Chapter 1 : From Homework to the Hospital Wing.
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“Come on, Jen,” James Sirius Potter said lazily, his black hair messy and adorable as ever. He gazes into my eyes with mock sincerity. “Let’s stop studying; it’s a lovely day outside! We could be practicing Quidditch!” He says the word fervently, like a man obsessed. Which, of course, he is.
“We have a foot due for Professor Quoin on moonstone, spell practice for Flitwick, an essay for History of Magic,” we both rolled our eyes; it was our most hated subject, as everyone else’s, “and we have prefect duties. We’re supposed to make up a new password, not to mention patrol later.” I looked at him severely, then added, “Besides, wouldn’t practicing Quidditch be the same as studying? It’s practice.”
James scowled, his face becoming what I can only describe as a pout. “Don’t ever insult Quidditch again! It’s nothing like this rubbish,” he grumbled, throwing his hands up in dismay as he glared at his schoolwork. “I want to go down to the pitch,” he said miserably, sounding like a petulant child.
“And you can, once we finish our work,” I reminded him. I had to grin at the desperate look he gave me, slumping down onto the couch in the common room, scowling and muttering to himself.
“Jenna McIntire, you’re a shrew!” James yelled a few minutes later, causing a few first years to jump with fright, and one third year girl to nearly alight the common room in flames with a misfired spell. I gave James a reprimanding look, to which he rolled his eyes. “Oh, quiet, you. Don’t act like my mum, Jen, it’s highly off-putting.” He shuddered, and I understood exactly. Ginny Potter was a scary woman when she was angry, and that was exactly what she would have been, had she seen James nearly cause the destruction of the Gryffindor common room.
I sighed, looking over at him with a sour expression. “Why exactly am I a shrew?” James had a habit of yelling out random names at me when he was frustrated, so by then I was well used to it.
James shrugged, grabbing at a piece of parchment, looking at it with a fierce dislike. “D’you know why the professors assign us so much work?” He asked with a frown, his eyes quite serious.
I roll my eyes. Alright, I’ll bite. “Why, James?” I ask tiredly, just wanting to get our freaking homework done. Why is it that I have a habit of picking best mates that are crazy? Except Albus, but that’s only because he’s James’s brother. And Mags Thomas, but that was different. Maggie was just a different kind of crazy
“They want us to go insane,” James said with a knowing air. He looked at me as if we were sharing a delicate secret that couldn’t be shared with just anyone. “They know that we’ve got other things on our mind, other teachers’ work to do, not to mention just studying for these stupid exams we always take, and most importantly, Quidditch!” At this, James looked furious.
“Don’t you think, maybe, just maybe, that they’re trying to prepare us for the exams?” I asked skeptically, which caused James to roll his eyes again. I sighed, slamming my book down on the small table in front of us. “That’s it. Go put your books away,” I ordered forcefully, glaring.
James looked confused for a moment, before realization hit him. He gave me a giddy grin before sweeping up all of his papers and cramming them into his rucksack, along with the only two books that he had managed to extricate from his room since September. He paused, looking at me shrewdly. “Does this mean we get to go to the pitch?” He asked, looking for some sort of trick.
I rolled my eyes, scowling. “Yes, dunghead. Now, go get your broom before I change my mind.”
James darted up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory, but was back again as quickly as he had went. Breathless, James grinned crookedly. I knew that grin, and he only used it when he wanted to get something. “Your broom, too?”
“You bloody wanker, just hurry up!” I yelled gruffly, grinning despite myself. A small wave of shame rolled over me for giving James his way, but I ignored it. After all, it was a lovely day, and, hey, maybe I would run into the demon twins, Lorcan and Lysander Scamander, and they could help me get all this done. They may be slightly insane, but there was no denying it; the sixth-year Ravenclaws were the smartest people I’d ever met. Well, maybe besides Dumbledore’s portrait, but let’s face it, he was just strange.
“Are we going to go, Jen, or are you going to stay in your head all day?” James teased, grinning. He held two of the best brooms known to man in his arms, and, at my awed look, he shrugged. “I couldn’t get up the girls’ staircase. Turned into a bloody slide on me, so I just grabbed Fred’s. He won’t mind.”
