Chapter 7 : Day of the Letters
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Also, I have no claim over Smarties. Or A Very Potter Musical, which I quote in here subtly. Or the Cha Cha Slide.
The Day Of The Letters
Lily and I had woken far too early on Saturday. There was no Hogsmeade, no homework and no revision to do or go to, so Lily had slipped into my bed and we lay awake to talk.
Inevitably, her brother came up.
“-so Al was wondering if you wanted to go in the holidays? Ellie? Eliana?”
I jerked back to this world, where I had previously been daydreaming of Al.
It was all hopeless fantasies, though.
“What did I just say?”
“No, I mean yes- I’d love to go with you and Al.”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “What’s up with you recently? You’re acting all... twitchy.”
“Yeah. Something’s got you on edge. What is it?”
I bit my lip. Could I really tell her?
No, my brain answered sarcastically. She’s only been your best mate for five years. You can’t trust her at all.
“Do you double plimpy swear with triple nargles that you won’t tell anyone anything I say?”
Don’t mock our Unbreakable Vow. This is serious stuff (well, it was in our first year when we made it up).
Lily sat up straight, as did I, and we poked each other in the forehead and punched each other’s fists.
Like I said- we were in our first year. Don’t judge.
“I promise,” she nodded, and we simultaneously flopped back into the comfy pillows.
I gulped. Bollocks, now I actually had to tell her. “The thing is... I sort of... fancy Al.”
... hum de hum.
This whole ‘silence’ thing is becoming a bit of a theme.
She looked at me. “Since when?” she finally spluttered out.
“Since he kissed me-“
“He kissed you?!” she squeaked, eyes popping out of her sockets.
“Since he kissed me the night he was drunk to get over Nyx.”
Lily thought about it, then slapped her hands to her face.
“Al, you fuck-up,” she whined. “That’s not at all romantic. Bloody hell.”
Internally, I debated telling her the second thing, and I quickly chose to.
“It gets worse.”
“How can it get worse?”
“There’s something I never told you.”
“You know at the Halloween party?”
“Well, I was dancing with James but he had to go, and the Slytherin seeker was there- must have got in with Fred or something- and tried to, well, force me to dance. He grabbed my wrists and got me into the crowd, and it was so claustrophobic I couldn’t get away from him.”
Lily’s eyes were wide.
“Until Al turned up. He threatened him to back off and got me out of there pretty quick, and he left me with James.”
“That twat. That immoral, fucked-up, mental, raging psychopath-“ Lily began to rant, clearly believing my list of wrongs to have finished.
I nudged her. “Not done yet. So then he was mad, and I didn’t think he would follow it up, but at the Quidditch game he said... stuff.”
Her eyes narrowed and hands clenched into fists. “What did he say?”
“Nothing horrible, I promise-“
“Ellie. Tell me.”
I recounted a few examples, and she looked at me in horrified anger.
“If that’s what you count as nothing bad, you nutter, then I’d hate to see a demonstration of your version of loathsome.”
I couldn’t hold in my giggle. “Probably Al’s face when James told him Dom couldn’t find the cloak.”
She burst into her chiming laughter. “Hell yes! For a moment, I thought he was having a brain spasm.”
“A brain spasm is an aneurysm. Muggle thing.”
For a second, I genuinely believed that what she had to say next was important by the tranquillity in her eyes and blank expression.
“... is that what happens to you when you think about Al?”
“What do I wear, Lilster?”
“Not whatever the fuck that is.”
“It’s a dress!”
“And you look like a Hippogriff.”
Half an hour and three outfit changes later, we were dancing down the steps of the girls dorms when we bumped into all of the sixth year boys, shirtless and crowded around a table. Lily flicked her hair and demanded to know what was happening from Riley, who was at the back of the crowd.
I unashamedly stared at the muscles on his chest. Quidditch did boys huge favours in the body department.
“Arm wrestling,” Riley grinned. “I’m going against Al next, but he’s thrashing Stefan right now.”
We peeked over the top of the chanting boys’ heads, and saw Al smiling cockily at his roommate, who looked purple with the effort of pushing his opponent’s hand down.
