Disclaimer: JRK owns everything :)
"So have you done your half of the herbology project yet?"
We all looked up. Fred stood on the opposite side of the table, glaring at Max.
I could tell he was in the mood for arguing and felt an urge to duck under the table for safety.
Max's warm expression disappeared instantly.
"Uh oh," I muttered under my breath.
"It's not due until next Wednesday, Weasley," she snarled.
"And it's Sunday, Duchamp" Fred snapped, "Get a move on."
"I still can't believe Professor Longbottom put you together," I chuckled, "Is he trying to start World War three?"
Both Max and Fred ignored me.
"Get off your high horse," Max snapped at him, "I bet you haven't even started your half."
"Actually it's done," Fred folded his arms angrily.
"Yeah, sure," she sneered.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's supposed to mean that you're a lazy arse that never does any work."
"I do too do work!"
"Really? Because you seem too busy kissing my friends!" Max cried suddenly.
"I - what?" Fred said, baffled that someone was bringing this up.
I saw Dan, sitting on the other side of the table, go crimson red and lower her head in embarrassment.
"You are so full of shit Weasley!" Max cried, her voice now a high pitched shriek, "You think you can just go around...kissing whoever you want?"
"Um...actually…," Dan began timidly
"Shh," Max snapped at her, waving her away.
"I'm full of shit? You think I'm full of shit!?" Fred cried.
More and more people were turning to stare at them. Even teachers at the high table were frowning in our direction.
"Why don't you just piss off?" Max spat.
Her teeth were gritted and her fists were clenched. She looked about ready to climb over the table and punch him in the face.
"Don't tell me what to do," Fred hissed.
"I'll tell you whatever I bloody well please," she cried, almost exploding with rage. She was standing up now. The only thing between them was the large oak table, and given enough anger maybe even that wouldn't last long.
"Whatever..." Fred muttered turning away, "It's none of your business who I kiss."
"Oh that's right!" Max cried, "Start a fight and then just walk away." Dan slumped onto the table in exhaustion. Everyone looked either pained or annoyed at having to listen to their crap yet again. "You're a bloody coward, Weasley."
"Well at least I'm not a cold-hearted veela," Fred snarled.
At those words Max looked ready to explode. A vein was pulsing on her forehead. She hated being reminded of being a veela, and Fred knew it.
"YOU ARE SUCH A BLOODY ARSEHOLE!" she screeched, "WHY? WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE MY LIFE HELL? HUH?"
"YOU MAKE MY LIFE A LIVING HELL!" Fred roared.
"OH, SO WE'RE AGREED NOW?" Max cried exasperatedly, "YOU KNOW WHAT? I HATE YOU!"
"YOU ARE SO BLOODY INFURIATING!" Fred clutched his head in rage, "YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SO BLOODY DIFFICULT, DON'T YOU? YOU MAKE BLOODY MOUNTAINS OUT OF MOLEHILLS, AND YOU MAKE ME SO ANGRY I WONDER HOW I CAN SPEND FIVE SECONDS WITH YOU! EVERY TIME I SEE YOU I WANT TO BE SICK! EVER SINCE YOU CAME INTO THIS BLOODY SCHOOL ALL YOU'VE DONE IS MAKE MY BLOODY LIFE MISERABLE. BUT SOMEHOW YOU FORCE ME TO ARGUE BACK; EVERY BLOODY TIME. I CAN'T BLOODY STOP, AND YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE I BLOODY LOVE YOU!"
Did Freddie just say...? Oh. My. God.
There was now total silence in the great hall. Time seemed to slow down completely as Max and Fred stared at each other with wide, fearful eyes.
Oh god, this is awkward. Dan was looking from Max to Fred, back and forth, her mouth open wide in shock.
I stared at Max. She seemed to be processing what he had just said. Even Alex had pulled herself away form Newt Scamander to pay shrewd attention to both of them.
Finally, after what seemed a year, Fred spluttered.
"I mean, I hate you!" he stammered, "Of course I-I-I hate you! I don't...I don't..."