I raised my eyebrows, highly doubting this. For one, Freddie Weasley was almost as Quidditch-obsessed as James. Secondly, he treated his broom like it was royalty. Like, seriously, it was a very common sight to see Fred in the common room, polishing his broom and stroking it lovingly. Yes, I said stroking it. I’m being legit. Thirdly, the man who bought this broom, the almighty George Weasley, owner of the biggest bloody prank shop in all of Britain, could and probably would (George was a Quidditch freak, just like all of the Wotters, except Louis, but no one ever knew what was going on in that kid’s head, so he didn’t count) hex me into oblivion should something happen to his son’s prized broomstick. Which, knowing my luck with things like Quidditch, and, you know, overall balance and staying on the broom in general, something probably would. And I would turn into a big purple bloody dinosaur named Barney, singing and dancing for all the little Muggle brats. Seriously, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes actually had a product that could turn someone into the Muggle toddler singing-and-dancing sensation. Probably mostly for children’s parties, or, you know, just to freak people out, but still. Not sure I’m ready to take the chance.
“Earth to Jen? We’re wasting daylight here!” James grinned, grabbing my hand and pulling me toward the portrait hole. “By the time you get done talking to yourself, it’d be past curfew.”
“It’s only two-thirty!” I cried in disbelief.
James glanced back at me, grinning cheekily. “I know. Have you ever met you?”
“I think it’s impossible to have not met myself,” I said seriously, frowning. Now that I think about it… Hello, Brain? I’m Jen. Jenna McIntire, best mate of the crazy James Sirius Potter. Not the original James, mind you; this one’s the son of the Chosen One, and all that jazz. Not that it makes that wanker special; he’s insane! All he cares about his Quidditch, Quidditch, girls, Quidditch, food… Did I mention Quidditch? Anyway, the kid is crazy. All of the Wotters are, except Albus and Louis. Though, Albus was sorted into Slytherin and he’s best friends with a Malfoy, so, in all honesty, he’s crazy too. I mean, who willingly befriends a Malfoy? Have you heard what they’ve done? Awful, all of it. Well, except that bit about the mother saving Mr. Potter’s life that one time, but, that doesn’t count. Her husband and son were still a couple dung-headed wankers. And, Louis… Well, I don’t think any of us know what happened to Lou. I, personally, think he was dropped on his head as a child, but that’s just me. James swears up and down he’s always been this way, so the little sodding just-found-their-magic James and Freddie couldn’t have done something to make him so… normal.
“Jen?” James asked cautiously, stifling a grin. “Jenna, we’re here. I’m gonna leave you on the bleachers to continue your talk… with yourself. Sound good, yeah?”
“James Sirius Potter, I am not talking to myself!” I’m thinking to myself. Totally different.
“Ooh, she pulled the Sirius card. Nice move, Jen.”
“Oh, sod off, Al.” I frowned, realizing who I’m talking to. And, once I do, I grinned from ear to ear. “ALBUS! WHERE THE BLOODY HELL HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE!” And, true to form, I attacked him. Well, not necessarily; I just tackled him into a bone-crushing hug. Which, I’m sure he enjoyed. I mean, it’s me!
… Wait a moment. It’s me. Great, I’ll be lucky of the arse doesn’t call the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for excessive hugging, or something like that. The kid’s dad is the Head of the Auror department, not to mention he’s been asked to be the Minister, like, thirty times since the Battle of Hogwarts. I’m pretty sure the Ministry’d do anything with just a hint of the name ‘Potter’.
“Um, Jenna?” Albus asked, his voice muffled, but I can still detect a hint of amusement. Whew. No restraining orders for Jenna. Well, not yet.
“Yes, Albus?” I asked politely, not moving an inch.
“Can I get up now?” Laughter spilled from his lips, and I scowled.
“What, you aren’t comfortable like this? I think it’s great.” I grinned. That is, until the sodding Malfoy decides to butt in.
“Oh, come on, McIntire, you’re bloody crushing him!” Scorpius Malfoy, henceforth known as the Devil Incarnate, teased, smirking. “Besides, you’re missing your boyfriend flying.”
I moved off of Albus, but eyed them both suspiciously. “What are you lot doing here, anyway?”