“Al, put him out of his misery!” Lily yelled over, and he looked carelessly away from the Purple Smartie and at us.
His scruffy dark hair was in disarray; it was sticking in all directions, most like he had when I woke up next to him (this thought caused me to both cringe with my own idiocy and blush as I recalled the way his hands had felt, running up my waist and along the line of my bra) and I looked away. The way he sat was relaxed, but his chest and arm muscles were tensed, and I gulped.
Those had been mine, if only for a night.
His face lit up at the sight of us (at the sight of Lily, probably) and he slammed Purple Smarties’ hand down, brushed off his roommates and scooted to us.
“What are you doing up so early?” he asked, leaning against a chair and grinning at us.
“What are you doing without a top on?” Lily asked, unimpressed.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. So what?”
“It’s weird. Put something on, Al.”
“Nah, I’m alright. Too busy flirting with my Ellie here,” he grinned, pulling me against him.
I was hyper-aware of his skin, and my hand on his bare shoulder. As he moved slightly, they rippled and I yanked my hand away, for fear I’d simply force him to kiss me.
With the defiance of her mother, spontaneous stupidity of her father and cockiness of her grandfather, Lily pulled her tank top off in the middle of the common room.
Did I mention the five other, complete non-related teenage boys that were sharing the room with us at that moment?
Al’s eyes popped out at her lacy purple bra, edged with gold.
Ah. There are the pubescent idiots we talked about earlier.
One wolf whistled, all of them grinned, and one ogled her with complete abandon.
“Lily, get that on now!” Al hissed, jumping up and trying to force her back up the girl’s stairs.
She smirked. “Put something on yourself.”
I admired her recklessness sometimes. This was one of those times.
Al, without hesitation, conjured a top up and yanked it on, at which Lily pulled her own on, kissed Al on the cheek and skipped to the portrait hole hand in hand with me.
“See ya!” I called, just before it slammed shut.
Three hours later, filled with talking and laughter and all things so very Lily, we ambled down to breakfast, where most had already departed. We sat by ourselves, and I devoured waffles and scribbled a note to my aunt Liza to tell her I’d be staying at the Potter’s at Christmas. It was obvious, but I thought I should remind her of my existence and get her permission anyway. Lily was nibbling on a croissant and read the Daily Prophet.
“Macnair died,” she said disinterestedly as she turned a page.
“Walden Macnair. Slytherin and Death Eater, caught the summer before we started at Hogwarts. He died in Azkaban yesterday.”
Lily knew a great deal more than she ever said about the war our parents had participated in, and she didn’t like to tell me anything I didn’t already know. She said it wasn’t her place to tell me things that Ginny didn’t.
Suddenly, a grin broke across her face. “Ellie, Ellie Ellie Ellie!”
“The Raging Hippogriffs- they’re playing at Christmas Eve, a special concert for under seventeen’s!”
We shared a look of incredulous excitement; we both loved them.
“Let’s go!” we squealed together, and Lily borrowed parchment (for some odd reason, she already had a quill and ink) and owled Ginny to arrange it for us.
Rose sat next to Lily. “What’s all the noise for?”
Lily stuck the article under nose.
“How fucking epic is that?” Lily yelped, practically bouncing in her seat.
“You swear too much.”
“Your face swears too much.”
“Actually, I rarely swear- SHIT!” Rose shrieked, ducking under the table and cradling her foot. “Lily, that hurt!”
“Don’t swear, Rose. How fucking rude.”
At midday, we decided to leave the comforting warmth of the common room to explore the sharp cold of the first snow.
“Now it feels like Christmas,” Lily said happily, biting her lip in excitement of the white flakes of awesome that floated in front of her face.
“It’s the eighth of November, Lillers.”
“I know... but look at this,” she sighed, gesturing around. “It’s going to be so beautiful.”
I paused as I glanced at the whitening world, the calm air barely moving. “It already is, don’t you think?”
“It’s too brown. Too stony... don’t think it’s too cold?”
“And snow is your solution?” I giggled, poking her pink nose.
