“You’ve been really quiet lately,” said Lucy, wrapping a scarf around her neck. “Is anything wrong?”
“No,” said June placidly, not looking up from her Divination homework. She drew a steady line between Neptune and Pluto.
Priscilla strolled out of the loo, her hair still damp from showering. She sat on her bed and began tugging on a pair of shoes.
Lucy was still frowning at June. “Why aren’t you getting ready?”
“For what?” asked June aimlessly.
Lucy and Priscilla shared a stunned look.
“Are you mad?” said Priscilla. “The Quidditch game, of course! Trista’s only been going on about it for two bloody months!”
“When is it again?”
“In twenty minutes,” said Lucy, her frown deepening. “Honestly June, Trista’s been gone all morning! Haven’t you noticed?”
Before Lucy or Priscilla could say anything more, June turned over on her side and began dotting in Neptune’s moons.
“Have you gone completely insane?” said Priscilla, eyeing her more carefully. “You haven’t been yourself since – “
“Since when?” snapped June back.
“Since you walked in here, half frozen to death, dripping water all over everything,” said Priscilla, not looking the least bit intimidated by June’s waspish glare. “Then you nearly ended up crying over Corner when he asked you for a spare quill.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“You looked like a lunatic,” snorted Priscilla. “Corner, that idiot, blubbering around with you sobbing on him. Go on, get ready.”
She tossed a Hufflepuff scarf at June, who stared it as it landed beside her. “Do I have to?”
“Oh, I don’t understand it!” Lucy threw her hands up in exasperation. “You won’t tell us what’s wrong and you still expect us to believe you’re feeling all right! We’ve got no time June! We’ve got to leave!”
“Fine.” June heaved herself up, and began pulling her shoes back on grudgingly.
It wasn’t so much the idea of seeing the Quidditch game that annoyed her.
Quidditch could be confusing and sometimes boring, but she had sat through it many times before.
It was the almost sure possibility of seeing the Gryffindors. After the events of the past few days, it made her queasy to think about. It was the semi-finals to the Quidditch Cup. Of course he would be there. Nearly everybody would.
“Why’re you so eager to go early?” asked June crossly. “Twenty minutes – we’ll find seats anyway – ”
“I have been wondering about that,” said Lucy, staring at Priscilla. “Normally we’ve got to drag you out so you’ll be on time.”
“I’m not saying anything,” said Priscilla mysteriously, descending down the stairs. At the bottom of the staircase, Nicholas and Desmond were waiting, along with –
“June!” crowed Henry Bates, pouncing at her and throwing an arm around her shoulders. “How’ve you been? I haven’t seen you in days!”
“Erm, fine,” said June, attempting to shuffle away to no avail. “How’re you, Henry?”
Beside her, Nicholas gave a barely restrained snicker as Desmond rolled his eyes. Priscilla squinted at the clock. “Alright, we should be on our way.”
“I still don’t understand why you’re so eager all of a sudden,” called Lucy as she descended from the stairs. “You’ve never shown interest before.”
“That’s right,” piped up Nicholas. “I thought you said Quidditch was a game for brutes?”
“Supporting St. Clair are we, Fawcett?” said Henry.
“Oh, that’s not it at all,” said Desmond with a smug grin. “Fawcett and I are…partaking in the festivities, as they say.”
“What does that mean?” said Lucy, looking wary.
“Nothing to worry your Prefect badge about, Weasley,” said Desmond smoothly as Lucy continued to glare suspiciously.
“Is it illegal?”
“Didn’t I just tell you not to worry?”
“We’re going to be late at this rate!” screeched Priscilla, pointing at the Common Room door and shepherding them out.
Most of the school seemed to be on its way to the Quidditch field; the stairs and halls were crowded with shuffling feet and clashing House colors. They passed a large group of Ravenclaws waving Gryffindor flags, Rose Weasley stalking past in the forefront.
“Ravenclaw’s supporting Gryffindor?” said Lucy, “I thought they’d support us…”
“After the trashing we gave them last time?” snorted Desmond. “Unlikely. I saw a couple of Slytherins with Hufflepuff flags, though.”
“They always treat us better than the Gryffindors do,” noted Nicholas.
“Only because we give them all the potions they’ll need to pass their classes,” muttered Desmond.
“Either way, their support won’t last. They’ll be against us soon enough during the finals.”
The talk descended into indecipherable Quidditch mumble soon after. Meanwhile, Henry had delved into vigorously detailing his last week to June, whose eyes were threatening to glaze over.
Only when they exited the castle and June felt the coldness in the air did she interrupt Henry. “It’s snowing!”
