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Exit Wounds by ohtasha
Chapter 3 : The Banjolin Song
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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 The route to the print room was as familiar to Libby as the back of her hand was; she could make the journey walking backwards with hands tied behind her back and in her sleep. The print room, with its eclectic furniture and bittersweet memories from over the years, had become a refuge for her; a place where broken quills and pens could accumulate and everyone knew better than to ask questions, to simply fetch another mug of coffee and present her with a new one. It was as much a home to her as the dormitory was or the Common Room, in a way even more so than her grandparents' house because that place was filled with memories and thoughts Libby tried desperately to get away from.

The little room hadn't changed over the six weeks in which they had been away; her broken quills still lay in a perilous pyramid atop the wooden desk she had claimed in her first meeting, a pitiful heap of rejected stories, rejected emotions and rejected hearts. Especially her own; her heartache was there in every snapped end, in every hard indentation on the polished wooden surface, in every thought when she let the walls in her mind crumble a little. Andrew's pile of old editions were still stacked up, a spectrum of yellow against the grey stone floor; Carlie's Quidditch posters had survived the six weeks of summer, their colours a little faded and the adhesive cracking as its grip on the smiling Aidan Lynch diminished. Jasper's typewriter, the one he had found in a curious little room somewhere, was still there and she smiled at the thought of pressing its smooth keys and the 'click click click' as words flowed from her mind onto the paper. It was a new year and they had three terms ahead of them to analyse Quidditch plays, engage their peers in discussion about the whims of the latest DADA teacher and pity the broken-hearted and heap scorn on the offenders. In this little room with the rack of pristine coffee mugs and the jar of biscuits that replenished itself, they would make the front page.


 

*


 

"Libby, I want you to cover the main section this time." Her head snapped up at Andrew's comment, eyes narrowing. Carlie's brow furrowed, Jasper looked up from his coffee to look vaguely interested but Andrew's gaze didn't waver.

 

"Why," she asked bluntly. The wooden door creaked as it opened behind her but Libby paid it no notice; she had three years' worth of mangled quills on her desk from covering the relationships section and that leaning tower had become a welcome sight over time.

 

"Well, someone else is joining the team this year and I want her to cover that section. Start her off gently, you know," Andrew shrugged and although his grey eyes smoldered with a steely look, it was only a painfully familiar voice from behind her than stopped Libby arguing about her new position.

 

"Sorry, Andrew. Mags held me up and it took me a while to shake her off," Izzy explained as she dropped into the seat besides Libby, her dark hair swinging and eyes lingering on Jasper momentarily. "Hope you don't mind, Libs."

 

Libby mustered a smile as the quill in her hand splintered. "Not at all. I can't keep on abusing James. Well, I can actually but maybe it's time someone else took over the mantle." Izzy beamed and smothered Libby in a customary hug; Andrew ticked the item off on his agenda and Jasper looked at the two of them through his long brown eyelashes.

 

"Right, I think that's all, really. But one last point," Andrew announced and Libby looked up in interest, "I want to actually use full names when saying who wrote the piece. It's these little things that'll make the Times look more professional. Everyone's name will be as usual but Libby, do you want to be Elizabeth or Libby Carmichael?"

 

Izzy inhaled sharply, a symbol crash in the silence that had fallen. Libby stood up slowly, picking up the shards of quill and breathed deeply before replying. "Neither. You can keep it as Libby C and if you don't bloody like it, you can attribute it to 'Anonymous'. My name is Libby and nobody calls me Carmichael." The silence was a tide of questioning and awkward glances that propelled her towards the door and out into the corridor that was an awful lot less claustrophobic that that little room.


 

'He was drunk again, lolling around and speaking with a loose tongue, seeing through bleary eyes and thinking, perhaps, through a head made thick by alcohol. The floorboards creaked as he put his weight on them, his voice got louder as he approached slowly, still spewing random words and disjointed sentences out.

 

She shunted away from him a little when he sank down onto her bed and put a hand on her shoulder. "You remember, girl, you're Elizabeth Carmichael and no one can take that away from you."'


 

*


 

The rolling Scottish hills were infinite in the shadows cast by the sinking afternoon sun, the sky moving through an array of colours before settling on a dusty purple. The early evening air hummed with the sounds of life, a vivacity that the castle hadn't experienced since the end of the previous year. The wireless crackled in the corner of the Common Room, the dulcet tones of the band playing thankfully drowned out by the excitable First Years and their worries over whether McGonagall would actually turn them into cats during their first lesson if they were late.

 

"Ha, they wish. Dad and Uncle Ron were late for their first lesson and all Mags threatened to do was turn them into a watch and a map," James said wryly, tossing a Fanged Frisbee around and grinning when it narrowly avoided the back of Hugo's head.

 

"And to think that was the most impressive thing that had Uncle Ron had ever heard at that point... Well, I'm not counting Percy's oratories because no one in their right mind finds those impressive. It's pitiful, really," Fred shook his head in faux-exasperation and dodged Lucy's sharp elbow.

