Chapter 23 : Of ploys and partners
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If you know what is good for you and Hayley, then I suggest you meet me down by Hagrid’s Hut oh say, now, or I fear the consequences for you and her would be…great. I hope to see you there Potter, for her sake. I will wait five minutes.
James scrunched up the piece of paper and swore under his breath. Hayley’s questioning look had only grown by this point and she raised her eyebrow further when he stood up, flipping his legs over the bench, a deadly serious look on his face. Hayley got up to follow him but he looked at her and she hesitated as their eyes met. James shook his head slightly and Hayley paused, their eyes locked for a moment before she reluctantly sat back down, watching him as he left the hall, blazing a trail of fiery anger in his wake.
James headed out of the castle doors and headed down towards the Forbidden Forest. He had been in there many times over his previous five years, usually when he was bored and fancied a challenge, but also for detentions he’d been given by McGonagall. He veered left near the forest and headed towards Hagrid’s, where Darren had said they were to meet. Even now, it bothered him. The handwriting had looked familiar, he knew that but he hadn’t thought it was Darren’s. It was too neat, too controlled. James ignored this though, his anger and hatred welling up inside him as the thought of Darren hurting Hayley fuelled the blaze in his heart. He reached the meeting point and looked around, eager to confront Darren. There was no sign of the older boy and James grew more infuriated.
“Come on then Darren!” he yelled. “You dragged me out here, threatened Hayley, now what do you fucking want?”
James span in circles looking, then looked to head back up to the castle, shaking his head. He heard a mutter and turned back, barely having time to register the jet of red light that was flying his way before it crashed into him, knocking him off his feet and onto the ground as he blacked out.
The first thing that struck James as he awoke was the smell. Mainly because his head was still fuzzy from the stunning spell to the head he’d taken which had blurred his vision but partially because Hayley was wearing his favourite perfume. Not that he had a favourite perfume, that would be weird but it was his favourite for her, if that made sense. It did to him in any event. But it was her smell that hit him first and then as he opened his eyes, her face, worried and sodden, that took over. Then, it was the slippery feel of her hand on his arm as she hauled him up, finally the sound of her voice, which hit him like a car as she shouted over the pouring rain.
“Are you alright James?” she asked, her eyebrows narrowing as she tried to shield herself from the downpour.
“I will be,” James yelled in reply, shaking his head to try and clear it. “What are you doing down here?”
“I could ask you the same question Potter!” Hayley snapped in reply. “You get some strange letter, vanish and then when I eventually decide to come looking for you, I find you passed out on the ground in the pouring rain!”
“Darren,” James growled. “He sent me a letter telling me to meet him down here, then stunned me!”
“Why would he do that?” Hayley asked, confused. “That doesn’t make any sense! Now can we get inside, out of this rain?”
“Yeah I know, it doesn’t add up,” James replied as he hurried through the rain, helping Hayley shield herself until they reached the castle. By now, it was dark and as they headed inside, James pulled out his wand to dry them off. Hayley shook her head, showering James with water as she tied her hair up. Their eyes met and he smiled, one she returned and then she raced up the stairs with James right behind her. They reached the common room, where Fred was in the middle of a game of Wizards Chess with Josh, their game becoming increasingly heated as their conversation did.
“But you and Nicky were made for each other!” Fred was saying.
“No Fred, we weren’t,” Josh retorted. “Besides, you were all for me and Dominique, and you were right, she’s a real wild thing.”
“Please tell me you haven’t…”
“Of course not,” Josh cried. “Not yet anyway, she really is hot stuff though, I’m sure it won’t be long.”
“Be careful Josh, that’s our cousin you’re talking about!” Fred warned, indicating to James as he approached. “Bloody hell James what happened to you?”
James muttered something incoherent as he passed, storming up the boys staircase so Hayley filled Fred in as his castle ripped into Josh’s queen. Josh swore and flipped the board in frustration. Josh stood and Fred started laughing as he sulked, only for Fred’s laugh to stop suddenly as Dom smiled seductively and kissed the sulking Josh. Hayley resisted the urge to glare at the couple but Fred didn’t.
“Who does she think she is?” he growled. “Slut.”
“Fred!” Hayley scolded. “It’s not her fault, she doesn’t know about Nicky for crying out loud! Besides she’s your cousin, you can’t be so judgemental, and lest we forget, you were encouraging those two back when you thought that Nicky was in Beauxbatons.”
Fred muttered more unintelligent nonsense, most of it swearing and then Hayley smirked triumphantly as he stomped his foot. Suddenly, his face lit up and Hayley shot him a confused look.
“I’ve had an idea,” Fred announced.