Max was still staring, lips trembling, eyes wide.
I looked at Fred. He seemed determined to find some way to erase his words.
Well, this just got really awkward.
"J-just get the bloody herbology project done will you?" he said, not looking at her.
She was still frozen where she stood. Collective whispers spread around the room.
Fred stormed away without another word, keeping his head down.
Loud talking followed him out. Max still stood frozen.
Suddenly she snapped out of it. She sat down, picking up her fork gingerly.
"So did we have any potions assignments to finish before the holidays? Because if we did I'm screwed. I haven't done anything."
Dan, Alex and I exchanged looks.
"Or maybe charms. Didn't we have that essay on the thing? The thing about the...the thing?"
"I mean, Flitwick can hardly expect us to finish it for tomorrow,” she cried, “I mean, we started the thing two days ago! I mean, it's hard, you know, to finish an essay in two days."
"We didn’t have an essay," Dan began, but before she could finish Max got up abruptly.
"I have to go," she looked ready to be sick.
She dashed from the great hall, followed by more whispers.
Once she was gone Dan started laughing.
"It's hardly funny," Alex reproached her, "Should we follow her?"
"He loves her," Dan chuckled to herself, "We all thought this day would come, didn't we? Damn, never thought Freddie would finally get up the balls to say that."
I shook my head in disbelief.
"I should go a find her, you know, calm her down," I said, getting up from the table.
* * *
Max sat up from where she lay on her back on her four-poster, staring up at the ceiling.
"Oh, hi Char," she said, a little too non-chalently, "What's up?"
I moved tentatively towards her, fearing a sudden explosion. But no explosion came. Max kept her calm, almost peaceful expression.
"Are you OK?" I asked her.
"I'm fine!" she exclaimed, her voice too high pitched to be normal, "I'm fine! Why wouldn't you think I'm fine? Because I am! Never been finer! I am the queen of the land of fineness! No one is more fine than me."
"Jeez, would you stop saying 'fine'," I said, "It's starting to sound strange."
Max inhaled deeply and then exhaled noisily, as though trying to cleanse her mind of all angry thoughts.
"It's yoga," she said, as though I had asked "It calms the mind."
"So, how are you dealing with this?" I asked.
"Dealing with what?" she asked innocently.
"Freddie declaring his love for you," I said bluntly.
I saw her flinch a little, but she quickly composed herself.
"Please," she said, chuckling unconvincingly, "That's nothing. Really, it was probably just a joke...or a dare or something."
"He seemed pretty serious," I argued.
"Well it's not true!" she exclaimed angrily, making me jump a little, "It can't be true!"
"It's not true, Charlie," she muttered warningly, "Now, what's going on with you?"
I sighed, giving up on all hopes of trying to make my best friend normal. I sat on the end of her bed, and played with my fingernails nervously.
"I got a letter from Elliot."
Max sat up immediately, looking at me with deep interest, "Wait...is this the really, really hot Elliot from the wedding? My sister's brother in law Elliot?"
I nodded. She squealed. I cringed.
"OHMYGOD THIS IS SO EXCITING! I BET YOU'LL FALL IN LOVE AS YOU WRITE TO EACH OTHER AND THEN YOU'LL GET MARRIED AND HAVE LOADS OF BABIES! THIS IS SO EXCITING! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU DIDN'T TELL ME SOONER! SO WHEN DID YOU WRITE BACK?"
I was too petrified with fear to answer her question. Marriage? Hell no. I've been to one wedding and it was enough to put me off matrimony for life. Babies? Children are terrified of me! Seriously, I smile at them and they run away. Plus my own children would probably be so angsty and problematic that I'd kill them before they reached their fifth birthday.
In my opinion, all children should be locked up, away from normal people, until the age of twelve. No, make that thirteen. Because, lets face it, all of them are morons.
Basically the idea of marriage and babies made me want to hurl.
"You did write back, didn't you?" Max's voice had thankfully calmed down considerably and she was frowning at me in concern.