 

"It's orations, Mr Malaprop, and no one ever said my dad was interesting. But he still has both ears, that's all I'm saying," she argued, hands up as she made her point and soon the two were a mess of tangled limbs, elbowing and clawing at each other before falling apart and laughing as James' Frisbee finally hit its target.

 

The sky had decided on a deep ink blue and at last there was calm as Lucy and Fred untangled themselves and the First Years scampered up to their dormitories, leaving the wireless crackling like a fire licking at wood. "You know," Libby yawned, rolling a biro between her fingers, "there are only two things I haven't missed about Hogwarts and one of them is the fact that it's like a bloody Weasley menagerie."

 

James grinned, flicking the Frisbee in Hugo's direction again. "You should be used to that by now, Libs. This is only your seventh year around us."

 

"Seven years too many, sometimes," Libby muttered. "It's like a madhouse sometimes. I don't know what I'd do if all of you were in Gryffindor at the same time. I'd probably be in Azkaban."

 

"Or a raging alcoholic," Izzy suggested but Libby pointedly ignored her.

 

"Well, we're just a crazy family. All that red hair, I should think," Lucy grinned, gesturing proudly at a lock of hair. The wireless crackled and the pen in Libby's hand began to splinter.

 

"The second thing," she added quickly, "is Quidditch." Everyone groaned at her answer and for a brief moment, the wireless was free of static.

 

"How many times have we had this conversation over the past few years? Too many to bloody count-"

 

"-not that you could count that high anyway," Libby muttered and James narrowed his eyes at the interruption.

 

"Just because we didn't all take Further Arithmancy in Fifth Year," he said snarkily and she laughed dersively as Fred and Lucy resumed their tackling.

 

"Maybe if you had you could count the number of 'girlfriends' you've had in the past few years. Between you and Lydia, you must have made out with more than half the school."

 

"Jealous?"

 

"You bloody wish."

 

"If you've got such a problem with it, go and write an article with a punchy headline."

 

"If that's what you want, you'll have to talk to Izzy about it. I'm not in charge of that section anymore."

 

"Well, thank Merlin for that."

 

There was a moment of impasse as James and Libby glared down at each other, arms folded and her lap littered with the remnants of her pen's plastic casing. Izzy beamed as Jasper walked past on his way to the dormitory but the smile slipped from her face when she saw who was in his line of vision. With a whispered goodbye, she hurried away and the darkness of the stairwell encased her.

 

"Back to the topic at hand... if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: you can't be Irish and not watch Quidditch," James exclaimed and the crackling of the wireless marked the end of the awkward silence.

 

"How does being Irish have anything to do with liking Quidditch? And anyway, I'm only half Irish," Libby said staunchly and she fingered the shards of pen. "'An Irish girl with an English mother and an English name to top it off.'"

 

"Surely you've gained some Quidditch knowledge through osmosis... World Cup winners in 1994, '98 and 2002, voted 'Quidditch Nation of the Decade' twice and home to one of the most successful sides in the Quidditch Premiership! You can't be magical, Irish and not watch Quidditch!" James' exclamations grew louder and more vehement; by the end, he was sitting on the edge of his seat with bright eyes, all thoughts of his Fanged Frisbee and relieved cousin temporarily driven from his mind and gesturing wildly with his hands.

 

Holding back a smile, Libby rose from her seat and rained plastic. "That's like saying because Ireland makes Guinness, all Irish people are alcoholics. And that couldn't be any further from the truth. We aren't all like that," she said in a hard low voice and the light faded a little from James' eyes. "The Irish Muggles love rugby and I was never taken to one of those matches. So don't assume anything about me, Potter."

 

Turning on her heel and her blonde hair flying out behind her, Libby walked off to her dormitory. Behind her, Lydia sauntered through the Portrait Hole, her hair a mess and uniform crumpled. "All right, Carmichael," she called after Libby and grinned as the other girl paused on the stone stairs, fists clenched, before continuing her ascent.
 

 

'"He was drunk again, lolling around and speaking with a loose tongue, seeing through bleary eyes and thinking, perhaps, through a head made thick by alcohol. The floorboards creaked as he put his weight on them, his voice got louder as he approached slowly, still spewing random words and disjointed sentences out.

 

She shunted away from him a little when he sank down onto her bed and put a hand on her shoulder. "You remember, girl, you're Elizabeth Carmichael and no one can take that away from you."'

 

 

 

"I did not think that I could love or be loved that way again" - The Banjolin Song, Mumford & Sons


 




 Hello everyone. Sorry this update took so long- obviously the queue itself is fairly long but I've also had 8 essays and various tests so HPFF wasn't at the forefront of my mind...

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and I feel like I should just stress that I have nothing against Irish people or Ireland; I just wanted to make Libby this way as a different aspect of her characterisation. Also, 'Mr Malaprop' refers to malapropism: the act of misusing similar sounding words. Oratories and orations sound similar but have completely different meanings... just to clear that up for anyone who might have been confused!


 

-Tasha


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