“Oh Merlin help us, this cannot be good.”
James wasn’t heading to his room as he climbed the steps towards the dorms. Instead, he clambered up one more floor and kicked open the door to the 7th year boys room, where Darren looked surprised as he entered. Chris smiled at James briefly and welcomed him but quickly picked up on James’ anger and decided to stay out of whatever was about to take place.
“What’s your game Jenkins?” James growled, pointing his wand at Darren as he grabbed him and rammed him into the wall.
“What are you talking about Potter?” Darren asked angrily, pushing James off so the pair were facing each other.
“I’m talking about you dragging out in the middle of the grounds with a stupid threatening letter and then stunning me and leaving me out in the rain!”
“You’re quite mistaken Potter,” Darren retorted, folding his arms. “I have spent the entire evening in the dungeons with Filch for detention. Feel free to ask Chris, he was there with me.”
James glanced at Chris who nodded to confirm what Darren was saying then narrowed his eyes. He put his wand down and thought hard. Darren moved back to his bed as James muttered a quick apology and left again, still contemplating exactly what had happened that evening.
Molly Weasley was in a cheerful mood. Her red curls were bouncing and her robes were pristine. She smiled and hummed a merry tune and she had spent the evening flirting with a fellow Ravenclaw, something even her closest friends hadn’t thought she was capable of. This time, she had successfully exploited Potter’s weak spot and within a few hours, he would be on the train home, where he could join his destitute brother in being out of her hair once and for all. Molly headed up to her room and found a note resting on her pillow.
I know what you did. Room of Requirement, midnight.
Molly froze and looked around as if the person who had left the note could still be around, watching her. She screwed up the note cautiously but remembered what was written on it. She would wait until all her roommates were asleep and then she would meet this mysterious stranger and hear what he or she had to say. Her thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of her roommate, Kiera, a blonde girl whom got on well with Molly. The only issue Molly had with her (and the majority of her roommates for that matter) was that she was obsessed with James and hadn’t stopped talking for hours when James had snuck into their dorm and kissed her. Kiera waved and smiled at Molly and Molly returned the gesture, waiting until Kiera was asleep before she slipped out of bed.
Sneaking around the castle after hours felt wrong for Molly. Not just because it was so very James Potter, but also because she spent so much of her time stopping people from doing exactly what she was now currently doing. And yet at the same time, it felt good to be above the law, doing what she stopped others from doing. Molly was still dwelling on the note and who could have sent it. She knew what they were referring to; her little ploy on James Potter earlier in the day hadn’t gone unnoticed. She had thought it was a good plan, to trick Potter into attacking Darren Jenkins by making him think the first blow had been Darren’s. She still hoped it had worked, but the note filled her with unease.
She reached the Room of Requirement just before midnight and slipped inside, seeing it was a very plain, basic room, with just the one sofa and not a whole lot else, the corners of the room shrouded in darkness. Molly looked around but saw no sign of the person who had summoned her there. Then, out of the shadows, came a familiar voice.
“Ah, the illustrious Molly Weasley. A pleasure to be meeting you here, I must say. Pretty, smart, a schemer, our Head Girl but above all, the reason I invited you here tonight, you hate James Potter.”
Darren stepped out of the shadows and Molly raised an eyebrow, caught off-guard by the praise but intrigued to know more.
“How did you know it was me?” she asked.
“A friend of mine saw you sneak out after Potter,” Darren explained. “When he threatened me, I put two and two together, it was a shame for you I had an air-tight alibi otherwise he might have ripped my head off and then been expelled, which I gathered was your intention. For the record Molly, I don’t like being used. I would gladly have stunned Potter myself if you’d asked, after all I hate him as much as you do. That’s why I’m hoping you will join me Molly, in my quest to rid Hogwarts of James Potter once and for all. And it starts tonight. You know Kassandra White?”
Molly nodded as Kassie stepped out of the darkness beside Darren, an evil smile on her lips as she welcomed Molly with a nod.
“Hello Molly, I too have a vendetta against James Potter and that accursed best friend of his Hayley. You see, as I told Darren here, Potter impregnated me. I was carrying his baby for the majority of the first term of this year. But then, Miss Black-Hunt threatened me and forced me to abort, leaving any hope I had of being with James destroyed. They are going to pay, and we have the perfect plan to destroy their entire group. Fred Weasley, James Potter, Hayley Black-Hunt, they are all going down. Are you in or are you out?”
Molly grinned wickedly. “I’m in.”