My silence answered her question. She rolled her eyes.
"Merlin Charlie, are you thick?"
"Did you or did you not fancy him?"
"And doesn't this letter tell you that he likes you?"
"Then why the hell haven't you written back?"
"Because I have no bloody idea of what to write!" I cried at her, "I'm not like you or Dan! I can't just smile and make a boy fall at my feet, or write a few short sentences in a letter. It baffles me that he even took any interest, because look at me! I'm a bloody mess!"
I gestured down to my school skirt that was too long, scruffy tights, dusted with mud, scuffed and dirty shoes, and my un-ironed shirt that hung over me in large creases.
Max smiled sympathetically at me.
"You're a mess, Charlie Walker," she confirmed, with a small laugh, and she put her arms around me in a hug.
I surprised myself by clutching back at her tightly. I wasn't usually the hugging type. I'm all about the personal space, but for once I needed someone to hold me.
"I know," I muttered sulkily, burying my face in her shoulder.
She patted me twice on the back and released me.
"Right," she said, "Do you want to write back?"
"Yes," I admitted, "But-"
"I'll help," she smiled warmly at me, "It'll be the most beautiful, poetic letter in the history of letters. He won't ever suspect that in real life you never brush your hair, or paint your nails, or-"
"Thanks Max," I cut her off, "I get the picture."
She grinned, "He'll only remember the fabulous Charlotte, that beautiful girl he met over the holidays and can't seem to stop thinking about."
I must have blushed so furiously at that, because she burst out into a fit of giggles.
"Just don't make it too mushy," I muttered.
"No worries," she grinned, "It'll be just right!"
* * *
As Max sat down eagerly the love letter that she claimed would be the envy to all other love letters, I remembered that I had arranged to meet with Potter in the library. As I walked into the common room I noticed that there was only one person there.
Fred sat in an armchair, scribbling an essay on a large piece of parchment.
He looked up and saw me.
"Just to be clear," he said, "I don't want to talk about it."
"Ok," I answered, continuing on my path towards the portrait hole.
"I mean, I was joking obviously!" he cried out suddenly.
"So, you do want to talk about it?" I grinned, swiveling around to face him.
"No!" he snapped, "I just thought I should tell you, since you're Max's best friend, that I was completely, one hundred percent joking when I said I loved her. Of course I don't love her!"
"Of course you don't," I echoed, "Why else would you yell it out for all the world to hear?"
"Exact-OI!" he looked outraged, "I do not love Max. Just say you believe me, please?"
"I could, but I'd be lying," I said, smirking at him. He narrowed his eyes.
"OK, I'll say this loud and clear," he leaned forwards, making sure to enunciate every syllable, "I. Love. Max. Duchamp-DAMN IT!" He smacked himself upside the head as though he was trying to get rid of any thoughts of her.
"Now I believe you," I smirked.
"It was a slip of the tongue," he protested.
"Whatever makes you happy Freddie," I said, getting up to make my way across towards the portrait hole.
"No! Come back here!" he yelled, "I swear to Merlin Charlie if you don't believe me-"
"Bye Freddie!" I smiled cheerily over my shoulder.
His protests followed me out through the portrait hole.
* * *
"You look happy," was my confused remark as Walker approached me in the library.
Walker with a happy expression on her face was about as likely to happen as Fred admitting to Max how he truly felt.
To my surprise she kept her dreamy grin on her face as she sat down.
"Am I not allowed to be happy, Potter?" she offered my a dazzling gleam of her white teeth.
"Don't grin like that Walker, you're blinding me," I said, holding up my hands to protect myself. But she wasn't fazed. She continued to grin like some sort of...love-struck idiot.
"So where's Faye?" she asked, looking around.
I waited for the snarky insult that was sure to come, but it didn't come.
"OK, seriously? What's wrong with you?" I demanded.
"What?" she asked, looking shocked at the accusation.
"Why didn't you make fun of me just then?" I asked, "You should have said something like 'So where's Faye? You should know, you're the one who's stalking her!'"
