Chapter 4 : At The Leaky Cauldron
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The Leaky Cauldron was fairly packed that evening, which was not surprising as the summer holiday was not over yet. It was hot in there and Blanca was thankful she only had on a pair of shorts and a tank top under her cloak, near the bar, Blanca could hear the kind voice of Madame Hannah, Melanie’s mother as she gave out orders to the many waiters bustling around the pub.
Blanca and her family walked over to one of the tables near the door and ordered six Butterbeers. “Here’s to today, here’s to Blanca and here’s to family!” Dean said as he raised his glass.
“Here here!” they all said in unison.
“And here’s to getting drunk tonight!” Rob added.
“Here here!” they all laughed, knowing that Rob was one to never get drunk.
The evening carried on with them reminiscing on good times in the past, and Rob was telling a story of his encounter with a Muggle mobile phone, (Blanca had muggle grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, so she was no stranger to muggle devices), he begun talking about how the thing sprung to life and started to make a dreadful din when Blanca heard a dreadful din of her own.
She heard a very girly laugh that she knew only too well and looked up to see Lexi Prince, a Gryffindor in her year walk in. Practically draped on her arm was Lance, Blanca felt sick to her stomach. Lexi was the girl she had caught him with, the same girl he swore was no one to him and now they were an item? Luckily for her, Lexi was too busy swishing her long raven hair and Lance was too busy ogling her boobs that none of them noticed her as they made their way to the furthest corner of the pub.
“Well,” Leila said as she downed her last Firewhisky, “that was pretty epic Rob! I must be heading home now, thank you Mr. Thomas, and goodnight.” She said as she got up from her seat.
Matt was next to get up and was closely followed by Charlie and Rob, Blanca was mighty thankful that they were leaving because she too wanted to get back home, something she wanted to do ever since Lance and his bimbo walked in.
“Alright champ, last drink before we leave yeah?” Dean said as he sipped his Firewhisky. Blanca was nodding in agreement when she heard a voice that made her cringe.
“PAAAAAARRRRRRTTTTTTAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!” came James Potter’s voice from the entrance. The Potter boy walked in and behind him was the whole entire Potter-Weasley clan. With the exception of Hugo and Lily, probably because they were still too young to be out that late. Typical, Blanca thought, of course these people did not start any celebration before 20:00hrs, at least not on James’ watch.
“Dad, I’m done, let’s go,” Blanca said as she hurriedly got up from her chair, she loved the Weasleys, they were like family to her, but she was in no mood to face their loud rambunctious behaviour just yet, especially with Lance’s presence in the room which would definitely not go unnoticed.
Before she could even leave the table, “Blanca!” another voice made her cringe on the inside. It belonged to Rose Weasley, Blanca’s best friend. Rose’s curly red hair flew behind her as she ran towards her friend to hug her. “Hello Mr. T!” she gave Dean a quick hug. “Nice hair by the way, B!”
“Hi Rose!” Blanca said, “Thankyou! It’s been so long, we were just leaving-”
“Leaving!” a loud voice boomed, “Nonsense!” the voice belonged to none other than Ronald Weasley himself. He and Harry had just walked in and they must have heard the last bit of the conversation.
“Harry! Ron!” Dean exclaimed.
“Dean Thomas!” Ron bellowed again, Blanca suspected he might have already had something to drink, “C’mere ol’ mate! We have a lot of catching up to do!”
“Yeah,” Harry said, “sit down with us! You have been awfully quiet these past months!” he flashed Blanca a smile, “Blanca, dear, how are you?”
“Oh, I’m good,” she replied in a tiny voice, clearly, she had lost this one and was going to have to stay the night.
“We were just celebrating her O.W.Ls!” Dean beamed, Blanca looked embarrassed, she did not like it when her father bragged about her.
“Really?” Harry said, “We’re here for Albus and Rose’s! So, for you my friend, the party continues because you are not leaving just yet! It’s going to be for Blanca, Al and Rosie, Louis could have been here, but they are in France.”
“Apparently, Phlegm doesn’t think they are spending enough time with her side of the family!” a female voice offered. It was Ginny, she had just come in with Hermione and Angelina.