“It makes it more uniform, I guess. It makes it easier to deal with, to process, if everything’s the same.”
“That sounds an awful lot like the mindset of most of the kids at this school.”
She grinned. “Yeah, they’re all arses. I like personality, though, and the snow gives it character where winter stripped it away. Like the leaves. I miss leaves.”
I bit my lip, and put a hand in my bag slowly as she took a few steps forward, pulling out my camera. She looked so serenely calm, so I quickly snapped her.
She blinked in shock at the flash, then grinned.
Making sure to zoom in on her face (and thus immortalise that gorgeous Rudolph nose) I caught plenty of her, sticking her tongue out and dancing in the snow, even one where we raced down to the ice at the edge of the lake and she skated around. In turn, she took many (probably horrendous) shots of me, and then we decided to do that God-awful teenage girl thing and hold out the camera in front of us, pouting our best Duck Faces sticking our boobs out. This was before the one of us falling over we’re laughing so hard.
She stuck the camera back in my bag and made me promise to give her a copy of every photo, before we trudged back up to the castle, soaking wet and freezing.
We bumped into James at the stairs.
“Hey Lily! You look like shit!”
“We just had fun in the snow!” I smiled, hugging him back as he pulled us in for a hug.
“Nice to see you too, James,” she drily answered.
He waved her off and kept an arm around me as we meandered our way back up the stairs to Gryffindor tower, where James was clearly heading anyway. “So, El, do anything particularly notable?”
“I didn’t fall over.”
He high fived me, chuckling. “And you, Lillers?”
“I killed a duck.”
There was a pause, in which James looked positively horrified, and at the sight of it I just knew I had to keep the lie going as he turned to me for confirmation. I nodded my head gravely.
“She was throwing rocks at the ice on the lake to see if it would break, and a duck... kind of got in the way.”
I was amazed I didn’t burst into hysterics. I think Lily was pretty impressed, too, but switched back to sombre the second James stared at her, wide-eyed.
“We gave it a nice funeral. Samuel died a brave and noble death, and so we gave him his deserved farewell.”
“It really was beautiful.”
“A thestral ate him.”
By the time we’d reached the common room, we were nearly recovered but James certainly wasn’t. He swotted us both around the head when we realised we were lying, but still seemed a bit disturbed by our imaginations.
Lily and I were very amused.
We were what met Rose (not in her own common room, might I add) as she passed us out of the portrait hole, and she scrutinised each of our faces for a moment.
“Do I want to know?”
“Okay. James, Al wants to talk to you. I think he’s in his room.”
She disappeared in seconds, and James rolled his eyes. “He probably wants to talk Quidditch plays, the sad git. Lily, I have a mission for you- find him a new girlfriend. Possibly a better one than the last sheep-shagger.”
We frowned at each other as James walked away.
“What?” asked Lily.
“Didn’t you know? McLaggen is Welsh.”
As James disappeared up the stairs with a wink and a smirk, we collapsed onto the nearest armchairs and tried not to get stomach ache from the laughter.
We were upstairs changing when Lily smirked at me, hand on hip, and asked sardonically, “so, Ellie, know any good girlfriend candidates for Al?”
I giggled. “Well, she has to be the opposite of Nyx, really...”
“How about a blonde?”
“Blonde is good. And a virgin?”
“A must. Needs to have known him for a long time, really, so he knows he can trust her.”
“Yes, true. Oh, and has her own owl so he won’t ever be out of touch.”
“Can play Quidditch really well, and kick his arse at it when necessary...”
“Oh, without saying, darling. And knows fairytales inside out.”
“Owns a camera.”
“Is best mates with his sister.”
“Is goddamn gorgeous.”
I poked her. “We’re supposed to be talking about me, idiot!”
She poked me back. “We are, duh. You’re amazing, Ellie, you just don’t know it.” She eyed me up and down. “I suppose that’s part of your charm. You just don’t know anything, really.”
“I know a lot, Lily.”
“You don’t know how much you mean to people,” she shrugged. “And you certainly don’t have a clue how important you are. Without you, I’m pretty sure everything would be A) less funny and B) hideously dull.”
