Chapter 1 : The Better Gryffindor
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It was by, like, ten seconds. Not even.
She crossed her arms. “Only because it confused you for your grandfather,” she shot back. “It’s getting old, you can’t expect it to not be a little senile. And,” she added, spotting an advantage, “I was almost the last one to get sorted, it was probably just tired.”
“Please,” James snorted. “I’m way more Gryffindor than you.” He carefully placed a card onto the tower they were building. It promptly exploded, and the tower crumbled.
She giggled at the surprise on his face. “No, you’re not. I’m way more Gryffindor than you.”
He leaned back in his chair and surveyed the common room. “Yeah? Well, if you’re so much braver than me, I dare you to…” he paused for a minute, screwing up his face in thought. “I dare you to set off a firecracker in Dorny’s class tomorrow.”
Roxanne hesitated. She liked firecrackers a lot, and had always enjoyed setting them off in her grandparents’ backyard, but doing it in Potions seemed a little risky.
She realized that was probably the point, and that he was just waiting for her to refuse.
“Fine,” she snapped. “I will. You just watch.” He looked so smug and pleased with himself that she shot back, “Well, I dare you to go and go and…” she cast her eye around the room, trying to think of something appropriate. Neither the smattering of chatting students nor the empty fireplace was forthcoming with inspiration. She looked out the window, and saw the looming shadows of the trees. She looked back at James, grinning. “I dare you to go in the Forbidden Forest.”
She was pleased by the slight look of trepidation that spread across his face. “How far?” he asked.
Roxanne thought about that for a minute. “Ten feet,” she said firmly.
She expected him to refuse, or at least try to argue her down. After a moment, however, he crossed his arms. “Fine. Now, or tomorrow?”
“It’s after curfew,” she pointed out.
He shrugged. “So?” When she hesitated again, a smirk spread across his face. “See? I told you I was the better Gryffindor.”
That decided her. She stood up so quickly that her chair knocked over. “Fine. Let’s go.” There was no way that Roxanne was going to let James claim to be the better Gryffindor, just because some stupid old hat was getting a little senile.
They edged toward the portrait hole. Roxanne was half-hoping that someone would try to stop them, but they managed to get outside without incident. However, just as they were starting to feel really pleased with themselves, they heard the echo of footsteps moving toward them.
“Nox,” Roxanne whispered, and stowed her wand in her pocket. “Do you have the cloak?” she hissed.
Even in the dim light, she could see James shake his head.
“Oh, no,” she groaned. “We’re going to get detention for sure.”
James looked wildly around the hallway before settling on a suit of armor. “Let’s hide behind that!” he said, darting toward it before she could point out what a horrible idea it was and how easily they could knock it over. Since it was too late to argue with him, she followed him as he climbed into the nook. The suit of armor teetered dangerously as they squeezed behind it, but righted itself just as the footsteps turned the corner.
Roxanne flattened herself against the wall and tried not breathe. The caretaker passed by and continued on around the corner. After the sound of his footsteps had faded into the distance, she carefully made her way around the suit of armor and climbed down.
James followed her. “That was awesome,” he said. When she looked at him, he was beaming.
Despite the fact that her heart was still pounding, Roxanne felt a similar smile spreading across her face as she pulled out her wand again and lit it. “Yeah, it was.” She hesitated for a moment. “Maybe we should go do the Forbidden Forest tomorrow, though.”
James looked relieved. “That’s probably a good idea.” As they made their way back to the staircase, however, he couldn’t help but say, “It was your idea to come back.”
To say that the fireworks wreaked complete and total havoc on the Potions classroom the next day would be putting it lightly. A more accurate description would have been that the dungeon looked like a rampaging elephant had trampled through it. Fully half of their class had to go to the hospital wing, and Potions classes for the rest of the morning were cancelled while Professor Dorny tried to round up the fireworks.