“I thought we had stopped calling her that,” Harry chuckled.
“You did. I reserve it for when she has her episodes!” she put her purse on the counter and turned to Dean to give him a hug. Hermione had just given Blanca a hug and was saying, “It’s been too long dear, how have you been?”
“Good,” Blanca replied giving Angelina a hug. That was typical of the Potter-Weasley women, they seemed to have an excess of hugs.
“Come on B, we could get old just listening to these old folks,” Rose said as she dragged her friend away from the large group of adults to the table in the corner dangerously near where Lance and Lexi were.
“Blanca!” Albus leapt up from his seat to give her a hug.
“’Sup, Blankie!” Fred said as he grinned up at her.
“Hi Fredward!” she retorted.
“Hello Blanca,” Lucy and Molly said softly in unison. Sometimes, Blanca wondered if those two were joined at the hip.
Blanca scanned the table, she sighed with relief that James was not there and deduced that Dominique was in France, but where was Roxanne?
“Roxy’s on another hot date tonight,” Fred replied when she asked. “A boy that was in Slytherin...I wonder how much I could make from blackmail cause I know Dad doesn’t know…” he said the last bit to himself mostly.
Just then, James came back to the table with Butterbeers and a bottle of Firewhisky.
“All right people, time to get DRUUUNN-” he stopped in mid-sentence when his eyes fell upon Blanca.
“Thomas.” He sneered.
“Potter.” She replied.
Blanca and James did not like each other. Everybody knew it, he couldn’t stand her guts and she his. To Blanca, James Potter was the most self-absorbed, obnoxious, ego-istic, narcissistic person that she ever met, and by the way, she had met the Malfoys and Parkinsons. The worst was the way he treated girls like they were pieces of meat that were created for him to devour. To James, Blanca was a loud, annoying little bint that was probably put on earth to torment him. God! However she ended up in Hufflepuff was a mystery to him, weren’t Hufflepuffs supposed to be nice naïve little harmless people? This girl behaved as though she belonged to Slytherin!
Blanca could remember her and James’ first run-in. She was just a few weeks old at Hogwarts and James and his posse made it their mission to prank every first year in school. Blanca was on her way to Charms when James called her, “Oi! Thomas!”, he was at the end of the corridor near a door, his hands were full with jars of what looked like pickles .
“Could you come here a moment? I need you to help me open this door for me, my hands are full.”
“Sure thing.” She walked up to him and easily opened the door. The moment it opened, something exploded in her face and Blanca was covered in a gooey foul-smelling green liquid.
James was roaring with laughter as the jars disappeared from his arms, they were charmed. The rest of his friends emerged from their hiding places and joined in the laughter.
“Scourgify.” Blanca muttered as she pointed her wand to her face and robes and they were clean, then turning to James, she said with a polite smile on her face, “Why, James Potter, what you did was not very nice. People usually prefer not to be covered in smelly goo you know, and I think an apology would be in order.”
James burst into more laughter, “Do you believe her!” he asked his friends amid laughter, turning to her, he said, “you’re really funny kid, but just why would I want to apologize to you?”
“Because, something like this could happen to you,” she said as she pointed her wand at him, “Calovorio- Maxima!”
James laughed as the spell hit him. “What was that? A tickling charm? Oh you little first years…”
“Uh James, I think you might want to see this,” Fred said nervously. He led James to a more reflective door and James screamed at what he saw. He was completely bald and had no eyebrows. The spell lasted two weeks and Blanca had to serve a detention with Filch.
That was the beginning of the Potter-Thomas feud, they had fewer run-ins these past years but their rivalry was clear on the Quidditch pitch.
So now, here he was, still holding the Butterbeers and staring coldly down at her.
“What Potter? Cat got your tongue?” she asked.
“Shut up Thomas, oh by the way, I ran into Lance, your boyfriend?” he leaned closer in her ear and said, “Though he looks pretty happy with Lexi McBigTits.”
“Nice to meet you too Potter,” Blanca said sarcastically.
“Okay, break it up already you two!” Albus cut in, “and James, go somewhere.”
James took a swig of his Firewhisky and went over to the bar where a pretty blonde girl was sitting alone.