She folded her arms at me, narrowing her eyes so much she almost squinted at me. It was meant to be comical. “You just proved my point, mes petite amie.”
I claimed the right to look suspicious this time. “You don’t know French...”
“Nah, it’s just that Phlegm says it all the time.”
“Her name’s Fleur, Lily.”
“Eh, mum said it once and it’s kind of stuck.”
Chuckling, I recalled the moment when Harry slapped a hand to his forehead and Ginny grinned sheepishly at him as James began shouting down the house that they had yet another aunt that no one knew about.
Even at fourteen that boy was a gullible sod.
“Have you got the Marauder’s Map back yet?” asked Lily flatly.
James had been begging for the past ten minutes if he could speak to her alone, and this was her last assault in a barrage of reasons why she should not join him, including: ‘I. Am. Eating. Fucking. Chocolate cake!’ and ‘dude, your flies are like, totally unzipped’ (they weren’t). However, this last one stumped him.
“You know Filch’s office is almost impossible to break into!”
“He’s not even got a wand,” I broke in scathingly. I had no pity for him; he was not, after all, the one that had pieces of flesh gauged out of their leg by that monster of a cat.
She nodded at me in approval. “See, Ellie gets it. Bugger off, I’m busy.”
“Eating cake!” he exclaimed exasperatedly, as though it was not a reason at all.
For a moment, every girl in the vicinity glared at him with an unadulterated feeling of revulsion.
Al patted his shoulder. “Mate, girls and chocolate are like dad and his Firebolt. You won’t understand that connection, but you have to accept it.”
Rose high-fived him, and I found myself trying not to stare. His bright green eyes were smiling.
“Why can’t you be like Al, James?” Lucy (another cousin) sighed.
“He’s supposed to look up to me, not the other way round!”
“James, I’m Quidditch Captain. I have to understand girls if I’m ever going to get them to do what I want,” Al nodded wisely.
Lily smiled at him serenely, and took a huge bite of the icing.
“But Lily, I’ll have to kick you off the team if you get fat.”
She spat out her mouthful in surprise, and Scorpius got a face full of slimy chocolate mess. It looked less appealing as it inched its way down his cheek, and I pulled a face and went to get my wand out, but Rose beat me to it.
“Evanesco,” she said calmly, and it all disappeared as she turned to Lily. “Learn some table manners, please.”
Al grinned. “Yeah, our dad isn’t Uncle Ron, right, Rose?”
She pursed her lips, raised her eyebrows, and glared at him. “You just dropped in my estimations, Potter.”
“Ooh, she’s serious,” Fred laughed. “We have to be scared now.”
“As did you, Weasley.”
“You’re a Weasley,” Scorpius frowned, and Rose turned on him.
“Whose side are you on?”
“Yours,” he said hastily.
There was a lot of chatting and giggling, and I crunched on some chips and watched the others. Lily was fighting with James over her choice of boyfriends (she told him she fancied a twenty-eight year old who worked in Knockturn Alley selling kneazle tongues), Al, Rose and Scorpius were debating the endless possibilities of muggle computers, Roxanne and Lucy were bitching about Willow Moon and her ‘slutty slag outfit’, and I was pretty sure Fred was doing a sitting-down version of the Cha-Cha Slide.
I would worry about him, but I’m tired of it and he’s never got himself into any real trouble.
Of course, with Freddie my classifications of ‘real trouble’ are death, fatal illness or acquiring a Blast-Ended Skrewt.
“Why the hell is Amata delivering letters to me?”
Lily was frowning down at the envelope in her hand, and vaguely stroking my owl that had landed on her shoulder.
I shrugged, and looked at the address.
To Miss Lily Potter, of Gryffindor Tower. She flicked the seal open, and yanked it out, and we read it together.
Dear Miss Potter,
As I am sure you are aware, your grades are consistently Outstanding in your potions classes. I am pleased to inform you that you have been recommended by your teachers to become a Potions tutor.
This is a highly prestigious honour, only awarded to those most competent in their year groups, and I am certain your parents will be delighted to hear of your achievement. You shall begin this Monday at seven o’clock in the library, in which you will guide and support those you are assigned to. You are to tutor Miss Willow Moon, Miss Samantha Thorne and Mr Damon Murray.