Walker threw back her head and laughed.
"Sorry Potter, didn't know you enjoyed being mocked, I'll add that in next time, shall I?"
I clapped my hands with enthusiasm, "That! Right there! That was all I wanted! Just a little bit of sarcasm!"
She chuckled again, but it was in far too friendly a way for me to feel entirely comfortable.
"So, are you going to tell me how you managed to talk to her into doing this?" she asked.
"We got partnered in Herbology, and I came up with a decent idea for our project."
"Really?" Walker narrowed her eyes, "Go on."
"Yeah," I continued, "And she said it was good, so we got to talking and I asked her if she would mind running a story for me. And she said OK. So I told her what it was, she was interested, and now here we are."
Walker stared at me.
"That's it?" she exclaimed, "No crucio, no imperio? Shit Potter, I thought at least one of those would have been involved."
Ah, the old Walker was back!
"You know perfectly well, Walker, that I can get what I want just by talking to people."
"But this is Faye Hamel!" Walker cried, "She's not a person! She's a robot!"
"Oi!" I cried, feeling myself going red.
"Oh sorry Potter, have I insulted your lady love?" she smirked at me.
Is it weird that I'm happy that she's back to being a psychopath, because her being nice was just too bizarre for me to handle?
"But seriously," she said, leaning in, "No bullshit. You actually got her to do this just by talking to her?"
"I can be quite charming when I want to be," I grinned.
I ignored the fact that she pretended to hurl, which could have turned into a full out performance, but Faye interrupted.
She stood there, her auburn hair pulled back into a tight pony tail, a pile of parchment under one arm, two heavy books under the other. To my disappointment, her expression was less that pleased.
"What's she doing here?" she asked me.
"Aww come on Faye," Walker smiled at her, "I don't bite."
Faye ignored her and looked pointedly at me, waiting for my answer, tapping her foot on the wooden floor.
"Er..." I muttered, waiting for my brain to start working, "She's the one I told you about. The one who was blackmailed."
Faye sat down grumpily and began sorting through her parchment.
"Here it is," she said, revealing a piece of parchment that was neatly written.
She shoved it at us.
"You really should have told me all the details," she snapped at me.
Aw, she'd make a wonderful Mrs. Potter, don't you think?
Walker pulled the parchment towards her and we began to read.
Jeremy Peakes: Captain or Coward?
According to unnamed sources Jeremy Peakes might not be the quidditch hero that most know him to be. In fact he may become the prime suspect in the mystery of who cursed Owen Williams last term. Williams denies any recollection of who might be the culprit, but sources close to him who were present at the time claim that there is serious evidence that Mr. Peakes is the guilty party. So what is this evidence? According to Mme Pomfrey only four people were aware that the curse that hit Mr. Williams was a conjunctivitis curse: herself, Professor McGonagall and two gryffindor students, friends of Mr. Williams, who shall remain unnamed. However Mr. Peakes also knew. How? Was it because he himself cast the spell? This question remains unanswered.
These accusations are not the only ones to be made. Ever since Mr. Peakes was demoted from the position of captain, due to gryffindor's terrible performance in their latest game against Hufflepuff, there has been serious competition for who will become the next Gryffindor captain, who will be chosen by Professor McGonagall at the next match. However recent reports have shed light on Mr. Peakes' competitive streak, which includes his unwillingness to cooperate with other team members, and hi refusal to step down from his position as captain. But could Peakes have gone even further and resorted to the worst? Sources say yes, and it has become apparent that Mr. Peakes has begun to resort to blackmail, threatening to have other teammembers off the team if they don't bend to his will.
Although Mr. Peakes has denied both of these accusations, the fact that these accusations were made in the first place raises some question of Mr. Peakes' credibility. One thing is for sure, with the level of seriousness of these accusations, Mr. Peakes' reputation as a trustworthy quidditch beater is no longer intact.
The article came to an end, and I stared up at Faye.