“Not much, they’ll still be able to play,” was Priscilla’s curt reply as she continued plowing determinedly through the light layer of snow that had nestled over the grass.
The Stadium came looming in sight, and they began stumbling up to their seats, navigating around a group of fifth year Gryffindors, who began jeering at the sight of their Hufflepuff flags.
“Idiots,” murmured Nicholas.
Henry cut between Nicholas and Lucy to sit between June, pushing an annoyed looking Gryffindor to the side in the process. As Henry attempted to casually lean back, June looked to her side. Priscilla hadn’t sat down and was instead wandering down the rows towards the commentator’s box, Desmond shuffling behind her.
“Where’re you two going?” June called.
“Somewhere,” said Priscilla, a wry smile twisting on her face.
“Lost something, Desmond?” said Henry.
“No, not exactly,” said Desmond, waggling an eyebrow. “Fawcett and I’ve got a job to do, you see.”
“What?” asked Lucy.
As Priscilla trod on the feet of a group of Ravenclaws in attempt to navigate, Desmond said, “You’re looking at the co-commentators of the semi-finals, ladies.”
“Priscilla?” said Lucy incredulously.
“I thought Sylvie Davies usually commentated!” said June, who rarely attended Quidditch matches.
“She does,” said Henry, attempting to sling an arm around her shoulders again. She ignored him as he flashed a large, dimpled smile her way.
“She got sick last week, remember? They needed a spare commentator. Aubrey asked me, I passed the word on to Fawcett. She agreed to help.”
“She agreed to help?” spluttered Lucy. “Desmond, have you got any idea at all what she’ll say? Priscilla isn’t – isn’t the type of person that ought to have a megaphone – ”
But they were both out of hearing distance as Lucy blubbered behind them. They watched as Desmond and Priscilla leapt lithely between the rows, aggravating rows of Ravenclaws and Gryffindors who called angrily after them. Finally, they weaved their way into a commentator’s box to meet Professor Aubrey.
“Oh no,” groaned Lucy.
“Well, this should be interesting,” said Nicholas lightly.
“They’re going to ruin everything!”
“Why?” prodded June.
“Don’t you see? They’ll upstage Trista – or they’ll upset her – oh, I don’t know. Remember Duncan said that there’d be a scout from some team coming to watch? What if they embarrass her? She’d murder them. She really would.”
“Makes it even more interesting,” said Nicholas.
June heard nothing more that Nicholas said; instead, she was watching the very last of the rows being filled with Gryffindors and Slytherins. Anybody else she wouldn’t’ve noticed among the rows of black robes and clashing scarves. There was too much noise and shuffling and pushing.
But she saw him. Seven rows down. All she needed to recognize him was the black hair.
She stared for a long moment as the other Gryffindor boys sat down. One of them was laughing, speaking boisterously to him. Beside them, several Slytherin seventh years gave them dirty looks.
A feeling of dread swooped through her as Albus talked.
An uncomfortable heat flushed through her, making her feel raw and pinched.
Beside her, nobody seemed to have noticed anything until Henry followed her stare.
His brown eyes got wider. “Is that – that Albus Potter fellow, June?”
She darted her eyes away. “Who?”
“That one.” He pointed. “Down there. The Gryffindor.”
“Which one?” she asked in what she hoped was a confused tone. Lucy broke off talking and followed Henry’s finger.
“What about Albus?” asked Lucy.
“Nothing,” said June innocently.
“Strange bloke,” contributed Nicholas.
“How do you know him?” asked Lucy.
“We had Care of Magical Creatures together last year. We had to raise our Skrewts together.”
“What’d you think of him?” demanded Henry, still staring between June and Albus.
“He was nice enough, I suppose. Didn’t talk that much, but he was all right.” A smug grin crept onto Nicholas’s face. “But I’ve heard otherwise regarding Bernard here.”
June went red. “That was a long time ago.”
“June’s left that behind,” agreed Lucy.
Henry squinted one last time at the blur that was Albus. “Don’t waste your time on him, June. I’m here for you.”
“Erm. Thank you.” June leaned away from Henry as Nicholas began grinning.
“I’ve heard a few things about you and him,” admitted Henry. “I didn’t want to believe it, but…”
Before Henry could finish, there was a loud burst of cheering.
“Quiet, everyone!” Professor Aubrey’s voice reverberated through the Quidditch stadium. A hush quickly ensued. “Welcome to the semifinals of the Quidditch cup! Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff!”