Despite the detention that she’d gotten for her efforts, Roxanne was feeling very pleased with herself as she and James climbed the stairs that led out of the dungeon and made their way to the greenhouses for Herbology.
“I told you I would,” she gloated. “I told you.”
He shrugged. “Yeah, well.” He ran a hand through his black hair, which was already quite messy. “Shut up.”
“Good comeback, James,” she said, smirking.
He made a face. “Well, I’m totally going to go twenty feet into the Forbidden Forest now.”
Roxanne was somehow not surprised by this declaration.
A few minutes before Herbology ended, they deliberately knocked over the pot they were supposed to be using to plant some kind of seed in (Roxanne had been too busy feeling proud of herself to really pay attention during the lesson). The rest of the class filed out and headed to the Great Hall for lunch while James and Roxanne cleaned up the soil and ceramic shards laying on the floor. They said goodbye to Professor Longbottom and were still congratulating each other when they reached the forest a few minutes later.
True to his word, James did go twenty feet into the Forbidden Forest. Roxanne had just begun to wonder whether or not something had happened to him when he reemerged beaming.
“I told you,” he said. “I told you I was a better Gryffindor.”
She shook her head stubbornly. “Nuh-uh. I set off fireworks in Potions, that makes me better.”
“No, I went into—”
James’s sentence was cut off by the sound of a voice neither of them wanted to hear very much. “Potter! Weasley!”
They turned around to find the Headmistress striding toward them. She looked so irate that her eyebrows had almost joined above the bridge of her nose.
James and Roxanne looked at each other and grimaced.
“Hello, Professor,” James said, in what he clearly hoped was a winning voice. “Nice day, isn’t it?”
Professor McGonagall did not look remotely charmed. In Roxanne’s opinion, she could have done a much better job.
“My office,” the Headmistress snapped. “Now.”
They followed her back up to the castle, trying very hard to look repentant. Roxanne was still feeling rather proud of herself, and when she glanced at James, there was a smile tugging at the side of his mouth. As they hurried after Professor McGonagall, they passed several groups of students, all of who stopped to stare at the first years who had managed to find themselves in trouble with the Headmistress herself less than two weeks into the year.
She stopped in front of a gargoyle and said, “Sugar mice” in a very crisp voice.
A set of stairs appeared, and Roxanne filed the password away for future reference.
Once she had seated herself behind her desk, she leaned forward. “Explain yourselves.”
Roxanne squirmed nervously. She already had a detention. She hoped that they would not decide to expel her. She opened her mouth, but closed it without saying anything when James stepped on her foot.
“Explain what, Professor?” he asked innocently. “We were just on our way down to see Hagrid.”
“Are you telling me that you were not planning on going into the Forbidden Forest?”
James shook his head. When Roxanne glanced at him, he looked for all the world as though he really hadn’t done anything of the sort. Maybe he was better at talking them out of trouble. She tried to mirror his expression. “Of course not, Professor,” he said. “We would never do that. You just told us last week that it was against the rules.”
Roxanne very much hoped that Professor McGonagall had not heard about the fireworks incident yet.
If she had, she gave no indication of it. After staring at them for another minute, she sighed and gave them leave to join their classmates for lunch, though she emphasized that if she ever caught them near the Forbidden Forest again they would deeply regret it.
Roxanne and James did not say anything to each other until they had exited the stairway and the gargoyle was back in place.
“I cannot believe that we didn’t get in trouble,” Roxanne said.
James grinned at her. “It’s all about plausible deniability. I don’t think she believed me, but she couldn’t prove it.”
Roxanne considered that for a moment.
Plausible deniability. She rather liked the sound of that.
A/N: This chapter was written for yorkgal's "Five Word" challenge. My five words were dare, wand, elephant, forest, and squirm. I hope that you enjoyed this, and would really appreciate it if you took a moment to write me a review telling me what you thought of it! :)
Next up: What did Roxanne and James tell them for four first-years to land themselves in the Hospital Wing?