Albus snorted, his green eyes dancing in the sunlight, expression mischievous. “Spying on my brother, of course. Got to know what we’re up against this season. James is an idiot, but he’s a Quidditch prodigy. We need to be on top of our game if we want to win the Cup this year.”
“Again,” said the bloody Slytherin devil smugly, and he and Albus high-fived.
“Wait, so Jamsie is your boyfriend now?” Albus asked with an air of innocence, which no one believed, ever. Albus Potter is so far from innocent it’s laughable. He hasn’t been innocent since the day he was born. I mean, do you know where he was before he was born? Absolutely scandalous. Ever since, the boy has been trying to get back into one. Though, thankfully not the same one he came out of, which would be called incest. And just plain gross, if you ask me.
“No. Got anymore girls under your spell?” I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively, resisting the urge to laugh as Albus cringed. Girls flocked to follow him, though mostly only because he’s ‘Harry Potter’s son’!! I guess after six years, the effect still hasn’t worn off. James and Lily both got nearly as much attention, but for different reasons. James, as mentioned, is a Quidditch prodigy. He’s a lazy arse at everything else, but the boy does have a way with a broomstick. Also, he and Freddie Weasley were known as legendary pranking geniuses. I mean, what else could come from the son of two of Hogwarts’s most notorious pranksters, and the grandson of another? As the story goes, the Marauders (James’s grandfather’s friends: Moony [Remus Lupin], Padfoot [Sirius Black], and Prongs [James Potter]) were the most notorious pranksters Hogwarts had seen. They knew almost every secret about the castle, and they recorded it onto a piece of parchment that was called the Marauder’s Map. This, I knew of, because when James was twelve, he filched it out of his dad’s desk and we spent the better part of our second year figuring out how to work it. Well, apparently there’s a charm on the map that records, and I quote, honorary Marauders. And Fred and George Weasley are the first on the list, followed quite closely by Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. I know that James and Freddie are trying their hardest to get their names on that list. Lily was confident, pretty, and skilled at bat-bogey hexes, just like her mother. It was a dangerous thing to get Lily Potter mad, and after she sent both of her brothers to the Hospital Wing for almost a week, it was not a thing many people attempted.
“They won’t leave him alone,” Scorpius said with a smirk, and Albus scowled.
“I haven’t had a moment of peace since first bloody year!” He cried, glaring. “Swear to Merlin, girls are overrated.” At our incredulous looks, he added quickly, “Not that I don’t like them or anything; girls have to be Merlin’s gift to man, but couldn’t he have made the birds a little simpler? These girls are insane. Can’t I have a normal bird follow me once in a while, just to switch things up?”
“Well, what’s your definition of normal, Al?”
Al shrugged. “Well, I mean, you’re normal. Well, not normal normal, but not bloody insane stalker-like, either.” I could disagree with this, but it would be highly counterproductive. Besides, the boy just gave me a compliment! Which could only mean one thing… Where’s Albus Potter and who the hell is this kid?
“Jen! Jenna Louise McIntire, are you watching me, or do I have to come drag your bloody arse away from my brother and make you fly with me!” James shouted, a grin plastered on his face. His cheeks were tinged pink from the winds, and his hair was more messy and windblown than ever. I scowled.
“If you ever use my full name again, Potter, I will hunt down your sister and sic her on you!” I screamed, and James backed away slowly. This was not a threat to be ignored; Lily Potter, as said earlier, was dangerous. Plus, she owed me a favor and she had no problem at all hexing her brothers. I believe it brings her joy to best the boys who spent the better part of their childhood leaving her out because she was ‘a dratted girl’. I grinned. “Nice flying, though!” I called to his retreating back, his robes fluttering in the wind as he swooped up and down around the pitch like a bird. I think the air is his natural habitat. He must feel like a fish in a tree on land all of the time. Poor bird-boy.
“Who’s bird-boy?” Albus asked curiously, grinning.
Oops. Did I say that aloud?
“Yes. Yes you did. Now, who is bird-boy?” Albus pressed, repressing a laugh.
“James! He’s like a bird, except… well, he hasn’t any wings, or feathers. But his hair is soft as feathers, so that works out. He’s like a bird on his broom; it’s like he was meant to be up in the sky.”