The cheering that spiraled was nearly deafening. From where June sat, the stadium looked like a ripping sea of black and yellow clashing with gold and red. The row of fourth years in front of them began unfurling a large banner, revealing an enormous painted badger.
“Your co-commentators for this match will be Desmond Jordan and Priscilla Fawcett, both from Hufflepuff!” Professor Aubrey craned the megaphone forward, ushering in Desmond and Priscilla to sit.
There was a large outpouring of boos from the Gryffindor side.
“Oh shut up, you uncultured arses!”
Priscilla’s voice echoed through the stadium. It was met with cheers from the Hufflepuffs.
Lucy buried her head into her hands, muttering, “Of all the people – ”
“No worries, Pris,” said Desmond coolly, “they’re only Gryffindors. They’re like lower life forms.”
Priscilla snorted. “Intelligent as toilets?”
“Now you’re just being rude.”
“I’ll have you know my toilet can do maths and breathe at the same time.”
“That’s one more thing than any Gryffindor can do!” said Priscilla, feigning surprise. “And one more than what they should do, frankly.”
“The point is that the toilet analogy – unfair, Fawcett.”
“Nah. Lamps’re kind of useful.”
“Too orange. By Merlin’s fifth finger, you’ve got no talent at this sort of thing.”
“I think the real question is, why we’re bothering to debate their intelligence. The question of the hour is obviously ‘what intelligence?’”
She drew more boos from the Gryffindors; a few of them hurled their flags her way. She ducked as the Slytherins burst out in appreciative laughter.
June could hear Desmond waving away Professor Flitwick. “ – no bias, I swear, Professor. Just a bit of inter-house fun, you must know what I mean – ”
A large swell of applause and screams drowned out the rest of his explanation as seven scarlet-clad blurs entered the Quidditch field.
“And the Gryffindors’re out!” said Desmond, “Do you remember any of their names by any chance, Fawcett?”
“No, but how hard can it be? We can always make some up.”
“Exactly the sort of attitude to have,” said Desmond approvingly. “Right, so there’s a ginger. Let’s call him a Weasley for sanity’s sake.”
“I think that one might be Louis Weasley. Or maybe Hugo.”
“Louis or possibly Hugo Weasley, ladies and gentlemen!” The redhead turned and glared at the commentator’s box. “Alright, let’s have a look at that Beater over there.”
“Beater?” snorted Priscilla. “I always thought Beaters weren’t supposed to be shaped like the thing they were hitting.”
“Rightly so. Er – this piece of paper says that that’s Abraxas Flint. Unfortunate name, really. His mum must really hate him. No wonder he’s a Gryffindor.”
“That’s Captain Xavier Wood,” said Priscilla brightly. “Nearly failed Potions last year.”
“Did he?” asked Desmond, “And there’s two other blokes there that I frankly can’t be bothered to name. Ooh, look, another ginger. Anybody surprised? Must be breeding season again.”
“Another Weasley?” asked Priscilla.
“Only if you round up. That there’s the youngest female Seeker in twenty-two years.”
“Presenting Lily ‘No, not that one’ Potter, ladies, gentlemen and Gryffindors!”
As the cheers and jeers reached a deafening loudness, Desmond gave a barely perceptible shout of, “And here’s the best team of the last decade or so – Hufflepuff!”
June craned past Henry, hoping to catch a glimpse of Trista. All she could make out was Trista’s blonde hair tied back as she determinedly crossed the field, the rest of the team following behind her.
“Led by the captain – Trista St. Clair, Chaser – ”
“ – a damn good one, too!” added Priscilla; it earned a grateful wave from Trista. “Podmore – otherwise known as the slave – ”
“Weren’t they dating at some point?” asked Desmond, dramatically cupping his hand around his ear.
“Don’t interrupt me, I’m trying to remember their damn names! That’s Sloper and Robbins – the other Chasers – Macmillian and Bones, Beaters, Jorkins’s the Seeker.”
“Now St. Clair’s shaking hands with the Gryffindor captain – whatshisname – probably closest he’s got to a girl in a while by the look of him – ”
From her seat, she could see the Bludgers flying into the air. Screams followed the snitch’s flight and finally, the referee threw the Quaffle up.
“And they’re off!” screeched Priscilla. “The Quaffle’s off, the Bludger’s are going – ”
“Hit Weasley, hit him – damn it!” said Desmond as Louis/Hugo Weasley went reeling away from a Bludger.
“Sloper’s got the Quaffle, pass to Robbins, pass back to Sloper, pass to St. Clair – come on Trista, come on – ” Trista was a tiny glint in the sky, expertly poised as she lunged forward, the Quaffle flying out of her hands. The Gryffindor Keeper thrashed uselessly as it went sailing past him.
