Chapter 1 : One stupid lie
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So this was it. My last year at Hogwarts had barely begun when I found myself in a bit of a pickle. The whole jar of pickles was more like it. Well, you get the picture.
It was a bloody pickle nightmare.
I had an unfortunate nightly habit of wandering off from dormitories and sleep walking around the castle. Not every night, mind you, just when my mind was overflowing with stress or unresolved feelings. Can you guess how stressful a life of an average teenage witch is? It’s not sunshine and rainbows, let me tell you that.
During my O.W.L. tests I woke up one fine morning perched up on a branch of the whomping willow. No idea how I had gotten up there, but coming down was as hazardous as riding a blast-ended skrewt. Tonight I had done it again. I had wandered off from my warm bed in my unicorn pj’s and pink bed socks with little snitch pom poms. And got royally screwed.
I winced when Mr. Filch’s office door was thrown open and my partner in crime was ushered involuntarily in. The office was just about size of a roomy broom closet filled with file cabinets and the best selection of pranking devices known to wizardkind. If the predicament wasn’t as pressing as it was, it would have been a pleasure to nick some of that stuff for the future purposes. The rickety chair under me creaked as I tried to peer towards the door. Mr. Filch had no illusions about mischief makers and before he went after him, I was shackled to the chair with irons that probably kept a full-sized troll in place, let alone one sleepy little girl.
The caretaker forced his other prisoner to take a seat and whistled a merry tune quite off-key as he shackled him with irons similar to mine. My heart beat a mile a minute and my hands were slippery with sweat. When it came to fight or flight reaction, I always chose flight. Always. Sadly, now I didn’t have the choice to run away.
To think that just yesterday I was prepared to face my last school year the way Olympian divers did; a deep breath, jumping into the pool and leisurely swimming to the steps and out of the shark-infested waters. I even had dared to dream about a scholarship if the N.E.W.T.s went the way they were supposed to. After all, I was a clever witch with the shining prospects in the Ministry of Magic. I had a summer job there with Unspeakables and they had really liked me. The current situation definitely put a damper on those plans.
Mr.Filch stretched himself and gave us crooked grin which revealed his snuff stained gums and teeth that would have benefited from daily flossing. He looked like a paunchy cat that had caught a canary. Or a baby hippogriff. Whatever.
“I’m going to get professor Longbottom to punish you. I’d rather let you rot here for a few days and dangle those pretty little pins of yours to the ceiling with the chains, but the headmistress says it’s not allowed. Such a waste of shiny shackles. I polished them just for the occasion, Potter.”
The black-haired boy next to me shrugged and watched the old caretaker with expecting eyes. He was clearly amused about the situation. He blew hair off his eyes and started negotiating like it was an everyday situation to be shackled in a smelly office with a girl he barely knew.
“Mr.Filch,” he said with a mock respect. “I could put in a good word for you. Madam Pince would not know what hit her. Some wining and dining in the astronomy tower and you would be the prince charming she’s been searching for all these years from her dusty old books.”
The caretaker considered the offer. The odds were in his favour. Madam Pince had always fancied him after all. In the end Filch shook his head. Apparently pleasure of torturing students was higher priority than his love life.
“No, Potter.” Filch smiled with his jagged teeth. “Today is the day when you’re going to pay for what you have been doing last couple of years.”
“Like the time when I washed and dyed Mrs. Norris Jr. to purple and strung her to dry with McGonagall’s bloomers?” Potter was clearly trying to tick Filch off.
“What? It was you?”
“Yes. Or did you mean the time when the owlery moved here for a month? It explains the smell,” Potter remarked to me. “Owl poop is hard to get rid off when you’re a squib.”
“You… insolent brat!” Mr.Filch practically ground his teeth. “Expulsion is waiting for you!”
The caretaker swooped out of the door. James Potter turned to me and smiled but there was a doubt beneath the surface. I wrung my sweaty hands against cold metal. It bit to my wrists with a vengeance.