“So,” Albus turned to Blanca, “how was your summer?”
“Good. Little much happened, I went to Prague, and then stayed with the Finnigans for a bit and then there was that stint at Grandma Thomas’. Mostly I was just at home helping dad with the shop. But it was good, mostly.”
“You are so lucky, getting to travel every time,” Albus mused, “sometimes I wish my dad was as cool as yours.”
“Yeah, says the son of Harry Potter!” Blanca said.
“That’s the thing, you see, I have expectations to live up to, and seeing as dear brother over there has little hope,” he gestured to James who was already playing tongue-hockey with the girl, “oh who am I kidding? Seeing as my brother has absolutely no hope for his future, everybody kind of sees me as a mini Harry.”
“Well, let’s face it Al, you are his spitting image,” Blanca observed, “and had it not been for the amazing world of contact lenses, super old people would call you Harry had you worn glasses like he does.”
Albus ignored her and continued, “But as for your case, you have absolutely nothing to live for! You could make a complete arse of yourself and nobody would bat an eyelid!”
“Wow, thank you for that Al,” Blanca said sarcastically.
Al pulled her closer to him and draped an arm around her, Blanca was used to sitting with him like this, she buried her head in his shoulder to smell his all-so-familiar scent. “You see my friend,” he said, “you can run with the wild horses.”
“Hey,” Rose, who had until now, been absorbed by her butterbeer, said, “Blanca, is that Lance with Lexi?”
Blanca felt her stomach do a few hoola-hoops, she knew somebody was going to take notice, especially with Lexi’s laugh that seemed to have gotten louder over the summer.
“Yeah. Why do you ask?”
Rose looked surprised, “He’s your boyfriend is he not?”
Blanca shrugged, trying her best to look indifferent, “Used to be…….until about three weeks ago.”
“What!” Rose whispered, she looked around the table to make sure only the three of them were in on the conversation. “How come you didn’t owl me?”
“Because it’s none of your business Rosie,” Al quipped, which won him one of the signature Rose Weasley glares.
“Of course it is! Blanca is my best friend!”
“Tawny got her wing fried last term, remember? So Hagrid is still taking care of her,” Blanca explained.
“You could have used one of your dad’s owls.”
“How was your summer you guys?” Blanca decided to completely change the subject. Al quickly took the hint and responded.
“Good. Did the usual, spent the first few weeks at the Burrow, then went home, then went to Uncle George’s, then went to Rose’s and we’re back at the Burrow! It’s closest to Diagon Alley and King’s Cross, so we’ll-”
“Be able to easily get back to school on Sunday.” Blanca finished. The system had always been the same, she spent a lot of time at the Burrow and at Rose’s so she knew the pattern.
“Yeah. And as you may already have guessed, there was plenty of action going on; Molls here had her first boy over, Uncle Percy almost cursed his eyes off-”
“But Molly’s seventeen! She should be able to do what she wants!”
“Tell that to Uncle Perce, glad he had to work late today. And James also brought home one of his latest flames, lasted only two weeks, poor girl, Lily spiked her tea with one of Uncle George’s boil-raising potions! Ah, what a sight it was, you should have been there, even mum passed a tiny snigger. Only James was not amused, poor Lily ended up with frog eyes in her shampoo!”
Blanca smiled at Al, she loved it when he lost himself in a story and got all animated like he was right now. “Which was it this time?” she asked.
Rose was the one who replied, “Chloe Summers, the Gryffindor in Dominique’s year, you know, blonde hair, legs up to here!” she held up her hand to describe the leg length. “And speaking of blonde hair and long legs, where is Mel? She lives here doesn’t she?”
Melanie Longbottom was Blanca’s other best friend, they immediately became close from day one at Hogwarts; each finding comfort in the fact that the other knew what it was like to live in a busy street with their parents running businesses there. Blanca thought of her two best friends, they were as different as chalk and cheese. Sometimes she wondered if they would have even been friends had it not been for her sake. Rose was the more practical one, the smart one who dealt with facts and believed in tough love. Mel, on the other hand, was the happy, dreamy, fragile angel who believed in everyone and everything. So, to keep Rose from cracking and Mel from crying, Blanca would take turns between the two, but there were rare moments when the three would be together and feelings wouldn’t be hurt.