“YES, YES, EAT THAT YOU DAMN – ”
“10-0 Hufflepuff!” said Priscilla as the scoreboards changed themselves.
“They’re very taken by it, aren’t they?” muttered Nicholas.
All June heard over the screams was Lucy’s murmur of “abuse of power” as Henry once again slung an arm around her shoulder.
One of the Gryffindor chasers had gotten hold of the Quaffle; it went sideways between two burly boys and flew through the air. A small girl in Hufflepuff robes deftly intercepted it.
“Anna Robbins with the Quaffle! Robbins with the Quaffle!” Desmond sounded like he was bouncing up and down. “Come on, Robbins – ”
The rest of his plea was interrupted as a Bludger went whooshing through the air towards Anna Robbins, who twirled upside down and promptly dropped the Quaffle. A flash of red streaked through the air.
“Gryffindor in possession – DUNCAN, GROW SOME – ”
But Lily Potter quickly closed the distance between the field and the Hufflepuff hoops. Duncan Podmore hovered by the hoops, his Keeper bat ready. She darted to the right, then left, and finally launched the Quaffle. Duncan flailed in the air, but it flew past his shoulder.
The cheers of the Gryffindors nearly drowned out Desmond’s woebegone, “NOOOOO.”
“10-10,” said Priscilla in a sickly sweet tone, “scored by Lily Evans – no, Weasley – oh, I can’t believe I completely forgot her name. Oh silly me.”
The rest of the game began repeating itself. For every point the Hufflepuffs made, it was soon enclosed by the speed of the Gryffindor Chasers and Lily Potter’s ability to loop through the sky with impossible ease. Bludgers whizzed up and down, at one point getting dangerously close to Trista, which sent Desmond once again dancing with the megaphone, cursing at Louis/Hugo Weasley.
Priscilla was exacting her revenge on Lily Potter by pretending to forget her name every time she brought her up. As a result, all sorts of strange combinations had sprouted out: Lily Lovegood, Lily Longbottom, Lily Scamander, Lily Snape…
Having never understood Quidditch, the match soon dissolved into a slew of flying dots and numbers to June. Exhausted with trying to keep up with them, she turned to Lucy, who had seemingly given up watching.
“I wish they wouldn’t talk about Lily like that,” said Lucy fretfully. “Lily doesn’t take these kinds of things well.”
“Trista and Potter’re going head to head,” said Nicholas in awe. “Look at them! They’re practically going at each other’s throats!”
“June? Can I ask you something?” asked Henry, turning to face her. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot.” He reached for her hand and she retracted nervously.
“Have you?” she asked uncomfortably.
“Do you still fancy that Albus Potter?”
“Why’re you asking?” she muttered.
“I – I know you think I’m stupid, but June, I swear, I’m not! I know you’ve been avoiding me because you can’t face me!” He scrunched his eyes and bent his head down. “I told you, I’ve heard some things!”
June blinked in surprise. “Like what?”
With his eyes still closed, he began pressing his hands. “I’ve heard that you kissed him. Once.”
“I didn’t believe it, June, I swear I didn’t! I know you wouldn’t do such a thing! Potter must’ve forced you!”
“Henry.” She put a hand on his shoulder and he looked up, opening his eyes reluctantly. “I did.”
His mouth fell into a quivering line. “So it’s true.”
“But that was a while ago. So it’s different now.” June turned back to face the Quidditch match.
Henry seized her hand, turning her back to face him. “You’re serious, June? Absolutely?”
His large brown eyes stared down at her. She looked away, instead focusing her gaze down the few rows that separated her and the Gryffindor boys.
He broke out in a relieved smile. “Thank Merlin. I couldn’t fancy you knowing you fancied somebody else.”
“I’m sorry, Henry.” He looked at her in surprise and she managed a weak smile. “I must’ve put you through a lot.”
“I’ll wait for you.”
“What?” she asked, taken aback. “Um. Why?”
“Because you’re the only girl that hasn’t made fun of me,” he said simply. “Every girl I’ve ever fancied treats me horribly. But you never have. So I’ll fancy you forever.”
“No, really.” He gave his usual grin. “I will. I’m not like everyone else. Not as smart – or – or – but you’ve never treated me that way. You don’t laugh at me or anything. So I’ll always be here for you.”
June stared at him speechlessly.
“Thank you, Henry.”
“60-50, Hufflepuff leading!” barked Desmond in the distance, “Lunge for it, Sloper, c’mon!”