Thank you and congratulations,
Professor Dean Thomas
Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
I was almost certain Lily was going to kill someone.
“But- I- HATE- teaching,” she hissed, eyes burning holes in the parchment.
Well, it looked that way, but it was just her wand emitting unintentional sparks.
“Look on the bright side- you’ve got Willow!” I cheered sarcastically, who we saw receive her letter across the room. She looked annoyed that her ‘snuggle time’ with James was interrupted.
“She’s a tart and will flirt with Murray every nine seconds,” she said, near growling.
“Then you get to yell at her.”
Lily pursed her lips. “Hmm. I suppose.”
“What house is Murray in, anyway?” I asked, and Amata flew out of the window as we went and sat on two of the armchairs by the fire.
“Hufflepuff?” suggested Al, who was already sitting there.
“What the hell is a Hufflepuff?” scoffed Lily.
“A kind, friendly, nice person who-“
“BORING,” she droned. “Bloody hell, I’m going to be stuck with two imbeciles.”
“And Sammy. She’s cool.”
“We never talk.”
“Yeah, but you’ve lived with her for the past five years. That’s an advantage, right?”
I looked to Al for support, but he was confused.
“What are you talking about?”
Lily’s eyes widened in panic. “Nothing. Just that they’re in our classes.”
“You think I believe you?”
“You had better believe me, Albus Severus Potter, or I shall full-name you every time I see you,” she threatened, shoving the letter down her top quickly.
Leaning towards her slightly, I whispered into her ear, ‘why aren’t we telling anyone?”
“They’ll be total douchebags, calling me a nerd.”
“I have a badass reputation to maintain.”
Conceiving this to be fair, I backed away again and pulled Amata onto my lap, who hooted gently and rubbed her cheek against my hand.
“What’s up, bitches?”
Ahh, James. Ever the sirius one.
He had abandoned Willow (who had blushed scarlet and looked very pissed) in favour of sitting on Lily, who now was as pissed as Willow, only more frightening. This girl could poison your drink and you wouldn’t even know until you were lying on the ground. Dead.
“First-“ Lily started, having pulled up her legs to block him from sitting, so he leant quite happily against them instead, “-I’m your sister. It’s weird to call me your bitch. Second-“
“What was the letter about?” he asked, grinning.
“Second- GET THE HELL OFF YOU CRUP!”
“What’s a crup?”
“Ooh, it’s pretty sexy then,” James grinned, winking at me.
Despite Lily’s situation, I giggled.
“Ellie, don’t laugh!”
“I’m not laughing, I’m just...”
“Laughing,” Al prompted helpfully.
He broke into a smile, and I blushed slightly. I bit my lip and looked back at James.
“Ellie, you’ll be my bitch, won’t you?”
“Whatever you say, James.”
Suddenly, he jumped off Lily and dived on me. I shrieked, and tried to shove him away, but he wrapped me up in his ridiculously muscled arms so I could barely move and sat with me laid across his lap.
“Not so funny now, is it?” Lily smirked, straightening her hair.
“What was your letter about, again?” I asked, sweetly smiling back at her.
“Fuck off,” she sighed, rolling her eyes.
“Yeah, Lillers! Tell me tell me tell me tell me!”
James is officially a two year old.
“James, leave her alone,” Al yawned. “We’re going to find out anyway.”
Lily turned to him, a look of scepticism sweeping across her face. “And why do you believe that, dearest brother?”
“We are part of one of the largest families on earth, Lily. Do you really think there’s the slightest chance one Weasley won’t find out what it is and tell us?”
“He has a point,” I conceded.
There was a sudden yell as Roxanne leapt away from the window, who was nearest to it, and an enormous bird with midnight feathers swept into the room. Its wingspan was near comparable to a first year’s arm-span.
It hovered for a moment as it searched around the room of scrambling students attempting to get away from the threatening bird, and it met my gaze. It was only then I realised both its eyes were blood red.
