky said, and I could picture her flapping her hand as if that meant nothing to her “for all of three days. Just go and tell her you like her.”
Oh oh OH. Understanding exploded inside my head. I understood everything now. It was actually very obvious and I cursed myself for being an idiot and not realising before.
Was I that unaware? Apparently so. Typical. Just as I thought my life had sorted itself out rather nicely.
“She hates me. You know I threatened to tell everyone about her and James? They’ve been sneaking around for ages now.”
“Seriously?” Becky sounded surprised. I was surprised too, but only because I couldn’t believe he hadn’t told them.
“That’s shady,” Bludgers agreed, his deep voice carrying down the staircase, louder than the others.
I wished then that William hadn’t found me. Then I wouldn’t have been five minutes later than I should have been to get to the staircase. And I might have made it before they’d started talking and then I wouldn’t know anything and I could continue on in mindless bliss.
I’d have liked that. But whatever, should have, would have, and could have. It didn’t matter. Although even though now I knew, I wouldn’t do anything about it. Knowing me, and I knew myself very well indeed, I would most likely bury my face in the sand like an ostrich and pretend nothing had changed. But wow, the shit had really hit the fan. Boys made life complicated.
“Look, Tony, just tell her you like her. She might feel the same.”
I felt like snorting but I kept quiet.
“I doubt It.” he said, “but I guess I’ve got nothing to lose. I honestly thought she liked me back, you know.”
Oh god. I had to get out of there but my legs wouldn’t move. Like listening in to this conversation was the most important thing in the world.
“You could always tell James that she lead you on. Make out like she was all over you until the second he was free.” Becky suggested, and I felt like slapping her.
“That’s not true though.” Tony said.
“So? He won’t know that.” She said, “If you don’t, I might. It sounds like it might be entertaining.”
“God Becky, you do that, you’ll have no friends left. This is James Potter we’re on about. Not just anybody. He’s a Potter. People like them.”
“Don’t know why though.” She huffed.
“Weren’t we heading downstairs?” Bludgers said suddenly, “I don’t know about you but I don’t fancy spending the night on the stairs.”
Oh dear. I heard them start descending, so I turned tail and sprinted up the corridor towards the secret passage that I had used so often with James.
Then I waited until I was sure they had gone, and only when I was so sure I’d have bet my life on it, did I climb back into the corridor and set off towards the tower.
I had no idea what to do. I was so freaked out, I couldn’t even force myself to enjoy James’ company and in the end he got fed up and with a pout that even Victoire Weasley herself would have been proud of told me to go to bed because I was no fun.
I told Rose eventually. She and Albus were the easiest options. They weren’t friends with Demeter, nor were they close to the Quidditch players. I felt I could rely on them to provide me with reasonable advice.
I was wrong. Rose had been horrified and Albus about ready to punch Tony Wood. I’d had to force them both back into their seats and explain, in a very quiet voice, that I wanted to be sensible about it and not cause a fight.
They didn’t seem to like that very much.
“Charlotte, we have to do something!” Rose said earnestly, “otherwise there’s a real danger that Becky will do something that threatens you and James!”
“I know!” I said, “But what? He’ll lose half his quidditch team!”
“There are other players.” She said uncertainly.
“It’s a delicate situation.” Albus mused, chin on his hand. “And it requires a delicate solution.”
“Which would be?”
“Don’t look at me!” he said. Rose rolled her eyes and looked at me pointedly as if to say ‘Boys!’
“I think you should tell James,” she said, “or at least talk to Tony. Tell him you heard what he said and that you’re very sorry but you’re in a relationship with James.”
“It’s not Tony I’m worried about…” I said, even though that was a lie. I was just more worried about Becky.
“I know, she’s dangerous. I’ve shared her dormitory for five years, remember. She and Demeter are quite a lot to deal with.” She said. I laughed even though it was hardly funny.
“Why do you think I’m stuck with her all the time?” Albus said, avoiding a smack from his cousin.
“Shut up, just because you hate your roommates.” She said.
“Tony and Ryan are alright.” He said. Ryan! So that was his name. “They’re just way more into Quidditch than any sane person should be.”
“You do know who your brother is, don’t you?” I asked, grinning.
“I’m not the one dating him.” He replied.
“And thank goodness for that.” I said, laughing.
I left the library feeling no better. I hate boys. Maybe I should become a nun. Although sneaking James into the convent might just defeat the purpose.
Maybe I could persuade him to move to Peru. That might work out better.
Or maybe I could be an adult about it and try to sort out my problems.
I like Peru better.
James wasn’t in the common room when I got back. This was good. It gave me more time to pretend nothing was wrong.
Tony was there though. He looked at me when I climbed through the portrait hole, and I could have used the opportunity to sort out our messed up friendship, but I didn’t. I was too chicken, so I just smiled nervously and hurried up the stairs to my dormitory.
Now really, I’ve had quite a year and it’s not even Christmas yet. My Dad died, for god’s sake, which was something I had quite successfully managed to push to the back of my mind while all the Demeter stuff was going on. It was only when I was on my own in the dormitory that I really felt sad about it.
It’s been a stressful couple of days anyway, what with the assassination attempt. Okay, I’m being very overdramatic but still. Someone sent me bubotuber puss in the post. That only happens to really unpopular politicians or women who date really popular Quidditch players.
I would really hope James would come to me before believing anything Becky McOwen would say about me but I could never be sure what he would believe.
Which is bad because isn’t he my boyfriend and my best friend?
Oh my head hurts.
See? I am still alive! I've got a shiny new banner and a lot of free time so I've devoted some of it to trying to make up for how much I suck. I'm sorry it's been so long, but it's not as long as the break before so hopefully that makes up for it. Plus, it was quite eventful, wasnt it? Anyway, please please let me know your thoughts. Tell me you loved it, tell me it sucked. If you spot any mistakes, please tell me!