Cheers erupted. Desmond groaned. “Blocked by Louis or perhaps Hugo!”
Priscilla snatched the megaphone from his hands, howling, “Lily Dumbledore in possession!”
“God damn it, Sloper, don’t you know how to block?!”
Whatever Henry said afterwards was drained out by Priscilla’s cry of, “St. Clair’s got the Quaffle from Flint – passes to Robbins – ”
Anna Robbins flung the Quaffle in the air; a Gryffindor Chaser lunged blindly for it, drawing laughs from the audience. Trista expertly sliced through the air, whirling in a haze and barely catching the Quaffle by the tips of her fingers. She blurred past a Bludger that sent Desmond cursing, cut past Lily Potter and threw the Quaffle as hard as she could.
It grazed the shoulder of Xavier Wood before flying through the hoop.
“70-50 HUFFLEPUFF!” Desmond’s cry of exhilaration was cut short as the Gryffindor Seeker began diving, “Damn it, damn it, Smith’s seen the Snitch! Jorkins’s seen it too! GO, MILA, GO!”
“June?” Henry turned to her, evidently looking to resume their conversation.
“What?” she asked warily.
“Since you’ve stopped fancying Albus Potter…do you think you could give us a chance?”
Normally, she would’ve been swift to respond with an emphatic ‘I’m sorry’. But there was no Albus and no Henry and nothing was making sense as he looked at her. She didn’t feel any of the feelings she had used to for Albus when she looked at Henry. But perhaps that didn’t matter.
“I’m…I don’t know if I’m ready…” The rest of her reply fell away.
She looked at him, almost sure that he would see the usual disappointment.
But he smiled, seeming to take her lack of a ‘no’ as reassuring. He leaned over, briefly kissing her on the cheek.
“That’s all right. I said I’d wait.”
Her stomach squirmed uncomfortably and she felt a flush of heat as she edged away. Henry pulled off, grinning as though nothing had happened.
There was a large clash in the sky as the Hufflepuff Seeker went reeling into the Gryffindor Seeker. Both of them collided magnificently as they went plummeting straight down towards the ground.
“Holy hell!” yelped Desmond, “They’re both going down!”
Neither of them pulled away and instead became a twirling blur of robes as they plunged onto the earth. Smith leaned on his broom, shifting his weight to the front as he reached out his arm. Mila Jorkins, a small structured brunette dot in the sky burst forward, cutting him off.
“They’ll crash right into us!” said Lucy.
Instead they fell in a long line onto the dirt, spewing a large cloud of dust around them while the two teams stood frozen in the air, agape. As dust wafted onto the stands, several rows in front of June rose, standing on tip toe. Henry pranced around her, calling, “What happened?”
“Impossible to tell,” said Nicholas. “We can’t see a thing from up here.”
“Are they alright?” Desmond’s voice was still audible. “D’you reckon we’ll need to call over Madame Lucinda?”
There was a lone figure that was slowly rising in the dirt. It shook as it began walking to the edge of the Pitch.
“It’s – ”
The rest of Desmond’s sentence was silenced by the victorious screams. Mila Jorkins emerged, looking exhausted and covered in dirt, but with the Snitch closed firmly in her grasp.
“HUFFLEPUFF WINS!” bellowed Priscilla into the megaphone as Desmond began proposing marriage to Mila Jorkins. “Hufflepuff is proceeding to finals! Congrats, Trista!”
Trista looked dumbfounded as she flew down, nearly crashing in the process as she ran to her Seeker. The rest of the team flew into a chaotic, happy mess as they embraced, all shouting over the other.
“After party in the Hufflepuff Common Room!” Desmond was saying, shouting over the chaos, “All Houses invited!”
When they managed to return to the Hufflepuff Common Room, it was positively exploding with people. The usual squashy armchairs were filled with students lounging, eating and yelling over each other. A large banner in Hufflepuff colors was draped on each wall featuring a growling badger, courtesy of Nicholas. Desmond and Priscilla turned up after a brief fifteen minute absence, ladling a few dozen bottles of Butterbeer and several bags of candies. First years had been turned into a virtual serving staff, forced to carry around platters of food and drinks.
The Common Room floor was filled with older Hufflepuffs, several Slytherins and the odd gaggle of Ravenclaws, all yelling over the commotion and happily downing Butterbeer.
“I hate these parties,” said Lucy, “it’s just an excuse to drink Butterbeer and all the other Houses come when they’re not supposed to – and using first and second years to give us food – it’s not right.”
“Loosen up, Weasley!” said Nicholas. “The midgets’ve got to earn their stay.”