“Don’t worry about that. Longbottom is an old family friend and he has never expelled anyone,” he said. “He can’t hurt a fly, let alone any of his dear plants in the greenhouse three. Though I’m pretty sure he prefers them to humans.”
I nodded and tried to look relieved.
“By the way, where were you going when you slammed into me?” Potter asked me with the smirk.
“Late night rendez-vous with a boyfriend?”
Hell if I knew where I was going, but there would be no way ever that I would disclose that information to him. I just had woken up in the middle of the hallway after colliding with him heavily. I had bruised my shoulder pretty badly too. So any excuse would be better than to confess that apparently I did some pretty silly things while sleeping. Call it self-preservation. Not that I had a boyfriend. But any excuse would do.
“You dirty girl!” He laughed out loud and my ears turned pink. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the best excuse when dealing with the guy who had snogged his fair share of girls in the broom closets. I tried to play it down.
“Just a study date.”
“Really? A study date in the jammies at the Ravenclaw tower? Where are your books then?” His voice was filled with disbelief.
“I forgot those.” This started to sound really stupid. “In fact I was just trying to solve the riddle and get back there when we... met.”
“I just didn’t know you had it in you, you sly little minx.” He winked.
It was a lost cause. I sighed and tried to figure out how to change the subject before I was knee-deep in the swamp of lies about my torrid love life.
The door opened and professor Longbottom walked in. He had shaggy salt and pepper hair and his eyes looked extremely tired. Maybe life as a teacher wasn’t as easy as I had always thought it would be. He was wearing old jeans and a t-shirt that proclaimed ‘give some love to puffapods! the herbology teachers’ convention’.
“Nice shirt, sir!” Even when shackled up to his elbows, James Potter sounded as cheerful as ever.
“At ease, James,” Professor Longbottom said with a sigh. “Filch had to go after Peeves. It decided to liven up the place and flood the dungeons. So, what did you do this time?”
He flicked his wand and the shackles vanished. I rubbed my aching wrists and ankles.
“Nothing really.” Longbottom raised his eyebrow.
“I just helped her. She forgot her books to the Ravenclaw tower.” Potter tried to look as innocent as possible. Professor Longbottom didn’t buy it.
“Miss Fish?” Potter tried to give me anxious signs behind Longbottom’s back to go with the story. I guess I didn’t have any better options. Well, here goes nothing.
“Yes, I was bit scatterbrained earlier and forgot those there. I was studying with a friend.”
“And do you know it’s past midnight?”
“Yes.” I shrunk under the teacher’s steely gaze.
“And why can’t you get your books after the breakfast?”
“But I needed my books tonight. I know that professor Greengrass enjoys quizzing us on ancient runes and I like to keep my runes book under my pillow to let the knowledge seep into my brain while I’m sleeping.” Potter face palmed behind the teacher.
“You sleep with a two thousand page book under you pillow?” Professor Longbottom’s eyes flickered with laughter but his voice was dead serious.
“Yes, I do.”
“All right then, miss Fish. A week’s worth detention to both of you for running around after the curfew and now straight to bed.”
Professor Longbottom shook his head in despair. I guess I was a really terrible liar.
The walk back to the Gryffindor tower was a quiet one. I had just gained my first detention ever. With Potter, no less. Who would have thought? Which reminded me...
“Why were you in the Ravenclaw tower?”
“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” he mused and climbed through the portrait hole.
“But I asked?”
“None of your business, Emmy Fish.” The boy was insufferable.
“By the way, I really like your pom poms.” He smirked and skipped to the stairs that led to the boys’ dormitories.
A/N: Hello! This is my first foray into writing fanfiction. Thanks for reading it. I hope you like it and I would be on the cloud nine if you reviewed it! Any feedback is appreciated. :) And big thanks to my wonderful beta reader ClawsPuffsSnakesGryffs! You rock girl!