“She’s probably upstairs gazing at the stars or something, you know how mystic she can get sometimes,” Blanca replied. “So, we’re N.E.W.T students now eh?”
“Yep!” Al took a swig of his butterbeer, “Got O’s in D.A.D.A and Charms! Dad’s over the moon. You?”
“I did okay, only failed Divination and Care of Magical Creatures, Rose, how’d you do? All O’s right?”
Rose looked down at her butterbeer, “Well yeah, sort of…..”
“She got all O’s except for Care of Magical Creatures!” Al cut in, “That’s why she’s so sullen! Loosen up Rosie, it’s only one subject!”
“Yeah, but I feel like I let Hagrid down…..”
Albus rolled his eyes and smiled at Blanca, who mouthed, “Typical.”
Feeling the need to change the subject- again, Blanca sat up and said, “Well, we got a visit from the Malfoys today.”
Rose snapped her head up a little too quickly; that did not go unnoticed by Blanca.
“What did those slime balls want?” Al asked.
“Hey! Don’t call them that! It’s not nice,” Blanca retorted.
“Yes, St. Thomas, like you haven’t called my brother worse.”
“Well, that’s because your brother has a permanent bed space at the Home for the Chronically Obnoxious! Anyway, as I was saying, they came looking for a broom for Scorpius.”
At the name Scorpius, Rose’s cheeks flushed and she quickly sank into her butterbeer, this too, did not go unnoticed by Blanca.
“Well, in complete Malfoy fashion, the senior Malfoy started off by insulting everything about the shop and about us!”
“What!” Albus gasped. Blanca told him about what had happened form the time they came in to the time her father kicked them out. “Stupid gits! They sure deserved the boot!” he hissed.
Just then, James came back from the counter and sat himself between Molly and Lucy. Molly, who had until then been in deep, hushed conversation with Lucy, glared at him for interrupting them, but James just merely shrugged. Blanca looked up and realised that he was now sitting directly opposite her, and her position in the corner, between Al and Rose was not one where she could easily get up and walk away.
“Hey! Where’s Fred?” he asked, his words were slightly slurred and Blanca knew he was tipsy.
Fred had left a half hour ago; he had promised his father that he would be home to help him test some new merchandise.
“He left,” Rose replied, “what happened to the girl you were with?”
“Ah, she left! Said she had curfew.”
Blanca scoffed, which made James direct his gaze to her, Blanca noticed that his piercing, bottle green eyes had become greener, if that was possible. “Got something to say Thomas?”
“I’m so not in the mood, Potter.”
“Can’t you two ever keep from getting at each other?” Al asked.
“I can,” James said, “I’ll just need someone to talk to that’s all,” then he turned around and did something that Blanca had been praying all night wouldn’t happen, “Oi! Lance! Come over here mate!”
Blanca looked scandalised. “Why don’t you go over there instead?” she hissed.
“Because, there’s three free chairs here and I don’t want to move.”
Blanca shut her eyes as Lance and Lexi walked towards their table. Blanca wasn’t ready to face Lance just yet, and facing him and his new girlfriend, that he had cheated on her with, was not helping things.
“Hi Casablanca!” Lexi’s sugar-coated voice was the first thing Blanca heard.
“What’s up Lexi,” she mumbled.
“Oh, nothing much, Lancie and I were just celebrating!”
“Oh, you didn’t know? It’s our three-week anniversary as an official couple.”
“Congratulations,” she said to Lance through gritted teeth. “Three weeks as an ‘official couple’.”
Lance looked sheepish, “Hi B,” he said.
James looked pretty proud of himself. He had managed to get Thomas all bothered without uttering a single word himself; he gave himself a mental pat on the back.
Blanca felt Al pull her closer to him, “Hi Lance, hello Lexi,” she heard him say, she took a shaky sip of her butterbeer.
“So, Jordan, you and Lexi shagged yet?”
Blanca choked and spluttered everywhere.
“Are you okay?” Rose was looking concerned.
“Yeah, yeah I’m good, just went down the wrong pipe that’s all!”