As Lucy retorted, June sank into an empty armchair, feeling tired and conflicted.
The entire day had been a haze of confusion. She’d hoped for some silence to think, but there was no chance of escaping upstairs without someone pulling her back down.
Henry wasn’t doing much to help. While he’d stopped hovering over her, she didn’t forget his presence a few feet away, the spot in her cheek still burning furiously. It wasn’t so much Henry that did it, but the world suddenly seemed large and strange. The Portrait opened and another long line of people crept in, making their way towards the drinks.
Behind June, Trista was currently being serenaded drunkenly by one of the Beaters, who was slurring his words as he sang “A Cauldron of Hot Strong Love.”
“ – and darling, you and I – ”
“Stop it Sloper,” said Trista, laughing giddily and pushing him away. “You sound drunk.”
“That’s the third chorus,” noted Priscilla warily, “the idiot’s going to tip over at any point now. I’m not cleaning up after him.”
“He’s just happy. He did a fabulous job defending me and Mila – that one time when Flint got too close – ”
“We know, we were there,” said Priscilla.
“What did you think of it?” asked Trista eagerly, facing June. “Do you think I’ve got a chance with the Tornadoes scout, June?”
June snapped out of her reverie. “Yeah…of course.”
Trista smiled gratefully. Desmond chose that moment to burst in between them, holding a mostly emptied flagon of Firewhiskey.
Lucy nearly had a conniption at the sight of it. “Is that – is that what I think it is?!”
“Keep your hair on, I’m of age. The other seventh years’re drinking a bit too.”
“The others?” coughed Lucy, “I didn’t see you bring any in!”
“Yeah,” he said, grinning, “I hid them, actually. Right under your nose, too.” He pointed down his front to what looked like a protruding belly. “Surprisingly enough, the Ravenclaws can hold their drink down pretty well. Rose Weasley showed up a - ”
“Rose’s here?’ said Lucy in disbelief. “But – but she was supporting Gryffindor! Why would she be here?”
“I dunno. Mila Jorkins invited them. Her sister’s a Ravenclaw or something. Anyway, your cousin’s been sitting in a corner over there, drinking and moaning about some bloke who won’t love her back.”
They all looked incredulously over to where Desmond was pointing. In a corner of the Common Room sat Rose Weasley, perched on an armchair, rocking back and forth and glugging down the remainder of a large bottle of Firewhiskey as her friends hovered over her.
“ – he told me – he told me to stop following him around – I think he’s been hiding from – ” The rest of her sentence was drowned out in a wail.
“I think that’s enough for one night, Rose,” said Jelena Jorkins tentatively, wrestling the bottle away from Rose.
“He is in love with me, I tell you! He just doesn’t know it yet!”
“Utter loons, the whole lot of them,” said Desmond cheerfully, before turning around to the entire room. “Anyone up for visiting the Gryffindors?”
“Ooh, are we going to jinx them like last time?” asked Priscilla, already searching her robes for her wand. “Because I’ve learned this excellent one that can grow fungus all over your – ”
“I’ll come too!” said Trista, still hiccupping slightly from her Butterbeer. “I didn’t get a proper sight of Lily Potter and I’d love to rub it in.”
“Desmond, Priscilla, you wouldn’t,” began Lucy feebly.
“I’m in,” chimed in Nicholas. A few of the sixth year Slytherins seemed to be nodding together over Desmond. A web of whispers broke out over the other Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws.
“Sounds like fun!”
“Jordan always overdoes these things, honestly…”
“Maybe Fawcett’ll throw something again!”
Henry’s head bobbed over several heads towards June. “Come with me, June?”
Before June could protest, Priscilla had already said, “Of course she’s coming,” and Trista had replied with, “You’ll come right, June?”
June sighed, her head throbbing furiously. “I guess so.”
“Good,” beamed Henry as Desmond and Nicholas opened the Portrait door. He held out his hand expectantly as June began clambering out and she stared at it blankly for a moment. Finally, she took it and he gently pulled her out.
Nobody else seemed to have noticed as a pack of Slytherins emerged behind June. Henry took her hand and tucked her arm under his own as they descended.
When their renegade team comprised of the seventh and sixth year Hufflepuffs, fifth year Slytherins and three Ravenclaws arrived at the front of the Gryffindor Common Room. The portrait of a portly woman stared down suspiciously at them.
“Now what?” someone asked. “They’ve got a password!”
“We wait,” said Priscilla determinedly.
Surely enough, within a moment, the portrait opened as a first year climbed out. At the sight of the small mob in front of her, she squeaked.