Albus snorted, and even demon-boy Malfoy cracked a grin. “Pretty deep, Jen,” Al commented, smirking. “Are you sure you and James aren’t a thing? ‘Cause I could totally see that. I mean, you’re calling him a bird.”
“Albus Severus Potter, if you say another word about me and your brother being a ‘thing’…” I threatened, scowling.
Al was too busy laughing to take notice of the use of his full name. “Denial is just one of the steps, love. You’ll realize you’re head over heels in love with Jamsie soon enough.” He and Scorpius smirked at each other and began singing at the same time, “James and Jen, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…”
I smacked the back of Albus’s head. “How old are you, again?” I asked grumpily, glaring.
Albus smiled back at me, quite content. “Six. How about you?”
“So, look, I’m really, really sorry about the whole hexing you thing,” I said quickly. I mean, I really was feeling badly about what I’d done. Not that Albus didn’t deserve to be hexed, because he did. It was just that he dodged out of the way and the spell missed, hitting James instead. I mean, hitting Al with a pretty powerful full body-bind curse wouldn’t have been that bad. I just would have had to mutter the countercurse when I thought he’d had enough. But James had been on his broom, roughly fifty feet in the air. Needless to say, the consequences were hideous.
“Next time, you aren’t allowed to sit with my brother,” James said grimly, struggling not to grin at me. I scowled, resisting the urge to smack him. This wasn’t funny! When would those words make it through that thick skull of his? “The two of you are too dangerous to put next to each other; it’s like putting a gas can over an open flame.”
I look at him strangely, frowning. What the… “What in Merlin’s name is a gas can, and what does it have to do with fire?”
James snorted, grinning at me. “Some Muggle thing Granddad and I figured out last summer. I tell you, we about torched ourselves crispy for a minute, before Granddad remembered his wand and put out the fire. That gasoline stuff ignites much faster than I’d thought; I should probably mention it to Uncle George for his Muggle prank section; that stuff could definitely do some damage.” He grinned mischievously, despite the ugly cuts on his face and the large bruise on his jaw. Madam Pomfrey had his bones fixed in a trice; but she decided that he could stay for a few days and heal from the more minor injuries. I swear I heard her mutter something like, “At least then I’ll know you aren’t getting yourself into more trouble,” before she left the room.
“James!” I yelled, earning a glare from Madam Pomfrey. I lowered my voice, but my tone was still reproving. “Pay attention, will you?”
Apparently, this was funny to my idiotic best friend. He chortled, grinning wider than ever. “You’re… You’re telling me… Me! Me, to pay…” James sputtered in between laughs. His body shook, he was laughing so hard, and he winced slightly, the movement probably hurting his cuts and things.
“Now listen here, you bloody moron,” I ordered, leaving no room for argument. “You will stop laughing and focus all your energy on healing and getting your sodding homework done, because I’ll be in class, so I can’t do it for you this time.”
James rolled his eyes. “Jeez, Jen, what are you? One of those Muggle sergeants?”
“Maybe I am!” I said heatedly, smirking. “Hut, two, get going on it, then!”
Soldier James saluted me mockingly, his brown eyes sparkling with clear mischief. “Yes, Ma’am!” He laid back on the pillows, closing his eyes.
“What in the name of Gryffindor do you think you’re doing? You’ve got homework to do,” I chastise, frowning.
James peeked one of his eyes open, and grinned. “Well, I mean, since it really is your fault that I’m holed up here, I figured the least you could do is read me the homework, while I dictate you the answers. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t be good for my hand to be writing so much. A broken wrist could cause serious complications, later in life, you know.”
I glared at him menacingly. That little prat hasn’t cared about an injury since… since ever! And that broken wrist was on his left hand, not his wand arm; besides, Madam Pomfrey fixed him right up. Is he going to tell me that Pomfrey’s losing her touch? I don’t think so. Madam Pomfrey’s been fixing James’s various Quidditch (among other things) related injuries since we were squeaky little first years.
James rolled his eyes, still grinning at me. “Oh, just do it, will you? It’ll save me from having my brain explode. Then who would Jen hex every time Al slithered away like the little Slytherin snake he is.” He laughed, liking his little joke. Al was a snake, and James was an almighty lion. Or so the dunderheads liked to think. I think they’re both complete idiots. Sure, Al was smart sometimes, and James could pull a prank so quietly that you’d never know it was him, I mean, unless you didn’t know him, so they did at least have something to be proud of. But not much. I swear, the boys would drive me to an early grave.