"It's brilliant," I said in hushed tones. She didn't look flattered or embarrassed, and she withdrew the paper purposefully.
Walker rolled her eyes at me.
"It's OK," she said. Faye raised an eyebrow at her.
"I'm doing this as a favour for Jason," she said, "No one asked for your opinion."
I saw Walker stifle a laugh as Faye name dropped, yet again.
"Are you laughing at me?" Faye asked, her voice icy cold.
"She's fine with it," I interrupted, elbowing Walker hard in the ribs. She responded by stamping on my foot. I winced in pain, my eyes tight shut.
Faye frowned at me.
"It's great," I assured her, through gritted teeth "When are you running it?"
"In the February issue," she said, "It comes out next week."
There was a pause as I contemplated what we were about to do. I was about to risk Owen being furious with me, and Walker was risking her spot on the team. Not that I cared about that, but still, we were risking something.
"Do you want me to run it or not?" Faye asked me impatiently
"Yes," I answered quickly, before Walker could say no.
Faye briskly stood up from her chair and with a curt nod to us, she marched away.
There was a long pause before either one of us spoke.
"No going back now, is there," Walker muttered.
"Nope," I answered, just as monotonously.
"So according to One Thousand Magical Herbs and Funghi, the shrivelfig originated in Abyssinia. It's juice is used in a shrinking solution and the Elixir that induces Euphoria," said Alex, reading from a textbook.
"For the last time, Alex," I groaned, "I don't give a rat's arse about magical herbs."
She looked a little affronted.
"Well fine then, fail your OWLS, see if I care."
She put the book in front of her face to block me out.
"Sorry," I muttered, pulling the book down so I could see her face, "This...quidditch stuff is just really annoying."
"Listening to some Herbology theory might take your mind off it," Alex suggested.
"Charlie," called a voice from behind me.
I looked around. Owen was striding over to where me and Alex sat. I raised an eyebrow as I saw that he had a massive black eye.
"Wow," I said, "Someone must really hate you."
"Wish it'd been me," muttered Alex. She still hadn't forgotten that Owen teased her at any opportunity that arose.
He ignored the comment, and looked at me.
"I owe this to Henry Nott," he said, looking a little annoyed that it was so easily noticeable.
"Hmm," Alex paused, contemplating his black eye carefully, "I'm liking Henry Nott a little more now."
"Why?" I asked him.
Owen avoided my eye, and muttered, "He caught me with his sister."
Alex snorted with laughter, "Sara Nott?"
"Yes," Owen hissed at her, "And I got punched in the face, happy?"
"Ecstatic," she smiled mockingly at him, "I'll be congratulating Henry next Herbology class."
"Speaking of Herbology," Owen gave her a withering look, "We should go and work on the project. So let's go up to the library."
"OI!" said Alex, looking outraged, "We were in the middle of a Potions essay and you're interrupting!"
"Well we should work the library," said Owen, looking at me and ignoring Alex, "So if you and Little-miss-know-it-all here want to bring your precious potions stuff there..."
"Do you have any ideas for the project?" I asked, frowning at him.
"I'd rather be a know-it-all than an idiot like you," said Alex coolly. Owen glared at her. It was as though I wasn't even there.
And no, Alex and Owen do not have some mutual, unexplainable hate for each other that no one else can understand. In fact, a lot of people don't like Owen.
He can be mean, and he wears a holier-than-thou smirk all hours of the day that frankly makes you want to put his head through a wall.
He's never bothered me personally, though, so I have no real issue with him, but he's teased Alex since first year, so she rather hates him.
"Do you have an idea for the project?" I repeated, emphasizing every syllable.
"Don't you have some books to go stick your nose into, Longbottom?" he snapped at Alex.
Why was no one listening to me?
"Do you have any ideas for the project?" I stood up and faced Owen, forcing him to stop glaring at Alex and look at me.
"Um..." he said slowly, "Yes."
"Good, then let's go" I hissed suspiciously, "Alex are you coming?"
She answered my question with a look of disgust on her face.