“CHARGE!” yelled Nicholas, and they all ran forward frantically, fending off the Fat Lady’s attempts to close the hole.
June floundered as she felt people stepping over her feet as they ran in; it was Henry’s iron grip that kept her from falling over herself as she walked in to the Common Room. She could hear people screaming on the other side.
Inside, the Gryffindor Common Room didn’t look very different from Hufflepuff’s, save for a larger fireplace and a few scarlet and gold banners. The lights immediately went off.
“What the hell’s going – ”
“God damn it, they’re back!”
The Slytherins immediately set to toppling several tables, which sent columns of books crashing to the ground. June could hear Priscilla’s fiendish laughter over the yelling. The scarlet and gold banners around them immediately turned yellow and black. The Ravenclaws had set off something with a bang that was now furiously rotating around the room and smoking, whizzing towards people randomly as they screamed and ran for cover.
June had lost sight of Lucy and Trista in the madness; Desmond was reaching into his robes and produced something gleefully that he gleefully set on a group of Gryffindors currently hiding under a table. At the sight of him, they overturned the table like a fort and began whimpering loudly. Something furry darted between June’s legs and scurried towards them.
Meanwhile, Priscilla had pushed over a sofa and was standing on it, busily adding a mustache to a giant portrait of a roaring lion.
“You’re not bad,” said Nicholas approvingly.
“Wait till I’m done with this,” said Priscilla, grinning. “I’m adding one on the Fat Lady next.”
The doors of the dormitories were thrown open as the Slytherins charged upstairs. They could hear panicked shrieks echoing down from the girls’ dormitories.
“June, get down!” Henry pushed June to the floor as one of the Ravenclaw rockets flew by. As they crouched by a fallen sofa, Henry wove her fingers through his again. For a brief second, June felt a strange pang reverberating in her like an empty spark.
The sound of someone descending the stairs echoed.
The lights were promptly returned and June looked around, still crouched, blinking in the brightness. Several of the Slytherins near the door promptly ran out, the Ravenclaws tagging behind them. Priscilla and Nicholas both fell over from the upturned sofa, landing on top of each other in the panic. Much of the Common Room was somehow now drenched in yellow and black paint.
“Stay down,” warned Henry.
There were a few relieved cries from the Gryffindors. Two of the Gryffindor seventh year boys emerged at the foot of the staircase, wrestling Desmond to the ground. Desmond’s hands seemed to be bound with something and he was spewing obscenities as he fell down.
There was a loud bang behind them and the last of the sixth year Hufflepuff boys went running out, nearly leaping through the Portrait Hole.
“It’s a mutiny! Traitors, all of you!” Desmond shouted after them.
From the girls’ dormitories emerged Nikita Patil, with her hair singed and smoking. Iris Bosworth and Cora Livingston peered behind her, both having sprouted fur behind their ears. They pushed out Trista and Lucy, who fell down the stairs together and landed at the bottom, groaning.
“Utterly unacceptable, I’ve had it with these idiotic little jokes,” Cora was saying.
“Your fault,” began Priscilla as the others began protesting.
“Enough.” A calm new voice cut through the noise and there was silence. Albus descended down the stairs, surveying the damage and paint with a neutral expression. He stepped over Desmond and finally turned to stare at the remaining Hufflepuffs. “Everyone here’s getting detention.”
“You can’t – ” began Nicholas.
“I am.” He retrieved something from the inside of his robes and flashed it towards the room. “I’m a Prefect.”
“Big deal, so’s Lucy – you can’t put us in detention. Only Professors can do – ”
“Would you rather I get Professor Longbottom to deal with you, then?”
Nicholas fell silent.
Albus waved his wand over the Common Room. The yellow and black banners immediately returned to their scarlet and gold. The rocket that was whizzing towards him fell to the ground, dead. The tables began picking themselves up.
When the Common Room had returned to its usual state, he turned to face the Hufflepuffs, not lowering his wand. “Anyone from another house, get up.”
“Albus, don’t,” began Lucy.
He pointed his wand at her. She fell silent, dusting herself off and helping Trista up.
Lily Potter peeked over Albus’s shoulder. Her hair had been turned black and someone had drawn a lightning shaped scar on her head and two large circles around her eyes. “That’s the one,” she said, pointing at Priscilla.
“Fine,” he said, brushing her aside. He began walking towards Priscilla.
Nicholas drew his arm out, blocking Priscilla from view. “Don’t try anything, Potter.”
“Don’t delude yourself.” Albus flicked his wand lazily. Nicholas’s arms were bound together and he fell, landing on Priscilla. “Detention, Corner. You’ll be helping Hagrid clean the Flobberworm excrement five times a week. Three weeks.”