“Will not,” James smirked, grabbing a book off of his nightstand. I scowled at him, snatching the book away and scanning the title. Practical Defense against Nature’s Cruelest. The cover picture was a dragon, spitting fire. I looked at James skeptically.
“Birthday present from Charlie?” Charlie Weasley was James’s uncle who lived in Romania, taming wild dragons. Not that they can be tamed; Charlie just loved the beasts.
“Nah,” James said, shrugging. He reached for his book back, holding it to his chest. “I mail-ordered it from Diagon Alley. I figured that since I wanted to write a nature column for the Prophet, I might as well learn how to deal with anything freaky.” He grinned, his expression cocky, but not quite enough for him to disguise to sheepish look he got whenever he talked about his dream of being a reporter. Like his mother, James had a skill for writing, though Ginny Potter mainly stuck with the Quidditch correspondent column, James had always had a fascination with the Forbidden Forest, and, well, any other forest for that matter. He loved writing about his adventures, and the stories weren’t half-bad, either. I’d read some of them, and he’s really quite good. But when you’re a star Quidditch player, you’re expected to go pro, you’re absolutely shit in school, and all of your cousins make fun of you for being a legit dunderhead? It’s probably not so easy to tell everyone about.
“So, about that. Have you told anyone yet?”
“Just Mum. You know her, she thought it was brilliant, but then she told Dad, and he kind of wanted me to play professional Quidditch, you know? He always wanted to, Mum did and had the time of her life, before we lot came along anyway, and he says he wants me to have that experience. Plus, Quidditch pays a bit and the Prophet’s not exactly a top-notch job for most.” James shrugged, picking absently at a loose string in the bed sheet, something he did when he was concentrating. His eyebrows mashed together, and his brown eyes were thoughtful. “I think maybe I could do both. Just write a sample for the Prophet, maybe under a different name, then, if they like it, I could do one column every week, at least until Quidditch season is out.”
“Why under a different name?” It would be really cool to read something and then under it, have ‘By J.S. Potter.’ With his picture underneath.
James squirmed uncomfortably. “You know how much attention Albus gets just cause he’s dad’s son, right? Well, what if they printed my articles just because I’m my dad’s kid? Then I won’t know if they’re really good or not. Besides, I don’t want anyone else to find out just yet.” His eyes lit up, and he grinned. “Wanna hear my alias?”
I laughed. “Ooh, James Potter knows what an alias is? Big words, buddy. Sure, sure.” Knowing James, it would be something completely ridiculous or something perverted. Or both. I mean, this is James we’re talking about here.
“John Doe.” He smiled proudly.
I shook my head, sighing. “This, coming from one of the greatest pranking legends of our day? With all that creativity running through the six-times-too-big head of yours, you pick John Doe? That’s a Muggle name they use when they can’t find anything else. Surely you can do better.” Of course he can, I raged, he’s James bloody Potter! He and Freddie Weasley are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met. John Doe? I doe’n’t think so! I giggled. Did I just make a joke? I think I did!
James looked at me funny, then grinned hesitantly. “I was just joking, Jenna. I’m going to be Romulus Finn. After Dad and Grandpa’s old friend, Teddy’s father, Remus. You know that myth about the wolf-children, Romulus and Remus? Plus, it’s the name that Mr. Lupin used on Potterwatch; I know, Dad told me.” He smiled smugly.
“Where in the heck did Finn come from, then?” I asked, trying not to laugh.
He grinned sheepishly. “Well, I happened to be sitting next to Hollis Finnegan at the time. Finn, Finnegan… It all works out.”
I shook my head. James would cease to be James Sirius Potter, whom I had known for almost seven years now, and would become Romulus Finn, theoretically a whole new person. I reached for James’s hand, holding it tightly in my own. “You’ll still stay the same, right, Jay? We’ll still be the same. Best friends.”
James rolled his eyes. “Yeah, we’ll still be the same. Except now, instead of the Hospital Wing, we’ll have our own private ward in St. Mungo’s.”
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