The vicious talons that rigidly stuck out of its feet spread open as it soared to us, and before a moment had passed James had thrown me onto the floor and whipped out his wand, Al having done the same and dragged Lily to his feet.
Suddenly, a burst of bright blue light burst from James’ wand, and the huge, nameless bird became a pigeon.
The common room, having been filled with terrified students, was now full of laughing ones.
“What the hell kind of bird was that?” asked Al, eyes wide as Lily and I stumbled to our feet.
“A big one.”
“Thanks, Ellie, that really helps,” he said, rolling his eyes. “James, what did you do?”
“Finite Incantatum,” he said loudly. “It was a pigeon all along.”
I, however, was distracted by its feet. It was carrying what looked like...
“That’s a letter,” I mumbled, then darted around the armchair before any of them could stop me and tried to look at the name on the panicking bird’s feet, but before I could it landed on a sofa and stuck its leg at firmly at me.
Cautiously, I untied it from the leg and thought I was okay as my hands came away, but a sharp stab at my hands proved me wrong.
“I like animals!” I told it, indignantly clutching the letter as my thumb began to bleed. “Why don’t you like me? It’s inconsiderate, you bloody menace.”
It gave out a strangled caw, as thought trying to be a bird it wasn’t, and whipped out of the window again.
Roxanne slammed it shut.
James and Al were talking in low voices and went over to her, but Lily rushed to my side, apparently the only one to notice me.
“What does it say?” she asked, frowning.
“Dunno,” I said, and ripped it open. It was blank.
“Chuck it,” Lily advised immediately. “Get rid of it, now.”
I looked down at it. “Why?”
“Well, the last time someone received a blank piece of stationary to write on, the Chamber of Secrets was opened. Not good.”
“It might be important.”
“A bird, that looked like a descendant of Satan, delivered it to you. What kind of message is that?”
“How do we know it’s for me?”
“The bird gave it explicitly to you, Ellie. Please, just get rid of it, okay?”
Promising her I would, I shoved it into my bra and found that the rest of the common room seemed over the initial shock, and were discussing it in excited whispers. James and Al were still hurriedly talking to Roxanne.
We approached them quickly.
“-and I don’t know what the hell it was,” James finished, frustrated.
“I want to know why it went straight for us,” Al added darkly.
James shook his head. “Mate, it didn’t go for us. It went for Ellie.”
At that, Al glanced at me in fright. He was so beautiful. “But- what?”
“It caught one look at her and came straight over. I think we need to go to Dean, to be honest. I don’t know what the hell that was and I want to know.”
“You said it was a pigeon,” Lily frowned.
“I lied to keep everyone calm,” James confided hastily. “I Transfigured it into a pigeon, it wasn’t one originally. I don’t know what kind of animal looks like that.”
“It was crow-like,” I said thoughtfully, “but with a heavy engorgement charm and coloured contact lenses.”
They all looked at me.
“I’m going to Professor Thomas,” James said firmly, “and Lily, you’re coming with me. Al, stay here and look after these lot; you’re way better at Defence than me. Kill the damn thing if you have to. Roxy, owl the rest of the family to stay on watch.”
“I’m not sending an owl out there with that thing!” she said indignantly. “I’ll Floo them.”
He nodded, grabbed Lily’s hand and rushed out of the door without another word. Roxanne headed over to the fireplace and scattered several second years on her way, leaving Al and I quite alone.
I stared at the floor.
“That was weird,” Al muttered, and I half-nodded in agreement.
“Are you okay, Ellie? You’re a bit quiet.”
“I think I’m tired. Night, Al.”
“Ellie, it’s eight.”
“Well, I’m going to get in my pyjamas, anyhow.”
I could feel the look of concern he was giving me pressing into my back as I marched up the stairs to my dormitory. I couldn’t bear to spend any time with him, particularly alone.
It was deserted, so I flopped onto my bed and pulled out the letter.
In a crazed scrawl, I could almost read the words that had leaked onto the page in a dark red ink.
Eliana Fay Wood, it read, I’m going to find you.
A/N So... the madness begins.
And believe me, this is only the beginning. Also, kindly review?
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