"No thanks," she sneered, turning away from Owen, "If I'm around him for too long I might catch his Idiotvitus."
"Ha ha," Owen glared at her. He beckoned to me, and I rolled my eyes as I got up and followed him out of the hall.
As boring as herbology was, it at least had to be more interesting than shrivelfigs.
* * *
"Shall we sit here?" Owen asked.
"Sure," I said and we sat at a small table beside the window.
We sat and for a minute we shuffled around with our books and papers in silence.
"So what's this idea of yours?" I asked.
He leant forwards, "Well I've been reading up about the fanged geranium. Did you know it supposedly started the war of the roses because two wizards were arguing over it?"
"It's a good idea," I agreed, "Shall we read up more on it?"
"Okay," Owen said, pulling the Herbology text book towards him.
A shadow fell across the desk.
"Well if it isn't the Gryffindor bastard!"
We both looked up into the cruel, mocking face of Henry Nott, his lips pulled into a taught sneer.
Owen looked away, trying to ignore him.
Henry glared and shoved his shoulder around to face him, "Look at me when I'm talking to you, mudblood."
Owen glared at him, but said nothing. I felt a rush of anger at the insult.
"Don't you have some first years to kick?* I asked him, standing up to face him. He was surprisingly tall.
Henry laughed mockingly, "Aww, Williams, you're little mudblood girlfriend is sticking up for you!"
"Hey!" I cried, putting myself in between him and Owen, "Say that again to my face."
I saw a flash of surprise in his face at the challenge, but it was quickly replaced by hate, "Why don't you two mudbloods get out of my face?"
"No," I said sharply, "We were here first."
A few of the slytherins who followed Henry around like lost puppies started chortling.
"I suggest," Henry hissed, "That you two find somewhere else to sit."
"No," I said cooly, "Thanks for the suggestion, but we're just fine here, thanks."
"Charlie, don't," came Owen's meek whisper from behind me.
"You should listen to your boyfriend, Walker," Henry sneered, "We want to sit here."
"There's plenty of other tables around," I said, but I could feel my courage draining fast.
Henry could here the whimper in my voice and he knew he had succeeded.
Owen began collecting his things.
"Come on Charlie," he muttered to me, "Just leave it."
He pushed past me, and through the group of jeering slytherins.
My whole body trembled as I grabbed my textbook and ran after him, feeling deeply ashamed that I had backed down.
Owen marched out of the library and I followed him.
"Owen!" I cried after him. He didn't stop.
"Owen come back here!" I said, running after him. When he still didn't stop I caught up with him and forced him to turn around and face me.
His black eye was so prominent in the shadow of the corridor that the truth hit me.
"Nott didn't catch you with his sister, did he?" I whispered.
Owen hung his head, not saying a word, but his silence answered for him.
"How long had this been going on?" I asked.
Owen shrugged, "Since the accident. Nott and his cronies came up to me and said I deserved to be cursed."
I felt such a rush of anger that I was desperate to run back to the library and kill Henry Nott myself.
"He gave me this last night," he muttered, pointing to his swollen eye, "When I told him I'd rather be muggleborn than the child of a death eater."
"He's the bastard," I agreed, "But you should tell someone! McGonagall!"
"No!" Owen immediately cried back, "Merlin, Charlie, you of all people understand why you can't run off and tell tales."
I said nothing. He was right. Who was I to talk when I hadn't once reported either Potter or Peakes to McGonagall, merely because the shame of telling tales would be too much?
"We'll get him back for this," I said, "You and I. We're going to get Henry Nott back."
He gazed at me oddly for a moment, and there was another awkward pause, "OK," he finally agreed.
Authors Note: I hope you liked it! Sorry there's been hardly any James POV, i promise next chapter it'll be more even.
There's only two chapters left in part two. I'm struggling to fit everything in to these chapters, so sorry if it seems really rushed!
Predictions? Will Peakes be defeated once and for all? What do you think of the new villain, Henry?
ch14's done btw, hopefully it'll be up soon! xx