Whenever Fred Weasley had an idea, it usually involved explosions, pain and humiliation for all involved. And it never, ever ended well. There was a reason that everyone let James determine the pranks they would pull, because Fred was usually downright dangerous. Unfortunately for Hayley, James had been sulking all night and she alone had been unable to talk Fred out of his undoubtedly ridiculous idea. He wouldn’t tell her what it was, but she knew it was going to be stupid. Fred, however, was adamant that his idea was genius and would solve all of Josh and Nicky’s problems. Hayley was more worried than ever and come breakfast, whatever Fred’s genius plan was, it would unveil itself. In truth, it almost failed before it had even started when Hayley and Toni turned up for breakfast, only to find that none of the others were out of bed yet. James was the first to appear, still looking forlorn and sulky, his voice sullen and annoyed.
“You are not going to believe what Fred is doing,” he muttered as he sat between the two girls and glanced towards the door. Whatever Fred was doing, he wasn’t making an appearance just yet. Hayley tucked into her sausages, ignoring James’ incessant mutterings, she was used to his pissed off moods. And in fairness to him, he had been stunned around the head the previous night and had no idea who was behind it. Toni reached across James and tapped Hayley’s shoulder, mouthing something she couldn’t quite make out. Hayley shot her a confused look over James’ shoulder and she pointed at the sulking boy sat between them.
“I got stunned in the head by someone pretending to be Darren!” James snapped, not looking up from his breakfast as Toni winced. Hayley glared furiously at him as he shrugged. Toni smiled empathetically.
“You’ll find out who was behind it James,” she reassured. “You’re James Sirius Potter, you always manage these sorts of things. Just give it time. As for my idiot boyfriend, I’m sure whatever tricks he has up his sleeve can’t be that bad. I mean come on, I know he’s done some stupid things in the past and made a few mistakes but he’s not a complete moron. He has some sense of intelligence after all.”
“This is Fred we’re talking about,” James muttered. “The boy wouldn’t know which end of his wand to hold if he hadn’t labelled the handle with spellotape.”
“He’s joking right?” Toni glanced at Hayley.
Hayley shrugged at Toni and then her attention was caught by the entrance of Fred. Hayley let out a groan of frustration and Toni slammed her head onto the table. Fred was strolling in, one arm around Josh, one arm around Nicky as he marched them into the Great Hall and sat them down next to each other, opposite Toni and Hayley as the two girls watched. Fred summoned two goblets of pumpkin juice and slid them to the two. They eyed them with suspicion but Fred merely shot them both dazzling smiles.
“Now, drink up,” he grinned. “You’ve got a long day of making up to do!”
“Fred?” Hayley quizzed. “This was your genius idea? Thank fuck for that! I thought it was going to be something dangerous and really, really stupid.”
“Of course it wasn’t,” Fred laughed as the two drank up, Dom shimmying down the table to snuggle up to Josh. “I put Veritaserum in Josh’s cup, so now he can tell us who he really is in love with. Josh?”
“WHAT?!” Hayley, James, Toni, Josh, Nicky and Dom all exploded.
“Calm down guys, I don’t expect you to appreciate my genius,” Fred replied looking smug. “Now Josh?”
“Um Fred,” Josh replied, looking pale. “I feel no massive impulse to tell the truth. But for the record, it’s you Dommie.”
Dom smiled and kissed him as Hayley, Toni and James sent furious glares at Fred.
“So if you didn’t end up with the Veritaserum…” Fred thought out loud.
“Who did?” James asked the question everyone was thinking.
“Mark? Are you okay?” Toni asked gently, seeing Nicky pale visibly.
“My name isn’t Mark,” Nicky replied, tears starting to flood from her eyes as Dom narrowed her eyes. “I’m Nicky.”
And then, as Dom’s jaw dropped and her eyes widened, all hell broke loose. James and Fred both leapt to their feet, Toni screamed and Hayley sat, dumbstruck, unable to move. Josh broke away from Dom as the second the words had left Nicky’s mouth, she was struck down by an invisible curse, she couldn’t even scream as she slumped and hit the floor of the Great Hall, the shockwaves still reverberating as James and Hayley shared a look of utter horror.
“We’ve killed her,” Toni whispered.
“You know,” Darren muttered to Kassie who was sat beside him. “I think sometimes they make this too easy for us.”
A/N: *Insert dramatic background music here* well I don't think anyone saw that coming! I had planned the ending to this chapter slightly differently and in truth i had to replan this and the next few chapters so all the big stuff didn't happen in one go. But I promise, this is where it gets good, and the next 3 or 4 chapters are among my favourites. I've also nearly finished the book :( but i've still got a chapter or two left in me. I hope you enjoy and, as always, please please leave a review. HP
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