James looked amused, “So, have you two shagged yet?” he continued.
“And why would that detail be so important?” Al asked, clearly looking annoyed. Even Lucy and Molly, who had managed to find themselves next to each other again, stopped their conversation and looked up.
“Just collecting stats, that’s all,” James replied innocently, “you see, a guy like me who doesn’t have long-term girlfriends, rarely comes across a specimen like this,” he motioned to Blanca, Lexi and Lance. “So, having Lance in the same room with his new girlfriend and his used girlfriend is very good for collecting important data to add to my relationship stats at Hogwarts. It helps me stay single.”
Blanca gave James a puzzled look, how someone could make crap sound so intelligent and completely scientific was beyond her.
“So,” he continued, “I know that he and Thomas here did not shag, which is why I need to know if they did. It’s going to explain whether Lance here is a sex-less prudent gentleman or whether it’s Thomas that’s not really that special, sexually speaking.”
Lexi passed what sounded like a snigger, Lance took to looking at his Firewhisky like it was the key to life’s secrets, Rose looked at Blanca, as if ready to catch her if she fainted, Molly and Lucy were both open-mouthed, Al angrily glared at his brother and Blanca looked at James with wide eyes, something between a smile and a grimace was pasted on her lips.
James drummed on the table before leaning back and saying, “Well, there it is, got my answer! Now I can give almost full diagnosis on Lance’s condition involving the opposite sex.”
“What are you playing at James?” Al asked through gritted teeth.
“Well you see dear brother, one thing is clear about Lance here; he likes smart girls, Lexi is a Gryffindor, but she’s one of the smartest in her year and Thomas, well she should be smart, I know Rose can’t stand thick people! But again, you may ask yourself, if he fancies smart girls, why didn’t he stay with Thomas over here? Or at least shag her? There are two possible answers to this question, one; Thomas could be an uptight little prude who won’t let anyone past first base, or the more obvious one, number two; Lance loves huge knockers, which, unlike Thomas, Lexi seems to be blessed with. But again, what if Lance here doesn’t care about boobs? Then what could it have been that suddenly made Thomas appalling and Lexi appealing? Could it have been that-”
“Okay! Okay! No one’s enjoying your little diagnosis James! It’s really childish if I may say so myself!” Rose cut him off.
“Hey! Al was interested, and I was simply elaborating. Anyway, I think if I were Lance, I’d still choose Lexi.”
“Aw, thank you James,” Lexi purred.
Blanca felt a huge lump forming at her throat, she expected the tears to come but surprisingly none of them came. She could vaguely feel Al’s hand softly patting her back as she desperately searched for her father’s eyes, trying to telepathically send him a message, which, obviously did not work. She needed to go home, she needed to go home bad.
“Hey, Casablanca,” Lexi was saying, “I hope you don’t really take what James said to heart. You know he was just messing around right?” her sugary drawl sounded like a million banshees to Blanca.
Blanca gave Lexi a small smile, ‘Yes I fucking take it to heart you slimy, boyfriend-stealing little bitch! What the bloody hell do think I am going to do? Skip around rainbows and sing Kumbaya? Of course I feel nasty!’ she wanted to yell, but instead, she looked up and said, “Of course not, I know he’s only kidding.”
“Little bint,” Al muttered under his breath.
James was feeling mighty proud of himself, he turned to Lance and started talking about Quidditch. At least he got her angry, something he had not done in two months!
“So, Blanca, are you going to be coming to the Burrow any time before school starts?” Rose asked.
“You do know that school is this Sunday right?” Blanca asked.
“Well, it sort of is an invitation. Please B,” she whispered the last bit, “I won’t be able to take sharing a room with Dominique anymore!”
“But I thought she was in France?” Blanca said.
“They’ll be back tomorrow...please!”
“I don’t know.....my dad kind of needs help at the store.....” this was not completely untrue, but the main truth was Blanca wanted to stay away from James as much as possible.
There was another roar of laughter from the adults table and Blanca snapped her head up to see her dad. It looked like he was getting up, this was her golden opportunity. She quickly pushed her chair back and wriggled herself out of Albus’ grasp.