“You pompous arse,” said Priscilla, clearly not going anywhere without a fight. She withdrew her wand and pointed it Albus. He looked unfazed.
“Try anything on me and I’m taking three hundred points from Hufflepuff right here.”
Priscilla gaped openly. For a long moment, she seemed to be struggling, the temptation of hexing Albus nearly overwhelming her. But she cast a gaze at Trista and after a long moment, dropped her wand.
“Good.” Albus smirked. “You’ve got a month cleaning dirty toilets. Four days a week. Enjoy yourself.”
A few of the Gryffindor girls burst out cheering. Nicholas swore as Albus began walking towards Trista and Lucy.
Trista had a determined expression on her face. Lucy looked near tears, her eyes watering over as he continued to look disdainful. “Albus, I’m – I tried to stop them – I don’t know what got into me – I shouldn’t’ve – I know I’m a Prefect – ”
“Two weeks.” He said baldly. “You’ll be doing extra rounds every night around the school.”
Lucy took her punishment wordlessly, her tears slipping down her cheeks. Desmond struggled, thrashing against the ground. “It’s not her fault! She didn’t want to come – we made her – ”
“You.” Albus didn’t bother turning to face Desmond. “A month helping Filch clean the castle.”
June felt a cold shock as Albus proceeded towards Trista. “Three weeks reorganizing files for Flitwick.”
What if he finds us, she thought frantically, I didn’t even do anything – I didn’t go anywhere – he wouldn’t.
She was still crouched behind a sofa, Henry beside her. She watched Albus out of the corner in disbelief, never having seen him so righteously angry before. The rest of the Common Room was watching with bated breath.
June’s hands began shaking, her face flustering.
Henry seemed to understand what she was thinking. He gave a small smile and leaned over her, whispering, “We’ll be okay, June.”
When she gave no reply, he took her hand again, squeezing it gently.
Albus had heard Henry’s whisper. He looked towards their corner, pointing his wand at the sofa. “Get out where I can see you.”
Henry took a deep breath. “Ready?”
She nodded stiffly.
They both stood up at the same time and stepped out of the shadows. Henry’s hand was still firmly grasping hers. The brightness of the Common Room hovered before June’s eyes and she blinked at the sight of Albus’s wand aimed straight towards them.
His smug iciness wavered for a brief moment as she stared at him.
Henry stepped between them protectively, swinging out his entwined hand in the process. Albus’s eyes slipped down to it. After a pause, he addressed Henry coldly. “Five weeks. Helping the House Elves.”
“Five weeks?” said Priscilla in amazement, “Are you completely mad? Bates didn’t do anything!”
“You even gave us less!” said Desmond gallantly.
Albus took several long steps to where Henry and June stood together.
“Move,” he said to Henry.
“What’re you going to do?” asked Henry warily.
“I told you to move,” snapped Albus. “Ten points from Hufflepuff.”
June quickly untangled her fingers from Henry’s as Albus loomed over her. She stared determinedly up at him, willing herself not to feel anything.
Her heart beating frantically, she said, “I didn’t do anything.”
“Didn’t you?” Albus gave her a shadowy half-smile. “You’re here, aren’t you?”
“She’s acting as an accomplice,” offered Iris Bosworth.
“Make her feed the Giant Squid,” said Cora gleefully. “Maybe she’ll fall in.”
Albus stared at June, folding his arms. “Three weeks. You’ll be doing my Prefect rounds with me.”
As June felt her heart sink to her feet, Henry said in outrage, “How can you ask her to do something like that?”
“June isn’t a Prefect!” said Priscilla, “She’s got no reason to help you with your rounds, you lazy – ”
“It’ll help remedy a distinct disrespect for authority,” said Albus smoothly. “Now get out, all of you.”
Leaving them gaping after him, Albus turned and walked up the stairs. June felt rooted where she stood, her head spinning. Nothing made sense anymore.
Author's Note: Sorry for the wait! College has been a lot of work thusfar and I've had next to no time to write. Mid-terms, essays, boring lectures and such are all standard fare in the life of your average college student. And so is no time to write. :(
But I managed a long update! A big thank you to everyone who reviewed last chapter! I squeed so much when I saw how many reviews you guys left! I'll be answering them soon, but I figured an update would make you happier. :D So, I've never really written a Quidditch scene before or managed so many characters at once. Thoughts? And what about bossy Albus?
As always, thanks so much for your support! I hope you review letting me know what you thought! ^__^