She quickly waved goodbye to Lucy and Molly, (who had been kind enough to let Lexi in their conversation since the boys had gone into Quidditch mode) and made her way towards her father, followed closely by her two friends.
Blanca could catch the words ‘Malfoy’ and ‘ferret’ by the time she reached the table and her father instinctively put an arm around her. Looking at the clock behind the bar, Blanca realised that it was already half past midnight.
“Alright guys,” Dean was saying, “it’s been great! I sure had a lot of fun, but I think it’s time my little Hufflepuff and I hit the road.”
“Alright! Cheers mate!” Harry was saying as he got up to say goodbye to his friend, turning to Blanca, he said, “and I heard that you were appointed captain of your team. Congratulations!”
“Captain!” it was Albus who exclaimed, “that’s great! Why didn’t you say something?”
“I guess it slipped my mind,” Blanca mumbled sheepishly, “Thanks Harry.”
“Blanca honey,” it was Hermione who spoke, “Rose has been chatting my ear off about how you need to come over! How would you like to spend the weekend at the Burrow?”
“Yeah!” Ginny chipped in, “Grandpa Weasley has actually been asking continuously about you! He says you’re the only one who understands his love for Muggle things.”
Blanca had been hoping no one would invite her to stay over, she looked up at her dad, he was beaming.
“Of course she would love to stay over! I’ve had her to myself all summer! I think she missed spending time with her mates.” He said, contrary to the message she was trying to send him with her eyes.
“Excellent!” Harry said, “I’ll pick her up first thing in the morning when I come to get the Firebolt checked out.”
“Yay!” Rose squealed in Blanca’s ear, “I guess you are coming after all!”
“Yay.” Blanca said in a flat tone.
“Goodnight guys.” Dean said once more as he helped his daughter into her cloak.
It was quiet and chilly outside, in contrast to the atmosphere in the Leaky Cauldron. Blanca pulled her cloak closer to herself and huddled closer to her father as they took the twenty-minute walk back home.
“Are you sure you’re going to be fine in your own dad?” Blanca asked, hoping she could still change his mind, “I mean, new shipment just came in yesterday and you need all hands on deck right?”
Dean softly laughed, “My funny little Hufflepuff, we’ll be okay just fine. Besides, Charlie, Leila, Matt and Rob are the best team I’ve ever worked with. We won’t even notice we’re a hand short. Besides, you still need to do your school shopping so either way, even if you stayed, it’s not like you’d be around most of the time. Go have fun with your friends, I know you missed them.” Then after some time, he said, “Hey, was that Lance Jordan at your table? Why was he with another girl?”
“Dad. We’re not together anymore, remember? That was his new girlfriend, Lexi.”
“He already has a new girlfriend?” Dean asked in shock. This took him back to his sixth year when Ginny broke up with him and started dating Harry practically a week later, it hurt real bad back then, so he imagined what his daughter must have been feeling.
Blanca just smiled up at him, “Its fine dad. I’m okay-really.”
Dean pulled his daughter closer to him, “My funny little Hufflepuff,” he silently muttered. Hating that Jordan kid for the pain he was putting his daughter through.
Blanca suddenly felt much better. ‘My funny little Hufflepuff’ had always been her father’s nickname for her, she loved it. But nobody else was allowed to call her that, only he knew how to say it. It made her feel really special.
Twenty minutes later, they were standing in front of the shop, Blanca could see the ‘The Broom Closet’ glowing in gold above the door. Dean tapped his wand on the door, muttering things in a sing-song voice, a few moments later, he pushed the handle and the door swung open. As he was re-locking it, Blanca quickly rushed upstairs to make her father some hot chocolate before she went to bed. She found him in his study, taking some entries with a quill- something that was unusual as he always used a muggle pen, he looked tired, but he had that determined look on his face. “Here’s some hot chocolate dad.” Blanca whispered.
“Thanks honey,” he said, “just set it on the table. It’s been a long day, go get some sleep.”
“Goodnight dad.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek and went off to her room, she slumped down on her bed and imagined the colourful ways she could kill James Potter, surprisingly this time, she was not getting as much satisfaction from it as she usually did, so with a frustrated sigh, she turned on her side and drifted off to sleep.
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